Where My Feet Have Carried Me
By Russell Lamendola
When I first read about this opportunity to share what “where my feet have carried me” means to me, many emotions came to mind. My feet have carried me through much. This journey of running has been difficult. Though I have run on and off for many years, the past few years have been a struggle. I started having health issues about ten years ago and these issues took me out of running for a few months at a time. I never stopped running completely. I would run when I felt well enough to do so. These health issues began with Lyme’s disease and a serious hernia. Both at the same time by the way. I also battled pneumonia and a pre – cancerous situation that was fortunately discovered in time. These health issues culminated in a serious gall bladder problem. It took the doctors a long time to figure out what was wrong. I lost over forty pounds in about two months. The surgeon told me that it was a good thing that they took it out when they did as the gall bladder was in such bad shape. I found out later that this could have taken my life. I have battled some side effects from this issue for about five years. I believe that running has something to do with my recovery.
My long runs on weekends are at a local park where I am getting used to seeing the same people each Saturday. I am getting to know them, and their dogs, as many people run and walk with their dogs at this park. I also see many different types of people running and it is always impressive to see people who are twenty years older than me pass me at speed I cannot keep up with. They are my inspiration. My runs during the week are right out of my front door and I do not usually see many people.
Last year my wife challenged me to run my first half – marathon and I thought she was crazy. It did not make sense to run my first half marathon, or any half-marathon, at fifty-five. However, I signed up and ran it and I also ran my first 5K and 10K. After the half-marathon and 5K my wife introduced me to Moon Joggers and we both signed up. I have enjoyed using these runs to help the charities, for the exercise, and for training for other races. I am currently preparing to sign up for a number of these virtual events and I have signed up for a number of races on the virtual run sister site. I have also signed up for another half – marathon and I may actually run two this year.
I love the community of running. I have met many people, most of who I never got their names, but we are all there for the same reason, to run. At the half – marathon last year I met a couple that were running the 5K part of the day. They were local and they had been training for just a few months. I talked to them for quite some time and it was great to hear how they just wanted to run together as a couple and that they were running to lose weight and get in better shape. There were breast cancer survivors running and others who had health issues that they had overcome. It was surprising to me that there were so many that had overcome health issues. It was humbling to be around so many who refused to let their “situations” stop them from their love of running.
My name is Russell Lamendola, I am fifty-six years old and have been running on and off for many years. I live in New Jersey and, except for a few years in California, have lived here my whole life. I just finished 2 ½ years in Seminary on March 7, 2016 and am currently not working. My wife and I both train together but, because of a knee injury, she walks while I run.
I started running to impress a girl who I worked with at the time. This was back in the early 80’s. It worked for about a year but once I “had the girl” I stopped running. When she broke my heart I started to run again to get over her. This was a vicious cycle! I have not really looked back since. In the early 90’s I moved to the Jersey Shore and that is where I really started to run. The health benefits of running are very appealing to me and I love being outside on a run. Running is also a time of quiet reflection and prayer. There is something about being outside in God’s creation that is very calming to me.
**All walkers and runners are invited to join Moon Joggers! If you have not signed up for MERCURY RISING (one of the paid registration options) do so now and you’ll be able to save 25% on our virtual races in 2016! (Use code RUN2MERCURY to save 20% on MERCURY RISING