In high school, I couldn't run around a track once without seeing stars and gasping for air. I chalked running up to something I simply wasn't good at and quit after the first week.
But in 2010, more than 10 years later, my much fitter self decided—on a whim—to sign up for a half marathon. Having a longest run of only six miles under my belt at the time and a mere seven weeks to train for my very first race, I became laser-focused on accomplishing something I never thought possible.
I remember saying, "Never again," as I proudly crossed the finish line. The last 3.1 miles of that race were some of the most mentally challenging I had ever faced. But once I recovered—which didn't take long—I found myself on a runner's high, and I started signing up for more races. It was that half marathon that turned me into what I felt like was a "real runner."
Fast-forward six and a half years, and here I am, training for my first full marathon—the Boston Marathon, to be exact. Since 2010, I have completed five half marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, mud runs and more.
But a lot has changed since my first race. I got married and had a daughter, so training isn't what it used to be. For starters, training for a full marathon is a lot more mentally intense than a half, and being a mother requires a constant juggle of my schedule.
I used to love the mornings when I could sleep in, but now, you'll find me rising out of bed long before the sun (and well before my toddler) to log my miles several days a week.
Of course, there are the days when my training runs consist of pushing my 37-pound girl in the jogging stroller. I not only love the time spent with her, but I think it's important to show her exactly what a fit and active lifestyle looks like.
Our kids learn from what they see us do, so I like to think I'm setting a good example when I run with her in tow. And while these runs are usually shorter, they pack a punch pushing all that extra weight. Plus, it's fun having my biggest fan cheering for me along the way.
But let's not sugarcoat it; There've been many times I've wondered what I've gotten myself into. I've doubted myself, felt defeated after a not-so-great training run, and admittedly wanted to quit. I constantly seem to be dealing with minor nagging injuries. Training for a marathon is hard—at least it is for me. But if it were easy, everyone would do it.
So how do I push through? My daughter is my biggest motivation. I refuse to one day tell her, when she's old enough to understand, that mommy had the opportunity to run one of the most amazing, renowned marathons in the world, but didn't because she was too scared or couldn't make the time for it.
Motherhood and marathon training require a balancing act, but I assure you it can be done, because I'm doing it every single week. As they say, if it's important to you, you'll make time for it. I want to show my daughter, and anyone reading, that this is possible. I can do a 16-mile training run, be home by 10 a.m. and have the entire day left to spend with my family.
This isn't about being the best, or the fastest or finishing in some record-breaking time. It's about crossing the finish line and proving to myself that I am capable. It's about showing my daughter that through all my fears, doubts and our busy schedule, I didn't miss anything with her because I made time for both.
I'm determined to show her that I didn't give up and that anything is possible. I will teach her and show her what dedication and perseverance look like. And while it may not always be easy, I'll never show her what quitting looks like.
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