Eight Motivating Runner Stories to Celebrate Mother's Day
On May 13, we'll honor the mothers and mother figures who nurtured us, inspired us, and helped us become the people we are today. To celebrate, we asked members of the New York Road Runners community to share stories of how running has been part of their own mother-child relationships.
"Ciera understands the loss of a loved one and wanted to use running to make a difference"
From Charaighn Sesock: "My 14-year-old daughter Ciera and I just completed the United Airlines NYC Half in March—her first half—in 2:36.
Ciera is an eighth-grade honors student from California who is determined to run and be an inspiration to those around her. And as her mom, I get the privilege of coaching and running with her every day. So does her younger sister Stefania, who's 12.
It was Ciera’s idea to run the NYC Half for charity and fundraise for the American Cancer Society's Team DetermiNation to honor my sister who we lost to lung cancer two years ago. We both joined and 'Team C' was created.
Ciera understands the loss of a loved one and wanted to use the power of running to make a difference. She is also dealing with her own challenges as last summer she was diagnosed with Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA), a fungal lung infection that makes it hard for her to breathe.
So Ciera and I run together, and she has inspired her sister to join. Stefania now runs track at her school and is determined to run a 6:30 mile—because running is what we do!
Ciera says that she wants to be a role model to her peers, to show them that anything is possible if you work for it.
During our runs, we get to talk about what’s been going on in school, and sometimes we’ll play music on my cell and argue over what song to listen to. It brings our relationship to a whole new level. Running is powerful in so many ways."
"My mom bribed me with a trip to Disney World"
From Dave Ferzoco: "I have a lot of stories I could tell about running with my mom, whether it be the time I really made her mad by stopping at mile one to go to the bathroom, the time she helped me track down shoes after I forgot to bring them to the marathon, or the time I convinced her to run a race she really didn't want to run.
But I think the best story to tell is the story about how I started running. I was a sophomore in high school, and I had always hated running. My mom actually convinced me to start running by bribing me with a trip to Disney World. When we started training I would complain almost once a mile. She started calling me the worst training partner ever because I couldn't even get through a three-mile run without complaining about something. But eventually I made it past that complaining phase, and we finished that race together. We went on to run a bunch of other half-marathons with each other, all across the country.
Then one day she came into my room and told me she just signed up for a marathon. Of course, I wasn't going to let my mom upstage me, so I signed up for that race, too. Since then, we have run two marathons (the TCS New York City Marathon once and one out in the Hamptons) together and are going to be running our third this fall in New York. Since my mom got me into running, I have trained and gotten a bunch of my friends to sign up for races, and I owe it all to my mom. Had it not been for her, I never would have started running."
"She says she wants to run a marathon, just like her mom"
From Michelle Baird: "I run with my daughter and have been for the last year, but it didn’t start out very easy.
I’ve been running for 10 years and five years ago I started getting my now 9-year-old daughter to try running. She wasn’t a fan at the beginning and actually cried crossing the finish line of her first 1K race five years ago.
Since then she has run more and more, usually complaining along the way and wanting to stop, but she always finishes.
Since she started running with me she has become faster and has moved from 1K up to 5K races.
Her next goal is running a 10K at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in 2019. She says now that she wants to run a marathon, just like her mom.
I’m very proud of how far she has come, from crying and not wanting to finish to wanting to run longer distances and more races with me. I couldn’t be a happier mother."
"Running together is our time, and races bring the entire family together"
From Kimberly Feinman: "My son started running youth races in 2013 when I ran NYRR races. As he got older and I started training for longer races, he would join me on the track and on training runs. This past November he ran his first Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K because he was finally old enough.
My love for running has been passed onto him and we will go on two- to three-mile runs together during the week or on the weekend. We will talk about school, friends, work, and what we look forward to. Running together is our time and races bring the entire family together. My daughter is now taking part in NYRR kids' races and my husband cheers us all on. Our next race together is a Memorial Day 5K that we run every year and then the NYRR Brooklyn R-U-N 5K."
"The kids' races were cancelled, so I told him to run with me and that we could cross the finish line together"
From Emmanuelle Saal-Fye: "With two kids and a full-time job, it is always hard to prioritize myself and my health, and it is difficult to find time to work out.
Running with NYRR is always a fun experience and a good opportunity to get out there.
In November of last year, I signed up for Race to Deliver and signed my 4-year-old son Noah up for Rising New York Road Runners at Race to Deliver.
Unfortunately, the kids' races were cancelled because of the weather, so I told him to come run the last few yards of the four-mile race with me and that we could cross the finish line together.
He had a blast, high-fiving all the supporters on the side! It was the happiest moment for me too, to be able to share a healthy and active moment like that with him. It's a great memory, and I signed him up for more races this year!"
"I told the younger runners that my 72-year-old mom was passing them on her first run EVER!"
From Elizabeth Maiuolo: "My family has never been into sports, so when I took up running, it was a little strange. My dad started jogging a bit a few years later, but my mom didn’t get inspired until one day when I was visiting my parents for the holidays in Buenos Aires.
