All of the foibles and challenges and quirks I thought I had WORKED THROUGH in my 20s, came flying back into my life in different ways when I entered parenthood. I was right back to a codependent, tearful, lonely existence. And it scared the socks off of me. The sleep deprivation alone was enough to bring those bad habits right back to the forefront. But this time, I was not the only one that was going to be impacted by my insane, complex behavior patterns. And I knew that it was time to get better. And that somewhere in my muddled brain were the tools to help me get centered again. Once M was sleeping through the night I asked myself what I missed the most.
The two things that I immediately identified as lacking from my life were reading and running. The first didn't surprise me at all -- I have been a book worm since I was old enough to pick up a book and find a comfy chair. The second, apart from the vanity of GETTING THOSE 60 lbs OFF OF ME, was a surprise. I was NEVER an athlete. EVER.
I was always picked last for every team I was on in elementary school. (Rightly so.)
That girl on the soccer field picking flowers and not paying one iota of attention to the ball or the players or the coaches - that was me.
And the one who had "asthma" and couldn't run the mile in any test - that was me too.
In fact, I managed to be excused so many times from gym my junior year of high school that I had to write a paper on the benefits of exercise.
Oh -- and in high school I made the gym teacher so angry (I was refusing to play tennis because I did not want to sweat on my clothes - that were UNDER my gym clothes for some strange logic only known to my smart-ass 16 year old self), he actually wrote F's across his entire grade book in frustration. (I did not fail, but I sure deserved to!)
That was my life from 1976 until 2003. But when things came to a head in my 20's and I was feeling a complete sense of loss and loneliness, I got a post card from Team in Training about their running program in the mail. And I called my mom, after the intro meeting, and told her I was going to run/walk a half marathon and raise money for cancer.
I think she was quiet for about 2 minutes.
And she said, "If you do a half marathon, we will all come watch and cheer." I don't think she realized what she was committing to, but true to her word, she and my siblings flew to San Diego in June of 2003 to cheer me on as I ran a full marathon. Slowly and painfully, but I ran 26.2 miles with a group of women who were certainly sent from God to help me heal.
And to this day, 24 races later, running has become a piece of that solace I never had before January of 2003. It slows my brain down. It clears my soul from the noise and let's me find the version of myself that makes a good mother, friend, and wife. It brings me closer to my higher power in a way that I never believed possible.
This is what marathon training taught me:
- Realism = Start where you are
- Perspective = Eat the elephant 1 bite at a time
- Gratitude = It takes a Village
- Progress = Track It
- Mindfulness = Be Present
- Perseverance = It’s NOT always easy
- Faith = Believe that you CAN do it
- Celebration = Celebrate the successes
For them, and for me, I will put one foot in front of the other. I won't be first and I won't be last. I'll just keep moving.