By Jason BahamundiA number of years ago an ad campaign featuring Charles Barkley famously made the claim that he, Charles Barkley, was not a role model. LeBron James is seen mocking that ad campaign from Sir Charles, this caused me to think. Who are today’s role models? Is it LeBron and Kobe? Is it Tom Brady? Maybe Albert Pujols? I don’t know the answer but what I think is that these might not be the best role models for our children.
Shouldn’t the role models to our children be us: the parents, aunt/uncles, nieces/nephews? I think about all that can happen in life and trying to explain the exploits of a Kobe Bryant in Colorado or Barry Bonds and BALCO seems so daunting. Wouldn’t it be easier to point out your own mistakes to your children and have them learn from you rather than trying to figure out what Big Ben was doing in a college town bar? We have no idea what the athletes and movie stars are thinking as they live in worlds outside of what most of us live in. If I get into a car accident it will be easier for me to explain to my step-son what happened then trying to explain why Marion Jones used HGH to improve her speed on the track.
With this rationale bouncing around in my head I thought about my goal of finishing a second marathon and competing for the first time in a half Iron distance event within six months of each other. I want my step-son to look at me and my training and say that he wants to be more like me and not like Mike. I get up every morning and go out for a run, a ride or a swim. I can be seen in an activity that benefits my life and lives up to my lifestyle six days a week and on the 7th day I am resting so that I am fresh for the upcoming week.
In my daily life I run into people who live their lives the same way and it is these people that I want my step-son to idolize, be it through their blog or through actually meeting them. The regular Joe provides so much inspiration and motivation that if we just opened our mind and our hearts we would see it everywhere we went. Two people that have truly inspired me in the past couple of weeks are Jennifer Roe and Claudia Spooner. Jen is a blogger who is looking to lose weight and run her first marathon. Claudia is my coach and she competed at the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Opposite ends of the spectrum you might say, but they are closer to each other than one would initially think.
I ‘met’ Jen via the comments section of our blogs and was immediately drawn to her story. Jen at one point in her life weighed 230 pounds. Tired of it all, she decided it was time to lose weight. At that point in my reading I was already inspired because she put herself out into the public eye and would undoubtedly face public ridicule for being overweight. It didn’t matter to her what ‘they’ might say, because what mattered to her was living a healthy life. She began a marathon training program and to date has lost 81.8 lbs. She told me about this weight loss and referenced it by saying that the weight loss has been a three year marathon. Isn’t this the person that we want our children to look up to? The person who stared adversity in the face and decided to not blink. The person who put their mind to it and went for it and is achieving it on a daily basis. The person who could easily quit because that would be easier then getting up and going for an eight mile run or even take just eight steps.
Jen will be proudly running her first marathon in June at the Rock N Roll San Diego. Just recently she set a personal best in a 5K run. I am proud to say that Jen is my friend and I will be following her journey toward June and beyond.
While Jen’s journey is starting, Claudia’s journey came to an end in Clearwater. Claudia isn’t done racing by any means, but her season is done and what a season it was. I have followed her accomplishments as she won trail races and finished just outside of qualifying for Kona.
All this time I knew how tough she was, as she has accomplished incredible feats and you have to have mental toughness to race the way she does. What I am most impressed about though is that she raced in Clearwater with a broken hand and an injured quadriceps and never gave up. Claudia injured herself prior to the World Championships while in a trail race by tripping over a tree root and breaking her hand and injuring her leg.
The amazing part is that after taking inventory of her limbs she pushed herself across the finish line when most people would have stopped racing. In addition to that race, others would have chosen to not race in Clearwater and been severely distraught by that decision. Claudia decided she was racing and would need a cast that would allow her to swim, bike and run for 70.3 miles. Mental toughness would also be required.
Claudia had an amazing race and finished under five hours. Swimming for 1.2 miles, then riding a bike for 56 miles and finishing up with a ½ marathon must have inflicted pain in her hand and leg but through it all she pushed on. She accomplished something that most people don’t ever dream of doing and she did it against some of the best athletes in the world.
The commonality between Jen and Claudia is easy to see if you open your eyes to it. Jen competes in endurance events as does Claudia. Jen has pushed herself and had to use mental toughness to overcome fears. Claudia has pushed herself and had to use mental toughness to overcome injury. These are the people that inspire me and I use both of them during training when I think that I just can’t go any further.
When my step-son asks me why I run or bike I tell him because I am motivated by people like Jennifer Roe and Claudia Spooner, those who have faced obstacles and overcome them. We can watch ESPN and see the top ten plays being made by the best athletes in the world but should they be the role models our children look up to? For me the role models I want for myself and my step-son are those everyday people who live regular lives but do extraordinary things, like losing 80+ pounds or racing by putting injuries in the back of their minds.
There are stories to be told and if we start to pay attention to them then Charles Barkley will be right. He won’t be a role model because we will be.
Jason Bahamundi is a husband and step-father first and foremost. He is a marketing executive by day, and also a marathoner and an aspiring triathlete. Jason started his marathon journey in 2007 by walking 1/4 mile and jogging 1/4 mile and did that until he reached one mile and went home. The next day he did it again. One week later he pushed it to two miles and it kept on growing from there. He became part of a running group where he began to get in shape and ultimately made lasting relationships. Since those days in 2007 Jason has finished multiple endurance events, including the San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Marathon. Jason brings an unbridled passion for healthy living and always smiles regardless of the situation. He tells his friends and family to smile because it will help their outlook on the day, and he has used that technique during training and racing. He is the Team Leader of Marathon Makeover - North Dallas and is very excited to share his passions with you.