Forward: A few years ago my mom ran her first fun run on a whim and it went totally okay, mostly. After that she didn’t have the running bug though. I still managed to twist her arm into a couple more 5k’s, and then she did. Soon after that I invited her to do a guest post and half training this summer finally pushed her into it. As this is going live she’s actually doing it with me, like right this moment! So feel free to leave some comments of encouragement. If you leave one I’ll read it to her as she does her first half marathon. I get the sense that she wants me to be proud of her and I am, but more than anything I hope that she makes herself proud.
When I become a grandmother, several years ago, I was spending a lot of time with my younger daughter and her family. I realized that I was missing time with Alliy, her older sister. As I was thinking about finding time with to spend with her, I noticed that a town near us was hosting a 3 km fun run as part of their Christmas festivities. Alliy is a runner, so I thought this would be fun thing that we could do together. I was sure that I was capable of running that distance.
She was thrilled with the idea and we had a lovely evening, even if I did have to walk a good portion of the run!
Little did I know that the invitation to share time together in an activity that she enjoyed, would launch me and my husband, well into our 7th decades, on a path to become serious runners.
Shortly after our race, she suggested that it might be fun for the three of us to run a 5k race at our city’s annual marathon weekend. I gasped at the thought, but my husband was intrigued by the idea. Alliy introduced us to the Couch to 5K program.
She came by in the mornings to run with us, and as each run got a little longer, with her encouragement we started to believe that we could this! She continued to run with us until we felt that we could continue on our own, but always checked in to see how we were progressing. One day she took me aside and suggested that we surprise my husband by inviting his daughter (also a runner) to run the race with her father, but not to tell him until the weekend of the race. This was going to be a big deal and cause for family celebration!
Successfully completing that first race gave us both confidence that running at our age was possible. The recognition of the health benefits associated with regular exercise turned us into committed runners. With her encouragement and coaching, we went on to run numerous races, including longer distances. Alliy committed to run with us in any race that was a new distance for us, and soon we both had a couple of 10k races under our belt.
The idea of running a half marathon both intrigued and terrified me. The training demands would be difficult, but when I mentioned it to my daughter, her immediate response was: of course, you can do it!
While I could devote an entire blog post to the training period, I had a couple of recurring thoughts. First, even as a retired person, finding the time to complete all the runs and the cross training was a challenge. I am in awe and admiration for people who have a full time job and family responsibilities and who still manage to train for even more demanding events! I felt that I lost the balance in my life and that I was almost singularly focused on running. Secondly, I realized that completing the training plan was as much a mental challenge as it was a physical challenge. The body will only respond if the brain gives the command. You must think it first before you can do it. It sounds simple but the mental discipline was a very important factor.
The change in roles of parent-child relationships is often subtle, and one day your adult child starts to sound a lot like the parent. The gift from an adult child who encourages and believes that her mother can achieve a more active life style is a powerful one. Subtle suggestions, like buying bicycles for us as a wedding gift, coaching us to run longer and longer distances, and encouraging me not to give up, despite my various injuries, not all related to running. It will make your old age healthier she said. And just like children want parents to be proud of their achievements, I do not want to disappoint my daughter.
Interestingly, 20 years after a diagnosis of cancer, I am running a half marathon with my daughter. I want her to be proud of me!
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