Thursday, August 07, 2008

Three by Six

Yay! It's time for Take It and Run Thursday! This week, Tom and Amy challenged us - nay, dared us - to give a running memoir in exactly six words.

I have been a runner since I entered my first 5K when I was ten years old. So, I am going to cheat pay tribute to my lengthy running career by writing a memoir for the three eras of my running.

That's right, I said eras. I'm in a grandiose mood today.

During my teens, my running was defined by one man, my high school cross country coach, the appropriately named Coach Quick. Quick had very high standards for his teams, and I know that we worked harder and had longer, tougher workouts than many of our competitors. Varsity runners would start the day with a 6:00 AM practice, a simple 5 mile road run. After school, there would be a mix of road runs, hill work, and brutal track workouts. I averaged 10 miles of running a day. On weekends, we could have stuck close to home and creamed our competition in local meets, but instead, we woke up pre-crack of dawn to travel to the Chicago suburbs to compete against the best teams in the state.

That hard work got results. All four years that I ran for Quick, our teams (both boys and girls) won our conference, regional, and sectional championships, qualifying for the state meet.

From Coach Quick, I learned not to cut corners. I learned that a hard workout wouldn't kill me, and that, in fact, after I got over wanting to die, I'd feel amazing. My memoir for this time would be:

Running hard. Running with the best.

In my 20s, I did a lot less running than I had in high school. I think I was a bit burned out, and the prospect of running for my college's cross country team was unappealing. And after graduation, I was awfully preoccupied with my horrendous, soul-sucking first job, cutting down on my time for running.

Still, I'd go to the gym and see disturbingly thin girls pounding away at the stairmaster, looking miserable, and probably figuring that their workouts earned them the right to add some fat free dressing to their evening meal of lettuce as a special treat. That's not how I do things. Instead, I'd lift weights for a while, then go out for a three mile run. Why did I run then? Not for extra salad.

Running so I can drink more.

I turned 30, and a few weeks later, had Jack. Unless you've experienced it, it's impossible to describe how parenthood shakes your world. I realize now in a way that I never understood before how, if you let it happen, taking care of that baby can easily occupy every minute of your time, every thought in your head, every ounce of your soul. As a woman, you become invisible, because if you walk into the grocery store holding a baby, nobody looks at you; they look at the baby. You are a faceless Mommy.

That's not a good way to be.

There are a million articles in women's magazines about how important it is for a new mom to make time for herself. None of them were appealing to me. If I went and got a pedicure, I felt guilty for spending the money on something so completely frivolous. Take a nice bubble bath? Not so relaxing when you can still hear your baby crying.

But one thing that I felt absolutely no guilt about doing was going running. I mean, come on: I was exercising. Losing baby weight. No way could I feel badly about that. And when I was out running, I wasn't Jack's Mommy; I was Betsy.

Running became a way for me to forge my own identity, completely apart from being a wife and mother. My new inner strength, resolve, and dedication allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of running a marathon. My memoir for this time of my life?

Running lets me be me again.


The Happy Runner said...

Your current memoir? So right-on. It is hard to be the faceless mommy, isn't it? Especially after being the in-the-spotlight pregnant woman.

Jennifer Burgett said...

I can totally relate to your third "era".
"I realize now in a way that I never understood before how, if you let it happen, taking care of that baby can easily occupy every minute of your time, every thought in your head, every ounce of your soul." How true is that!!! And like you, I don't feel guilty about running!

Ovens2Betsy said...

This is fabulous!

Lisa said...

I am right there with you on your last part. Running is something for ME. Sometimes I still start to feel guilty for my long runs, but the guilt doesn't hit until I stop at Starbucks on the way home. LOL.

I enjoyed your post.

thebets said...

Great post Betsy! I'll send a link to all the running moms I know : ).

Joe said...

Love it. Especially the drinking one. I hope never to be a faceless mom. For so many reasons. :)


RazZDoodle said...

*standing applause*
That. Was. Awesome!

merrymishaps said...

I love them all!

But running to drink is one of the greatest reasons :)

RooBabs said...

So glad that you're feeling grandiose. Your memoirs are excellent, and I love the insight into who you are.

Your last one really struck a chord with me. Lately I've felt so disconnected, and that's one of the reasons why I started running- to have something that would be me. The other two will never apply to me (since I doubt I'll ever be a top runner, and I don't drink), but they were great tidbits.

Thanks for sharing!

Heather said...

Love reading your posts, Betsy! Great TIART addition!

Run For Life said...

Great post and all good memoirs!

Nat said...

Running is such an intrisic part of who we are eh?
Great post.

suzee said...

As always, great post. I wish I'd figured out the running while my kids were babies!