Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why Run for Roots? Part 8

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.

Because we can, we must

By Natalia Martinez

It is the last week before our race and each day that gets crossed off the calendar is an acute reminder of how much I am not ready for Sunday’s half-marathon. Allowing a moment for excuses: I had an insane couple of months of 12-hour days between work and finishing my graduate degree, and then I went traveling for a month.

Excuses aside, the bottom line is: I love running, I ran two half marathons last year, but I am nowhere near “ready” or “comfortable” for this one. And I don’t mean in the way that smart, or fast, or talented people always say they’re “not ready” as a pitiful euphemism designed to widen the gap between what their actual performance will be, thus leading to your surprise and admiration….I.am.actually.not.ready.

And yet, I plan to show up on Sunday and run my body into submission with the best weapons I have: commitment, pride, and friends. We are running as a group and – more importantly – we are running for something we deeply believe in: the right of youth in Cuba to determine and build their own future, as well as our obligation to fan the flames of their efforts in whatever way possible.

“[…] A runner runs against himself, against the best that’s in him […] Against all the rotten mess in the world.” – Bill Persons

In this context, to endure two hours of bodily pain (within reason) and two days of soreness seem entirely worth it when what is at stake is taking a stand for the freedoms and possibilities of people just like me 90 miles away. I was born in Cuba and have throughout the years reminded myself to be thankful for any difficulties because the challenges I was facing were almost certainly intertwined in precisely the kinds of opportunities I would not have had if my life had progressed differently. In the Jorge Luis Borges garden of bifurcating paths, all versions of our lives unfold simultaneously, and I have often closed my eyes and stared at the other possibilities to remind myself just how truly lucky and blessed I have been.

As a result of my life's trajectory, my motto has been "Because I can, I must." In this light, onwards and upwards with the race on Sunday!

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