Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Run 4

Speaking of communities and running (ugh, that's not even funny yet), a few months ago I signed up with I Run 4.  The idea is simple - runners will run for and connect with those who can't, mostly via photos and FB posts.  It started with one guy and an offhand comment and now has almost 9000 members.

And, I thought, a great potential for cheesy inspiration porn.

But I have a vast sucking need for motivation.  Matt is more likely to offer me ice cream and a warm blanket than hand me my shoes and such is the magnitude of my sloth-dom, I've been known to actually do laundry while procrastinating.
(though that doesn't necessary mean that I will)
I like the idea that I run.  I'm proud of my race bibs and calf muscles (if you squint you can't see the pasty whiteness or spider veins).  I love the post run high and sometimes, if I'm very lucky, I feel stronger than all my problems during, but putting on my shoes and taking that first long stride is a Big Deal, every time.  So I sign up for races.  

I am a huge sucker for these silly motivational memes.

And I signed up to run for someone else.
Because you know what I really need is more responsibility.

But I also thought it might be a nice thing to do for someone, since we have no money to donate or time to volunteer.  And, squabbles and random snarkiness (auto correct changed that to snakiness.  That too) aside, the Down syndrome and blogging communities provide terrific support & resources.  My daughter's genetic quirk comes with monthly playgroups, of all things, and all the people I've stalked met in the larger special needs community have come thru this space.  What do you do if you don't write and are dealing with something rare, something that doesn't have three or four competing national organizations?

Not to suggest there aren't other fabulous community supports in this age of the internet, but we are on a well trodden path.

I had steeled myself for a barrage of special angel comments but I've seen very little smarminess.  It's light, fun, & supportive - almost like a daily play group - but one that operates in THIS world, the one with hospital stays, surgeries, and occasional gut wrenching loss.  There is a religious base (which I'm happy to ignore) and there can be some awkward, non people first terms but I'd never thought much about the language of disability either, 6 years ago.  I think there's a tendency to bristle and get cranky when we wander out into the world and find the gen pop isn't quite as involved/understanding/PC as we want them to be, but that knowledge doesn't spring organically from nothingness.  Connections and familiarity are the fastest, surest way to that understanding we crave.  People without a single tie to the disability/special needs community are signing up to run for strangers, getting to know them & their families. Running is hard and nothing kills the smell of pity faster than a blister, yet it keeps growing. Y'all know I don't do rainbows & unicorns but that does warm my frozen, cynical heart a bit.    

Weirdly, and last paragraph notwithstanding, I haven't signed up The Girl up to be matched. Partly because I run for her too, but mostly because I think she can run for herself.  Just like Jimmy Jenson.  Now if there was a group for the non-verbal…

I was matched with an adorable little boy who probably isn't old enough to appreciate my sporadic 5 milers (or my fastest ever half marathon last month - whoot!), but he likes pictures of my girl and I'm one more person in the world who cares for him.  We could all use one more person, couldn't we?

I also doubt he appreciated all my artsy outdoor shots, before it got cold and rainy and I retreated to my treadmill.  Before I found out Murphy shouldn't be running (I wonder if anyone would want to run for my dog?).  But forcing myself to look for photo opportunities during my runs, to be present, was a beautiful gift.

Thank you, Robert - IRUN4U!

Now I just need my knees to hold out.

(photo quality is a different issue)


  1. I am excited that you signed up as a runner! I can't run. Seriously, I am more of a walker/zumba person. So I am impressed. I signed Ellie up for I Run 4 because I heard there were tons of runners and not enough people to run for. We have made a huge connection with our runner. She just completed her first 10K :) Anyway, you just reminded me to write a blog post about the I Run 4. Happy running!

    1. Well… Happy after :)
      Glad Ellie's runner & you hit off!

  2. I always say I'm going to take up running, but I never do. Maybe I'll run for Murphy.

    I went to a meeting about a big event coming to our school district that will require "buddies" to assist the special needs kiddos participating, and...I bristled. They mentioned a girl scout troop volunteering, which would be older kids but A. will be that age soon enough and right now she's a Girl Scout would she branch off from the group and go to Line B? I just have a hard time with that. I want my kid to be a helper, not a helpee. I mean..maybe she's both. I dunno. It's just hard. Why we gotta be categorizing everybody like that, anyway?

    1. You can run for Murphy. Emailing re the rest.