Why We Run Wednesday: Erika

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Why do I run?  That’s a good question!  You might be surprised to know it really isn’t about the medals, (although I love a good medal).

Right before my 40th birthday it hit me that I wasn’t getting any younger and it was time to get moving to tackle some of those pesky bucket list items that I’ve said I’d like to do but never really had a plan to do.  Initially my “bucket list” looked something like:

  1. Conquer fear of heights
  2. Run a half marathon
  3. Skydive
  4. Complete a triathlon
  5. Whitewater rafting
  6. Spend Thanksgiving in NYC watching the Macy’s Day Parade
  7. Zipline
  8. Enjoy Paris through the eyes of my kids
  9. Find my superhero mom skill

The first and least scary bucket list item was find my superhero mom skill – something that would make my kids proud.  I took a cookie decorating class and was okay-ish at it and now three years later I bake decorated sugar cookies for every occasion. 

Gradually I ticked off every item except one.  I even tried to conquer my fear of heights by rappelling 42 stories down one of the tallest buildings in downtown Seattle with my young twins watching in disbelief at the bottom. I tried and failed.  Still terrified of heights. 

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In June 2016 through the power of Facebook I noticed some of my friends had run the Seattle Rock n Roll Half over the weekend.  I was like “WTH?  How are Janna, Andrea, Elizabeth, Daradee, and Joanne all running half marathons and I can barely get to the gym once in a month?”  All these women are around my age, busy professional moms with kids, husbands, and careers. No more excuses! That day I decided it was time to tackle the last and scariest bucket list item – run a half marathon.  I started walking 2 miles then gradually run / walk.  Eventually I signed up for a 10k and increased my distance.  In November 2016 I ran my first half marathon the Amica Seattle Half with a time of 2:06.  It was hard and there were tears at the end as I was overwhelmed with emotion, but I did it and met my proud family at the finish line!  It was so empowering that I didn’t want to stop there so I kept running and signed up for everything that had a medal - Rain Run, Eugene, Beat the Blerch.  My new bucket list became run 12 half marathons in 12 months.

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So, do I run for the medals?  No, in all seriousness I run because something unexpected happened when I was running.  I didn’t notice it early on but my kids were watching me.  They watch me leave the house at 5am to run in the rain.  They watch me ice my leg. They watch me foam roll.  They heard me talk about massages and physical therapy exercises.  When I wasn’t watching my kids became proud of me and were suddenly telling other parents and teachers and random people “My mom runs half marathons!” Running became my superhero mom skill.

Now that I’m aware that they’re interested we’ve made it a family affair and done a few races together.  My youngest daughter (9 yrs old) and I ran our first 5k run together last spring the Super Hero Run.  My older step-daughter (16 yrs old) and I run long runs together on Sunday mornings and we’ve enjoyed fun runs and vacation runs through Central Park and winding backroads on the South Jersey Shore.  Sharing a mutual interest in running with my kids has been the biggest inspiration to keep going and shoot for longer races and faster times. 

What’s next on my bucket list?  You’ll just have to watch and see!

Katie TougasComment