I Ran My Race

As with previous “big” (to me) races I’ve done since we moved to Australia, finishing my recent half marathon has provoked quite a bit of reflection on my part. I still can’t believe I did it! I ran 21.1 kms/13.2 miles without stopping, in just under 2 hours and 10 minutes—over TWO hours of running without stopping! I feel so proud of myself and it’s made me think a lot about this journey.

At the starting area--brrr!  Pacific behind me :)
At the starting area–brrr! Pacific behind me 🙂

I have run on and off throughout my life, but for whatever reason, it never really stuck. I was always more of a gym rat. When we moved here nearly three years ago, jogging was the initial way Steve and I would give each other breaks from our super young kids during that chaotic initial month. I could jog for about 10 minutes and then I’d walk another 20. As I slowly increased to being able to run the entire 30 minutes, I started to really enjoy the feelings of pride and strength that feat brought.
Steve started working and I kept with my jogging, that and my blog becoming the only things over here at that time that were “mine,” what I created, what I did. For whatever reason, running has really stuck this time. It’s saved us money by not joining a gym, but I still pay more for yoga classes than I ever did on a gym membership in the States. Jogging is no longer something I’d want to replace with anything else.
That first Christmas here, feeling so lonely and isolated, I set goals for myself—none of them were about us as a family; they were purely MY goals. I don’t know if that’s bad or good, but I do feel it was related to a feeling of lost identity brought to the forefront by this move.
Starting line....
Starting line….

One of those goals was to run a 10k. Running for an hour at a time sounded so hard and like an incredible accomplishment to me. I not only accomplished it in June, but I did another one in September. They were both amazing, because they both relayed what blessings I had in this new life, blessings that were not really new—I just needed to remember them I think. The first two races I ran (the first 10k and the 5k I did in April as preparation), Steve helped tremendously by getting the boys up super early and driving us all to the start lines, and then watching them for the duration of the race and celebrating all together afterward. As I watched him do all that, I realized what a wonderful sacrifice it was for him to make, and a great way to encourage me in this new venture of ours. He never balked, never questioned it.
And my boys! They are the best cheerleaders ever! Drew, who had just turned 4, was so excited as I came into the home stretch of the 10k, that he jumped out on the track in his jammies and fleece jacket and ran the last 200 meters with me—it was gorgeous! When I finished I hoisted them both into my arms for a photo I will treasure forever. With each subsequent big race, I’ve done the same, although now I can barely get Drew off the ground! It’s just the sentimentality of it….
Hoisting my babies!  Getting harder.... ;)
Hoisting my babies! Getting harder…. 😉

The 2nd run, I was able to join new friends. In line with the friend stalker I’ve become, I met a woman at a party for my husband’s friend, who told me she was running this upcoming race with her friend, and I asked if I could come along—no shame! This one was in the evening, and again, my boys were there supporting me, but it was special in a different way to be there with someone I knew, a new friend. 
I never thought I’d run farther than that, never thought I’d want to, but the next year, I started thinking more and more about it. Another Mom I’d met at a playgroup told me about an 8k she was running with her cousin on Mother’s Day and I again asked if I could join them. That was fun because it was less effort for Steve—he was able to stay home later with the boys and come to see the finish line, because I got to travel to the starting line with the two ladies.
I also told them about the 14k I was planning to sign up for and they decided to join as well, so we got to repeat the experience the following month. That was a fun, gorgeous course through Brisbane and a truly invigorating run! And seeing my boys cheering as I get near the finish just fires up my soul! That year’s experience being planned and coordinated with new friends here felt really good.
I felt so good doing that run that I wondered what a half marathon would take, but I was too tired from that commitment to training to keep it up to try to do one that year. I toyed with the idea once this year started, but just couldn’t decide and we did want to have another baby…..
My loves--couldn't do these crazy things without them
My loves–couldn’t do these crazy things without them

Well, once I had the miscarriage, that sealed it in my mind. We had to wait a few months before trying again anyway, and it seemed like the perfect time, especially because I needed something that made me feel strong and in control and accomplished. I did the early bird sign up so I wouldn’t change my mind down the road.
The long Sunday training runs are a tough commitment, I think even more so with a young family. However, I truly enjoyed that time out learning more about my local area and being outside exercising, that time to myself to think and process. It became daunting at times, because I realized that, as mothers, we are not really in control of our training schedule. When kids get sick and aren’t sleeping, we aren’t sleeping; we put off our goals to tend to our dear ones and we don’t mind it.
My little Drew’s hospitalization was right in the middle of this training and he is still not himself, so we’ve had some bumpy weeks. I felt a lot of guilt at times, because while I truly wanted to help him and do what was best for him, I also really wanted to finish this race! I imagine that sounds terrible to many mothers I know who completely devote themselves to their children and don’t take up any conflicting hobbies/passions/schedules, but try as I may, I’m just not that kind of mother, and I’ve realized now that I never will be. I think I can be a pretty good mother at times, not so good at other times, but I wouldn’t be good at all if I didn’t have MY stuff to focus on. Now that I know that about myself and own that, I’m more comfortable with it.
I don’t know too many people around here anymore who run. The mother I did the races with last year moved. The few I do know couldn’t do this run, but I did find out my neighbor decided to run it at the last minute. It was fun seeing someone I knew at the starting line, but for the most part, this time it was all me.
Finish line selfie--I did it!
Finish line selfie–I did it!

We stayed at a hotel near the course the night before, and this time, I was confident enough (although scared, too!) to drive myself to the starting line (only after Steve helped me practice the day before!). After parking and walking over to the race area in the early morning dark, my eyes filled with tears for some reason. I just started thinking about all I’d been through with this move, every step of this journey that had brought me to that starting line, and I filled with pride—in myself! I also thought about my 3 beautiful sleeping boys in the hotel, doing so much to support and encourage me, about my family who was thinking of me far away, and about the friends far away who’d been sending me support and advice online and I was overcome by how loved I felt, and how proud, and how excited.
This was an incredibly beautiful course, right along the water. We got to watch the sun rise during those early kms, and overall I had a great time. My boys were at the 5km mark and when I saw their beautiful bundled up faces, I felt thrilled. After 16kms, I did start feeling really tired. A part of me wishes, that with all the training and preparing I’d done, that I would have felt a big stronger and energized in those final kms. But that’s where parenting comes in and where we can’t control the amount of rest we get, and that’s ok, because that’s my life as well. Together, as a family, we take care of each other; we support each other and we are there for each other when it’s important. None of the 4 of us fell at all in those duties during this venture, and together, we all did it.
Sunrise July 20, 2014, Redcliffe
Sunrise July 20, 2014, Redcliffe

At some point, I’d like to record more about what’s going on this month—with my little man’s health and with my new routine now that I’ve been officially made redundant, but now is not the time. Will I ever run another half? Maybe. I think I’d like to someday. Will I ever try a full marathon? Doubtful, but you never know…..I do love to run! I love that time, time just for me, outside, being healthy—in mind, body and spirit. Today has been about a chance to reflect and to celebrate—I did it! I ran a half marathon!!! I am a mother and I am a runner! I am strong! And I have a beautiful, supportive, fun family and group of friends—they fuel me. My cup truly overflows.
Celebratory mimosa!
Celebratory mimosa!

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