What’s a BAMR you ask? Bad Ass Mother Runner. Bold I know. I have been hesitant to even call myself a runner, let alone a badass one.
As I have mentioned before, the books, podcasts, training plans and general support from the Another Mother Runner ladies has kept me on track (pun intended). The training plans have been great and the community that comes with them have been great for advice and encouragement. Even more important for me have been the podcasts. I am not one to run with others very often, so the voices of my Podcasts have become my running pals. So, when one of the AMR ladies, Sarah, posted on social media earlier this year calling for mother runners in the Portland area (where Sarah lives) to model some new AMR gear for a photo shoot, I immediately volunteered. I was absolutely thrilled to join Sarah and several other area mother runners for a rainy day photo shoot. I was so fan girl excited when I pulled up and saw SBS, I almost couldn’t contain myself as I literally leaped from my car to introduce myself. One of my podcast “friends” in real life?!
It was also a nice little reminder that I AM a runner. Like a a lot of women, I spent the first few years saying, “I am not a REAL runner. I am just someone who runs sometimes.”
Recently AMR announced that they are looking for mother runners to be BAMRbassadors, ambassadors for the organization to represent them at race booths, help with social media, etc. The position is unpaid but those chosen will receive free gear. Sign me up! I was not alone – 350 women applied! The 33 chosen women were announced yesterday and today. I will admit, as I read the brief quotes from each woman and looked at their pictures (announced here and here), I again thought that I am way out of my league. Who are these Super Moms?! 4 kids, 10 kids, single moms, ultra runners, triathletes – These BAMRs are amazing and indeed badass!
I am not an ultra runner or a triathlete. I will not be winning any races. I won’t be qualifying for Boston anytime soon. But I am doing alright as a Mother Runner. I am accomplishing my goals. I am a master of fitting runs in – during practices, tournaments and meets, before the kids are up, and when they are at school; when my husband is out of town and when I am out of town; with the kids and hubs, and without. I worry that I am setting a bad example by not working but I know my commitment to running sets a standard that will inspire them to set and reach their goals.
I know not everyone is a runner. Surely there are a lot of hobbies out there for badass moms, though? Why not badass knitters? Bikers? Swimmers? What makes us so badass? That we take time away from our families, work and other responsibilities, yet we still make it all work:)
This is a bit long, but somehow being a mother runner in her 40s is not always an easy story to tell. At least there are pictures. And I should say upfront that this is not a tale of woe, even if there are a few screws in my hip now:)
In my teens I ran track. I ran hurdles and sprints up to 800 meters. 800 meters is two times around a track. That race and the 300 meter hurdles seemed like the hardest thing I would ever do running-wise. I never attempted a jog longer than one mile based on my own assumption that I could not run that far.
In my twenties, I did a gym workout here and there. There was a 5 am boot camp class at the Y, some occasional Jazzercise drop-ins, Buns of Steel, yoga off and on. I walked my dog but I don’t recall ever running with her.
In my thirties, I was a working mom. Getting pregnant was a struggle. I was lucky that once pregnant, those little kiddos held on, even though there were some threats of bed rest with the first two. I ate what I craved and didn’t engage in strenuous exercise (or any exercise at all). With #1, I gained over 50 pounds, and close to that with the next two. Luckily it didn’t all stick around, but enough so that I was looking for some kind of exercise after #2. It started with Couch to 5k when #2 was little.
With the inspiration and reassurance from AMR that yes, I have the time to run; and the tips on running form learned from Chi Running, I finally got into a running routine and made it past the 5k distance. I ran a ten mile and a half marathon.
