I am a runner.
It has never been something that has come out of my mouth with a sense of ease because it’s always been something I’ve struggled with. I ran cross country and track in high school and always landed somewhere comfortably in the middle, but there were no scholarships that were headed my way. The best part was having a family of sisters and brothers that I still hold dear to my heart, and that is still the best part of running today. The family.
The next ten years of my life I would work out at the gym or try to reignite my passion for it, but it never clicked. Then suddenly my life had been turned upside now. I went through a terrible divorce when my two oldest boys were very young and literally at age 29 had to start my life all over again. A friend came into my life and said, “Run with me”. This was my running Dad Jim, who is still one of the most important people in my life. In that very moment where I agreed my life changed. That year, which was one of the hardest of my life, I ran my first half marathon in Detroit. I never imagined I could run further than 5 or 6. Across that finish line I told him, “I want to run a full.” It was a moment of delirium, but he held me to it and in 2012 I ran the Chicago Marathon and it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life. After that I lost my sense of drive, my mojo for lack of eloquent words.
Every year after I continued to run the Detroit Half as a sense of motivation to keep my running life alive. I started doing “Tough Mudders” a 12 mile brutal obstacle course based trek to keep me focused and driven to train, but I yo-yoed until 2015. I met an old friend on a random race and we spent three miserably hot hours together for 13.1 miles of hills telling each other about our last 3 years and how burnt out and defeated we were from our former glory. We both agreed we didn’t have to run halfs, or fulls, or do crazy obstacle courses anymore. We could be 5k or 10k girls and not be failures and be satisfied. We felt good and agreed, and after that everything changed.
My husband and I found out I was pregnant in 2016, which was about 6 or 7 months after that race. I had a healthier mindset, life was better, and I wanted to get back in shape with no expectations or unattainable goals in the forcast. I was never active during my pregnancies with my first two sons, but I had just started running again, and pregnant at 34 I decided I would keep running as long as it was healthy to. I ran till I was about 5 months and then just walked every single day with my son Liam. I walked over 300 miles while I was pregnant and still went to the gym twice a week and it felt amazing. I was very sick in the early months and then again in the later months, but I had energy and I was eating healthy. It was wondrous. Adam Stephen Walsh was born on November 2nd, on his grandpa Walsh’s birthday and by January I was working out and determined to run a half marathon that year. Not like the years past, where I would show up and just get through it. I wanted to run it with strength, confidence and feel proud, not defeated.
I made a mental agreement to run twice a week no matter what. We have an older treadmill and I used it (still do). If I had a spare 20-30 minutes I would run to the basement with my baby monitor. I struggled to get past a mile, then two and it was hard, but pretty soon I was ready to start hitting the road and every weekend I would try to run further. By the end of summer I had a 9 month old and had ran a 15 mile run by myself at age 35. The sense of accomplishment filtered into every aspect of my life and still does.
I ran the half that year with bronchitis and it was not my greatest showing. I struggled the whole race and was physically and mentally crushed by the end. For two weeks after I battled that sense of failure and the sense that I was still faking it. I thought, “I’m not a runner”. I don’t belong here. But then, it went away and I decided to start running outside that winter. If you know anything about midwest winters you know Detroit winters last anywhere up to six months and can crush with either snow or sub zero temperatures. This was a test of my resolve, of my committment. I powered through some serious weather and by January 2018 I made a list of goals.
Some of those were running goals and some were life, but now coming to the last quarter of 2018 I’m finding that so many of them have either been achieved, edited, or adapted to fit into my life. Part of the reason my life works now is through the strength that running gives me. The doubt is always there. There are days I have come home from a run in tears. There are times I still feel like a failure, but running has taught me to never give up. There will always be hard times, the seasons will always change, and there will always be some new obstacle to overcome.
While running is a solo act, and whether you are a tired single mom, a married dad, an older man, or an out of shape athlete the support of others can change everything. My running family is the source of my strength and they believe in me when I forget to. My husband supports me by giving me the time I need to to do it, but also being my best cheerleader. Running has taught me THESE are the people I want in my life. The friends that cross the finish line WITH you, the people that build you up when you are down and believe in you no matter what. Those are the people we should want in our life and I cherish them all.
So I’m not here to tell you running is easy. I’m not here to tell you that making time as a working mother of 3 is totally doable all the time. I’m not here to tell you that any of it comes without a struggle. I’m here to tell you it’s worth the struggle. It’s worth how hard it is. Anything that matters is worth working hard for. That’s what makes it feel so good. I’m here to tell you if I can do it, you can too.