It was 1999. I had married a marathoner/triathlete and had done more than my fair share of washing stinky sweaty clothes. Training for a Mrs. America pageant (yes, you read that right…I tried my hand at pageantry…) I decided that the best way to get back into shape was to train for a marathon.
And why not? I had three children three-years-old and under. David had bought me a triple jogger. I was all but ready to run.
I equipped my triple wide vehicle with brake lights and a stereo complete with speakers and began my runs of short distances at first.
Slight set back when I had to have four wisdom teeth removed but in a few weeks I was back out pounding the pavement with my girls. The longer the runs, the more snacks I would bring. Cheerios. Peanuts for the squirrels. Juice boxes. And cash for when we ran out of snacks and I would have to stop at a convenience store. I’d leave after breakfast with all of them excited to clamber into the jogger and there wasn’t a tree or bird they couldn’t name. They learned to count by mailbox addresses and got used to hearing me pray out loud for the names on the mailboxes. On the longest days we’d be gone for several hours as I pushed them up and down the beach road for 10, 12, 16 mile runs. I’d take them to Gymboree or Music Together classes and fall asleep accidentally during the slow and quiet songs.
Every mile I pushed an extra 150 pounds in that jogger. At least. Between the kiddos, the jogger itself, and the multitudes of snacks (and let’s not forget my stereo…this was before any ipod), I was really getting a workout.
So when it came time for the big race day at Disney, I was quite confident I could do this no problem.
David wasn’t so sure. He reminded me that I hadn’t really followed any program and that I had not run over 16 miles at a time. I argued that pushing an extra 150 pounds every step of the way had to count for something and we started the race with him still questioning my ability.
Throughout the race, he would run with me for a bit and then drop back and hang with his dad who was also racing. He would find different friends and run with them for a while and them come and find me. At about mile 22 he ran up on me singing “Hurts So Good” by John Cougar Mellencamp at the top of my lungs (it was on my little walkman set) and I’ll never forget our little dialogue exchange….
David: “What are you DOING?”
Me: “Singing and having fun!”
David: “You SHOULDN’T be doing this good. You SHOULDN’T be feeling this strong. You haven’t trained for this well enough. You SHOULDN’T be able to do this.”
Me. “Honey, I’ve given birth three times, once without pain medication. A marathon is easy.”
(guffaws and laughs from those running around us…)
And truthfully, that’s how I felt. Being the daughter of a Marine, it wasn’t in my DNA to quit. Being married to a Reback had to count for something in terms of athleticism. And having pushed those kiddos all those miles had made me stronger not only physically, but in my resolve. I was gonna be a good example to those kids. I would do my very best after all those miles we had endured together!
Honestly, at mile 24 my hamstring decided it was finished. And even though my stride looked a little funny the last 2 miles I hobbled it in determined to beat a dear friend’s previous time from the year before. I finished under power and was so happy to have completed the race…for myself…for my girls…for David.
And all those miles later, my girls all now compete in long distance running and endurance sports. The seeds of competition were sown decades ago. So get out there mamas with wee ones and run. Compete. Show your kids and they will follow.
[bctt tweet=” So get out there mamas with wee ones and run. “]
It’s the only time in our 23 years together that David ever doubted me. I think he underestimated how much of his ability and determination athletically had rubbed off on me. And how hard it was to push that jogger all those long runs on that windy road. But I’ll tell you this…he’s never since doubted me again and I’ve never doubted him. It’s been an incredible long run together and I’m so thankful he’s been with me every stride of the way.