the mafia

Today, I ran 15 miles.

15 miles.

That’s huge.  Actually, for me, it’s bigger than huge.  

I know, realistically, that every run from here on out will be the longest run I have ever run.  (except those blissful recovery weeks).

But still, when I finish, it’s amazing.  Amazing to know that I have just done something I have never done before.

But today I am realizing so much more than just my own personal accomplishment.  I’m in awe of the running community.

You see, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for a lot of people who have helped me on this journey.

It all started back in 2007 after the birth of my second son.  I had always liked to think of myself as a runner but had never run consistently.  Each time I tried to get started I would be sidelined with shin splints, or knee pain, or this weird thing where my toes would go numb when running.  I had tried new shoes.  Orthotics.  Chi Running.  But I had never really been able to stick with it.

After he was born, I took a trip back home to visit my family.  One of those days, I took the baby to the mall and visited a sporting goods store.  There I saw a pair of Saucony running shoes on clearance.  I tried them on and they felt amazing.  I told myself, “If you buy these you have to run in them.”

Then I bought them.

I promptly went home and started looking for running plans, and I found the Couch to 5k plan.  It looked, oddly enough, easy.  Definitely doable.

I had also recently joined an online website called CafeMom.  There I found a group called “Running Moms.”  I was hesitant to join the group, but decided I would try it out.  Little did I know that that one click of a mouse button would change my life.

In the Running Moms group I found women of all ages, of all shapes and sizes, all running.  Some were running 5k’s, or just getting started like me.  Others were racing marathons and half marathons. One “crazy” mom was running a marathon a weekend and training for an ultra.  (By the way, Tara, I finally feel like I just might be able to pace you.  Sign me up!)  But most of all, I found support.  Not one single mother in that group would ever tell me I couldn’t do something.  They’d all been there, in my shoes.  I related to them.  Some of us were working outside the home, some were working at home.  All of us were bound by our mutual interest in running and our full time jobs as moms.

In this group of ladies I have found some of the best friends I could ever have dreamed of.  We share more personal information with each other than with anyone else.  Sometimes I think these women know me better than I know myself.  Many times the insights that they provide are truer that I want to admit, and occasionally they hit home pretty hard.

When I signed up for Team in Training in 2009, it was because of the Running Moms.  Before meeting these women, I would have never even thought it was possible to run a half marathon.  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even considered it.  But with their support, it seemed possible.  And when I crossed the finish line of the Rock and Roll Seattle 1/2 marathon, I knew that when I got back to the computer I’d have tons of messages congratulating me on the finish.

They’ve been there for me through the whole journey, from run/walking for 5 minutes at a time, to running my first 1/2 marathon.  They’ve been there while I ran through my third pregnancy – four of us went through the process together, all due within four weeks of each other.  Now as I pursue my first marathon, they’re still there to help me figure out what socks to wear and how to fuel.

I love my Running Moms, and often I find myself talking about them as if they are my best local friends.  People probably wonder how I can really have a friend who runs ultras, one who lives in New Hampshire and has a blog with over 1000 followers, one who is a published magazine author, one who completed a full Ironman, and one who never ceases to give me interesting stories to talk about.  I could go on, and on, and on.  There are a lot of us, and each of us is unique and provides perspective in our conversations.

We joke that we’re the Running Mom Mafia (once you’re in, you’re in for life!).  And it’s true.  Although I’m no longer a member of CafeMom, many of us are still keeping touch on Facebook.  And we plan Running Mom Meet-ups at various races.  I’m hoping to meet a few when I travel to Minneapolis.

If it weren’t for my Running Moms, I know without a doubt that I would not be the runner I am today.  So thanks, RMM.  I love you ladies!


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