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An Inspirational Mom


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

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.


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.