Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Once a Runner?

In college, running was life. How many miles could I fit into this week? How many workouts could my body handle? How far could I push it? What place will I get next weekend? During classes I would calculate mile splits, construct workouts and set up training plans.

Now I count how many ounces of milk my son has consumed today and how many hours in between feedings.

However, last Thursday my doctor gave me the go ahead to start exercising again. I sat on that verdict for a few days and decided to give it a go on Sunday. My husband (an acclaimed runner of the past himself) suggested a route a little over 2 miles for me to try out. Reluctantly, I pulled on my biggest running shorts, put on two sportsbras (where did those come from?) and skimmed my closet for my favorite adidas top. On went my lucky racing socks and my reliable Asics. As I looked in the mirror, I couldn't help but feel a little discouraged. My once flat tummy and toned calves were nowhere to be found. In their place was a postpartum pudge and only slightly faded stretch marks. Not to mention a lingering twenty pounds that wasn't going anywhere fast. I sighed and reminded myself I had to start somewhere.
I walked outside and strapped on my trusty Ironman watch. Off I went. The first few steps felt good. However, by the time I reached the end of the subdivision (about two minutes) I was feeling the pain. I used to be proud to have people drive by the fast, thin runner. Now I cringed as cars passed by, just waiting for someone to yell "Slow down fatty, you'll never make it!" Thankfully, my route soon took me to a fairly deserted back road and I could focus on the task at hand--making it to the next turn. I stopped to take a breather. It hurt. I thought to myself, "I remember this feeling." It was the race feeling. I was running ten minute mile pace and I had dead legs. Discouraged, I trudged on until I got back to the entrance to my subdivision and committed myself to not stopping until I reached my driveway. I counted mailboxes. I felt a surge of triumph as my house gleamed like the fountain of youth....until I looked at my watch. 21:33. I used to be able to run nearly twice as far in that time.
As I consoled myself by doing a vicious ab workout and lifting weights, I decided not to become discouraged by my first run. It is yet another turning point in my life. I can be a runner and a mom. I thought back to my first run when I was fourteen and realized it was about the same effort as today's run. I don't find myself in how fast I can run a 5k anymore. My greatest accomplishment isn't breaking 18, being All- Conference or All-Region. Now it's being a wife and being a mom to a beautiful baby boy. And I bet he doesn't care how fast I run, or what size I am.