by Carrie Adams
[Editor’s Note: Original posted on Carrie’s personal blog www.leavingapath.com.]
Spartan Race has exposed me to some of the most extraordinary athletes and individuals. I’ve made friends all over the world and witnessed feats of courage and triumph all over the United States and from super athlete’s like Hobie Call and Jenny Tobin. I’ve been inspired away from home and brought those memories home with me.
This weekend, I had a different experience and while I was away from home, the inspiration came from a very close and personal place.
My mom has always been a person I’ve admired. Arguably one of the smartest women I’ve ever met, she made being a mom and having a kick ass career something that looked easy when I was growing up. It was only years later with my own children that I realized the struggle she faced and how much grace she held to make it look easy. Never missing a game or a dance recital, putting homemade and nutritious food on the table each morning and night, all while holding down 60 hour work weeks, she was superwoman.
In the business world, she was a force, often in fields dominated by men. I remember her telling me of working for Lee Iacocca early in her career when he was with Ford Motor Company and how during a meeting she defied the automobile icon directly.
She says, “He was unhappy with the production numbers at Claycomo, MO plant and looking directly at me, I was the only woman in the room, he said, ‘I think it’s time for you to leave.’” She was shocked at the request.
Iacoca’s reason for asking her to leave, “I am going to swear, and I don’t want to do that in front of a woman.”
In a roomful of men she wouldn’t allow herself to be different, regardless of his intention. She told him, “No, I’m fine.” She laughs recalling that her boss looked at her like she had two heads at her defiance of the man in charge.
“I stayed. He swore.” She explains with a smile.
As I’ve grown up, she’s never ceased to amaze me at what she can accomplish. This past weekend was no exception. Just a week inside of being over a debilitating bout with pneumonia and coming off a season ending stress fracture, she finished her first half marathon in under 2:45 minutes yesterday finishing 53rd in her age group.
No small feat for a woman who has never run more than six miles, who had not run outside since August 2011, and who even the day before the race was having lung trouble post-pneumonia. She registered six days before the event, at my insistence and calmly, and coolly we towed the line at the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and took off in the dark with 3,000 other runners. She was undaunted on the outside of the task that lay ahead. We watched the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico, she battled for 12 miles by my side in good spirits and never without a smile. I lost her just past mile 12 and went forward finishing just three minutes ahead of her. I watched her cross the finish line more than fifteen minutes inside her goal of three hours earning her first half mary hardware.
We didn’t run alone, we were surrounded by exceptional women. Our pacer Marisela (a marathon veteran 41 times over) who we stuck by for 11 miles was extraordinary and in our group ran two eleven year old girls one of whom would finish side by side with her older sister, just 13 years old, in 2 hours and 40 minutes. And another 11 year old girl who would finish her first half marathon alone, chicking her dad shortly after the start. Mothers, daughters, sisters, and best friends crossed the line in a race comprised of 65% females. I held back tears watching so many of them finish hand in hand.
It was a memory I won’t soon forget alongside women, one in particular, my mother I am so very grateful for having in my life. I made a video for her, of our day and our run, a little Half Mary by the Gulf, 13.1 miles shared by mother and daughter and one finish that will last a lifetime.
On our way home she said casually and unexpectedly, “So, where is the closest Spartan Race?”
I couldn’t help but smile,she’s often heard me talk about the races and what they mean to me. I replied, “We’ll be in Chicago in October, it’s a Super, so eightish miles.”
“Hmmm,” she mused, “I think I might have to get a plane ticket…”