Somehow it has been a year since I did what once seemed one of the most impossible items on my Bucket List… I ran the New York City Marathon and became a Marathon Mama. While I wrote down some initial thoughts shortly after, it has taken me a full year to really process that event and all the training that went into it. Now that I’ve had that time to reflect, I realize how much motherhood prepared me for the NYC marathon. So I thought I’d share in case it makes any of our awesome readers think about how motherhood might be preparing some of your big life goals!
*Motherhood taught me that I can do hard things. Even when they hurt. Even before I had a positive pregnancy test, motherhood was already hitting me with uncomfortable feelings of nausea and trouble sleeping- and it only escalated from there. When I thought about the discomfort of three challenging pregnancies plus three births (one unmedicated), 26.2 miles seemed a little less impossible. Add to that the sleepless nights, the taking care of three kids with stomach flu while you have the same illness, and so many other examples I
could give, and this was really the basis for knowing I was strong enough mentally to take
on such a massive task of training to run a marathon and then completing it. I can do hard things, us parents do them every day and becoming a marathon mama was just one more of those things. Motherhood taught me to keep going- even when you’re physically and mentally exhausted- a marathon was just another one of those things where I had to keep going.
*Motherhood taught me that you really can’t believe everything you think. This might sound strange but… the hardest part of running a marathon isn’t just the physical challenge of running all those miles, it is feeling that physical exhaustion while your brain starts telling you that no matter how many hard things you’ve done in the past, you can’t do this one. All those negative thoughts that can push in on my day to day mothering were right there during the race and some of those training miles too. You can’t believe everything you think. The voice that says you are no good at this or that your hard work doesn’t matter is a liar. Don’t believe everything you think. Especially if you are hungry. Which brings me to my next similarity-
*Motherhood taught me how to over prepare- especially when it comes to food and drink because you always need more snacks. So something special (and I say that with a very big side eye) about the 2022 NYC Marathon was that it had record breaking heat… which meant if you were in the back half of the very large running pack, aid stations began to run a little low on resources. By the time I hit later aid stations they were out of water cups, and by the time a friend of mine came through those stations later, they were completely out of water. Motherhood to the rescue though, as it taught me to never slack on preparation when it comes to food and drink. If you are a newer mom who hasn’t reached the endless snacking phase… let me share this tip with you now- If you think you have enough snacks, pack a few more. If you think you are only going somewhere for five minutes, better still make sure everyone brings along a water bottle. So instead of relying on the aid stations, I had my handheld water-bottle and my husband waiting with additional snacks and hydration mix refills at strategic points along the course. Speaking of which…
*Motherhood taught me that having a community makes it easier. Knowing I was not the only person training for the NYC marathon made it easier for me to do the work and push through the hard moments. My community included people on my team (I was running for charity so I had other World Vision athletes with the exact same training schedule and goal), people I met online via instagram (similar to the awesome mamas I have met online that have encouraged me!), and also getting to experience the whole crazy things with one of my closest friends (a fellow marathon mama! Let me tell you, nothing quite compares to knowing you can text in shared misery while running in insane heat at 5 AM- that shared experience really turns friends into best friends, similar to sending those late night nursing texts to someone going through it at the same time- if you have shared both you are basically bonded forever…) The day of the race, having people from so many eras of my life cheering for me out on the course was truly one of the key components to getting me through and making me a marathon mama. Aside from my incredibly supportive husband cheering me on, I had a friend that I hadn’t seen since elementary school, a friend who has known me since I was 14 and as far from an athlete as you could ever imagine, friends from grad school who I hadn’t seen in almost a decade, and friends who I only met thanks to saying yes to this crazy running adventure, and even complete strangers shouting my name and making me feel like a rockstar. If I had one wish for every mama out there, it is that you have the same kind of people cheering you on in parenting that I had that day on the streets of New York City.
*Motherhood taught me that it can feel like forever in the moment, but it is actually such a short time, and the memories last forever. The hard parts fade, but the satisfaction of doing something wonderful remains. I am so amazed by what I have managed to accomplish since becoming a mom, and I was so proud of becoming a marathon mama that when I had to opportunity to book a boudoir photo shoot, I was thrilled to be sure and get a shot I like to call “these legs ran a dang marathon” which I now have framed in my closet. The best thing about that day that remains is not the pictures or even the medal, it is the fact that I am automatically connected to everyone else who has done it. That too is similar to motherhood. Seeing my kids grow and thrive is the best part, but a close second is the way it has made me feel so much more connected to so many who have been through the experience. I have gained an incredible community by becoming a marathon mama, but it still pales in comparison to the community and experiences I gained when I became a mom.