My favorite thing about running is that it's the most egalitarian sport in the world. You can start at any age, it requires minimal equipment (just some shoes and clothes), and you don't need a team, but it opens you up to a community of athletes, friends and neighbors you never were aware of before.
When I was 15 and a freshman in high school, I'd just moved to Westborough Massachusetts, which neighbors the marathon start town of Hopkinton. I didn't know anyone, and how I was going to fit in to yet another new town was totally beyond me. My Dad, both worried about me and absolutely tired of my TV domination, suggested that I follow in his footsteps and go out for Track.
It did not start well. I was terrible. I was slow and pudgy and tired extremely easily. But I didn't quit. I kept at it, I kept doing the work and I kept showing up.
Then something happened. I got good...well, less bad. I found my race and I found friends and found that I had learned to love the sport of running. Running made me feel a part of my team, my school, and my town.
Running isn't about winning races or collecting medals or even earning marathon jackets. It's about believing there's a stronger you out there and going out and finding him. That's why I've chosen to run the Boston Marathon for WalkBoston.
WalkBoston is a charity that is designed to make the city of Boston more pedestrian friendly. I'm proud to be part of a team dedicated to making the city of Boston safe for everyone to run, walk, explore and travel around one of the greatest cities in America. In a world where we're constantly told that people are obese and isolated, I have the chance to help make a difference. It could be the kid who just wants to walk a little further today or that person who decides today is the day they change his life, lace up his running shoes and jog that excruciating, horrifying, exhilarating first half-mile (three-quarters if he's lucky).
I remember last year, after everything that happened, I just wanted to run. After all of that, being able to run was a way to tell the world I wasn't afraid, that I was free, that as long as I had some good tunes and a pair of shoes I was in charge of my own destiny. I'm excited to run the Boston Marathon for WalkBoston so I can help make the city safer for everyone in Boston to do the same.
I hope you'll consider donating to my fundraiser (if you do you get a personalized thank you note from me!): http://www.crowdrise.com/walkboston2014bostonmarathon/fundraiser/ryanharnedy1. Thanks for donating!