Just Keep Running, Just Keep Running

I say this not only to myself, but also to Davey, and I do it in my best Dory voice.  You know?  From Finding Nemo.

I’m a runner.  Not as much as I used to be, but I still do it.  The older I’ve become, the more my body likes to remind me of that age.  My hips crack and pop, my knees occasionally groan and lately I’ve begun to suffer from a thing called plantar fasciitis, a lovely little heel pain I was graced with while training for a half marathon last year.

I run because I like it.  I run because it keeps me from getting too fat.  I run because I want to be able to have energy and stay in shape so I can get out in the back yard with my boys.

My parents weren’t exactly active when I was a kid.  They were active in the sense of, there’s yard work to be done, grass to be mowed, a garden to be tended and toilets to be scrubbed.  I suppose that you can burn calories that way thereby preventing a gross exaggeration of your beltline, but my parents didn’t exercise.   Occasionally, my dad would get out in the front yard with us and play baseball.   And by “play”, I mean he would pitch, but for every ball we hit, WE (my brother and I) had to go get it.

I remember our neighbors two houses down used to run together in the evenings.  The four of them would come home, change into their running clothes, and hit the pavement before dinner.   I thought that was the coolest thing, but I wasn’t a seasoned runner back then, and of course neither were my parents.   Back then, I thought you just went all out and began running.  Not so, I’ve learned as I’ve become older.

In the spirit of the fact that most schools seem to be doing away with PE classes, I’ve decided to find ways to keep my boys active.   Davey has played soccer the past two seasons and will play it again this fall.  He just started up t ball, as you all saw in a couple of posts ago.   Henry hasn’t quite made it to those stages yet which is a bummer for me.  Davey; however, has the energy of the Energizer Bunny which I adore and I would love to find a way to keep him as active as possible, so I decided to let him run his first ever race this past Friday.  In hindsight, perhaps last Friday wasn’t the best day to let him attempt to follow in my footsteps.

I registered my husband and me for a 5k.   They’re usually pretty easy peasy for me, since I run a minimum of 4 miles and bike upwards to 20 miles (you can’t really tell that by the looks of my body).   Being a born and raised Southern girl, one would think my body is already conditioned to the blistering heat and smothering humidity.  Not so.  Friday night’s race was run in 95 degree weather at 6:30, when the humidity had the opportunity to find its resting place and just perch.   I was miserable and for once I didn’t care what my time was.   I just wanted to not die, so I could only imagine how my son and husband were faring, seeing as how my husband doesn’t run.  Well, it started a little something like this.

We all started at the back of the pack, but I quickly worked my way through the crowd and left my boys behind me.  I ran the course, finished it and then turned around to find my boys.   Aunt Erin was pushing Henry in his stroller and had set a pretty good pace, so she finished it ahead of Dave and Davey.   When I finally came across the two of them, Davey was atop his daddy’s shoulders, his face flushed and his hair sopping wet.  My husband, not to be outdone by Davey’s waterfall of sweat, was just as drenched if not more so.   I asked how they did and my husband informed me of Davey’s “all out” mentality.

Davey started the race at full speed ahead, running as fast as he could go, at times making it a bit difficult for my husband to keep up with him.  He made it a quarter of a mile before deciding he needed his water, which Aunt Erin had in the stroller.  Instead of waiting for her to catch up, he ran back to her.   There’s a full half a mile in the books.

Once he felt sufficiently hydrated, he began running again, treating the race as if it were a 50 yard dash.  Needless to say, he pretty much hit a wall by the time he reached the halfway point of the 3 mile race.   He finally just sat down on the side of the road and in one of his best Emmy performances to date, flailed his arms and sighed, following it with an “I just can’t go any further” statement.  That’s when my husband decided to carry him.

