Thursday, July 20, 2017

Running for a Cause

Someone asked me, "Why do you run?"

The truth is, I really am not crazy about running.  In fact, most people I know who run say the same thing.  Running is hard.  Super hard.  Yet, runners do it anyway.

Last week, my husband, Joe and I ran the Bubble Run in East Hartford.  Here's a glimpse...

We were like little kids running through the bubbles.  It was sooo much fun!  

So, even with my history of knee problems, that's why I run.  It's hard work, but it's fun!  I actually sort of started running by accident.  Last summer I started by doing intervals on the treadmill.  This turned into running outside to doing 5Ks.
One of the most appealing things about running is doing the races.  Local charities and non-profits organize races to raise money for their organization or to raise awareness for their cause.  A lot of people sign up for them either as a training run or to push their record to do even more.  I can tell you, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as a pack of runners rallying together for a good cause.  There is a tremendous amount of group energy and inspiration when everyone is laced up and ready to hit the pavement.
Maria & I at the Boston Run to Remember
So exciting!!!
For me, that's the thrill of the 5K.  Some day, maybe I'll train for a 10K or a 1/2 marathon, but for now, I am proud do do the 3.1 miles.  I feel like I just started running, and like I said, running is hard.  Super hard.  So, again, why do it?

I do it for me.  For the thrill, for how I feel after the run.  But I also do it for the cause.

I've run six different races.  My first run was last December and that was my best run.  I ran my best time, I think I was super nervous and I just wanted to kill it.  And so I did.
Our running team... I'm in the front, center.  This was a fundraiser for autism.
After recovering from the severity of my back injuries, I started running again in late April.  
The Tarentino Strong race is in honor of Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. who died in the line of duty in May, 2016.
When I started my blog, I started following other weight loss / fitness blogs.  RunEatRepeat is probably my favorite.  Monica Oliveras has a fun way of writing about running, food, health and life related concerns. She is a runner and she encourages her readers to get out there and run too.  Following her really motivated me to try running.  My husband has run for years and I've always watched from the sidelines.  It's disheartening to feel like I can't run.  Monica motivated me to try.  She's great for saying, "Just put on some shoes and run.  Yeah, that's all you have to do."

At first, I couldn't run very far at all.  I measured success by driveway lengths.  With each run, I tried to go a little further until I finally could run a mile, then 1.5, all the way to 3 miles.
I did a great little run in May to raise money for a Rotary Club scholarship.
Running can be hard on your joints, so it's important to have good footwear and stretch.  Flexibility is key to mobility, strength and endurance.  You want to take good care of your joints!

A little at-home yoga.
Races really help to keep your motivation up too and they are a great way to raise money for worthwhile causes.  Several years ago, a lady from my church started a ministry to raise awareness of human trafficking and to raise funds to provide care for its victims.  The name of the ministry she started is SHINE, which stands for Stop Human Trafficking In New England (the T in trafficking is not part of the acronym).  The major fundraiser they sponsor is a 5K run/walk.  As it is not just open to our church, it brings awareness of the problem to our community and raises money for partnering organizations involved with fighting the problem.  
My husband did the race in 2014, way before I was running.
It's a great event!
I realize I don't have to pay money to run.  It's probably the cheapest sport out there.  All you really need is a decent pair of sneakers.  But running for a cause does motivate me to improve.  It makes me happy to support local non-profits.
On National Sports Bra Squad Day, I ran the Westfield 5K to raise money for the local Boys & Girls Club.
It's rare, but you don't have to pay for every race you run.  The Tortoise and the Hare 3 Mile Run in Nahant is one such race.  You just show up, get your bib and run.
While on vacation in Nahant, we ran their annual 4th of July 3 mile fun run.
Like I said, the cause is a HUGE reason why I run races.  Raising money for scholarships, memorials, research and treatment for illnesses or just to support awareness - it's a huge part of why I pay that $20 - $30 to run a race.  If you are trying to raise money for a cause, think about sponsoring a 5/10K race.  I recommend making both an option to attract a bigger crowd.  It does take a little more planning, but if your purpose is to make money, you want to get as many participants as possible.  I have run races with under 50 runners and I've run races with hundreds, even thousands of runners.  It's a HUGE draw.  A well run, organized race will draw return runners who will bring their running friends.  You could even sponsor a few training runs in advance of the race, to get some new runners to participate.

