Winter is the season of slowing down. Where I live in Michigan, winter means loads of snow, which means driving more slowly unless you want to end up in the ditch or worse.
My winter running is rarely ever synonymous with speed. As a runner firmly embedded in the back of the middle of the pack, when I pull on my Sauconys and spikes from November through March, it is simply to maintain a smattering of fitness and keep from losing my mind. I won’t pretend that winter is my favorite season in which to run, because it’s not, but the hardest part is usually just getting out the door in the appropriate attire. Once I’m out, I’m good. Okay, maybe it takes a few blocks to convince myself that it’s a good idea. But just like any other time of year, I rarely regret a run once it’s done.
To give you an idea of where I’m at, I can’t remember the last day I ran this week. I think it was a Tuesday. I’m typing this on a Saturday, so you can understand that I'm a little twitchy. But the weather has been just lousy enough and my bad leg has felt just hurt-y enough that I’ve given into The R Word (Rest), with additional justification that there is so. much. to do. for the upcoming holiday (you know which one) that it feels like every minute matters. My stats look like this:
- Number of presents wrapped: 0
- Number of Holiday decorations put up: 1 sad excuse (Olaf the Snowman) drying on the kitchen table after I had to run him through the wash after one of the dogs Let It Go on his face.
- Number of “Breakfast with Santa” missed: 1. Yes, total parent #fail on my behalf
- Number of donuts I bought at the bakery in an attempt to make up for it to my daughter: 2 (and a breakfast pastry)
- Number of cookies baked: Okay - I’m actually doing great in this department, only because I am all about eating my feelings. They taste like sugar cookies and russian tea cakes, if you were wondering.
I don’t know why I’m struggling so hard this season. Maybe it’s because I’ve been staying up too late trying to catch up on past seasons of Game of Thrones, or chasing around my one year old who’s now walking, or more accurately, vaulting herself into seemingly every sharp surface in our house. Or maybe it’s just the general malaise I usually experience during the early winter.
While not completely dark, it’s a time when emotions get stirred and bubble up when I’m least expecting it. Our new normal, which isn’t really so new anymore, is a holiday season without my mother in law, who passed away in 2010. Something will prompt a memory: a little statue or picture of a chicken (she loved them) or remembering that she would have been 76 years old this Dec 24th (a Christmas baby!) or that she would have had so much fun with the two youngest grandchildren and new great-grandson she never met.
Last Thursday during a meeting at the university where I work, we had a special presentation by a local Life Coach. She talked about winter. About slowing down. Getting back in the driver’s seat of our lives and taking control, but not in the way that I would have expected. Instead of trying to do more – master multitasking, using technology to improve our lives – which is my usual M.O., she talked about stepping away from the devices. Unplugging to recharge. Taking time to “build a snowman” with our kids, even if it means not getting something else done.
It was one of those moments when I had to furiously scribble down notes just because I desperately didn’t want those nuggets to disappear into that place in my brain where it seems all the important things go to die. I’m the one who’s trying to squeeze every minute out of the day, only to end up completely frustrated that the Really Important Thing I set out to do isn’t done.
I am never the one who stops to build a snowman.
I want to get on board with this. Really. I want to stop with all the rushing. Spending so much time being “busy” that I don’t actually get anything done. Take Christmas: I want to stop being overwhelmed when I think of the myriad things that need to be done before Wednesday - maybe even say no to a few things. Know that my kids would rather have me sitting with them just being present than if I find that perfect Christmas craft idea on Pinterest.
Which leads me to think, since this is a running web site after all, how can I apply this to my running?
When I started this #AMRinSaucony project almost a year ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sarah and Dimity were so great about everything. They left it entirely open. They didn’t force me in any direction or toward any particular goal. I tried to make my strong-finding journey as organic as possible. I signed up for the things that I wanted - things that seemed reasonable and felt right. I had one rule: I wanted everything to be fun. I didn't want to get too hung up on paces or PRs. Guys, I had so much fun. Really. Even when things didn’t go exactly like I wanted *cough* DNF *cough*.
As much as I don’t want this project to end, I knew this day was coming. I know it’s time to start thinking to 2016 and beyond.
So where do I go from here? This is the eternal question, I think. Here’s what I know. I want my running to be more than a pace or a stack of medals or drawer full of t-shirts. And while those are all things that are a part of what I do and sometimes why I do it, I know that I run because of one simple thing: I love it. Running brings joy to my life and a smile to my face. The adrenaline rush fills my cup and makes me more appreciative of the life I have and who’s in it. Because in the end, I am a runner but more importantly, I am a mother. I want my running to help me be the mom I need to be – and want to be – for my family.
My kids know that Mommy runs, but in the end, they don’t care if I ever run another race, or whether I nailed that tempo run or finished that ultra. What my kids remember is the time I spend with them or if I’m constantly telling them I’m too busy because the house is a mess or I need to get dinner on the table. I want my kids to look back on these years and remember the times I did stop and build that snowman in the front yard. I will be easier on myself, and accept that it’s okay to take a break. Rest. Resting is okay. Slowing down is okay (and even good for me). I will just try to do my best to not rest directly at the table with all the Christmas cookies.
I want to thank you all for everything this year. I had the opportunity to meet so many cool people and make so many new friends. Thank you for the comments, the emails, the social media messages, and the meetups! Many thanks to Saucony; they made me feel like a running rockstar with the sweet gear. Team AMR, it was my honor and a privilege to spill my guts here every month; Dimity and Sarah, writing for you was a #lifegoal. Truly. I can’t imagine my life without this tribe.
I don’t really want this to be goodbye, so I won’t say it. Thank you for sharing this leg of my journey. Let’s keep finding our strong together!