Tis the Season for Giving: Running and Charity

When I started running, I must admit I was a bit of a Scrooge.  I couldn’t understand why all the races are so darn expensive.   It can be close to impossible to find a decent race under $50 where you can get a timing chip, a T-shirt, and a medal.  One time, I remember spending up to $129.35 just for registration.  That didn’t cover the cost of the trip or any other expenses. If I wanted to “go the extra mile” and order some race photos, those would cost me up to $80 per digital image, tax not included!

After getting hit with the credit card bill, I even dared to think the unthinkable.  Why do I have to pay when I am the one doing all the running? The best monetary reward I could brag about so far is a gift card to Starbucks for finishing a 10K race first in my age group.   While I was happy to finish first, I was secretly hoping for something bigger.  When I received the gift card, I felt like Oliver Twist when he stretched out his bowl and made his famous request: “Please, sir, I want some more.” Having said all that, there is one minor, but no so insignificant detail that I have been leaving out of this story, and there is no better time to share it than Christmas!

Running and Christmas have something unique in common: gifts!  Over these past two years, I ran in a lot of races.  More importantly, I ran for a lot of really great causes.  I ran for Susan G. Komen’s race for the cure in San Antonio, Texas. I ran at Camp Mabry to support families of US army veterans. I ran to help the poor and homeless in the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in Austin, Texas.  I also ran to honor the memory of fallen police officers in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In the grand scheme of things, I played a minor role as a runner.  All those races wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of countless volunteers – the race announcers, police officers, and ordinary people who came there to help.   There were folks cheering me on, nurses providing first aid to runners at the finish line, and kids handing out water.  I want to thank each and every one of them because they made a very special gift.   After all, gift giving shouldn’t necessarily have to always include a check. They donated their time and effort towards a charitable cause that really matters to a lot of people.

For me celebrating Christmas is not necessarily about material gifts either.  Celebrating Christmas also doesn’t have to be about listening to Christmas carols, watching the beautiful Christmas decorations, and indulging in Christmas desserts no matter how delicious they could be.    Celebrating Christmas doesn’t have to include Christmas movies, though I will make an exception for “Miracle on 34th Street,” the original version.

I feel the best way to celebrate Christmas is just to let your loved ones know how much you care for them.  When doing so, I think it’s wise to consider how you can keep on giving gifts of kindness, love, and generosity, not just on Christmas, but throughout the year.   Some of my best Christmas gifts are not just to the people I’ve met, but to the people who could really use those gifts in their daily lives.   Even after all the medals, trophies and gift cards from Starbucks,  I can’t think of a better reward than knowing that you’ve done something positive for someone who could really use your help.  Just like the birth of Jesus was a gift from God to humanity, the relationships, friendships we form, and nice things we do for each other in our lifetimes are gifts themselves.  Therefore, the real Christmas gifts are truly magical.   I am blessed that I could afford to run in all my races and have the opportunity to contribute to so many causes, even if it takes me one step at a time.  Merry Christmas!

Miles From Last Week
Sunday:  6.2 miles
Monday: 3.1 miles
Tuesday: 3.1 miles
Thursday:  3.1 miles
Saturday:  3.1 miles
Total: 18.6 miles
Miles Ran in November: 59.4

Ideas For Future Posts
New Year’s Running Resolutions
Best Races to Run Around the World
Training for the World’s Best 10K
Stretching Done Right
Gear up for Running!
Food for Fitness
How I Started Running
How I Really Do It: My Routine
Physics of Running
Nuts and Bolts:  Running Techniques
Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Old School vs. New School Runners

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