Race Director and Running Event Production are not course options at any of the universities I attended, and yes, I attended several. I am frequently asked about how I got started, how did I end up putting on running events across Texas? However, I can’t truly answer the how question without first answering the why question. I wanted to take a moment and share with you our why.
My mother died of a heart attack in October of 2001. Her heart attack occurred as she was driving to a nephew’s birthday party; with my sister in the passenger seat, my niece and another little girl were in the back seat. As my mother slumped over in her seat, her car veered into oncoming traffic at more than 60 miles per hour. The ensuing head-on collision took the life of my 24 year old sister and sent my niece and her friend to Cooks Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth via Careflight, where my niece would spend the ensuing weeks in the pediatric ICU. My niece is now 17 and classified as “special needs” as a result of the brain damage suffered in the accident.
My mother had been overweight my entire life. Like many mothers, she spent all of her time taking care of her family, her friends, her church, and neglected to take the time to take care of her personal health. Nearly half of those who die from a heart attack have no previous symptoms.
I was 26 at the time of her death and had been working as a personal trainer for the past couple of years. I typically worked with overweight women whose primary goal was to look better in their swimsuit for an upcoming vacation or trip to the beach, the idea of training for a healthier mind and body was usually a distant motivation at best. My mother’s death changed my perspective on health and fitness and ignited a passion to help people truly understand the impact of their health, or lack of, on everyone around them. It’s great to feel confident in a swimsuit, however, it’s much more important to be alive so you can go to the beach with your kids and grandkids.
I looked back on my mother’s life and was heartbroken when I realized, that while she had devoted herself to others, she had herself missed out on so much in life due to her lack of physical health. It wasn’t just that she wouldn’t be there to see me get married, to see the birth of her grandkids or be there to celebrate our victories and to comfort us in our defeats. My heartbreak was rooted in the saddening realization that she hadn’t lived the life she had truly wanted to live.
She didn’t want to be overweight, over the years she came to believe that it was “just the way she was made.” She felt powerless to change, so, like many others, she adopted a thick skin when it came to the subject of her size and weight. The greatest danger in adopting thick skin to protect us, is that it tends to do more than keep hurtful thoughts and comments out, it often buries our hopes and dreams deep inside.
Our company’s mission is to “Inspire People to Live a Better Story”. We create events that give people a goal. They give people a short term reason to train and be physically active, and, hopefully, inspires them to adopt a healthy lifestyle as a result. Success breeds success, reaching a finish line can give the confidence needed to reach for other goals as well. It’s about more than being physically fit, it’s about living fully.
I miss my mother and sister. I know the joy they would have taken in seeing my kids grow up, the pride they would have felt in their accomplishments, the tears they would have shared in their disappointments. I wish I could have helped my mother, not only so she might have lived longer, but mainly, I wish I could have helped her experience the life she really wanted to live. The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but the daily death of our dreams and hopes, which leads to a life not fully lived.
On November 14th I will be standing at the start line of the inaugural South Padre Marathon. My mother and sister will not be there, but because of them, thousands of you will.