I guess I am a little overdue in writing this, but as I was retelling the story of my recent half marathon here in Haiti to a friend she said “this sounds like it needs to be a blog post.” So here it is.
Me and a few other teachers at Quisqueya had been training for this race since October(ish). Every run seemed to be a “hill run”, even thought the training calendar said hill runs were only to be done once a week, but….This is Haiti. As the weeks went by the runs got longer and harder down here in the heat, oh and the hills, but we managed to get the miles in…most of them.
The last two weeks of training were going to be over the Christmas vacation which Jesse and I would be spending in Florida with his family. A trip that couldn’t come soon enough and didn’t last long enough. I was looking forward to some nice runs in a more mild climate, but still sunny Florida with my running pal, but…This is Haiti and two days before were to fly out to our fantastic holiday Jesse had a motorcycle accident, severely damaging his foot and taking him out of race contention.
Off I went in Florida, continuing my training, alone. However, I found myself continuously looking behind me because Florida has gators and snakes and I wasn’t really looking to make any new friends. Somehow I fit in some good runs, including my long ten miler, where my running pal showed up with pretzels, water and lots of encouragement 🙂
We finished out vacation with lots of sun, time with family and trips to Target (unfortunately the Target trips had time restraints on them). The vacation had gone so great in fact that the night before we were set to return I remembered I had not yet registered for the race which was now three days away. Signing on I realized registration had been closed. Fortunately I sent off and email and got a quick response and a link to follow and sign up and all was well.
When the time came to pack our bags, well more of a organization of bags because I don’t think we ever unpacked, but such is the life; I definitely had some unsettled emotions about returning. Fortunately, I was greeted at the Port-au-Prince airport with one of my best and oldest friends, Leslie. She had arrived before us and was joining us for the race and a whirlwind weekend, in Friday, out Monday. After sufficient time waiting around in the parking lot for other staff to arrive, we finally made it home.
Jesse’s bike had been fixed by some miracle over the break and only had a few pieces of duc-tape and a missing mirror as mementos of the accident. The three of us dressed up and went out to The View for a nice dinner overlooking Haiti.
The drive out to Jacmel was uneventful (thank you Lord again for keeping us safe), I took a page out of my mothers book and read to everyone from the back seat to avoid looking at the road carved through the mountains of Haiti that can plummet one to an early death, literally at every twist and turn. When we arrived at Jacmel and registered for the race, Leslie immediately ran into the Caribbean Ocean as she had traveled in from snowy New York City. And who can resist when a bunch of your friends are doing a race, so Jesse registered as well, injured (possibly broken) foot and all. What the heck, we drove all this way!
I would love to say the race went off with out a hitch, but that would not only be boring, but would also be a blatant lie. Previous racers were upset for not getting paid their “race money”, even though they had illegally ran the race in the first place the previous year. They vowed to no allow this years race to take off. But we drove all that way so nothing was going to stop us (also the fact that we had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until after the race). All seemed to start ok, but then the scarcely “marked” course and lack of direction caused many wrong turns and frustration. About half way thorough I must have taken a wrong turn, ended up in town and took a moto taxi back to the point where I last got lost (altogether, about a mile and 30 minutes worth of confusion), I promised my driver just payment of 100 GDE if he showed up at the beach in an hour and was on my way.
At this point I was so frustrated between looking down at the road to avoid tripping or twisting my ankle and looking up to search for race signs that had turned over in the wind or fallen down all together, because who knew one piece of scotch tape probably wouldn’t hold up on a dusty tree and piece of cactus. But we drove all that way so I kept going.
Some way out, my friend Miquette, who I knew should have been WAY ahead of me, showed up behind me. She had also gotten lost. Ughh. At least she had been running with Jesse who was now with me :). Her training and strength drove her to continue hard and Jesse and I decided to walk a bit in an unsuccessful effort to regain feeling in our hips that was not only excoriating pain, but possibly also blinding. Leslie however had a great race and came back to see us at the end and make sure we found our way and eventually we did. I finished somewhere around 14 minutes and Jesse and Miquette did 17 or so…
At the finish we found out the race director was being detained in jail, the people who did the full marathon (most of which also got lost) had rocks thrown at them in protest, but at least there were coconuts and cold water. We snapped a few pics, got a few apologies and were out of there.
