It’s rare that I’ll be truly inspired by an athlete. I can appreciate the awesome feat that he or she might have completed, but it’s rare that I will look at him or her and say “wow, you make me want to do this.” Mirinda Carfrae, Mia Hamm, and Natalie Coughlin are three who have, at one point or another in my life, inspired me to take myself a step further—to realize that within me is a far greater strength than, perhaps, I knew I had. This fourth athlete, though, inspired me on a much deeper level. She showed me that, if not for anything else, hereditarily, I have within me an amazing strength and ability to accomplish something. Now, she will probably hate me for referring to her as an athlete in this article, but Mom, you are, whether you like it or not.
Let me start with the (embarrassing) details. About a year and a half ago my mom realized she needed to change her lifestyle. What’s so inspiring about my mom is, of course, that she spent absolutely no time hesitating. True to form, she started researching athletic trainers, feverishly. As the token athlete in the family, I, of course pointed her in the direction of the trainer whose middle-aged-mothers-of-five trainees were kicking my, nineteen-year-old-with-no-excuse’s, you-know-what: Jenny Schatzle. And so, with the help of the spitfire coach, my mom began a regiment unlike any other. She stopped snacking, she stopped drinking, she stopped every terrible habit she had before. Cold turkey.
Of course, she also started some exercising. Jenny doesn’t mess around. Inside that gym is business. I, a tender, young, fit, triathlete, twenty year old have found myself near tears doing squats with kettle bells followed immediately by sprints on the treadmill (I also found myself in really good shape). However, my fitness transformation paled in comparison to my mom’s. All of a sudden she was running weekly 5ks and dropping time like crazy. She was accomplishing goals she never thought possible, and I was so excited to finally have someone in the family to go on the occasional jog with.
When I found out I was selected as an Ambassador for the SF Marathon, I had one goal: get Mom to run the half. San Francisco has always been a special place for her, and I knew this was the race where she would defy all limits she might once have had. I immediately, excitedly called her and broke the news. She was hesitant at first. I was planning on running the full, and she was nervous about doing the half. She has a 33-degree curvature of her spine, so running is no small feat, especially running 13.1 miles. However, when my plans changed and my coach decided it would be best for me to, perhaps, not run the full marathon two weeks before triathlon national championships, I realized there was no looking back. “Mom, I’m changing my registration to the first half, and you’re crossing the finish line with me.” Her reply? “Ok, as long as you don’t try to pace me.” Within minutes I sent her the link, and like that, my mom became the most inspirational athlete I could ever imagine.
Come July 27th, rain, sun, fog, back curvature, age, miles, soreness, and all negative thoughts aside, my mom and I will run the Golden Gate Bridge and never look back (except for the view, of course). It won’t be a PR, it will be much more; it will be a reminder of the true strength inside me, inspired by the woman I call Mom.