It was a beautiful day for a race. The path stretched out before me, and mile by mile I conquered it.
It wasn’t about how fast I could run, or how many people were ahead or behind me.. it was about taking in the beautiful journey and challenging my body more than the last race. Pushing past the boundaries that the mind built.
I ran more consecutive miles today than I have since before my son was born. Eleven miles. Slowly but surely my body is healing. My mind is healing. It is not broken, ruined, nor defective. The more that I run, the more I believe that I am capable.
Doing something physically challenging helps me to know that the next time I am faced with immense and overwhelming fear, I can face it with the courage of an athlete who pushes through the hardest part of the race. The miles just beyond our previous accomplishment.
One mile at a time, I am healing from my trauma.
“Keep running the race that is set before you with Endurance” Hebrews 12:1
It has felt so good to get back into a running routine this past week! I’ve started my marathon training in earnest now, even on days when I just don’t want to run. But putting it off for another day isn’t going to help me on race day.
Over the weekend, one of my best friends came to visit, and we went on a nice run just the two of us. Now, I know plenty of friends who go running together all of the time, but military life has a way of making this more special. Best friends can be thousands of miles away on any given day! And in this case, we hadn’t seen each other since January. When NEITHER of us were really running. Much less training! And now BOTH of us are doing both! It was such a huge blessing.
So, as we left the quaint little house, the boys being looked after by DH, I was so excited! We started trotting down the road in the morning humidity and found a nice pace where we could not only fulfill our goal of getting a good thirty minute run in, but we could also get to talk at the same time. It felt good to be able to talk freely about birth, motherhood, and everything that was happening in our lives.
Running isn’t always about how much you sweat during the run, or the miles that you log, but about the friendships that you are able to nourish along the way.
I haven’t been a runner for very long. Although the military imposed running on me years ago, I didn’t discover the joy and freedom of running until after my son was born. Going for a run began to take on a whole new meaning then. “This is something my body can do!” I might not be able to birth, but I can run.
It started out as a desperate way to lose the weight I had packed on during my pregnancy. But then I began to sign up for races. A 5K here, a 10K there… It kept me focused on the next race, the next goal. Then I started to realize that I was pretty darn good at it! I could run for miles at a time, when just a year ago I could barely walk to the kitchen after my cesarean.
So I started making bigger goals. Another half marathon, the Army Ten Miler, and I am most excited about: The 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon! I can hardly believe it. I must be crazy.
But lately, when I have a rough day or need a break, I lace up and hit the road. Because I might not be able to control the crazy coworker who shushed me in the middle of a meeting, or change any of the things that I couldn’t control on the day my son was born, but I CAN control my run. My pace, my breath, my stride, my playlist. Because I am a runner, even on days when I don’t feel like a mother.
Today as I started off on my first run after a month long, self-imposed “break” from running.. one of my first thoughts was… bug spray. I forgot to use bug spray. As I swatted away the bugs that convene along the rural Virginia road at dusk, I started to imagine myself as She-Ra, fighting my way through them. Weird? Yes. Empowering? Absolutely.
This was my first run of many that will come to prepare for my first marathon next January. A bucket list item, that at 29, I started to worry that I wouldn’t get to. Despite reports of 93 year olds completing them “all the time.” I wonder most days if I am crazy. But a few years ago, before my son was born, I ran a half-marathon. And I still remember that absolute elation as I crossed the finish line, tears streaming down my face as I quietly celebrated finishing as well as finally feeling the massive blisters and my bruised toes.
It’s the same elation that I had hoped to feel after birthing my son. You see, in the next six months, I’m not only training for my fist marathon. I am also embarking on a journey of healing my soul after a traumatic birth experience. I am preparing to try to have another child, and I desperately want to birth the way that millions of women take for granted every day. My fears of another cesarean make me paralyzed sometimes. Nightmares of my birth experience haunt me, and until I can face my fears and my experiences I won’t be able to move forward and embrace pregnancy and birth again.
This is going to be my journey.. It’ll probably get rough. It’ll probably get emotional. But I hope to emerge as a She-Ra, battling my way through fears and comfort zones to be a marathon runner and a kick ass mama who’s ready for anything.