I ran my first (and only) marathon when I was 49.  It was October 2001 in Baltimore. I had signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C. , and then 9/11 occurred; so Baltimore was the back-up plan for those of us who could not complete a 15 ½ minute mile. I think I was averaging a 15 ¾ minute mile.

For a variety of personal reasons, including my stepfather’s illness,  I trained alone.  We were guided by an Olympic marathon runner who encouraged us to focus on finishing rather than speed. My completion time  was 6 hours and 59 minutes to conquer the 26.2 miles. And with the numerous hills on the Baltimore’s course (which they changed in subsequent years),  I am amazed that I finished at all.  

My number was 3913, and while I wasn’t fast, I did raise $2500 to support the Walker-Whitman Clinic for HIV-AIDS prevention.   So the discipline and hard work were worth it for a good cause.

Throughout our lives, as Black women, we receive so many negative messages about our bodies. We are rarely celebrated unless we fit a more Euro-centric stereotype.  I decided late in life to take up modeling.  It was something I had wanted to do since I was sixteen years old.   It was my way of having fun, and challenging the standard myth that Black women are not beautiful.

We are beautiful, and we must take the time to prolong that beauty by being healthy.   It is my hope that other Black women will be inspired by my late-life modeling adventure, and will take the time to honor themselves by focusing on being healthy and fit. 

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