Dealing with a chronic illness in your family is never easy. Unfortunately, this was the position I was placed in a few years ago. In 2011, my dad was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It was at this time when I picked up running.
Running had been the reason I quit the shot-put team when I was in high school. Years later, my brother convinced me to give the sport another shot. We ran together when we were both visiting our parents to help our mom take care of our dad. I was looking for a way to spend time outside, exercise and relieve stress. I’m pretty sure that his objectives were the same. Over time, I learned that I actually enjoyed running — and it made me feel good.
My dad died on December 12, 2013 — my 33rd birthday. Fortunately, I was able to tell him that I ran two 5Ks. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around to learn that I completed four half marathons and the Chicago Marathon (as a member of Team ALS) in 2014.
Running has proven to be a great stress reliever for me. Through it, I challenge myself in ways that I never thought possible. This year, I am again running the Chicago Marathon. Next year, I plan on running a 50-mile ultramarathon, to be followed in 2017 by a 100-miler. Every step that I run, I think about those who struggle to walk even a single step. I will keep pushing myself because I can.
I’m Chris Lempa, and this is #whyirun.
#whyirun is a digital video series produced by Elliot Johnson and Andy White.