I’m the oldest of four siblings, spread over 10 years. Those of you who are parents know that for my parents that meant a lot of work and not much free time. Thankless jobs like doing the laundry, making dinner, and shuttling children from one event to the next all become priorities. As a result, a parent’s personal exercise may fall by the wayside.
That is where my mom found herself in 2008 – children leaving the house and a body that she wasn’t satisfied with. She wanted to change, but she didn’t know where to start. The gym was intimidating for a shy and introverted person like herself, but she needed support to start taking her first steps. So when I heard her lament these things I stepped up to the plate (for the mostly selfish reason of wanting to have a healthy and happy mom that will be around when I have children of my own).
“Mom, you need to start running. I will write you workouts and when you are ready you can select a race that will help keep you motivated”.
And so began a yearlong endeavor. It started with walking, 15-20 minutes at a time. I called her every day from Minneapolis, to make sure she got in her exercise. At first the answer was usually something like “No, it was raining” – which I knew translated as “No, this is really hard”. So I kept pushing her and calling…eventually the answers because “Yes, and I made it further today!” 11 months later she was running three hour long runs, training for her first marathon – The Knoxville Marathon.
On March 29, 2009 she lined up on the starting line for her first marathon, just a few months shy of her 50th birthday. Anxiety was written all over her face, but her posture showed how much determination she had for the task ahead. It was a cold and blustery fall day in the foothills of the Appalachians. Not the perfect conditions one hopes for when trying to tackle the 26.2.
“Mom, I’ll meet you at the 1 mile mark. You’re going to do great!” I told her as I left
her standing in her starting corral, which was buzzing with excitement. We ended up running
together for nearly 18 miles of that first marathon; at times I was running backwards trying to block the wind while at the same time cheering her on. But the last 3 miles I left for her alone. She had to tackle her inner demon on her own.
I dashed ahead to get inside the UT football stadium where the finish line loomed.
Finally she rounded the corner of the stadium, plodding along the grassy bend towards the finish line. She held her hands up high, a beaming smile on display despite her clearly exhausted body. Victory looked sweet. Finisher medal hanging around her neck and space blanket draping from her shoulders she emerged from the finish coral. She saw me and said “I did it! Look at my medal. I earned every part of this medal.” I couldn’t have been happier for her.
Back in the Minni-apple, I called my mom a few days later. “How are you feeling?” I asked. She told me that she was a little sore, but not too bad. We had a good laugh about the way in which she had waddled away from the finish line to get back to the car. And then she told me something that left me breathless –
“My new goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states!”
I beamed inwardly with admiration. Here is the woman who helped to give me a life better than her own and she wants to, at the age of 50, start down that path. Amazing! I was inspired.
As of December, 8th 2013 she has completed 9 marathons in 9 states. Once she reaches 10, she gets to join the 50 States Marathon Club – her second milestone after finishing her first marathon 5 years ago.
So this year as I contemplated a Christmas gift for her my mind went straight to ways to continue to help her pursue this dream. I automatically thought of the New York City Marathon, one of the most prestigious running events in the world. How amazing would it be to run this race for her 10th marathon? Because of its prestige it is one of the most difficult races to procure a racing bib for as well. For some time now the NYRR has had a lottery to get into their race – meaning it can take up to three years to get into the NYC Marathon. That is, unless you run for a charity…
NYRR TEAM FOR KIDS
My Christmas gift to my mom, to help her reach her goal of running 50 marathons is 50 states, is the gift of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. I selected the Team For Kids charity because it works to give less fortunate children the same childhood opportunities that my parents worked so hard to give me. The program helps kids across the country and around the world to build self-esteem, learn goal-setting, perseverance, determination, teamwork and healthy exercise habits, through the sport of running, just as my mom has.
AND THIS, RUNNING COMMUNITY, IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP!
In order to support the children of Team For Kids in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and to support my mom in achieving her dream of running in the New York City Marathon, I need to raise $2,800. These funds will also guarantee her entry in to the 2014 NYC Marathon – her milestone 10th marathon on this long road.
If you are a runner, walker, parent or fan please consider making a tax deductible donation to support this great cause and help a fellow runner achieve her dreams. Donate today! You will have the eternal thankfulness of a fellow running community member, aspiring 50 stater, and thousands of children around the globe.
(Click on this link to be taken to the Team For Kids secure site)
Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you!
And Merry Christmas to you and your family, dear reader! Cheers to many healthy New Years to come!