Big day around AMR, as we've got a new columnist to announce. Ms. Bethany Meyer, a talented writer and runner who introduces herself much better below than I ever could. We are working with Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, and they generously offered us a number for a mother runner in the Boston Marathon. Having run with Bethany at Ragnar and having worked with her on essay in Tales From Another Mother Runner, we knew she was a perfect fit—especially because she and I—Dimity—share the exactly same birthday. (Yeah, Taurus mother runners!) We know you'll agree. Bethany will write one more post in December, and once her training ramps up in January, she'll grace the pages of AMR twice a month. Without further ado...
I open my eyes before my alarm sounds. It is the steady beat of the rain that wakes me. The temperature dropped overnight. I pull the covers over my shoulders and take mental inventory of the day ahead.
Grocery store. Writing deadline. Parent/teacher conference.
What does my training call for today?
A 40-minute hill workout.
I don’t know if I have it in me today. Not in this rain. Not in this cold. Not with this writing deadline. I think about where I can fit the hills into tomorrow’s schedule, and I remember what today is.
Today is the day my girlfriend is having her surgery. My girlfriend who is in her 30s. Who runs like the wind. Mother to three kids under 5 years old.
And I lie in my bed hating cancer.
I grab my phone and text her, “I think this weather is the universe’s way of getting the wet stuff out of the way so that we can run in the sunshine once you’re recovered! Just another step in your journey. Keep looking forward! XOXO”
Shortly after, I lace up my sneakers, determined to beat that hill into the ground. The rain drenches me. I feel it, but I don’t. My hands are instantly wet and cold. I care, but I don’t. The tears fall freely as I drive, while I run, and in the car after I’m finished.
As a Mom of four boys, I don’t get many opportunities to talk about girl power. But it is a force in my life. So strong is its presence I feel like I can almost reach out and touch it. I’m not talking the anything-he-can-do-I-can-do-better variety. At 40 years old, girl power means surrounding myself with a tribe of women who make me a better me. They are my soft place to fall, and I wouldn’t be whole without them. We lift one another up. We laugh. We cry. We worry. We dream. We forgive one another’s shortcomings--even those we find hardest to forgive ourselves. On our rainiest days when we struggle to find the joy, the women in our front row remind us that the sunshine is up ahead. It’s just around the corner.
I met Dimity and Sarah in October 2013, when I competed on Sarah’s Ragnar DC team. They are, in person, exactly the same as they are when you read them. Except taller. Sarah and I became fast friends. We were in the same van, slept side by side on the wet grass of a playground, and bonded over countless jokes that are only funny if you were there.
My friendship with Dimity has been cemented virtually. And over our shared birthday. I was eager to meet both of them in person. But I was just as excited to meet the 22 women who comprised their individual Ragnar DC teams. We had all been members of a private Facebook group leading up to the race. I didn’t know these women in real life, but they were already my friends. We came in all different shapes and sizes. Varying speeds. In a variety of ages. Hailing from all different parts of the country. Some worked outside the home, others didn’t. All Moms. The only thing fuller than our hearts were our calendars. One weekend last fall when the stars aligned, twenty four Moms relegated our duties and got together to run. We were up for an adventure. And we brought the joy.
Ragnar was--and remains--one of my all-time favorite running experiences.
Every one of those women from Ragnar is still in my life. The Facebook group is stronger than ever. We go there for advice. To vent. To encourage and to seek encouragement. To share the tiniest of victories. To wish one or more of us good luck on a big race day. To receive a virtual kiss on our recently skinned knees. Girl power and joy are alive and well within our group.
One of my favorite vanmates from Ragnar is Terri. Quirky, funny, and compassionate. She has a decade of life, experience, and heartbreak on me. She is sunshine in abundance. Terri ran the NYC Marathon earlier this month. Before her race, Terri’s husband e-mailed me, asking for a short message that she could carry with her and read when she needed inspiration. I wrote something I knew would make her smile. And, just like that, her race was my race. On race day, she wore a shirt with the five boroughs listed on the back, with check marks next to each borough. She ran with a Sharpie and asked spectators to check off the box representing each borough as she completed it. And, just like that, her race was their race. She made all of us part of her experience. Terri's special gift is bringing the joy.
I am grateful my girlfriend’s surgery went well. I am fortunate for the race that brought Terri into my life. I am blessed to have grown my friendships with the women I met through Ragnar DC. I’m lucky to be part of this bigger community, Another Mother Runner, born from a series of emails between two writers for Runner's World. Two women I now call friends.
Which ranks up there as pretty much the coolest thing ever.
As I prepare to start my training, I think about what this community has meant to me during these past few years. These years when my children are young. These years that are overwhelmingly about everyone but me. These years when this virtual community--just like my closest girlfriends--has given me support. Respect. Encouragement. Laughter. Forgiveness. Perspective. When life gets cruel--and it does--I come here for kindness.
How, on April 20th, can I best represent you?
By running with joy.
I will do the training. I will log the miles. I will foam roll, strength train, make smart food choices (read: Stonyfield Organic Yogurt!), rest my body. I will tell you stories that will introduce you to the five people I love most in this world. Stories that may leave you wondering why we don’t have our own reality show.
I ask in return that you help me.
This will be my very first marathon. I’m equal parts exhilarated and frightened.
Please be a part of my experience.
I want so very much to run like my friend Terri. Please help me bring the joy.
Give me advice.
Suggest an upbeat song for my run mix.
Remind me to smile.
High-five me if you see me.
Send injury-free thoughts my way.
Pray to the god of toenails that mine stay on.
Send me a healthy recipe--preferably one that tastes good.
Look the other way if I confess to eating a chocolate chip cookie bar--better yet, eat one with me.
That morning I wake up with a stiff neck from sleeping on the floor next to a child who's been vomiting every hour on the hour? Remind me that the running is the fun part.
Root for me.
Girl power, ladies.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Oh, and my name is Bethany.
I’m pleased to meet you.