So, as I’m posting this, I am just over 2 weeks away from my marathon. This is really it: there’s no going back now.
I’m going to be honest: I’m pretty scared. The pragmatic, cerebral part of me is telling me that I’ve put in the hours of training and that if I stick to what I’ve learned, I’m going to finish and finish strong (perhaps a bit slow, but strong). But, my nervous system is on overload and I’ve already got the heart flutters, the stomach turns, and the restless legs. As the day gets closer, I’m less and less capable of sitting still.
In the moments of highest anxiety, I go back to the beginning of what this run is about. On July 29th, I attended Interim Place’s “Steps to End Violence Against Women” walk. Before the walk began, we honoured the 18 women that had lost their lives to violence in Peel Region over the past 5 years: their names were screened on the back of all of the walkers’ shirts. After the walk, Interim Place’s Executive Director, Sharon Floyd, said to me, “Our goal will be to walk one day with no writing on the back of our t-shirts.” I loved that idea...what a worthwhile focus to have. A few weeks ago I went to Interim Place to meet with Sharon and she began our meeting with the heartbreaking news that there was already a woman’s life to honour at the 2013 walk...a name to be written on the back of our shirts.
This past year’s journey has been an exercise in some of the greatest learning and growth I’ve ever done in my life. I know exponentially more about running effectively and training for an endurance event. Every day I am learning something new about the causes and impact of violence...I am hearing the stories of women that are in the most gut-wrenching circumstances, and stories themed around children’s experiences with violence: stories that you really and truly hope to never hear. I’ve also learned, beyond a doubt, that engaging in the area of violence against women will be a lifelong commitment for me.
Despite what may come through in my blogs of the last year, my hope and optimism in this area well understand that violence against women is not a comfortable – and often not a welcome – subject. I know there is the perspective that asks why we focus exclusively on violence against women. I am also aware standing against violence against women is often perceived as taking a stand against men. I want to go on the record as saying that I absolutely believe that we have to address violence against women through a gendered lens and approach it specifically and uniquely: the socio-economic and political barriers faced by women are simply not the same as those faced by men. Women are differentially affected by power and control and we need to understand and address these pieces to reduce violence. I also want to go on the record as saying that I have been blessed throughout my life with men that have been my best friends, closest confidantes, brothers, colleagues – and over this past year, some of my best allies in my marathon journey. I have been blessed with a husband, dad, father-in-law, and brothers that stand with me in my own personal empowerment and in wanting to see a day when abuse against women is no more. I believe the journey to eliminating violence is one we must collaboratively take together and I love both the women and men in my life that are willing to walk even parts of the path that will take us there.
So, the answer is yes. Yes, a girl like me is going to run a race like that. I still have not a lick of athletic ability, but I still have that iron will (and that Palko stubbornness). I’ll run the race and finish strong because I’ll be powered by hope, faith, and the inspiration of those who are braver, stronger, and more on the front lines of this quest than I am. I’ll run the race and finish strong because t-shirts shouldn’t have names on them.
As I head into the last weeks of the Run Strong campaign, I’m kindly asking you to please support Interim Place’s programs and services for women and children experiencing violence through a donation.
As always, a million thanks...thanks for sticking with me over the past year and thanks for running with me.
Please consider supporting Interim Place with a donation through Run Strong. 100% of proceeds will go to Interim Place's programs and services for women fleeing violence and their children. You can make a donation by clicking on the button below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to donate offline. Thanks for your support!!