19 Reasons Why: Why I Run, Why I Run for, and Why I Run for Taller de Jose

Saturday, I ran my 19-miler in training for the Chicago marathon. I took the bus up to the start of the Chicago Lakefront Trail, an 18-mile trail that runs 5800 N Sheridan to 7100 S. South Shore (Edgewater to South Shore!!). I added on a mile at the start of the run so it would total 19 miles, which was what my training plan calls for this week. Running Buddy parked at the end of the path and ran 5 miles north to meet me for the last 5 miles of my run, which was a lifesaver to have a buddy for those final miles, but also to have a CAR at the end so I didn’t stink up the bus for an hour bus ride home (THANK YOU, RUNNING BUDDY!). To occupy myself on the run before I had Running Buddy the last 5 miles, I decided to work on this list of why I run, why I run for, and why I run for Taller de José. 

19 mile sunrise
The view on the bus ride north to the start of my 19-miler

Why I run:

  1. I run because it’s a healthy habit to have. Yes, it could potentially be bad for my knees, but so is not exercising. I’ll risk the knee problems for now.  Running is something I can do without a gym membership, it is an “easy” way to exercise anywhere, and it’s a generally accessible way to create an active lifestyle.
  2. I run because running taught/is teaching me discipline. It’s hard to fashion a life that includes all the areas you want it to–relationships, fun, exercise, learning, working, spirituality, etc. The practice of running, and especially of training for races, continues to teach me how to work toward a goal and how to be intentional about how I spend my time, and also to have fun while doing it!
  3. I run because running is a metaphor for life! I learn so much from running, and I find these learnings to be applicable lessons not just to the details of running, but to the larger themes of life, often most applicable to my spiritual life, that is, my relationships with God and neighbor.
  4. I run because running is actually communal. A lot of the time, I run with Running Buddy, so it is a time for us to catch up and connect. But being a runner also connects me to the larger community of people with this same weird habit/passion. It’s a conversation topic and a bridge when meeting new people. It’s one way of being part of something bigger than myself.
  5. I run because running is meditative or at least, good thinking time. Occasionally, when I run by myself, it can almost be meditative, calming, and good for the soul. The other times when I run by myself, it is at least good time to sort through my thoughts. I’m on the introvert side of things, so having time to sort through my thoughts in my head before speaking them aloud is particularly helpful.
  6. I run because I get to. Running is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to run for health reasons or otherwise.
  7. I run because it’s fun! Okay, I admit, not always. But between the occasional runner’s high, the time with friends, the joy of a PR, the satisfaction of improvement, the feeling of accomplishment after a long run, the thrill of running in all sorts of weather, the gift of running on beautiful days in this beautiful city, running is not just pain/drudgery/discipline, but actually joy and gift!

Why I run for:

  1. Full stop, this reason is “this category does not have to exist” because the first seven reasons for running would be enough. “Helpers” like myself need to remember that self-care is not selfish and that something that is good exercise and fun and a challenge is enough of a reason to do something. Occasionally spending time and energy on good things for myself helps me be more available to love others well. Remember, we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That being said…
  2. I run for because I am grateful. Running for something else is a way of stewarding this gift I have been given of a two legs that can run (See #6 above). To whom much is given, much is expected (See Luke 12:48)
  3. I run for because it’s a good way to raise funds/awareness on a macro level. Marathons are huge logistical endeavors that require a lot of resources. On a macro level, running for causes takes an event requiring a lot of resources (money, water, volunteers), and makes it dual purpose: a fun/challenging race AND an awareness/fundraiser for many causes. Win-win!
  4. I run for because it’s a good way to raise funds/awareness on a micro level.  I figure I may as well use that huge amount of input on an individual level (money, time, sweat) to further a cause bigger than myself. It’s not that much additional blood/sweat/tears to run for something else too.
  5. I run for because it connects me to non-runners and helps me share this love with people in another avenue that they can appreciate, even if they don’t love running. People (like you, my readers and supporters!) can relate to helping people even if they can’t relate to the crazy world of long-distance running;)
18 mile rainy
A few weeks ago post 18-miler, repping my Taller de Jose shirt and looking like a drowned rat (running in the rain sounds hardcore but it’s pretty darn fun)

