A Tale of Two Halfs (Or, “Why I’ll Be Sticking Around”)

One thing I’ve heard about blogging is that you have to post consistently to keep an audience, to make sure that your voice doesn’t disappear into the black hole that sucks up so many “attempted blogs” out there. Not that there’s anything wrong with starting a blog and then lapsing as your enthusiasm wanes. I totally get that. I’ve started projects before and lost my enthusiasm.

Hell, I even did that back when I was a kid. I was talking to a friend the other day about the sports we played when we were children and realized that I did a lot of activities back then.

Basketball? Yup, I did a year of that.

Softball? Another year.

Soccer? A year, maybe two, adding my muddy limbs to the rest of the pack following the ball around like a herd of sheepdogs chasing a runaway lamb.

I even did a sailing course one summer, until a group of snotty older girls were assigned to the same boat as me and threatened to capsize us. I was out of that boathouse within a week of starting lessons. (Mean Girls: At Sea! Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!)

I didn’t stick with anything or have a “thing” until I found swimming right before high school and then running after college.

I like solitary sports, I guess, ones where it’s just me against the world, rather than me trying to coordinate my motions with other athletes. A psychologist could have a field day with that, right?

(I picture an elderly man in corduroy and tweed, chewing on his glasses underneath a bust of Sigmund Freud. “Hmmm,” he mutters. “This must signify your deep set fear of asking for help and your previous tendencies toward anorexic isolation.”)

I don’t think it’s a huge problem, though. There’s no big metaphor we all have to analyze and disconstruct and write twenty-page research papers on. (Although if you want to,  go for it.) Because I’m not exclusively self-reliant anymore. I do ask for help. I let myself ask for help.

I know I need help.

I’m just not very good at running and passing the ball at the same time.

I like running fast all by myself. It lets me clear my head before the whirlwind of the day sweeps  me up and spins me around. It steadies me before the day dizzies me.

It’s my thing. My thing that I love. The thing I don’t quit and the thing I don’t lose my enthusiasm for.

That’s because I don’t schedule it.

I’ve trained for races before. I did a half marathon in 2008 and another one last month. They were two dramatically difference experiences.

Race A:

I was unemployed and in the middle of a career transition. I was married but had no kids. My training style? BALLS TO THE WALL. I used a 16-week training plan, based on my average pace and desired goal time. I printed it out and stuck it on the fridge.

Then I proceeded to completely ignore said plan.

I overtrained like crazy for that race. I set up camp on the treadmills in the gym to the point where people in my old town knew me as “that runner girl.” I wrote down the distance and the pace of each run in teeny-tiny print on my training log.

I killed that race.

But I was sick. I was addicted, to running and to exercise. After the race, I proclaimed that I wanted to run a marathon, but those were just words. I felt like I had to run a marathon after that. Luckily, I got injured soon after and had to take some time off of running. Then after I healed, I took some more time off, both to heal my brain and because I truly hated running after that.

Race B:

My second half-marathon was seven and a half years later. I had a part-time job and was married with two kids, both under four. My training style? Do it before the kids wake up or you’ll have no time to do it at all. (I did try to cobble together a training plan, but barely looked at it. My youngest daughter ripped it in half a few weeks in, at which point I tossed it in the trash.)

I ran two or three days during the week, with the distance determined by when I got out of bed and what time my husband needed to go to work. My husband watched the girls during my long run and I left the house to my older daughter yelling “Ready, Set, Go!”

I brought the girls with me on double stroller runs while my younger daughter alternated between yelling “Faster!” and shrieking “Out! Out! Out!” I spent the last few miles stopping to pick up the books they’d dropped along the bike trail and moderating debates about who got to play the next game on my iPhone.

Stroller run survival strategy #1: ALWAYS bring your iPhone. It’s a necessary evil.

The race took place on the coldest morning of the fall, with sub-freezing temperatures nipping at my shorts-clad legs. I accidentally forgot to get my gloves back from my brother pre-race, so my fingers trembled during the first few miles.

It was a blast.

I want to do a marathon next fall, and I’m so excited about it.

The difference between love and hate, for me, is taking the pressure off myself.

I don’t want to burn out on blogging. I’ve been waiting too long for this. Advocating for women (and men) to be free from these pressures is what I was meant to do in life. Whether it’s freedom from eating disorders, body hatred, parenting guilt…whatever!…this is what I’m passionate about. This is my thing.

I started this blog last Wednesday, then posted three days in a row in a rush of “Wheeeeeee I’m doing this!” glee. My husband asked me on Friday if I was planning on posting every day.

I’m not. I’m going to try to post three days a week, but I’m not signing an oath in blood. I don’t need another “should,” another thing to pencil in on my calendar.

I don’t want to hate blogging. I want this to be my marathon, too.

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