But a bit more on why I chose to do this crazy amazing sport. And a bit on how we've been able to make it work as a family.
Before I go on there are two noted observations to get out of the way. First, all of my current marathons (just finished my 4th in 36 days!) are actually being used as training runs for a 50 miler I have coming up at the end of July. I've had a lot of raised eyebrows from people when they find out how much I run - especially with some of the crazy events that have just popped up in our lives - but Mike is super supportive and still wants me to conquer that bad boy and so, alas, my training continues. Second, I've noticed that running takes up just as much time as any other hobbies or pursuits as I had in the past. I could probably even say that I run less than I used to watch TV or mess around on Facebook or have other "me" time.....
Balancing children, a marriage, running a home and everything else about life in addition to logging dozens of miles every week is no small challenge. However, it can be done. First off, I have an amazingly supportive husband who has provided the support to making my running dreams a reality. I know I can't run marathons every other weekend forever, but for now, in this season of life, it works. In addition to the support from my husband, I have to be extremely disciplined in every other area of my life to make it work. I schedule my runs around family activities - often running while daddy puts the kids to bed or waking up at 5:30am on a Saturday morning to get 20 miles in before the kids are ready to play for the day. I only allow myself one night a week where I can be gone during dinner time (usually a run group night) and I constantly check myself to make sure that my kids and husband are getting the best of me - not just the leftovers after a run. Cutting out any other "me" time also helps to make sure I am present at home while training. I also find that, because of running, I am more able to let go of the random insignificant little things that used to bug me. I can't run marathons/ultras, play with my kids, and keep an immaculate house all at the same time. So I pick and choose. Some days running comes before laundry. Other days the kids come before running. It's a day-to-day balancing act and, with constant evaluation and tweaks here and there, it works.
Since December I have run 7 marathons and 2 50K's. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently training for my first 50 miler - White River in July. For training I'm running back-to-back marathons with a week recovery in between. Obviously this is a lot of miles and time away from family. But knowing that this is just a season in life (I plan on backing off a bit after WR...) helps keep things in perspective. Michael plans fun things with the kids and they come to my races when they can. I know that achieving this goal - especially overcoming all the obstacles between now and the finish line - has made and will make me a better wife, mother and person. Plus, what an example for my children. My mom was a great example for me, in running and in life, and I hope to be the same for my kids.
So, why do I do this crazy sport? Actually it's not all that crazy. It involves putting one foot in front of the other no matter how challenging it may be or whatever factors are outside of my control. Running has made me more laid back, more in control of my emotions, more reflective, more flexible and it has changed me in ways I could never change myself. It has built within me a mountain of fortitude to help me overcome obstacles in life. I used to want to control everything and I would freak out if things didn't go as planned. But in running, almost nothing goes as planned - for good or bad. I have no control over a myriad of things and running has made me more adaptable and has given me the vision that life, that obstacles, are an adventure. I now approach uncertainty with a knowing that, no matter how hard it will be to overcome a challenge, the prize is found in the perseverance.
Out of all that, however, there is one reason I run that I'm grateful above everything else: the fact that running makes me dig deep to find out what I'm really made of. When I'm at mile 25 of 32 (in a 50K) and I have another mountain to climb (literally) and I've already been running for 6 hours and all I want to do is give up because everything hurts and life sucks...that is the moment where my character is tested. That is the moment where I look to the depths of my soul and ask myself if I'm a quitter or a fighter. Running has instilled in me that I will always be a fighter. Whatever you throw at me - crappy life challenges, tough decisions, hurdles that seems too high to jump over, even martyrdom - I will fight and claw my way through to the end. I will persevere to experience the glory on the other side - the glory that is found in the the will to overcome.
There are other reasons I run but maybe I'll interject them in some of my race-report catch ups. Man, I keep saying I'm going to do those things. And really they're not for you - they're for me. Hahaha. I don't want to let time pass me by and forget all those awesome experiences!
I truly believe that we all need something to push us to the edge. A sport, a hobby, our children and families, our faith. We need something in our lives that build character and test our integrity. For in these seemingly insignificant things (like a simple pair of running shoes...) virtues are built up and hearts, minds, souls are strengthened for the road ahead.
Do you have a hobby or something you enjoy that also pushes you to become a better person? I'd love to hear about it!