My No-Sweat Marathon

Upon reaching a certain age most people experience saying something and realizing that they sound suspiciously like their parents. The reverse is true as well. Not too many years after having children, you spot them saying or doing something and realize that they are sounding or acting just like you. If the child is sounding warm, loving and intelligent that leads to a metaphorical pat on the back. If the child sounds whiny, angry and immature, the result is much less pleasant.

Then there is the shot out of the blue, when a child does something and you can only shake your head and say, “Where in the world did that come from?”

This is exactly the reaction my husband and I had when our perfectly warm, loving and intelligent daughter, Miriam, announced that she had signed up to run a marathon to raise money for Leukemia/Lymphoma research. Now, during her growing up years, Miriam saw us bicycle, occasionally hike and go sailing every chance we got. Barring a frantic sprint to make a plane, she never saw us run.

Yet, here she is, increasing her mileage each week as she trains in below freezing weather in Manhattan, along with about one hundred members of her team. Most of them have run half marathons or in some other way built up to this event. Not Miriam. Once she decided to run, she jumped in the deep end. Those genes are perfectly recognizable as coming from her father. I’m afraid I need to take responsibility for the competitive spirit that forces her to not only run, but to run farther and faster than the others. Perhaps I should have sometimes let her win at Candyland.

The truth is that we are intensely proud of her, even as we question her sanity. Miriam has a crowded schedule juggling a full time job, after-work-hour supplementary jobs, and a busy social life. Unlike the rest of her running mates, she doesn’t run on Shabbat and so needs to fit in extra hours to make up that time.

This may be Miriam’s first venture into running but it is not her first undertaking supporting causes that she finds worthwhile. At ten, she, along with her sister and two friends, set up a lemonade stand to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation, which does an amazing job granting special trips and experiences to very ill children. Miriam, her sister, Ruthie, and their friends Sarah and Shayna opened for business in front of the local supermarket and manned it for many days. While it certainly helped the bottom line that Sarah and Shayna’s father, radio personality Michael Medved, announced the location of the lemonade stand on his show, the girls worked hard and none of them ever suggested running the stand for their own benefit. They were thrilled and justifiably proud when they mailed in a check for a large amount. This current endeavor is larger than that one, but the combination of spunk, charm and stubbornness that made the lemonade stand a success is still in evidence.

Running a marathon doesn’t even make the bottom of my “things I want to do” list. I don’t even read detailed coverage of the Boston Marathon. Which makes Miriam’s current marathon obsession one of the perks of motherhood. When one of your children, who constantly provides you with fragmented glimpses of yourself in the way she sounds and acts, does something so outside your own comfort and interest zone, it is a world-expanding occurrence. I can experience new sensations and pursuits vicariously without any of the accompanying pain or discomfort. And I can support a good cause without even depleting my entire store of lemons and  sugar. 

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