The new girl

I spent the weekend of October 9 in a sea of runners. At the Chicago Marathon Expo I pushed our kids around in a double stroller and took in the sights … many of whom were road-hardened runners. I was unhappy with the clothes I'd packed for the weekend. Most of them clinged in all the wrong spots. My stomach bulged out of my jeans. The weather was hotter than I'd expected so I was a sweaty, exhausted mess most of the time.

And I'd like to blame that all on many things. I'd like to say that I spent four days sharing a hotel room with my kids. I'd like to remind everyone that Chicago time is two hours later than California time. I'd like to proclaim that I've been traveling A LOT lately and CELEBRATING a lot lately and that it's really fine and ok that I've been indulging in food a lot and not choosing to exercise. Because I'm tired. Because eating well and making good choices is not always convenient. Because I WANTED that dang creamy pasta with proscuitto, OKAY?

That old feeling started pounding on my brain, though. That voice that says "You are doing this to yourself. No one is forcing you" spoke up a little louder. I looked around at people who had made better choices, had done the work, were ready to run a freaking marathon (!) … and then back to myself and knew in my heart of hearts that I had no one else to blame.


The beginning of a journey is a fascinating place to be. I have spent a lot of time mourning for the runner I once was: how easy it was to just throw on my shoes and walk out the door and run at any time of the day or night. How good it felt to push myself and to go one mile further. How it felt to have a body that you were the master of, to put on clothes and go forth and never give a second thought to how they might look.

What I need to understand right now is that this is a new place. There is no "old me" anymore. Here I am. I have had two children. I have neglected myself. I haven't exercised seriously in a long time. I have forgotten the aches and pains that come with running and working out. I have forgotten how to fuel my body with food. I am starting all over again. And I will make mistakes as I re-learn to do this as a new person. I will push myself too hard and then not hard enough. I will forget that overeating is not a reward for "good behavior" but even more punishment for a body that has totally had it. I will stay up too late watching television or cruising the internet and I will wake up hungry in the night and get up and make myself a turkey sandwich instead of drinking some water and going back to sleep.

But I will still try. I won't give up. I will train to run the 13.1 race I've signed up for in January. I will keep training to run the marathon I've signed up for in March. I will do everything in my power to be ready when I toe those lines. I want to finish what I start. I want to feel better in my own skin. I want to do something my family can be proud of. I want to push the new me to the outer limits.

The new me isn't really happy about this right now. Actually? She really wants some chocolate cake and a pumpkin spice latte. She's hungry and tired and she's actually really pissed that I ran/walked 3.53 miles in the heat while pushing the jogging stroller this morning and thinks she deserves a big treat. But she's not going to get it.

Don't worry about her. She'll get used to it.


5 thoughts on “The new girl

  1. larmar says:

    Oh manda, why can’t we just live next door to each other?? Think of how much easier our lives would be if we weren’t living the same ones on opposite sides of the world! I am not nearly as go-get-em as you, as I am just training for a 25k, not a marathon, but it’s scary and sucky nonetheless. My eating is my biggest problem, and if I could just get someone to come cook me healthy meals everyday it wouldn’t be an issue! Cheers (with my imaginary ice cream cone) to you. Let’s do this together, eh? Eh.

  2. Jesabes says:

    I’m with Larmar – what I need is someone to make me healthy food. I’ll eat it! And nothing more! But until then my choices are frozen pizza + time to go running or more complicated meal + no time. It sucks. Last night I went for a run and as a result didn’t even have time to EAT a piece of frozen pizza until 9 pm. Perhaps when my little guy is Elijah’s age I can do what you’re doing now…

    Also, if you have some quick, easy recipes you rely on, post about them!

  3. Sarah in Ottawa says:

    You? Might just be living inside my head.

    I am no athlete, so I’ve always struggled with establishing a successful exercise regime. But one thing I’ve done many times is the ‘return to normal portions’ after indulging. Delicious, delicious indulging. I fall right into that ‘treat myself’ trap, though sometimes it’s with a boozy drink.

    I know that I’m on the right track when after a few weeks I get to that point where I’m no longer feeding the emotional-hunger, the ‘eating because I’m bored/lonely/tired/etc.’. Once that tendency is silenced, I find it much easier going. I hope that you reach that point ASAP, my friend.

    You? Are amazing. And I’m cheering you on all the way! xoxo

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’m bookmarking this page. While I’m currently pregnant (FUN- ha) and am not gearing up to run any races, I would definitely love to find some motivation to get my body back to some sort of comfortable-healthy-stage. Would truly love to put clothes on and not be concerned with how they look. That would be a major upside to getting back in shape. (I’m currently at the point in this pregnancy where people probably look at me and wonder if I’m pregnant, or if I ate one too many cheeseburgers last night… Oy.)

  5. Jen says:

    It’s so hard getting motivated. SO HARD. The lure of the couch and yummy snacks when the kids are asleep is TOO STRONG. You are not alone!! Good luck with the journey, my friend 🙂 🙂

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