On running with the Florida bobcats…

MaMaBobcatSitsSo, a week ago today we landed in Vero Beach, Florida, ready to begin work on How To Succeed. The cast got settled into our wonderful living accommodations, and after a cursory glance around town, I had in mind a few different routes I thought I might try to run while I’m here.

I’m in the middle of a Lenten Run Streak where I’m running at least one mile per day, every day, through Easter (I might extend it after the holiday…we’ll see), and finding new routes isn’t always the easiest thing to do when working out of town.

Several of us in the cast are being housed in some newer condos on the west side of the city, which has just recently seen some development into the more “wild frontier” type lands that Florida has away from the coastal habitations.

So, Friday evening after a long day of rehearsal, I decided to venture out a bit from the confines of our beautiful if not slightly regrettable gated community to the main road and beyond.  The main road is relatively quiet, especially at dusk, around 7:00ish.  After a straight shot of a quarter mile or so, I came to a traffic light and took a left.  This direction was sure to take me to some more interesting territory by the look of things.

After another mile, a second intersection presented me with another left onto a road which looked extremely interesting.  I made the left, and within a few hundred yards, bid adieu to the confines of pavement for the much more pleasant dirt road.

It wasn’t very long before I saw a woman walking in my direction with her leashed canine companion heeling very nicely alongside.  I had my earphones in, and was concentrating more on the Dave Matthews Band in my earbuds than what she was attempting to tell me.

“Waaa waaa waaa waaahh, ” she said, as she approached.  I removed my headphones to hear her more clearly.

“Hi! I’m sorry.  What did you say?”

“Watch out for the bobcats up ahead, ” she said rather casually, I thought.

“You mean, like a kids football team?” I answered, trying to amuse. I was sure she would chuckle.  She didn’t.  “Bobcats? Really?”

“Yeah, they come out around this time of night, around dusk.  Also, not too long ago a raccoon got a guy.” Again with the casual.

“Did you say a raccoon got a guy?

“Yeah. There was rabies and everything.  It was terrible.  That’s why I always walk with my dog.  Have a great night!”

“Thanks.  I will.”  I stared for a second in the direction of my certain doom.

How would they break the news to Malisa?  I thought to myself.

“Hello, Mrs. Langdon?  Yes, we have some news.  Your husband…Well, your husband had an encounter with one of our bobcats down here in Florida.  Yeah, actually he was able to evade the feline, but in the end it was the raccoon that got him.”

I turned around, turned on the jets and waved politely to the woman and her dog as I left them in the dust.

I’ll stick to the pavement.

 

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Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

 

 

 

 

 

 

On calling myself a runner and then claiming it

AREYOUAREALRUNNERI have a hard time owning some things about myself.  I’m middle-aged (something you can define when you’re 25, but find unbelievable difficult to place when you’re 45), I’m balding (ugh…curse you, Bradley Cooper, and your head of hair!), I’m relatively short (but at 5’9” I’m as tall as Tom Cruise, so there’s that!), and I’m a runner.

While I can’t do a thing about the first three, the last thing on that list is something over which I have full control.  I’m a runner because I run.  That’s it.

This winter was very tough for me; I’m not going to lie.  The cold winter months do not suit my constitution, and running on a treadmill just reminds me of the stress test I recently took because I’m, well, middle-aged.

While I agree with those who might argue that any label you allow yourself to be saddled with may not be the best idea, sometimes claiming one or a few just might keep us grounded in a way that having no defining terms about ourselves cannot.  Sometimes labels can direct us toward a purpose or a desire we might have to accomplish a thing.

When I think about the fact that I’m a runner, I realize that, first of all, it’s a label that I’ve chosen, not because I’m a particularly great runner, but because it defines a part of who I am, albeit a very small part.

I’m a runner not because I run but because I say I am.  Then I have to go about living into all of what that label means to me.  Sometimes I get into a slump, and I don’t run for a while.  That happens to some runners, sometimes.  But even if it didn’t, it happens to me, and I’m still a runner.

