The arrival of March brings the memories of my mother’s passing. It has been 13 years now and I know time heals, but it can never make you forget what you have lost. At the time of my mother’s passing I was attending college in Alaska while she was in California. At the time, I was not a runner nor did I ever desire to be one. Sure, I was all about rock climbing, skiing, ice climbing, hiking and even spending some occasional time at the gym hanging out on the elliptical. My mother knew I wasn’t a runner like her. She often encouraged (or forced) me to run in little fun runs… the furthest one might have been a 5K I completed (half walking) during her Portland marathon debut. Getting fired from my lame job at IHOP (I was 18 at the time) in order to take a weekend trip to watch her finish the Portland marathon was one of the few times I showed my mother support for her running. I didn’t understand her love of running. I didn’t understand her need to run at least 5 miles every day. I didn’t understand her desire to run 26.2 miles without stopping… and then do it again and again.
After my mother’s passing I would run occasionally. Mostly only if I really had to like during my training in the Coast Guard. It took me having my own children before I started to take running seriously. My main reason at the time was to lose baby weight. My mother was always very thin and I just assumed that running made her that way. I didn’t think about the other reasons why she might have been so thin. Running was just the one positive thing that I could have a firm grasp on.
As I started running I began to think about my mother in a new light. We weren’t always on the best terms because she made many mistakes. I always focused on the negative and refused to cherish the positive. As I continued running I began to turn towards the positive aspects of my mother’s life. I know that everyone makes mistakes and it was time for me to learn from all of the experiences that I had faced during my childhood. My mother was strong and determined when it came to running. I took her strength and doubled it. I refused to become like her in many ways, but was comforted by the fact that I could make my own choices and carry on her strengths.
Even though she is no longer with me, running has brought my mother and I closer together. Running has meaning now. It is my passion. It is my strength. I am a runner just like my mother.