For the past two years I have made a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as this is a cause close to my heart. This year, World Run Day falls on the Sunday that I have a 20 mile run, two weeks prior to Philly. This is quite special to me, a) since I have never run 20 miles in my life and b) because I have the opportunity to make a donation to Chimp Haven, a National Chimpanzee Sanctuary which provides lifetime care for chimpanzees which have been used in medical research, or are simply no longer wanted by their 'owners'. I heard about this organization on PBS, and an overview of the programme can be found on their website.
World Run Day is also special to me, because it was the first time that I actually managed to go outside and run on my own. Indeed my first posting to this blog was all about that first run. If I have made this sound more dramatic than it actually is, let me break it down a bit. In Italy, I was used to running with my team, and my running partner was a very nice man called Francesco. Francesco was a retired policeman, and my coach. He encouraged me and most of all, made me believe that hills were the best thing since spaghetti alle vongole! To this day, I love hills and hill work. During races, we used to run together, and as we neared the finish line, we would always hold hands and cross that line together. It meant a lot to me, as I was not particularly fast, but Francesco would do 2 training sessions: his own, and then a second one with me. Many a day I felt like ditching a work out, but Francesco would ring and confirm our appointment at the track or Pian del Lago, a green woody area in the Sienese countryside.
When I left Siena, I stopped running. I could not imagine running without Francesco pushing me along. A few times just before handing in my thesis, I ran in Oxford, but I can count on my one hand the number of times I did. When I came to Boston, I could only run indoors. In the end, I was too scared to run outside on my own - what would that mean? I know it sounds bizarre, but there you have it. World Run Day in 2008 offered me the opportunity to do just that, and no the sky did not fall in on my head!
It had to be a sign, as I found an old photo of Francesco and I, running the Vivicitta' race in Siena. This is a race which also takes place world wide, and is held to combat racism, and to protect the environment. But that deserves a separate post. I am thankful that I had such a great running partner like Francesco, who had the patience of a saint, and helped me take my first baby running steps! I am also thankful that on 7 November, I will run 20 miles, and finally I am thankful that I can make a small donation to the Chimp Haven.
So dear fellow runners, will you please run with me on 7 November? I would love the 'company' and it would be so great to do this virtual run together, and celebrate our love of running. Any takers?
Francesco and I nearing the finish line: One day, I will be smiling when I finish!