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Most Important Mile: Angela Cheeney

Angela and her family—and a wayward dino.
Angela and her family—and a wayward dino.

Another in our series of Most Important Miles to celebrate the fact that we are so grateful for your stories, our collective miles that send strength and love into the world, the community that brings us together, and the simple ability to run. 

A year ago I found myself frazzled, short tempered and frustrated. At the time I don't know if I could have told you where those emotions were coming from. They were just there. I am a stay-at-home mom who also home schools her children. My house is chaotic—chaotic in a good way and yes, I truly love our homeschooling journey. I would not change all of our experiences that we have shared as a family for anything. But to say that life is perfect—kids do their work on time with no complaints; the house is clean; something yummy is wafting from the kitchen; and I calmly manage the house—would be lying. It's messy. Life is messy.

On one particular stressful day, the minute my husband came home I flashed him the I-need-a-break look and he smiled and told me to go for a quiet drive all by myself. I hopped into my car with nowhere to go and started blasting my radio to unwind all my crazy thoughts. Then I started working through my frustrations one by one. Why was I so mad?  I didn't really know. Why did I need to leave? I didn't really know. Then my mind settled on part of a solution: You need alone time, scheduled just for you. That makes sense, I though.

Wait, to do what? I didn't want to schedule things around eating. I wasn't hungry. I didn't want to go spend money. I didn't need anything. What was I going to do in my "me time"?  And then it hit me. I wanted to try running. At the age of 28, running always sounded fun—but never fun enough to actually try it.

After scheduling out some me-time with my husband, who is super supportive, I secretly started my running journey. Let me define secretly: I didn’t tell a soul. I was embarrassed. When you’re 60 pounds overweight, it's hard to say, "I am running in my free time." After the first time I ran— picture an overweight lady in some baggy sweats, her husband’s T-shirt, and some sneakers huffing, moaning, gasping for air, and abruptly stopping the minute her feet crossed that white line for one lap around the track—it was ugly. It was horrible. I cried.

At the end of my cry session in my car, I decided I was going to learn from this and move forward. I promised myself on every "me time," I would run further than I did the day before. Three months later I ran my first 5k, which marked 90 days of consistent running. Race day signified so much. It was the day I let the world know I strap on running shoes in my spare time. It was the day I showed my kids what my "me time" was preparing myself for. It was the day I showed my husband my hard work. When I crossed the finish line in 30 minutes, I was hooked.

I like running but it's hard to explain why. People assume my payoff is the 60 pounds I shed during my journey. Yeah, that’s nice. I love slipping—not stuffing—myself into jeans. But that's not it. It's the feeling I get. It’s the peace my body feels during and afterwards. It's because a loaded fajita tastes so much better after a 10-mile run. It's because my kids see a mom who comes home sweaty and smiling ear to ear. It's because the fat squirrel that just scurried in front of me makes me laugh. It's because it helps me process things, things that have no solution.

My mom, who is also my teammate, my best friend, and my biggest fan, is dying of brain cancer. Every day, I wince when I watch her do something like struggle with putting a spoon in her mouth the right way. It can't be solved. I didn't stumble upon a cure for brain cancer on one of my runs, but every time my feet pounded the dirt trail and sprung forward my, mind raced through my thoughts and I found peace through it. It's a peace I find in every mile—and it’s a peace I carry home and through my chaotic days.

What was (or will be) the most important mile? Share it with us! Best way to submit is to email us your story with a picture: runmother {at} gmail {dot} com with “Most Important Mile” in the subject line. Please try to keep your mile stories under 300 words. Thank you!

2 responses to “Most Important Mile: Angela Cheeney

  1. Great story Angela! Important to find that ‘me’ time, so glad your husband is supportive in your efforts too. This sentence said it perfectly ‘It’s because it helps me process things, things that have no solution.’ That is a large part of what keeps me out there too!

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey Angela. I too. Am a homeschooling mom and can identify with the joys and frustrations there. Blessings and prayers for you and your mother.

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