Well into the afternoon of my lengthy shift at the expo for The Mount Rushmore Marathon, a small person approached the table. She peered up at me from her diminutive height, a gamin face framed by soft brown hair; big brown eyes smiled, “Hi. My name is Sara Lee. Nobody doesn’t like me. You have an all women’s race?” she chirped quizzically.
Her opening line got my attention, I laughed, “Yes, I do! It’s really fun, great course, and we’d love to have you come run it.”
“I don’t run. I walk. My husband left me and the six kids for his secretary after 35 years of marriage. I sat around and felt sorry for myself for a while, rebounded and married a mistake, then one morning I heard Oprah say, ‘you have choices. Y’wanna be happy? Y’wanna be sad. It’s your choice.’ so I got up off the couch and got a divorce, retired, and was born again. Then I started walking; I was 65 years old.”
Reeling from this rapid fire barrage of unsolicited information, and still trying to adjust to this young looking older woman, I started again when she hit me with, “Yup, I walked my first half at 66 and I’ve now done 32 halves and a lot of other races…I’m here from Twin Falls, Idaho, ready to have a good time.” I interrupted, “And you’re how old now?”
“Seventy-one.” She stated matter-of-factly, “I also have fibromyalga, but I figure I’m gonna hurt anyway, so I might as well get a medal for it. Movement is good, I see people worse off than me, I forget my pain, and I do good for other people. I just tell ‘em, you wanna do something? Write it on the calendar. Just write it down and get going. Anybody can do anything. Just write it on the calendar.”
We talked for a long time. She wants me to come to a huge women’s 5K in Boise, and plans to come to our woman’s race here in August. Then she bounced off with more spring in her step than I had in my 50’s! What an inspiration. I checked the race results today, and on a grueling course on a marginal weather day, she walked 13.1 miles in 3:05:14, placing 177 out of 198…I’m impressed. Even more so by her pixie sense of humor, genuine interest in all people and total focus on the direction of her life.
Lesson from Milli? Good things come in little packages. Be that a convertible or a sassy senior.