Did you ever get up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday as a teenager? Did you ever do it on a weekly basis by choice? Doubtful. I also doubt you got up at that hour to go run with your mother. I’ve had the pleasure of watching a very special mother and daughter bond grow as the pair share a love of running with one another in the wee hours of the morning.
Mary Alice and Cassie Hollenback are both fantastic runners. They are in several running groups together, they travel and cheer for each other at races, and if there are medals to be won these two manage to always snag one. Oh, and they are mother and daughter too.
While it’s not too uncommon to see adults show up for group runs at the crack of dawn on Saturdays, seeing young Cassie among the crowd is. Most of her peers are surely hours from waking and she’s typically already warmed up and has a few miles under her belt before most of the usual running crowd rolls in. But she’s not alone with her running partner, Mary Alice (aka mom), at her side.
So, how did they get to this point? How does a teen and her mother become a great running team? Mary Alice said it took some prodding.
“I had to prod her when we first started running together. It was summer and hot out, we ran on the boring dusty dirt roads, and it wasn’t fun for Cassie at all, so I had to quickly come up with a plan to keep her running…so then we started running most of the time with groups. Also, after running I would take her out to eat or just for an ice cream cone to make the running experience fun for her.”
Cassie recalls her earliest days running with her mom.
“I can remember all the way back when I was seven or eight and training with my mom. I would run local one-mile races but nothing very serious. I competitively started running with my mom the summer before my 7th grade year in order to get in shape for middle school cross country.”
All of Cassie’s young years prepared her for a fantastic running career. Mary Alice retold one of her favorite memories regarding Cassie’s high school track team.
“After weeks of begging them (Cassie’s coaches) to get her out of the sprints and enter her in the 800, they finally entered her in the track meet for her first 800 and she ran off and left the field by a wide margin. She was like a little Secretariat. That was the start of her winning streak.”
Clearly Mary Alice is proud of her daughter, but Cassie knows she couldn’t be the runner she is without her mom.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my mom. My mom started running when I was three-years old, which means I have been involved with the running community for almost my entire life. I honestly do not know how my life would have evolved if my mom hadn’t taken her first steps into a running career.”
These women are a joy to share the road with. They’re an inspiration to any who meet them. They remind me just how fantastic running is and how it bonds so many of us. The unique way it has brought these two together is priceless.
“Running has brought so much joy to me and Cassie. It has been a real blessing to have a daughter who I can run with on a daily basis and someone to go to races with. We both always have each other to run with.”
“Living with my personal coach/training partner has completely changed me as a runner,” added Cassie. “On the days where I start to slack, I always have my mom to encourage and support me. Having that little advantage has enhanced my running career to new heights.”