I was submitting an application to run the Boston Marathon the other day, and I in looking for the right words to express why I wanted to do this (and ultimately why I hope they pick me), I found an email my mom sent me when I announced I was running the Chicago Marathon in 2016 for Girls on the Run. I had just opened up my fundraising, and my mom was the first to donate to the effort, something that was always so typical of her. But more than that, her message brought a tear to my eye as I was re-reading it.
Maybe you learned that “always help others” stuff from me – you know, chip off the old block and all – except for the fact that I am neither young, or attractive, or brainy, etc., etc. All kidding aside, I am so proud of you and your caring ways. Makes me feel like maybe I did something right in my life after all. You have been blessed in so many way and you certainly are not lax in paying it forward. You go girl! You are everything I wish I could – and should – have been.
You see, I will never be the fastest or strongest or most inspiring runner. I’m ok with that. I’m on my own journey with running and have my own unique goals that fit into my plan. And I am not the most thoughtful or generous or giving person in the world – although I try very hard to be as thoughtful, giving, respectful and generous as I can in any given moment. But reading my mom’s words, it was obvious that she was proud of me. For the running, yes, but also for the kind of person I am. Someone who hopefully does take after her, who was among the most thoughtful, generous, and giving people I have ever known.
My mom was always my biggest cheerleader, even when she didn’t understand why I was doing something or if that something meant a great deal for me – yet held no interest for her. She didn’t get my passion for travel and living abroad, my urge to hike the Appalachian Trail for 2 1/2 months, my interest in running marathons. But no matter what, I could expect my mom to send me care packages, ensure a birthday or Christmas card made it to my international PO box before my birthday, donate to my fundraising efforts, stand around for hours waiting for me to run by for a brief glimpse (and cheer me on with her cowbell ringing), and take time to write meaningful, heartfelt notes that do so much to sustain me and keep me moving forward toward my next finish line.
Thank you, mom. I hope I keep making you proud – both with the finish lines and with the reasons for running that can do much for someone else.