Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Girl Like ME is Going to Run a Race Like THAT?!

You bet.
I really hope people read and follow my blog, but I think I would shed tears if the news of my marathon quest made it to Mr. Brown, my grade 7 teacher.  Mr. Brown was a hard-core runner and would get our class out running the 4-street square of Aberdeen Ave., Oak Ave., Lansdowne Ave., and Lorne Cres. that encompassed St. Benedict’s, my elementary school in Sarnia.  I was actually more of a run-walker, hanging out with other anti-exercise protesters at the tail-end of the pack until Mr. Brown would lap us and tell us to take our speed up a notch or we’d be run-walking right through recess.
Mr. Brown made it his personal mission to get me to run 1 mile non-stop.  I had not a lick of running ability in me.  But, I hated (and still do to this day) to let anyone down, so on Mr. Brown’s urging, I entered a 1-mile race at St. Clair Highschool in Sarnia.  I nearly collapsed in agony and I finished dead last, but I did it.  And it is one of my greatest memories…I still remember my friend Rodney Munro coming onto the track (he had finished the race about 12 minutes earlier) to run the last 500 metres with me.  And I still have the 8th place ribbon I received because they had bought ribbons for the 1st 10 female finishers in my division….but only 8 entered.
The euphoria of my last-place finish as a result of Mr. Brown’s encouragement was where my love of running began.  Since then, I have run 2 half-marathons (finished not-last in both of them!!) and now am ready to check a big one off my bucket list…running 42.2 km to complete a full marathon.  I still don’t have a lick of athletic ability, but I do have an iron will (2 parts Palko stubbornness; 1 part don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-do-something).  And now I have a reason that is bigger than me: Interim Place.
I’ve been sitting on the Board of Interim Place for a year and a half now and have come to really love this organization.  Sometimes when I think about Interim Place, imagery of the Statue of Liberty comes into my head: that beautiful, amazing woman (who is also on my bucket list to visit some day) that represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom and calls out, “Bring me your tired…yearning to be free….I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  Interim Place offers those doors to safety for women and their children to be safe from abuse and seek the freedom that comes from living a life without violence.
In the year ahead, I’m going to share my story of how I’m going to find a way to take on the monolith of a run ahead of me and at the same time remind those of you that stick with me that my journey pales in comparison to the strength, resilience, and courage that is shown by women in your neighbourhood and the world over as they face violence and work to overcome it.
I hope you’ll follow my blog: I can definitely use all the support, feedback, and encouragement I can get.  I also hope you’ll use it to take a few minutes to think about the issue of violence against women and what we can do to bring about change.  Thanks for running with me today.