Earlier this summer (on June 21st, to be exact), I ran Grandma's Marathon. This was a big race for me -- even though it wasn't my first marathon, it was my first marathon since having my first baby. I felt like running Grandma's would prove that I had survived pregnancy and early motherhood and I was still a runner.
Grandma's kicked my ass. I finished, but thought about quitting the whole way. My time was TERRIBLE -- almost twenty minutes slower than my time when I ran Twin Cities in 2006. And although I have used the last three months to find the silver lining (yes, I finished a marathon within 8 months of having a baby; yes, I ran with some amazing people who inspire me to lace up my shoes every day), Grandma's has for the most part remained a big black storm cloud in my running sky.
But one thing Grandma's did do for me was to beat me into submission. After a week of rest/mourning, I put my running shoes back on and got back on the road. And it came to me that I really got what I deserved with Grandma's. My training was inconsistent at best, and, at its worse, not even sufficient for a 10K, let alone the 26.2 mile beast. In April, I ran a half marathon, and that was my first long run. And I didn't do very many more after that. Reflecting on my half-assed training helped me realize that if I wanted to keep running, and if I ever wanted to run well again, I needed to run. No more excuses, no more laziness, just run.
For the most part, that's what I've done. In August, I ran my first 100+ mile month since September of 2006. I've been getting in hill workouts, running at the track, and running at least 10 mile long runs almost every weekend. All in the name of consistency. Some of my friends have questioned me, "Don't you feel guilty spending more time away from your daughter?" Yes, of course. But I've learned in Sophie's first year that maternal guilt is going to be my close companion for at least the next 18 years (and, if my mom is right -- and she usually is -- for the next 30 and beyond). So I remind those friends (and myself) that running makes me a better person and a better mom. Because I like who I am when I push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. And, as a bonus, my stomach no longer looks like the cottage cheese filled kangaroo pouch I was sporting after Sophie was born!