I am a runner. And by that I mean I ran once, today, for the first time in over a year. And I am rusty. Real rusty. I can count on my fingers the number of runs I’ve taken in the past few years and today was especially painful/awesome. In an effort to take care of me and to reclaim some of the things I loved before I became a mom, it was time to get back out there. And I’m so glad I did because today I remembered that I am a runner.
I love being outside, alone with my thoughts and prayers, finding my own path, breathing hard, sweating hard and feeling alive. I started running in high school, got more into it in college (thanks to my runner roommate Shannon and the enticing neighborhoods of Queen Anne) and then realized that I loved it and would always do it.
I took my running shoes all over the world as I traveled and it became part of how I would experience places. I ran across the bush in Zimbabwe watching the sunset (and watching for wild animals). I ran along the Sea of Galilee trying to process the magnitude of all I was learning. I ran around the “island” of Malibu in Canada working through my loneliness and the fear of losing my mom. I ran across the frozen ground in Montana with my buddy Jaimie by my side, fostering deep friendship and a body that could climb mountains on the weekends. And I ran most of the 14 summers I spent working at Forest Home so I could find a place to be alone.
For my 30th birthday, I ran my first (and only) half-marathon because I needed to know that I was healthy and alive and strong. I was in the early years of mourning the loss of my mom (she and my dad loved to run), Brian and I were “on a break” so I had some angst to work out and I wanted to tell 30 who was boss. It was a really good decision.
I am not a great athlete and as my dad/coach of all my childhood sports would tell you, I’m not fast. And I am not very competitive. And although he would’ve loved for me to be a super-star athlete (tennis player to be specific), we all like me just the way I am. I run because it does good things for me and I am glad I got to do it today.
I imagined myself to be the mom that exercised through pregnancy and as soon as the doctor cleared me for take-off at 6 weeks post-partum, I would be pounding the pavement. Instead, I was so sick through all of my pregnancies that I could hardly walk around, was pregnant 6 times in 7 years only to bring 3 babies home, had a knee surgery 3 months post-Harper’s birth and then endured Poppy having hip dysplasia and not sleeping for the past year and a half. Things rarely pan out how we imagine.
A golden thread I am finding is that it is never too late to start again. I am older and heavier than I was back then but big deal- I will go slower and shorter and still get to be a runner. My effort here is not to get back to who I used to be because that’s not progress. My effort is to remember the parts of me that got covered up during some crazy years and re-kindle them. Find out if they’re life-giving, if I still love them and if they have a place in my current life.
Probably half the people I know hate to run, so I get that running might not make you feel alive. Maybe more like you’re dying. Nonetheless, the world needs people who have come alive so find what you love and make space for it. It’s making a difference for me already.
What practice in your life is good for you? Are you doing it? What can you let go of to make room for it?