Carolyn See wrote one of my favorite books on writing I’ve ever read. Making A Literary Life is a wonderful love letter of a book to aspiring writers in which she talks about what it means to be a writer and live a writer’s life. The most obvious thing you must do if you want to be a writer, she points out, is of course, to write!  But, it’s also more than that.  Being a writer is also about living into what you think a writer’s life looks like to you.  She encourages her students to try on the part of a writer.  Dress the part.  Think you are a real writer and then write!  Write with daring and panache as if everyone in the world cannot wait for you to type another brilliant sentence the way only you can.

Now, I may be coming across as if I’m saying that you can label yourself whatever you want and you don’t have to do anything else.  That could not be further from the truth.  If you’re a runner, then you run, because that’s what runners do.

What I am saying is, only you get to claim the labels that define you, and only you decide what the rules are for claiming that label.  Labels can be a good thing, but only when we claim them as our own.  By calling myself a writer, I am compelled to write.  When I put it out there that I’m an actor, I’m compelled to continue to do the best work I can in my chosen career field.  When I refer to myself as a runner, I’m moved to lace up my Brooks Pure Flows and proceed to the day’s route (with shorts and a shirt, of course…no one wants to see my middle-aged self in just the sneakers!).

So, in this day and age where there’s so much pressure to conform to certain labels and to be contained in certain boxes, break free of the constraints by owning who you are and what you do.  Try on a label or two and then live into what that label means to you.

Then, know this…

You are so much more than you could ever define or imagine.  No label you could ever come up with can match what you are worth right now, as you are. You will not be more worthy once you’ve achieved this or that.  You are not “less than” until you’ve reached this goal or that milestone.  Who you are right now is more than enough.

Everything else is just a label.

It’s Kind Of Like A Marathon (A Feature Story)

The following article of mine appeared as a feature story in “Exit Zero Magazine” in the November 2011 issue. 

Cape_May,_New_Jersey_1777I’m a marathoner.  I guess I became a marathoner shortly after I became a runner on April 19, 2010.  I know the exact date because it was the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.  We were living there in 1995 and, on the day of the blast, my wife and I felt our apartment building rumble as our three week old daughter lay between us on our bed.  We felt a significant loss that day.  So, on April 19, 2010, I set out on a run that would honor those who could no longer run for themselves.  It was a quiet gesture, one that only I would know about, but I felt certain that those for whom I was running would somehow know I was doing it for them.

Until that day, I’d never run more than a three mile stretch in my life and every step I’d endured on any run prior came with the mantra, “I hate running…I hate running…”  On the evening of that anniversary day, however, I was somehow compelled to run five miles.  It was a distance that seemed long but possible.  So, with my thoughts fixed on those who had passed and the loved ones left behind, I set off.

About an hour later, I returned home triumphant. I had pounded out the five miles and, to my surprise, had done so with a purpose I’d never had before.  The feeling of joy that accompanied my conquest was at once satisfying and emboldening.  I felt like I had done something important; something that, in a very small way, had lifted my spirit to connect with something greater than myself.

My wife Malisa and I were able to enjoy a brief vacation in Cape May this past July.  A year ago, we found one of our favorite B&Bs, The Bacchus Inn and were pleased to be able to return this year.  On the second evening of our stay,  Malisa and I were sitting on the porch when a man named Jim Crist came over and introduced himself to us.

“I understand you’re a runner!”  he said, with his hand outstretched.

“Yes, I am!” I answered, with confidence and a bit of wariness at the same time.

“I saw your ‘26.2’ sticker on the back of your car and thought maybe you’d like some company on a run, say, tomorrow morning, 6:30?”

“Sounds great,” I said.  “I’ll meet you right here on the porch.”

The next morning, I met Jim out on the front porch, bright and early.  We limbered up a bit and set off, Gps watches firmly locked onto their satellites.  We turned down Howard St. toward the beach and crossed up to the Promenade and headed south.  As I took in the morning sea air and felt the wonderful morning ocean breeze, I looked over to the businesses across the street.  The night before, long after the sun went down, virtually every store and miniature golf establishment was still brimming with business.  That’s fine now, but how’s business in November?

