A half marathon is 13.1 miles, and that’s how far I was supposed to run on November 4, in the Princeton Half. Hurricane Sandy cancelled it — among lots of other things, including the New York City Marathon, Halloween, and, of course, school, work, NJ Transit, and thousands of families’ power. A week and a half later, some of my friends still have cold, dark homes.
I’ve been training since August, running three times a week and going to yoga at least twice (for me, at least, there is no running without yoga). Slowly I built up distance, and I got to a little bit over 11 miles a few weeks ago, the farthest I’ve ever gone. I did it in a little over two hours, which for me is pretty respectable.
I was feeling great mentally. I could go with the ebb and flow during the run, knowing that if I started to feel tired, in another mile or two I’d get in a zone where things opened up and I felt good and strong. I got to the point where it felt better to keep going than to stop, even at 9 or 10 miles. I didn’t ever get to the point where I thought I’d ever be able to run 26.2 — that still sounds torturous. But I do know that I can run 13.1.
Enter the storm, and the cancellation. And add to that a pinched nerve in my left leg. I’d been feeling a little bit of burning and tingling in my thigh, and honestly, I was ignoring it. But this past week it’s been bothering me a little more, so I finally looked into what it might be. My left hip, though it’s been really good throughout my training, is slightly off — I had dysplasia as a baby and only through yoga have I come to realize that the head of my left thigh bone doesn’t fit exactly into the hip socket. While this is usually not a big deal — it’s just annoying during certain poses — I suspect it’s what led to the nerve thing.
So. Life is still slowly getting back to normal after Sandy (and this weird snowstorm we had yesterday). I haven’t run since it hit. I’m not sure I should — I think I need to take care of this nerve. But I don’t want to stop running — even if long distances isn’t a good idea, I want to at least go back to my 4-, 5- or 6-mile runs.
I must admit to feeling a little apprehensive. I hope that if I just rest and take care of my leg I can go back to running again. It’s funny — I was never, ever a runner until about four years ago, and now I know I’d really miss it.
Strangely, I’m not too disappointed about the actual event being cancelled, or postponed, or whatever it turns out to be. I didn’t want to actually race — I just wanted to run and finish. The training was really gratifying — I got a lot of satisfaction out of the process, out of slowly working through it, out of feeling so good while doing it. My lungs are strong and sure. My muscles and joints can carry me through. I was patient through the tough parts (uphills!) and exhilarated during the coasts (downhills). I may even have lost some weight, or at least firmed up.
So even if I don’t get to run my 13.1 anytime soon — I know that I’m able, and that I can prepare again.
Most of all, I appreciated the practice in being present. That’s always valuable.
We had some dear friends visiting this weekend with their two daughters. Kate and Ella have known each other since they were about three weeks old, and little sisters Sara and Chloe are fast friends, too. It was a nice, sunny day, so we took them all to the local zoo. They had a great time, with one small blip: Kate was too tall for the pony ride.
Apparently she is now four feet tall, and that’s the upper limit. Actually, I guess that means she must be slightly taller than four feet. Who knew? So no one rode the ponies; we comforted a tearful Kate and rode the carousel instead.
Poor girl! She was very disappointed. I reminded her of when she was too small to ride anything good at the amusement park we go to at the shore every summer. I pointed out that she’s getting older, and how cool that is. She’ll be in second grade next year. She’s getting adult teeth. She has pierced ears, and she even owns dangly earrings. I can drop her off at her dance class and watch from the car as she makes her way in. I can barely pick her up, much less carry her around. She can snuggle onto my lap, but only with her long legs tucked off to the side.
When my girls were babies and toddlers, the days dragged and dragged. I’d be out on the sidewalk craning my neck down the street when it was about time for Todd to get home. I kept dreaming about when they’d be old enough to feed themselves, sleep through the night, use the potty, go to school. The amount of time and effort and energy and drudgery involved in parenting drained and overwhelmed me.
Now my little one, Sara, is almost done with preschool; she starts kindergarten in the fall. They both have activities and active social lives. Sara’s new favorite thing to do is use the bathroom in a restaurant by herself: I’m allowed to watch her go in, but I have to stay at the table.
Even though it used to be what I wanted more than anything, it’s hard that they’re getting bigger. It is wonderful to have more personal freedom (though they still like to hang all over me, and I remind myself when they do that they won’t want to forever). And they are such smart and funny people, I love to just hang out and chat with them. They’re both enthusiastic about learning and, to my delight, reading.
For the most part, I do welcome it. But in other ways, I’d love to freeze them in time right now. I joke with Sara that she has to stop getting bigger and taller. “Don’t grow up. Just stop it!” I say. She replies, “Mom, I can’t help it! I can’t stop growing!”
There’s a Taylor Swift song called “Never Grow Up.” It’s a pretty dang mature song for Taylor to have written, actually. It’s all about not wanting a child to get bigger, for her to always stay little and simple and unmarked. Then it turns into a song about a young woman wishing she hadn’t grown up, even though she wanted to so much.
That’s sort of how I feel about these little girls getting older.
Yes, I know they’re not that big yet. Seven and five is still little. But I see now how fast the time is going to start to go. The cliché is true — the one you can’t get your head around when you’re smack in the middle of baby- and toddlerhood. The days might go by slowly, but the years pass quickly.
So I try to enjoy my daughters’ present as much as I can. And on the cusp of them both being in school all day, every day, at the same place and on the same schedule (hallelujah!), I now need to start putting together more of the pieces of my own future.
Sometimes I look at these two lovely creatures and I can’t believe that I had anything to do with creating them. They are: stunningly beautiful, smart, clever, funny, happy, open, present, adventurous, generous, wise. They have helped me to see — to become — who I really am, and they’ve given me more gifts than I can ever hope to return. I am so grateful for them, and so lucky that I get to be their mother.