By Sean Cahill
A few years ago, my friend Jimmy came to me and said he would be running in the John Carroll fitness room and asked if I would like to join. Run? Get on a treadmill and…run? I couldn’t think of something I’d rather do less. Flashes of “running” the mile in high school gym brought chills down my spine as I remembered gasping for air before, during, and after the terrible ordeal. Visions of the other kids lapping me once and then twice did not bring back happy memories. I told Jimmy that I wasn’t much of a runner (to say the very least) but that I would be happy to walk while he ran, so I did. Jimmy would run for what seemed like forever and I would casually walk on the treadmill beside him. One day he said I should try jogging for a few minutes and then walk. Later he would challenge me to run for a while, then jog, then walk, and repeat. It was very difficult for me. I was not then, nor am I now, very fit; but, I wanted to be there with my friend.
A few years after those initial…experiences, shall I say, in the John Carroll fitness room, Jimmy told me about the Rock CF race in Michigan. Again, he was pushing me to run... I begrudgingly agreed and off I went to “run” the race. I hadn’t trained, really, but I thought I would join the ranks and hope for race day stamina and excitement to carry me along the route. The day before the race I found myself surrounded by people who were runners and loved to run and also some that were like me, there to support and perhaps jog along the way. I said that I was likely not going to “run” but ”move” along the route and eventually cross the finish line, and I did. What an experience. Love from my fellow race goers, and the joy of watching others cross the finish line was surprisingly exhilarating…even though I still don’t understand how some people enjoy this hobby. Nevertheless, people were alive. People were excited to be with one another running the race, or walking the race, or cheering from the side of the road. We were all alive.
Last year I had the pleasure of Rocking CF with some students and staff from Notre Dame College. For a while I couldn’t believe I was doing this again, but Jimmy, ever-persistent, conned me into this race for a second year. On race day I was standing with some of the group from NDC and I made a pact with one of the students that we would run together for the entire 5K. If she ever needed to stop we would and if I ever needed to slow down she similarly agreed. I was so blessed to have this student join me. We pushed each other for the first mile and then decided (it was really me that needed to, though Julia would likely say it was mutual, very kind of her…) we would walk for a while. We were quickly joined by a few others from Gannon and John Carroll. We walked and shared stories, laughter, and a little bit of pain until we jogged across the finish line. The fellowship we shared is a great deal of what it means to be alive. We were alive during that race just as we will be this year.
A few years ago, in the John Carroll fitness room I was not a runner. I’m still not a runner and I don’t know if I’ll ever have that distinction. What I am, though, is alive. I’m alive with all of the Rock CF participants the night before the race. I’m alive with all of my friends as we move along the race route. I’m alive watching those with Cystic Fibrosis cross the finish line of the race. I’m alive in the conversations with new friends that I meet during my time in Michigan. I’m alive in the communion that we share, runners and non-runners alike. I so look forward to being alive again this year with all of you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Cahill is a recent graduate of John Carroll University currently working as a student teacher at Benedictine High School, teaching World History and Mock Trial. Outside of the classroom he can usually be found acting on Cleveland area stages or singing with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. He enjoys being an uncle and cannot wait to welcome another little one to the family in a few months. More than any specific activity, job, or hobby he is most grateful for being alive.