It’s been hot here, and I mean really hot. My last few runs have all been before six a.m. and the temperature has been over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The air quality is terrible, New Delhi is among the worst in the world. When I run, I’m afraid of getting attacked by monkeys and I’ve been bitten by a stray dog. And I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
Why am I training here, in New Delhi, India for a race in Duluth, Minnesota?
For the first 13 years of my life, Duluth was home. I have vivid memories of Grandma’s Marathon – thousands of extra people coming to town once a year, packing Canal Park, eating spaghetti and running all of the way across town. My mom tells stories of me charming rich, old ladies to let us into their mansions to get more water to give to the racers on London Road. In those days, I knew the marathon was a big deal, but I never thought about running it. In seventh grade, I thought I’d go out for the cross-country team. I left the gym with the other runners, ran to the corner and sat down on a stump and waited for everyone to come back. For the time, I decided that I was no runner. The following year, I moved to Wisconsin where my family made a new home.
Flash forward again, to 1999. By then, home was Reston, Virginia. I had graduated university and just started my teaching career. I created a list of life goals and added “Run a Marathon.”
In 2003, my concept of home changed again as I left the US to teach at an international school in South Korea. For those unfamiliar with international schools, they’re for expatriates, diplomats and other children living overseas for various reasons. It was in Korea that I started running. In fact, my first race was also a fundraiser for cancer-The Terry Fox Run. Since then, I’ve made homes in Korea, Bangladesh and now I’m at a school in New Delhi, India. At times, life abroad can be challenging, but it has presented me with incredible opportunities to travel and experience new things.
I’m happy living abroad, and I’ve certainly learned that home is where the heart is. Last year my wife and I bought a cabin in Minnesota about the time the marathon was happening. All of those images from my childhood came flooding back. Why not run the following summer, when I’d be a resident of Minnesota once again? For the first time in over 20 years, my heart and my home were back in Minnesota.
I applied for a spot, but didn’t win one. That’s when I hooked up with DetermiNation. It was lucky for me, it really framed my commitment to running and my commitment to the race. Like most, I’ve been touched by cancer and I appreciate the opportunity to help raise money for the cause. I’ve enjoyed the training and the unique challenges of running in India. On my Team DetermiNation page, I’ve kept a running journal of my daily runs. It’s meant to honor my donors; I dedicate my training runs to my them. However, it’s become a lot more than that. It has become a snapshot of what my life in India is like. It’s not a flashy interactive blog, but it keeps traffic on my donation page, and it keeps people coming back. I’ve received a lot of hits and even more donations.
Here’s an excerpt:
The interesting thing about planning my runs on Google Maps, is that it gives me the opportunity to plan precisely routed, exact milage runs that can even be themed. Today’s run was a quick 2 miler that took me past 2 secondary schools and 2 colleges. I called it the Pursuit of Higher Education 2 Miler. The other fun thing about using Google Maps to plan the runs is the fact that I can plan routes down streets that I’ve never travelled. In theory, this process is cool. In practice, you can get lost and you get to find out what streets are like on the ground, once you’re running.
That was the situation today.
I should have called this run “The Run of Contrasts,” or “Why do you build 10 foot walls?” I passed through the gate and 10 foot wall of my well-appointed school where tuiton costs almost $20,000 per student and immediately ran past the jhuggi (think cobbled together shacks, no sewers) across the street where average yearly salary is probably 1-2 THOUSAND dollars per year. The run then continued past the private British School and the impressive embassies of Bulgaria, Palestine, Mauritius, Oman, Qatar and Korea. Then it turned a corner and at the end of the street where I should have seen the manicured sports fields of the Sanskriti School, there was a 10 foot wall. As I ran along the wall, I ran past heaping piles of garbage, open fires keeping people warm on a cool morning and another jhuggi. It’s just one of the amazing things about India that isn’t publicized in the tourism campaigns. The CONTRASTS that you see on a daily basis are truly, Incredible.
The run itself was fine, it was a two mile discipline run and it took me 17 minutes. I was a little off of my pace, I guess I was too busy sight-seeing, which isn’t such a bad thing.
Today’s run is dedicated to Marshall, Lizzie and baby Rees for their very generous donation. Thanks for helping me to almost the 25% mark in just my fifth day of fund-raising!
SOUNDTRACK: Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
I know I won’t be seeing embassies this weekend on my runs, but I can’t wait to hit the ground running in Minnesota!