Monday, January 25, 2010

What my Mom couldn't do..

I believe it was in 1967 when a famed race director said, "I'm not prejudiced against women, they just can't run in my race." The first advertised American "distance" race for women involved some playboy bunnies and others running a mile to advertise a women's razor in the early 70s. Women could be bunnies, but not athletes, especially not runners.  Women weren't built for running; they'd never bear children if they did. The first marathon for women didn't happen in our country until the 1970s. The Olympic sport, for women, in 1984. 

When I run, I think of this. How my mother couldn't be doing what I am now. I am only 32 years old, and my mother couldn't have been running as I am. She couldn't step out onto the pavement, feeling so alive on a sunrise run. She couldn't step out for a jog after putting us to bed. Well, she physically could... but she would have feared for her health in doing so. No children in her future. And the glares from everyone around her... not to mention that sports bras didn't even come around until the very late 1970s. How humbling it is to know that I have every opportunity to do something incredible, that feels fantastic, that keeps me healthy, that makes me happy... and that opportunity wasn't available to many women before me and isn't available to many women now.

I run now because I can. I am thankful to Roberta Gibb, Kathrine Switzer, Sara Berman, Grete Waitz, and of course, Joan Benoit. These pioneers, who not only made running "allowed," but made it fast, competitive, and interesting. I have no desire to race for speed, at least not now. But I love that I could and that many of you can.

I am enlightened today. Not through my own run, but through theirs.

~In happiness,

1 comment:

  1. Yes, those amazing women paved QUITE a wonderful road for us. We have much to be thankful for!