My 90-year old Mom does her first 5k!

My 90-year old Mom does her first 5k!

I can hardly contain my excitement at writing this post about my Mom, Rita.

Rita’s 5k journey began about 4 months ago. I wrote about it here back on May 28th, and since then we’ve been out walking – aka training – at least 3 days/week.

We’ve survived cool winds and clouds, record-breaking temperatures and humidity from Hades. Rita never flinched. She always had a sweater/fleece, her trusty rain bonnet, most times a sun visor and her sunglasses at the ready in her little basket attached to her walker.

I brought along the sunblock, MapMyRun App and most times the delightful company of Rita’s loyal training partner, my grandson, her great-grandson Brian…

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When the weather was too inclement to head out-of-doors, Rita would NOT have a Rest Day.

No way!

On those days, Rita would let her running partner sit like the Prince he is on the seat (uh,hum – throne!) of her walker and traverse the halls of her home…



The earth continued to turn and the seasons changed from Spring to Summer to almost Autumn and Rita kept on training as half-mile increments turned to…


Now we knew Rita could reach her goal.

Her dream.

A 5k.

3.1 miles.

A race!

We chose a local 5k in Warren, RI – Finish for a Guinness – a race of 700 or so competitors and a most important cause of raising funds and awareness for ALS.

Of course, there just had to be a celebratory Pasta “Carbo-Load” dinner and race-shirt reveal the night before with lots of family members…



Then “the day” arrived.

Everyone in my family was there to cheer on Grandma Rita…


We had 9 family members running and Rita’s running partner, Brian, would be running with his Dad.

4 generations of runners with Rita at the helm!

Everyone else was spectating and celebrating and cheering this wonderful achievement of our Super-Star Grandma Rita.

The organizers of Finish for a Guinness allowed Rita to get a half-hour start on the rest of the field of competitors, given the fact that she’d be walking with her walker…


… and she was off on that journey toward a dream.

I walked alongside Rita as she stepped along, stronger and faster and more confident than ever. The spectacular September morning was the icing on that 5k cake. We talked. Rita kept checking in with her distance and was very surprised when my MapMyRun called out Mile 1.

“One mile?” Rita asked. “That went by fast!”

I told her that the fastest runners would be well on their way and soon catching up and passing us. Rita said that she’d be happy with the company!

Then a rush of bodies was upon us. Fast. Steady. Beautiful to watch. Many called out to Rita, “Great job!” or “Way to go!”

And that would be the theme for the rest of the race. Runners calling out to Rita amazing words of encouragement. Shouting how inspiring she is. Some stopping to shake her hand. Hug her. Asking her age.

“90!” she called back.

“I hope I’m YOU when I’m 90!” was a general chorus.

And on Rita walked, faster and even faster than her pace while training. Runner’s high? Maybe. Just maybe! Caught up in a sea of adrenaline.

Soon came the familiar voices of family. My son-in-law Brian and my Mom’s running partner, Baby Brian, straining to see his Grandma Rita…


Then my 12-year old grandson Andrew, stopping for a hug and a “Way to GO!”


And my 11-year old grandson Jake, with a great big smile for Grandma Rita…


My wonderful daughter-in-law Aimee with a hug and “SO proud of you!”…


Then MapMyRun called out Mile 2!

“Two-thirds done!” Rita exclaimed. “This is so much fun!”

More runners were calling out support and inspiration to Rita, marveling at her tenacity and her can-do attitude.

Conversely, Rita was amazed at the runners as they whizzed by, racing with others or perhaps just themselves for a personal best or personal goal or quest — taking a moment to offer encouragement to a lady with a walker, a lady on a journey of her own. My Mom said to me, “Now I see why you do this!”

People in cars were rolling down windows and shouting to Rita, “YOU GO!” “YOU ROCK!”

And soon my husband Barry, our son Keith and 14-year old granddaughter Taylor and her friend Caroline had closed in and stopped for a hug!


That’s 4 generations right there.

4 generations on a 5k journey. Together.

2.5 miles.

At that point, I told my Mom to enjoy every second of crossing that Finish Line. We talked about her great journey and her great spirit and her great dream-making as we zipped along. I thought she was going to bust out into a little sprint there!

Then we saw the Director of Nursing at my Mom’s assisted living facility, Beth — one of my Mom’s greatest supporters in her endeavor to complete a 5k — running across the street with all the enthusiasm to bolster those last few feet. Beth has been “in” since Day 1, checking in and fueling Rita’s confidence.

With less than .10-mile to go, we could hear the cheering of our family and lots of others who were at the Finish Line. Rita sped up just a bit and sailed in…


My heart may have been pounding louder and faster than hers, I was so happy and so proud and so in awe of my Mom. The Lady on a mission. Our 90-year old 5k-er. Our hero…


… her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and friends surrounding her!

Of course, you cannot Finish for a Guinness without finishing with a Guinness…


… to which my 8-year old grandson Ben shouted, “I think Grandma Rita is actually drinking that beer!”


Then it was off to celebrate with a Finish for a Guinness feast of chowder and and fish tacos and lots of food and beverages and sights and sounds of happy people — runners, walkers, volunteers, spectators alike — and family





When the Age Group Awards were announced, we all heard Rita’s name and age clearly, loudly, enthusiastically — and with amazement beyond belief for her accomplishment, a 3rd place Women’s 70+ ribbon was placed around my Mom’s neck!



The rest is all memories of a perfect day!


And more people than you can imagine with congrats, well wishes, high-fives, hugs, words of inspiration and stories of how Rita has inspired them.

That’s my Mom!

And she’s already asked me to find a “nice Spring 5k” — for when she’s 91. Gotta love her great spirit!

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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  1. 9.9.15

    This might be your best post ever. Such love and pride for the wonderful, amazing Rita. Excuse me now while I go redo my makeup for work after my “happy” tears. xoxoxo

  2. 9.9.15
    Dee said:

    Rita rocks….she is an inspiration to us all…..The entire Coutu family are amazing, being so supportive and loving to each other.

    Love you Rita!!!! 🙂

  3. 9.9.15

    What a wonderful story! I love her attitude! That’s the way to be 90.

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