Sunday, March 10, 2013

Slow Pokin': How New Moms Can Get Ahead Without Falling Behind

I used to be a runner.

Not one of those runners that has a water-bottle belt or those fancy sweat wicking sports bras, but more so the type that throws on an old t-shirt and fires up the Walkman.

Despite my retro running ways, I used to be pretty fast.

My husband ran a 4-minute mile in high school and went to State for track- and he used to be my running partner. So, needless to say while I never was able to keep up like I wanted, it was never too embarrassing.

But now that I've had a baby, taken over a year off of consistent running and have taken to eating whatever I can get my hands on (spelt bread be-gone!), I have noticed that my running stride has suffered immensely.

After 15 minutes of a moderate pace, I hobble like a linebacker, suck wind like a drowning sailor, and always end up walking more miles than I run. This reverse evolution has been my own private struggle- that is until last weekend my husband and I were able to leave the baby with Grandma and go on our first run together since his birthday six months ago.

At first, we fell into an easy stride side-by-side. I was reminded of our leisurely runs during breezy spring days pre-parenthood and how we would talk about our days, our plans for the future, or our date spot for the upcoming weekend. But it wasn't too long until I began to feel a stitch in my side, and a familiar you-are-so-out-of-shape burn in my lungs.

My husband kept on trucking like a sprite little teenager, and I began to feel my lower half sag (much like my son's book, The Saggy Baggy Elephant). My shoulders began to creep up like strings on a Marionette- as if to physically will myself in forward motion.

 I was hoping that I was just being hard on myself and that he wouldn't notice, but it didn't take long until he slowed his pace to match my broken down swagger and said, "You're slow today."

Now, to be fair. It was an honest assessment. But, if could hear inside my head you would have heard a string of expletives too offensive to share. I know, I know- this is a mommy blog. Not that great of an example I was setting.

But, you see I am an extremely competitive person. And in the past this type of comment would have spurred me on to dash ahead of him, sprint to the finish and laugh as he doubled his time to catch up.

The new slow pokin' person that I am? She stopped running, put her hands on her hips, and waved him on with an angry and defeated wave. My husband, didn't take my not-so-nice gesture to heart, and instead slowed his pace and ran the rest of the mileage in line with me.

I know that I slowed him down. And I know that he didn't get a good run in, because of me, but I also realized that it was OK to be slower than I used to be. It was OK to take time to let my body get to where it is going. It is fine to eat a slice of humble pie, and admit that I have some improving to do. These are all lessons that my younger self never learned, and now my more "mature" self is forced to understand and appreciate through experience.

As the run neared its end, we sped (maybe we schlepped) through a neighborhood lined with Apple Blossom trees. Amidst the burst of pink, there was one tree that stood out.

Half of it was abloom in bright pink buds, and the other half was fleeced with white blossoms. I later discovered that when the trees were planted, the arborist has grafted the wrong limb onto the tree. Even though it was half it's old self and half it's new self, it still looked beautiful and more unique than any other tree on the block.

And it was under the shade of that duplicitous tree, that I decided that its perfectly fine to be in the middle of blending my old self with this new version of me. The new mom inside of me has come to realize that even though my immediate response to these new inadequacies of mine is frustration, the ultimate discovery is that what may be a weakness at first can become my biggest strength in the end.

So, I have decided that while I may be a little slow these days, I finally have the perfect pace to really enjoy what I used to speed right by.

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