I went completely gray when I was in my thirties. I remember being with my older brother and some guy asked if I was his mother. So I colored my hair. After a while, I asked myself, “Who am I doing this for?”

I am an immigrant. I came to this country from Columbia the year Kennedy was killed. I spoke no English. I was raised in a family where the expectation was for me to be a wife and mother. Maybe because my five younger siblings saw me as their mother—which I found shocking, sad and wonderful all at the same time—I wanted to work, achieve goals and be my own person.

I ran my first marathon eight years ago. My third was in 2014. For the first two, I joined groups. I’m somewhat competitive and didn’t like to be at the end of the line, so for the third, I bought a book and trained myself.

I don’t think about how I looked in the past. I cherish other periods of my life. I love the way I look now. And the bonus—I am now more knowledgeable and self-assured.

This is an excerpt from a comprehensive interview.