There’s no better way to express your love on Valentine’s Day than by running a 5K with your 8 and almost 10 year old.
That, of course, is a lie. There are much more fun and romantic things to do that involve A LOT less whining but this is what we chose to do because I am a glutton for growth and a wonderful parent. I’m also an amazing fiance because I let him get away with being our official photographer.
Anyway, this was race number 2 that I dedicated to running with just my sports bra on and there were many things different this time that made a world of difference. Many people wonder and ask me how it is that I have gotten so bold and brave as to run with my belly all exposed. Now, this honestly has nothing to do with postpartum, it’s just the whole tummy thing in general that spooks anyone with any ounce of padding. We believe topless runs are reserved for those with chiseled abs or not an inch that will jiggle. We have forgotten that humans come in all shapes, sizes, and textures.
After reflecting on this race I have come up with the 3 main things I did to prepare myself for this run and hopefully all future runs/races/life.
- Train. First and foremost I am a competitor and this a very physical event. Not against anyone but myself. I love to see where I can improve to do MY personal best. My best race so far is 33 minutes. That is an 11 minute mile and by no stretch going to land me on the Olympic team anytime soon BUT it makes me incredibly proud because I worked for that. I would love to believe that I have some innate gift or passion for running but I don’t. My kids certainly don’t either but I knew that ahead of time. Starting and ending a race knowing you prepared and did your best gets you excited to be at that starting line and motivated to get to the finish line. Uncertainty creates a lot of anxiety and that is the last thing you need on any given day. So whether you need to walk, run, or crawl you will finish your own way and celebrate your own accomplishments.
- Pick a good outfit that makes you feel good and will support you. Literally. Good equipment is key to accomplishing your goals and keeping your focus on your task. It doesn’t have to be flashy, fashionable, or name brand. It has to fit you properly and give you any sort of boost in confidence. My outfit was a great/supportive sports bra from Marshalls, really colorful pants from Wal-Mart, and $100 pair of Asics. I know based on my body and needs exactly where my money needs to go and I loved it! Since it was a Valentine’s Day run they encouraged costumes so I knew there would be bright colors and my kids wore pink, too so I loved that we all matched. I find themed fun runs are a much more family oriented and welcoming environment. There are so many awesome costumes that you can guarantee no one is really paying attention to you (not that they are in a regular race) or your belly.
- Take your shirt off! Wooooo!All of this still remains about you and the belly thing is a representation of fear. For you it might be simply being out there running in public or with you legs or arms exposed. It is symbolic for the things we have labeled are shameful about ourselves and feel unworthy to embrace because they do not meet the unrealistic expectations set on us. I have found that the more I do this the more I find that in a race full of a thousand people that 90% are running with something heavy on their heart. You are surrounded by humans who each have their own hangups and are so convinced they are alone in their struggle that they remain silent. This time I rolled up my shirt at the start because it was kinda cold and my daughter instantly started playing with it. She was squishing it and drawing A LOT of attention and that was kinda scary because it got me some stares. That’s it though. Perhaps they judged me, perhaps they didn’t. Eventually it just got really really hot and the shirt came off because it was nowhere near the 50 degrees it had been that morning. Either way I accomplished my goal and got my roses at the end just like everyone else who crossed that finish line!! No one stopped me. No one can stop me but me. No one can stop you either despite you believing I posses magical powers or something you don’t because I am just like you. I was full of dread and insecurities once until I let go of fear to make room for love. Fear is paralyzing but usually based on irrational thoughts which only get bigger and bigger when we allow them to grow in our head and never challenge them.
As far as the running with my kids go, I also have a few tips for anyone attempting this ridiculous endeavor:
- Have a plan and be prepared for it to fall apart in possible tear and whining. In our air conditioned car we went over our plan. We were going to run for the first 5 minutes to warm up then we would walk for 1.5 minutes and run for 1 minute until the race was over. We got hyped. We high fived and 2 minutes in I wished I brought my earmuffs.
- Bring your own water and a whole lot of patience. I have to beg my children to drink water every time while they’re playing sports or at the park but during these races it’s a whole other story. ALWAYS keep heat exhaustion into account and be aware of their needs vs yours. However, after 3 minutes of complaining about cramps and stomach pain I felt a little concerned until they made a full sprint to the nearest water station but returned to complaining once they caught up to me. Then repeated it between every water station. They really turned up the notch on begging and negotiating to get me to stop or at least pause. Just throw a little water on them to
quietcool them off and their resilience pulls through. I will note that I felt a lot of camaraderie as almost every parent was having this struggle. I remember passing one mom negotiating the terms of finishing with her daughter and she called out to us and said ” I am so envious of you!” because negotiations didn’t seem to be going well.
- Have fun and keep going because you are teaching a valuable lesson. At the end of the day I love doing these races with them because they also experience the relief and excitement of crossing the finish line knowing they didn’t quit even though they wanted to. They do learn a lot and I love to hear all about it. When we were walking to the car I asked my son why he eventually stopped complaining and he said “I just wanted to get it over with.” Boom. So much truth and pretty much the only motivation I need to finish any task I’m not crazy about. My daughter only said “You’re just going to write about me complaining the whole time, huh?”. She knows me very well and she really did complain every step of the way but at least she recognized it. I am just as proud of the both of them because at the end of the day they finished and they were the only ones that could cross that finish line. One day they will recognize that but until then I wait for them to forget about the agony so we can sign up for the next race.
I’m thinking a Saint Patrick’s Day run! Who’s with me???
If you follow me on social media, which you totally should and you can right here: PowerToPrevail Instagram and PowerToPrevail Facebook, I have semi-documented my whirlwind trip to Hollywood, California this week. It was way more of an emotional journey than I expected but the end product is going to be great! I can’t wait to share it with you all! Right now I’m trying to process it all.