Things have been busy but good around here. We celebrated my Maggie's 11th birthday this weekend and Josh did an awesome, awesome job pacing a friend in a 100-mile race (Josh did 50 miles!!) I am super proud of him and he is dreaming up some big dreams and goals for himself which is exciting. :)
I have been enjoying this period of rest. I am still running, but it is very relaxed, no pressure, and low-key. I am running with friends, running at whatever pace feels comfortable that day, and running without "training". I have been enjoying it, although after almost two weeks of rest I am definitely starting to feel the "itch" to ease back in to training mode.
During this time of rest I have been thinking a lot about WHY I run. I have been thinking about why I love to run, why I encourage others to run, and why running is so important to me.
Before I became a runner, I was happy. I am one of the truly lucky ones who found the love of my life at a very young age, and I have been married to him since I was 19 years old. We have been blessed with 12 incredible children. We live in the most beautiful place in the world, and we have many loving, supportive, good, and fun people in our life. I have always gotten much strength, comfort, and joy from my faith. Life has certainly not been without it's challenges, big and small, but life is good, and I was happy before I took those first, fateful running steps.
But running has given me much, and added to my already happy and blessed life. Along with helping me to get healthy and physically strong, running has made me stronger mentally and emotionally, more content, more patient, and more confident, and has brought a balance to my life that I needed. With 12 kids, a busy job, and a husband working long, long hours, I was sorely in need of something in my life that was for me. I was overweight, out of shape, and I needed to invest some time and energy into myself. I needed a goal and a dream that was personal.
In talking with other runners (especially women!) I hear over and over how they often feel guilty for taking the time for themselves to run. They feel it is time that they could spend with their spouse or their kids, or cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, etc. I feel strongly that no one should ever feel guilty for taking care of themselves or taking some time for themselves, especially when the majority of their time is spent loving and caring for others.
Once I started taking care of myself, once I started making time for myself each day, once I started running and setting goals and going after them, I found that I had a lot more of myself to GIVE. I had more energy and a better attitude. Instead of sometimes feeling burnt out, I felt recharged and ready to take care of my family and home and job. Instead of feeling like I was at the bottom of my own priority list, I felt a sense of balance. I felt confident and happy. I felt myself stressing about and worrying about the little things in life much less. I felt myself handling the bigger stresses in a better way. I felt myself become more patient and relaxed about things that used to bother me. I felt an inner joy and satisfaction that had not been there.
I believe that being a mother and a wife is the most important aspect of my life and that is my highest priority. But I also believe that my Heavenly Father has given me personal gifts, talents, passions, and interests that he wants me to use and pursue. And I believe with all my heart that running is one of those gifts and passions.
Running sets a good example for my children. I am showing them by example that it is possible to be a devoted wife and a loving mother, and to also still have talents, goals, and dreams. Just as I hope and pray that all of my kids find true love, I hope that they all find something that they enjoy and that makes them feel as good as running makes me feel, whether that be a sport, music, art, etc.
I am showing my family that if you really want something badly enough, that you have to be willing to work hard for it, and that working hard to achieve something is a rewarding journey. I am showing them that not everything comes easy in life, and that it is ok to fail and to pick yourself up and keep trying. I am showing them the importance of being active and healthy. I could tell them these things, but it seems a lot more real and meaningful to just show them.
Running has given me a new passion and activity to share with Josh. Even though we don't get to run together super often, we do several races/events a year together. We get to travel together. We support and encourage each other daily. We have already had some wonderful, exciting adventures and experiences together because of running, and I know we have many more coming up in the future. And we will likely have many more years on Earth together now that we are healthy and fit. His love and support mean the world to me.
Because of running I have also gotten time with my parents, and I had my first mother-daughter weekend ever.
Running gives me time to think things through, time to pray, and time to have no one to take care of but myself. Running gives me a challenge and a deep satisfaction. Running gives me a strong, healthy body. Running gives me endorphins.
For a long time, I struggled with insecurities and self-doubt. Running has helped me to feel much more confident, to believe in myself, and to feel strong, inside and out.
As a mom of 12 and with the realities of our very blessed and busy life, I am home almost all day every day. I don't mind it, and my home is my favorite place to be. But it can be lonely, and makes it hard to have a social life. Running has helped me connect with friends here where I live (anyone who will get up to hang out with you at 5:30am is a true friend!) and I have also loved becoming a part of the running community. I have met many inspiring people and made many amazing friends and connections both in person and online that I would never have made without running. Some people tell me that I inspire them, but I receive much inspiration from others.
My very best friend, Jennifer, is a part of my life as a result of my running.
It is true that I could have the above benefits of running without training so hard and shooting for such lofty goals. I am aware that by trying to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials that I am putting a certain amount of pressure on myself and making running more than just "for fun" and fitness.
I also know that the day will come when PR's are no longer happening, and when I will scale back my miles and the intensity and will run more for just the pleasure of running than the competitive aspect. But the thing is, to me, the training and the competition IS fun. Yes, there are ups and downs and as on any journey there are disappointments, and yes, it is a whole lot of hard work, but it is a whole lot of fun too. I truly, thoroughly, and completely enjoy it. I am loving the journey. I have an internal drive and a passion to see how good I can be, and to give up without fully pursuing my goals and dreams would be sad.
I love running. I love the sport. I love watching elite runners and I love watching new runners. I love learning about running, and supporting others in their running adventures. Even when it is hard, even when it humbles me, even when I am disappointed with a race result or frustrated with a performance, I love it.
When I took those first, fateful (albeit slow!) running steps, a piece of me that had been quiet, dormant, and still sparked to life. I am a runner. It is something that I do, and it is part of who I am.
Physical health. Mental health. Emotional health. Patience. Confidence. Balance. Personal goals and dreams. Time for myself. More energy. Better attitude. More of me to give to others. Stress reducer. Inner joy and satisfaction. A good example for my children. Something new to share with Josh. Time with my parents. Time to think. Time to pray. Endorphins. Strength. New friends. A best friend. A coach and mentor. A community. Inspiration. Support. Challenge. Competition. Drive. Rewards. A piece of myself. That is why I run.