I’m not the best when it comes to team sports. Sure, I played softball and soccer in high school, but when the balls came to me, I’d clam up, get freaked out by the pressure to perform, and just suck. Cross-country and track were more consistent with my independent free-spirited personality, and I excelled in those.
So when I was asked to run the Ragnar Relay in Cape Cod, I enthusiastically signed up. After all, if I’m not doing big things now, in my 30s, before my body really starts to deteriorate, then, when?
The pressure to train wasn’t so intense, or at least not as intense as it was in high school. After all, I was going for the bucket list, not the college scholarship. But finding time to train, to run for hours and hours, was much more difficult than I imagined. The last time I ran a race of any substance, a 13-miler in 2011, I ran whenever and wherever I wanted. Now, I am a mom to two little guys. If one of them is sick, I might miss a workout. Also, I have to run during specific time slots, and balance that “free time” with all my other work and home obligations.
Another big challenge was the lack of sleep. I never sleep before big races, ever (not even the Marine Corps Marathon), and I’ve gone DAYS without more than a few hours of sleep. But the prospect of running a race that is practically built on the premise of getting no sleep (just “rest” on the hard ass floor of an ice hockey rink or a tent) was almost too much to bear. I almost bailed the night before.
But then I remembered that my friends were counting on me. Specifically, my mom pal Heidi, who I’ve always wanted to run with, had flown to Boston to be one of 12, and my friends Sean (also Zack’s best friend) and Kat would be there. So I did it. I got up early, nursed little Logan, and hopped in “Van 1,” my home for the next day and a half.
After what seemed like endless hours of waiting, I finally got to run my leg, Leg 6, the last of my van. I did 4.2 miles, averaging about 8:45 minutes per mile. And then, we were done! Off to a random Italian restaurant that is probably responsible for the 4 pounds I’ve gained over the last month (I wish I was kidding). Lesson learned: If you want to lose weight while running, don’t also eat more. And don’t cut out nursing (or in my case, 50% of nursing).
The hardest runs, but by far the most interesting and euphoric, were the night runs. Leg 6 kicked off at about 4:15 a.m. in stunning, idyllic Hyannis, Massachusetts. The dusk was my backdrop as I ran past lovely streams of water, lighthouses, and residential neighborhoods. 5.5 miles passed, and Van 1 moved on to a campsite.
Our van finished at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, almost 24 hours after we kicked off the race. It would’ve been nice to stay with the rest of “Blood Sweat and Beers” team but the exhaustion was kicking my ass. Little did I know the one day I’m allowed to sleep in, Mother’s Day, would be met with a 2.75-year-old toddler in underwear ready to potty train at 7 a.m. But that’s OK. One day, when Nathan’s older, perhaps in college, I’ll long for the little guy in the diapers. Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m so grateful for it every day. And I’m also grateful I can still run an 8-something mile. Not sure how much longer I’ll be able to do that, but I’m relishing every moment and every footstep.