I was furious when it all first happened and clearly during the race, but the whole thing is sort of making its way behind me. I am glad I did it, we did get a free entry into next years race, but I am also glad it’s over.
Returning to our hotel we packed up, refueled with lunch and fresh juice and set out to hike to Bassin Blue, because we drove all this way, and its beautiful.
Leslie had a great trip and I am so excited I got to share this gem of an Island with her. I was a little frustrated with the race, but…This is Haiti and she had a blast. It was an event to remember for sure.
Time has really got away from me. There are 16 days left in 2014 and this is only my third post of the year! I just might have to resolve to do better at blogging in the new year!
I have been running a lot lately. The last time I trained for a half marathon was 2010; I was living in America and I was not a believer, well not a follower at least. The last time I trained for a half marathon I was running with the Team in Training and raising money towards cancer research. I ran for Todd, a piece of my heart who lost his battle with cancer.
This time around training has been a bit different.
I am training on the trash covered streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti as opposed to the snow covered streets of Rochester, New York.
I am training sporadically, depending on time and heat and where the latest riots are taking place as opposed to the regimented group training I remember from 2010.
And this time, I am running for life, not death.
I am again running with a group, or more for a group. This time I am running for TeacHaiti, a non profit in Haiti, a school started by my good friend, Miquette McMahon. A group of us are running to raise money for TeacHaiti.
This time I am running for education, for life.
Since moving to Haiti life has changed me. I have stumbled across many organizations here that breath life into not only the people of this country, but also those of us who have come to call it home. So many of them who are involved in education in one way or another.
Some organizations have taught me exactly what I don’t want to be involved in, while others have shown me how to live.
I am running for education.
Education is knowing and loving (and being immensely loved by) the midwives at Heartline Haiti, who have taught me how to be a better woman, who have so much love and affection for the women of Haiti, the mommas and essentially the future. The midwives who educate women on breast feeding, caring for a new infant and even contraceptives and the rights we have as women, as humans. Education is learning I have value.
Education is what I do as a teacher at Quisqueya Christian School. It is standing in front of my classroom in my Senior Transitions class, in front of my seniors and tell them to stand up against peer pressure. Not to be the norm, but to be the change. To stand firm in your faith, to go out of your way to love, to forgive and to live. It is the education I am gaining from knowing them, teaching them; from loving them. Education is seeking after wisdom.
“My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.” Psalm 49:3
Education is breaking the cycle of poverty. It’s knowing there is something better out there, something more. It is having a dream, wanting a better life-a better life for yourself, a better life for your children. Education is more than going to school and learning, it is knowing you are beyond blessed for the opportunity to go to school, to learn. Education is finding life in the wisdom we seek.
“and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” Exodus 35:31
Education is life.
Education is knowing there is more to this life, knowing Jesus died on the cross to wash away my sin. Knowing Jesus loves me, knowing God is looking out for me, knowing the Spirit is breathing life into me. Education is value, it is wisdom, it is life.
This time, I am running for life. I am running for education and whatever that might mean to you, but for me, it means life. For me, it means coming to Haiti. It means realizing there is freedom in my beliefs, there is freedom in Jesus, wisdom in education and life in wisdom.
As I ran my six miles yesterday, I found myself needing to recall the reason I am doing this run. In the heat, struggling to put in the miles, to wake up early, to run up that hill (because everything is up, even when you are going down, you’re still going up). I remembered my education. The life lessons I have learned, the life I was born into where education was not an option, but a requirement-given to ALL. Haiti is so different. Education is not for all. Freedom is not for all. The gospel is not for all; it has not yet reached every house hold, every ear, every soul. I took so much for granted growing up in the states, but Haiti has taught me so much.
“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.” Proverbs 19:8
I think its perfect this run is happening around the Christmas season. Its perfect I am running to raise money for TeacHaiti (click here if you want to help me do that). It’s perfect that it’s hard and challenging and even up hill as so much of life can seem to be. It is perfect that this time I am running for life, not death.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13