Dorothy and Connor

My alarm buzzed at 5am this morning and before I was fully awake I was snoozing it, hoping desperately that it wouldn’t wake the baby. Waking up was a slow slide into reality. At first I was relieved it was the alarm and not the baby crying and I was snuggling back into my pillow trying to hold on to the delusion that I could go back to sleep. It didn’t take long for reality to set in, if I *wanted* to meet my running group at6am and get my long run in I had to get up now. Now, at 5am? Now, when the baby was still asleep? Oh no….. why would I do that??

Before my son was born I was really active. I would wake up early and go to yoga multiple times a week, I ran and I raced in triathlons. Being active was a huge part of my life but as my pregnancy progressed I found it harder and harder to do the things I loved, especially running. I stopped running after the first trimester because it felt like I had a watermelon bouncing around in my pelvis and my hips felt like they were going to break apart. I walked a lot and I swam 3 or 4 times a week but it just wasn’t quite enough to keep up my fitness. I promised myself that as soon as my son was born I would get right back to running and racing triathlons. I just didn’t really understand how hard it would be. In 2 weeks my son will be one. It feels like a big milestone not just for him but for me as well. I knew that having an infant was hard but now I know what “hard” means on a visceral level.

As soon as my doctor gave me clearance to workout (at 4 weeks postpartum) I put on my running shoes and hit the pavement. I was elated to be on the road again, for about 2 minutes, then I was miserable. I think I made it about a half mile before I knew I was going to die. Everything hurt in my pelvic area. With every breath I felt like I was a fish out of water. I was totally winded. I stopped, turned around and started walking home. Everything was like that, it was so hard to get back on the horse. I kept slogging away and each time it got a little better. I ran my first 5k when my son was about 8 weeks old. I was slow as molasses but I ran the whole grueling thing. I had a few exciting successes like that one and I kept plugging away, trying to get back into shape but it often it felt like it was impossible. The sleep deprivation was a huge factor in slowing me down. Some days I felt like I just couldn’t run, I would get out and try running but I would have no energy, there was nothing in the gas tank. It was depressing as all get out.

When my son was about 7 months old I joined a running group in Austin called Rouge Running. Around that time my son started sleeping a little more at night and I started to have a bit more energy. I was determined to really get serious about running again. I ran with my Rogue group throughout the heat of the Texas summer and it was miserable, the group was great but the heat… oh man the heat! After our Wednesday evening workouts I felt like I needed someone to scrape me up off the pavement where I had melted like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz.

Speaking of melted, my belly button still looks like it melted. It’s literally twice the size it used to be and my son delights in sticking his finger in it and laughing. I’m like “Kid you might as well stick you whole hand in there because it will totally fit”. The reality is that my body is not the same as it was before my son inhabited it and despite that I love my body. I am grateful for my body, it allows me to do so much. It carries me through life, it grew and birthed this crazy little munchkin who NEVER STOPS GOING and it allows me to keep up with him. I work really hard to practice gratitude for my body. One of the biggest lessons I have had to learn since my little man joined our family is to celebrate the day to day. So often, my tendency is to put happiness off to the next milestone. I ran 3 miles! Great! Now I want to run 5. I hit a speed target, great! Now I want to go faster. Sure setting goals and reaching them is great but if you don’t stop to celebrate what’s the damn point? I try to marinate in the moment, to enjoy each step, each mile, each success. Every muscle that hurts means I made the time for myself to workout and I am grateful for my #mombod.

So this morning when my alarm went off I realized that I wanted to get up and run. I wanted to luxuriate in the solitude of the early morning, my feet hitting the pavement, the sun coming up over the horizon. Whatever the run held in store for me, milestone or not I wanted it.

~Dorothy Mankey