This morning I crept out of my bed at 5am. I managed to extricate my arm from underneath Rose without waking her up, tiptoed past Ed, who had been at work until past midnight, and held my breath when I found Eli snoring in a pile of pillows in the middle of the floor. Somehow, I got downstairs without someone following me for the first time all week, and forced myself onto the treadmill, ready start my long run for the week.
As I ran, I gave half my brain over to Stephen King's Doctor Sleep (which is AMAZING!!!) and the other half tried to fashion the perfect Facebook status update to whine about how piecemeal this long run would have to be: "My 23-mile run this morning: four miles on the treadmill, three miles with the jogger, thirteen while the kids terrorize Suzanne's dog, followed by three more miles with the jogger. Any dad's 23-mile run tomorrow morning? Bye honey, I'll see you when I get back."
But if I'm being honest, that's not fair.
I have friends whose husbands and children would not miss a finish line. Whose spouses come along for destination races. Whose kids hold up signs saying, "Run Fast, Mom!" and "My mom is faster than your dad." While Ed packed up the kids to meet me at the end of a half marathon once (two kids and approximately seven years ago), it's not something I need or even want. In fact, sometimes I think it would be just one more thing to worry about on race day: "Congratulations, you just qualified for Boston. Now how about taking a couple of these kids off my hands?"
What I am grateful for, is the village that allows me to run the marathons.
I trained for my first marathon in the fall of 2007. Ed had to be at work before his attending physicians back in those days, and he left early, so I'd get Bryce and Annie off for school, stick Isaac and Maren in the jogger or put them in front of the TV while I ran on the treadmill. Then, on Saturdays, Ed would get up with all of the kids (on one of his few days off), so I could go out and run 16 or 18 or 20 miles in the sticky Texas predawn. When Isaac got sick that fall, I didn't abandon my plan; I borrowed a jogger that would accommodate his cast from a friend, and kept up the training.
When we moved to Utah, I got spoiled. There's a huge community of runners here, and I made some of my first and my best friends on the road. We'd meet up nearly every morning and pound out six or eight miles while solving the world's problems. On Saturday, I'd often meet up with my running group, who were unfailingly positive and supportive, and who made the miles fly by while Ed stayed (once again) at home with the kids. He even gave up his fledgling ward basketball habit so I could meet Michelle on Tuesday and Chelle on Thursday. We had just gotten to the point where the older kids would let Ed sleep on a Saturday morning when Rose arrived and we started back at square one.
These days, although I may be the one running the races, I'm not the only one who puts in the work that goes into running the races. Truth be told, I only run the races to justify the 70 minutes running time each morning, the 20 miles on Saturday (or Friday, if someone has something going on Saturday). Most runners love to cut back in the winter, but not me. That time is a lifeline. And while there have been plenty of mornings (especially lately, since Rose and Eli have supersonic sleep hearing) when I end up on the treadmill with kids watching Daniel Tiger at my feet, and even more when we head out with the jogger (we are regulars at the 7-11 in downtown Holladay, where I bribe the kids with Cheetos and the promise that we will undoubtedly see more doggies before our 8.5 mile loop is over), there are also lots and lots of mornings when Ed sacrifices his own sleep so he can get climbed on for an hour (or three) by two toddlers while I go out for a run. Sometimes I think it's the only time I truly feel like myself these days, and he recognizes that.
I love him for it. A whole lot.
Today, the village extended beyond just Ed. I got into a groove on the treadmill, and decided to do the planned jogging stroller miles on the treadmill instead, and Maren and Isaac entertained Rose and Eli while I slogged away in the basement. My friend Suzanne kept the little ones while I pounded out the second half of the run. Her sister even set out a Gatorade for me at her house up in Harvard-Yale so I didn't have to carry water. There are other days when a friend will drop by, take one look at my harried expression, and say, "Why don't you go out and run for an hour without the kids." There's the babysitter who drops everything, comes over, and plays with the kids. There's my mom and my godmother who always make sure I get in my Balm of Gilead, my canyon runs, when they visit in the summer.
So here is me, saying thank you to my village. And most especially to my husband, who, as we celebrate seventeen years of marriage tomorrow, shows that he values me and understands me every time he spends a Saturday morning making pancakes while I pound out mile after lovely mile.