On the Communities We Create


I walked a half-marathon this past weekend, as part of a team to benefit Lupus LA. Twenty five of us walked/ran our way through LA’s streets, encouraged by rowdy crowds along a colorful route through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the VA and Brentwood to the beach. Turning that victorious corner from San Vicente onto Ocean Avenue and racing atop the blustery bluffs to the finish line was terrific… and each of us has committed to doing it again next year.

We decided to organize a team in late November to raise awareness and money for a disease about which very little is known: lupus. (My daughter was diagnosed with a relatively mild case last June). Lupus LA is an official charity of the Honda LA Marathon, and as such can enter half-marathoners who commit to a fundraising component. A friend and I organized the team, promised our teammates a weekly training session, and raised nearly $30,000.  Our gleeful takeaway is this: everyone loves being part of something bigger than themselves, and being given the opportunity to participate in a half-marathoner was the key to our success. Every one on our team crossed the finish line, and scores of new friends will join our team in 2013.

There are many things that stick with me from my Marathon experience.  Physically, the experience was pretty awesome: there is a burst of energy from the cheering crowds that help you do more than you thought you could do. I’m grateful that my old bod went the distance. But what I loved most of all were the two communities that I connected with during the experience. The first, of course, is my friends. They have supported me as my child suffered, and joined me to raise money to fight this strange foe. It’d all just be “making widgets” without friends to laugh our way along the strange journey of parenting.

The other community turned out to be the nameless thousands who trained for and completed the Marathon.  As we spend more and more time in our cars and online, we don’t always get the chance to rub elbows with strangers.  Sure, we live in a bunch of self-selected communities — at school and work and whatever group activities we track our children through (volleyball, chess, gymnastics, etc). But part of the thrill of going to a Laker game, or Springsteen concert, is that you’re surrounded by folks that love something that you love.  Showing up at the Marathon Expo to pick up my team’s 25 running bibs, I was surrounded by like-minded folk gearing up to make good on their goal to do something outside the ordinary…

And, Honda had printed all our names on a few mini-vans to celebrate our efforts. My compatriots! We didn’t know each other, but we were on the same path. We’d have to get to bed early, monitor our water consumption and make sure we brought the correct layers for the cold. Once in the race, wordless support passed between runners. It was echoed and multiplied by enthusiastic bystanders who handed us water, or offered Vaseline for the chaffed spots on our chests or underarms, or held up silly signs to keep us going.  (My personal favorite was: “You’ve trained longer than Kim Kardashians marriage”).

Now, when else in your life does this happen?So, thanks to the thousands of runners who ran alongside us – and thanks to my teammates and all of those who contributed money to support Lupus LA.

And to all of you who thought you could never participate in something like this, think again. It’s SO worth the effort.