Every single day at work I am surrounded by people who are being bombarded with UNINTENTIONAL suffering. They have kidney failure and are faced with a life on dialysis. Some have cancer. Some are old and have to depend on other people for everything. The thought of facing those challenges scares me. A lot. They don't have a choice. There is no escape from their suffering.
But with running, I am in control of my suffering. Even when I am most miserable - when my legs are cramping like crazy, or when I'm dehydrated and sick, or when I'm so exhausted that I start talking to Care Bears - one thought keeps me going: I CHOSE THIS! Nobody is making me do this. It is my choice.
And all those people who are drowning in unintentional suffering would LOVE to be able to be out on a trail running 50 miles even if it meant they were cramping like crazy, and dehydrated, and exhausted, and talking to Care Bears. They would trade places with me in a heart beat.
I have a sweet high school friend named Alisa who is in the middle of a hard-fought battle with cancer. Alisa is one of the kindest, happiest, most courageous people you could ever hope to meet. I couldn't get out of my mind that before she got really sick, she was training for her first half marathon. It made me really, really mad that cancer took her race away from her. I have felt helpless wishing there was something I could do.
The night before the Buffalo Run 50 miler I told Alisa I was going to run it for her. If she couldn't be out there running, I'd try to do it for her. I wrote Alisa's name on my hand to remind me of her when things got hard. Because no matter how difficult my race became, it was absolutely nothing compared to the race she was facing.
I hope I am able to continue running for a long time. I hope I don't take running for granted. I hope that when I am suffering, I remember that it was my choice, and there are countless people who didn't choose their suffering. I hope I can be there when Alisa runs her first half marathon.