“What do I have to prove?” My mom asked this rhetorical question in a conversation a couple of days ago about a bike ride she was planning to take. She and my dad have ridden the CF Ride for years in support of our friends with Cystic Fibrosis, who are now grown up moms with precious kids. There are three mileage options on the ride. You choose either 27, 45 or 68 miles, depending on your fitness level, joint health, self motivation and desire to suffer. My dad and friends Steve and Debi were planning on riding the shortest ride. Unbeknownst to me, my mom was planning on riding the longer, middle length, ride.
Mom is a self starter, an inspiration, a role model. She works out daily, doesn’t complain about stuff, looks for the bright side in everything and lives by John Denver’s melody…Welcome to my morning, welcome to my day…(I’m the one responsible, I made it just this way…). She was a stay at home mom while my sister and I were young, started her own business when I was in high school and frequently reports that she “only gets to live life once”, so she’s going to make the best of it. She’s a glass half fuller, a silver liner, a mover, a shaker. She volunteers at the hospital every week for four hours, snow skis her age (yes, that means she skied 71 days last year when she was 71…but is hard on herself because the day they moved out of their condo she turned 72, so she thinks she should have actually skied 72) She looks for people to inspire her, like the 90-something who volunteers at the hospital too, and has for the past 29 years.
But, what does she have to prove? Why, she asked, would she ride the 45 mile ride if Dad was riding the 27?
“Nothing! Except to myself, just to prove that I can do it when I’m 72!” But, Dad fell on his bike the other day and hurt his hip. He’s still going to ride and, far above and beyond proving something to herself, she prefers to be with Dad if he needs her. So, she is riding the shorter ride with Dad, Steve and Debi today. I have no doubt, however, that she would have TOTALLY been able to prove to herself (and everyone else) that she could do the 45 mile ride when she’s 72!
I was out hiking with my friend and freaky mom club cofounder, Emily, two days ago when her friend Tammy, an ultra marathoner, came uphill toward us. Tammy was only running 4 miles that day, instead of the 100 she runs in her marathons, and stopped to chat with us. She was preparing for pacing her friend Tom in the Pikes Peak Ascent, which happens to be today. Tom is 80. According to Tammy, if Tom finishes, he’ll be the oldest man to complete the ascent. (side note: if he doesn’t, he’ll just be an awesomely inspiring 80 year old). But what does he have to prove? I have not the foggiest. But, maybe, that an 80 year old can complete the ascent. Soon after our encounter with Tammy, I texted my cousin Don, man of all things Pikes Peak. Don, who also runs the ascent, checked the stats, and actually, there’s been an 82 year old who has previously finished. According to Don, the 82 year old is the oldest ascent finisher in history. Which, in Don’s words, makes Tom a Future Old Finisher In Training. A FOFIT. What kind of amazing inspiration is that!! You’re 80 and you can still look at an 82 year old for inspiration! I don’t know Tom, but if he were asked the question, “What do I have to prove?”, and answered that he only wanted to prove to himself that he could do the ascent when he was 80, I’d be willing to say he would be inspiring every other runner out there and every other person who has ever heard of him. And he’s just a FOFIT.
That leaves me. If Tom’s a Future Old Finisher In Training, I’m a Future FOFIT. Or if we add an F for every decade until I’m 80, I’m actually a FFFFFOFIT, if I did the math right. I’m 43. And, I ran 8 miles with my son’s high school soccer team last week. Diego is a freshman on the soccer team and just whizzed through his first week of 2-a-Days. 7:30 to 9 am conditioning practice and 4-6 pm ball work for 4 days, an afternoon practice on the 5th day, and on Saturday, the 6th day, The Jungle Run. The 32nd Annual Jungle Run according to Head Coach Cal. The 8 Mile Jungle Run. 4 miles down the Canon City River Walk and 4 miles back up. The day I asked Coach Cal if he needed help with water stations or anything, he said no, but if I wanted to bike or run with them, I could. Hmm. But what do I have to prove? I run most days, about 2-3 miles, mostly because it’s good for my mental health. If I don’t run, I go through what feels like withdrawals, my anxiety increases, I get snappy and grouchy. If that happens, I know I better get out for a run. But 8 miles? The most I’ve done lately is 4. Only once in my life have I run 8. So, What do I have to prove? Only to myself that I can do it. So, I took off behind the pack of soccer boys. I didn’t tell anyone I was planning to do it, not even my husband, Herbert. I had brought our 11 year old, Andre, and his bike with me, telling him when we left home that we would go on A run and A bike ride. I didn’t tell him until we got to the starting line behind the pack of soccer boys that we were doing THE run. THE run, so I could prove to myself that I could do it. A FFFFFOFIT. And I did.
I proved to myself I could run 8 miles. I hope Tom proves to himself that he can complete the ascent. I know my mom proves to herself every day that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. And, we think we are only proving something to ourselves. But it turns out, every time we prove to ourselves WE can do something, WE are inspiring OTHERS. You never know WHO you will affect, but undoubtedly, YOU WILL INSPIRE SOMEONE ELSE if you think you are only trying to prove it to yourself.
Keep up the good work out there all you Future and Current FOFITs. By setting goals for yourself, you motivate yourself. And, although you might not realize it, you also INSPIRE OTHERS.