Note: My students are currently writing personal narratives with fairy tale motifs. I try to write with my students each time, so this is the piece I will be sharing with them tomorrow. It's a debrief of this weekend's events.
The alarm sounded with a screech at 4:30 AM on a Saturday morning. Perturbed, I poked the snooze button and pulled the covers over my head wishing for two more hours of sleep. The cobwebs of sleep were still thick in my head, and last night’s Nyquil had not yet worn off. My head was heavy with congestion and my throat burned. After five minutes of wishing I were sleeping, I mechanically kicked off the covers and swung my legs to the side of the bed. It was race day. Normally on race days I hop out of bed to the alarm, no matter how early, in anticipation for the event for which I’ve spent weeks and hours of my time training. But this race did not excite me. The task itself was daunting: The Double Half Mary. Run 13.1 miles on Saturday and 13.1 miles on Sunday. What made it worse was a lack of preparedness. For every race I’ve ever done, I’ve spent weeks diligently training, running through snow, hail, wind, sinus infections, and sore muscles. I’ve monitored my food intake and documented miles ran, never missing a weekend long run. But this race was different. I was running this race with a new hat: my momma hat.
We were thrust into parental roles a little over a month ago when we began the process of adopting an energetic, lovely, and challenging four-year old. No matter how a couple becomes parents, the event requires a lifestyle change. I no longer had the leisure to run whenever I felt like it because our new son dictated my schedule. My long runs felt exhausting because of the later nights I put in working after he fell asleep. To top it all off, since our little boy moved in, I’ve battled a sinus infection. I simply did not have the energy to diligently train for this race. I did what I could and felt selfish for being away from my family for four hours at a time on the weekends so I could run; I no longer had the spring in my step that allowed me to run 8:30/mile pace. Honestly, most days, I didn’t even want to run.
With my momma hat lingering above me, I lined up at the starting line to run my first 13.1. The starting signal sounded, and I shuffled out feeling more like the tortoise than the hare. It felt like hoards of people were passing me. By mile 10 the sun was hot and my head felt heavy. The trail seemed to be spinning around me. Out of fear of passing out, I slowed my shuffle to a walk and silently cursed myself for signing up for this race…I still had 3.1 miles to the finish line and another 13.1 miles the next day. The last time I had to stop and walk in a race was during my first full marathon. I gave myself a minute of walking, and then picked up the pace a bit. The last 3.1 miles to the finish line were mentally and physically brutal. I crossed the finish line with no sense of satisfaction or pride.
As I walked off the pain of the morning’s run, a fellow runner and momma caught me, gave me a high-five, and yelled, “Great job!”
Sensing my disappointment, she reigned in the enthusiasm and said, “Just remember…this is your new PR as a mom. It’s hard to run and be a mom, and it will be until your little man is grown. I ran my fastest time in years today because my daughter is grown and in college. You’re just entering a new phase in your life. Cut yourself some slack.”
While I didn’t feel okay with my time that was eleven minutes slower than my PR immediately after this chat, later that afternoon I came to accept my 2:03 half marathon time. I will not be a speedy hare for probably quite a few years as I juggle my role as a mom. But being a mom is something I’ve wanted for seven years, and if this comes with my new role as a tortoise, then so be it.
The next morning my alarm sounded again at 4:30 AM, and despite the soreness in my legs, I woke up quicker than the previous morning. Soon I was pounding pavement for another 13.1 miles. My time was four seconds slower than the previous day’s, but I crossed the finish line today with a sense of accomplishment: I am no hare, but I managed to survive my first month of motherhood AND run a Double Half Mary. I’d say that’s an okay accomplishment.