"Why I Run"
By Jennifer M. Volland
Today starts like any other: I'm convincing 5-year-old Agnes that a flower-girl dress isn't the best outfit for school, then doing a conference call while my 3-year-old, Imogen, insists that I inspect her bug collection. Thank God I went for a run at 5:30 this morning, something I do three or four times a week. My jog at daybreak is the calm before the parental storm.
I used to love exercise, whether I was training for a marathon or practicing the ashtanga yoga primary series. But when I became a mom, I lost my athletic identity for a time. My new role was all-consuming, a never-ending cycle of feeding, playing, bathing, and cleaning. Don't get me wrong: I loved seeing Agnes and Imogen take their first steps and choreograph dances to The Sound of Music sound track. But I fell out of touch with my own goals; my rare moments alone were spent stocking up on diapers at the supermarket or researching preschools on the Internet.
It was not until Imogen was a year old that I finally felt compelled to get back into shape. I'd planned to take up yoga again (my life could use a little zen), but then my best friend, Cara, invited me on a run while our families were vacationing together in Hawaii. A list of worries ran through my head: Who would watch the kids? Who would entertain them? Who would make breakfast? A new mom herself, Cara teased, "You have a husband, don't you?" She had a point.
As we set out on Hanalei Bay's white sand, the guilt at abandoning my girls faded, replaced with more immediate needs (gasping lungs, pumping legs). Suddenly I had new appreciation for the sport I had abandoned; it was time for me.
When we returned from the trip, I feared that my schedule would keep me from running regularly. Instead I discovered that the demands of parenting strengthened my commitment. I don't even mind when the alarm buzzes at dawn, because I'm looking forward to a serene hour with the sunrise while the girls snuggle in bed with my husband until I get back. Sometimes Agnes and Imogen meet me at the door, tennis shoes peeking out from under their nightgowns, and we jog around the block together. Those mornings are the best of both worlds.
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