Almost two weeks ago I did a recap of my post baby return to the marathon. In it, I mentioned that in the last few miles my legs were absolutely exhausted. The downhill portions of the race got to me and my quads were screaming (Now I totally get why you Boston runners have achy legs!). But I was on par for a huge PR and a guaranteed Boston qualification. Both of these were things I had secretly (and not so secretly) been hoping to conquer. During those last few miles I started to dig deep and think about things.
I started thinking about my little girl Mary. Since she was born, I have wanted her to be a happy and healthy little lady. I want her to be confident in herself and her abilities. I want her to know that she can do and be anything her little heart desires.
I want her to see me run and know that mom doesn’t do that to fit into skinny jeans. I want her to see me eat a salad and know that I do that because vegetables are delicious and I want to make sure I get my daily nutrients. I want her to see me eat a cookie and savor every single delicious bite right alongside me.
As I struggled during that race I started thinking about how I want to show Mary that moms and women can do anything they set their minds to. In that moment, I knew I wouldn’t quit. And when I turned the corner to head into the final stretch of the race I was hit with the surprise of my wonderful friends and my baby girl cheering me on for the finish.
She might not know what was going on. But someday she will see pictures. She will know that mom worked her tail off. Mom trained and found the time to take care of her, our family, and get those runs in. She will know that dad was out there too and worked just as hard, and together they completed a major goal as a family. We were exhausted, which is a major trend in our family these days. Our legs were tired. But mommy didn’t quit.
When she was a few months old and hanging out in her swing, she used to smile and watch me lift weights. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was working to get back to my pre-pregnancy shape. But beyond that, I love exercise. I love how it makes me feel and I love lifting weights and feeling strong. I love my muscles. To be quite honest, I loved that my little girl can see me working out and know that I enjoy this and exercise and sports are a fun part of life. Girls can and do lift weights. Girls can rock muscles!
Last weekend, I coached a half marathon. At one point, I ran in towards the finish with an awesome girl who was not only doing her first half marathon but apparently was doing her first race ever. She expressed some disappointment in her finish time and we needed to put some things into perspective. First of all, doing a half as your first ever race is ambitious, to say the least. Doing a half marathon is always an awesome accomplishment. Deciding to run in the first place, and putting one foot in front of the other is a major achievement. Second, she had a baby just eight months ago. That puts her in the Bad Ass Mother Runner category. Talk about upping the ante!
As she struggled in those last miles (as well all do and it is totally normal!) we talked about how amazing this feat was for her. Then I told her, she is an incredible mom and these last few steps are all about showing that little boy of hers that, “Mommy doesn’t quit.”
If you know anything about me, I don’t get emotional very often. It takes a lot to get me teared up. But let me tell you, I had tears running down my cheeks as I said that and I was totally choked up. Then right there as we chatted about this, we passed by the cutest little fuzzy headed boy as he cheered his mom on. The image of that little boy watching as his mom finished her half has stuck in my head all week.
Running is never easy. Even as we get stronger, running will find times to make everything feel difficult. It always owns you and will make you question your ability. And as I mentioned to my friend on the course, running an endurance race is a roller coaster of emotions. You have moments of great highs, followed by moments of tremendous lows. The only way to get past the hard parts is to learn to treat yourself well and be your own best friend.
Whether you are a mom, a dad, or a struggling runner, I hope you can find that inspiration to keep going. And for all my Bad Ass Mother Runners out there….Mommy doesn’t quit!