"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Striving to compete: to be a role model for my girls & boy

As my kids get older, I realize more and more how they are watching me intently when I set goals and work hard to meet them.  I have daily goals (do 5 loads of laundry today, go to the supermarket), but I want them to see me striving for more lofty goals.  Recently, I made the decision to peruse a senior position at a new organization.  I went through a long interview process, and I would debrief with the family all along.  At the end of the day, I negotiated it all to go my way, from start date to work-at-home expectations and from salary to job location.  I was proud of myself, so proud, and they were proud of me, too.

I am a mama runner, and all of my “brfs” (best running friends) know that I have a problem with commitment.  “Let’s run this marathon or that half!”  Registrations ensue and I remain silent on the matter.  

Running a race is a huge commitment of time and money.  Each race sucks at least $50, plus there is picking up race packets plus showing up on race-day early.  That is all time I just don’t have.  Then, there’s the actual training.  What if I don’t have the time to fit on that 12 mile run this weekend if the kids have tournaments, events, practices, birthday parties or other commitments? 

When I won an opportunity to run the Mermaid Run the Saturday over Mother’s Day Weekend, I said, “Why the heck not?”  It happened to be convenient (a 20-minute drive from home), free, and the chance to spend one-on-one time with a friend.  As race day approached, I told the kids how nervous I was: “I don’t know if I am ready.”  I had a busy work week plus a full social calendar the days leading up to the race; I was “dehydrated” and a bit sleep deprived.

Considering how busy the week preceding and the weekend was, my friend texted the night before the race: “Are you sure you want to do it tomorrow?”  It was my chance to back out.  I said: “I’m sure.  I’ll pick you up at 6:30”, even though I actually didn’t really want to do it. 

Getting out at an all-women’s at 7am on a race day is exhilarating.  Still, I felt like I could’ve just as easily slept in.  Out on the road as I trudged along, my excitement was still pretty muted.  It was warm, I was tired, and I felt a headache coming on.  I tried to keep myself distracted, and I tried to keep my friend distracted too.  (I failed to mention: this was my friend’s first race after her third child, 4 months post-partum.)

The finish line was such a tease: I could see it in my line of sight for miles.  And, finally, when I could taste the finish line, I kicked it up into high gear and powered all the way through that chip-reader.  My friend chased me from behind saying: “You placed Number Three!”

“I won?  Really?  Like top few?”  She said, “Yes, you placed third.” 

It was the first time I had run a 10K.  It was the first time I placed for something individually.  I felt special; I felt strong; I felt capable.  Hanging around at the race expo for the next hour, just enjoying the sun and cheering every other runner coming in, felt like a day at the spa.  I had nowhere to be but right at that podium to collect my recognition.  When I came home, the kids had emptied the dishwasher and vacuumed, and I shared my stories of the morning.  They bounced up and down as I showed them my name on the chart, as I showed them the swag I received bearing the words “Second Place” (Second Place in my age group) and “Third Place” (Third Place overall).  I realized that I want this feeling for myself, and I also want this feeling to share with my kids.  I want them also to feel special, to feel strong, and to feel capable when they set goals for themselves and achieve them.

When I show the possibilities of accomplishment, I hope they too see how close they are to achieving the same.

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