We’ve seen and loved Wonder Woman on screen but today, I’d like to share the story of a real life Wonder Woman. Analice Silva was born in abject poverty in the remote Brazilian village of Esperança. At the tender age of 3, she was abandoned by her family; given away by her father to a woman who enslaved her- offering only a bed for hard toil every day, and food on the occasions she fancied it. A slave at 3! Even when she returned home at 8, there was no welcome reception by her family, only more violence. So she ran away. She raised herself through petty works before finally meeting her husband, Evandro. Her only condition to the marriage was that he not hit her. She kept up with his philandering and floundering because he kept his word. But there was only so much she could put up with and finally left after 6 months in a loveless marriage. All she had with her was enough money to cover a one way trip to Rio de Janeiro. She was crushed but not broken. She had turned to doing household chores to sustain herself when she discovered that she was pregnant. But life wasn’t done taking swings at the woman and it was a stillborn baby at 7 months. She almost thanked her stars for how would she provide for this baby in her condition.
It was in 1980, at the young age of 37 that she discovered that it takes 10 years for a smoker’s lungs to recover after quitting. She apparently wanted her ‘pink’ lungs back. As a lifelong smoker, this scared her and she didn’t want to wait 10 years. That evening, she smoked her last cigarette and took up running; 16 kilometers in flip flops on the sidewalk of Copacabana under the new years’ eve fireworks.
She never stopped. She ran every day that January. She had run her first marathon and her first 100k within the year. She later moved to Portugal where she continued her love for running and ran a whole lot more, thousands of kilometers over road and trail worth more. Her longest run was the Volta ao Minho, a grueling 385 km race.
Analice was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. Yes, she was still trading blows with life and wasn’t ready to hang up boots just yet. Even with the growing cancer, she ran. Her last run was the São Silvestre de Almada in December 2016. Analice passed away in Feb, 2017, almost 4 months to this day.
Running is such a seemingly individual sport but then there are stories like these, people like her and you realize you are kindred spirits, sharing love for the same things and its suddenly one big community activity! A way to escape drudgery of everyday life.
We need more Analices, to show us what is possible. Maybe we have such Analices we don’t know about. She didn’t live a glorified life, she didn’t preach. She only loved what she did and she shared that joy. She grew beyond her past. So maybe running away from your miseries, literally, might not be the worse thing in the world. Let’s support such Analices, let’s cheer them on, let’s become them.
P.S. The pictures are not mine, only the adulation.