Some of you who have followed me know I ran a half-marathon last Sunday. I had been training for about 8 weeks, actually with a much bigger goal of entering the Seattle Marathon in late November – but this half-marathon fit right into my scheduled training for mileage so I signed up. A small event, only about 600 participants, it was a breath of fresh air compared to my last half-marathons; Seattle in ’06 with something like 5000 and the same with the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix with ridiculous amounts of half clothed runners all around me! I was excited to shoot for a personal best time because this particular course was FLAT – a runners dream. Held in the beautiful Skagit Valley north of Seattle I was looking forward to it.
One of the wonderful things about being a runner is that you have a lot of time to think, contemplate and analyze things. As I began running Sunday morning thoughts rolled through my head. My husband and step-son met me 3 times on the course and I felt so spoiled, their cheering and encouragement was indescribable – you know – that feeling when someone is pulling for you and telling you, “You can do it.” When you have someone on your side believing in you, it feels like you can do anything! How many times in our parenting journey would it feel so good to have someone cheering you on?
As I ran that morning I compared how training for this half-marathon and running in general is so much like our journey in parenting. You run along, are feeling good, things are going fairly well, you pass mile 4 and gain confidence and then WHAM! A cramp hits or a method of discipline that has been working is all of a sudden NOT! You re-group and get focused, turn your energy on getting to the next milestone because that is all you can do. You get to mile 6 and are beginning to feel good and then OOPS, something goes haywire! Your daughter won’t do ___________ (fill in the blank) and you don’t know what to do. You are stuck in the middle of the course – you can’t stop now! You gotta keep going. The miles continue to come, the ups and downs hammering you as you decide the best approach to deal with each unique situation that comes along, both in parenting and as your feet hit that pavement. I began to have an interesting look at our ride as parents. You are always looking forward to the next thing, and yet sometimes we miss where we are right then. I found that happening during my run…..I was running past the mile marker and just straining my eyes to see the next one….to have it hurry along so I didn’t have to deal with the pain and exhaustion. I find this happens sometimes in my parenting. I am so exhausted and am just so ready to reach the next destination and often miss the actual ride to that destination. Does that resonate with you?
Before I end up going on far too long with this simple analogy – I just wanted to share with you how my running in this half-marathon reminded me of something so simple but so true….. Your job as a parent and the journey is not a sprint but in fact a marathon (Or half-marathon as was my case!). You have a long road, with many ups and downs – looking for that encouragement to keep going, finding support for those times you are going to cramp up but ultimately the finish line is so far off. I encourage you to take the time to enjoy some of that time that is down right icky – it just might change how you see those “times”. I am going to try to enjoy the journey a little more than I have been, maybe you can join me in that? I would love to hear your discoveries along the way.
Oh and by the way…..my lovely hope of having a personal best was crushed as I hit that dreaded “WALL” so many runners talk about. I had never experienced this before, but it happened to me and I just wanted to give up when I knew it was impossible to achieve a personal best. I knew I would be discourage with my performance, but I had to keep going….I was a fighter and had to persevere….just like in parenting.
Hitting a wall in parenting is like entering some earth shattering situation with one of your kids – you don’t know how your going to get through it or how you can keep going on….but you know – you just do. And that is what I did that Sunday morning as my body was getting weaker and my head a little fuzzy – I just kept going! Fortunately for me, my cheering squad was there at the finish line to greet me, even when I didn’t have a personal best. They didn’t care – they were still proud of me.