#10: Doucument the Journey

At long last, almost three months after starting, I’ve come to my final 2012 resolution. Clearly, I could be doing a better job documenting the journey!

I started this blog for my daughters.  I hope to have some record of the thoughts and philosophies that bounce around in my head.  I want them to understand the connection between me as an individual (i.e. runner) and me as a mother.  And I want them to see how vitally interconnected these two personas are.

I could not be the runner I am today without first being a mother.  Motherhood has given me strength, grit, and endurance that I utterly lacked.  Since becoming a mom, I’ve stopped expecting much in the way of physical comfort (try saying ‘no’ to three little munchkins that all want to sit on the same lap at the same time!).  I’ve stopped expecting solid, long periods of sleep.  I do not rest.  I clean the same messes and wipe away the same tears – hour after hour, day after day.  I am a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, a guardian, a disciplinarian, a spoiler, a chef, a recycler, a housemaid, a laundress, and the biggest cheerleader these girls will ever have.

But I could not be a good mom without my running.  It’s in those runs that I find my rest.  In the miles and the footfalls, I find my peace.  It is in the hills and across the streams that I find my soul.  I return to the chaos ready, and thrilled, to tackle the day

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I am really, really bad about taking pictures.  Even worse about organizing them.  The girls’ baby books gather dust, incomplete.  But when I open the images saved on the computer and scroll through the last six years, I see how far we’ve come.  This little, srawny infant:

is now in kindergarten.

This heartbreakingly young couple:

have 15 years under their belts, have built a home, a business, and family of five.

It’s in this reflection that I can see what we have done.

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I must admit I am a bit down today.  Last weekend’s race, which I scrapped in deference to my aching achilles, still chafes a bit.  I wanted to be there, on the trails, having fun.  Instead I sat on the sidelines.  Promised Land, a gorgeous 50K, is coming up next month.  I know I can’t run it.  Aside from my aches and pains, there are several family obligations that take precedence.  But it still rankles me to think about missing the fun.

But there is a blessing in these missed opportunities. The chance to rebuild, to make myself stronger.  I’ll take a deep breath, and know that there will be other races, other adventures.

And if I keep my resolution to document the journey, through words and pictures, maybe I can look back at the trail this time next year and see how far we have come.

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#9: Stretch it Out

I’ve struggled writing this post for several weeks now.  When I made my resolutions in January, I intended this one to be literal:  “Annie needs to stretch more”.  Duh.  It’s no secret that I’ve been off form since December, struggling with a right hip and glute that need much more than I’ve been willing to give them.  I  resolved to give stretching the attention it deserved…

This is what I should be doing....

…so I could heal and get back to running hard and fast – where the endorphins kick in and I feel like I can handle anything.

So I can feel like this...

I started Physical Therapy, and while my right side is finally feeling better, my left knee and (more seriously) my left Achilles have started to complain.  My core is stronger, but now my back grumbles when I spend too much time carrying SweetBabyJ.  At 36, I wonder:  Are the wheels coming off…am I a totally washed up train wreck?

Of course with motherhood – my alternate identity – the wheels come off daily!  The girls lolly gag in the morning, and I lose my temper.  BabyJ draws all over her face 5 minutes before school, and I lose it again.  I spend an hour fixing a balanced, healthy, organic, veggie-rich dinner and am told “This is disgusting!”, so I pour myself a sippy-cup…

Whine = Wine. Now.

But in motherhood, I rebound.  Again and again.  Because I have to.  Being a mom is not a 5K.  It’s not a 10K or even a marathon.  Motherhood is 15 hours of running.  Each day, every day.  And when your temper frays or your heart hurts, you just keep going.  One foot in front of the other.  Relentless Forward Progress.

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When someone asks me who my idols are in the running community, its not the Usual Suspects.  I think it is awesome that Kara Goucher landed a place on the US Olympic Team after having a baby, but I could never BE her.

I look to the women who are 40,  50, and even 60+ that are ultra runners and triathletes.  They have not slowed or surrendered to the expectations of time.  They have balanced the demands of family with the demands of training and they are out there showing us all that IT CAN BE DONE.  I am proud to run alongside them (or, in many cases, behind them) and I hope and pray that I can be on the trails for the next 36 years (I’ll be the baddest 72 year old granny, for sure!!)

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 So, my resolution is no longer just about Stretching.  Stretch it Out is about longevity.  About making this last as long as I can.  To keep this resolution, I’ve had to do some things that are not easy or comfortable.  For starters, I dropped out of a race this weekend.  A beautifully organized trail marathon that I ached to run.  But I knew, deep down, that my achilles couldn’t handle it.  So I prioritized the future over the present.

Which is why I became a mom in the first place.