My Husband, the Running Widower

image I like to think that I have the best of both worlds with my job as a high school librarian. Yes, I start work very early in the morning, but I get to be home to greet my daughters’ school buses in the afternoon and to prepare dinner for my family. I get to help my girls with their homework and hear about their days at school before I rush them off to their extracurricular practices. I get to spend Spring Break, Summer Break, Thanksgiving Break, and Christmas Break with them. I get to spend my day doing a job that I love with fantastic people and I don’t have to jeopardize time with my family. It’s really been great for me as a mother. When I selected my career as a high school teacher I was in my early twenties, unmarried and childless, and had no notion of which direction my life would take. I feel fortunate to have picked a career that is both rewarding and affords me time with my family.

My flexible work schedule also allows me time to pursue my passion of running. Who knew four years ago I would call myself a runner? Not me, certainly. The running bug got me and I haven’t been the same since. I’ve written many times about why I run. I think the most succinct answer to the question, “why do I run?” is to feel free. I feel nothing but free when I’m running. My husband and daughters support my running, but I need to be careful not to ask too much from them. Yes, I should be able to pursue my running dreams, but not at the expense of them. I simply can’t ask them to allow me to throw myself completely into my running where there’s not much left of me for them.

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img_8033-1The month of April was a spectacular running month for me. I was able to participate in two out of town running relays. The first was the Texas Independence Relay which took me away from my family from April 1st through April 3rd. The second was the Ragnar Trail Atlanta Relay which took me away from my family from April 14th through April 17th. These were both wonderful running experiences and both were on my bucket list, but they occurred two weeks apart. This was really asking a lot from my family. My poor husband was left alone to cart my daughters to their soccer games and other activities. He was solely responsible for homework, dinner, laundry, dishes, etc. It would be unreasonable for me not to expect my family to feel a little taken advantage of by my blowing and going. These events weren’t work-related, they weren’t religious missions, they were both all about me pursuing my dreams as a runner. I better be careful here, I try very hard to not put my running above my family, but for the month of April my running came first.

imageThere have been countless times when my daughters had soccer games an hour’s drive from our home and they needed to be at their warm up by 8:15. On those days I’d force myself to wake at 2:30 in the morning to allow enough time to eat, dress, do my long run, shower, eat, and help my daughters and husband prepare to leave. I woke at this ungodly hour so that I would not have to forsake either my long run or watching my daughters’ sports that weekend. Additionally, I squeeze my track speed workouts in most times after work but before my daughters get home from school. This way I can still help with homework and prepare dinner before it’s time for me to take them to practice. Because I must leave for work by 6:00 each workday, this means I arise at 3:40 so that I can fit in my run and some short strength training before I shower and get ready to leave for work. I do these things because I enjoy working outside of the home, but I also enjoy being around to do things for my family. I want to pursue my passion, but not at the cost of my family.

imageSo, really, what this rant is all about is just the age-old conundrum: how do I focus on my passion without forsaking my family and friends? This post is all about the juggling act we must maintain on a regular basis to enrich ourselves and to be present for our loved ones. There are only so many hours in the day and when we spend time on one thing, we are neglecting something else. That’s just the nature of life. We cannot possibly focus all of our energy on one thing and expect all of the other things to be nurtured as well. During the month of April I mainly focused on my running. My running took me out of town not once, but twice. I was not around for days at a time and I left all of the work up to my husband. I know that he is resentful of my running at times, I mean how can he not be? I also know that my husband admires my drive and passion. He appreciates the way that I am serving as a good role model for our girls. He is supportive, but even I realize I was a bit absent last month.

So, I will resolve to work extra hard to be present and engaged when I am with my family. For, running is a wonderful addition to my life, but my family is the most important thing to me. What good is success if you don’t have loved ones with which to share it? My family drives me to be better. They are the reason I am fulfilled.

How do you balance your running and your family life? Do you feel torn at times trying to juggle everything? What have you found to help negotiate the balancing act?

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Ragnar Trail Atlanta Team Nuun Relay Recap

 Nuun is a product that I’ve used and loved for years. As I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with my running, I have also decided to put myself out there by applying to serve as an ambassador for my favorite products. I mean, why not? I recommend these products on a regular basis, so why not get even more involved in the running community by serving as an ambassador for my favorite brands? I was over the moon excited when Nuun selected me to serve on Team Nuun. Me?!   As a Team Nuun member, I had the opportunity to apply to run a Ragnar Trail Relay in Atlanta, Georgia at the Georgia International Horse Park. I honestly never thought I’d be picked. Before I applied, I checked with my husband. I started the conversation like this, “Hey, I probably won’t be picked, but I’d like to apply to run for Team Nuun at a Ragnar Trail Relay in Atlanta, Georgia. What do you think?” His response was, “Sure. You know you’ll be picked, right?” I’m not sure how he knew, without a doubt, that I’d be picked when I, myself, thought that it was a long shot, but he was right. I was picked. This meant I’d be doing two 200 mile relay races within two weeks of each other out of town. Oops. Sort of bad timing. My poor husband would be stuck as Mr. Mom for two of the five weekends in April. Sorry, David. I owe him big time.  Now that I knew I was going to Georgia, I contacted my friend Dyana who now lives in Sevierville, Tennessee. Her new home is about four hours from Atlanta. We hatched a plan for her to drive to Atlanta the day I arrived for a lunch date and a few hours of hanging out before I needed to check in with my team. My friend is caring for her mother with Parkinson’s Disease and, while she is thoroughly enjoying her time with her mother in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, she was happy to get away and take a short trip to Atlanta. Dyana is a friend like no other. I miss her dearly and it was so great to see her.   Next it was time to meet my team at a restaurant for our team dinner. I met 14 other people all at once and it’s amazing how easily we were able to talk to each other within moments of meeting one another. This is yet again a testament to how powerful the bond is within the running community. Runners are connected through their love of the run and this never ceases to amaze me. After dinner we went to the campsite and I turned in early. It was a bit chilly for me in the tent, and that coupled with the boisterous group in the tent behind us, prevented me from getting a great night’s sleep, but I’d say I got a good night’s sleep.  Friday morning I woke early and went on a short run around Ragnar Village. The village was quiet, as runners were just beginning to emerge from their tents and get ready for their run time start. Our teams wouldn’t start running until 4:30 p.m., so my day was spent cheering on other runners and getting to know my team. Friday evening and all of Saturday are quite a blur. Basically it entailed waiting at the starting line for the previous runners to pass the baton, cheering teammates on, keeping each other company, resting in the tent, and stuffing our faces. We were afforded little to no amounts of sleep, leaving us weary and light headed, but we had new friends and community by our sides. We enjoyed each other and worked together to do something epic.  An overnight relay race is completely a team effort. The amount of support I received from my teammates is what kept me going. Really, an overnight relay race is a microcosm of the larger running community. Runners support other runners by cheering them on and letting them know that struggling is normal and expected. I am a big believer in making memories through physical activity. An overnight relay race is all about togetherness through activity. I find that overnight relay races offer a sense of community that no other race offers. Additionally, I guess I kind of like to temporarily deprive myself of sleep, hygiene, and some of my sanity.

So, will I do it again? Heck yes!