I haven’t been running with any kind of regularity since I did the Missoula Half Marathon in 2007, my belly six months round with a Margot. And when I do run now it’s all different. It’s about getting out with my dog and kids, it’s about squeezing in exercise between naps. Also, I pee my pants. I miss when running was my meditation; when it was just me moving toward Mount Sentinel as the sun rose to meet me. I miss bladder control. I knew my friend, Running, would come back but I wasn’t sure how or when we’d reconnect. Turns out all I needed was a new bra and the unbridled energy of several thousand athletes.
Last weekend my family made the curvy, mountainous drive west to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to watch our friend compete in his first ever Ironman Triathlon. The city was humming with people who trained for months, who pushed through injury and exhaustion, who zipped their special gear in their special bags and traveled to swim, bike and run from sun-up to sun-down. As I wove my double stroller through the amped scene the day before the race, I caught a contact high. I remembered when I was one of those fit, excited people with my special gear and my special bag at running races. Behind my oversized sunglasses, my eyes regularly filled with tears of amazement and reverence and I knew, in a big way, that I need to run. I need to run like I used to run.
My friend Heather talks about the running’s loyalty. She says, running is always there for you. And I know that. I know it when I see my shoes sitting by the door waiting to be pushed, when Margot wears my marathon medal around the house, when my dog looks at me longingly. It’s there for me, patiently and lovingly waiting for me to be there for it.
In the last few months the familiar itch to Run has been getting itchier. My savagefriend is running a marathon next weekend and I find myself wanting to know details about her long runs and I find myself googling races and training programs. But I’ve held back. I’ve felt nervous to re-engage. I wondered how I could prioritize it and, more nervously, what it would all look and feel like.
I didn’t even bring my running clothes with me to Coeur d’Alene. Before I had kids, my running clothes were the first to be packed when we left town as running is my favorite way to explore new places. My best friend’s fiance was the future Ironman and Lindsay had been looking forward to running with me while he spent days assembling his bike and preparing his legs. She and I were both surprised I hadn’t brought my stuff and decided to venture downtown to fetch a bra. She held Ruby while I tried on the high impact bras. I stood in the dressing room, my postpartum self staring back at me. My belly’s softer and tattooed with proof it grew and grew. My boobs hang lower. And I’ve never in my life had more confidence in and admiration for my physical self. That belly grew a human inside it and those boobs sustain life. It’s time to run.
So I secured my girls in their new supportive bra and I slipped into my new sporty running skirt that I last-minute plucked off the sale rack. And, with Lindsay and her encouragement, I ran toward the lake, up and around a mountain, through the crowds of triathletes and straight back into Running. It was about trusting myself and about giving myself the indulgence of some new clothes that fit well. It was the shift I have been waiting for, the shift that Running has been waiting for. Tomorrow I will purchase new shoes and this mama is running to meet the sun.