The Great American Family Road Trip [2017]: Day 2

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Human beings are funny creatures. Even at 10 p.m. on vacation, I found myself running on a treadmill last night.

In my defense, we spent most of our second day on the road in the car. Again.

But in the 20 minutes I spent exercising alone, I enjoyed the kind of reflection that comes when you don’t hear a child breathing (i.e. whining) for the first time all day.

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There Is No Finish Line

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Few things liberate the soul quite like a good run. For myself, four miles is the “Zen zone” – the magical point at which surroundings fade and stress melts. And this is how I was enticed to run my first half-marathon. Only 9 more miles, right?

I prepared myself as any athlete might. Morning and evening stretches. Ice after long runs. And caffeinated GU – the chocolate variety.

But, come race day, the obstacles weren’t at all what I expected. Amazingly, I paced one minute faster than my training (8:13) for the entire race. When the finish line finally entered my sights, less than half of a mile stood between my sneakers and victory.

In the last few miles, a strange thought struck me. I hadn’t seen another female runner in a while. But this was a public race, and it was 2011.

And, just like that, I hit my second wind and felt the release to sprint.

Only I didn’t expect what came next. I was tripped. I was pushed. I was cursed. It seemed that every man I attempted to pass in that final stretch demanded I take the path of increased resistance.

Was it jealousy? Perhaps.

Was it anger? In some instances.

Was it sexism? This one still lingers.

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Fields of Gold

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Long before I was a mother, I was a runner. On April 15, 2007, exactly nine years ago today, I completed my first 5k. It was a windy and hilly race for which I was not conditioned, and, due to low runner turnout, I actually managed to get lost in the barren fields of early Virginia spring.

I crossed the finish line with a three-minute, don’t-follow-the-sorority-girl-who-is-lost delay. My legs, already jelly, would struggle to move the next morning.

I will never forget the innocence of that day.

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The Last Eleven Pounds

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When I stare into the mirror, I see an inflated version of myself. Eleven pounds – to be exact – have been added. At times, I struggle to recognize this latest reflection of myself. She looks tired.

As I write this, it is approximately 10:42 p.m., and my body wants to run. I have eaten calories that need to be burned. And yet, I am readying myself for bed. Sleep trumps fitness and any neurotic weight concerns that I may have.

The children will need my energy and, more importantly, an agreeable mood tomorrow.

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