By: Kris Berry
I’m having an affair. I wake up early in the morning before anyone else in my house, sneak out of bed, pull on a skirt and a tank top and slip quietly out of the house. I leave my husband alone with the three children in the evenings to feed them dinner or put them to bed. I’m gone for an hour or two at a time, indulging myself in one of my newest loves…running.
I’ve been running for exercise since college. I ran all through grad school and beyond. But I never loved it. It was just an exercise to compliment yoga or strength training. I rarely went longer than 3 miles and I probably complained through the majority of my runs. But my relationship with running has since changed. I can honestly say I’m in love.
I started running again once I was cleared to exercise by my OB. I had the itch all during my pregnancy with my daughter to get out and run. I had been sedentary for a long time. For the first year of my boys’ lives I was mainly in survival mode. I lived in sweatpants and couldn’t quite figure out how to balance exercise and the care of them. Then when they were 13 months old and things started to get a bit easier, I found out I was pregnant again. So, when I was finally cleared to return to normal activity I hit the road. It started mainly as a selfish thing. Some time to myself, a way to get back into shape after three children, a way to get out of the house. But it’s morphed into something different. I need to run now, I guess you could say I’m addicted. But through this addiction, I’ve seen the affect it has on my children.
My daughter has never known me as not a “runner.” I ran my first 10K when she was 5 months old and she has seen me run three more and four ½ marathons since. She puts on my running shoes, goes to the door and announces “I going running!” When we are outside, she runs circles around my minivan laughing and saying “I a runner.” Whenever we see someone out running all three of my children yell “Go Runner Go!” They recently ran in their first race and ask all the time when they can do another. I didn’t realize that my running would rub off on them in such a way. Sure, maybe my daughter would have loved to run in circles anyway but I like to feel that I have impacted her (and my boys) in some positive way.
Spending an hour or two alone while running allows me the time to wax a little philosophical. I ponder some of life’s big questions like, What is my purpose here? What do I want in life for my children? Whatever happened to that filet-o-fish commercial? I spend a lot of time thinking about my kids and what I want them to learn from me. I know that there will come a time when my words of advice will just go in one ear and out the other. They will have broken hearts that I can not mend, they will lose friendships, they will be denied college applications. I know because I’ve been there (not that long ago thankyouverymuch). But just telling them things like “someday you won’t even remember this girl’s name” or “you will get into a better school” won’t mean much to them. I have to show them with my actions.
Right now I’m a little over a month into training for my first marathon. Me, the girl who conveniently was always home sick on the day we needed to run the mile in high school gym class. Me, the girl who once considered getting up off the couch to change the antenna position on the tv exercise. Me. I’m training for a marathon. My Saturday morning runs now have me going past the half marathon mark by a few miles. I run longer than a half marathon every weekend, and I will from now until those 26.2 miles on October 16th. The adrenalin rush is amazing. The pride I feel when completing a 14 or 15 mile run before most people are up out of bed is awesome. I don’t look like a runner. I’m not incredibly athletic, but I’m capable of great things. That’s what I want for my children. I want them to look at me and know that they can do whatever they set their mind on, and not to let anyone else tell them otherwise.
I think a lot about how it’s going to feel to run those 26.2 miles, both emotionally and physically. I think that my proudest moment (even more than crossing or, more likely, limping across the finish line) is going to be when I run by my three children and my husband ringing their cow bells and yelling “Run Mommy Run,” because they are my biggest supporters and I won’t let them down.