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Monday, March 8, 2010

Inspired by Youth

After the Cowtown Half Marathon, I immediately went over to participate in The Hour to Help Haiti put on by Ministry Milers.  The concept was easy, cover as many miles as possible for an hour to raise money to help in the Haiti rebuilding effort.
Before we began, folks were sort of teaming up by pace so that larger groups could run together and there would be some pace leaders for the many youth that turned out.  I thought I'd run alone as I was unsure how I would feel an hour and a half after running 13.1 miles.

After the start, a young man ran up beside me and asked if he could run with me.  "Sure."  He introduced himself as Kevin.  I told him my name and that I wasn't sure how far or fast I could go, but that I'd like the company.  After about a mile at a ten minute pace, Kevin surged ahead for the first time and promptly had us running under 9 minutes per mile.  I was thinking 'OK kid, I just ran a half marathon and you were probably playing video games.'  The pace didn't last long, but this kid was focused.

It turns out that Kevin is 14 years old, an 8th grader, and had run cross-country the previous year.  Huh, why did he have to pick me to run with?  He had an undeveloped stride, but tremendous desire.  Questions about my running and racing came as though I were talking to an adult.  Kevin, indeed, is a runner.

Having never covered more than a few miles, he stopped at mile three and told me to go ahead.  I welcomed the excuse to walk and told him I'd stick with him if he didn't mind.  We decided to walk and run as best we could for the remaining thirty minutes.  Kevin would say things like, "we'll start running again at that tree."   We'd reach the tree and off we'd go.

We ultimately covered 5 miles in our hour together.  The look of achievement on his face was amazing.  It is the farthest he'd ever run and his smile was better than any finisher's medal or t-shirt I've ever received. Kevin simply inspired me.  Not to run faster or run farther. He inspired me to be a runner with passion.

Yes, that is it.  Do you remember the passion?  Do you?  I do, thanks to Kevin.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace