Yesterday I went running with the intention of doing three miles at a hard pace. About a mile in, my legs felt heavy. I mean H-E-A-V-Y. Hills didn’t feel like invigorating challenges, they felt spiteful. I considered forgetting the hard pace and turning it into a “finish the run and be grateful” day. But I didn’t want to. I let my watch keep going. I made it to the top of the last big hill, not caring about the gracefulness of the execution, just wanting to make it…to…the stinking…top.
I didn’t look at my watch. I pumped my arms. I clung to hope in the curiously powerful way that chasing a postpartum PR on an arbitrary course run by oneself in the middle of a weekday evokes.
I charged through my stopping point, sucking air, and finally checked my watch. I had done it! Narrowly, but a record is a record.
And suddenly, but not surprisingly, the hills and heavy legs became not so bad.
This morning, I took both of my daughters grocery shopping for the first time. Two-month-old in the cart, two-year-old toddling next to me. I took deep breaths. “I’m only getting four things. Four things. We will do this,” I told myself. I may have said it out loud.
Well. There weren’t any parking spots next to the shopping cart bays, Caroline decided to have her first-ever grocery store meltdown, my fellow shoppers seemed to have forgotten aisle etiquette, and the self-checkout line (meant to be expeditious, no?) was ornery. At one point Caroline kept putting a rock up next to our shopping bag (she always has a rock or two on her these days). Thinking that was confusing the self-checkout mechanism, I yelled at her, and she put the rock in my back pocket. “Fine, whatever,” I thought. I finished checking out, got us out of there, and drove home with one long exhale.
A couple of hours later, with the girls tucked away for nap/quiet time, I found the rock in my pocket, carefully placed there by my toddler.
And suddenly, but not surprisingly, the grocery trip became not so bad.
Pushing the pace on a run is hard. Grocery shopping with two small children is hard. But sometimes doing the hard things is worth it simply because it reminds us that we can. And if we run a pace special only to us, or if we find a dusty, unremarkable rock in our pocket…we’re pretty lucky.