I signed up for a 5K. My mom, 72 years old at the time and never having run a mile in her life, said, “You’re doing a 5K? Me too! Sign me up!”
WHAT? We all looked at her like she was crazy. The 5K was three days away, but she’s always had that you-can't-stop-me-from-doing-anything attitude that can’t be fought!
We signed her up. What else could we do?
On race day, I finished the 5K, gave my dad my medal as he was by the finish line, and circled back to run with my mom. She was doing a run-walk, though I am sure she didn’t know that was an official thing. She just did not really want to slow down or give up. About a half mile from the finish, I saw a group of about 30 runners with Santa hats and I told her there was no way she could let the Santas finish before her. She is very competitive and loves a challenge, so she started to push really hard.
I got a kick out of telling all the younger Santa runners that my 72-year-old mom was passing them on her first run ever. Everyone in the group started cheering for her and my mom felt really accomplished.
She got to the finish line and threw her arms up in the air, something she'd seen me do when I finish races. She never doubted herself. I still wish I was fearless like that. I learned A LOT that day."
"We help each other push the boundaries of what we thought we could accomplish"
From Sam Weedon: "My mom is the reason I recently got into running! Neither of us is much of an athlete, so watching my mom push herself every day to train for her first marathon last year was super motivating.
When my mom tried to get me to run with her, I was a bit hesitant at first, but after seeing her complete the marathon last year with a smile somehow still on her face, I knew I had to give running a chance. If my mom could do it, why couldn’t I?
My mom has taught me that it’s not about the time I get, it’s just about finishing the race. Our runs with NYRR bring us together in the city and give us time to catch up after a long week of school. By running together, we have been able to help each other push the boundaries of what we thought we could accomplish. The best part is getting to treat ourselves to breakfast after a good run!
Getting into running has been the best coping mechanism to deal with my mental health, and my mom is to thank for that. Running has brought us closer and made us happier. Maybe with enough motivation from my mom, I’ll be running my first marathon soon!"
" I experienced the exquisite pleasure of time spent alone and unfiltered with my kid—no phone, no iPad, no homework stress, just us, sweaty and happy"
From Gordon Bakoulis: "From the moment that each of my three kids first toddled around the living room, I harbored not-so-secret hopes that they’d fall in love with running. Why not? My husband and I are passionate about the sport, so of course our offspring would be too. We’d all lace up for weekend runs and races in the park, one big happy running family.
Imagine my surprise when our kids—now 20, 18, and 13—sought their own way with running. They dutifully did the pee-wee runs and even several years of a recreational track & field program, but about midway through grade school each of them discovered soccer and never looked back. The older two play club soccer in college, and when they run it’s to get in shape during preseason, to take a study break, or to humor us at Thanksgiving.
We cajoled our youngest into joining his middle school track team despite the workouts taking place on the same day as his soccer practices. Result: A backpack lost on the MTA in the scramble from one commitment to the other and a reprimand from his soccer coach for chronic lateness.
Still, I persisted, having seen a flicker of his talent, and got him to accompany me at a weekend road race. He grumbled about the 8:00 a.m. start time but when he placed in his age group he was intrigued enough to try again.
Soon I was straining to keep up with him—both at the races and on our runs together in Riverside Park. He experienced the training effect—a pace that winded him one week felt easy the next. I experienced the exquisite pleasure of time spent alone and unfiltered with my kid—no phone, no iPad, no homework stress, just us, sweaty and happy.
On Thanksgiving he won a pie at a turkey trot and asked to sign up for a 15K the next month. Training slacked as the weather got colder and the daylight hours shorter. In the pitch-dark of race morning he clutched the covers and asked plaintively, “Do we really have to do this?” The day’s forecast called for snow.
“It’ll be fun!” I said brightly. I was speaking my truth, and fun was indeed had over our 9.3 miles, despite a wardrobe adjustment, a couple of bathroom breaks, and yes, snow. He outkicked me at the finish. In the post-race photos he’s all smiles.
But something had shifted. Maybe it was the onset of winter, but our runs didn’t resume. I missed them, but his adolescent stubbornness was more than equal to mine.
Still, I signed us up for a four-miler in February. From the first mile he clutched at my sleeve, wanting it to be over. Even though he again outkicked me, his first words after the finish were “I don’t like running.”
A smarter mom would’ve left it at that, but I couldn’t help myself: “You’ll feel better next time.”
He came back at me with an air of finality that only a 13-year-old can muster: “There’s not going to be a next time.”
I knew that the surest way to fulfill that prophesy would be to continue the conversation. I haven’t run with my son since, and I miss our runs and races. And I’m pretty sure I messed up as a mom—applying too much pressure, failing to listen—so I keep my regrets to myself.
Last weekend my husband and I signed up for a 5K in late May to raise money for a friend paralyzed in a biking accident last year. As we discussed the details, my son looked up from his iPad. “That’s really sad,” he said. “If it doesn’t start too early, maybe I’ll run.”
I didn’t say a word. We’ll see."