My name is Lisa Smith-Batchen. I am 55 years-old. I am married and have two beautiful adopted daughters. Endurance sports are my gift. Running is my passion. Helping others is my goal. Starting on April 24, 2016, I will run 3,100 miles across America and attempt to break the 36 year-old transcontinental speed record of 46 days. I am raising money for Pediatric Cancer.
In 2013, something extraordinary occurred within the walls of St. Jude’s children’s hospital. A 20 year-old girl named Hillary had just rounded the corner of the bone marrow transplant unit of the hospital and crossed a finish line of cheering nurses, aides, doctors, and patients. Attached to a chemotherapy machine that rolled along beside her, Hillary took the final steps across a makeshift finish line. She had just completed 26.2 miles within the corridors of the hospital, all while receiving in-patient therapy.
Hillary was diagnosed with b-cell lymphoblastic leukemia in 2008. Her cancer went into remission three years later. Then, a different kind of cancer showed up in her body: non-Hodgkin lymphoma. More chemo, and then, remission. In 2013, Hillary went back into the hospital because the cancer relapsed. When Hillary crossed that finish line, she had just received a bone marrow transplant a few weeks earlier. After the procedure, she wanted to stay active in order to build her strength. She started walking the hospital corridors. That was the beginning of her marathon journey.
I am inspired by people like Hillary who have the heart and courage to attempt the impossible. I believe I owe it to her and other children like her to embark on my own journey.
Why Do You Run?
Every person is good at something. Some people are good at athletics. Others are talented musicians, writers, or artists. Some people are good at math and science. Your gift can be as simple as being able to get along well with others. Some people are good at running. Running is a simple activity. You put one foot in front of the other. The biomechanics of running are pure instinct – they are built solidly into our collective biological makeup. Our bodies know how to run because running is part of our nature as human beings. Children at play are excellent runners, and they take their cue from millions of years of evolutuionary history.
If you have a gift, you owe it to yourself to honor that gift and hone it. That takes work. Often times in life, we find excuses to stop us from putting in the work and sharpening our skills and talents. We take our gifts for granted. People like Hillary inspire and move us because they have not given themselves an out: they have pursued their passions despite the overwhelming obstacles. What, then, can our excuse be for honoring the best and most sacred part of ourselves – our power and capacity for greatness?
Running with Purpose
Our gifts were meant to be shared. Each of us brings something unique to the world. Just think how devastating is the pain when a loved one passes away; that person made a world of a difference to us. They affected us and those around us for the better, and we will be better people in our own relationships with others because of them. They provided an exemplary example of dignity, grace, and kindness, and they inspired us to be a similar light to those around us. We then affect others – inspiring or exasperating them, helping them or hurting them, loving them or rejecting them. And on it goes. Thus, the world is changed.
After you have developed your gift and perfected it, you may eventually want to not just share it, but use it to benefit others. Artists use their craft to bring beauty and insight to people. Scientists, doctors, and lawyers all harness their passion for their discipline in order to make a positive contribution to society. Running can be used to make a difference. Consider Hillary. She loved being active, and in her pursuit of physical strength, she inspired an untold number of people.
Run Across America
One of the great feats of the modern running movement is the transcontinental run. In 1980, a man named Frank Giannino, Jr., ran 3,100 miles from San Francisco to New York in 46 days, 8 hours, and 36 minutes. In doing so, he set a record for the fastest run across the United States. His record has not been broken.
Most people would consider the breaking of such a long-standing record to be a near impossible feat. But, striving for the impossible is what inspires others. You must be extraordinary, and you must never be afraid to dream big. In attempting the impossible, you honor the people who have come before you and paved the way in your particular discipline. In attempting the impossible, you honor people like Hillary and their efforts to use their gift for the greater good. In attempting the impossible, you honor yourself because you acknowledge your inner capacity for greatness. Then, you inspire others. You make a difference in the world.