Now, I’m not completely naive.  I know Cape May is a seasonal town, but I couldn’t help but wonder what local merchants who live and make their living in Cape May do after Labor Day.  After the summer months have gone, how do they stay afloat  the rest of the year?

Jim and I fell into a nice steady pace and when we arrived at the end of the Promenade, turned around and moved into the street.  I let Jim lead.  He’s been coming to Cape May for vacation with his wife since before they were married over 30 years ago. He led me through the downtown, passed the waking Washington Street Mall, out to Sunset Beach and back along the sand.

As we made our way back to the Inn after what amounted to a 10 mile tour of the island, I thanked my new friend for the experience and such good company and headed upstairs for a shower.

I could live here.  I could run a little business right here in Cape May! 

Whoa!  Let’s not get crazy here, ScottThat’s a marathon of a different color! 

People often compare things to a marathon.

“Getting through that Statistics course was like running a marathon!”

“Yeah, well, my business meeting was a marathon.”

In truth, though, while many things can take a long time, there really isn’t  anything quite like running a marathon.  At least that’s what I thought until I came to Cape May this summer.  A marathon is more than just the race day event itself.  For me, it’s about the journey: training, ups and downs of eating right and at the right times, getting enough sleep, and many other preparation activities that take up the twelve to fourteen weeks that precede race day.  The entire experience of running a marathon, from the training right on through the actual running of the race itself, is a commitment to a way of life. When all is said and done, a runner spends an inordinant amount of time preparing for something that lasts a relatively short time. But, in the end, it’s all worth it.

“A marathon is a great analogy to what we do,” says John Matusiak, owner/operator of The Bacchus Inn on Columbia Ave..  “Our race really takes off in May and is an all out push to Labor Day.  After Labor Day, things definitely slow up until they come to a final halt after New Years.”

John and his wife, Lisa, run their Inn for the same reason I run marathons: they love doing it!  As I talked with them, I could tell how much joy it gives them to run their business.

“I get to spend people’s ‘happy time’ with them. It’s great!” said John.  “People come here to get away from it all, to be on vacation.  Lisa and I get to know them and do what we can to make them comfortable.  It’s really a wonderful thing.”

And, they make it all look effortless.

When I first got serious about running, I re-watched the movie, Forrest Gump. If you’ve seen it, you’ll remember the section of the story where he sets out on a run and just keeps on going.  Soon, he gets some company and, before too long, Forrest has unwittingly become a leader and a symbol of the American running boom of the 1970s. At one point, as Forrest is recounting his running days to a friendly stranger on a park bench, we see Forrest running alongside beautiful scenes of nature, and he does so with ease and grace in his stride and carriage.  Forrest made me want to find that effortless joy in running, just as John and Lisa inspired me to help make people feel comfortable and at home.

Dolores, at Cheeks Apparel on Ocean St., gave me that same feeling of ease and comfort when I walked into that interesting little boutique. Jim and I had passed it on our run, and it looked like the epitomy of a quaint, small town shop.  When I walked through the front door, Dolores greeted me with a warm smile.  I told her my name and what I was writing about, and she was more than eager to talk with me.

“Tell me what Cape May is like after Labor Day,” I asked. “What happens to this town once the ‘money months’ have gone by?”

“It’s a completely different town,” she said.  “Those of us who stay through the winter look forward to the special occasions like the Jazz Festival and Christmastime but it’s certainly not what you get in the Summer.”

“How’s business in the off season for you?  What do you do to stay open?” I asked.

“Well, we have a pretty strong online business.  We’re a destination store.  People go online or call and order from our warehouse, so we stay pretty busy,” she said with confidence.  “People will sometimes make special trips to purchase older stock.  We’re definitely busiest in the store in the summer, though.”

Cape_May_Light_NJ

Heather Wright, who works at Soma New Art Gallery, grew up in Cape May.

“A marathon is about right,” she said, as we talked the day after Labor day.  “It sure does feel like one!  I work virtually everyday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Everyone does.  But once Labor Day passes, well, you can see, everything changes.”

She was right.  The race was clearly over, or at least it was down to the last few walkers.  A town that, only a few days prior, had been, to put it mildly, a difficult one in which to find a decent parking spot, was now replete with spots convenient to just about anywhere one wished to go.  The Summer race run, most everyone had moved on to their Fall pursuits.

“There’s definitely a bit of seasonal depression that goes on,” Heather told me.  “When I say there’s nothing to do here sometimes, I mean, there’s nothing to do.  It’s literally like a ghost town.”

“How do people combat that?” I asked, concerned. “What do they do?”

“Well, a lot of people take the off time to travel. Some go lay on the beach somewhere tropical because they couldn’t find the time to do it here during the summer, or some people just go somewhere to get away.  When they come back, they’re ready for a new season.  Getting away renews them.  It refreshes them.”

I can relate to that.  Resting is so important.  A runner has to give himself time to recover before he plans for his next big race.  If it’s too long a time, though, he might get too used to the complacency, and that’s no good.

John and Lisa can relate to the need for rest as well.  The couple take their family away during the winter months.  With The Bacchus Inn’s shutters closed, the Matusiak family head out for their own respite.

“We’ll go away after our last guest leaves after the New Year,” said Lisa, with a warm smile. “We like to travel around and see what’s working at other B&Bs.  If I find a neat new breakfast entree, I’ll tinker with it and try it on our guests.  We like to give them something new once in a while.”

“We try to use our downtime wisely,” John continued.  “I go through the house and work on little projects.  Last year, we made some renovations and we needed the time to get it all done.  When you guys got here in July, we were glad to see you all.  We were ready for people to get here, you know?”

One of the main reasons I love to run long distances I find hard to explain to someone who doesn’t like to run.  Running quiets me, giving me a sense of peace and harmony with the world, as if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at that moment.  Thankfully, running has helped me transition that kind of consciousness to what I do for a living.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.”  I don’t know who said it, but it makes sense to me.  And when I come to Cape May and meet the business owners in this small town who break their necks with the greatest of ease in order to serve their clientele, I smile; mostly because I know they love what they do, but also because I know the joy of a marathon accomplished.  So, congratulations, Cape May.  You did it again.  See you at the starting line next year!

I don’t like myself much when I’m not able to run

bwrunner1I haven’t run in three weeks, not a step.  I’ve been suffering from vertigo.  I’ve been dealing with that for over a year now, so I’m not really sure why it’s got me down lately.

In fact, I went to the doctor about it (finally!…I know, I know).  She gave me some meds and told me to up my vitamins, so…

The thing about the vertigo is that it comes on so randomly.  I can never predict when I’ll have an episode.  It only lasts for about ten seconds every time and I can feel it coming on, but it’s just so random.

When vertigo strikes, it comes out of nowhere.  I could never put my finger on what was causing it.  At first, I thought maybe I was dehydrated, so I drank plenty of water and it still happened.  Randomly.  Then I thought maybe I was just looking at my computer screen for too long, but that wasn’t it, either.  Maybe the new vitamins will work.  We’ll see.

I don’t like myself when I’m not able to run.  I think what happens when I stop running for too long is that I start drinking more.  I start drinking more and writing less.  I start drinking more, writing less, and feeling depressed.

That’s what happens when I stop running for too long.

I had been training pretty hard for the Philadelphia Marathon but had to withdrawal because of the vertigo and the lack of down-the-stretch training.  That hurt, having to withdrawal.  I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own body; I couldn’t tell it what to do like I’ve been able to do pretty much my entire life.

I’ve been on the vitamins for a few days now and I don’t feel much different, but I haven’t had another episode, so there’s that.

I’ll get back out there, maybe later today.  Will something bad happen?  Will I have an episode in the middle of a run and have trouble getting back home?  Maybe.  But if I don’t try, I won’t ever know.  What I do know is that I’ll drink too much, write too little and feel too depressed about things I know I can’t control.  I don’t like myself when I get like that.

I don’t like myself when I’m not able to run.

I’m a fan Fridays!

