ANOTHER
MOTHER RUNNER

The One Where Sarah Trains Like a Mother

Spoiler alert: soggy SBS and Phoebe

The idea didn’t come to me until five minutes before I headed out the door to meet Megan: If we hustled through our miles, I could make it to part of Phoebe’s basketball game. It was my older daughter’s final game of the season, and I’d already missed several games because I like to do my long training runs for the Boston Marathon on Saturdays instead of Sundays. (If I’m in town for the weekend, I like to get the run done, rather than feeling antsy about it.)

The plan was for me to run three miles, then meet Megan for a 10-mile loop “around” the Willamette River before retracing my steps home for a total of 16 miles. But as I set my Garmin 110 outside to get a satellite signal, I realized I could detour to the school where the Purple Pythons would be playing. I dashed off a note to Jack, “Bring something warm for me to wear; I might meet you at the game,” and set off.

Enthusiasm for my just-hatched plan and for meeting Megan had me running too fast from the get-go, and when I met up with my gal-pal met up, we were no better. As every mile average-pace popped up, reading about 45 seconds faster than my usual long run pace, I tried to rein us in, but to no avail. Conversation flowed as easily as the miles, shifting from Megan’s debate about homeschooling her kids to her book group that meets weekly to discuss Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream to me telling her about my brother’s happy-tear-inducing rehearsal dinner in December. As we neared the end of our miles together, I told her my scheme. In addition to being concerned about making it in time to see any of the action, I also fretted about the distance. We quickly nixed the idea of her driving me to the game: It would allow me to see almost all of the game, but it would mean I’d only cover 13 miles. Next up:

Me: “But what happens if I get to the venue, and I’ve only covered, like, 15 miles?”

Megan: “You have to ask yourself: Will you be okay with that, mentally?”

Ah, Megan, you know me so well: I wasn’t asking her if, in the grand scheme of marathon training, 15 miles was the physical equivalent of 16. No, indeed, I was asking her if I’d feel like I’d copped out of going the full distance. Yeah, she had my obsessed-with-numbers mind down pat.

Me sitting behind half of Phoebe's squad, trying not to stink too badly.

I decided I could cross that mental-bridge when I got to it. A quick hug, and I was off. Once again I ran too fast, sling-shotted by Megan’s encouragement and a sudden, almost overwhelming desire to see Phoebe play. I forged my way from the river through the Rose Quarter area, crossing against lights and cutting through parking lots to save time. I was a mama on a mission: get to the game. I spied the school, and made a final dash, only slowing down as I slipped in the gym door.

It was half-time; the teams were tied 14-14. I glanced at my Garmin: 15.41 miles. The un-covered .59 mile was forgotten as soon as the purple-clad gals headed out onto the court. The second half was a thrilling nail-biter, with Phoebe scoring the winning basket. I couldn’t have planned it any better.

39 responses to “The One Where Sarah Trains Like a Mother

  1. This is my new favorite post on this blog! Such a great message and a great lesson, I can only imagine how special is was to your daughter as well. Good job Mama!

  2. This just made my day. Thank you for making the craziness that is mothering seem like it’s the most important thing in the entire universe (because it is) and the things we moms go through to make it look easy (because it’s not). <3

  3. Your writing conveys how I feel. So great that you were able to see her winning basket. I am a numbers freak too. I have been known to run around a parking lot until my Garmin flips to the desired number!

    All of Bryce’s soccer games are at 8 so it is tough to get the miles in before then. I know he is 4, but I still want to see his excitement when he scores his goals! There is always going to be that balance of figuring out how to fit in all the important stuff.

  4. Found myself cheering for you to get there and for Phoebe’s winning basket!!! That’s what it’s about…real mother marathon training!! I would have paid money to watch you weave through parking lots in the middle of Portland though. Nice job, Sarah!

  5. I will give you that extra .59 miles for effort! So proud – what an example you are setting for Phoebe, John and Daphne!

  6. Love it Sarah! So happy you have such a good balance in something that can sometimes consume us. I bet you made your daughters day. Great job, great mom.

  7. I loved this and so relate to it. During baseball season, I will often run and meet my family at the ballpark on game days. There were days when I was running circles in the parking lot, watching them warm up, not sure I’d get to my mileage goal…when warm-ups were over, I was done, even if I was a tad short. The missed bits never seemed to matter that much. 🙂

  8. What a great post. As another mother runner who is obsessed with the number on the Garmin…and making it match the number on the training plan, I totally get it. And I totally think you made the right call! What a wonderful example of maintaining the balance. We have so many plates, spinning on sticks…balance is the key.

  9. Great piece. Even better? You gave me the solution to forever standing impatiently outside waiting for my Garmin to pick up a signal! Way to RLAM!!!

  10. Been there, done that. What was great for me is that I can mentally picture where you were running, so it was almost a virtual (in my mind, anyway) tour of Portland – we haven’t been back in a LONG time. I need to fix that. I’m as anally-retentive about the numbers as you are. I think in my mind I’d say that since the pace was faster than my normal long run pace, I would justify the shortened distance and call it part long run, part tempo run :). Great piece.

  11. Wow…. Thank you for reminding me…. My training is a wonderful addition to my life…. But not…. My life! Awesome story… Thanks for sharing!

  12. It’s funny… I always do my long runs (which usually max out at 9-12 miles) in my neighborhood or at a local lake. I’ve never thought about how far I could actually get if I ran on the roads like you did. Heck, I could actually run all the way to downtown Savannah if I just headed in the right direction. That’s crazy!! Way to make it all work girl. 😉

  13. LOVE. Totally love so many things about this – carving out our time, keeping eyes on the bigger picture, and that sweet, sweet spot when fate hands you a pat on the back for a job well done. Great stuff! 😀

  14. Last night I was running laps in front of the appointed kid-swap meeting spot, to get to the magic “you’re done” number before taking over mom duties so my husband could go run. I could see them all playing basketball inside and was a little sad I wasn’t with them. Thanks for the reminder that numbers aren’t more valuable than mom-time, even when we’re training for the big race.

  15. Love this post!!! As one who often finds herself running extra loops around cul-de-sacs in my neighborhood just to get in that extra .27 that I need to officially complete a training run, I can totally relate. Sounds like your timing was perfect, though!

  16. Amazing post that all moms can relate to. You’ll be fine without the .59 mile, but being there for her game and to see her score the winning basket is something you wouldn’t have been fine without.

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