My mom is still undecided about the idea of me racing.
She has no problem with me jogging. Running is okay, most of the time. ( Yes, there is a difference)
But to her, girls shouldn't race.
I don't blame her, really. She came from a family that emphasized if you're a girl, you should either be good in your studies or be a good housewife. Nothing in between.
She excelled in both. She was first in her family to get a degree and she's one mean cook.
She was brought up a girly girl and I guess expected her girls to be the same.
Don't get me wrong. She puffs up with pride every time I bring home a winning medal or trophy or one of them hampers. She dutifully asks my position every time after a race - as if it matters. When people come over, sometimes she and my dad proudly tell them of my hobby, how far I run ( to my embarrassment) and this and that.
But at times, when I tell her of my next race, she'll say things, awkward things like,
" Oh, you're still at that again?" or
" Aren't you too old for that?" (sigh) or
" Seriously, women aren't supposed to race. It's okay for Wan because he's a man " (serious eye-roll moment) or
" You're married, you have 2 kids, why are you still racing?" or the most ridiculous - drum roll please:
" Jangan asyik lari je, nanti tua nanti, penat"
In which, I reply every time, with a loving peck on her cheek,
" Lari memang la dapat penat, mak. Takkan dapat kenyang kot."
The hardest thing to change, as I know some readers can relate, is the perspective of the people you love.
Don't get me going on the countless times I've advised people on the benefits of running and racing only to be shot back with disappointing remarks like,
" Why would I fork out thirty bucks to run 7 kilometers when I can do it for free?" or
" You run and then you don't even win. What's the point?"
The point is, when you have pledged yourself to a race, consciously and sometimes subconsciously, you WILL want to prepare yourself. Most of the people I know, will never sign in for a race and then run it without at least some sort of training. They have two choices, either train ( walaupun sikit) or ultimately chicken out.
Even if it's just a few loops around your local park or a few minutes on the treadmill, it's still some form of exercise, which, when combined with a diet based on moderation, will eventually make you healthier and fitter.
And then, when finally you achieve that post race buzz, endorphine, euphoria or whatever they call it, you will want to get back on the same bus and do everything all over again with (hopefully) the aim to get better at it.
See, it's a healthy cycle.
But you guys get it. Most people around me, not so much. Especially relatives on my mother's side.
I remember once, during hari raya, an aunt came up to me and said bluntly, " No use taking care of yourself so much, dear. It's in our genes. We'll all grow fat eventually."
And it got me so sad that she would think like this. As if we couldn't do anything to change this. As if this was destined and we were doomed and I should accept it as it was.
I wanted to tell her otherwise. I wanted to tell her, we can break the vicious cycle. I wanted to tell her that what she said didn't make sense.
Everyone is destined to die, right? But that doesn't mean we're all going to lie down in the middle of the road and wait for death to come.
I wanted to change their perspectives, I wanted them to fight back. I wanted them so much not to let themselves go.
But as soon as I open my mouth about fitness or anything healthy, there would be an awkward silence until somebody babbles on about the next durian season.
It's hard. Especially if you have to reach so far.
But I'm not giving up. Especially with my own family. I'm not the kind to nag, so I will tread softly.
Since starting my racing/running escapades, I've watched my brother purchase a bike. My elder sister has shown interest in asking about my races ( it's a start la) and I heard that my younger sister has secretly bought herself a pair of running shoes worth almost four hundred bucks ( rumour has it)
" Four hundred bucks?" my mom almost choked. Then she looked at me.
" Next time you go running, you better make sure your sister goes with you."
See what I mean about being undecided?