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An Inspirational Mom

 

This week we open our space to a guest blogger, one of our runners, Sarah Jo Wright

Jan25
Sarah Jo with her finisher’s medal

I was never athletic growing up.  As opposed to the rest of my family who were very athletic, I was awkward and clumsy, never good at anything related to sports.  So, as a sort of anti-rebellion, I buried myself in what I was good at, which was books and academics and stayed as far away as possible from anything physical.  Thus I grew up to be fat, lazy, unhealthy and incredibly ordinary.

 

Eventually I got a little older, a little wiser, got married and had kids.  With all the attention being paid to the obesity epidemic in children, I knew I didn’t want my children to grow up with the same attitudes that I had.  In the back of my mind I always thought that I would do something about that at some point, when I had more time.

 

But then my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She had a glioblastoma, and was only given a few months to live.  Big shock.  Even more shocking was that she hung on and continued to live past all expectations and explanations.  It got to be incredibly stressful and I realized something:  I couldn’t put my life on hold waiting for her to die. My mother knew that I loved her.  She also knew that I had my own family and children to take care of and that I needed to live life.

 

It was at this point I realized that I couldn’t put off teaching my children to be healthy.  I needed to change now.

 

So I started running.  Well, more of a fast walk, but I started doing 10Ks and as a family we started being more active.  In the back of my mind, though, was this secret desire to do a half marathon.  I had never known anyone ordinary like me who had done one.  And I really wanted to be able to call my mother from the finish line and tell her that I finished a half marathon and hear that she was proud of me.  I didn’t make it.  My mother died in December of 2014 and I didn’t run my first half marathon until May of 2015.

 

When I did the AF half marathon in 2016, I was completely intimidated.  There I was, this ungainly spastic hippo of a floppy civilian in the middle of these incredibly fit, athletic and inspiring military men and women, and I felt that I had no business being there.  However, what I found was that everyone was very encouraging, those in uniform even more so.

 

My race bib said, “For My Kids.”  As I got closer to the finish line, people could tell I was really struggling.  With every single step, it felt like the bones in my feet were falling apart.  I heard people start yelling at me that I was almost there and that I was making my kids proud.  I sucked it up, narrowed my focus and sprinted the last quarter mile through the chute and crossed that glorious finish line.

 

Pic3Jan25
Sarah Jo with “Elvis,” one of the marathon’s on-course entertainers.

When they gave me my finisher’s medal, they shook my hand with respect.  It was a hard-earned respect that may not mean much to most people, but it meant a lot to me because that kind of respect doesn’t happen that often, and it changes your perspective.

 

I am still fat and ordinary, and I may not look like much, but here is the point I am desperate to make to my children:

 

I will never win any race that I run.  I will never place, never win the trophy, wear the laurel wreath or be the best.  I am just…ordinary.  But, without ordinary people like me, you have no measure by which to determine what the truly extraordinary is.  That makes me important and gives value to my efforts at running.  I want my children to value that as well.

 

And my new dream is to someday hang my children’s finisher medals next to mine.