Not even a warning from a new to the toilet toddler could convince me it was time to stop watching. A fateful Sunday brunch brought us to the perfect spot to witness the incredible spiritual, mental, and physical feat that is displayed by each and every person still running at mile 24, and if my children’s bladders had allowed me, I would have stayed there all day cheering. If I hadn’t been wearing jeans, holding two kid’s hands, and sporting a 18 week baby bump that sends all sorts of pain down all sorts of places when running occurs, or had my sweater pulled back by my husband and children, I probably would have paced a whole bunch of scared strangers through the 2 miles to the finish line over and over and over again.
Three days ago I discussed “never wanting to run a marathon.” I am honestly very happy with my previous experiences with halfs, 10ks, and triathlons (from which I’ve retired due to the most clumsy bike crash Southern Florida has ever witnessed). But, yesterday’s site of the very obvious perseverance, fortitude, and myriad of human virtues exuding from the runner’s I witnessed, strongly called my bluff, and back on the bucket list running a full marathon went. So in a few years, or decades, if my body allows, I will be the girl eating a burger at mile 20.
Running has made me a better mom. It’s something I crave, look forward to, anticipate. It clears my head. It pushes my body. It gives me the opportunity to practice virtues. It’s the best silent prayer I make. It reminds me of what I’m capable of, who I am, who God is, what I’m grateful for. It makes me less crazy. It relieves stress, and instead of pounding a wall, I pound the road. And I can’t wait to get back at it 6 weeks post delivery.
And other mom’s who run fascinate and inspire me. Like my sister, mother of 6 boys, who ran at a highly impressive speed for each and every one of her 13.1 miles, mom or not. Crossing the finish at 1 hour and 41 minutes earned her the title fastest mom in the family and probably a lot faster than most others. It was a hobby she picked up after having her 5th boy. Since then, she tackled injury and physical weakness with mental strength and prayer, lack of training time with creativity and more prayer, goals are accomplished with will power and the pursuit of being better, and so much prayer. I think sometimes she might wish her treadmill actually created distance between her and her responsibilities, and her long runs might set a Hail Mary record. And how she does it, I will never know.
To celebrate yesterday, and all of its runners, I bring to you an interview with one of my favorite mom’s. Yesterday she ran her 2nd half marathon in a personal record. Her answers offer insight, reflection, and inspiration not just to run, but to set goals and reach them with grace and a super huge smile.
Meet Natalie: mother of three, wife to Bill, phenomenal friend to me. She answered these questions post half marathon #1. Due to a pregnant stupor, I failed to dedicate a post of which she was very deserving. Since then, she crossed a second finish line in record time with another huge smile. Cheers to Natalie!!!
Can you explain what it was like to commit to training for such a huge physical endeavor while being a mom to 3 toddlers?
Commit. That is the answer. I committed. I signed up, paid the fees, bought the plane ticket. I committed to a training schedule and stuck to it. It actually wasn’t as time-consuming as I thought it would be. The schedule I followed had me training 3 days a week. Tuesday and Thursday were always 30 minute runs and on Saturdays I would increase my mileage. Sure, there were days I didn’t want to run, but I would get out there and do it. Luckily my husband also likes to be my coach and would get me off the couch and running in no time. The support of my husband was huge. If he didn’t support my commitment to this goal, I would have never been able to accomplish it. Having a good support system was key for me to prepare. Friends were a huge support for me and I can’t even tell you how much words of encouragement, running advice, and simply interest in how my training was going helped.
What was the low point? How did you overcome it?
To be honest my low point was being annoyed with myself for not sending in my times from my 10K to get a better corral number. I was in the second to last corral and found it difficult to get past the walkers. I was so frustrated that I had spent so much time training and was feeling like I couldn’t compete to my abilities and as a result was not going to meet my time goal. I was already feeling defeated and grumpy at mile 4, but after seeing my awesome sisters cheering for me, I simply decided to change my mental state and have fun with the experience. They were having fun so I should too! I decided at that moment that my goal was to finish my first half marathon …after all the Pittsburgh half marathon was just around the corner and I could work on new goals for that one!
Do you think the experience will help you be a better mom in any ways?
I believe that this journey has gotten me to a better place to physically care for my children. It was way of reclaiming my body, getting healthy, and having energy. It has also offered a mental release to relieve the stress of parenting so many small children. Every time I finish a run, whether short or long, I feel refreshed and ready to be present to my children again. In addition to being a better mom, I am able to be a better wife. Seriously, sometimes bill will get home on a day when I am not having the greatest of days and he gets the brunt of my frustrations. He’s so awesome that instead of getting angry back, he will just order me to go for a run. Coach Bill to the rescue! So at the end of the day, I run to be a more loving wife and mother. Oh shoot I better stop typing. Maria is currently on the counter, putting plastic bracelets in the toaster and sipping my left over coffee from this morning……………………maybe a run would be good right about now….
How did it feel to cross the finish line?
It felt great! I worked really hard to train for this race. And for me this journey towards completing 13.1 miles was more about overcoming a sense of self. I was never a runner growing up. I played sports – basketball, soccer, etc – but was never a runner. After having Maria I was 30 lbs heavier than pre-maria and just felt really awful in general. I decided running was the best way to get exercise and save my sanity (when I started running I had 3 kids ages 2 and under and sanity was usually a fleeting luxury). So this journey towards the half marathon begin 18 months ago when I could barely run 1 minute without huffing and puffing and wanting to quit. To cross the finish line of a half marathon felt like an achievement on a physical level but also on a spiritual level. There were so many times during training I had to fight my body and convince myself not to quit. I found myself repeating my mantra, “the flesh is weak but the spirit is strong”. Often during the long runs when I wanted to quit, I would contemplate the stations of the cross and really try to journey with Jesus. Now I have to admit that at the Disney princess half marathon I couldn’t quite get into the spiritual journey with princesses distracting me at every corner! And seriously at the end I just wanted to fall over, drink water, eat hummus and bask in the glory of what I just accomplished.
AND A HUGE CHEERS TO ALL OF THE RUNNERS THAT PARTICIPATED IN THE BEST RACE THIS CITY OFFERS.
(if you are a mom, know a mom that would like to share their thoughts on fitness of any sort, get at me via email or blog comment. I’d love to chat, learn from you, or offer a post to you viewed by 7-12 readers.)