Editor’s note: Erin Moeller, 36, of Mount Vernon is a lifelong runner who qualified for the last two Olympic Marathon Trials. A native of Ryan, she’s a graduate of North-Linn and Wartburg and works for Benchmark Inc. in Cedar Rapids. She has three children — Ryne (8), Evelyn (4) and Kellyn (5 months) — with husband Andy.
By Erin Moeller, community contributor
What keeps your fire burning?
Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s cold outside. Even running on the treadmill — inside our garage — is a bit nippy. If you’re anything like me and are committed to running, despite the extreme conditions outside, you also may have heard these words: “What motivates you to run?!?”
Admittedly, there are a number of factors that might motivate a person to go out for a run in this arctic weather, the sultry summer heat that is hopefully just a few months away, the wee hours of the morning, or whenever else our busy schedules allow.
What about you — what keeps your fire burning and motivates you to get your miles in?
Since I’ve been running for a number of years, my reasons for running have changed. Back in seventh grade, while growing up on the farm, I may have opted to go out for junior high track and field to get out of a little farm work. As my running continued, my purpose varied from wanting to stay fit, seeing how fast I could get, keeping my weight under control, clearing my mind, keeping my sanity ... The list goes on and on.
Admittedly, my purpose for running — my purpose in life — changed throughout this past year. Several months ago in this space, I wrote about running while pregnant. Little did I know what my months of pregnancy had in store.
In addition to all the typical excitement that comes with a pregnancy, our family learned at our routine 20-week ultrasound the newest addition of our family has spina bifida. What a shock this news was to our active family that loves to run, ride bikes, do sport and simply be on the move. Instead, we were focusing our energies on locations of lesions, probable diagnosis, degree of paralysis and a barrage of other complications that individuals born with spina bifida may face throughout their lives.
Suddenly, my running — this past-time I’ve enjoyed and even taken for granted for many years — took on a whole new meaning. As I head out the door each day for my run, I am constantly reminded of the gift we runners have been given. We have been blessed with legs that move, strong hearts to carry us throughout the miles and a mind that is tough as nails to persevere throughout whatever our daily run throws our way.
After finally being discharged from the NICU at the University of Iowa following his premature birth, my son and I spent parts of the next few weeks at the indoor track at Cornell College. Just Kellyn, me and a small handful of others who were committed to getting their daily workouts in during the middle of the workweek. With Kellyn either laying on a blanket or sitting in his car seat, I would run lap after lap around that indoor track eagerly looking forward to seeing his beautiful face — the face that brings me unbelievable motivation to keep going, to push a little harder and to go a little longer.
Throughout these past several months, our family has grown stronger and continues to celebrate our ability to live healthy and active lives. Most of all, we use Kellyn’s beautiful smiles and determination as motivation to embrace the God-given abilities we have been blessed with as we head out to hit the pavement.As we embark upon the new year already underway, I encourage you to not take life for granted. Go out and make the most of all you’ve been blessed with. Be sure to have a little fun while you’re at it.