Monday, October 10, 2011

Pre Des Moines Marathon Post

Six days until the Des Moines Marathon. This one will be unique, as they have all been. I've gone through phases in the half decade that I've devoted my vacation time and weekends to running. I started by paying almost no attention to time, pace, and all that stuff. Then I got a half-ass tracking watch, the Nike thing that has a pod in your shoe and is totally inaccurate. Now I have my Garmin satellite toaster oven armband, which I enjoy immensely.

I like to run faster, really I do. But I care about my time from the perspective that a bad time may mean I'm tired, injured, dehydrated, etc. It's the "why" that matters; the time is merely an indicator of strength and health to me at this point.

It's like I'm really feeling synchronized with the whole World of Running thing, the whole club or extended family that evolves out of this activity. Giving support to others who are going through phases I've gone through; getting support from others who have something to contribute to my growth as a runner (because I don't know everything... sshh). You just have to relax, exercise your sense of humour, roll with the incessant punches that are injury, weather, distractions...

So I hope to run a decent race in Des Moines, obviously. I'll enjoy the scenery if there is any (I've been assured that Iowa is much more than cornfields and panhandling politicians), I'll take the time to meet and greet along the route if the opportunity arises. I'll prioritize the family aspect of the trip because if I lose an hour's sleep and a couple of minutes on my results, for example... I don't mind in the least.

And I'll let you know how it went.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Running Charities

Non-runners usually assume you are running races in order to raise money for some cause. In many cases they are right, of course. After all, runners raise enormous amounts of cash for endless numbers of causes. It's a fantastic relationship, total synchronicity. There are no imaginative boundaries to the creative approaches that runners employ to help charities; many of the success stories I see are the result of both luck and planning, and this aspect of running is endlessly fascinating.

I have determined that I will commit to Terry Fox Run every year, for one thing. I have also started getting involved with Run for Life as a member of the board, and that has been a real fun ride so far with endless potential. I see all sorts of opportunities to turn my running habit into a means to contribute to charitable ventures, and I am cautiously venturing into that realm.

Why cautiously, you ask? First of all, I don't want to scare people away when they see me coming, and I don't want to create any kind of negative attitude about charities as a result of my approach. Secondly, I don't have time to really get into it more than I already have at this point. And thirdly, perhaps most importantly for me, is the fact that I simply 'give at the office' and expect that most other people do as well. Running is a health/fun thing for me first and foremost. I hope, and believe, that I make an impact by my example for many people.

Like a lot of things in life, charitable organizations and functions have rules and structures for what should be obvious reasons. There needs to be 100% clarity and transparency about what the money goes for, what the charity's goals and objectives are, and that all regulatory rules are being obeyed.

So by all means, go and speak to your kid's class. Get a little informal group going. Advise a friend, 'coach' him or her along. Give advice online or in person. Make a difference. But always be clear when you're asking people for money: tell them whether they're going to get a tax receipt or not. It's that simple.

That's what I have to say about that.