I’ve never been a big fan of running. My husband (Jeremy) and I used to openly scoff at Healthy Couples who went running together on weekends, while we gorged ourselves on Eggs Benedict and masses of inactivity. There was a brief reprise from my running aversion in the lead up to our wedding, when, fresh from getting engaged during a trip to Europe that involved pretty much non-stop eating, I chose an exceptionally unforgiving wedding dress and had to take drastic action to fit it. Apart from short-lived bursts of resolutions where I’d set up a monthly donation to over-priced gyms, and a stint of healthy eating and fast walking with the buggy after Amy (now three) was born to prepare for a trip where swimwear would be a major wardrobe feature, there was never any real interest in fitness. I mean, Rachel Smalley wouldn’t have pointed at me and shouted “lardo!”, but I was just never particularly fit.
Jeremy started running as part of a lifestyle change following a diagnosis of “how are you even still here?” high blood pressure. In fairness, he was probably the least likely of the pair of us to engage in exercise, so I watched his metamorphosis with a mixture of awe and vague alarm. He shed kilos, became a fitness machine, and really enjoyed running with friends. After Tilly arrived in December, he wistfully said he’d love us to go running together one day. I looked at him like he had a boob growing out of his forehead. I was armed with excuses: there was no time, I hadn’t slept in forever, my sports bra was probably in storage, my bum might wobble, we didn’t LIKE healthy couples, etc. But then I was further inspired by two good friends of mine…they have more children than me (three and four children, the nutters), have amazing legs, and run half marathons, including one through the vineyards in Blenheim where everyone has wine afterwards, and I really support any activity rewarded with wine. I mentioned the concept of maybe being possibly a tiny bit interested in potentially starting running, and she-of-the-four-children promptly signed me up for a 10km run in Taupo this August (and signed herself and my husband up for the half marathon). The sports bra came out of storage.
My first run couldn’t be accused of being an actual run, it was more of a short panting stumble, but it was a revelation. There was actual post-exercise enjoyment! The non-sleeping baby had an honest-to-gosh nap as she was bounced along the path in her buggy, I got to listen to songs I wanted to listen to, my lungs were full of fresh air, no one asked me to get them a snack or wipe their bum, and I was doing something that was just for me. A couple of days later I doubled the distance I ran the first time. “It’s not even about the stuff! I’ve got everything I need to run! No purchase necessary!” I puffed to myself as I staggered behind the buggy. But it is a little bit about the stuff, and we duly outlaid pretty much an entire week’s grocery budget on a pair of running shoes, then panic-bought-and-consumed a massive Cronut. Money had been spent. I was committed.
That weekend Jeremy and I left the girls with my parents and went on our first run together. Outwardly, from a distance (if you squinted), we looked exactly like the Healthy Couple we’ve always despised, but I was ok with it as I was secure in the knowledge we’d knocked off a family-size block of chocolate the night before. “We’ll be making kale smoothies, next!” we joshed as we ran along Tamaki Drive, having our first uninterrupted conversation in months. Jeremy was practically jogging on the spot to keep to my “pace”, but he was very gallant about it. The next weekend (after a couple more solo plods with the buggy) we did it again, and smashed out 10kms. I don’t think I’ve ever run that far in my life. I was so red that Amy asked me why my face was bleeding when we got home, so clearly there’s a way to go with my fitness. But I got a bit excited and thought about upgrading from the Taupo 10km run to the Taupo Half Marathon, and then do the Auckland Half Marathon in November. Then I got REALLY excited, and thought that, clearly being a running pro with my masses of experience, I would get really stuck in and one day do the New York Marathon. Potentially I just want to go to New York to drink cocktails and see my brother, but I’m telling myself it’s about the running.
Ignoring my sore knees, I dreamed on about the Paris Marathon, too.
The next week my knees were so sore I could barely walk, let alone run, and my wonderful Physio cousin-in-law gave me a gentle reality check: my baby isn’t very old, I’m breastfeeding, there’s that annoying pregnancy hormone, Relaxin, still coursing through my system (plus I’ve got over-stretchy ligaments anyway), and just maybe I’ve gone into this running thing with a little bit tooooo much enthusiasm. Taupo Half Marathon downgraded back to the 10km, but I have high hopes for the Auckland Half Marathon in November, and I’m definitely doing the Wine Half Marathon with my friends next year (it’s not actually called the Wine Half Marathon, but that’s just how I like to think of it).
I took a couple of weeks off, and then started again in a slightly less balls-out fashion. I’m not fast and likely won’t ever be, and my bum probably wobbles a bit even though Jeremy promises it doesn’t (he sort of has to say that, really, as sleep-deprived wives are fearsome things), but I’m really enjoying it. Like, can’t wait to go for my next run sort of enjoying it.
Maybe it’s about wanting to do something that is not about being a mother (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my girls more than anything, but it’s not always as high-gloss as it looks in the movies), maybe it’s about being slightly freaked out at turning 35 later this year and having a wee “what have I achieved?” crisis, maybe I’m so sleep deprived that I’ve become deluded, or maybe I just want to listen to my own mutha-fugging music three times a week. In any case, I’m going to stick at it. I’m going to be fit. And, one day, I’ll do the New York Marathon.