SarahJarosz1Miley Cyrus has gotten a good bit of press this fall for her new single and her antics at the MTV Video Music Awards.

I’m not even going to link to those two above references, because this post is in defiance of the media overload in the exact opposite direction I want to focus on today for I’m A Fan Fridays!

I’m not here to claim Miley isn’t talented.  She most certainly is.

What I want to do today, though, is change the conversation.

Like a magician who directs the audience’s eye away from what he doesn’t want it to see and guides it gently to the trick at hand, so I am asking you to forget about Miss Cyrus for the moment and allow me to introduce you to another young lady who quietly goes about her business of being a genius.

Sarah Jarosz is a 22 year old, singer/songwriter from Texas.

Get to know her.  Get to know her work.  Spread the word.  There is hope for Humanity in the Western World.

You’re welcome.  Now, Enjoy!

Baby, I was born to run on empty

45yearsrunning

I want to introduce you to a very special person I’ve never met.

Mark Covert is a runner–an extraordinary runner.

0724_NWS_LDN-L-COVERT-STREAK-DC

On July 23, 2013, Mark ended a streak of consecutive days during which he ran at least one mile.  That streak lasted exactly 45 years!!

That means that while my mother was about to enter into her second trimester with me, Mark Covert laced up his sneaks and set out on a run, and did the same thing every day after that for my entire existence on this planet!

Mind. Blown.

The only thing I’ve done every single day for my entire life is breathe (and pray for an Eagle’s Super Bowl win, but that’s something else, entirely…).

I can’t imagine the discipline, the commitment, the love for something that must go into keeping that kind of daily streak alive.

It is truly an amazing thing, and I just wanted you to know about this guy and what he’s done.

Why would he do such a thing?  You’ll have to ask him.   As for why I’ve taken the time to write a blog post about him?

Inspiration.

Period.

Just a moment, one peculiar passing moment…

Oh, if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one!
But if life were only moments,
Then you’d never know you had one.
–Baker’s Wife, “Into The Woods”

Moments are amazing!

So often, we don’t realize we’re in a moment until after the moment has passed.  Then we’re no longer in a moment but a memory.

Lately, I’ve been trying to keep my heart’s antenna primed for receiving the waves of a moment.  I want to live in moments and fully immerse myself in them.

I want to create moments, for myself and for others!

Moments remind you of why you’re alive–to actually experience the brilliance of life!

Of course I understand that, like it says in the song, “If life were made of moments… you’d never know you had one.” So, I’m not saying that every second of the day is a moment.

Actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying!  Every second of every day is a moment!

I don’t want to waste a single one of those seconds.  Will I?  Of course I will, but that’s what makes the special moments so amazingly special.

Check out the clip of this amazingly special moment and have one for yourself!  Enjoy!!

It’s a gift that keeps on giving all life long

hollow-breadSacrament.  I love the word–it’s fun to say…

More than that, however, I love what it means.

A Sacrament is essentially anything finite through which The Sacred (or God or The Spirit) becomes present to us.  So, while the sacraments with which we may be most familiar- Holy Communion, Baptism, etc.- certainly function in this way, there is also room for, and a need to acknowledge, the validity of experiences of God in our everyday lives by anyone and everyone who is open to such experiences.

A long run (if you’re a runner like me), or an especially wonderful yoga class, or watching your children play on their own, or a brilliant time with friends (please insert your own finite thing or activity here_____) can all be sacramental in their function if we are open to that possibility.

Recently, just after a long run, as it would happen, I happened upon a brilliant performance of an Antonio Scarlatti piano sonata played by Vladimir Horowitz on my iPhone.  I had it set for a post-run shuffle, and as I walked to cool down, the piece began to play.

I let the solo piano flow through my ear-buds as I walked along the sidewalk on my way back to my front door. I was completely transported.  For five minutes, I was dreaming, imagining, immersed in listening, and baptized in the connectedness of an audience (me), a performer (Horowitz), and a composer (Scarlatti).  We were connected in a profound way by something much greater than any single one of us in this transaction.

