Thursday, April 15, 2010

Running for Pat, and Myself

Being an Arizonan, and having a husband who is an avid ASU and Cardinals football fan, I have had no choice over the years but to know the name Pat Tillman. It was also a very big deal when he gave up his contract after 9/11/2001 to join the Army and help fight in Afghanistan. You don't get any more patriotic than that, right? Then to have it all end and be killed by friendly fire. Yes, I know that these situations are intense and friendly fire is just a horrible common occurrence. However, the cover-up that came after really brought home how awful this pointless war on terror is and how it's not a win or lose war. You might say that Pat Tillman's story was the last straw that made me completely anti-war.

November seems like a really long time ago. I had just finished the amazing book, "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey Of Pat Tillman" by Jon Krakauer. It was a whole new perspective on Tillman, his life, and history of a land that has always- ALWAYS- been at war. Reading the excerpts from his journals, and the detailed account of the days events that led to his death, I was in tears even though I knew how this story would end. I was also surprised that he was actually a more liberal-minded person than I thought. Shame on me and stereotyping. You definitely can't peg who a person is from the surface.

It was the very next day after finishing the book that I made my decision to participate in Pat's Run, the yearly event for the foundation his wife and family set up in honor of Tillman. This year will be the 6th, and every year I have been able to put it off, ignore it, but this time I couldn't. I called my neighbor Kimber, who has run it every single year with her family, and asked if she would help me train. I haven't done any serious running since Jr. High School. She agreed, and this past fall began a change in me that has only been for the positive.

The first time I walked on the treadmill with an incline, I thought I was going to pass out after 5 minutes. The first time I tried running? Couldn't make it 2 minutes. Working with Kimber, having that partner who knew what she was doing and supporting me was more helpful than I could ever express. It's going to sound silly, but every time I hit the gym, I was thinking about all the years I've covered Tillman's story on my podcast, and how General McChrystal is still out there commanding operations in Afghanistan. Even after admitting (well, admitting without really admitting is probably more accurate) his part in covering up key parts of Tillman's death. In order to parade Tillman's name as a symbol of the sacrifice we supposedly need to make in this ridiculous war. These are the things that have driven me for the past 6 months. The family still to this day doesn't have all the answers, and I imagine they never will.

The Run is a fundraiser for the Tillman Foundation, which has many programs set up which they call "Leadership Through Action" programs:

  • Tillman Military Scholars - To honor their service and support their continued leadership, we offer scholarships to veteran and active servicemembers and their dependents (children and spouses) to help them pursue their greater educational goals.
  • Tillman Scholars - Arizona State University (ASU) - Through a rigorous leadership development and service-learning curriculum, we challenge the leaders of tomorrow to apply their passions and talents to promote positive change in their communities today.
  • Tillman Social Action Fund - For students or student groups initiating projects throughout the U.S. we provide resources to help them implement their own plans for social action.
A great cause, to honor a great man. These are my main reasons for running Saturday. They probably don't match everyone's reasons for running (actually I'm sure of it), and I respect that. I'm not going with intent of making some big statement, or causing a scene. I'm going to run. I guess you can consider this blog post my statement.

Of course, I can't complain about the side-effects either. I can run several miles now. I'm eating better, and the way I look at everything that goes into my body (and my family's) has changed. I've lost a pant size, and for the first time in at least 5 years I'm not dreading the upcoming swimsuit season. Not saying I'm a supermodel (because yeah, like I've ever been there!), but I know I look worlds better and feel worlds better than I have in, well, maybe ever. It's habit now, when I don't go to the gym, I feel bad. And I LOVE to run! On the treadmill, outside, I love it. I want to see how far I can go. I'm all ready looking forward to my next challenge- the Phoenix 10k in November!

Who's in? :-)