Did you know that we have amazing people running for us in the Pittsburgh Marathon? We do! To get everyone motivated in the final days leading up to the race on May 3, we would like to share some of our runners’ stories.
If you are a runner, you will relate to each story. But even if you aren’t, these dedicated folks will inspire you. Who knows, maybe you will run on our behalf in next year’s race!
This is the first in a series of daily runner stories featured on the blog all this week – leading up to the race on Sunday!
How long have you been running?
How many years have you been running for the Food Bank in the Pittsburgh Marathon?
First time running for the Food Bank.
What motivates you to run?
I don’t mean to cop out of this answer, but the reason that I run is very much in line with the web comic, The Oatmeal. I was a non-athletic, nerdy youth who couldn’t run a mile in under ten minutes. I had been bullied my whole childhood, even receiving prank phone calls in high school.
One summer day, post college, with so much time on my hands, I decided to start running. I had successfully lost some weight from calorie counting for a few months and wanted to see, if I stuck with a routine, if I could really get fit. At the time, I didn’t like treadmills and was terrified of the judgement that I would receive running on local tracks or along the sidewalk. I turned towards the local Montour Trail, which gave me a certain amount of privacy without feeling like a hamster on a wheel. I started off running only two miles at a time and worked my way up to six a day.
As The Oatmeal states, running proved to be the only meditative act that cleared my mind. It calmed me, giving me time to sort out my internal thoughts. I pushed myself through shin splints and bloody foot blisters, knowing that if I stopped because of them, I would be weak and never get very far.
When I’m outside, I fall into a steady rhythm, as if running is just my natural state, and I have no other option. Being on a trail, with the sun shining, I find just as much strength in the outdoors, as I do in the running itself. I’ve run alongside deer, seen baby turkey crossings, and have had butterflies land on me. It is as much being a part of nature, as it is clearing my mind.
Although my circumstances have fluctuated over the years — going to graduate school, working in the developing world, being long-term unemployed, getting married, moving to a new state — my love of running has never faltered. It’s the outdoors, it’s the control, it’s my rock ‘n roll playlist, it’s the high, it’s the food that I get to eat afterwards, it’s the challenge. Mostly, it makes me feel strong and alive. In winter, many mornings I wake up phantom running in bed — antsy for the summer days, where I can hit the trail again. Many winter mornings, I wake up phantom running in bed — antsy for the summer days, where I can hit the trail again.
Why have you decided to run for the Food Bank?
As a skeptic and international development practitioner, I have never ran on behalf of a charity. But, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is different. It’s a cause that I can soundly get behind. I have been volunteering on and off with them for over ten years — fall food drives, parade collections, gleaning, farming, and repackaging. I have even served as a race day volunteer with them for the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013. I know how their operations work to directly impact hunger in Western Pennsylvania.
In a world where many charities exploit other people’s generosity, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is a 501(c)(3) with a tangible, transparent cause. It’s putting food — and reasonably healthy food at that — directly into the hands of local families. I believe that food is a right and not a privilege. It is a universal necessity, and I know what it is like to go hungry. It weakens your immune system — leading to disease and organ failure. It keeps you from working, to functioning to your potential, and from enjoying life. It leaves children behind in the classroom and to act out on the playground. It is a constant battle and works to unweave many bigger things — without your basic needs met, you’ll never be able to go on to address other worldly problems. And, nobody should go hungry in a world of excess.
I want to support this cause — not just so I may run those beautiful steel bridges but to help my fellow Yinzers out with wholesome nutrition and resources. You never know, when you’ll need the same.
Did Kate get you motivated to help out? You can contribute to Kate’s run for the Food Bank today!