Caren Ware's Blog

April 3, 2010

Off and Running

Filed under: A Runner's Story,Marathon Running,Women Running — Caren Ware @ 10:30 pm

I got an email from a man who had lost his mom to cancer and wanted to combine his love of running with helping support this non profit charity.  The charity provided opportunities for families to get love n support while dealing with the harsh realities of cancer. I, too, have lost my mom to cancer.  It is an amazing story. Heavy, wrenching, but a life revealing experience. I will put that as a chapter in the book.  

Most the races we time are cause races, but I felt something personable and touching behind this request. I took the call and made arrangements to meet so I could walk him through the steps it would take to put on a successful running race.  It takes a lot of guts to start up a first time event from scratch. I was impressed and became more impressed when I met the man that wanted to do a charitable deed for a charitable organization.  I liked him. I liked his focus. He was used to successfully getting things done.  He had run a marathon on every continent and shared that running had literally helped ground him as he made some big changes to his life.  I could use some of that re-routing I thought. I have ALWAYS wanted to run the Antarctica Marathon from the inaugural year it was introduced.  I wanted to hear about every one of his races.

We exchanged travel stories and I told him about my climbs, the trek from the Amazon across the Andes in Peru, and my yearly adventure to time  inline skate races on remote islands in the French Polynesian Islands. (More chapters in the book.) I told him about the three Tahitian boys who stepped off a plane in LAX with their inline skates slung over their shoulders. They were barefooted and had never been off their island. They spoke no English, a little French, and a lot of Tahitian.  They sat on the curb at LAX Airport for an entire day and a half holding our business card and hoping one of those commuter vans would eventually say Lake Arrowhead. They just assumed everyone in Southern California would know everyone.  That’s the way it is on there island. What an experience to show them SNOW, try to outfit them in jackets and gloves which they had never had to wear, watch them take to snowboarding like the biggest white wave of their lives , and frightfully rock climbing in Joshua tree without ropes and with their bare toes.  “Come on, the coconut tree is higher and more dangerous.  It sways in the wind, “They gestured.

I wanted to hear more and see pictures about marathons on other continents.  I wanted to hear enough to have the guts to pack up and go myself.  What hooked me was he said words could never describe the serenity and sanctity of being in the vastness of the Antarctic.  It was spiritual.  It welded a soul. There was definitely Someone grander than us. I soaked in the photos.  I knew I would just have to go.

But there was a big problem.  I was FIT.  I was in incredible condition.  I was a World Class athlete on a 400 meter track.  I hadn’t taken a long distance step in years.  I was completely intimidated to try.  I was actually afraid.  And I was tired of being alone.  Although I had  finished 5 full marathons and 3 half Ironmans in my thirties,  I had just spent the past 7 years showing adults that you can still do things at any age you set your mind to  by running Track & Field. I wanted America to embrace that sports have an eternal value despite the age.  That the same giddy nerves come up for a masters event as when I was in college running an all league meet.  That the same depth of character developed in the vigors of training.  That it took athletic poise and confidence to win, no matter what age and what level of competition.  Ageless.  And available for any of us to still do no matter what age.

My timing company had expanded to include the latest in Chip timing technology.  We had  16 key professional staff that handled making the races happen.  We had 2 trucks, 2 vans, a trailer,  tons of scaffolding, finish line materials, and loads of lap tops.  We  are esteemed as one of the best service oriented timing companies in the West and were branching to Ironkids events all over the nation.  Success.  Success. And yet, I was in trouble.  All my fast tracking through life had incredible tales, but tornados do damage.  I was stunned that I could not keep it all together. There were reasons I needed to discover.  I had spent a lifetime covering up a painful childhood and accepted dysfunction in marriage. I was floundering with a true sense of self.  I had stepped away from God.  In not dealing directly with things, I had hurt some people and was hurting.  I needed to make some changes.  I didn’t know how. So why not just RUN and let RUNNING be the process that leads to enhancing, enriching, learning, and just living.  Works for me.

I asked this guy to take me on a run. It was a patient experience.  One, I am not city savvy.  I can go on a dirt road up here and never see a car. I get to see coyotes and skunks. Cars were swerving away from me.  I couldn’t remember to look for them down side alleys.  He finally gave up and took me to a dirt road and trail. We hit the hills on a beautiful road that weaves over a canyon. I was so amazed to find tranquility between Laurel Canyon and Coldwater Canyon. Although the view was inviting, the hill was not.  End of story. I was walking.  There was no distance strength in my legs.  I couldn’t run a hill.  That was my first training run.  6 miles.

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