I remember so vividly meeting Christy Estep Davis, a mother of toddler boy-girl twins, at the Girlfriends’ Half expo, the second time we had met at a race. She walked up to the table, and she started to cry before she could get out any words. Despite my stern exterior, I cry easily, so my own waterworks started flowing as I immediately went over to embrace her. As you’ll read, Christy had been through the ringer the past few years—but now she’s training for a marathon. ~ SBS
After years of battling unexplained infertility, my husband and I finally decided to try IVF. We couldn’t have felt more happy or blessed than when we found out we were having boy/girl twins. Our little ones made their shining debut into this world 6 weeks early, but after a month in the hospital, we were finally home with no complications.
For years during the fertility treatments, I had felt that my body had not been my own; I was okay with that. My hormones were all over the place. I had put on 30 to 35 pounds before I even got pregnant, then another 45 with my pregnancy. So finally when my twins were three months old, I was more than ready to regain control of my body and feel comfortable in my own skin. That was December, and I signed up for a 5K in March.
I’m not going to sugarcoat how I felt the first time I ran on the treadmill: I thought my vagina was going to collapse and all of my lady-parts were going to fall out. It wasn’t pretty, and I never wanted to do it again. But I did it again…and again…and again. Before I knew it, it was February, and I was changing my race event from 5K to 8K. I was pumped (and I rocked that 8K in 48 minutes, by the way.)
Later that spring, I continued to run shorter races, but didn’t know whether or not I wanted to progress beyond that point. I had two cherub-faced infants to tend to, and life was finally starting to feel somewhat normal. A family member had recommended Run Like a Mother to me after we did a 5K over Memorial weekend, where she quickly run to the booth at the expo eager to meet Sarah Bowen Shea. I got a copy of the book the next week, and I really did plan on reading it…soon…eventually when my kids were not so much work…when I got a vacation…maybe in the bathroom…you know how that goes. (Insert sheepish grin here!)
Then everything changed: My whole world was turned upside down when my husband (who was just about to turn 29) was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in early June of last year. I was terrified, devastated, and beside myself. We had two nine-month-old babies. Bad news never has good timing, but this was horrible. I soon realized I needed to pull my business together. He was set to have at least six months of chemotherapy, followed by radiation. I had to figure out a way to be by his side, take care of my children, and not lose my own mind. So I signed up for my first half-marathon and threw myself into my training.
People thought I was truly crazy. On a regular basis, people asked: “Honey, are you sure this is the best time for that?” The truth is I had never been surer of anything in my life. I read RLAM over a three-day period and clung to every word during the following months. I used the support of the “tribe” on Facebook to whine to, brag to, cry to, and just make me laugh when I really needed it. I became a runner--a hardcore badass mother runner with baby twins and a husband with cancer.
I ran the race last October in 2:05, which I’m super proud of as my first half-marathon time, but anxious now to get it under that darn two-hour mark. I got to meet SBS again, but this time I could hardly talk to her because I couldn’t stop crying. I felt like such a blubbering idiot--I had so much to say, but I was just so overcome with gratitude and emotion. Running had been my saving grace and these women, this community was such a huge part of that journey, and words simply could not express how thankful I was.
I’m a lifer: I am now training to run the Portland Marathon this fall! We live in eastern Oregon, where the weather is harsh and the resources are scarce. I had so many women, especially so many mothers, asking me about running, and I wanted to create a platform of support for women here. So I started a running club in my community, Harney County Mother Runners. We have more than 50 members, are doing group runs every Saturday, and have teams created for three different races already this summer. I am in awe of these ladies. It is hard to try something new, but we women, we kick ass, truly.
My husband is in remission now, and our twins are almost two. We are trying to find our new normal, but a huge part of our family’s routine is making sure mama gets her runs in. When people ask me how long or how far I plan on running, my only response is, “as long and as far as I can.” I plan on pushing my own limitations until there is no push left in me--and bringing along anyone who is willing for the ride.