My mom friends are awesome. In so many ways, I feel like we just get each other. And I love that. I like being unique, of course, but sometimes knowing there are others who share my crazy makes me feel, well, normal. But a few weeks back, at our monthly Freezer Meal Swap, these very friends started talking about The Walking Dead and their obsession with it. And, I admit it, I thought they were nuts. I saw about 10 seconds of one trailer for that freaky show and thought, Who watches that?! They do, apparently. Crazy girls. Not me; no thanks.
As for this crazy girl, I'm happy to say I'm feeling a bit more like my old self today. I know, I haven't been quite right lately. A little off. Maybe the February blues followed the post-holiday doldrums. Maybe I was just tired, stressed, the usual. Or maybe I just wasn't running enough. In fact, I know I wasn't. Ironically, last year when I was pregnant, even in my third trimester, I was running twice as many miles each week as I have since Hattie Jane was born. (Well, in some ways it makes sense, of course: you can run, if awkwardly and laboringly, with a baby in your belly, but you can't go out for a run while she's asleep in her crib.)
So we got a treadmill. Yes, the dreadmill. And while I could hear that thing calling my name from the basement loud and clear, I just couldn't bring myself to go down there and run on it. The "hamster thing in the basement," as my daughter calls it. So true. Talk about grinding it out. Ugh. Besides, it seemed like as soon as I got my shoes tied and turned the thing on, the baby would cry and I'd have to stop in my tracks and deal with her. Or I knew there just wasn't enough time to squeeze in even a quick four before it would be time for preschool pickup, so why even bother, get all sweaty, need to squeeze in a shower. All that work. Nah.
And the thing is, when you have a baby - when you have kids - you can always come up with a legitimate excuse not to exercise. I saw this quote on Pinterest recently that went, "If I started running as soon as I first thought about it, I'd be back by now." My version of it is, "If I spent as much time on the treadmill as I did coming up with reasons not to, I'd have run 20 miles already." Or maybe that quote should begin, "If I spent as much time on the treadmill as I did on Pinterest I'd..."
So, what changed? How did I get my groove back? It'd make sense to say it's because I signed up for my first marathon. (So me, right? I'm not really up for running 5 miles today so how about signing up to run 26.2? Heck, nothing else was working!) But it wasn't signing up for the marathon that did it, I'll be honest, it's when I made it Facebook Official that something clicked. It was upon reading the comments that followed that momentous status update that I had an epiphany. One of my oldest and dearest friends wrote: "Way to go, Beck! With your love of running and how committed you are to it, you can definitely do it!!! " Gulp. Love of running? What happened to my love of running???
Was my love of running akin to my love of Ryan Gosling, a mere infatuation, a lovely daydream about about something imaginary, something that exists only in my mind, something that just wouldn't work in the real world? Or maybe a better analogy is my love for Chicago. This nostalgic, aching, yearning I have for the neighborhood we used to live in, mere blocks from Wrigley Field? Is it a love that only works with a Rewind button attached, something that was good in a different time in my life but not practical right now? Double gulp! Who am I without running?
Just in the nick of time, just when I started to feel completely lost, like I didn't know who I was anymore, one of my wonderful, crazy-like-me friends came to the rescue. We were in the girls' locker room after our kindergartners' swim practice and she whispered, "Come here, Beck, I have something for you." Said with a twinkle in her eye, like she was letting me in on a little guilty secret, she handed me an index card. And on it were the specifics for this week's training runs. Track repeats. Intervals. Tempo runs.
All the stuff I said I'd never do. You see, a few of my favorite running buddies started this more intense training regimen towards the end of my pregnancy last year, and I couldn't join them. And this year, they meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings when Shawn's already left for work, and I still can't join them. Besides, (I told myself) I don't want to do that anyway. Yuck. I used to feel nauseous all day back in high school when the rumors would start about it being an "interval" day at track practice. Why the heck would I subject myself to this now? Now. When I'm all grown up. When I love running. When I'd rather go out and run ten miles at my own pace, enjoying every unlabored breath, why on God's Green Earth would I start some sort of crazy track workout now?
Oh, wait, when was the last time I went out and ran ten miles? Do I even still love running?
So, I took the little index card, handed to me as if it were a gift, not an obligation. And I tried it. The very next morning, I dropped my four-year-old at preschool, came home, put the baby down for a nap, didn't even glance at my laptop, just went down to the treadmill and hopped on. I pulled up Netflix on the iPad, queued up The Walking Dead, and started to run. It was hard - My God was it hard! Panting and groaning hard (me, not the zombies) - but before I knew it, I had seven miles under my belt, and was so entranced by my new Lost, I didn't even notice the minutes ticking by. For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself.
Now, when that thing calls my name from the basement (the treadmill, not the zombie...come on!), I don't try to think up an excuse not to go, I think, I know, I miss you too, I'll be down as soon as I can. That's the thing with us crazies, you can run but you cannot hide...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em....we'll be baaaack...ok, I'll stop now.