What does semper currens mean?
On October 25, I will be running in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. This will be my seventh marathon and the biggest competitive marathon I have run to date. It will also be the fourth of my annual fall marathon fundraisers for Team Fox, the grassroots fundraising program of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
To commemorate the occasion, I thought I would do something special and a little different, so I came up with the idea of writing a series of running blogs that would chronicle the events leading up to the big day as well as the run itself. The name is a play on the Marine Corps motto semper fidelis, Latin for “always faithful.” Basically, semper currens means “always running,” which is how I feel when I am undergoing another 16-week, 800-mile-plus training program.
What is Semper Currens?
Simply put, this blog will be a virtual trainer that consists of a weekly progress report, recapping the events of the previous week and preparing for the week ahead. Each week, there will also be an additional feature where I might share advice, talk about gear, discuss general marathon training strategy or the Marine Corps Marathon in particular. Each blog with end with an update on my fundraising efforts for Team Fox, and the whole series will culminate with a detailed (possibly even a visual) account of running the Marine Corps Marathon.
But Semper Currens is a virtual trainer with a twist.
Running marathons has made me acutely aware of my own great good fortune that I am healthy and strong enough to train for, and actually run, 26.2 miles. So this year, I am dedicating my training to everyone who, for whatever reason, cannot do what I have been blessed to be able to do. My primary audience for this blog is those people who are physically unable to endure the rigors of training for, and eventually running, a full marathon, in hopes that they might get some vicarious enjoyment from my struggles and triumphs.
People like my friend Judy Fryer. Judy was the organist and choir director at Trinity Episcopal Church in Canastota, which my family and I joined in 2006.
For six years, we sang and played together until her Parkinson’s became so debilitating that she could no longer play at the services or even attend church. As a musician myself, I was profoundly moved by her struggle to keep playing even when, in her words, “the music just became a jumble of black dots.” I could not imagine a life without playing music, and so when I got the chance to run and raise money for a cause, I decided to dedicate my marathons to her and raise money on her behalf to help find a cure for her disease, which you can read about below.
Since 2012, Judy has been hospitalized in the Extended Care Facility in Oneida, NY. Though her condition is stable and mostly unchanged since that time, she is still fighting the disease every day. Physically, she can no longer balance and remains in a wheelchair. Her piano playing is becoming a distant memory. More, the disease is not just taking its toll physically. She is battling the depression that comes with it, that manifests itself in the frustration at not being able to do all those things we take for granted and in the loss of independence that almost inevitably comes as the disease progresses. But she continues to face these things with the quiet strength and dignity that I so admire.
And there are many others that I hope will find something in these words. People like many of my fellow parishioners at Trinity, who have always encouraged my running and generously supported the fundraising that goes with it but who are growing older and are dealing with their own health issues. And people like my loving and supportive partner Tessa, whose own struggles with spine and hip problems have been so frustrating and difficult to overcome.
Through this blog, I hope they can all come to experience virtually what it is like to tackle the daunting task of running over fifty miles a week before experiencing with me the emotional high of participating in the greatest and most storied endurance event in all of ancient and modern athletics.
But I hope the blog inspires others, especially those who are training for their own fall marathon, or who are beginning their own running journeys and who are looking for a little guidance or inspiration as they take on the task of preparing themselves mentally and physically for their own particular challenge.
Those who are simply curious about long-distance running might also find something here–some insight that they might use to decide whether running is something they want to pursue at some later date, perhaps, or some schadenfreude at my attempts to overcome self-inflicted pain and mental anguish just to have a piece of metal slung around my neck.
And, yes, it’s even for lazy couch potatoes too (you know who you are!), who have the good sense to be sleeping in when I am on a weekend long run and who only ever run when something is chasing them.
Basically, Semper Currens is for everyone! So sit back and relax. I’ll do the hard work so we can all share in the fun!
My participation with Team Fox and how you can help
In 2012, I ran my first ever marathon, The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and raised $1,163.20 for Team Fox. The following year was even more successful, and at the Rochester Marathon, I surpassed my goal and raised $1,525.33. Last year, however, I only managed to raise $777.57 at the Niagara Falls International Marathon. Still, that brought my lifetime Team Fox fundraising total to $3,466.10, taking us one step closer to finding a cure for the chronic neurological disease that affects five million people worldwide, including my friend Judy Fryer.
This year, with your help, I would like to raise in excess of $1,500, which would put my lifetime fundraising at over $5,000. You can make a contribution by going to my fundraising page. Any amount, no matter how small, will have an impact, because unlike so many of the large, corporate charitable concerns, MJFF has found a way to cut through the red tape and ensure that 89c of every dollar raised goes to funding clinical trials and research to help speed the process of finding a cure.