Paying it forward: Running Soldier Field 10-miler for AHA

Dan Malinski and I finished up the Have a Heart 5K fun run together on Saturday.

“Your heart chakra is really strong,” my massage therapist told me after our 90-minute session tonight.

I feel that my heart chakra is strong. I am healthy. I am happy. And I have learned from the injuries that plagued me for years; enough to get an intense sports massage when muscle aches start to become persistent.

It’s a fitting phrase, then, for what I had already planned to blog about here tonight: I have joined the American Heart Association’s Start! Running Team.

Not everyone is blessed with a strong heart chakra, let alone a strong heart. Some people are born with heart defects or develop heart disease. My friend Dan Malinski’s daughter was born with a heart defect that required surgery at a day old.

I met Dan through Twitter. He certainly has an inspiring story to tell — he lost 100+ pounds in a year and ran the Chicago Marathon — and it’s been a great journey to read about as he’s blogged all the ups and downs. He runs for the AHA, and he’s started working with them on their charity running endeavors. He’s someone who I try to support by lending an ear on Twitter, or by meeting at fun runs… or even just by sharing¬† link.

Saturday afternoon was one of those times. Dan had been planning a fun run — the Have a Heart 5K — with the AHA and Fleet Feet Chicago. I went, because I need to get some miles in, and I wanted to be social.

In fact, I was just about done with the run portion, when I realized I hadn’t been social at all. I ran by myself the entire time. Most of that was due to the snow and icy conditions, as there wasn’t much room for running side-by-side. So… at a certain point when the sidewalk widened, I doubled back in search of Dan. After running a while with him, hearing more of his story, and asking about the AHA running team, I decided, “Yep. I’m in.”

What that means is that I’ll be raising money for the American Heart Association for one of my 2011 runs.

I typically run for cancer causes, since my mom and grandmother were both afflicted with breast cancer. Mom survived. Grandma survived at first, and then years later it came back with a vengeance.

But there are other causes, too. And as I learned at the Have a Heart run, heart disease is the number one killer of men AND women. So I am happy to help the AHA in some small way.

I’ve picked the Soldier Field 10-mile run. Why? Because Dan’s mentor, Dave Wallach, picked me to win a free entry to the run on his blog after I left a comment detailing my experience last year (as in, I registered and couldn’t run thanks to all the injuries).

It’s a nice circle of paying it forward, I think.

So… I’m raising money for the AHA. My goal is to raise $500 by Memorial Day. Won’t you please pledge $1 a mile? That’s $10. And if 50 of you donate $10, I’ve made my goal. [UPDATE! You can’t donate less than $25 on the AHA website; HOWEVER, you can use this pledge form to mail a check. I made it and shared it on Google docs to make pledging $1 a mile easier! ] Thanks @raceforothers for pointing out the discrepancy AND for donating anyway. You rock!

Please consider it. I know it would mean the world to Dan and his family.

(Or hey! Join the team, too, and raise money yourself!)

Shameless plug: Please “like” on Facebook.¬† Thanks!

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