Guest writer, Syrafina Mohammed
My mom is a runner. She has been ever since I could remember. She runs to help her think, to relieve stress, and to stay healthy both physically and mentally. She started running half marathons a little over a year ago and I wanted to join her. I wasn’t sure if I would like running. I didn’t have much time for it, but my mom let me sign up for a 5k color fun run to see how I would do in an endurance race. I loved it from the first step! My very next race was my first Half-Marathon! This was almost a year ago, May 16, 2015. I was 10 years old and my mom needed to get special permission for me to run.
There were many challenges for me in my first half-marathon. I don’t think I did that well. I tripped and fell in a pot hole around mile 10. I was crying and blood was dripping down my leg from the scrape on my knee. My mom offered to stop and quit, but I was determined to finish. We were so close! So, I limped the last three miles to finish in 2:47:03. I was mad that our time was so poor but happy I managed to stay in the race.
After that, every half marathon I run, I seem to hit a wall about the same mile. Right at mile 10 or so I get discouraged because I don’t see a significant improvement in my running time. It got very discouraging and each race got harder and harder for me. But, with my mom running next to me, encouraging me, I manage to get through that wall and push to the finish. My mom really helps me at those times.
Running is an outlet for me. It’s exhausting and thrilling all at the same time. It’s fun and helps relieve stress. It doesn’t seem like an 11-year-old would have a lot of stress, but I do, and running helps. I also get to travel all over the country and see new and exciting places. My mom and I joined the 50-States Half-Marathon Club. The club members are challenged to run a half-marathon in every state. I discovered that the world record for the youngest person to run a half marathon in every state was 18. I want to break that record by the time I am 13 years old. The 50-States club has a lot of great members who encourage and support each other. We even try to meet up when we find out that members of the group are running the same races.
Thus far, I have completed 13 half-marathons in 11 different states. There was one race that I ran that didn’t count because the course was found to be ½ mile short of a half-marathon. I will have to go back to that state to complete another race in order for that state to count. We have to be careful and make sure that the races are certified courses, otherwise, those don’t count towards my 50-state goal. Most of the time, we run back to back races in states that are next to each other. So, for example, we ran a half in Alabama on Saturday and another half in Mississippi on Sunday. Doing it this way, we manage to save money on travel costs and complete two half marathons in one weekend.
I love the runs with pretty courses. My favorite was the Florida Music Marathon. It was also my most challenging half-marathon. The course does a loop around the Indian River in Brevard County, Florida, up and over two one-mile-long causeways with a variety of musical acts spread throughout the course (even a Grand Piano at the top of one of the causeways!). The course is beautiful and I love running by the water. However, the weather was horrible, it was miserably cold and rainy, even for Florida. It took me over 30 minutes to cross the last causeway because the wind was so strong and kept blowing me backwards.
One of my most memorable races was the half-marathon in Oregon, I accidentally left my running shoes in the hotel room in Washington. We didn’t have time to go back for them before the start of the race, so my mom let me borrow her shoes. She wasn’t happy with me at the time, but I’m glad she didn’t let me just quit. It was weird running in borrowed shoes, but at the same time, they were my mom’s shoes. We run together. It’s our way of spending time together, encouraging each other and challenging each other. Running in her borrowed shoes made me realize how important our time running together really is and how much I appreciate having her right there, by my side, matching me stride for stride. She gives me strength when I want to quit and I haven’t found a way to thank her, yet. We have signed up for a 50-mile race in Michigan this fall. I know it will be hard for both of us, but I also know we have each other. And she can borrow my shoes if she needs to.