The art of music was a sacrament for me in that moment.  Scarlatti’s piano sonata re-awakened me to the very presence of God.  I knew God was present with me at that moment and was honored to be reminded of that fact.

And that’s one of the things that sacrament can do–remind us of the very presence of God.

I was reminded of how valuable and important I am to the Spirit and felt an unexplainable notion that I was being given a very special gift in that moment.  The feeling that filled me next was one of complete gratitude.  I was so grateful to have been able to experience such beauty and connectedness.

I never, for one moment, felt like God was giving me something so that he could charge me with doing something else.  I never felt as though God was saying, “You want more of this?  Then do more of that!”  I just felt that I was being given a gift, a sacramental moment, a “thin place” as the Celtic Christians used to say.

I think the only thing required of me was that I was open to receiving this gift. Period. What I did with it afterward was my business.

I want to be in the business of being a part of as many of these moments as I can for the rest of my life and rejoicing with others when they can do the same.

I wish you peace and joy!

 

The detours can make for a trip worth falling for

roadblockRunning can teach you many things.  At the very least, it can remind you of something you already knew but might have forgotten, an idea or a little tidbit of life philosophy that gets buried beneath the stress and strain of daily life.

I’m currently staying in a small, country town called Kennett Square while rehearsing for a production of “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre in Media, PA.

The area around where I’m staying is some beautiful countryside, with some pretty tight, two-lane roads.  There are plenty of hills, gorgeous views, and the occasional farm animal like my new friend in the pic below.

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It initially took some time with the map but I figured out this really nice 3-mile run that I could also extend to a 5-miler with a simple turn off.  Yesterday morning I set out on the 5-mile course but got only a mile and a half in when I came upon the road closing.  The workers were paving the road.  I could either turn around and head back to the house or turn left where I would normally head straight on.

I was a little nervous about the turn into the “unknown” as it were, but I figured, Hey, let’s do a little exploring!

My phone (which my wife will never let me run without, bless her) has a nice map system, but I wasn’t sure how far this new route would take me.  As I made my way along the unfamiliar roads, I was reminded of how running can be a sort of microcosm of my life.

When I got to the roadblock, I had the choice to turn back or go on.  After I made the choice to go on, I had the choice to get upset about it and maybe even panic, or I could enjoy the new route and take in all of the beauty that I never expected to see.

I love my job. I’ve been blessed and very fortunate to do what I love and squeak out a modest living.  Sometimes, though, things happen that go in the direct opposite direction of the one I had planned.  This happens to everyone in one way or another, I know.   It’s just that yesterday was one of those days when that lesson got very real.

I am so grateful to have been surrounded by such a wonderful group of people.  How co-workers react to difficult situations can make for a beautifully uplifting experience or an absolute hell.

Yesterday, on the whole, I witnessed the best of what people can be: compassionate, caring, uplifting, and loving.  I was reminded that I always have a choice about my attitude and, most times, that’s the only choice I’m going to get.

In a world where we’re under the terrible illusion that we can have certainty and security about anything in our lives, one thing I know for sure: how I treat other people is entirely up to me.  In every moment, in every encounter, I choose, in a split second, to act in a way that uplifts the other or feeds my own ego.

I have never found that doing the latter has ever done anything for me.

All I know is, I want to surround myself with the type of people who remind me daily that loving somebody is never a waste.

Thank you, my fellow cast mates and crew members.  You reminded me that taking the road less traveled can lead to some beautiful scenery!

 

A Reason To Run, A Love Story

run logo-webPeople run for many different reasons. Often times, the reason to run has to go much deeper than simply running for yourself.  Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to blow off a run on a day that’s too hot and humid, or when it rains, or if you’ve got a headache from the night before.

Running a marathon is no easy task; I’m sure virtually everyone will agree with that notion.  What helps make it a little easier, though, is having a purpose, having a reason to run.

My friend, Van Kapeghian is a runner with a purpose.  When he sets out to put in the necessary miles of training for a marathon, he has a clear vision of why he’s about to put himself through the sometimes grueling exercise of preparation.  Van runs for his wife, Abbe.

vanabbe1When Abbe Meck was just thirteen years old, she had her first seizure at swim practice.  It was something that seemed to come right out of nowhere, as seizures of this kind often do.  Since then, Abbe has had to live with the fact that, with virtually no warning and at any time, she’ll be completely overcome by a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.

