Back in my competitive running days, I did a lot of post-race interviews of both the formal (i.e., newspaper reporter) and informal (i.e., curious spectator) variety. The question I received most frequently—besides, “Really? There weren’t any other sports you could do?” and “Um, is that a dead bug stuck to your forehead?”—was, “So, how did you get into distance running in the first place?”
The short, gracious response: My mom.
The longer, less endearing answer: I used to watch my mom run when I was a kid, and I somehow developed an unshakeable inner resolve to beat her at it.
|My mom hustling like a mofo in a half-marathon a few years back.|
Either way, the bottom line is that without the inspiration I gleaned from watching my mother log lap after lap at the local college track all those years ago, I never would have discovered the sport I have come to love so much. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to present a timeline of running-related milestones I’ve shared with my mother throughout the years. Thanks for always being there, Mom. Even though I can beat you now, you’ll always be a winner in my book.
My Mommy-and-Me Timeline of Running Memories
1994 – I see my mom running laps at the local track and decide that I will stop at nothing to beat her, even if it means wearing out the heel lights in my pink L.A. Gear high tops.
1996 – I enter my first 5K road race. My mom enters the race for moral support. I show my gratitude by totally crushing her. Mission accomplished.
1999 – I run the timed mile in my sixth-grade P.E. class despite having a pounding migraine. After nearly passing out, I call my mom to pick me up early from school. Thirty seconds after we get home, I projectile vomit all over her immaculately clean bathroom floor. She rubs my back and tells me it’s OK.
2000 – I get stuck in a Porta-Potty at the middle school cross-country championships. In my panic to free myself from this poo-scented prison, I cut my hand on the jagged, negligence-suit-waiting-to-happen corner of the metal latch. I bleed profusely, miss the race, and cry like Tony Romo all the way to the emergency room. My mom hugs me and tells me not to worry—there will be plenty of other races.
2004: My mom gets sixth place in her age division at the Governor’s Cup 10K. This gives her legit bragging rights for the next eight years, at which time she discovers that her name is still on the list of the top ten fastest milers of all time at her high school (which is actually pretty badass).
2005 – My mom takes me to Spokane so I can run in a really big cross-country meet that my school won’t pay to send me to. I am driving and forget to check the fuel gauge before we ascend a huge mountain pass. The gas light comes on mid-climb, and my mom nearly has a heart attack as we coast on fumes to the first gas station at the bottom of the hill. She refrains from scolding me until after the race because she doesn’t want it to affect my performance.
2006 – State track is in Butte, Mont., a city known first for its giant toxic water hole and second for its Yukon-esque climate. But I’m an optimist, and as such, I pack like it’s going to be 75 and sunny. When we get there, it’s 30 degrees and snowing sideways. My mom rushes to a nearby sporting goods store to buy me a long-sleeve Under Armour shirt. Even though I know I am a huge idiot, she does not call me stupid. Instead, she lets it go and focuses all her energy into cheering me on. I win three state titles.
2007 – I’m about to make my college track debut in the 800 meters, and my mom has driven two hours to watch me run two laps. I trip and fall 150 meters into the race and get last place by several seconds. My mom hugs me and tells me I did great. It’s a boldfaced lie, but it makes me feel better anyway.
2012 – Even though I am now a full-fledged has-been, my mom continues traveling around the state to watch me compete in fun runs. She and my dad take me out to dinner the night before the local St. Patrick’s Day race. I order a carafe of house wine that I would estimate as one step below Franzia in quality, if that is even possible. The next morning, my mom wakes up with a terrible headache and is unable to make it to the race. Still, she manages to cheer for me through my kitchen window since the racecourse passes right by my apartment. She does not blame me, or my poor wine judgment, for her troubles.
2013 – My mom continues to read my silly running blog religiously and always has something nice to say about each entry. So, it’s about time one of my entries had something nice to say about her. Thanks for everything, Mom. You're the best. Much love.