I’ve been running again. I got back into it the only way that seems to work for me… with a group. This time though, it isn’t a running group, per se. This time, it is a group of people running for a cause. I’ve never run for a cause before, but if one had the chance to hook me, it would definitely be this one… It is GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities, a Down syndrome awareness center that first opened in Chicago, but now will open its doors in the Twin Cities in January 2013!
Running has been interesting to say the least. I’m slow; slower than my previous “normal”. This means that on those long runs, I have time to think…. LOTS of time to think. I’ve joked to several people that I have to look at my long-distance runs as looooong meditations. See, I didn’t know how slow I’d be. I’ve run a couple of marathons before and thought I’d be able to hang with some of the group. But, time after time, after the group starts out on those early morning runs, I very quickly fall behind.
On one of those long runs that started out at 12, crept up to 18, and turned out to be 18.6 miles, I was struck by some of the similarities of my running with my daughter’s life. My daughter has Down syndrome (which is why the GiGi’s Playhouse coming to town is such a big deal for me) and I’m sure she is aware that her “normal” is slower than others. But, she gets out and does what she can every day. She even encourages her classmates, her brother, and sometimes even passersby by letting them know that they are doing a “good job!” She’ll give them a big thumbs up and a smile for doing things that she might not be able to do while she is busy working on things that she can do so she can improve. She means it too, that encouragement. She is truly impressed and happy for the people she is rooting for. She shows up. She does so as cheerfully as she can on any given day; and most days that’s pretty cheerful. But, even on those days that doing the work is hard, really hard, she is there trying; sometimes slowly, but trying.
I hope to be the same as her in that. I’m showing up, as cheerfully as I can, and I’m trying. I’ll go the “wrong way” around a lake so that I have a chance to encourage the other runners from our group (since I’d never see them if I went the same way around as them). I’ve enjoyed the passersby, particularly around the lakes. I’ve encouraged them and been encouraged by them. I keep showing up, keep putting in the work, and keep being ok where I am while also being very happy for the other runners as they pass me by.
The way I’d like to see it is that my daughter and I, well, we may not be fast, but we have big hearts and we’re tough enough to put in the work even if it takes us longer. We love to support and encourage others along their path and we love to get support and encouragement from those people who cross our paths. So, there’s the pitch… would you help support my daughter and I by donating to GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities? Just go to http://tinyurl.com/GiGisTwinCities and click the donate button. Down syndrome is basically 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, so you could donate $21.21 and have 21 friends do the same. 🙂 The marathon is 21 days away and whatever you can do would be appreciated! Though, if you aren’t moved to donate or can’t right now, I totally understand. A smile, a thumbs up, a “good job”, or a kind word will take my daughter and I (and likely anyone that crosses your path) a long way as well. However it all goes, we are showing up!