In kindergarten, my mom would wake me before the sun rose. We would drive to a track filled with men and women in gray shorts and t-shirts with ARMY emblazoned across the chest. I would sleep in the car as my mom completed her PT (physical training). My sister and I would cheer my mom during her PT tests, and we would celebrate as she maxed her PT test, every year.
When I was in first grade, she entered a road race in Plains, Georgia, the home of Jimmy Carter. She won her race that year and won a kiss from Jimmy Carter when she received her metal. The next year, she entered me in a road race. I was so excited as we stood among the crowd of runners. People were bouncing up and down, antsy for the start of the race. The gun went off. My mom held my hand, looked down at me and said, "Here we go. Start slow." I loved it. For about the first half of the race. Then, I was done. I was not going to take one more step. I stopped. I sat down on the side of the road. The only problem was that at that point we were in the middle of a peanut field in the middle of Georgia. My mom tried to reason with me. I would not leave my spot on the side of the road. And then, understandably, she got ticked. I remember her trying to pull me to my feet. I refused. I crossed my arms. And, by the way, there were still throngs of runners passing us at this point. We finished the race eventually. I figure that I have that incident coming back to me eventually through my strong-willed LM.
In college, I ran to meet guys at the gym and to off-set the beer. I am going to ignore, for the moment, the time when I wasn't paying attention, tripped myself on the treadmill and got spit out the back. I have never been graceful. At some point in college, though, running became my time to get away. It was a chance to not care about what anyone else thought. I didn't care how fast or how far I went, just that I was out the door.
At the firm, running was my life line. At 6:30 a.m., I would hit the treadmill. I would watch the Today Show, content to know that I could run and my bb wouldn't buzz. Later in the day, I could tell myself that if nothing else went right that day, at least I had taken a bit of time for myself in the morning. Other days, I would race down to the gym at 8:30 p.m. (The gym closed at 9:00 p.m.) I would tell the person behind the desk that I just needed to get in a few miles. I would run hard. I would push myself, see just how fast I could run with angry music blaring in my ears. My legs would ache as I limped back upstairs to finish my work. The dull ache was a pleasant reminder that at least I had taken a bit of time for myself. Before I became pregnant, I trained for and ran a half-marathon about every six months at the firm.
Now, I struggle to run. How do I make time during my harried day to just get out the door? I don't know. Perhaps I need to master our huge jogging stroller. Perhaps I need to run at lunch, glares from the partners be damned. Whatever the solution, I need to find it. Running is my sanity, and without it, I find a darkness invades my days. The darkness makes me loathe my job even more. The darkness makes it tough to see the humor. The darkness makes me love being a mom a little less. I need running. I just need to figure out how to get out the door.