Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Back on My Feet

Today was National Running Day.

What is the right way to celebrate a made up national day? For me, of course, it's to hit the road for a run.

But today wasn't just any run. Today was Wednesday. And on Wednesdays I hoist my body out of bed at 4:30am, stretch half-heartedly between yawns, and drive 30 minutes to downtown Indianapolis. There, I run with my team.

My team is made up of strangers, but only because I'm new. They are from all walks of life. They are of many shapes, and sizes, and stories. And about half of them are homeless.

The other half are team members who show up to run with the homeless half. We come from all over the city. We run together, we talk and laugh together, we stretch together, and then half of us go home. The other half go back to their group house. They've been placed there by case workers and social workers, given a chance to rebuild themselves, to get control of their lives, and to start over again. And they've decided to run as part of their program.

The team is organized by a group called, fittingly, Back on My Feet. BoMF uses running as the basis of a program to build a sense of community, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and strength for the homeless population. They are funded by donations and by corporate sponsors. There are chapters in 7 US cities.

Last year I'd read about the organization and chapters in other US cities and was blown away. And to tell the truth, I felt a little envious of the runners in those other cities.

Earlier this year, DougRun365 reader, knower of all things going down in Indy, and virtual friend, Amy Crook pointed me to a news article about a BoMF chapter opening in Indianapolis. As I read the article, my heart started to race... I read faster and faster...

I've never been one to feel a "calling" to something, but seriously people, an organization that uses running to rebuild peoples lives... this is right in my wheel house. This is my passion and my mission come to life. How can I not be here. Immediately, I knew I had to get involved.

And by immediately, I mean it took 2 months.

The deal is, before you can join the team, you need to go through an orientation meeting. These meetings were systematically scheduled so as to make it impossible for me to attend. At least, that is, until last month.

The orientation is all about the organization, how it started, how it's funded, what the runs are like, stuff like that. The BoMF folks didn't know it at the time, but it was just a formality. Twelve seconds into it, I knew I was in.

I've been on two team runs. We meet butt-early. I run slow. We hug, a lot. And we sweat. And then we hug some more. It's not especially sanitary, but it is heartfelt.

Honestly, the experience is beyond words. It's something you have to see, to be in, to appreciate. The love and respect and support shared in that circle of runners is real, and I am honored to be a part of it.

If you would like to be a part of it, too, check out this link to learn more and this link to sign up for an orientation meeting to learn even more. Or, if you can't join us for the runs, consider throwing a few dollars their way.

Good running,