so at the beginning of the year i started going to a gym. my health and fitness has always been a priority to me. the trainers at my gym here request that we do 25 minutes of cardio before and after weight training. this is notoriously my least favorite part of my workout. i hate running. in the beginning, i could run for about five minutes (on a good day) without quitting and just walking on an incline instead.
there is a group in the holy land called Right to Movement. it is groups of Palestinians that get together for runs, training, yoga and hikes. they run to tell a different story. group runs allow women to run in a safer environment. training practices invite people of all skill levels to push themselves to new levels. above all else, it is a community.
when i arrived i heard great things about right to movement. my only reluctance in joining: i don't like running. it seemed that if i wanted to make friends, this was a good way to do it. i went on my first run with my friends, Amany and Marie. they were awfully patient with my slow pace and bad attitude. they encouraged me to keep going and congratulated my slow progress. their goofy humor and love made running worth it. running allowed me to explore more of the city. it helped me warm up during the cold winter nights. it gave me freedom to explore and grow.
then i hurt my knee. not only does my brain resent running, my body does too. everyone encouraged me to rest and wait until my knee was better. i took this as a pretty good sign (excuse) to stop running. still the girls encouraged me and helped me sign up for the Palestine marathon. i signed up for the 10k but vowed that i wouldn’t possibly finish. at least not unless i was crawling across the finish line.
a few weeks went by and i was feeling better. between our retreat in jordan and a visit from my family i ran as much as i could. i started attending right to movement practices and made some great new friends. i’m still amazed at how quickly i am welcomed into every space here.
on friday i woke up, got dressed and drank a huge smoothie. i felt nervous for the day. although i had been running more these past few months than ever in my life, i never made it to 10k on any of my runs. i headed to manger square. my yagm cohort all came out to support those of us who were running. amany and marie had just finished the half. i’m so grateful for their spirit. many of my new friends greeted me with high fives and words of encouragement.
fifteen minutes before we started, there was a group warm up. we all jumped around and danced (activities that i enjoy much more than running). calla lined up with me and right as we were about to start, i convinced her to run the 10k instead of her planned 5k. I don't think i could have done it without her alongside me the whole way. her positive attitude and company was much needed. she's a freakin rockstar. we held hands as we crossed the finished, hot and exhausted.
despite my distain for running, this community makes it worth it. the people, the love and the energy, this is what running in palestine means.
it also means running by walls, guarded watch towers and through refugee camps.
but beyond that it is community coming together, sharing pride in their country, cheering each other on and sharing in the spirit of the day. people of all different ability, religion and age ran together for the freedom of movement.