I was recently challenged by a request to produce some pictures of myself.
I’ve always been the photographer, never one comfortable on the other side of the lens. I’m not photogenic and I love capturing moments for posterity. In the last two years I have made more of an effort to position myself in photos with my kids, whenever possible. Their father made me conscious of this necessity during a family trip to Disneyland. As the trip came to an end he pointed out that when the kids looked back they would wonder where mommy was. Literally over 100 pictures from three days in the ‘magic’ kingdom and four held my face.
All parents do this. I’m no different, however as I get older and look back on my own journey through life I recognize its importance.
Photos allow us to freeze time. They capture a moment we may forget, wish to relive or sadly miss as we’re living it. Photos help take us back to that moment.
Last weekend, I joined with 500-plus of my closest friends to participate in Oakdale’s Support Our Schools 1 mile and 5K Family Fun Run. Our family has participated in the past, but this year I approached the day with an agenda.
A few years ago I shared the story of a young girl who I promised I would run this race with. At the time of this promise, I was not a runner and had no idea what I had committed myself to. Preparing for that one mile stretch in March 2011 was one of the mentally toughest things I have ever done. After all … I was not a runner. I had told myself that my entire life and well, I believed it. The best way to keep yourself committed to something is to promise a kid.
Two years ago that mile was the longest mile of my life. I hated it. I was proud of myself beyond words for seeing it through, but it hurt and I was scared midway through that I would let her down.
Two years later, there is much that is different about me and my life from the external vantage point. Running has now become an integral part of my life. It is my exercise, my sanity and my prayer time. My children now have a newfound respect for the necessity of physical activity, even for grown-ups. We view the food on our table and in our refrigerator in a new way and we still enjoy ice cream. We live with balance.
Last weekend I had a seemingly simple goal, to earn a medal in my 40-50 age group.
In 2012 I completed a total of 11 races, five of which were Half Marathons. The mystique of the Half Marathon medal has worn off on my five-year-old. She wants to see mommy win. Being true to the parent that I am, I wanted her to have that moment. The moment she could remember her once ‘chubby’ mommy finishing a race and being draped with a finisher’s medal for winning.
My morning runs became focused on pushing my pace. A completely new and daunting task for a new runner (who was thankfully supported by a knowledgeable friend).
A very small group of friends knew what I was doing. My 2013 race year has affectionately been dubbed Medals for Maddy. Yes, I run and race for many reasons but at the core of it always is the pride and shine I see in my daughter’s five-year-old eyes each time I finish.
Long story short, I did not medal this past Saturday. Being true to who runners are, I could list some pretty valid reasons. Truthfully, I was just simply outrun. The women in this age group are deserving of their accomplishments. I am humbled to be in such strong company.
While a medal may not have left with us that day, I am happy to report I did win. My reward came in the form of a captured photo, which I will now frame and savor as one of my most memorable race moments.
My kids ran the 1 mile with one of my tribe members who knew my goal. This offered me the freedom to run both the 1 mile and 5K at my own pace, as well as the opportunity to return to the mile course and finish with my kids.
As I began the 5K my dear friend Lollie stood at the side with each of my kids at her side cheering me on. Twenty-eight minutes later, as I approached the finish I spotted them. Their smiles were bright and I was proud that they were mine. I love to high five during a race (I dance and play air drums as well, when in the right company). So, I quickly deviated to the side to high five my duo before crossing that Finish Line. As I did my friend took a simple picture with her phone.
Excited, she shared it with me post race. Still in ‘race’ mode it took hours before I realized the value of that photo.
As I revisited the image I could not help but think how amazing it was. The simplicity of it yet the volume of its meaning at the same time. Those two little hands reached out to say “Great job mommy.” As parents, it’s not very often that we get that moment. When we do, we need to live in it for as long as humanly possible.
So, did the clock give me a win time? No. That course however, that stretch of Johnson Avenue will now serve as the moment I really learned what it meant to be a ‘Winner.’
Thank you Oakdale SOS for a lesson well learned in what it means to not only finish, but win. See you next year.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.