Monday, June 16, 2014

Charity Miles Relay Team: I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

What would you think if I sang out of key?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ear and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends...

This spring, I invited three of my best runner mom-friends to come along with me for a run. But not just any run. We decided to take on the GO! St. Louis marathon relay to run for Charity Miles, a phone app that tracks your miles and unlocks sponsored money for a charity of your choice with every step.

In addition to spreading the word about how Charity Miles works (see earlier post), the point we wanted to make was this: While we are all strong women - each with her own causes and priorities - we can help each other to achieve them. It's not possible for me to be a grassroots leader in all areas even though I am supportive of many causes. It's a relief to me that Jen takes up the banner of Shot@Life to promote vaccines when I'm busy organizing others to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. I'm grateful that Kerry keeps me thinking about great environmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy and that Myrdin reminds me to donate to Parkinson's research when she runs a race with the Michael J. Fox Foundation's the race report with some of my reflections that work for both relay racing and for adovcacy weaved into the story:

First off, getting the four of us together for the race was a bit of a crazy thing to do since I'm the only one who lives in St. Louis. The others travelled here on the basis of Jen DeFranco and I having a crazy idea to support Charity Miles in this way. There was very little hesitation at all, which affirms:
The power of our personal relationships sometimes leads us to do inconvenient things we wouldn't normally do.
Myrdin's gear. Isn't she so responsible?
As with most marathon mornings, the race required getting up stupidly early. While Myrdin took her usual care to lay out all her running gear, I clearly wasn't taking the race seriously enough. Normally I have all kinds of checklists and pre-race routines, but (1) Each leg was only a short 10K-ish race (2) It was a local race and (3) I was kinda excited to see my friends! What this translates to is that I got to the start line with my trusty iphone, but no earbuds! I don't think I've ever run a race without music and I never even train more than 4 miles without it. But...Myrdin to the rescue! She quickly deduced that she could just hand them off to me at a relay point. Bringing me to another point:

We can help each other out when one of us isn't on top of her game. 
Brrr! Chilly! 
We saw Jen off at the start line where she gamely trotted off wearing her fabulous tutu and Shot@Life green Charity Miles shirt, then we split up to get to our appointed relay stops and started our separate journeys. Jen had a chilly run filled with all that upbeat excitement of the start of a race in the heart of downtown. I think she got to run past the Gateway Arch on the riverfront? Kerry & I split off to ride the metro to our relay stops. I do believe Myrdin set a personal best time for herself despite having the most challenging leg of the race, including "Holy Hill" (for which we gave her a separate Han Solo medal from my collection). Kerry had a warm, sunny and beautiful run through Forest Park. to run a lot of uninspiring highway with the true marathoners (26.2 mile solo runners) burning their very last calories of energy. I amused myself by posing ridiculously for race photographers. 

Racing in style...aided by public transit!

Why marathoners should hate relay runners: 
We jump in fresh at 22 miles and do dumb stuff.

The variety of our experiences reminds me:
We all run our separate races even when we have a common goal.

I must admit that all was not happy all the way through. I got cranky at the end about a 1/2 mile before the finish line. I even swore at Myrdin in a totally uncalled for grumpypants moment. I feel compelled to apologize to her again for that. I'm sorry, M. I can't actually remember what I said, but I'm sure the F-word was invoked for no reason that had anything to do with her and lots to do with the fact that it's inadvisable to get up super-early, stand around in the cold without eating anything but a few Rice Krispies and some sport gummies. This one may not be a reflection upon saving the world, so much as just a personal reminder to me.
You're friends are forgiving. (But we shouldn't push that!)

But we made it! We all did our parts, some of us (me!) more slowly than others, but we all crossed the finish line together in our estimated group time.

Jen brought us delicious cupcakes in our favorite charties' branded colors that we all
enjoyed post race. My thought about that is cliche, but still important: 
Enjoy the sweetness of life with each other!
In retrospect, if I had been running this race purely for the social part of it, it would have been a much more enjoyable experience with my buddies simply to run a 10K together and chat all the way. But as a metaphor for saving the planet, it was perfect. As we travel through life, my do-gooder friends and I hand off to each other, keep each other laughing, and save the world in many different ways. None of us is in this world alone. We'll keep saving the Charity Miles step at a time!