We are leaving what I will term the back way out of the Urban Ministries and following Tryon Street in a westerly direction. Meredith, Justin, and several of the neighbors are leading the way. This was how I was introduced into the phenomenon lead by Meredith and Kelly and known across Charlotte as "Running Works"
Meredith and Kelly have given so much of the time and energy to take Running Works from a start up charitable organization earlier this year to something that by all accounts is a wildly successful program. The Running Works program helps return confidence to individuals that for one reason or another have hit a difficult time in their lives.
Until now, my perspective of Running Works had been from a distance. Meredith and Kelly are my teammates on our TrySports Ambassador team, so I have been around when they talked about their efforts, then, through our Charlotte Running Club, our 8k race committee chose Running Works as their race charity for '13 race. Maybe my closest opportunity was during the lead up and running of Meredith and Kelly's Monster Dash 5k. A hugely successful event the last of October held at Rural Hill Farm.
But today was a real and up close opportunity for me to observe what Meredith and Kelly do when they are active on site at the Urban Ministries.
The first thing that jumps out when I walked in the door is how friendly everyone is. I have gone to parties and left without knowing anyone's name. Here, it is pretty much impossible to do so.
The second thing that jumps out to me is the smiles, the laughter, and the general spirit of happiness that seems to permeate the room.
The other thing that jumps out to me is their desire to run. They are eager for us to head out the door and take us on one of their regular routes.
We follow a route along Tryon to Trade – basically we are making a huge box shaped route. We cut through by Target and tackled this huge flight of stairs. A mile later, we are taking the steps near Time Warner Arena two steps at a time.
We cruised easily back into the Urban Ministries parking
We all slowed to a walk and Meredith began herding us back inside for their post run discussion session. This is really where I got an eye opening experience while listening to what they have to endure during their normal daily lives. There are days when I really feel like my life has hit rock bottom. But listening to their stories just reminds me that I am nowhere near rock bottom. And, I really shouldn't be complaining about my minuscule struggles.
Each of their runs is always followed by one of these discussion sessions. Setting in a circle of chairs, the talking is not limited to just the neighbors but Meredith, Justin, Justin's mom, and Kelly each shared personal stores from their lives to bring relevance to the group discussion. For my part, I remained a quiet but an attentive observer.
My goal for the day was to experience what Meredith and Kelly were working so hard to achieve. Listening, watching, and learning was that best way that I saw of doing it and then sharing my perspective here.
Meredith and Kelly hold their Running Works group runs on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM starting from the Urban Ministries Bldg. After each run, Meredith and Kelly lead a group discussion.
Most of us live our lives and stay well within our comfort zones. But sometimes, it is good to step outside and explore the world from a different perspective. Opening our eyes to a different view can help redefine who we really are.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner