I was always in great shape as a college athlete. I passed all my fitness tests, finished speed exercises in the top echelon, and excelled in the weight room. However, I have never been as fit as I am right now. Yes. You read it. I am 31 years old, with two children, an almost 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old boy, and I am the fittest today than I have ever been in my entire life. I just completed a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles, in 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 4 seconds. That means my average mile time was 6 minutes and 52 seconds. It was a challenge for me to run ONE mile in 6:52 when I was a Division I women’s soccer player, let alone 13 miles. How is that even possible?
Well, I will tell you. The key to my speed and endurance right now is having little kids. It all started when Levi was a baby. We had just moved to Pikesville, Maryland into a beautiful neighborhood including many amenities. One was a fitness center. The fitness center included three treadmills, with a ledge next to the first one; an elliptical machine; two bikes; and a few weight machines. It is a nice room, but definitely limited in space. Therefore, if there is more than one person in there, it is imperative to be respectful of volume of music, television, and phone conversations. Since you are not supposed to run in a stroller until six months old, I was left with the option of taking him with me if I wanted to exercise. It was essential for my sanity, health, and mind.
So, each morning, I would stroll my baby about a quarter of a mile to the fitness center. That was just enough time to lure him to sleep. I’d swipe my card to get into the clubhouse, quietly open the door, and pray the fitness center was empty. But, there was always that one person in there exercising. So, I would remove the car seat from the stroller, place it on the ledge next to the treadmill, and stare at my baby sleeping. I would look at him, and plead, “Please, baby. Let me just get my run in, and then you can scream, cry, or do whatever you want for the rest of the day.”
But, as most mom’s know, your baby is a ticking time bomb — you never know when your baby is going to wake up, cry, and then scream its little head off until you put the bottle in his mouth or hold him. And, if there are other people present, there is no, “Hold on, Levi. Just let me finish out this mile.” Therefore, every single run those first few months were dictated by my baby’s naps.
This meant one thing. I was going to get on that treadmill, and run as fast as I possibly could until I heard that scream. Some days he gave me 14 minutes. Some days he gave me 26 minutes. If it was a really great day, I got 40 minutes. Nevertheless, whatever it was, I would just run knowing that I gave it my all for whatever time I was given by my baby.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed as they have grown a little bit older. I would run both of my boys, as babies, in the stroller. Again, I would go as fast as I could until they would scream so loudly, the people living in the condominiums up on the hill could hear them. At that point, I’d have no choice, but to turn around and go home before someone called social services on me, or judged me as a terrible mother for prioritizing my run over my screaming baby.
Now, my second “baby” is 2 years old. I still, periodically, push him in the stroller for runs. It isn’t the screaming like it was when he was a baby… now, it is the unbuckling of the straps and the climbing out of the stroller because he doesn’t want to sit anymore. At that point, again, I have no choice but to head home before my child ends up jumping out of a moving stroller, which is obviously very dangerous. So, before my ticking time bomb goes off, I try to run as fast as I can and cover as much distance as possible.
Let’s be honest. Now I have three mornings a week where I am without both boys for 3 hours. Sounds glorious. And it is. But, by the time I actually depart the school and get in my car, my time is down to 2 1/2 hours. Then, I run a quick errand to Target — wait, that is an oxymoron.. quick and Target should NEVER be put in the same sentence. So once done at Target, I have an hour and fifteen minutes before I need to leave my house to pick-up on time. I usually speed home, throw the bags in the house, tie my shoes, and I’m off. That leaves me 59 minutes to run before having to get in my car. So, again, I am racing, in the time I have to get to my 2-year-old, to run as fast as I possibly can— because what if my run is interrupted by a phone call? And I need to get to school? Not typical (thank goodness), but one never knows. As a mom, you are ALWAYS on call.
So, I’m telling you… those who ask how I was able to run the half marathon without “training.” Have little kids. Not only did they help me “train,” but they waited for me at the finish line. That is incentive enough to run as fast as I could to give them a hug!