Any kind of seizure is scary, but Abbe’s Grand Mal seizures can be really terrifying.  After Van and Abbe had been dating for a while, Van experienced one of Abbe’s seizures for the first time.

“We were in the car, about to leave her parent’s house, when all of a sudden, Abbe’s eyes rolled back in her head and she blacked out,” explained Van.  “She started flailing her arms and legs.  It was very violent.  Luckily, she had her seat belt on and was protected that way.  I just felt totally helpless watching her.”

Since her first frightening episode, Abbe has tried everything to control the uncontrollable.  Watching her diet and exercising regularly may be helping, but there is no cure for the type of seizure condition that plagues her…Yet!

“She’s only had about five or six seizures in the last ten years, but you never know when one might come on, “ says Van.  “There’s never a good time for them to happen.”

Abbe is also a runner.  Before Van and Abbe met, Abbe ran several events for a fundraising organization called, Team In Training.  Raising money for charitable causes is something that sets the running community apart.  Show up at any type of race, from a 5K to a full marathon, and you’ll find running groups who are running to raise money for all kinds of causes, all of which are attempting to make the world a better place.

In January 2012, Van and Abbe set out to run “The Goofy Challenge” at Disney World in Orlando, FL.  The challenge combines the Half Marathon (13.1miles) on Saturday with the Full Marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday.  A collective 39.3 miles in two consecutive days is a great opportunity to raise some good money for special causes.  Van and Abbe were set to run for Team In Training together.

The day before the Half Marathon, Abbe had a terrible seizure.  Needless to say, she was unable to run the race.  Terribly disappointed, she cheered Van on and, being cleared to run the following day in the 26.2-mile race, prepared to run with her team with the love of her life by her side.

After being reminded of how fragile life can be, Van thought long and hard about Abbe during his 13.1 mile trek around the Disney course on Saturday and decided to make his relationship with Abbe more permanent.

“We had talked about getting married, and I thought this would be just the right time to propose.  So, I bought this $29 Tinkerbelle ring from a store in the park and ran the entire marathon with it tucked in my sock,” says Van, chuckling as he recalls the experience to me.  “After we crossed the finish line together, I got down on one knee, pulled out the ring and proposed.  She said, Yes, and we’ve never looked back!”

vandaproposal

Since being married this past April, Van and Abbe have continued to raise money for causes important to them while always keeping one eye out for any symptoms of oncoming seizures.  Last year, Van ran the Philadelphia Marathon for The Epilepsy Therapy Project and is set to run the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA next month in an effort to raise more money for seizure disorders.

Realizing how effective running for a cause can be, Van and Abbe have decided to take a more personal approach to the fundraising end of things by creating their own website where folks from all over the world can visit and donate at any time.

The website, created by Van, who is a website developer when he’s not pounding out the miles on the road, can be found at:

www.werunforyou.com

Check out the website for yourself and learn what you can do to help stamp out not only seizure disorders with The Epilepsy Therapy Project, but also blood cancers through the great work being done by The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Statue_of_Pheidippides_along_the_Marathon_Road

Pheidippides, the man credited with running the first “marathon”, did so with the purpose of delivering the message of a Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle Of Marathon in 490 BCE.  Upon the completion of his 26.2 mile run from Marathon to Greece, Pheidippides exclaimed to the magistrates, “Joy, we win!” and then promptly died on the spot.   This was obviously the last of what must have been many runs for the fateful messenger. What we’re sure of, and what we as runners celebrate every time we run a marathon, is that he ran every run with a purpose.

As Van prepares to run to make the world a better place for his wife, Abbe and all those who suffer with similar conditions, won’t you take just a moment of your time and see how you can become a partner in this noble cause?

It’s my prayer that one day, Van and Abbe will be able to look one another in the eye after a cure for seizure disorders has been found and say, “Joy, we’ve won!”

vandawedding