There was a really great article in this month’s Real Simple about a group of women who found camaraderie in an unlikely place: a running group born out of a self-defense class.
Tony came in and saw me reading it and then asked why I was crying.
“Momma’s eyes get tired,” I said. Because that’s what Mrs. Cratchit says when Tiny Tim has died and the kids catch her crying. And I said it with about as much conviction as Mrs. Cratchit can muster.
When the alarm sounds at 4:45 a.m., I hate life. I hate it. Passionately. I silently resent my husband, laying there oblivious with his male metabolism, unaware that some of us must make these sacrifices.
I hate my hair as I pull it back into two tight french braids, angry at the curls and the stubborn nature of it as I force it into rows and apply a tourniquet in the form of two rubber bands.
I hate how my feet feel perpetually swollen as I force them into my sneakers, now well-worn and probably overdue for replacement. I hate how tired my abdomen feels as I shimmy into a sports bra. And I look at myself in the mirror, playing the part of a runner this morning, and I hate that I don’t look convincing in the role.
I almost never allow myself enough time, and I exceed posted speed limits to get to our agreed starting point in time. Sometimes, they’ve already started their journey and I hurry to catch up. Sometimes, they know that I’m just that girl, the one who cannot tell time.
When I arrive, my tardiness is always a lark, just something that sparks a little laughter. Then it’s forgotten.
Actually, then everything is forgotten.
We methodically place one foot in front of the other. Even the fastest runners have off days and slow runners have especially swift days, and regardless of who is having what day, we settle into our places fairly quickly. The conversation is present, but stunted: we are not yet capable of maintaining our breath long enough for deep discussions. But we talk. About kids, husbands, jobs, recipes. About life.
And as much as I hated life at 4:45 am, the sun rising over the hills of our jogging trails looks increasingly breathtaking as we proceed.
A couple miles sprawl behind us and we can see our cars again. The fastest in our group cheer in the last in the pack. We all convene for just a minute to talk, and then we wish eachother a fantastic day.
And driving home, it’s hard to imagine the rest of the day being anything but fantastic.
When I get home, I feel superhuman. I feel like I just did something the Old Me would never dream of doing, played a role I couldn’t imagine myself believably portraying. I feel strong, and I look in the mirror and see that I am a runner. I am because I ran this morning.
I am not built as a runner. I am not a size 4, 6, or even an 8. I am pear-shaped and asthmatic. I work 40-60 hour weeks. I have two kids and a husband. I have a bad knee. I do not sleep through the night. I have many little excuses as to why I should not run.
But I have three very big reasons why I should.