An Unexpected Inspiration
by Clara Grandt on May 24, 2012
There are quite a few people that are inspiring to me. Anyone that accomplishes something big or goes for huge goals without any holding back can be easily inspiring. There are names in distance running like Deena Kastor, Shalane Flanagan, and Desiree Davila, to give a few examples that show top levels of dedication and hard work paying off. Then there are the people in our everyday personal lives that are inspiring… my coach, teammates, my mom… and I’ve even been inspired by my little sister, lately.
I went to visit my hometown recently to speak to the elementary school so I could get them pumped up to do well on their West Test (end of year school testing.) I also went to visit my mom and watch my little sister run in the regional track meet. It was a busy day getting in my training, speaking to all the children, going around to the classrooms, catching up with some of my old teaches and coaches, and spending time with my mom, my niece, and my little sister, the youngest of six, at the track meet. I ended up getting my second training run in between the 4x800m and the open 800m run, of which my sister, Rachel, was running in both.
The whole day was fun, and to see the kids’ interest and think maybe they got some sort of inspiration from me was cool. What really stuck with me that day though, and occupied my mind while I was running that night between the track events was how far my little sister had come.
She is a junior, and this was her first year completing a track season. I had just watched her run the 4x800m as the first leg. She ran too fast on the first lap, slowed and was passed by a few girls in the second lap, but crossed the line with a one second PR. So, to most other’s watching, she did nothing spectacular, but I know her and where she started.
I never really understood Rachel when she started growing up. She didn’t seem to care about anything or have any goals. I always thought she got what she wanted and never appreciated anything. It seemed like she was constantly causing trouble and stress for my family. I was not proud of her, and wondered how could we be related? She ran away from home once, and then the state put her in a home for troubled children. She continued to make mistakes and had to stay there for about a year. Not long after she came back home, she got pregnant. Sixteen and Pregnant is a show… not something that was supposed to happen in my family.
Well, nine months later, which was this past November, Rachel had a little girl. I was so worried my mom would take all the responsibilities for little Alexandria (the baby), and Rachel would continue her careless ways. Instead, she went back to school, stayed out of trouble, her grades went up, and she acted like a mother to her child.
When Spring came around, she joined the track team. I was still unsure if she would and could dedicate herself through an entire track season with her new responsibilities, but there I was, running between events at a West Virginia high school regional track meet, because I was watching her run in her last track meet of the season. She didn’t qualify for the state meet, but she had done the one thing I had been hoping to see her do for a long time; she had worked to improve and had succeeded. She seemed happier than I had seen her in years.
As I was finishing my run just in time to watch her run the open 800m, I thought, this might be one of the first times she’s ever seen the product of hard work, and she looks happy. When I talked to her afterwards while she was holding Alexandria, she smiled and said she was tired. I knew she had gotten up at 1:30am that morning when the baby started crying, went to school that day, then ran and set a new PR for herself at the track meet. She had accomplished a lot for herself, and I was proud of her and inspired.
Sometimes I think, being the youngest of six children, she got caught up in feeling inferior and unsure of what she was capable of as the youngest. She has overcome and bettered herself so much though, and I think she realized that it’s not who you are compared to others, but who you are compared to yourself from the day, month, or year before.
So, this is a tribute to my little sister, who unexpectedly inspired me to continue seeking self improvement in running and in life. She has made herself an example of the saying, “It’s not where you’re coming from; it’s where you’re going.” I think every runner can relate to that quest.
All the best, Clara