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Happy AMRiversary: Tales from Another Mother Runner

Today, we are seven.

Well, maybe not today exactly but in March 2010, our big yellow book baby, Run Like a Mother, was launched into the world. While there was a lot of sweat and a few tears, we've never been happier about the journey this book launched. Just like with our human babies but with slightly less pushing.

We'll be celebrating all week with contests on social media (you follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, yes?) and a trip (or two or three) down memory lane. If you're looking to pick up a signed! copy (or two or three) of our books, you can get a great deal on 'em here. Each book is a mere $10. You can pick up all three for $25. Now's the time to fill out your collection -- or make sure all your BRFs are part of the Tribe. 

Speaking of books....

In 2015, the bright blue Tales from Another Mother Runner was born. This time around, the focus was on the BAMR Tribe! There were stories from Dimity and Sarah -- and from mother runners like Nicole Blades, Kristin Armstrong, Tish Hamilton, Alison Overholt, and many, many more. There are also stories from all of you, including what it feels like to run a 5K in the nude, have misadventures with tampons and poop, and cross the finish line DFL.

There is also this little nugget from Adrienne Martini.

Recipe for Running Ten Miles

Here is how you run ten miles:

Wake up on the first day of spring, roll into your running gear, and wander downstairs for a snack before setting out.

Notice that the outside temperature is 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Blink a few times, then dash back upstairs to swap out the kicky capris you’re wearing for lined tights and a fleece jacket. Ponder mittens but decide you don’t want to carry them for most of the run, because you know you’ll want to claw them off of your hands ten minutes in.

Lace up shoes and head outside. Feel the moisture in your skull freeze. Sigh heavily for a second or two. Shake un-mittened fist at the low, grey sky. Then go.

Spend first mile remembering the mantra, “Never judge a run by the first mile.” Because this first mile, like so many previous first miles, bites the big weenie. You think about a nice warm cup of coffee and a bowl of steel-cut oats drowning in maple syrup and butter. You obsesses about the weird little ache in your right IT band and how it has to be the sign of something awful. And you know that this running thing is a stupid way to start a morning when it is 14 degrees outside and you are old and fat and slow.

But mostly you think that oatmeal.

Around mile three you experience what you’ve been calling “the Dumbledore effect,” after the scenes in both the Harry Potter movies and books, where the wizard gathers up his memories with the tip of his wand and puts them in the pensive, which is the stone birdbath-like dish where thoughts can be sorted and stored for later viewing. Running is your pensieve, the place where you can put all of those mental cotton candy wisps so that you can look at all of them objectively.

You Dumbledore your way through miles four and five, too, sifting through various kid crises like your tween daughter’s poor organization skills and your 8-year old boy’s addiction to video games. You wonder about your career, if you’ll ever sell another book proposal or write anything worth keeping. You decide that leaving the mittens at home was the right call while you unzip your jacket just a smidge because you are overly toasty. The 14 degree air feels delightful now.

You also worry about your aging parents, how far away each lives, and wish that you had a sibling who could take some of the load. You make a note to put gas in the car and, maybe, while you’re out, get some ice cream. Or, maybe, those iced cookies you like from Panera.

You let a lot of it go because there’s nothing concrete to be done about any of it, and it’s hard to maintain that much angst when your legs have found a rhythm.

You pull out a GU from an outside pocket in your fleece jacket just before mile five and discover the cold has morphed its consistency to that of toothpaste. It’s also your least favorite flavor: peanut butter. Slurp it down anyway because you could use the jolt. You move your emergency GU--the one you carry but don’t think you’ll need--into an inside pocket to warm it up a little, just in case.

Then it hits you that having a “least favorite Gu” means that you are a real runner.

After mile five, you turn around, cross the street, and head back the way you came. You love to run an out-an-back because you can convince yourself that it’s not a ten mile run, but, rather, a five mile run that you do twice because you have to get home somehow. You’ve chosen this particular route carefully. The “out” is uphill, which makes you strong even while it ticks you off, especially the near vertical incline at mile four that makes you want to vomit three-quarters of the way up. The “back” is blissfully downhill, which feels like flying when your legs are tired and always leads to negative splits. Negative splits - both knowing the term and achieving that state -- makes you feel like a badass.

Because you live in a town where there are a surprising number of runners, you play the waving game, where you wave at every passing runner, just to see who waves back. Women always do. So do men about your age. Young men never do, for reasons you can only speculate about. It’s hard to be young and male. Young men are told that all that matters is being faster or stronger or richer than the guy next to you, which makes it so hard to focus on anything else like that, say, slow, old lady who is waving at you.

It’s hard to be young and female, too, but for different reasons, like never feeling like you’re pretty enough or kind enough or determined enough to be worthy of love. You wouldn’t go back, even though you do miss your 25-year old hips and knees.

You could be wrong about all of that, too. You’ve been wrong about a lot, frankly.

For instance, take how thought you would never, ever be a runner. Through miles seven and eight, you remember how freaking hard it was to just get through one mile only a couple of years ago, when you were driven to run when a friend’s snapshot showed you just how much weight you’d gained in your late 30s. Five minutes of running was about all you could stand before you had to slow to a walk--and how only 30 minutes of alternating those two forms of motion would leave you wrung-out and breathless.

And, now, here you are, out on runs that span hours. Which doesn’t mean it is easy. The size of the challenge is still just as enormous; the specifics of the challenge have mutated. You no longer worry if you can just keep your legs moving for a mile. Now the worries are about seeing how far you can go. Then, once you get a half-marathon under your belt, which is why you’re out here in sub-freezing weather on the first day of spring running ten miles in the first place, you plan to see how fast you can go.

There’s always something else to reach for, with running and so many parts of life. It’s never easy and the only answer seems to be persistence. Which is a lot of thinky thoughts, you think, for such a simple run.

Your Garmin bleeps to let you know you’ve started mile nine, which you convert in your head to a simple phrase: one mile. You try to forget the other nine you’ve just done and how nice it would be to just sit for a second. Those previous miles are in the past. Right now, you only have to run one mile. Just one.

You learned this during childbirth, this trick of forgetting the past contractions so that you can focus only on what’s happening right now. It didn’t work terribly well in the teeth of labor; it seems to work on the long runs, as long as you don’t think about too much.

Which is fairly easy by this last mile. Only two thoughts occupy your brain: This is how horses feel when they can see the barn and, man, you really need to pee after being out in the cold for nearly two hours.

Then you are home. You grab a chocolate milk on your way upstairs--climbing the stairs feels alien after so long running and your legs are confused--and bond with your foam roller before luxuriating in a nice, long shower.

Or that’s the plan. What really happens is you roll out your quads while grousing at the children to do their dang chores and rush through your shower because you forgot that the oldest one needed to be at the mall selling Girl Scout Cookies about ten minutes ago.

For a brief moment, you wish you could put your running shoes back on and head out again. Your rubbery legs and actively whining right IT band make it clear that’s a bad idea. Instead, you grab your car keys and go.

4 responses to “Happy AMRiversary: Tales from Another Mother Runner

  1. Adrienne, you write so beautifully. I even heard your voice in my head as I read this. I haven’t managed to run 10 miles yet but I think I will someday soon.

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