Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Keep On Running

"As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are." 
- Joan Benoit Samuelson

I have been running in some way, shape or form since I was 10.  I didn't catch the marathon bug until after my kids were born.  Boston had always been on my bucket list so I ran the Baystate marathon in Lowell (great race) to qualify and then the next year I checked Boston off the list.  That was back in 2007.  Fun fact...when I ran my first marathon, I was the co-owner of small women's accessories company called Laurie Weber.  We designed belts and handbags that were carried in hundreds of retail stores across the country.  It was the hardest I'd worked.  Ever.  I ran on the side, as a stress reliever, often with my partner-in-crime/best friend who owned the company with me.  Then I had a second kid, she got married and had her first of three and, in a nutshell, life got a bit too complicated for trade shows and road trips.  So, we closed our doors and moved on.  But the running never stopped.  When my girls were little, particularly my younger one who claims she's never getting married and wants to live with me forever (no joke), they would cry and hold on to my legs if I told them I was headed out for a run.  The melt down would be twice as fun if I was leaving them with a sitter versus their dad or a family member.  Oh man, the guilt.  It was heavy and hard to shake.  And yet I kept running and racing because I was hooked and once I got over the guilt of ditching my kids, it made me feel like supermom which benefitted all of us.  As the girls got older, they started to understand or, more realistically, accept that mom needed to run.  For the first few marathons and even for some of the shorter races, they would come and watch.  Unless there was face painting or a petting zoo at the end of the race (thank you Greenstride), they would likely be cold and/or painfully bored by the end, usually chomping at the bit to go home.  Fast forward seven years, seven marathons, a handful of halves, and more 5Ks than I can count.  My girls are 8 and 6.  They have their own agenda.  They both play soccer on the week-ends and their social lives are busier than mine.  My husband and I have to divide and conquer and rarely do they come to my races simply because we can't make it work.  It's okay.  I still do it and they, my husband included, all seem to "get it".  Case in point, my older daughter recently did a cartwheel and landed on my foot, stood up and gasped as she asked if I was okay.  "Yep, totally fine", I told her.  "Thank goodness", she said.  "I would NOT want to be the one who kept mom from running.  That would be really bad."  We both laughed.  Today I am a high school girls running coach.  I am a relatively competitive runner myself.  I blog about running.  I am an ambassador for Oiselle, a women's running apparel company.  Running is at the epicenter of all that I do.  And there is not a day that goes by where I don't think about how lucky I am that this is the case.  Over the years, I have wondered how my running and running-related activities will impact my children in the long run.  I have struggled with the balance of running and family and have made every effort to keep them in check, which is not easy. Now, if my kids are bummed that I'm leaving for a race, they basically give it to me straight.  And if they're okay with it, they give me a hug and wish me good luck.  We're figuring it out together as we go.  This past week-end, I raced in a local 5K.  It was a disappointing performance for me, but there was no time to dwell on it.  That same day, my older daughter had played like a rock star in her soccer game. She was thrilled.  The focus was all on her that day -  as it should have been.  But here's the kicker.  The next morning, I sat down at my desk and found the following note on my keyboard from my 6 year old:

Translation: i love you mom (keep on running)
I smiled.  Okay, fine, I might have gotten a little teary.  But, I was also floored.  Somehow she knew.  We didn't talk about it, but she had sensed that I was bummed after my race.  And she also knows how important running is to me.  To have your six year old encourage you to stick with something you love...there's nothing better.  Turns out my running is having a positive impact on them in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

Listen to this:
Thunder Clatter - Wild Cub