DoWork.Org’s mission is to accompany families in Haiti out of poverty through good, dignified jobs. Taken by the mission statement and charitable organization, café owner Sherree Goldstein’s son Daniel Goldstein elected to join the cause, introducing Square Café to a new cause to get behind.
Gratitude and joy—the words that have been going through my head since I arrived in Haiti. Gratitude because both that I feel like I am a part of something that is making a real difference in the lives of many and for the privilege to throw my life aside for a week, responsible for nothing but running. Joy because I get to do so surrounded by beauty and in the company of so many kind, interesting, thoughtful and inspiring people. My run across Haiti has been a humbling experience to say the least.
Today’s run was one of those runs that reminded me why I love running. Two and a half years ago, I went on my first legitimate run. Since that day, I have continued to restructure my life more and more around running. To me, running is a discipline, a practice. I wake up every morning and work toward this practice because I love to test my limits and I love to suffer.
Suffer is just what I did today. 34 miles of mostly flat roads in temperatures that pushed well into the 90s without even one tree for shade. As the run commenced around five o’clock, I gradually worked off the soreness and began to settle into my legs, already having traveled roughly 65 miles over the past three days. As runners settled into their respective paces, I realized that I was likely to spend most of the day in no-man’s-lan—something that did not sit well considering the monotony of the miles that would lie ahead. Thankfully, Ozzie caught up to me around mile five and Sean shortly thereafter. The three of us stuck together for nearly 20 miles, working off each other, rotating who set the pace. Today was the first day I felt a real sense of teamwork during the run and I was grateful for their company and encouragement. Eventually, we did break up at around mile 25 and I was forced to search for other sources of motivation. Fellow runner, Josh, had suggested picking a series of landmarks to set as short-term goals and to remind us that we “are actually running somewhere.” First it was a billboard, then a bus, then a tree, then it became the most prominent shrub in a row along the long, straight, unchanging blacktop. As I hit the day’s only hill at around mile 29, I was met with a rush of inspiration. A grin filled my face as I began to run harder, hardly slowing my pace despite the steep gradient. As I crested the hill and began to descend, thoughts of why I made this journey to Haiti filled my mind. I threw my legs in front of me as gravity began to pull my bodyweight downward. Feeling good, I continued to push toward the finish. I was much more fortunate than others when I reached the then relatively calm marketplace. Most other runners were faced with congestion and a heat index of 104 Fahrenheit for the final two or three miles to the hotel.
With so many rewarding aspects that come along with this run, it is not hard to muster up a smile at the end of each section of the run. At today’s finish line, I met two young boys from the community. Hearing them use their best English and seeing their fascination toward my soft flask water bottles was reward number one. Number two came as I walked out onto the hotel balcony and took in the view. A stone’s throw away was the deep blue of the ocean, cradled by the Saint-Marc coastline and some gentle, brown hills. One of the more beautiful sights I have seen, and after 34 miles on the road, in this I felt content.
Today’s run was not easy by any means, but considering the circumstances, I felt great. Certainly one of the most difficult days of the run, I am grateful to have survived relatively unscathed. With around 100 miles on my legs, I am happily looking forward to the days and miles that lie ahead.