Friday morning before Christmas/Winter break, I went out for a long run. Five miles through the woods in one of my favorite local parks. It was a beautiful morning and the run felt amazing. At the end, I felt like I could keep going.
Kiddos being home for two and half weeks, snow storms, sick days, dog bites and more snow and ice all conspired against my running schedule. And the 10k date is coming up ever so quickly. Frustrated with my runs and there hasn't been a week since where I've managed to get in three runs...let alone another long run.
Until this past Monday morning. I dropped the wee girl off at preschool and drove out to one of the other local parks...lots of hills and miles of trail. And I ran. Slow and steady for almost an hour. Didn't plan on running quite so long...but I got turned around on one of the trails, lost my way and ended up running around the soccer field instead of avoiding it all together. But it felt amazing. The cold kept most humans indoors...or at least out of the woods. It was just me, the critters and trees. As I was stretching, overlooking the duck pond, I finally felt at peace with my training...I was back to the place I needed to be in order to be ready for the 10k in 8 weeks.
That night, I knelt down to pick up my daughter and as I started to lift her up red hot pain shot up the length of my spine and down my legs. Tuesday evening, after looking over fresh x-rays showing my lower spine pulled to a tight, straight line by muscle strain, the doctor declared my running days on temporary suspension. And I couldn't stop the tears.
For the past five and a half years I have been the Mommy. Yes, there was a brief period of time between kiddos when I went back to work full time but I was still the Mommy. In this crazy life we've chosen I'm the Keeper of Schedules, Protector of Routines, the one that is There--no matter what. To keep stuff together, to keep things from falling apart...and putting all of the pieces back when it does. It's my Stuff that gets shoved to the back of the line when schedules don't agree. Yes, it's been my choice. And I don't regret my decision. My family, my children, my marriage is better for it. And I know that this is only for a season...and a relatively short one at that.
But last September when I dropped the girl off for her first day of preschool and I was faced with, not one but three mornings every week that were Mine, the knowledge was like an elixir. When I went for my first run that week, I cried. For the first time in years, I was doing something just for Me. A few weeks in, we all started noticing a difference. I was still me...but a more relaxed me. I was able to actually focus on one thing at a time with my children instead of the crazy multitasking that I'd been doing for so long.
When I run, no one else is there. It's just me, the woods and the quiet cadence of feet hitting the trail. Not only am I able to think--I'm able to process whole entire thoughts without interruption. For almost six years, I've been lucky to finish a sentence--let alone an entire thought.
And now we go back to the way it was. I still have the three mornings a week when the girl is in preschool. But I'm home. Too many Things vying for my attention. Laundry to be folded. Groceries to be purchased and put away. Rooms to be painted. Trim to be attached, re-attached. Clothes to be sorted through. Clothes to be mended. Toys and books to be mended. Stuff to clean. Menus to write. Dog poop to pick up in the backyard. Garden beds to attend to.
Each run was a personal challenge. Each run was building up to something else. I start physical therapy next week. Hopefully, if I'm a good girl and do what I'm told (don't laugh, it could happen) I'll be back to running in a couple of months. But it's going to be a long, hard road just getting back to where I was Monday morning, delighting in my run through the woods.