motherhood · pregnancy · Running

That 20-Mile Feeling, and Dealing With It

Ask any marathoner and they could probably describe the 20-mile feeling. At its worst, it’s called the Wall, or bonking. At its best, it’s called…running a marathon. No matter its strength, it’s often characterized by feeling depleted, detached, and demoralized, with a ferociously strong desire to offer up your favorite dismissive profanity, toddle yourself over to the curb and just sit down.

It’s great!

I’m not running any marathons right now, but recently I’ve been feeling something I can only liken to that. Call it burnout, call it the hormones associated with being six-ish weeks out from giving birth, call it whatever. I want to go sit on the curb.

This curb I’m envisioning would offer temporary relief from pregnancy discomfort, from this cold that has lingered over a week, from borderline-OCD hand washing to prevent the spread of my germs, from trying to keep an even keel around my toddler, from making plans, from housekeeping, from frustration with my husband for not being able to read my mind (the nerve!), from the fear of sounding whiny, from forced resilience, from letting my thoughts spiral, from trying to stop the spiral by snapping harshly at myself. Because I am tired of all of it.

It’s not a proud or particularly empowered moment.

The thing about the 20-mile feeling, though, is that there are ways to get through it. In a marathon, you can take in some calories. Keep up with hydration. Tell yourself to just keep moving. Focus on the crowd, or on your fellow runners, for motivation or at least distraction. Those goofy signs that people hold up can straight-up turn a race around.

It turns out looking at other people can help outside of a marathon, too. Various people I follow on social media are doing, or gunning for, amazing things, and they inspire the heck out of me. One blogger (check out Hungry Runner Girl if you don’t already know of her) just pulverized her PR and ran a sub-2:50 marathon, and has decided she’s going to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials by running another marathon in December. When I read her intentions, my first reaction was “Insane.” My next reaction, one second later, was “DO IT GIRL.” I had to take a screenshot of her post because her boldness lifted my spirits for hours:

Other awesome women on social media who continually hold up proverbial signs to help me through tough miles: Stephanie Bruce (who’s running Chicago this weekend, cheer for her!), Lauren Fleshman, and Nicole Antoinette, to name a few.

Any other suggestions??

Not to worry, I get real-life shots in the arm, too. From all of you. From my family and friends, near and far. From my husband, who so help me, always knows when to suggest that we go out for dinner. And maybe most of all from our daughter, who is saying ACTUAL WORDS now (!!), exploring her world with gusto, and displaying heart-rending skill at random hugs and pats on the cheek.

This kid. This life.

One thing that running and motherhood have taught me is that no one is perfect, but no one’s a lost cause, either. Hard miles pass and make us stronger and a little softer, and that’s not a bad thing. Maybe it’s even a great thing.

Thank you for bearing with me as I meander around my little 20-mile slump.

I swear, I can even hear some encouraging cowbells ringing.

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