Growing up I never participated in sports, never.
When I gave birth to my first child I thought about beginning a workout routine to lose the 35lb of baby weight. But, the utter chaos of learning how to be a mom put an end to that crazy talk! Instead, I buckled our son up in the stroller and hit the local park and walked.
When my second baby was born I gained 40 pounds and moved to the middle of nowhere Wyoming. Walking off the weight was no longer an option so, I invested in some workout DVD’s and lost the weight.
Two years later it was time to drop the weight from baby three. My like-minded mom friends and I began to meet up weekly for a mama boot camp…and for the first time ever I ran. It was only for short distances but with experienced athletic girlfriends cheering me on I began to run/walk for longer distances and eventually just ran.
My bestie (TallGirlJ) and I signed up for a 5K, trained together for months, and upon completion I was hooked.
I began to add more and more miles and signed up for longer races to help motivate me to keep pushing.
As I added the miles and had two more children (for a total of 5) finding time to run became harder. But, I began to realize that running for me had become about so much more than losing weight.
It was my time to be by myself and run away from all the things that are constantly pulling at me all day long. It’s my time alone with my thoughts and an opportunity to process what has been going on in my life with no interruptions.
I realized taking a break and running away, allowed me to run back to my life, feeling stronger and ready to take on whatever came my way. As I pondered how to write about running, and how it’s impacted my life, I recalled a few pivotal moments that occurred when running.
Between baby three and four I had two miscarriages in a row. I was feeling scared, weary, angry and hopeless. I distinctly remember parking at a local park, getting out of the car and running as hard as I physically could. I wanted to beat my body up, I wanted to punish it for failing me yet again. With each jarring step on the pavement I let myself think every terrible thought that I had been pushing down for months. As my body begged me to stop I listened, and slowed down to my normal pace…only to realize that as my breathing slowed, I was filled with a sense of calm that had been missing for months.
I became pregnant a month later. As I ran through my first trimester, I visualized pushing my strength into my baby. Encouraging him to thrive and grow strong.
After my daughter was born (baby 5) I was struggling in every way. I couldn’t lose the last 20 pounds and I was overwhelmed in my daily life. As I ran up the hill on my dirt road, I felt every extra pound jiggle and even though I had crested that hill 100’s of times before, all I wanted to do was lay down in the ditch and cry. It took every ounce of my strength to keep moving and the fear I felt led me to realize that I was suffering from postpartum depression. When I got home I walked in the door, into my husband’s arms, began to cry, and asked him for help.
4 months later I completed a 15k race. I was alone when I started it, scared to death and intimidated beyond belief by the thousands of other experienced racers that surrounded me. As I approached the finish line, I heard my name and saw my husband and children cheering me on. The love I felt when my family hugged me at the finish, my husband with tears of pride in his eyes, still makes me cry tears of joy as I write this.
Last year I underwent a preventive mastectomy. As I set out to run for what I knew would be last time for months, I cried. I was afraid, I was full of doubt, and I was exhausted at the thought of what lay ahead of me. Questions and what ifs filled my brain but, as my body kept me moving forward down the sidewalk, I was reminded of my strength. As I climbed into my car I made a promise to myself that if I made it through the next year of surgeries I would train for a half marathon.
It’s coming up in two weeks, and as I struggle to find balance with family and friends and make time to run I am reminded yet again…
Sometimes running away is the best way to learn how to run back.