Tar Heel Ten Mile, my first race, with my running buddy Claire and awesome friend Joey whose positive support got me through that race
First Half Marathon
My 40th birthday year was fast approaching. As the days of 2014 wound down, I sat with my husband and kids to do our year in review and set our goals for the coming year, an annual family tradition. I figured out that my birthday was just slightly over 100 days into the New Year. I would run every day of the year until I turned 40. With the exception of one day*, I ran every day from January 1 – April 11 (the first 101 days of the year). Somewhere along the way, my husband agreed to join me in our local ten miler, which had been my very first race. Then, as my distances got longer, I decided to cap off my birthday weekend by running a half marathon on the Outer Banks, near our beloved house in Duck. We ran the ten miler Saturday morning (which my husband HATED**), had some friends join us at the house for a bit, and then hit the road for the 4 hour drive to the beach. I got up the next morning and ran my first sub 2 hour half marathon. After, I sat on the beach with my toes in the sand, cold beer in hand, and watched my kids frolic in the sand. It was the best weekend of my life.
For someone who says he hates running, he sure takes a great race photo! Or, maybe he was just really happy to see me waiting for him at the top of the hill:)
At Kenan after the Tarheel Ten Miler
Heading to the beach
After the Flying Pirate Half Marathon
After running 23 miles in two days, I figured I could handle a full marathon. I signed up for a Train Like a Mother marathon training plan and was pretty successfully getting my training runs in for a fall marathon – Rock n Roll Savannah, which was scheduled for Veterans Day weekend, a date I could ensure would be free and in a location that was just a drive away. One weekend in July, I set out early on a Saturday morning for a 15 mile run. It was the longest run to date but I had been following the training plan, so it had been a gradual build on the mileage. I had had some knee and hip pain previously but in the last few miles, the pain was so bad that I limped home. Over the next few days, I stretched and rested, but when I set out for my Monday morning run, there was pain and so I stopped after about a mile. Over the next month, I tried sports massage, a chiropractor and physical therapy. Physical therapy helped but I could not get rid of the limp. There were many theories, but everyone said, it can’t be a fracture, you would not even be able to walk.
Over a month later, I had just returned from a 40th birthday celebration weekend with my two besties in Austin. We had walked all over Austin. On the advice of the PT, who was very puzzled about my lack of recovery, I went to see a general practitioner for an X-ray. I had only seen an OB/GYN since moving to North Carolina, so this entailed finding a general practitioner who could get me in. The physician was in a boot herself, and super kind, but she also felt that it couldn’t possibly be a fracture. We did an X-ray in the office and I went on my way.
The North Carolina legislative session had dragged on into September but we finally seemed to be nearing the end. That of course meant long days and an unpredictable schedule for me, as a lobbyist. Shortly after leaving the doctor’s office, I got a call that the X-ray showed a fracture in the femoral neck of my left hip. I needed to go to the hospital immediately. I called the office back immediately but couldn’t get the doctor directly as it was after hours. I had been walking around for over a month, so going to the Emergency Room seemed silly. The legislature was debating a bill that was important to several of my clients that evening, so, at my husband’s urging, I agreed to go to the Orthopedic Urgent Care at Duke with my iPad and headphones so I could listen to the audio of the debate and take notes. The orthopedist came in the exam room after reviewing the x-ray and told me that I would have to have surgery right away. My immediate response was, “I don’t have time.” (I said it in a nice way.)
This poor woman whom I had never met seemed pretty shocked. I guess most patients don’t respond that way. Maybe she hadn’t seen too many working mother runners before? I explained that I had already been walking around on it for quite some time, it was a busy time at work, and surely we could consider measures short of surgery? She explained that it was especially problematic that I had been walking around on it for over a month. The dislocation could cause damage to the blood vessels and in turn cause necrosis of the bone (i.e., bone death). Gross. OK, I agreed, but can we schedule the surgery, instead of just sending me to the ER . . .
Lucky for me, a surgeon could fit me in to his schedule the next day, but I would have to be admitted to the hospital that night. They insisted that I leave the urgent care on crutches and pleaded with me to go straight to the ER. (I did go to the ER but stopped at home first to get a bag and kiss the kiddos. I mean, honestly.) While in the car, the doctor whom I had seen earlier in the day, and never met before, called to make sure I understood the severity of the situation and that I was indeed heading to the hospital. Sheesh, I got it! Once I arrived at the hospital, they admitted me to the floor with all of the other hip fracture patients. I was the only patient under 70. I could hear the nurses whispering in the hall, “She walked in here. I know, it’s crazy.”*** Thanks guys. Just in case there was any doubt that the wheels fall off after 40.
