Saturday, November 24, 2012

Running for Empowerment

Come January 2013, Run4Roots participants will be running the Miami Half Marathon at the same time as youth in Cuba run a parallel race. This historical occasion will build a bridge and connect two communities who yearn to know each other and innovate together. As the reality of our counterparts on the island continues to change, this is more important than ever. 

Below is the story of Hanny, a first time Run4Roots participant. Check out her reason for running and step up to join her by registering here! It's time to hit the ground running for something YOU believe in. 

Running for Empowerment
By Hanny R.

I used to hate running, and I do mean hate. Growing up in sunny Miami – where most Physical Education classes are, for some absurd reason, held around midday – doing laps around the school field was my worse nightmare. The heat, the panting, the desperate thirst, in summary, an overall awful experience for me. I did, however, love to dance, and started on my first dance team at around age 10.

I left sunny South Florida for college and migrated North, to Boston, MA. I joined my college dance team and was absolutely loving the experience, until a few months into my freshman year, my knees started having serious issues. After lots of visits to doctors and lengthy medical-jargon-filled explanations, I had to stop dancing and let my body heal. I, unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - am not one to sit still. Instead, I decided to start running. I am not completely sure why. Perhaps, it was the sight of all the happy joggers cruising through the scenic routes around the Charles River, or maybe it was the challenge of trying to tackle an activity for which I had always held such apprehension and disinterest.

I know you’re probably thinking that running sounds like a terrible idea for someone with knee problems, right? Well, most doctors would agree, and my own doctor was rather appalled when I mentioned it. Surprisingly, running actually helped me recover a lot quicker than expected; but perhaps more importantly, I discovered I actually liked running, maybe even love running. During a time in my life, when I felt completely powerless and unable to do what I loved most – dance – running, helped me find a way to take back some control. When I was out there was no one to disappoint, no one to impress, except myself. I came to realize that I had the ability to keep going and surpass my expectations, to push through when I started feeling tired, and to keep moving.

There are tons of overused clichés about having confidence in oneself, or the power of believing you can do something, but behind the platitudes there is a lot of truth. I will run on behalf of Run for Roots in January because I believe that running is a very effective vehicle for self-empowerment. The Roots of Hope mission is to empower youth in Cuba to be the authors of their own future. There are million ways to do this, but empowering them with a belief in themselves first, at the most basic level, that of their bodies and spirit, is the essential starting point. I am immensely excited and proud that we will have parallel runners on the island.

Register to run with us and start the year by making a tangible impact in the lives of youth just 90 miles from our shores! If you still need some convincing, check out photos from last year's race on our Facebook page.

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