When my second daughter was six weeks old, I decided to train for a half marathon. Wait, wait, calm down. Before you judge - or applaud me - I must make a tiny little confession: she's a surrogate baby. As in, I didn't actually squeeze her out of my own body. There were no wide hips or puffy fingers or spare tires. Well, at least not from carrying a baby. So I wasn't technically getting back into shape post-baby. Physically, I was fine.
Mentally and emotionally was another story altogether. This precious little bundle of joy, all seven pounds of her, had drained every last ounce of humanity from my poor, tired, thirty-sumpin body. No it wasn't the colic that did it to me, even when we had to change formulas six - count 'em, SIX - times people, and finally settled on a prescription formula costing me bajillions of dollars which would have otherwise have been earmarked for - what else - shoes. No, that's not it. It wasn't the day-night-sleep-awake confusion she had, choosing to sleep like a perfect angel throughout the day, which in turn made everyone in my family give me funny looks when I referred to her as a stark raving lunatic. (I said it with love, sweet baby girl). That perfect tiny sleeping angel? You simply must be imagining things, Sarah. There, there. Look at her lying there all pink and soft and quiet. Pshht! And believe it or not, it wasn't even the sheer volume of brain power and ingenuity required to assemble the various toys, monitors, swings, chairs, and other assorted paraphenalia necessary to help a little baby make it through the day. I mean, who knew a bottle could have five parts, each of which need to be taken apart and put back together for a feeding, of which there are 8-10 per day. Really, who knew??
No, it wasn't any of those things that motivated me to do it.
Running was, quite simply, MINE. When I hit the road to start my training, which took place at any given time between 4 am and, well, 4 am, I was just me. I wasn't a nurse, or a janitor, or a dry cleaner, a chef, or a chauffer, a teacher, an entertainer, a dog groomer, even a wife or a mother. There was no barf to wipe up, no one screaming for their next bottle, no diapers to change, no crayon-eating or cat-tail-pulling. I could be alone with my thoughts, as few and far between as they were at that point, they were still precious to me. I could plan a grocery list, compose a note to my grandmother, pray to Jesus, or jam to the Black Eyed Peas. I could do any and all of it, because it was just me and my thoughts out on the road. Me and my thoughts, and my Lexi dog. She had to come along for three reasons: to keep me safe, to keep me company, and to try to burn off a small portion of her limitless doggie energy. But aaaahhhh.... just me and the open road. I sometimes felt like a Jack Kerouac novel was just burning inside me, waiting to get out.
Now, don't get me wrong. These precious girls are my life and my heart. Chris Thomas is without question the best, most supportive husband and father any woman could ask for. But at the same time, I needed something that just belonged to ME.
It was not easy. I missed out on a lot of coveted sleep. Since it happened to be winter, there were many mornings I had to scrape myself out of a warm and cozy bed, bundle up, and head out into 20 degree weather for a ten or twelve miles.
But then oddly, something strange began to happen. The miles began to add up and things around my house started to become more tolerable. Caroline is hollering, Aria is eating playdoh, the dogs are brawling, and I haven't slept eight hours collectively in the past month, but guess what? I can handle this. In fact, I'm okay with it. What could possibly be going on?
I was getting in shape. Mentally. Emotionally. Running was actually giving me my sanity back. It was stabilizing my emotions which in turn helped me to be a better wife and a better mother.
The story ends like this: Caroline started sleeping through the night at about 10 weeks of age and turned into the peaceful laidback baby my family always thought she was, I ran the race with one of my best friends, and we finished in a respectable 2 hrs 14 min, while having a total blast. But the best part is, my sweet family was there to cheer me on along the way. And they are MINE too!