Thursday, November 27, 2014

We Run Because We Can

Kayla runs with MS...because she can
The unofficial motto of girls' cross country at St. Ignatius College Prep is "We run because we can." 

I first placed these words on prayer cards that I make for the entire team at the beginning of each season. Those words resonate with me; I have a precarious relationship with the sport due to a heart condition. I've always thought the ability to put on a pair of shoes and hit the road was a gift. And I'm also aware it's not one that everyone enjoys, but I do. I still do—in spite of the limitations I now face. Indeed, "I run because I can" is something I am grateful to do.

Teachers and coaches share a whole lot of words and ideas with our students and athletes. And you never know what is going to speak to them. What sticks? Why?

Perhaps it was the viewing of "Running for Jim" and his visit that illuminated the truth that even the ability to run is a gift. It's sad, but it's often easier to appreciate someone or something when it's no longer with you. To look at Coach Jim in his motorized wheelchair sharing what he missed about running was more than humbling. It was eye-opening. It was transformative. It wasn't a pity party or a cry for help. It was...a moment of grace? a miracle? a kick in the butt? All of the above? Jim Tracy died on  April 6, 2014. We run because we can.
At this year's cross country banquet, I noticed just how many girls made note of this credo. As they said them, I wondered if people in the audience questioned those words. Running because you can? It's not overly inspirational or hard core. It's not asking anyone to dig deep. 

I feared that some would think our program isn't competitive or that we lack goals. But the more I heard my athletes talk about what running and cross country meant to them, it became very obvious that it's much more than a motto—it's a truth that they live.

So on Thanksgiving Day when we given thanks for freedom, for family and friends, for health and well-being, I add a "thank you" for the gift of running. 

If you are like me and thousands of other Americans, perhaps you started your day with a run—at a community Turkey Trot. At the 17th annual St. Ignatius Turkey Trot, over 150 students and their families, alumni and future Wildcats ran 4 miles around Lake Merced, while raising money for St. Anthony's. It's a great way to commence Thanksgiving.

And a wonderful way to conclude it is by viewing the story of Kayla Montgomery and her high school coach who helps her up at the conclusion of every race. The article "Coach Catches Teenage Runner with Multiple Sclerosis During Every Race" notes,
Given the impairments MS places on muscles and physical coordination, Kayla's running feats are truly miraculous. She serves as an inspiration to all those who feel limited by MS symptoms, proving that dreams are still achievable no matter what hand you've been dealt. What did you think of her story? Tell us in the comments below and make sure to share if you were as moved by her resilience as we were.
3 Special Girls, 3 Special Runners
I encourage you to do the same. Two of my runners sent me this article and video. And guess what they wrote beside it...

If you're able to run, do it. And in the spirit of my brother's high school cross country and track coach, the great Joe Stocking: Imua! and always ENJOY!

Photo Credits
Kayla Montgomery

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