And So, We Begin Again
About two months ago, I gave birth to my first baby. She was beet red when she came out, and as she looked up at me with her enormous eyes, she immediately began to wail. A tremendous wave of shocked love washed over me, and my daughter and I shared our first of what I’m sure will be many cry sessions together. A new phase of my life began in that moment, and I couldn’t have felt less prepared.
The last two months have been a whirlwind of change and exhaustion, but the type of whirlwind that moves slowly, like a cyclone on a movie going half speed. Everything takes longer, and while I’m exhausted at the end of every day, it’s not like I’ve really done anything. Sure, I burp, feed, change, and rock, but I no longer commute, email, run to appointments or manage a busy corporate calendar. I’m not writing as much, but reading a lot more. Life is slower and more visceral. My daughter needs me more than anyone ever has, but sometimes I miss being needed less and in ways that feel less menial.
Before my pregnancy, I was running about four times a week. I ran two half-marathons within a few months of each other, each glorious and awful in their own ways. My goal was to eventually run a marathon, and then my life changed. The week after my second half marathon in Vegas, I found out I was pregnant. I stubbornly kept running for a few months, but eventually conceded to my changing body. My boobs hurt, my pelvis hurt, and I knew I couldn’t keep up with it.
My daughter is here now, and while I’m not pregnant anymore, my body is still different. I knew this was coming, but I didn’t listen — I have an annoying habit of not thinking the rules of life apply to me. But, as my sagging boobs and protruding stomach can attest, they do. Despite this, it turns out my legs and lungs still work, and I’ve been running again.
Today, I took my dog out for a jog at around 3 p.m. It’s January, so the sun was starting to descend slowly to the west, and as I plodded along, I reflected on another day gone. A day full of meaning, in the smallest of things. That’s motherhood, I’m learning. But I don’t just want to be a mother, I want to be me. I want to be me! I am a full, complete person, even if I’ve lost that somewhat in the last eight weeks. I will always be a mother, but I have always been me. In the midst of this, my epiphany, I made a decision. I’m going to run a marathon.
My goal is to run the St. George Marathon in October 2022. My baby will be 11 months old at that point, and if I consider today my starting point, I will have been training for about 10. It’s perfect timing. As I train, I’ve decided to turn my Medium page into a place to write about my progress. Running has become one of the more profound things of my day-to-day life, and I’ve often thought that I need a place to write it all down.
So, here we are, day 1. This year is going to be an evolution of my identity as a mother, a runner, and a writer. I am all of those things, but mostly, I am me. I want to find myself again.
For those who may be confused into thinking that I know what I am doing, I want to clarify that I am not a good runner. I’m slow, my technique is bad, and I don’t have the body type of a typical endurance athlete. I don’t have a coach or a time in mind. What I do have are legs, lungs, a fair amount of self-delusion, and a goal. Which, in the end, is all a runner ever really needs.
Running writer George Sheehan wrote, “The music of the marathon is a powerful strain, one of those tunes of glory. It asks us to forsake pleasures, to discipline the body, to find courage, to renew faith, and to become one’s own person, utterly and completely.” He was a person who transformed himself through running, one of many who I have come across as I’ve read about this. There are thousands of people who have become their own people through this sport — this endeavor — and this year, I hope to join their ranks. I will forsake (some) pleasures, (do my best to) discipline my body, and hopefully, I can find the type of courage, faith, and personhood which I seek.
Consider this my commitment.