My mama guilt has been running high as of late, pun intended. You see, for the past three months, I’ve been focused on a lofty running goal: the Around the Bay 30K, a Southern Ontario pinnacle event in distance-running. I’ve done the full 30km race only twice; once in 2004, with the youthful abilities of speed and recovery on my side, and once in 2008, as an under-trained newlywed, happy to be running alongside my husband. Since then, running has been bumped down my priority list.
But now, two kids and a decade later, it’s been bumped back up.
My kids are a bit older, and we’re beyond the all-consuming baby/toddler stage, so I’ve had the time to rekindle my love affair with my sport. For the last year, that’s meant mostly solo miles, with the highlight of one run per week with my dear Michaela. Our ultimate goal is the 2019 New York City Marathon, but I felt my mid-week motivation waning as the cold weather and dark mornings descended upon us in the late Fall of 2017. When my wheels came off in June last year, I knew things had to change if my New York dream was to come true. So, in November, I joined a new training group, thanks to the advice of my friend Sarah. And it’s been a game-changer.
This group does their long runs on Sunday mornings. Although this is nothing new for me, the difference is that my long run used to hover around 15km, but for the past three months it’s been almost twice that. More milage means more time required, and my quick-run-while-my-children sleep Sundays have been put aside for the last number of weeks; this has tipped my balance.
Balance is a fine line that I tiptoe along, often trading sleep for other priorities. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. And so, with minimal family disruption, the bonus being other like-minded people who think it’s normal to get up before 5:00, my alarm clock rings at 4:45am on Tuesdays and Thursdays; my run is done and I’m back home before the rest of my house wakes. The same can be said for my 6am 10k on Saturday mornings. But as my Sunday group long runs have progressed in distance, I’ve had to rally my village. My husband has been on his own for breakfast duty and hockey practices, for transporting kids and mobilizing sleepy children into cold vehicles. My father-in-law has helped juggle back-to-back practices for two kids on two ends of the city and my neighbour has stepped in to carpool when other plans fell through. The village for my children has become the village for me.
But there’s guilt.
Guilt at missing kid’s activities. Guilt at putting it all on my husband’s shoulders. Guilt at asking for help. Guilt at doing something that’s all for me.
But there’s also joy.
Joy at doing something I love. Joy at running times that seemed impossible only months ago. Joy that my children see me value my health and my fitness and myself.
Joy that I didn’t quit when it GOT DAMN HARD.
Bring on the taper, let’s chase more joy.