I remember the first time I realized I really couldn’t do anything I wanted, despite all my best intentions. I was in Grade Eight, my final year of Middle School, and I decided it was time for me to play a sport. Specifically, I would try out for soccer.
Let me preamble this by saying that I was never a sporty person. I played soccer when I was very young and all I can remember from that experience is a distinct sense of dread from making a goal in my own net. Who knows if that actually happened. Maybe I just never made a goal. Maybe I watched someone else get an own-goal. Maybe I was the star of the team. The only thing I know was that I hated it.
Then came basketball. This time I was older – early Middle School. My younger sister decided that she was a female Michael Jordan and so we just had to be signed up for basketball. Yes. We. Because in my family, my sister and I did things together. Except of course we weren’t the same age so we weren’t on the same team. And of course I had absolutely no friends on my team. And of course I had absolutely no skill. And of course I hated basketball!
And then, there was gym class – the most dreaded activity for a girl who was unsure of herself and unsure of her body and unsure of her place in the middle school social hierarchy. My best friend and I would spend gym class trying to out-sick each other so that we would be allowed to sit out.
So I have no idea why I thought I could play school soccer in eighth grade and I have no idea why I thought I even wanted to. I think I thought that as an eighth grader, I would be more valuable than a sixth or seventh grader. Perhaps I thought that having the coach as a math teacher would give me a leg up. I might have even thought that kicking a ball into a giant net really wasn’t that hard at all.
So, I signed my name on the try-out sheet and I spent my afternoons after school running drills and doing push-ups.
I didn’t make the team.
I probably would have made the team had I stuck with soccer as a preschooler. I probably would have made the team had I made it my goal when I first entered Middle School instead of in my final year. But neither of those things happened. I didn’t make the team because I wasn’t very good. As a high achiever, I was shocked to learn that I couldn’t do everything, especially if I did not prepare or work hard for what I wanted.
As I faced this past weekend’s two (yes, two!) races, I was sure I’d be taught this same lesson again.
Saturday morning was my goal race for this year, a 10K that I signed up for the moment I was given permission to run again post-Gavin. And, of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run the 5K race the night before when the challenge was presented to me. When I signed up for these races, I had a meticulously planned training schedule. I would run the races. I would be ready. I would be awesome.
As the weekend approached, I realized I was unprepared. For both races.
What I failed to account for in my training schedule was that I had two kids, one of whom is still a newborn. I failed to remember that the sun sets earlier and earlier as we move out of the summer. I didn’t think about where I would run or when I would run or how I would be able to handle such long runs with a baby at home needing his Mama.
The last time I ran a full 5 kilometres was during August’s race. And before this past weekend, I had still, not once, not ever, ran a full 10 kilometres. The closest I had come was 60 minutes of running broken up into 15 minute chunks with 20 minutes of walking interspersed.
The goal that I had set for myself months ago was starting to look almost completely unattainable. I wanted this. So bad. But I was unprepared. I could taste the disappointment before I even laced up my sneakers.
As I crossed the starting line on Friday night, taking those first few strides that would eventually become 15 kilometres during the following 14 hours, I looked to the sidelines and saw my little two year old in his father’s arm holding up a Run Fast Mama sign that he and I had made that day. Just one little boy rooting for his Mama. One little boy who had missed out on good-night kisses because I was out running. One little boy who saw me work hard for something I wanted and was there to cheer for me as I accomplished it. One little boy just holding up a sign with letters on it, watching his Mama. That’s all. That’s all it took.
I really thought I’d be writing today about the disappointment of not meeting my goal. I thought the moral would be that sometimes we need to change our goals and not be so hard on ourselves and realize that family sometimes gets in the way of our individual goals, for better or worse.
But the truth is, somehow, I accomplished all my goals. I ran my 5K race faster than I ran the last one. I actually (surprisingly) ran the whole 10K race the following morning and I did it in under 75 minutes. Check. Check. Check. I really did it.
My body wasn’t prepared for those races, but unlike those soccer try-outs in eighth grade, my mind was. I had been thinking about these races for months. I have been planning for them and yes, even training for them. I knew if I didn’t run the races, start to finish, I would be disappointed in myself. I paced and I pushed and I prayed (I really did) and I thought about those faces I would see as I crossed the finish line, smiling and cheering, and saying my name. Mama.
I made my way back to my little family of boys after having multiple medals draped over my head (yes, multiple. When you run two races in two days you deserve an extra medal). “Mama?” Cameron asked. “Did you win the race?”
I didn’t run the fastest. I didn’t come in first. But “Yes, baby. Mommy won the race!”. I made a goal and I accomplished it. I wanted something and I went for it. I worked hard for something hard. I won. And Cameron? Gavin? You can’t do everything. But you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it and if you’re willing to work hard for it. You might not be the best at it, but you can do it, if you try. And babies? I’ll be cheering for you the entire time.
Race: Maritime Race Weekend
Date: September 14, 2012
Distance: 5 km
Time: 32 minutes, 37 seconds
Personal Best: 30 minutes, 34 seconds (August 2011)
Pace: 6 minutes, 32 seconds per km
Race: Maritime Race Weekend
Date: September 15, 2012
Distance: 10 km
Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, 56 seconds
Personal Best: –
Pace: 7 minutes, 6 seconds per km
Ran the 5K race on Friday night with my sister and brother-in-law.
What is one hard thing that you have accomplished? What message would you have your kids take from your hard work?