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Running for Our Heroes 5K

I ran, then jogged, then walked in the “Running for Our Heroes” 5K. I learned something about running, about 5Ks, about myself.

About the 5K

There were just under 200 people running, if numbers on shirts were accurate, each of them spending $15-30 to run. Proceeds benefit the Douglas County Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund and the UW-Superior Veteran and Nontraditional Student Center.

I’ve only been to one other 5K, and the warm up music always bothers me — the kind of light, inoffensive pop that can play in any workplace. But I get it, it’s like a wedding reception, right, and you are building a mood and a sense of fun in the most people present.

(For the first half mile, I jogged to Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus. Now that is 5K music. 5K is only three miles — I walk that far when I walk home from Canal Park. But when I walk home from Canal Park, I am not trying to keep pace with Twin Ports Dental’s Race Team, so identified by their T-shirts. They kept me at 6k/hr, or about 3.73 miles per hour average — a brisk walk.)

Passing was something to see. The route was on sidewalks, not closed streets, running around the campus of UW-Superior, which created some tight moments for people running to best a time.

But most of us were not there to compete. We were in a kind of Aristotelian moment of friendship.

Mutual Flourishing and the 5K

Aristotle defines friendship as the way that your flourishing is my flourishing, and my flourishing is yours. Runners in a 5K for a charity are a prototypical example of this way of thinking: the charity flourishes for their donations, while the runners and walkers flourish for the exercise and company.

(This is not about a “sale” — Target and I are not in a relationship of mutual flourishing. They want me happy enough to shop again. A 5K is staffed by volunteers passionate about the cause and passionately concerned about the flourishing of the runners and walkers. Most runners and walkers care passionately about the services funded by the 5K.)

Rethinking My Flourishing

A year ago, I was 18 pounds heavier and far less healthy, and I watched a woman I was dating run a 5K. I hung out with her sister, her son, and his cousins while she ran with her brother-in-law. I imagined her flourishing (running) alongside my flourishing (spending time with beautiful children), and I took a small joy in the gender role reversal, as I helped with childcare while she ran.

Today, though, I learned that a 5k (running for a small distance, jogging for a small distance, and walking for the rest, for now — I’m building more running into my treadmill time) could be my flourishing, too. It releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, as well as anandamide. Fancy science words for “I felt good running, and I felt good being part of the work of the Douglas County Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund.”

Thank you for a good day.

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