So, what does it take to organize a race?   First of all, you need a cause.  What is it that you are passionate about and needs funding?  Then, get a team of people to support you in your efforts.
The Boston Run to Remember is in honor of first responders who died in the line of duty.
The most important part about planning the race is to get runners, so advertising is key.  I recommend using an online site, such as EventBrite to promote your race and help with your registrations. There is a small fee to these sites, but EventBrite is very reasonable and most of the proceeds go directly to your cause.
I wore old sneakers for the Bubble Run because I didn't want to ruin my good running shoes.  They were soaked by the time we were done!
To keep costs down, ask for donations for things like ... t-shirts, prizes, water and nutrition for runners.  See if you can get a local DJ to donate his/ her time and equipment for the event.  Contact local law enforcement agencies to inquire about the cost to keep your race safe.   You want to make sure runners have a safe path and do not have to run in traffic!  Many police departments will donate their time for good causes.  Or, perhaps there is a local park you can use with trails / roads for your runners.  Unless you have access to a facility with open restrooms, don't forget porta potties!!!!  Runners need to go!!!  And make sure you have enough of them!  There's nothing worse than running a 5K and then not being able to relieve yourself because there is a long line for the bathroom.

A couple things to consider....

Water stations along the run.  Runners need to hydrate and it's wise to have one or two areas where runners can grab a small cup of water or gatorade while they are mid-race.   You'll want a trash area close by because usually we quickly discard the cup after we swallow.

Fun activities.  Maybe you can have some prizes for costumes.  A good DJ will play great music at the start / finish line and adds a lot of fun to the race.   A pre- or post- race kids fun run is a way to ge the whole family involved.  Have some other related fitness contests after the run, such as a pull up bar, or jump rope / hula hoop contests.  While it may seem gimmicky, a lot of runners are fitness fanatics and love this kind of thing.  But, it's optional.
After the Bubble Run, they shot cannons of bubbles at us and it was so much fun!!  We were completely soaked in bubbles.
Professional photographers.  Your runners LOVE to see themselves run and it's great to have photographers stationed along the run.  Upload the pictures to your website and use a search tool to help runners find their picture (with the bib).
I kept every bibs from each race I've run.
Signage!!!  Make sure you have LOTS of signs for your runners.  Where to park, where the start line is, where registration is (day of and pre-registration), and MOST importantly, where to turn along the way!!!

It's not that complicated to plan and organize a race.  If you need to raise some money for your cause, DO IT!
Joe and my hubby, Brian.  My running partners.
If you want to run your first race, just do a google search for "EventBrite races" or "EventBrite 5K races" add your town to narrow down the search.  Don't be afraid to try!  There are new runners at every race I've ever run.  A lot of them walk along the way and that's perfectly okay.  The key is to stick with it.  Run a safe race.  You don't want any injuries along the way, so keep your eyes on the road, watch where you are going and if you have to walk a little bit to catch your breath, so be it.

For a girl who hates to run, I sure do have a lot to say about why I love it so much!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
Have you ever run a 5K?  A 10K?  What was your most memorable race?  If you haven't run one?  Why not?  Are you interested?  Message me....

Musical notes    
This is one of my FAVORITE songs!  I just love Maroon 5.  And this video is the best one I've ever seen.  I LOVE how they crash all these weddings.  Add this to your play list today!

Sugar by Maroon 4
Your sugar, yes please.  Won't you come and put it down on me?  I'm right here, 'cause I need
Little love, a little sympathy.  Yeah, you show me good loving.  Make it alright.  Need a little sweetness in my life.

Instagram:  @tracoleman99