This article originally appeared on jewishpress.com.
It was a lovely Sunday afternoon in the park when I bumped into a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. After the obligatory pleasantries were exchanged, she tentatively asked me if something was wrong with my health. “No,” I responded, confused. “I’m doing better than ever.”
“So what’s wrong?” she asked. “Have you lost your job?”
“No, not at all! Where are you getting this from?” I asked.
“Everything okay with the family?” she asked. “How is everybody doing?”
“Honey, everything’s great,” I assured her. “What makes you think something’s wrong?”
“To be honest,” she responded, “you look terrible! You’re covered in sweat, you can barely breathe, you look like you haven’t showered in a week, and you lost a lot of weight. So I just assumed something must be wrong.” I laughed and looked down at my soak-stained T-shirt. “Of course I look terrible,” I told her. “I’m in the middle of a workout.”
I’ve been called many things in my life – but a runner is certainly not one of them. I run to catch the bus, I run after my toddler, and, like everybody else, I run after the occasional ice cream truck. But to purposely run for the sake of working out? Well, that goes against everything I stand for!
It was for this very reason that nobody believed I would be running a half-marathon this coming January in beautiful Miami Beach. My friends told me that I can’t just pull an “April Fools” in the middle of October, my parents laughed, and my 3-year-old simply asked, “Mommy, where are you running? To the manicure store before they close?”
But the truth is that I committed to running this marathon for a great cause. Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, is an organization that is dedicated to addressing the needs of people with disabilities and including them in the Jewish community. This year, for the third consecutive year, Yachad has put together a team of runners from all over the country to compete in the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon in January 2012. Each team member commits to raising a set amount of money and, in exchange, they get an all-expense paid trip to Miami, including accommodations, airfare, and entrance into the race.
As much as the next person, I love pushing myself to the extreme and working my knees till they bleed. But nonetheless, I must honestly say that my intentions are completely pure, and I have no ulterior motives for doing this. I am certainly not doing it for the Miami trip, or the beautiful sunshine in the dead of winter, or the Shabbaton, weekend and parties. Not me! I’m the type of person that will travel all the way down to Florida, eat as much sushi as they stuff down my throat, meet as many amazing people as they force me to meet (and on top of it all, get in the best shape of my life) – all for the selfless act of raising money for a good cause.
And so, being the selfless person that I am, I invite all of you to share in my one-of-a-kind experience, and run with Team Yachad this coming January. If you can’t join personally, any and all donations are always appreciated. Visit www.teamyachad.com to check out all the runners and sponsor someone, or sign up and check out all the great things included in the trip. Get ready for the most amazing, fulfilling and rewarding experience of your life. See you there!
Shaindy Urman is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.