Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why Run for Roots? Part 3

Run for Roots is a new initiative that embodies the Roots of Hope mission by seeking to draw attention and collect funds in support of Cuban youth. The participants who will be running the Miami Half Marathon in January 2012 are motivated to do so by the desire to be agents of change and help empower youth on the island through innovative programs such Roots of Hope as Cells 4 Cuba and our Family Reunification Program. To learn more about Run for Roots, visit our website. To donate, visit our Crowdrise page.

Why I run

By Lolita Sosa

I've very often stood in front of a mirror, clad in shorts and a shirt, wondering why.
Why am I pushing myself so hard?
Why run more than what my typical workout requires?
Why spend hours with my feet slapping the road, sweat gathering in my curly hair, and mind begging for rest?

To be completely honest, I began to run for myself. I have been born and bred in a surrounding that praises tidiness and conventionalism. Growing up, I was told: "Yes, you can do sports. But you're a girl. And girls aren't really good at them. Boys are. And so you'll be competing with them always." 

My decision to begin long-distance running was a decision based on defiance. I have always refused to believe that worth was tied to body types, looks, gender, or others' judgments on these. For me, worth has always been tied to drive, achievement, and compassion. I felt that running was the ultimate solitary way to hone these traits and express their importance to myself.

I needed drive to race against my self, my mind, and my limitations. Achievement would depend on the constraints I placed upon myself, and my decisions on whether or not to follow them. Self-compassion could be tested and refined through awareness of my body's needs, and acceptance of the red, puffy, sweaty, tired and aching body that would face me in the mirror post-run.

Running was my freedom.

When asked to run with the Roots, I was extremely hesitant. I had no idea how to connect such a personal activity to Roots of Hope's goals. Running was personal, and I wanted it to remain personal. The idea of family or friends becoming involved seemed unnecessary.

As I was considering it, I spoke to Roots of Hope members that I was close to. I was given different opinions, but this post by Carmen Pelaez moved me. Though I had already committed myself to running the ING Half, Laura Pollan's passing gave me a new perspective.

While running, the only constraint that exists is the self's motivation. In order to push oneself through the difficult and harrowing miles, an extreme determination and worthwhile goal must be pursued. These attributes have existed in the Cuban dissidence for a long time; the dissidents are unrelenting and full of passion for their cause. I chose to run for them, learning from them, and representing them by having Laura's name on my tag during the ING.

It is with this same passion and vigor that I believe we continue our Roots of Hope view of empowering youth in Cuba. Despite the pitfalls, we always pick ourselves back up and attempt to find a practical route in helping our counterparts on the island. We are constantly innovating and, while it is cell phones and USB's for now, our actions will  reflect the realities on the island as they change. What running demands in strength and willpower has been the same as what our approach to Cuba has demanded.

Now, as I explain my crazy long-distance running hobby to others, I speak of Cuba. Both Cuba and running are part of who I am; there was no reason that they should have been separate.

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