Mom's Senior Marathon: Redux

Well, we made it! Mom, or Jean O'Shaughnessy to most of the world, completed her second Fort4Fitness Senior Challenge marathon this past weekend as part of the Fort4Fitness Fall Festival. She was joined by her good friend, Ann Frelick (on the left in the photo), whose companionship motivated and inspired Mom through to the finish. 
The mission of Fort4Fitness is to improve the health and wellness of citizens throughout our region. There are several sentinel annual events, including the Spring Cycle and the Fall Festival. The Fall Festival includes a Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles) Run/Walk, 4 mile Run/Walk, Kids Marathon and Senior Marathon. More than 10,000 people participated in the Fall Festival this past weekend, and we broke participation records in every event category. For 40 percent of participants, this was the first time they'd ever participated in such an event!
The 2013 Fort4Fitness Senior Challenge started June 27 at Parkview Field and concluded on Friday, September 27 with the "final mile," finishing at home plate of Parkview Field. A record number of seniors (255) took part in the Senior Marathon in 2013, and 1,675 people age 55 and over took part in one of the Fort4Fitness events over the weekend.
Fort4Fitness also has a robust website at and a sub-section, 4YourHealth, full of wonderful fitness, wellness and nutrition information free for the taking. You'll find a community calendar and links to well-vetted health and wellness sites with information on many topics related to health and disease prevention. Check it out!
So, how did we do? 
Jean O'Shaughnessy, right, and Ann Frelick
Well, we finished and have the medal to prove it (It's real. She almost chipped a tooth testing it). For those of you who followed this site last year, you may remember that we finished dead last. I have been the silent bearer of my mother’s wrath because of the miserable pace I set, resulting in our poor finish. She assured me that last year’s performance was not going to be repeated again this year, and her training reflected her new-found competitive spirit.
Since June 27, Mom walked 27 miles (two more than the required 25) prior to Friday night’s main Senior Marathon event. You may recall that she was sidelined for a time this summer due to a complication from an eye surgery, but she came back with renewed energy and completed the training – and then some. 
We started out in the "middle of the pack" Friday, and she repeatedly looked back to be sure we were not the caboose again this year. Actually, we were doing amazingly well in the 1.2-mile walk until about the 3/4-mile point. Participants were given the option of taking a "Rosie Ruiz" shortcut to the finish or completing the entire course. Mom chose the path less taken and we completed the entire 1.2-mile course. Unfortunately, all of the other participants who were behind us chose the Rosie Ruiz route and we were once again relegated to the coveted spot of Dead Last. (Rosie Ruiz allegedly detoured onto a subway, then jumped back on the course near the finish line to claim victory in the 1980 Boston Marathon. When the hoax was discovered a few days later, she gave up her crown to the real winner, Jacqueline Gareau of Canada.) 
There are several valuable motivational lessons to Mom's story. First, despite some setbacks along the way, Mom achieved her goal and completed her second marathon. Second, she brought along friends, and we all know that's extremely helpful in terms of accountability and motivation when exercising. Thank you, Ann, for walking with and encouraging Mom during her training, setback and the race itself!
Most important, it is virtually never too late to get started on your path to a healthier you. If my 80-year-old mother can do it, so can you. Stay tuned for more motivational stories from Fort4Fitness in blogs to come. 
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories of challenge, motivation, perseverance and achievement. 


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