Running for ALS

als-55a4d357dc4252016 Goal #1: Run a Marathon (or Two)

I started running last year for my own health and this year I want to make it count. If I can run for my own sanity and well-being, I figure that I can also put part of that for the benefit of someone else.

I was never much of an athlete in high school. One year I went out for wrestling, but after a few weeks of feeling sore and beat up; and after a simply terrible outing at the first meet, I dropped it. People around me told me that I should stick it out, but I never had the motivation to push through. It was part of a litany of experiences where I felt that I did not fit for whatever reason. So I dropped the athlete idea. The team went 10-0 that year and won the state title.

Fast forward 25 years. After a couple of injury setbacks in July and October as a novice runner, I trained hard for three weeks in November and ran the Nittany Valley Half-Marathon. Despite the setbacks I ran 6 minutes faster than my target time. The old me would experience a minor setback and start the litany of self-pity and self-loathing. This would quickly convince me that eating potato chips and binge-watching hours of whatever-I-could-find-that-was-the-most-depressing was the best choice to make. Not this time.

What I have learned is that stopping a behavior is a choice and setting an achievable goal is motivation to push through setbacks. Moving my body changes my brain. This means a plan that includes numerous smaller goals in order to attain the big one.

Large goals that are decomposed this way work out better – which is probably why big New Year’s Resolutions like “lose 30 pounds” or “write a book” fail. Goals that are too lofty come with rewards that are too far delayed and motivation comes in short supply. You have to break the big goal up in order to experience the value of the changes in behavior that you will need to accomplish in order to get there. (By the way, if you haven’t made progress on your Resolutions, do something towards it right now, or you will wake up tomorrow that much closer to a Facebook meme declaring all the shit you planned to do last year but didn’t.)

I am training again, but this time for the PittsburghPitt2015Logo Marathon. And more than that I am running for the ALSA of Western Pennsylvania. I am doing it in memory of my grandmother who died from ALS in 1999.

My grandmother Rita was pistol. When I was a kid, I remember her fire-red Firebird parked in her Paoli, PA garage. The color matched her rosy cheeks after a few nips of scotch. She was a neat freak, loved lime green and yellow, and cooked amazing food.

After my grandfather died, she spent much of her time with her best friend. They were active and had fun in both Italy and on the Mississippi river. Like a blue-haired Thelma & Louise. But then Rita started to lose control of her body even though her mind was running full throttle. In just two years she stopped driving, then lost her house, then her independence, then her life in 1999. We watched as that same full-of-life mind and spirit became imprisoned in her body that just stopped communicating with her brain. Awful.

Her very last words to me are burned in my brain. “Whatever you do with your life, have fun.”

So I am doing that this year. I am Running for Rita. She is going to be with me in memory and spirit. Why not invite others to join us in the race and join others as the work to stop ALS continues.

Follow through to my fundraising page and donate if you can. My target is $500.00. I know I can reach it with your help. Run with me in spirit, even if all you are planning to do May 1, 2016 is binge watch Buffy again and eat Doublemeat Medleys!

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One thought on “Running for ALS

  1. Pingback: Run 1000 Miles | Mind Squirrels

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