Why Run a Half-Marathon?

The more I tell people that I’m training for a half-marathon, the more often this question arises: “Why do you want to run a half-marathon?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, trying to come up with an answer better than, “just ’cause.” In the end, I’ve come up with five reasons. From least important to most:

5. I want a rockin’ body on my last spring break trip. (Helloooo, Los Angeles!)

4. I want to be in the best shape of my life.

3. I’ve always wanted to be a long-distance runner, but naturally have a knack for speed races.

2. I want to come back from my knee injury and blood disorder diagnosis.

1. I want to please my mother.

I’m taking advanced nonfiction writing this semester and my professor asked us why we do things a certain way. At one point, we talked about completing assignments at the last minute and she asked if we would still do things so late if we hadn’t always gotten good grades. Essentially, she wanted us to examine the motivation behind our actions. I realized that the grades mattered to me, but mostly because they mattered to my mom. Good grades = a good job = a good life. I started asking myself this question in other areas of my life and realized I came to the same answer.

I want to please my mother.

There she is!

My mom is one of the smartest women I’ve known. She taught me how to be determined and motivated just by watching how she handles herself. And I’ve learned from her mistakes, which is critical when raising a daughter. After all, what mom wants her daughter to repeat the same mistakes she made?

My mom is also incredibly strong. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer a few years ago, even though she didn’t have the classic symptoms associated with the disease. But after a hellish fight, my mom sent cancer packing and now works with the American Cancer Society to help find a cure. Cancer could have ruined her life, but instead it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Her diagnosis lit a huge passion for fighting cancer in both of us and we now work together to fight for a world with more birthdays.

At Relay for Life in 2010.

But where does fitness come into all of this? For the last two years I’ve been a personal trainer at my campus fitness centers and am studying to get my national certification. My mom has a science-heavy background and there’s a science behind fitness, which gives us another thing to talk about and work on together. You never know how much time you’re going to have with your family, so my interest in fitness lets me bond with my mom in unique ways.

Bowling with my momma & fighting cancer - multitaskers right here!

Plus, I just want to come home exclaiming, “I ran a half-marathon!” and have my mother be proud of me. As far as I know, nobody else in my family has done this before and I want my mom to enjoy my accomplishment. As I’m sure any child can attest to, there’s nothing quite like seeing pride in a parent’s eyes.

So when I hit the treadmill, I run not only for myself, but for my mom too. Every bead of sweat is just one more step toward my accomplishment. So when I cross that finish line (even if I’m crawling across it), I know I’ll be proud of myself, no matter what.


Posted on February 9, 2011, in Goals, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. thanks Sam for thiis post. I am proud of you and the young lady you have become. You are strong and determined and can accomplish anything you set your mind to and are ppassionate about. You have found your wings and I will always be here cheering you as you fly. Love you, daughter of mine.

  2. I think there’s a part of all of us that seeks to please, if not our mother than others or even an ideal “greater good.” Many things in life are done to please in a more utilitarian sense (cooking and eating, music, exercise), but many are done to please in a more social and ethical sense as well (like when you work toward curing cancer!) You have a lot to be proud of, and I really respect you for taking the time to think about motivation – such a precarious line of thought sometimes…you’re amazing!

  3. Samantha –
    That was a beautiful post. Your Mom must be a wonderful person and the post is a reflection of you. Thanks for sharing it.

    I did my 9 mile run today. The longest is next Saturday @ 10 miles. How’s your training going?

    • Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Training is going really well. I was sick for a little while that derailed me for a few days, but I think I’m ready! My last long run is this Saturday, when I’ll tackle 11 miles. I can’t believe the race is in a little over 2 weeks! Eek!

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