Today is September 3, 2013 – that means the NYC Marathon is in two months. I am scared, nervous, excited, and overall just very anxious. In honor of the two month away mark, I wanted to share my “spotlight” that I wrote for our team’s blog. This will be posted soon, but here is an early view (helps to know the author, huh?)!
Chinese people, especially Chinese girls are not supposed to be athletes. That’s a stereotype and I know stereotypes are bad, but I have a point, I promise.
Ever since I started training with the Athletes to End Alzheimer’s team last year, I always wondered if my grandma, Nin-nin (as we called her in Chinese for paternal grandmother) would approve. Every time I finished practice completely drenched in sweat or got sick on a run, I always wondered if she thought I was crazy or worried that I ran too much. I will never actually know how Nin-nin felt, but I knew how my mom felt. Every time I told her I was out running, she’d give me a little pep talk about how I need to make sure I don’t over exert myself or how she was worried that I was running in the heat or cold.
My parents came out to the New Jersey Marathon this May to cheer me on, it was the first time they’d see me run a marathon. We were on my way home and my mom told me that my grandparents (specifically my grandfather, Ya-ya, for paternal grandfather) used to love watching marathons on television and that both Nin-nin and Ya-ya would be extremely proud of me if they were alive today. That was the reassurance I needed, the support I know my grandparents are providing even though they’re not here to witness the races with me. It is okay for a Chinese girl to run marathons!
I was very close to my Nin-nin and Ya-ya. Nin-nin immigrated to NYC by herself when she was pregnant with my dad. The strength and courage it took for her to leave her family behind in China to build a “better life” in the United States are character traits I can only aspire to. I have endless memories growing up with Nin-nin and Ya-ya – weekend trips they’d take into New Jersey to visit us with bags of goodies, vacations, holidays at their apartment in the Bronx, bowling competitions, Italian ice and ice cream trucks are just a handful of the memories that I will forever cherish. I was the only granddaughter on that side of the family and the oldest, which means I could do no wrong! Nin-nin and I always celebrated our birthdays together the first weekend of November every year. Even when Nin-nin was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember who I was, we still celebrated our birthdays together. Last year’s NYC Marathon was supposed to be on her birthday and in her memory, I was ready to celebrate with her while running through all five boroughs, her home, and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.
When the marathon was cancelled, I was devastated but I was fortunate for the support of my family, friends, and teammates. Joining the team last year was one of the best decisions I made; I wouldn’t be on this journey if it weren’t for the team and coaches. Despite not being able to run NYC last year, a group of my teammates and I trained and ran together in Philadelphia, Miami, and New Jersey proud to be sporting our purple Alzheimer’s singlets and raising awareness for the disease. This November, I am excited to run for my teammates, my family, friends, especially for Nin-nin, and to end Alzheimer’s.