I’m proud of Davey.  He’s not even 4 yet and he participated in a 5k, on possibly one of the hottest days on record.   He didn’t run the entire race, but he did a lot more than the majority of Americans can do.  Fortunately for me, this one little event hasn’t turned him off of racing.   I have him signed up for a 1 mile kids race in October, in the morning, when the climate will be much more conducive to running.

I asked him how he felt afterwards and he said, “tired, but I did like Dory does, mommy, but I didn’t keep swimming.   I kept running.”   Good job, Davey!

We all finished!
We all finished!

You Go, Girl!

There was an overwhelming sensation that came over me. I wanted to flee. I wanted to say, “screw this” and just walk away. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to do everything except the task that was staring right back at me, the one thing I’d worked hard for over the past few months, the one thing that only a day before I was so excited about. I glanced over at the clock, hearing the seconds tick away even though there were waves of voices all around me. Should I pray? What for? It seemed almost selfish, after all I was the one who gotten myself into this. I was the one who thought it would be a wonderful idea to compete in a triathlon. Now as the minutes faded and I watched the minute hand hit the “12”, all I wanted was for this insipid thing to be over, and just as I thought that I might sneak out the back, I heard the whistle blow and the sound of the first swimmer jumping into the water. It was too late.

I’m guilty of having grand ideas, of seeing wonderful events in the future, things I know I can participate in, but then immediately second-guessing my mental state once the day of arrival is here. I often wonder what I was thinking. I fear that I’ll fail and people will be laughing at me. I fear that I’ll injure myself (physically, mentally, or emotionally) and never recover. I fear that I will be just average, and that’s not what I want.

After almost 20 years of running (not from my fears, although that thought has crossed my mind), I decided to up the ante a bit and compete in my first ever triathlon. I wasn’t completely naïve as to what I had decided to take on. I knew it would be difficult, but I knew I could handle it. The only true worry I had was swimming especially considering that the older I’ve become the more I seem to have a developed a case of claustrophobia. Once my head is under the water, I can’t swim. I panic. I think, “what if I need to breathe and I can’t?” Truly, drowning is my worst way of dying. Don’t confuse my fear of swimming with the fact that I can swim. I’m an average swimmer, not too fast, but thanks to my long body, I can reach the other end of the pool a lot faster than the average swimmer. I can keep myself alive, which is the true point of swimming, at least for me.

Sunday morning, I tossed out those fears even as I stood surrounded by 140+ other women, and conquered any doubt I may have about my ability to complete a triathlon (and NOT be last). It really wasn’t until I completed the bike portion, when I saw the greatest cheering section a girl could ever have, that I knew this wasn’t just a great thing for me, it was also a wonderful and encouraging experience for my boys. I finished the 2.5 mile run with my almost 3 year old screaming, “go, mama, go” as he ran across the finish line with me. And when I thought I had not an ounce of energy still left in me, I was able to pick him while still running and laugh along with him.

Crossing the finish line with Davey!
Crossing the finish line with Davey!

My husband has always been my encouragement with any endeavor I partake. He maintains faith and confidence in me, and tells me how great I’m doing. When I have an “I can’t” moment, he immediately counters it with a slew of “you cans”. I am blessed.

I’ve run a lot of races in my life and my husband has been at 90% of them, waiting for me at the finish line, yelling for me to push myself, but this race was different. This race was the first I’d ever competed in with all three of my boys cheering me on. I felt like a super hero. I truly felt that Davey saw me as Super Mom, and my heart just exploded with the excitement.

My parents never participated in events like this. Athletic events were never really their forte and it’s not something they made the time for. I don’t want that for my boys. I want them to see that Mama is more than just the one who takes care of them, and perhaps seeing me in this arena will encourage them to participate as well.

And while I was sick at my stomach, miserable and unable to sleep the night before my first ever triathlon, I’ve decided to do another one. That’s right. I have a masochistic nature, a desire to torture myself. What can I say? As long as I have that same cheering squad as this past weekend, I’ll be alright. I can conquer anything.

My cheering squad!
My cheering squad!