“I wish you’d been there at a La Leche League meeting I was leading,” my friend said when I mentioned I’d registered for a half-marathon. “This one woman was asking about nursing and running and none of us had anything to tell her.” There was a sense among the other breastfeeding mamas that running was a foreign territory, which it was to me until my late-20’s.
Lots of people I know comment on how they can’t believe I’m running that far. But then there are folks I know who are much more serious athletes than I will ever be. One mom I know ran most of a half-marathon while nearing the end of her first trimester and then stopped by with her toddler after taking him and their dog on a five-mile-plus jog with See Mommy Run. It's all I can do to run on my own when I can and occasionally push the jogging stroller.
I registered for the Zooma Annapolis half-marathon because it was a good time of year and not too far away, and I needed a goal. At first I thought it sounded too frou-frou, with massages after the race and too much of a girlfriend vibe for someone to run alone. But my physical therapist/massage therapist/Muscle Activation Technique therapist, a former professional soccer player, rolled her eyes at my objections and encouraged me just to do it. Once I got up to running eight miles about a month before, I decided to go for it.
I hadn’t realized how my mommy identity would make me feel so at home in an athletic event. There were a few men in the race, but the field was largely made up of women. My son and husband stayed in bed for the 7:00 gun, but there were lots of kids in strollers at the start and some along the way. Passing groups of women running, I overheard conversations life with kids of all ages. After one woman asked me for the time and we kept up an even pace for a while, we started up a conversation. She also had a two-year-old and a three-year-old. It was her first half-marathon, too, and she said it was easier to get back into running after her second child.
Instead of feeling guilty for taking time away from my son to indulge in exercise, I felt totally normal. Many of us had been through childbirth and some months or years of child-rearing, and this was just the next phase of our lives, still or again or newly running. My journey to the race necessarily included my experience as a mother. My now was whole and complete. Nothing was lacking or off-kilter or not fitting.
When I saw MommyGoddess t-shirts for sale at the after-race expo, I bought two.