Thursday, May 9, 2013

What do I do when I don't know what to do?: #RUN3rd

I'm a woman of action. You can see it in my blog posts as I urge people to take meaningful action to fight against poverty. Every day, reach out to Congress or help others to do the same. Every year, I raise money to provide vaccines or  education or meals or other ways to change the world for the better. When shots rang out in Newtown, I was in my senator's office the next morning talking about gun control. I advocate, I educate, I write, I organize. I fundraise. I don't like to write or talk to people publicly about a problem without offering a way to DO something to about it. 

But what do I do when I don't know what to do? 

What if I'm too upset or confused to see a clear path? Or, what about those times when I've already done everything I can and it just doesn't seem like enough?

That's where a virtual running club I found comes to the rescue. #RUN3rd is a running group inspired by actor Sean Astin (my favorite Lord of the Rings Ring Bearer!). In this group, people from all over the country inspire each other with messages and motivational images, quotes, etc. We choose to run not only for ourselves and our health, but we choose to dedicate every race and training run to reasons meaningful to us. #RUN3rd lives on facebook and Twitter where you can post a dedication you care about for your run.

This is what Sean Astin has to say about why he started this group and what "#RUN3rd" means:
"1st I run for me

My family waits for me. My family listens to my stories from the road. My family has faith in me. My family loves me, trusts me and depends on me. My family is patient. My family is strong. Therefore…
2nd I run for my family

While running is in many ways about solitude, I rarely run alone. My thoughts are always with me. My hopes, my fears, my dreams, they come along too. From start to stop I yearn to understand the greater meaning of my journey. With every beat of a runner’s heart, with every pounding step, life itself is affirmed. And so, it costs nothing, yet can mean everything for any runner, for me, to make a simple dedication, to say that these steps I am taking are not mine to own. It means something to me to declare that because I am alive and I care for others…
3rd I run for YOU.

Tweet a dedication for someone you love, a cause you believe in or any positive statement with the hash tag #run3rd."

I first became aware of  #RUN3rd when I found myself running the same race as Sean - the 2013 Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon - (and, yes, he looks great in a tiara), which I happened to be running to raise money for Shot@Life, providing vaccines against polio and measles worldwide. I saw that he was asking his Twitter followers for dedications for him to write on a piece of paper to carry with him for the 13.1 miles of the race. I asked him to run for RESULTS - my favorite anti-poverty advocacy organization and it cheered me to think that he was physically carrying my request with him even as I proclaimed my own dedications online to RESULTS and to the children I'd save with Shot@Life to the Twitter group. It was powerful for me to shout my heart to the internet and also carry these things in my heart.

Yet the true power of #RUN3rd did not hit me until the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. On that day, we didn't know who caused it or why. There was no One Fund Boston yet. There was just grief and shock knowing that of all runners, this had hit the Boston Marathoners who are considered to be the best of the best of us. Even slowpokes like me consider ourselves as part of the whole running community who celebrate those who qualify for Boston. Word spread over the internet that runners of every shape and size would wear race T-shirts for any race the in solidarity and run the next day with Boston victims in our hearts. For my part, I'd been nursing an injury for a while, but this got me moving again. I made my #run3rd dedication to Boston and hit the road in a state of sorrow and confusion. By the end of the run I had come to some sort of peace in the combination of adrenaline and meditation. 

For me, #Run3rd has become a way to find peace. It's a way to prepare me mentally and physically for the world changing work I must do. Sometimes, it's a prayer. But it's always a way to elevate the everyday, ordinary neighborhood run into something beautiful.