If you can’t run or walk with me, maybe you can at least support my efforts

This isn’t easy, this striving to be fit enough to run or walk a 5K.

And some days it seems impossibly hard.

This morning I hit the snooze button five times and decided I would benefit more from sleep than running.  And then I remembered that the Jungle Jog 5k and Conservation Walk is in less than three weeks, and I’m far from being ready to run a 5k, and I do NOT want to fail.

So, I dragged myself out of bed, threw on the running gear, and stepped outside into a beautiful clear morning.  My foot hurt a bit – I’ve been on hiatus due to a stress fracture in my right foot – but the more I ran, the better my foot felt.

And I was reminded, again, that training for an athletic endeavor is a metaphor for life.  Or, a metaphor for what it takes to conserve wildlife and wild places.

It is hard work.  It is work that we sometimes don’t want to do.  It can make us uncomfortable.  It involves sacrifice.  It requires us to remove the physical and mental barriers we face to pursue our goal.  It is a commitment to a better way of being, and requires a lifestyle change that can make us want to close our eyes and go back to sleep.

One of my role models, Andy Stern, has a bumper sticker that says, “Don’t buy anything new.”  That is a message about what it takes to live more sustainably, keep things out of landfills, and cut down on the consumerism that is leading to exploiting natural resources to an unsupportable level.  The message is simple.  Committing to that behavior:  decidedly not simple, until you try it.

Ninety percent of Madagascar is deforested, meaning that the once plentiful habitat for more than one hundred species of lemurs is nearly gone.  When my friend Mahandry arrived earlier this summer from Madagascar, one of the first things he said was “There are so many trees here!”  In Madagascar, the trees have been removed to use the lumber for building and for fuel, and to convert the land into rice paddies so people can feed their families.  All 103 species of lemurs are considered endangered.

It’s going to take work to save lemurs, along with the wealth of biodiversity that is endemic to Madagascar.  Just as it has taken work to bring the Genesee River back to life after years of unfettered use by industry and agriculture.  Just as it takes work to get and stay healthy.

I’m a long way from where I was a couple years ago, healthwise.  But I can start, today, getting healthy again to work my way back to being strong enough to run a 5K, and then train for longer distances.

I’ve asked you to consider joining me in committing to getting fit, and to come out to walk or run the Jungle Jog 5K and Conservation Walk.

But if you can’t do that, this year, there is still something you can do: support our efforts to raise funds for lemur conservation.  Several of our docents, along with me, are raising funds through Crowdrise; my personal goal is to raise $500.

There’s also still time to register for the Jungle Jog, and there’s even still time to train for it – at least to walk it.  Every step is a start in the right direction.  Walk, run, or donate.  It all matters.

— Pamela Reed Sanchez, Seneca Park Zoo Society Executive Director