Monday, September 13, 2010

Running Through Thick and Thin

"Are you CRAZY???!!!" My neighbor shouted from her driveway. I don't have time to answer that... 20 seconds..19..18.. do I really want to answer that? "JESS! What are you doing?" This is one of the few neighbors that I have gotten to know during the two years we've lived in this neighborhood. She has two children herself and is a member of our playgroup. She is the only neighbor who knew about our homebirth, and probably the only one that would have understood it. "What are you doing?" She yelled as I approached her house.

"Running!!" I panted back, passing her neatly arranged flower bed around her mailbox.

"But.. you just had a BABY!"

I raised my hand and gave a backwards wave toward her, a loose gesture to acknowledge her sentiment but also to let her know I don't have time to talk. 9 seconds... 8...5..3.. and done. I slowed the stroller down to a quick walking pace. I was using my phone to time myself. Although it isn't perfect, it does its job. A few minutes later I broke into a fast jog again.

I just had a baby. Well, I had a baby six weeks prior. It wasn't like she had come out of the womb and I jumped up and started running. It was something I had contemplated throughout pregnancy. Running, like karate and dancing (and oh yes, sleep) was something I had traded in for my "mommy" title. Before having Jonah, I was very physically active. Running was different than my other activities though. I trained in karate to make myself stronger, and to be able to defend myself against an attacker if need be. I danced to bring myself joy, to socialize, and to express myself physically and artistically. But running... I ran because I was pissed. When I had started running, I was going through a miscarriage. My husband was leaving me. I was alone, and broken, and pissed. At life, at my body, at my God. I was just pissed. And so, despite my doctor's orders to stay in bed, I ran. I had a lot to run from.

As time went on, and I grew less pissed, I learned to make running a meditation for myself. I found that it helped me control my asthma. I began losing weight. I was regaining confidence. I started dating again.

Then I met Daryl. Or I should say, I re-met Daryl. We had known each other before, but not very well. I often tell people he is the rock to my fire. I still, very sincerely, believe this. He is calm and rational, I am wild and emotional. From the moment we started dating, he has been my anchor. I didn't need to run the way that I had before. So when we found out that we were expecting a baby, I simply let it go. It didn't seem to fit. Not running as I knew it, anyway.

During this last pregnancy, I started to think about that dreaded baby weight. Women always talk about "taking that baby weight off." Well, with Jonah I resumed my pre-pregnancy weight shortly after he was born- and then proceeded to gain 25 lbs. That's an ugly number to gain *after* having a baby. I did not want the same thing to happen this time. I needed to have a plan ready. My previous weight loss before getting pregnant had been brought about by two things: preparing for my black belt test, and running. Karate is expensive and time consuming. Lots of equipment, and hours upon hours of training. Not really the best option. All I needed for running was a pair of shoes and a little time every two days.

Now, I have a different reason to be meditative when I run. I am not angry, nor do I need transformation. But I do need a means of centering myself. A way to untie knots from the stress of parenting. Something to ground myself. Although I often take the kids with me, using the jogging stroller (given to me by a truly awesome friend- I traded two jars of homemade jam for it!) Evie falls asleep and Jonah occupies himself looking for birds, so it is still time that I can dedicate inward.

I've been following the couch to 5k program, found here at cool running. Although I am now only on "week 8" of the nine week program, I decided to register for the Northeast Ohio Komen Race for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. My two goals were to run the entire 5k race in under a half hour, and to raise $200 for the cause. I only reached one goal. The final time on my clock at the finish line was 37 minutes. But I am proud of myself for trying, for crossing the finish line running, and for meeting my goal of raising $200. I achieved one goal, and now have another to aspire to.

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