I’m so lucky to have such inspirational women in my family, the most important and obvious one being my mom.
For as long as I can remember, she has been involved in some sort of exercise: most often tennis.
I’m sure she’d rather not divulge her age, but suffice it to say that she could run in my aunt’s age group, and she still gets out almost daily to do some form of exercise.
My mom was diagnosed in February of 2011 with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma when a tumor was found in her brain. After brain surgery, months of inpatient chemotherapy, followed up by radiation, she was cancer free by that May. In other words, she won.
Her active lifestyle and attention to her health is without a doubt why she was able to handle the aggressive treatment and come out of it swinging. She’s back out with her racket, hitting against a wall, for now.
She’s inspired me to get out there and be active my whole life. I started swimming competitively at age seven and continued through high school. Then I found running in college; it was a way to stay active—and keep the Freshman 15 at bay.
I can barely recall times when my mom would talk negatively about her body when I was growing up. Maybe that's because she never really had much to complain about. Regardless, I feel like I’ve been given this gift of not being as preoccupied with how I look as much as with how healthy I am.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint; I want to fit into nice jeans and I certainly went through periods of loooow self-esteem (the most notable times being the late puberty years and those lovely postpartum months). But, my body image a nagging pervasive thing that I know a lot of women can suffer from. I just hope I can instill this same self-acceptance in my kids, especially my daughter.
So why do I run? I run because that's the example that has been set for me. I’ve never not exercised in my life.
I’m sure that there people who think of the constantly exercising, stay-at-home mom as the narcissistic type, but that is so very, very far from the truth. Running makes me feel healthy, sane, and strong, which makes for handy armor when dealing with two kids under five years of age. I also run because I’m slightly anal retentive; I love to follow a training schedule and set goals. One of the (many) things I love about race day are kids' dashes that give my kids that same sense of accomplishment that I get when crossing a finish line.
Hopefully they will carry memories of watching me run as they go through life, as I have carried memories of my mom. Or better yet, I hope that running keeps me around long enough for them to watch me win my 70+ age group.