For reasons I can no longer fathom, every Mother’s Day morning I used to wake at 6 a.m., head into Central Park, and participate in the Junior League Mother’s Day Half-Marathon.
By Lee Sandford
For reasons I can no longer fathom, every Mother’s Day morning I used to wake at 6 a.m., head into Central Park, and participate in the Junior League Mother’s Day Half-Marathon. Happily, my one half-marathon of the year is still an all-women’s race in the park – the More Magazine Half-Marathon – and, best of all, it takes place in April, leaving my Mother’s Day free for more decadent pursuits. Congratulations to the 15 women from Rye and half-a-dozen Boot Campers from our neighboring towns, who took part last month on a perfectly warm,, sunny day.
The main reason I enjoy women-only races (as well as the fact that there is far less hacking and spitting than in a co-ed race) is the support from the crowd. The supporters are anxious husbands and boyfriends worried they’ll miss the all-important sighting, bleary-eyed kids with homemade “Go mom” signs, and loud, cheering girlfriends with signs promising chilled wine at the end. As the race goes on and the hills get steeper (the race is twice round the park and inclines you didn’t notice on the first lap seem like mountains second time around), all those female runners become more and more emotional, and many cross the line with tears in their eyes, only to completely lose composure and break down sobbing, when they hug their families after the finish.
So the road to fitness can be grueling and emotional, but very rewarding, just like motherhood. The approach of Mother’s Day gives me cause to reflect on how similar those areas of my life are.
For me, exercise is like motherhood because:
– Both involve lots of running around, sweating, complaining, and new challenges.
– Sometimes the effects of your efforts are obvious….When you see your child hold open a door or you receive a compliment on their behavior, you feel all your hard work has paid off, in the same way that easily pulling on your skinny jeans vindicates the hours you’ve spent at the Y.>
– … and often they are not. When you find dirty laundry beside, instead of in, the hamper despite constant reminders, nagging, and sarcasm (I’ve tried notes on the floor that say “the hamper is in the other corner”). You get the same defeated feeling as when you just can’t shift that last 5 pounds, despite eating like a bird and working out diligently.>
– Taking a day off from both is beneficial. A day out of the house to go shopping or wander around the city is liberating and restorative, just as taking a day off exercise is, allowing your body to rest and your muscles to repair and build.
– Taking a few days off comes back to bite you! Too long a break from the house and family costs you dearly when you come back to days’ worth of laundry, a disheveled house and kids, and owing several friends a myriad car-pool favors. Similarly, too many days off exercise and it’ll be a rough first workout back — think how tortuous that first time back in the gym is after a holiday!
– It lengthens life and makes it more enjoyable. A recent study showed that mothers live longer than women who don’t have children. And, of course, exercise has long been proven to increase longevity and improve quality of life.
– No one likes to hear you boast about how good you are at either! If your friend confides that she has fed her kids pizza three days in a row, don’t regale her with tales of the balanced meals you’ve produced. Similarly, your friends who have fallen off the exercise wagon don’t want to hear details of your mile splits in the personal-best race you just ran.
– Neither is conducive to chic appearance. With young kids you often catch yourself walking around with obvious traces of food or spit up on your clothes, and an exercising mom most days finds herself running errands in her sweaty ponytail and smelly workout wear.
– Both require a lifetime commitment of hard work and dedication. There will be tears of frustration, but hopefully many more of pride. Although there is no New York Road Runners medal for being a mom, once a year there are homemade Mother’s Day cards and a whole day of pampering and reflecting on how lucky you are to be a mom.