Big news coming from my home state of Florida. Mason Cathey, niece and daughter of long-time family friends, will try to qualify tonight for the London Olympics. Her race? The 3000 meter steeplechase, which features 1.8 miles and takes athletes through twenty-seven 30″ hurdles and seven water barriers. I’m barely in shape enough to type that sentence, much less run that race. As her former coach stated in Running Times, if you’re going to run the Steeplechase, you’d better be hardy and healthy. There’s no question Mason is just that.
Qualifying trials begin today, June 29, at 4:45 p.m. (PST) and 7:45 p.m. (EST), and will be televised. Mason needs to place in the top three with an “A” qualifying time, or a 9:43, so if you have access, please watch and cheer her on!
Mason’s story is one of perseverance and dedication to her sport, much like Grete Waitz, 9-time winner of the NYC Marathon and holder of 10 world records, who I wrote about earlier this year. It’s also a story about building personal strength — physical, emotional, spiritual. Speaking for us women who were raised to be demure ladies and just a bit helpless, I am so proud I could burst.
I’m thinking the great Nora Ephron would be proud of Mason, too. Along with many people this week, I was rattled by her untimely death and spent hours reading about her life and her work. In the process, I stumbled upon her 1996 Wellesley commencement address. It is a must read. Like Mason, Nora Ephron was a terrific role model for women, a creative powerhouse who worked as playwright, screenwriter, author and director, and served as a mentor to many. She directed her first film at age 50, showing we are never too old to try something new. I’ll leave you with Ms. Ephron’s inspired closing remarks at Wellesley along with the famous restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally — romantic comedy at its best.
Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women. Thank you. Good luck. The first act of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives.