I'm going to run a half marathon in April.
Wow! I can't believe those words just flung off my fingers. Six months ago, I wouldn't have even considered the possibility. But I've put my money down. My training calls for me to run nine miles this weekend.
So, here we are.
Running isn't a new thing for me. I ran in high school as a field hockey player. I ran occasionally in college in an attempt to keep the weight off. I ran a couple of times a week as a young adult because I had the time. But I wasn't serious about it. I never went farther than a couple of miles.
Once kids came along, I walked. I pushed my older daughter around my neighborhood in the stroller for countless hours. We'd sing and talk and point out the animals and neighbors and big trucks before I headed to work mid-morning and she went to day care.
When my younger daughter came along more than four years later, I thought I'd do the same. But she hated it - dreaded being confined in the stroller, couldn't stand being away from her big sister for too long. My walks - sometimes six miles at a time with my older daughter - shrunk to two or so at the most.
That is until I sprinted across a busy street one day. When I slowed to a walk on the other side, I heard a little voice call out from underneath the stroller canopy, "Go faster, Mommy!"
I did. When I slowed down, she demanded more speed. When I stopped, she asked me why. She was like a personal trainer - the mean kind. And it worked!
I started running - first a few blocks then a mile then three. Pretty soon, on the weekends, I was heading out on my own, amazed when I finished five miles in a decent time and exhilarated because I'd accomplished something on my own, for me. That wasn't happening very often.
Then, a mom who lives across the street encouraged me to join a morning running group made up of mostly other neighborhood moms. I joined in the fall. As I headed out for that first run, I worried that I wouldn't be fast enough or that I'd have to stop right in the middle and turn around. I brought my iPod, thinking I'd listen to music like I always did.
But when I got there, we started talking - about life, kids, husbands, vacations, school projects, the latest round of lice, stomach bugs, date nights, you name it. We laughed and gave advice, sympathized and listened. The miles flew by. I never brought my iPod again.
I now wake up three mornings a week at 5:45 a.m. to join the group. Despite those early mornings, I have never felt more rested and energized. Running does that. Sure, it has helped me shave off a few pounds. But, more importantly, it has helped clear my head. I'm happier, healthier and a better mom to my kids when I run.
And that all has brought me to here. With another runner in my small group, I've signed up for the RunRaleigh Half Marathon on April 14. I'm nervous and excited, but mostly excited.
I'm not sharing my story because it's unique or unusual. Lots of people have gone before me, judging by all those 13.1 bumper stickers out there.
I share my story because I want other moms like me to know it's possible. To start, all I needed was a pair of running shoes and the willingness to get out there.
So here on Go Ask Mom, I'm launching a series on runner moms in the Triangle. We'll hear from WRAL-TV moms Amanda Lamb, Monica Laliberte, Kelcey Carlson, Julia Sims and Elizabeth Gardner on why they run and how they work it into their crazy schedules.
I'll have features and posts from local moms who run. A mom, who is a runner and physical therapist with Duke Medicine, our sponsor, will share some tips. I'll check in with Raleigh Running Mamas, a 5K and 10K training program for moms, as well. And there's more. Look for a couple of posts each week, starting with a post from Amanda on Monday.
I'll wrap it all up on April 15 when, I hope!, I can share that I crossed the finish line.
Sarah is a mom of two and Go Ask Mom's editor.