Our jogging stroller has been woefully neglected on the front porch for most of the summer. I examined it this week to find that it has mold/mildew on it and that some spiders have made their home in the undercarriage. I've spent the better part of my morning researching how to clean it ... my action plan includes white vinegar, this heavy duty stain remover scrubby thing, and I've even considered taking it to a professional (but because that would cost $125 I think I'll take a swipe at it myself first).
The stroller has been neglected because this time around? I've been training for real. I remember a year ago when I started all this, when pushing my stroller around the block for a mile or two loaded down with two (much smaller) children seemed so Hard Core. I would get out there and start moving and tell myself "YOU ARE A BADASS!" And in some ways I really, really was. Taking two kids out on a run is a brave move, you guys. And if you do it? More power to you. I see moms (and sometimes dads) out on the run and I always try to encourage them and give them a thumbs up ... that crap is intense. And it's not just the weight of the stroller. There are sippy cups and toys to retrieve off the sidewalk and (if you're lucky) iPad apps to "fix" when your preschooler gets stuck on a tougher level of Angry Birds. There are fights to break up. I cannot express how hard it is to get your momentum going again just to have someone screaming "MAMA!" half a mile later. It's frustrating and some days? The only thing you can do is quit and head for home, even if you don't feel like it.
But in other ways? It was not real training. It was not enough to run a half marathon or marathon with any excellence. I slogged through those races. I survived them. Yes, I ran them both and didn't quit until the finish line, but it felt awful. And it was because I was not willing to figure out a schedule that accomodated getting out and running alone. Pushing a jogging stroller lets you get the job done, but it's nearly impossible to push yourself. I wasn't able to muster the effort it took to figure out child care, to get up early and go before my husband left for work, even to imagine what the weekly training schedule would look like. I planned on a Saturday long run each week and the smaller training runs happened if and when I had the energy to get everyone into the stroller and weigh them both down with snacks, books, toys, games and diapers and SO MANY THINGS.
This time around feels Real. I feel like ... an athlete? When I'm out running in the early morning or along the beach on a Saturday (sometimes with another adult even!) I feel strong. I cannot believe that my body is capable of this. Even when I had to start my run at 9:30 last Saturday (it was a 12-miler that would take about 2 hours) the threat of the imminent heat of the day didn't discourage me. I knew I could handle it. It's so strange to be out on the street and to get into a zone. To realize that my sixth mile? Is usually my fastest. I never dreamed or imagined that I'd be running miles inside a double-digit distance with a nine on the minute line.
I don't know what will happen at the marathon on Oct. 7. I would like to finish, of course. I would like to run a consistent race. But at the end of the day? I don't care. Because this summer? I became an athlete again. I learned that running is worth it. That I'm worth it. I was reminded that God's not done with me yet.
And I needed that so very badly.
Romans 12:1-2Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.