By Alexis Mercer
Training for a marathon requires a considerable time commitment. When I decided to run the Grand Rapids Marathon, I was still just about six months out from race day. I talked to my husband.
Me: “I have decided to do something.”
Hubby: “Uh oh.”
Me: “No, it’s a good thing.”
Hubby: “Then why are you prepping me?”
Me: “I am thinking of running a marathon.”
Hubby: “So you’re taking on another part time job?”
Me: (raised eyebrow deep sigh) “That wasn’t really the excitement I was hoping to get from you.”
Even at the time, I knew he was right. Adam is always supportive of me and my endeavors. And while I am quite sure he thinks I am nuts for wanting to train months upon end for a 26.2 mile race, it isn’t as if he doesn’t have his own athletic pursuits that require time and commitment. I knew he wasn’t so much commenting on the idea of the marathon as how I would fit it in to all the other things I enjoy and currently have going on in life.
For the time being, I am able to fit running in to my schedule without much finagling. Because I am a teacher and am home with our kids during the summer, I am able to work around Adam’s work schedule rather well. (We shall see how this goes in the fall when I am back to teaching and coaching full time.)
It works best for my family if I get up early to get my runs in before the kids get going with their day. So most of the time I get to enjoy an hour (or two or three if it’s a Sunday) focusing on my running. The remainder of my day is enjoyed with my family checking off our extensive summer bucket list.
But the other day, Adam had to work very early in the morning and was scheduled to be gone until after dark. Problem number one.
I had the kids, who are all about working out and love the outdoors, but I was supposed to run 5 miles with timed mile repeats in the middle of a warmup and cool down...my 5 year old wouldn’t really love that. Problem number two.
It was going to be 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity by 8 am. Problem number three.
Any one of these obstacles could have turned into an excuse that would have prevented me from running that day.
I chose to make it happen anyway.
I let the kids sleep in, knowing that it was going to be hotter than hot with the sun beating down on me, but it was a better option than dragging them out of bed at 6 (no one wants to deal with my youngest on little sleep).
Snacks...lots of snacks were packed and we all piled in to the car, heading to the track to run my miles so that I could keep them in sight the whole time. I wasn’t loving the idea of running 5 miles on the track, but it was my only option.
They hung out in the shade with toys and snacks and water. I endured the sun for a mile warmup, three miles at tempo pace, and a mile cooldown.
I felt like I won the lottery when I finished. I so easily could have put my agenda to the side and allowed the circumstances to change the opportunity for me to run. Instead I overcame the obstacles that faced me and made it work. And as a result, I felt accomplished and ready to take on the rest of the day with my kids.
Running constantly teaches me lessons that I return to in other aspects of life. This time I am stashing away for a rainy day the lesson that we can allow obstacles to turn into excuses or we can find ways to pursue our goals despite them.
My new part-time job is going well. It’s too bad it isn’t paid.