The Long Race
I took a run this weekend with my husband. First time I’ve run with someone in years.
When he asked if I could keep a 10:00 mile pace, I nearly laughed out loud. The former cross country runner in me piped up:
“Ten minute miles? I think I can handle that.”
…What’s that saying about pride coming before the fall?
Yeah. In this case, pride comes before the gasping-for-breath-and-thinking-you’re-going-to-die.
My burning lungs and legs told a story of glory running days gone by.
Somehow, I kept up with him, but only with the benefit of his coaching, one badass playlist, and several “stop and walks.”
And yet the whole time I was running, there was burning inside of me a self-directed fury. An anger at my body for performing so poorly, for being so slow, so cumbersome, so different than it was before. I was angry because what used to come so easily to me just, well, doesn’t anymore.
With each dragging step and dripping bead of sweat, it festered.
And then I caught myself. And here’s why.
It’s been five years now. Five years—back to back—of growing children, feeding them, carrying them, pulling and lifting and sometimes dragging them around the world.
Five years of constant physicality, of asking a lot of my body, day in and day out.
Five years of my body being tested in ways I never imagined. Being pushed to endure 34 hours straight of labor. The lacerating pains of the early days of nursing. The swelling and deflating as my body accommodated life no fewer than three times.
How could I be mad at something that did so much for me?
So body, let me apologize. I’ve been kind of a jerk in the way I’ve described you: Fat. Tired. Lazy.
Before becoming a mom, I didn’t know what you could do–what we could do, together.
But now I know.
So let me say this now: Thank you.
To the body that used to run 6:30 miles and 20:00 5k’s, and who now struggles to keep up a 10:00 mile pace…. thank you for letting me hit the road again, and to try my mightiest as I feel the burn.
To the body that I used to think “failed” me during the birth of my first child, when I had a c-section, yet gave me the gift of three beautiful children still… thank you for teaching me my limits, and that sometimes I have to listen to you, even when I don’t want to.
To that same body that then got through two VBACs after that c-section, that defied odds and even doctor’s recommendations to prove we could do this… thank you for teaching me that sometimes, you can do things that other people say you can’t.
To the body that has taken a beating nursing children, getting pulled and prodded daily, waking up at all hours but still making it through the next day, step by dragging step… thank you.
I don’t care that my 6:30 mile days are behind me, or that my knees pop when I bend down now, and that gravity is slowly but surely making a case of my (ahem) formerly perky parts.
I just care that you’re here, you’re healthy, and you are literally carrying me through every single day with the very people—those amazing little people—that you helped me bring into this world.
That’s pretty big.
So sorry for talking crap on you all this time. Little did I know you were just doing your job. And now I get to do my favorite job in the world, because you did yours.
So, yeah. Thanks. I’ll see you at the starting line.