Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marathon Dates

My husband and I refer to our first date as our marathon date. It lasted over 12 hours, included a stop at his parents’ house, my first mountain bike purchase, and drinks with his best friend. Nothing like jumping in headfirst. (Ironically, we’ve since run several marathons together, but those are never considered marathon dates!)

It’s been 14 years and two children since that first date and we still make an effort to spend chunks of time together reconnecting as a couple. We’re committed to frequent dates and shoot for an annual getaway doing something active. Just the two of us. Alone.

And so last week, Tony and I returned to the scene of our “best ever date.” We relived the “double crossing” of the Grand Canyon, where we ran from the South Rim to the North Rim, spent the night on the North Rim, and then ran back again. It was an amazing adventure with lots of great memories and nothing but each other’s company to occupy the time.

For two full days it was no kids, no work, no television, no phone. Just us.  We met a retired couple who have spent the last six years driving around the country in an RV, met some marathoners from KY, and enjoyed the beauty of the Southwest. When we finished our adventure in the Canyon, we went to the movies, enjoyed good coffee, and watched television in bed (off limits in our home!).

Surprisingly, the time we spend together never includes my typical dose of mother guilt.  When we take a multi-day trip away from the kids, we make every effort to ensure that they have good care, and they have a set schedule.

This time around they had the pleasure of spending the weekend with their aunt and cousins.  They still had to stick to their routine, but they were rewarded with a couple of impromptu stops at Dairy Queen, and an extra late movie night with pizza.  While their routine gives them the boundaries to know they are safe, the extra treats and later bed times keep it fun while Mom and Dad are gone.

Three and a half days away from the kids gave us plenty of time to reconnect doing something we both love.  And that makes for a very happy couple.  In the long run, happy parents make happy kids and healthy parents make healthy kids.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bed head, anyone?

Getting out of bed before the sun comes up means I’m rarely lookin’ fresh for my early morning workouts. I’m a stickler about sweating with clean teeth, but beyond that there isn’t much prep time associated with my pre-dawn fitness. Hair in pony, coffee in cup, grab the nearest (sometimes not-so-clean shirt) and I’m out the door.

I’m pretty sure we all share that routine to some degree (though you may always be confident your shirt is clean). For most of us, the main priority is getting out quietly, not getting out pretty. We don’t dare wake the kids or we’re up early and without our daily dose of fitness.

That said, there is something wonderful about working out with other people when we’re most ourselves, no primping, no prepping and probably no deodorant. What you see is what you get, wrinkles and all. Perhaps that why some of my fondest memories of fitness, some of my best fit-friendships, have grown during those early hours when the light is dim.

For me, getting out of bed in the morning ranks up there with cleaning the bathroom or making school lunches: Not. Much. Fun. But like most of the really great things in life, there is payback in the effort. The friendships hold me accountable, keep me climbing out of bed and lacing up my shoes.

As darkness takes over a little more of the morning, resist the urge to crawl back under the covers. Remember those friendships, those naked truths we love to see in each other, and keep moving! Even if the only face you see is your own reflection in the window, remember there is someone waiting for you and continue to embrace the dawn!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today, my life changed. Less than two hours after watching a second line appear on a pregnancy test, I witnessed the horrors of 9/11 unfold from the coffee shop at work. I had just told a friend (another high mileage runner) about the faint line; told her we planned to test again the next day “just to be sure.” But I knew. A second line was a second line, no matter how faint.

For the thirty minutes we talked, my main concerns about being pregnant were how far and how fast I could run with a baby on board. Would I be able to run throughout my pregnancy or would I have to settle with walking in the later months?

As I got up from the table with my friend and saw the crowds of people behind us watching the television coverage of the attacks, I remember thinking that running during my pregnancy wasn’t important. I felt silly at having worried; now there were more serious considerations. Like, how could I bring a child into a world where such terrible things were happening?

From the moment I stood up (close to 8 am CST), I was terrified. I remember crying that night as I realized the enormity of the attack. Watching the aftermath on television with my husband, knowing we had a baby on the way, made the event seem even more grievous. It was an attack on everyone, even our unborn child.

We went ahead and took another pregnancy test the following day. We’d deluded ourselves into the “uncertainty” of the test from the day before. Wanted a new, happier day to know for sure. As expected, the faint line had turned into a confident, bold declaration.

As our baby grew I continued to worry about the world, but I also continued to run. After time, I realized that the running really was important. It was something I could control, something that made me feel like I was making a difference in my world. It was a statement, a proclamation of how important health and fitness were to me. It was my way of telling myself, my child, and my community that I wasn’t going to live in fear.

But admittedly, a small amount of fear remains with me today. I hate the thought of anything threatening the safety of my family. So I’ll do what I can each day to keep them safe in the ways I can control. I’ll do what I can to stay healthy and teach them to do the same.

We’ll never forget the tragedies of 9/11. We’ll never forget that first pregnancy test; the day we first learned we were going to become parents. The events will forever be connected, and forever remind us how fragile life really is.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sneaking a Kiss

A new school year is upon us!
Dropped my youngest off at her kindergarten room today and did something I hadn't done yet during her six day tenure in school. I lingered outside her room, peeked in through the glass to see what she did as her day began.

First, a pause. She leaned over the counter in her classroom as if powering up some internal engine. Then, with a bounce of energy, she planted a big kiss on her palm and danced off out of sight. 

If you're into children's literature at all, you're familiar with Audrey Penn's book The Kissing Hand in which Chester Racoon's mom puts a kiss in his hand that stays with him for his first day of school. Understand why my heart turned to mush?

I've been grieving the transition this year, having both girls in school. Watching Maggie this morning took a little of the bitter out of bittersweet. She's a wonderful person; I'm happy I get to share her spirit with others but I still miss her. Miss them both.

After dropping the girls off, I walked out of school with a smile on my face. I climbed into my car, looked at my palm, and gave it a little kiss.

Pretty sure it's gonna get me through the day.