Why I run for Taller de José:

  1. I run for Taller de José because I love their model of ministry. They embody the ministry of accompaniment, which is to walk with people in their time of need. Their compañeras “help” connect people to social services through the relational model of being with people in their time of need, not extending a lifeline from on high, not walking ahead as someone “in charge,” but walking with as fellow companions on the shared journey of life.
  2. I run for Taller de José because they are unique. They connect people to services and services to people, trying not to replicate other social services that already exist, but filling the gap between those who need help with the help that is available.
  3. I run for Taller de José  because I personally know many of the people who work or have worked at Taller. They get it. See Megan’s reflection. Or Hillary’s.  They embody mutuality, hospitality, and accompaniment. They don’t just talk the talk!
  4. I run for Taller de José  because I personally know the (newly minted) Executive Director (eek!!!). She is Running Buddy. I hear the stories. I saw her go to school for her Masters in Non-profit Management while working full time so she could put that learning at the service of Taller de José. Basically, I have a front row seat to the behind-the-scenes of Taller, and I still trust Taller. I don’t think everyone could claim that after seeing the behind-the-scenes of a lot of places.
  5. I run for Taller de José  because of the clients they accompany. Two years ago, when Running  Buddy was also running for Taller, she shared many of their stories here.
  6. I run for Taller de José because they are located in Little Village, where I lived during my Amate House year. I love the community and they will always have a place in my heart. The neighborhood is listed 3rd highest on the hardship index for the city, so they face many struggles of course, but it is also a vibrant community full of generous, hard-working people.  (And while Taller serves many people from the neighborhood, they also will accompany anyone from anywhere in the area, at no cost to the client. In-cre-ible!!)
  7. I run for  Taller de José because countless dear people have accompanied me during hard times in my life. I love that Taller de José ensures other people don’t have to go through hard times alone.

7 reason why I run 

+ 5 reason why I run for 

+ 7 reasons why I run for Taller de José

 = 19 reasons why

19 18 mile start
For Saturday’s 19-miler, I ran one mile to the start of the 18-mile trail. So this sign may read “0” but please read, “1” 😉
19 mile endish
18 miles later and… I haven’t moved?
19 mile end
Phew! The other side of the sign shows I did actually run 18 miles since the “0”/”1″ sign 😉

Do you like the sound of Taller de José too? Do you have people who have accompanied you in hard times? Or maybe you just want to wish this crazy runner a happy birthday? 😉 You can support Taller de José through my running efforts here! Thank you SO MUCH, dear friends!

 

Stick-shift driving, GSWs, and Afterschool Care

Stick-shift driving, GSWs, and Afterschool Care: A Summer’s Tale and Accompaniment Appeal

Stick-shift driving

This summer, I’ve learned to drive a manual car. My roommate, aka Running Buddy, aka Ace, owns a manual car which I’ve never been able to drive. This was okay when we had a third roommate (Amici), who used to let me borrow her car if needed, and I take a lot of public transit too, of course. But Amici moved to a place called OK (miss you, Amici!), and Ace was going to be in Europe for three weeks this summer and her car would be here with me, all alone.  It was decided in early June that by July 13th, I would somehow magically be able to drive her car home, after dropping her in the suburbs where her group was leaving from on that day. And by “it was decided,” I mean, Ace decided this, having way more confidence in me than I had in myself.

