Someone recently said to me, “I don’t know how you manage to do all that running and marathon training with three kids," to which I replied, “Yes. It’s heavy carrying three kids when you’re doing hill repeats.”
No, of course I didn’t say that. I lock them all in the hall closet when I go running.
ALSO NOT TRUE.
The truth is, we mother runners have no choice. If we don’t get out and get in a run and some time to ourselves to regroup and recharge, we’d fail at everything else we’d set out to do, including parenting.
So for me, getting up, putting on shoes and running? That is the easy part. It’s everything else in my life that is way more challenging on most days.
Example: one morning this week my daughter came into our room at 3AM; she had a nightmare. Took me a bit to fall back asleep. Then the baby woke up. She’s teething. (She just broke her first top tooth and now likes to play with her new toy by grinding it against her bottom two teeth. It is as charming as it sounds.)
When my alarm went off at 5:00 I pushed it off until 5:30, realizing that if running was going to happen, it needed to happen very soon so that I could make an 8am work meeting. I then argued back and forth with myself, arguing why I should just get up and get ready for work and skip the run.
I must confess: I haven’t been in a great place lately. When it comes to mom stuff, I feel like a failure most days. It’s a perfect storm of having three kids six and under (the eldest is starting to test her boundaries), a busy work life, and oh yeah - marathon training. Free time is at a premium, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel like I’ve had a major fail in at least one thing, and it’s usually the mothering thing.
But this particular morning as I stared at the weather forecast on my phone and debated digging my Sauconys out of the closet, I realized that despite my shortcomings–and I have oh, so many–the one thing I can claim competence at is waking up early and getting my run done before work. (Note: I didn’t say I was good at running, because I don’t want to give a false impression that I am a gifted runner. But showing up? Ticking workouts off a calendar? I can do that.
Maybe that's is my superpower: showing up.
When I started this AMRinSaucony journey back at the beginning of the year to find my strong, I pictured this huge epiphany taking place. Like, one day I’d get back from a run and I’d just know it: I’d found my “strong,” whatever that was. It would be an event! There would be fanfare! There would be confetti and celebration! There would be cake! (OK, I really hoped there would be cake.)
You know, kind of like I pictured celebrating my 40th birthday.
But my birthday (and ah-ha! moment) was nothing like that. It was terribly ordinary. Other than taking a day off from work and running some trails in daylight (without a headlamp!), there wasn’t much special about it. I even spent a few hours washing floors. As one does at this age, I guess?
The older I get (and hopefully wiser), I've realized that finding your strong is more applicable to the ordinary trials of everyday life. It has become more about logging those early weekday morning miles than podiums or PRs. Because sometimes that first thing in the morning endorphin fill-up is the only thing that gets me through my day. Because even though I’m really good at showing up, when it comes to being a mom to my kids, I know it’s more about guiding them through life - i.e., being a parent - not merely sitting on the sidelines as spectators and watching them grow up. Spectating is easy. Parenting? Not so much.
As for turning 40, I did eventually have a proper party with my family this weekend. My husband Scott cooked a delicious dinner–beef stroganoff-which is also what we had for dinner on my 30th birthday, early on in our dating relationship. (Hey, I like what I like!) There were party hats from the dollar store. There was this really delicious triple berry pie that was waiting for me when I came back from a bike ride. (I would go on a bike ride more often if it involved pie rewards.)
Let me propose a birthday toast to all of us mother runners who get it done everyday, without confetti and balloons and touchdown celebrations in the end zone. We may never see a podium in our lifetime, but we find our strong every day.
And here’s to trying on new age groups for races; Twin Cities Marathon, I'm coming for you on Sunday.