There are three things in life my mom loves without measure: her family, gossip and spectating at races. Lucky for me, that means I’ve had her sideline support at quite a few events. She’s traveled all around the country with me during my journey to complete a marathon or half in every state. Sometimes, I think she is more competitive about cheering than I am about running, and there’s a good chance she puts in more miles than I do on any given race day.
The first race she ever saw me run was a half marathon in Savannah, Ga. She was beaming at me at mile 6 as she yelled, “Keep going! You’re almost there!” The vitriol from the marathoners around me was palpable, and I couldn’t help but laugh. “Mom,” I giggled. “We are not almost there. Don’t say that unless you can see the finish line!” Fortunately for runners everywhere, she absorbed the lesson quickly and adjusted her cheers.
Then there was the time in Evansville, Ind., where she made us drive the race course the day before (something I never do because it puts in focus how far I’ll have to run). In the car, she announced that she would see my friend and me at miles 6, 10, 13, 17 and the finish. Never one to miss an opportunity to cheer on her baby girl (posters, high-fives, snacks and all), she ended up seeing me 13 times during the marathon—the only reason it was “so few,” she said, was because she got distracted cheering on the other runners.
In Missoula, Mont., I got the pleasure of running her first 5K with her the day before my marathon and seeing her eyes light up when she caught sight of the finisher’s medal for the race. “I got 16th in my age group out of 50!” she shrieked. “That’s really good, right? I bet I could have run faster!” Like I said, she’s more competitive than I am, even on my best day. And of course, she was out there all along the course the following morning, even run/walking the last 6 miles of the race with me when I was overcome by nausea and wasn’t sure I could finish.
At the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., she proudly sported a T-shirt and a sign advertising my website. Between claps, whistles and high-fives, she told all of the runners and spectators to read my blog. Having been to so many races, she knew many of the faces from my various running groups and easily picked us out in the crowds on the National Mall, on the bustling streets of Georgetown and in the mayhem in Crystal City. “Your mom is so awesome!” they told me every time we ran by her. “You’re so lucky that she comes out and supports you for so many different races all over the country!”
I certainly am lucky. While my mom hasn’t made it to every single race, we’ve traveled across the country to more states than I can count. Even when I’m on my own, I can feel that she’s with me in spirit—and knowing my mom, she’s cheering her head off and high-fiving everyone she can reach.