Busy Working Mom? Do Something that's just for You.

How one working mom managed to fit training for a half marathon into her busy schedule. No guilt attached.

As a working mom, I think a lot of us feel guilty that we're not giving enough of ourselves to our family, home, job or other relationships. Sometimes we lose ourselves, then suddenly put our own wants and needs on the back burner. I have a PDF titled “10 Weeks to Your First Half Marathon” on my computer’s desktop. For three years, it’s gone ignored. Until recently.

I had never been a runner when I was younger, but my husband is a triathlete and I’ve watched him from the sidelines since our children were very small. He’s been very successful in the local scene and over the years, I decided to run a few 5K races. I did that for a while, finally building up to a ten-mile race, then completely stopped.

Between our children’s schools and activities, going back to work full-time, moving house and all the other mom/wife/chief of staff duties, I had no time. But this past spring, I finally took a look at that PDF. It seemed pretty simple; start with short runs, build the distance over ten weeks, then just like magic, you can run a half marathon! Not so simple…but I was undeterred. With my schedule, our children’s activities, homework, my husband’s training and races, it looked as if I wouldn’t be able to stick to the half marathon plan. So I simply tailored it to fit.

I got up early, often before sunrise, and I ran with a headlamp when necessary around the roads where I live. I ran less than three miles the first time, walking up the hills. But I stuck with it. After a few weeks, I ran those hills! A few weeks more, and I could run more than six miles! It was the height of the summer, and I struggled in the heat, but as long as I hydrated properly, I could still run. I wore a FuelBelt, bright pink (so the males in my house wouldn’t use it), and I filled up my bottles and off I went. I planned my longer routes around a Dunkin’ Donuts or a public restroom. I’m sure those coffee baristas raised an eyebrow or two when I rushed in, red-faced, and left just as quickly!

My big test came when I ran more than twelve miles along Boston Neck Road through North Kingstown and Narragansett to the town beach. I completed the route on a humid, summer morning, and then met my husband at the beach. I signed up for my first half marathon later that day: the Surftown Half Marathon in Westerly, R.I.

With six weeks left to race day, I devised routes around my neighborhood that varied in length; seven miles, twelve miles and even one fourteen-mile route. I interspersed these with three-mile runs early in the morning before the children got up for school and I had to leave for work. This is what fit my schedule. In fact, I didn’t even look at the PDF all summer.

I started to think about my goal time for the race, and I decided anything under two-and-a-half hours would be great. I didn’t focus on time while I trained. I focused on breathing, hydration, distance and staying healthy. I had changed my eating habits early on and noticed that my weight was dropping, too. This was an added bonus, but my eyes were on the prize! I wanted that shiny surfboard medal.

Race day was yesterday: Sun., Sept. 16. There was a chill in the air as we piled into the minivan, but I felt great. No nerves. A friend who is a runner said that if I hung with the two-and-a-half hour pacer, then that’s what I’d do. I chose to up the ante, and kept up with the 2:15 pacer.  

The weather was perfect by start time. I ran the first two miles with that group, then realized I could go even faster. I saw my family at mile six, which was a great boost. The scenery all along the course was wonderful. I saw dozens of egrets all in one place on Winnapaug Pond, and it was breathtaking. All the spectators and the event staff on the course were very encouraging. I drank Gatorade and water at some of the water stops, yet didn’t need a Dunkin’ Donuts (or the porta potties provided).

In no time, I heard someone yell, “only a quarter-mile to the finish.” I could see it! What a fantastic feeling! I crossed the line in two hours, three minutes, fifty-two seconds. I raised a fist in the air. This was my own little personal victory! Even when I didn’t want to get out of bed for those early morning runs, it was worth it. I felt fantastic. The commentator asked if it was anybody’s first race. “Me, me!” I yelled as I jumped up and down.

I’m no athlete, but I proved right then and there that busy working moms can fit something into their lives that’s just for them.  Whatever your thing is, go ahead, do it for you. No guilt attached.

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