|My dad, my bro and me hamming it up.
I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin. I was not born into a wealthy family, but I was extremely fortunate. My German-Bohemian family is built on the backs of farmers that worked the land in north Racine. The work ethic developed generations ago is still heavy in our family’s bloodstream. My parents were ambitious characters that worked tirelessly to provide my brother and me with an invaluable gift: a home with a farm field next door. When they started out, they were very young and they had little money - but they had an incredible amount of persistence which is more valuable than money. They both worked multiple jobs, even doing simple things like picking blueberries (with me on my mom's back) to sell to local grocers or fixing old lawn mowers to help make extra money. My father went on to own a successful landscaping business in town and my mother put herself through school to become a chemist. They proved that hard work equals measurable results and an improved life – a lesson I live by.
Their goal was always simple: to give us the best life they could no matter what it took. Because of that, the house with the field next door symbolizes the epitome of success to me. In that house, we had everything we could have wanted: family, a place to explore and lots of room to run free. My love of running started there – in the wide open space of a cabbage field on the north side of my home town. Running around and exploring with only the limits of my imagination lead to endless hours of free play and legs that loved to be on the move. My legs never stopped. Over time, my days became more and more committed to the running. Longer miles. Faster times. Bigger goals.
|My mom and me. She looks like a baby and I am a baby.
Because of their guidance and my family’s history – I am not afraid of hard work; in fact, I need it and embrace it. If I don’t push myself to the point of discomfort every day, I am uncomfortable. Training for a marathon is hard. When I am running 60 plus miles a week while working a full-time teaching job and coaching, I sometimes acknowledge that is seems crazy; however, I keep going. I love the feeling of clarity and freedom that I find on the road. I love constantly working to bring down my times, to improve my strength, to look at undeniable numbers and say that the work paid off. One of my proudest moments was winning our hometown race, The Lighthouse Run. It gave me the momentum to train for a successful marathon that fall, which led to Boston. Running the Boston Marathon in April 2013 was a huge deal to me, because it signified all of the miles, the hours, the blisters and sacrifices. But the racing and goals continue after Boston.
|Still a daddy's girl. This guy can't be beat.
The life skills my parents taught me are the things that I aim to teach my students; I am an inner-city science teacher. I know when kids look at their idols, they see themselves; what they don’t see is the dedication that went into the success of their heroes. Success does not occur through osmosis, but through a progression of challenges with measurable results. In order for them to learn those skills, our kids must be surrounded by ambitious, successful adults that are willing to share their experiences. We must continually push our children by setting high expectations for them, so they will not be afraid of challenge or failure – instead, they will persevere when confronted by them. The unfortunate truth of our world is that not all playing fields are created equal, so we have to teach all of our children to put up a fight for the life they want. I hope that some of some of my kids are inspired to try to run, because running begins with nothing more than a pair of shoes and air in your lungs – something all of my students have.
Last but not least, Mr. Lace & Race. He is my partner in crime, my coach, my photographer and my biggest fan. We get into all sorts of trouble together. I think he's cute and that never hurts.
9/2014: I guess I better update this, because baby Wolfgang is pretty special too! Afterall, he DID run Boston 2014 with me. My first and only baby - and the greatest boy in the world if you ask me.