Making your Children Proud

As someone who didn’t begin an athletic journey until later in life, a happy and unexpected benefit has been the joy of seeing how proud my family is of me.  In the past fourteen years, I’ve had the pleasure of racing with my children and my grandson. We have developed family traditions that revolve around races like the Turkey Trot. We have selected races in other states that have become the cornerstone of family vacations. This year will mark the thirteenth year in a row that at least one of my children has run the Detroit Half Marathon with me. I should clarify that when I say I race with my children, what that really means is that we travel together to the race and participate in pre-race and post-race activities, but as far as the actual race, they usually finish much sooner than me.

Several years ago, my daughter and grandson were here visiting from their home in Maryland. As I showed them around my newly purchased home, my grandson was fascinated with my exercise room in the basement where I have a wall full of race bibs and race medals. Early the next morning I was in the basement doing laundry. From the top of the steps, my six year old grandson called, “Grandma, are you downstairs playing with your medals?” That makes me smile every time I add a medal to the collection.

Last summer, my son surprised me by showing up to watch me participate in the Steelhead Half Ironman Triathlon in Benton Harbor. He knows that the swim is always difficult for me and this race had a cut-off for the swim portion. If you do not complete the 1.2 mile swim in 1 hour and 10 minutes, you are disqualified and not allowed to move on to the bike and run segments of the race. From a video he posted after the race, I can see his lens nervously scanning the participants as they come out of the water. As the cut-off time approaches, his lens moves apprehensively.  Then as I come into view (just minutes before the cut-off) the video has his voice, “Mom, you did it. You did it! Keep going, you did it!" I hear the pride in his voice.  I recognize the emotion and love as the same that I have felt as a mother watching my children’s accomplishments. I play that video frequently to keep myself going as my training days get longer and harder. It reminds me that I am still setting an example for my family of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

When I cross the finish line at the Wisconsin Ironman in September, my children will have traveled from Florida, Maryland and Dexter to be there. The anticipation of seeing their faces will carry me through the final miles of the race. When I add that medal to my collection, it will be a symbol of the healthy legacy I hope to leave my family.

Written by Cynthia Erickson, 2016 Fitness Ambassador