|Running with my mom near her home in Colorado.|
Whenever I visit, we always make sure to get a run in.
As runners, anytime someone asks us, “Why did you start running?” we all have an answer. It may be, “I started running to lose weight” or “To maintain a healthier lifestyle” or “My best friend asked me to start running with her” or “I watched the Olympics and it motivated me to get off the couch.” Whatever the reason, whatever the story, something or someone inspired you – gave you that little kick in the butt – to become a runner.
For me, that someone was my mom. I competed in gymnastics at a decently high level throughout my elementary school and junior high years. After a back injury forced me to “retire” from my beloved sport, I needed something different to compete in, to train for, to fulfill my competitiveness. I never imagined running would fill that void. Apparently my mom thought it would, though, because before my best friend Lori and I knew it, we were suddenly members of our high school cross country team.
Let me explain. My mom has been a runner for about as long as I can remember. She was also a teacher at my high school, and she and the cross country coach were best friends and training partners. My mom said to Lori and me, “You girls need to go to this "running club" over the summer. It’s just a group of high school runners who get together and run. It’ll be good for you girls and you’ll meet some new people. I’ll take you.”
We reluctantly agreed, then showed up for this “running club” and ran about three miles with a few other girls. At the end of the run, the coach handed us the cross country practice schedule. Suddenly, we were on the team.
I went on to run cross country and track all four years of high school. I didn’t always enjoy it, I didn’t always take it as seriously as I should, and I didn’t always work as hard as I should. I know that now, since as a 31-year-old I’m running faster than I did as a 14, 15, 16, and 17 year old. Sure, I had some good seasons and good meets, but overall I would rate myself as mediocre or slightly better than mediocre in high school. Despite my wishy-washy attitude towards running, though, my mom was always there to support me, run with me, give me advice, and hand me a large dose of tough love when she and I both knew I didn’t run to my full potential.
|My mom running her first Boston at 38|
In short, I really didn’t appreciate her back then. Fast-forward to 2009, when I decided to get serious about running again, and my mom and running came full circle for me. I’d run a few half marathons and 5Ks over the years during college and after, but for the most part I didn’t really consider myself a “runner” anymore, as most of my running was pretty sporadic and I mostly relied on the elliptical machine or stationary bike at the gym to stay in shape. I missed competing and I missed being good at something. So…I decided to give running another go. Who did I call for advice? My mom, of course. I actually wanted to talk to her about running now. I could finally appreciate her immense knowledge and experience. I stuck with running this time and became serious about it because I was finally doing it for myself and no one else. By this point in our lives, my mom didn’t care if I ran or not, but she was happy to provide all the advice and information I needed if I wanted to do it.
Ever since high school my mom always said, “Whenever you run your first marathon, I want to run it with you!” For a long time my response was, “Well I’m never going to run a marathon so you don’t need to worry about that.” I kind of think she knew even back then that someday I would change my mind, and I did. Sometime in the spring of 2010 I got the marathon bug. I was still in my first year “back” to running, and I was experiencing faster and faster times in every race I ran. I saw others doing marathons and thought, “I bet I could do that, too.” Then I decided if I was going to run a marathon, I might as well try to qualify for Boston since that would be pretty cool to run. My mom had run it three times, so why couldn’t I do it, too? So I set my sights on the Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon in Albany, NY. It was a flat, fast course with a high percentage of Boston qualifiers. Sure enough, my mom held true to her word and immediately registered for it and began marathon training. It would be her first marathon since 2003.
We ran the race and both qualified for Boston. Even though I ran the race faster than her (finally, I have age on my side!), she is never one to be outdone. In typical “mom” fashion, she won an age group award – a huge adidas duffel bag stuffed with running goodies. Then we both traveled to Boston together and ran that one, too.
|After the 2011 Boston Marathon|
Although I’m sure I could’ve gotten training and racing advice from someone else, and I could’ve probably navigated the whole “bus ride to the start line” procedure alone, the truth is there is no one I trust more than my mom, and there’s no one who knows me better or has my best interests in mind more than her. I am so thankful she was there to guide me through my first marathon experience and also there to share my first Boston experience. She introduced me to running over 15 years ago, and although I didn’t always appreciate running or her, I am so, so, so very thankful that she introduced me to this wonderful sport and that she’s been there with me every step of the way. To my mom (on Mothers Day) – THANK YOU!
Take a moment to think about who introduced you to running. Think about what your life would be like without running in it. Then take a moment to thank that person – whether in the form of an email, phone call, text, letter, or blog post. Just make sure they know that you appreciate it.
My name is Andrea Eagleman, I’m 32 years old, and I run to...try to someday beat one of my mom’s PRs. I haven’t done it yet.
ANDREA EAGLEMAN is one of Perspective's regular columnists. She is Assistant Professor of Sport Management at IUPUI and conducts research on media portrayals of athletes. She lives in Bloomington, IN and has been running for 17 years. Andrea re-entered the world of racing three years ago and enjoys various distances from the 5K to the marathon, running the Boston Marathon in 2011. Andrea won the Magnificent 7 Road Race Series Overall Female championship in 2009, 2010, and 2011. She enjoys traveling, blogging, reading, photography, and hanging out with her husband, Karl, and her cat, DC.