So off we went to empty parking lots to practice stalling, I mean, practice driving stick-shift. Before we started practicing, it felt like I was humoring Ace and maybe humoring myself, pretending that this would somehow happen that I would be able to learn to competently drive a manual car… in CHICAGO. But after that first practice session, and after another one or two, I realized learning stick shift was like training for a marathon. When you painfully endure 5 miles for the first time and it takes every ounce of strength you have, if you imagine running 26 miles, you’ll never think you’ll be able to complete this marathon you signed up for on a whim (that was me 2+ years ago).  But if you painfully learn to endure those 5 miles, and then eventually you can run 10 miles, running 12 miles after that doesn’t seem so terrible. Twelve becomes 14 becomes 18 and so on til you  train to eventually hobble across the finish line after 26.2 miles.  Thus it was with driving. First gear in the parking lot led to 2nd and 3rd gears on empty roads, which led to stop signs and neighborhood driving. This was the gateway to Ace saying, “today you’re going to drive on the highway” and next comes parallel parking. Eventually, I drove her car home after dropping her in the suburbs on July 13th as she anticipated so assuredly. And I’ve been smiling like a 16-year-old behind the wheel for the first time as I have enjoyed this new skill of mine these last few weeks.

GSWs

This is one of those acronyms I didn’t know until less than 2 months ago and now I wish I didn’t have to use it so frequently. It means “Gun Shot Wound.” This summer, I’m doing a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship as a hospital chaplain at a Trauma I hospital on Chicago’s South(west) side. We throw around the term like we’ve used it our whole lives and like we didn’t see a hole in a person where there should never be a hole and like we didn’t hold an anxious mother for hours while she awaited an life-changing update from a busy ER doctor. “Patient X was multiple GSW to the abdomen… Pastoral care provided: prayer with family, water, tissues, and non-anxious presence” are normal parts of our updates with fellow chaplains. More on this internship is still to come for sure (the internship is well known to be an intense experience with little time for outside activity, thus the absence of time to blog about it). But for now, maybe take a minute to say a hold all those suffering from GSWs and all forms of violence in your thoughts and prayers?

Afterschool Care

My internship at Mt. Sinai hospital where I’ve been seeing these GSWs and otherwise meeting patients in various stages of illness is only 1 mile from the Roommate’s work. Due to various meetings at her work in the meeting that I was attending too, or coordinating rides home, or doing laundry in her work’s basement (yes, you read that right), or just going to eat lunch there after an on-call shift and before heading home, I ended up at her work many times in the first few weeks of the summer. I started joking that her work felt like my “Afterschool care.” When Roommate was in Europe, I even went to “afterschool” once to do my laundry still, after an encouraging text from Roommate’s boss that I was missed at “Afterschool.” How many people can do laundry at their roommate’s workplace, when their roommate is not even there?!?! I’m one lucky gal with a lucky roommate with a great place to work.

So what does driving a stick-shift, learning about GSWs, and going to “afterschool care” have in common, aside from all existing in my summer?!

Accompaniment.

Stick-shift driving: Roommate/Running Buddy/Ace believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She was a patient and encouraging teacher and I was driving stick-shift by myself after about 5 lessons. I never thought it possible. She accompanied me.

GSWs: As chaplains, we accompany families and patients when they are in trauma in the ER. As chaplain interns, we have accompanied each other this summer as we process these intense experiences. I could not ask for a better cohort of CPE interns than the ones that God has placed with me at Mt. Sinai. We accompany one another.

Afterschool Care: Roommate’s place of work mentioned above? Taller de Jose!  The team I’m running the marathon for! They have accompanied me this summer and I am seeking to accompany them in their ministry of accompaniment. 

 

So my last post explained why I dropped off the face of the planet and stopped fundraising suddenly for my half-marathon in April. I also explained in that post that I would be running the Chicago Marathon, for Team Taller de Jose, just as I had anticipated running the half-marathon for them in April. At that time, I was still in the throes of recovering from mono. I am beyond words thrilled to be able to say that after the requisite 6 weeks of getting over the exhaustion affectionately known as “mono,” I was back to my regular self, and I am now almost half-way through training for that marathon!

Will you accompany me during my summer of accompaniment  as I run for Taller’s ministry of accompaniment? Your prayers and/or financial support are much appreciated! If you would consider donating, please check out my fundraising page here! No donation is too small! Or large 🙂

In the spirit of accompaniment,
Melissa