The surgery was successful and they sent me on my way with 3 screws in my hip. Obviously, I did not run the marathon in Savannah – my only comfort that the race was called for heat that year so I would not have finished anyway. Shortly after, the decision was made to move to Portland, and chaos ensued for the next several months. OK, so maybe chaos ensued for the next year.
Then I quit my job, finally figured out Long Run Fridays, and ran my own personal marathon. I won’t lie, it was tough to get past that 15 mile mark. I worried with each run that my bones would further crumble. But I hit that 26.2 and 2018 goals include a return to the Flying Pirate half marathon in the Outer Banks and the Chicago marathon in the fall. I am thankful for every mile.
Turkey Trot with hubs, #1 and #2
Especially blessed to have good friends join us at the Advice 5 cents 5k in Duck this year
STAY TUNED . . . for another post on how this all ties in to the exciting news that I am going to be a BAMRbassador! First, I have to try and drag my kids to the nearby track so I can get a run in.
*We got a ridiculous amount of snow during the 100 days. I grew up in Michigan so the snow itself did not intimidate me, even though North Carolina has zero capacity to clear sidewalks and roads after a major snow. However, my husband, who has an amazing knack for being out of town during all major weather events, was out of town. He may have even been in Hawaii, although I may be conflating events here. I spent a few days running up and down a path in our neighborhood while the kids played in the snow next to the path. But I still missed one day.
**He actually put his headphones in at one point so he wouldn’t have to hear my chatter. Apparently not everyone likes a chatty runner!
***If there is any moral to this story, it’s that pain is an imperfect measure of health. I had never broken anything before, so there was really no way to know that I have a freakishly high pain tolerance. Sure, two kids arrived (very) shortly after arriving at the hospital without pain meds, but who would have thought that would translate to not feeling a bone fracture? My hunch is that this a bigger issue for women than men. (I mean, let’s be real, why in the world were women ever referred to as the “weaker” sex?)
This post could also be titled, “The Best Part About Not Working” or, “The Key to my Happiness.”
As I have mentioned before, part of my journey this past year was getting back on the running train and working my mileage up to longer distances. I started a marathon training program from Another Mother Runner during the summer. I fell off for a few weeks during summer travel and activities but got back on track as the kids headed back to school. For those of you who aren’t runners, pretty much every training plan includes one longer run per week, which most people do on the weekends, usually on Saturday as called for in the training plan.
This fall, #1 had school volleyball games on Saturdays. #2 had gymnastics meets on Saturdays or Sundays. #3 had Tae Kwon Do on Saturday mornings. As my runs got longer, I found myself starting earlier and earlier to get my miles in before their activities. Each Saturday, I would check the time and my pace nervously, worried that I would not get back in time for that morning’s activity. Then, one day it occurred to me – why don’t I do my long runs on Friday? I am the master of me and I can decide not to volunteer or do things for other people for that one day. Long Run Fridays were born and I am the happiest mother runner ever!
Today is the last day of school before winter break, so I agreed to make an exception to my usual no volunteering rule when my son’s very sweet teacher who never asks for anything asked if I could help the kids bake cookies. We are really lucky to be in a building that used to be a Junior High, so it has some cool features (despite the lead pipes and peeling paint) like an oven in one of the classrooms. When I arrived, the kids had already decorated their cookies and a lovely woman from the community who has been helping first graders bake holiday cookies at our school for years was in the process of putting cookies in the oven. I was a little surprised to see her placing the squares of parchment paper directly on the oven racks but I will admit I did not strongly object. As another mom whom I often volunteer with put it, “I don’t want to step on any toes,” as I may already be known to do. Well, ladies, I can now tell you that parchment paper will indeed catch on fire if not placed on a baking sheet.
