I started this morning’s run completely pissed off.  I had a quick and dirty argument with my husband and I left the house without telling him where I was going or how long I’d be gone.  I figured he could just look out the window to at least see what direction I was going in….and I just didn’t care.

Because I was angry, I started the run a little too fast, but slowed down after just a quarter mile as I could feel the humidity squeeze my lungs.  I got into some kind of rhythm, listened to my “feel good” playlist, and forgot about home.

As I ran along, I looked at my familiar surroundings, watched the deer stare at me as I passed the deer farm, and wondered if my neighbors were still asleep on this grey Sunday morning.  I saw very little trash on the side of the road (which always makes me happy), but did see half of a pregnancy test.  The stick had been broken in half, with the test results missing.  It made me wonder about the woman or perhaps, girl, who owned those results.  Did she break it because she was so happy with the results that she wanted to keep it?  Or was she so distraught that she broke it in half and threw the rest of the stick in the woods?  I started to think about a “pregnancy scare” I had 18 years ago.  My boyfriend and I had just started dating, I had just finished college, and I was late.  I just knew that if I was pregnant, I couldn’t have the baby.  I just couldn’t.  My boyfriend?  I knew he was pro-life and this could be the thing to end this brief but enjoyable relationship.  But you know what he did?  He told me that he would support me, no matter what decision I made.   And I think I fell in love with him at that moment.  Two years later he became my husband.  (And come to find out, I was not pregnant, just in case you were wondering.)

I started to feel my anger dissolve as I continued my run.  The argument my husband and I had this morning was foolish and honestly, completely my fault.  I blew up at him with no cause and my anger was mostly at myself….but I couldn’t tell him that.

At this point in my run, I was struggling up a very steep hill, and just needed to get to my turnaround spot (which happens to be my brother’s house) and head back down the hill with my rubbery legs.  I was wheezing and holding my chest and hoped my brother couldn’t see my from his living room window.  I shuffled along for a bit, then picked things back up halfway down the hill.  I watched a crane swoop over the stream as I crossed the bridge at the bottom of the hill.  I was enjoying the scenery, appreciating the beauty of my little town, and loving the feel of the sweat trickling down my back while a delicious breeze cooled my face.

As I turned the corner onto the Horseback Road, I saw two vehicles parked on the side of the road, one on each side.  Often, people fish in the little stream, but there’s also a gravel pit there where kids used to party.  A car was parked at the pit’s entrance, with a man in the driver’s seat.  No one else was around.  My legs were tired, but I picked up my speed a little and just kept thinking, “Holly, you are an idiot.  No one knows where you are or how long you’re supposed to be gone.  You could be dead before they find you.”  Then I waved at the guy in the car, hoping that if he did indeed want to kill me, he might change his mind if I’m friendly.  (I know, I know, I’m stupid and irrational!)__apology___by_kicsterash-d5d4ukg

Thankfully, he didn’t follow me.  A few cars passed me and made me feel not so alone.  Someone was burning brush a half mile up the road, so I knew I’d see someone then, too.  I actually had to dodge ash falling from the sky and try not to take too many deep breaths.  The men waved as I passed by and we shouted “hello”s.   I took a little walking break, drank a swig of water, then continued the rest of my run towards home.

When I got to my driveway, I checked the time and was disappointed.  I was hoping for two minutes faster, but as I stretched and walked toward my front door, I stopped beating myself up and was satisfied with doing the run in the first place.  After a quick bathroom break, I entered my living room and immediately apologized to my husband.  “You didn’t tell me where you going or how far!” he huffed.  He didn’t shout but he was upset, for all the right reasons.  I apologized again, he accepted it then asked if it was my hormones going a little wacky.  He wasn’t being snide about it.  My body is going through changes and no one besides myself, is more aware of it as my husband.  But Benjamin Franklin once said, “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”   So I didn’t blame it on my hormones, just blamed myself for always wanting to be right and making everyone else suffer when I’m not.

Sometimes running exhausts me, but I do find that more often than not, it makes me feel good about myself and the world in general. It clears my head, puts my thoughts in order and makes me want to do what I SHOULD do, even if that is to apologize and admit I was wrong.  Not an easy thing to do, and possibly even more difficult than running a half marathon, but the right thing to do.

Regret and Gratitude

Recently, my husband was away on a two-week business trip.  I have to say that my house stayed cleaner longer, I had very little laundry, and our grocery bill was reduced dramatically.  Yet, oddly enough, my running suffered.  Running ended up causing more stress than it relieved.

I typically run three weekday mornings and a “long” run on Sunday morning.  Rarely is my six-year old son even awake yet by the time I finish my weekday runs, but my husband is usually here and if I’m late getting back, he wakes our boy up and starts getting him ready for school. So….what do I do when my husband is away?

Treadmill, you say?  I tried. I really did.  But spring in Maine can be absolutely gorgeous, and after one mile on the treadmill, I knew I couldn’t do it.  I just had to do this outside somehow.    So on that first Sunday morning that my husband was away, after a mile on the “Dread,” I ran a mile outside then checked on my son, who was thrilled to play on the computer at this time of day. He didn’t care where the heck I was!  I continued my next three miles the same way.  It was not much fun, but I was happy enough and my boy was ecstatic.

Yet my early morning weekday runs were a different story.   I was stressed leaving my house while my son still slept.  I wasn’t worried about anyone breaking in or anything like that, but I didn’t want him to wake up alone.  We did come up with a plan where if he awoke, he could light up the “Mama signal” (the outside light) and I would come running.  During these runs, I was literally running up & down the road, so I was never far.   He did use the signal once, and the rest of the mornings he was either asleep the whole time or woke up before I left.  But during every single run, I felt guilty.  Part of me felt that I needed to keep running for my physical and mental well-being, but the other part felt that I needed to stay home and figure out another way.  The stress and guilt I felt was not eliminated by the running but was fueled by it……yet I still did it.  What does that say about me?

I discussed this with my husband while he was away, and we both agreed that we have a child that is easy going and doesn’t typically “get into stuff.”  In other words, he wouldn’t ever turn on the stove or run down the street because, honestly, he has a lot of fear inside of him.  If he gets scared, he will wait outside on the steps for me (which is what he did on the one morning he used the Mama signal).  We both knew our boy would be ok while I ran, but….it still wasn’t the best decision we’ve…, I’ve… ever made.   It was ultimately my decision, and I think I have a lot of guilt about it.  I didn’t leave him alone for any major length of time, but 10 or even 20 minutes can feel like a long time to a six-year-old.   He probably won’t even remember this next year, but will I?

Katherine Hepburn once said, “I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.”   I’ve always found Katherine Hepburn to be a very wise woman, so I’m hoping this means that I’m not stupid.  I just feel really stupid.

Anyway, after those guilt-ridden, stressful morning runs, I asked my mom to hang out with Bri while I ran last Sunday. This was my first 8-miler since early March, and I wanted it to be a decent one.  Knowing that my son was home playing “swords” with Grammie, made it one of the most relaxing and enjoyable runs I’ve ever had.

My husband is now back home.  I’ve been on two early morning runs so far this wee484474_4268397630915_1469183956_nk, and even with the foot pain I’ve been having, they were stress and guilt-free.  I’ve always appreciated the support my husband has given me over the past few years as I’ve attempted to become a runner.  He always tells me what a great job I’ve done or how super-hero like I am, even if he has no idea how long I was out there or for how far.  He thinks it’s amazing that I run at all.  But I don’t think I ever knew how good I really had it.  So thank you, dear husband.  You truly are my greatest cheerleader and support.

Now please pick up your dirty dishes and place them in the sink….or at least near it.