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Environment, On Running

Philanthropic Running – A New President and New Attitude Toward Running for a Cause

What kind of runner will you be this year?  With Barak Obama in the White House – a man who represents hope and change for our country, I cannot think of a better time to think about my running goals for next year and whether I will be able to use running to make a difference in someone else’s life. 

Why even think this way? Because President-elect Obama was asked in the debates about the sacrifices this county would need to make to turn the ship that is America around and sail it into brighter waters.  Our president has called on us to look outside ourselves and to work together for a new America – and that will take sacrifice in every facet of our lives.  This means we all are responsible for everything from turning down the heat, to driving and spending less, to donating our time, not just our money, to helping America get back on its feet. For all of us who say we don’t want big government, the best way to prevent the growth of our government is for us to use our own creative resources toward helping each other without depending on the government to help us when we make mistakes.

So this means that Americans stop looking for handouts from free pens to low-cost mortgages. Somehow we got caught up in Paris Hilton and life became about a house or a car or a fur coat. We forgot – life is about family, clean air, clean water, and the right to be treated well by our bretheren.  Throw away the People Magazine America. If you know that Britney Spears has two kids but you did not know that Africa is a contintent made up of numerous countries like Ethiopia and Sudan, both of which have been in the international news for decades, America is in big trouble.  We have become the DIY nation of debt and now look at us. We are  dependent on the government because we spent money, bought things we did not need, drove huge cars just because we could, and now like a college student who rung up too many charges on their credit card, we turn to the parent that is our government and ask for a bailout. Some superpower.

I realize that we are all selfish in our own right. We have families, jobs, and blogs to update, but in this world where we are all overstimulated by television, radio, computers, personal hand-held devices and cell phones, we need to stop the texting and twittering and turn all of these things off long enough to think about what we as Americans can do to change our behavior and attitude about just about everything.

So I ask, what can I do for my country and I can I do it while pursuing my goals as a runner?  The good news is yes.

Every year I look to be a faster, more efficient athlete. With all my hang ups and physcial inperfections I always look to better myself, which is why I guess, that running never bores me. But even as I plan my races – I look to see where I can make a difference – like when I trained my sister for her first road race and drove four hours to see her or when I helped another friend train for the NYC Marathon, or even when I ran with a friend and gave her nutrition advice to enable her to lose 60 pounds after giving birth to her children.

Next year will be no different. I want to run 2-3 10-milers and I want to run them in 1:30 or better for my own personal edification.   I am planning on the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in DC (April), the Philadelphia Broad Street 10-miler in PA (June), and the Army 10-miler in VA/DC (September).  In between, I would like to do some smaller races – and concentrate on those races that are for a cause. Why? I have learned that when I get intimately involved with a cause, I have a higher probability of donating my time and money .

For example, 2002 I ran the San Diego Marathon and raised $5,000 with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. While I do not want to go through the program again, since I have run the race I have donated money to the local and national groups every year. In fact, each year I look for opportunities to be a volunteer coach – and I aspire to do that – because it benefits the cause and all the people training. I have the experience training and it’s not too much of a sacrifice for me to help people do something I also love doing.

Until that opportunity with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society comes along, one race I thought I would try – because it’s on a holiday and because it is a cause-related run is the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot supported by SOME – So Others Might Eat.  Not only am I going to commit to running the race, but I want to actually volunteer too. I have always wanted to serve food a food kitchen and I am thinking that over the Thanksgiving holiday would be a good opportunity for me. We won’t have guests this year so why not?  Even if I don’t like the experience I can say I tried. That’s the best any of us can do.

In a time when we need to change the way we think and do things – there is no better time to adopt the depression era mentality of saving money, using fewer resources, and helping others.  I for one am willing to make those changes….as long as I can run too – and I believe there is room for both.

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