Less than ten minutes later, there were actually flames shooting up in the oven. The fire extinguisher was deployed by the quick thinking teacher. The kids who witnessed the scene complained of the smokey smell and exclaimed about the FIRE they saw. As I ushered a group of kiddos into one of the other first grade classrooms, the teacher said, without missing a beat, “Well, this is an exciting day boys and girls.”
Never a dull moment. On the bright side, this left me a bit more time to get today’s run in. My 7 mile run put me over the 1,000 mile mark for the year! 1,000 miles was a goal I didn’t know I had until I saw how close I was a few weeks back. Very appropriate that it came on a Long Run Friday, the last Friday of the year with the kids at school. I decided to run one of my favorite routes – along the Willamette River in Lake Oswego.
An exciting day indeed. And, for the love of God, please only use parchment paper on a baking sheet or in a pan.
Photographic evidence of Long Run Fridays @MommysGapYear on Instagram and miles logged @Annaliese Dolph on Strava.
I started writing this post almost two weeks ago. Where has the time gone? I feel like that is my personal theme of the month as I look back on this past year. This week marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of my career break. When I started writing this post, I decided to give myself the month of December to reflect on this last year.
When I decided to up and quit my job, I had so many ideas about how I would spend my days. Some have come to fruition. Most have not.
I have re-committed to running. Shortly before we moved to Portland, I had a stress fracture in one hip and had surgery. I was training for my first marathon, so it was a huge bummer. I worked my distance back up over many months, ran my own personal marathon, and will hit over 1,000 miles for the year.
I have been present for my kids and held down the home fort like never before. When I was lobbying, my schedule was very unpredictable. Our schedule revolved around the unpredictable general assembly. Now, my husband can schedule work trips without worrying about whether our babysitter can stay late or whether I will be in town. I am here. I am here for homework, bedtimes, practices, meets, tournaments and field trips. It is still not always enough. There are three of them, two of us, one of me.
I have felt incredibly guilty many, many days. Guilty that I have this privilege. Guilty that I am not fighting the good fight with my fellow nonprofit unicorns and social justice warriors. Guilty that I am not contributing financially to our family. Guilty that I am setting a bad example for my daughters. Guilty that I am throwing my career, and years of hard work, away.
I have thought a lot about applying for other jobs. I have applied for some jobs. I have started cover letters and then decided not to apply. I have applied to the wrong job (as in actually submitted a resume and cover letter to the WRONG job!). I thought for the first time that maybe I might want to do something completely different. My children suggested I work at the Athleta store at the mall. Not that different.
I have figured out what to wear. This sounds silly but not working requires a completely different wardrobe. And people dress different in the PNW. For good reasons, like, it rains ALL THE TIME. I have embraced Columbia. I tried wearing leggings as everyday wear, but it’s just not me. I bought some new shoes. I actually shopped at the mall some and am trying out a wardrobe subscription service of sorts to change things up a bit.
I have done and arranged for a lot of home maintanenace. We have two houses in need of repairs. New toilets, (another) new water heater and fixing the work of the a-holes who installed the water heater the first time at the beach. Making the Portland house our own, including new floors, a new wall, and soon to come – a pricey new deck to replace the current leaning tower of Dolph. Not to mention the rooms painted and furniture refinished. There is still wallpaper to take down and more furniture to work on. The beach house is in desperate need of new siding and doors. This will all take more time, and, of course, money.
I have not caught up on seven years of scrapbooking, haven’t even started. I have not sorted through the papers in my office space. I have not made that gym membership worthwhile. I am still striving to mix it up more in the kitchen with healthy dinners. I am desperate to read more.
For my one year no work anniversary, I will hit the 1,000 mile running mark for the year. I will enjoy chauffeuring my kids to volleyball, Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, the school play, and a field trip for the Improv class to perform at a local elementary school. I will laugh a lot. I will probably yell some. I may get a little teary when I see my girl up onstage. I will find a fun dress for a cocktail party at a brewery with a Pearl Jam cover band.