Willpower outweighs pain in running for causes

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Willpower outweighs pain in running for causes

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It was a cool spring morning, about 55 degrees. The wind wasn’t blowing, which is unusual for the Texas panhandle. As the world was coming to life, the sky was painted in shades of red, orange and purple. There was a beautiful panhandle sunrise. Everything was still.

 

She prayed, “God, give me strength,” and pushed herself to fight through the pain. Her will power grew stronger with every step she took as she ran the course. At mile seven or eight, she told herself she was going to finish the race, and she did. Julia Greif, graduate student in Communication, completed the half marathon race of the 2015 Amarillo Marathon.

 

Despite the physical strain put on her body for 13.1 miles on an April morning, Greif persevered all the way to the finish line. She did not train for this race due to a back injury earlier in the year, so she relied on will power and faith to carry her through.

 

“I know my faith is a strong thing, and I know how painful it can be,” Greif said. “I just wanted to prove to myself that I could still do something like that. With faith, you’re going to have more ability. It’s 90 percent will power and 10 percent training.”

 

Greif, a former soccer player for the Lady Buffs of West Texas A&M University, has a passion for running, particularly in races for a cause. In the past, she has raced for autism and Down syndrome awareness. Greif most recently competed in a race benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Amarillo with WT alum Seph Stiles.

 

Both Greif and Stiles are more likely to enter a race when the proceeds directly benefit a cause. Greif said it is an amazing thing when the registration fees don’t go to waste but rather to a charity or nonprofit organization.

 

“I enter the races because of the adrenaline rush that it gives me while running,” Stiles said. “It is a great thing when 100 percent of the proceeds go to charity just like the Amarillo Marathon did.”

 

Despite the adrenaline it brings, running presents different challenges to each participant.

 

“I like to enjoy the scenery and my surroundings,” Stiles said. “The hardest thing [about running] is just finding time out of my schedule to go run.”

 

Races for a cause have various aspects that runners enjoy. The Amarillo Marathon followed a flat course, so the runners had the convenience of not having to run uphill, Stiles said.

 

For Greif, the best part of the Amarillo Marathon was the atmosphere and its energy. There were water stops every two miles throughout the race course. Each station was maintained by various businesses and groups, such as Palace Coffee Company, Street Toyota, Happy State Bank and a biker gang.

 

At the stops, runners were given sports drinks, food, water and encouragement. The Ronald McDonald House had volunteers at each station cheering on the runners, expressing their gratitude for support their cause and giving them motivation and telling them how proud of they were of the runners. Greif said they gave runners the motivation to keep pushing through and finish the race.

 

“It was one of the most encouraging parts,” Greif said.

 

According to their website, the Ronald McDonald House provides a temporary “home away from home” for families traveling to Amarillo to receive medical treatment for their children. All proceeds from the April 11 race went to aid in funding a new building for the Ronald McDonald House.

 

The Amarillo Marathon website stated, “Do something good for yourself. Do something good for others.”

 

When it comes to 5k, half marathon and marathon races, people are generally more apt to participate when the proceeds benefit a cause.

 

“You’re a part of something bigger than yourself,” Greif said. “You don’t really do [it] for you, but for other people.”

 

Greif’s love of races sparked from her participation in the New Jersey Marathon several years ago. The adrenaline rush that came from crossing the finish line proved to be a very rewarding moment for her. Running has become second nature to her after playing soccer for most of her life. She enjoys longer distances because of the feeling of accomplishment she gets from finishing.

 

She tore both of her ACLs playing soccer and has had multiple knee surgeries. Greif has also suffered from other injuries, including a recent back injury. Her will power allows her to fight through the pain and continue running. She never wants to be the person who makes excuses because of her injuries.

 

“I don’t think the word ‘can’t’ is in my vocabulary,” she said. “The body is capable of so many more things than people think. I had knee surgery, and I’m a better person because of it.”

 

When Greif runs, she prays. She says a prayer at every mile and asks for strength to make it to the next. For Greif, running is a lot like going through life. It’s tough, but as she continues, she finds the strength to keep pushing and the power to finish.

 

“You’re going to go through all these hardships,” Greif said, “but when you get to the end of them, it’s amazing.”

 

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