Last week, I flew back home to Oklahoma to run my first 15K with my mom (it was her sixth!). The Tulsa Run is to my hometown what the Cooper River Bridge Run is to Charleston, so participating in the festivities for the first time with my mom, and literally running in her footsteps, was pretty special. The night before the race, after carbo-loading and stocking up on GU for the next day, we both had to laugh at how funny it was that here we were preparing to run a 9.3-mile race together.
While I was growing up, my mom and I always had the most shared interests in our family. Mostly ballet, books and Star Wars. We still love those things, but somewhere along the way we both came out of our introverted, nerdy shells and became something neither of us ever imagined we’d be—runners.
It all started when I mistakenly told my mom I had been running some on the treadmill while at college. Really, I was just trying to get in shape for spring break, but she thought I had turned into an athlete. So in 2007, she asked me to run an 8K back home that raises awareness for organ donation. My dad received a lung transplant before passing away when I was in high school, so I agreed to run the race. Slowly and painfully, I made it through those five miles with several walk breaks. Afterward, my mom decided to start running. That year, at age 52, she trained for and ran her first Tulsa Run with her new husband, (and longtime runner) Larry. A year later, I was still out of shape and they both encouraged me while I slowly built my base back to a comfortable three miles.
Nowadays, we continue to challenge and inspire each other. In April, she and Larry flew to Charleston to join me for the Bridge Run, my first 10K.
Then when she visited again this fall, I upped the ante and bullied her into running her first 10-miler with me.
Though we don’t run at the same pace, or even live in the same city, running has become our new favorite shared interest. Running topics take up about 75 percent of our phone conversations and when birthdays and holidays roll around—you guessed it—running gear gifts! We have officially become running nerds.
This year’s Tulsa Run was another milestone in what will hopefully be a long running partnership together. She says I can run circles around her now, and I did beat her in the race last Saturday. But here’s what happened next: Come Monday morning, it was Mom dragging me out of bed at 4:30 am to run four miles around the park in the blustery Oklahoma wind. I ran at her slower pace, my muscles too sore to go much faster, and in the last half mile she raced ahead, leaving me in her dust. I guess competitiveness is just another thing that runs in our family.