6am Serenity.

It’s 4:45am on a Monday morning and my cell phone screen lights up with the alarm. I quickly silence it, swing out of bed, and grab the running clothes I laid out the night before. I change and sneak out into the dark hoping I didn’t wake my fiancee. With my eyes barely open I navigate my way onto the nearly empty Expressway. Mental check to make sure I’m headed to the right location. As I park and make my way towards the small circle forming under a street light I can hear the rumblings of early morning chatter. Our circle grows, the conversation grows with it. We huddle together and recite the Serenity Prayer. “…. the courage to change the things I can…”. And then, we run.

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As we make our way through the sleeping streets of the city conversation topics vary. With my wedding quickly approaching I’m constantly asked about last minute details, what my dress looks like. We discuss everything on these runs: race strategies for the upcoming half marathon, someone’s recent diabetes diagnosis, what it’s been like since being released from jail. As most runners know there is no judging while on the run. Conversations in this space are safe.
We loop back, and huddle again – slightly out of breath and sweaty. The serenity prayer is repeated and as the sun rises over the city we disperse to shower, to head to work, to class, to doctor’s appointments. And while most people are just waking up – I’m already well into my workday.
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I love the look I get when I tell people what I do for a living. “So let me get this straight – you run with homeless people?” Yes, as the Program Director for Back on My Feet Boston I do run with people who are experiencing homelessness. I also run with people who are living in sober homes, who have recently been released from jail, and who have spent more of their life being high than they have clean. I also run with people who live in their own apartments, who are college graduates, who hold full time jobs. I run with people who are parents, who treat their pets like human beings, who prefer 5Ks over 5 milers. I run with people. We have similarities. We have differences. But as the sun comes up – we are all just runners.
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This is the incredible movement that is Back on My Feet. We are a running, walking, and wellness program that works with homeless or at-risk individuals. In joining our teams participants are able to gain a sense of community, of discipline, and of self confidence. With these gains they discover the power they have to take the steps to move their lives forward, to work towards self-sufficiency and independence.

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My heartstrings are forever tied to this mission because I understand the transformative power of running. I’ve experienced it myself. I know how it feels to have someone believe in you, to watch your self confidence grow from the ground up. I know what it’s like to take those itty bitty steps forward; afraid to fall but curious if you’ll fly. And to do it without judgement; or fear of rejection.

My job certainly isn’t easy. My days start early and sometimes are incredibly long. Sometimes I spend an entire afternoon sifting through boxes of running shoes, some days I sit quietly listening to the pain of someone who is struggling to stay sober in a world of temptation. Often my job is heartbreaking. But it can also be incredibly inspiring. I’ve witnessed team members who swear they’ll never run go a mile without stopping. I’ve paced guys through their first 5K; which somehow is more exciting than crossing your own first finish line. I’ve heard the pride in someone’s voice as they tell me they haven’t had a cigarette in 2 weeks, that they got the job they wanted, that today marks their first anniversary of being clean. It’s an amazing feeling to get to be a part of moments like that, to know my program has had an impact on their lives.

IMG_0700And so on April 20th I will be running for these individuals. Particularly for 26 individuals who have inspired me, who have challenged me in my job for the better, who have shown me how they push forward despite the challenges they face. On marathon day I will think of each of them, mile by mile, as I push myself towards Boylston Street. If they can do it, so can I.

To see the names of my 26 team members, learn more about Back on My Feet, or to help me as I work towards my fundraising goal click here. Thank you for your support!

*housekeeping note – I am headed off on my honeymoon so there will be no blog post for the next two weeks. Catch you all up before Thanksgiving 🙂

 

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

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About Kathleen

When your legs get tired run with your heart.

Posted on October 29, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You are amazing! Have a fabulous wedding day, a perfect honeymoon and see you when you get back 🙂

    • Thanks! The wedding was about a month and a half ago but we waited for the honeymoon… best decision ever 🙂

      • I thought I remembered that but then I wasn’t sure so thought I better say it anyways!!! We took our honeymoon right away instead of waiting and for us it was the best decision ever because we ended up buying a house shortly after coming back. If it had been the other way around, we probably would never have done the honeymoon we did or at all. We went to Hawaii, that was best decision ever, lol! Have a great time 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s a pretty cool job 🙂

  2. That is awesome! I had no idea that you did that. Enjoy your honeymoon!

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