Why I Run

The last few months I have felt like I'm hanging on by a thread. I'm only "kind of" a good mom.  I'm only "kind of" a good wife. I'm only "kind of" good at my job.  I'm only a mediocre friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter. I suppose this is a normal way of thinking for a mom? I feel like I am spread so thin lately and I can't do anything "well" in my life.

Except for running. 

Running was my salvation in 2004. I was separated from Jason, living at home again and had all the time in the world on my hands.  I don't even remember why I made this decision, but in some stroke of brilliance I decided I needed to run a marathon.  And I did.  Let me say that before this the most I had ever ran was 1 mile.  1! Before my wedding to Jason I would wake up a few days a week and run a mile in the morning before work.  Ha.  I totally thought I was awesome and in shape.  Of course at 21 I guess that's all I really needed to stay skinny.  When I ran the St. George marathon I desperately needed a distraction. I needed something besides my divorce to focus on.  So I started running.  I started by running laps on the track at Cottonwood High School (something I wouldn't be caught dead doing now).  I remember using my fingers to keep track of how many laps I ran. I remember the first time I ran 5 miles without stopping and feeling like a million bucks.  I laugh because looking back I used to run in cotton t-shirts. White cotton socks (that probably went mid-calf) and cotton shorts.  I assume I wore Nike or New Balance shoes.  I didn't know what I was doing.

At that time my whole life revolved around the marathon. I started dating Seth and kept it up. My friends used to get together every Wednesday night for "nacho night" and I used to run to Britney and Sean's house. I remember going home early on a Friday night because I had to run 17 miles the next day. I pretty much only ran long distances on the Jordan River Parkway, something I would NEVER do now.  It didn't take long to realize that I wasn't a good runner.  I had poor form, I had bad knees and my actual marathon was miserable.  But I did it. I finished and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.  However, the entire time I was running that marathon I just told myself over and over, "Just 10 more miles and you never have to run again in your life.  Just 5 more miles and you never have to run again in your life..."

I hated it.  I really did.  But it was good for me at the time and I'm glad I did it.  I also swore I would never run another marathon again.  

It took me less than a year to sign up for another event.  Something small called the Wasatch Back Relay - which at the time was about 19 teams.  I helped with some of the initial planning and ran with friends for 4 years in a row - while raising money for The Christmas Box House.  Then the event got too big and too annoying so I stopped.  I didn't love the running but I loved the experience so I stuck with it.  Oh and this team won the "favorite team" award that year.  We were "Superheroes for Kids".

Since I married Seth I have continued running but nothing serious. I got into biking, yoga and swimming but still ran fairly consistently but never for another event. I never loved it.  It was just a way to stay skinny and in shape. 

And then I had a baby and everything changed.

I tried running after Millie was born and everything felt off.  My insides felt out of place. It was so hard.  For the most part I didn't run much. I would take her out in the Bob stroller a couple days a week but I never ran too much. I was just happy to be out and exercising at all. Plus I felt severely sleep deprived for a good year so waking up in the morning was never an option until she started sleeping through the night.  I decided the only way I was really going to get back into shape was to sign up for an event, so I signed up for a 1/2 marathon.  An event that wasn't crazy like a full marathon (at least in the amount of time it takes, the toll it takes on your body, etc) but an event that would still take a lot of training.  For someone who could barely eek out 3 miles, I knew I had a long way to go.

I started training in May. I told Seth that I was going to wake up 2 days a week and run before he had to leave for work at 7:30.  I also knew I would run on Mondays with Millie and then once on the weekend.  4 days to get me going again. 

I hit the ground running (ba-bump ching!)  It took me a long time to work up to running 4 miles without stopping, and then 5.  Once I hit that five mile mark I knew I was back to it.  Running once again became my salvation.  Slowly but surely those last 5-7 pounds that I tried desperately to lose went away.  That was great but honestly the way I felt emotionally was far more important to me.  I never felt the dread of "oh man tomorrow is a running day" but rather have felt "yes! I get to run tomorrow".  I wake up at 6, get dressed, put on my music and step out into the dark morning. It's meditative to me and it has been so healing. I often found myself running as the sun was rising and thinking how wonderful my life was and how happy I was.  It's funny what those little things we call "endorphins" do. 

I feel like myself again.  Or at least some version of myself that I recognize.  Rather than dreading my long weekend runs I got giddy with excitement.  It as all felt so great.  Running is my time.  It is time to myself, which as a working mom and wife I have found lacking.  I've also found that I sleep better, I am less stressed and I have less headaches.  Seriously people it's a cure-all.  There was a week during my training where I had a hurt achilles tendon and couldn't run. I felt awful. Running has become my drug of choice.

Seth has been immensely supportive through the whole process and sadly I wasn't always supportive toward him and his marathon training earlier this year.  He's been great to get up with Millie on the days I was running.  He has been great to drive me to the top of Millcreek Canyon early on Sunday morning and let me run home. I'm lucky.

I ran the 1/2 marathon on Saturday and it was amazing.  I actually cried as soon as I crossed the starting line. I was so happy to have made it there again. I was happy to be back in shape and to feel emotionally happy.  I actually found myself grinning ear to ear though pretty much the entire run. I ran faster than I expected.  

I was so excited that one of my dearest friends Laurie was in town from New York and asked if I wanted her to run the last 4 miles with me. I needed her encouragement and she helped keep me going those last couple hard miles.  After running 9 miles downhill, those flat last miles were brutal.  She pushed me through. 

I finished and had a time better than I expected.  It wasn't a marathon, it was only a 1/2 marathon but it took me a long time to get there. I was so happy to accomplish that.  I am so happy.  It feels good to be back.

So about that whole "I'll never run a marathon" thing... well I'm considering going for it again.

Go figure.