I got roped into another half marathon this past weekend. I wasn’t prepared for it, mentally or physically, but I wanted to do it anyway. I was three weeks out from my last half and hadn’t run any distance more than four miles since. I got excited when the invite came late Friday morning, I quickly said yes, and then as reality set in that I was running the next morning, I started to regret my quick response.
I do this often: committing without thinking and then immediately regretting my decision.
Because soon after I agreed to run, I was standing in front of the mirror doubting my legs could carry me another 13.1 miles. Doubting I had the mental strength to do it with less than a day to prepare myself. I spend the week before a race thinking about it all the time. So how was I going to do this when I had less than twenty four hours to psyche myself up?
The afternoon before the race, my daughters and I made a quick trip to the sporting goods store for race fuel and one of those ridiculous running skirt-things because it was going to be hot on Saturday. (Side note: I brought it home, but couldn’t bring myself to wear it. I’m going to have to ease into the running skirt. It’s like a whole level I’m not ready for.)
On the way there, the girls and I were talking about why we were going to the store and what mommy was going to be doing in the morning. The idea of running so many miles or so many minutes hours is completely abstract to them. Five minutes, depending on what’s at the end of those minutes, is either the shortest or longest time in the world. Time has no meaning to a three year old and miles are incomprehensible to a five year old. So talking about running is difficult.
All they know is Mommy goes to the gym after work and comes home red-faced and sweaty. All they know is sometimes Mommy gets up early in the morning and comes home wearing a medal and walking funny. All they know is I run races and that I always win.
Because I do win, I win every race I run.
I win against all those years I didn’t run and paid the price in my waistline and energy level. I win against myself and all the doubts I have as I lace up my running shoes every day. I win against the voices in my head that tell me this distance, this time, will be too long and I’m not ready, that I can’t do it. I win against poor self-esteem and mean things said to me in middle school by cruel boys. I win against the idea that all runners are a size two and should run in sports bras and teeny-tiny running shorts (running skirts, perhaps?). I win against the negative body image that will one day try to convince my daughters their bodies aren’t beautiful, they’re not skinny enough, they’re not good enough.
I win every time I run.
So when I walked into the house on Saturday morning with another medal around my neck and blood staining my sock and shoe (again…), my girls cheered loudly and asked if I won. And I answered there were lots of people that finished before me, but, yes, I won. I won because I tried my best and I ran 13.1 miles.
I won because less than a year ago, I was celebrating running three miles for the very first time.
I won because I finished. I won because my daughters need a strong, powerful, confident, healthy mom to shows them they can do anything they want to even if they feel scared or unprepared because sometimes you just need to jump and figure it out as you go.
Saturday morning I jumped and on the way down, I was reminded I win every time I run.
And that was enough to keep me going.
This post originally appeared on Trusty Chucks.com in June, 2014.
Mary Graham is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Blue. During the day, she teaches high school English and at night (after the girls are asleep), she writes for The Huffington Post, Pearson's Teachability, For Every Mom, her own blog TrustyChucks & various other print and digital outlets. In her spare time, she likes to read, travel, eat chocolate, run half marathons, and then eat more chocolate.