In my life I have worn many labels. A freshman. An English major. A Pi Phi. The girl whose dad died. A marathon runner. A Phillies Ballgirl. A copywriter. An employee. A newlywed.
As I get ready to start my entree into the new label of "mom" which I hope to carry for the rest of my life (and maybe someday supplement with "grandmother") I find myself aching to remember who I am at my very core, away from being a soon-to-be mom or a happy-to-be wife. For me, a big part of that is running. I have been running for as long as I can remember, from the time that it was sprinting out the back door and into the backyard for no reason other than it was there. I love running. I love it like a family member... It's a relationship that is sometimes comforting, other times aggravating. It can sustain you and simultaneously exhaust you. It can make you feel more happy and alive than you've ever been, or make you feel like a big fat loser.
Mostly I love running because it makes me feel like the best version of me, which is why the pregnant version of me has been wanting to run so badly. I am fortunate that my doctors have assured me that I can continue to exercise as long as I'm smart about it and listen to my body. Since my body decided to give me awful back pain followed by a cold that knocked me straight into bed for two days, my workouts have been on the tamer side. Lots of walking, some elliptical, some treadmill jogging, a little cross training (but after my back gave out again during jumping jacks, this had to be adjusted), one On Demand prenatal yoga class, and one soggy but satisfying hill run on a rainy Saturday morning.
Then today on a beautiful 68 degree holiday, after an almost 10-hour night's sleep, I laced up my sneakers, hit the foam roller, and headed out onto my favorite running route. I ran this route as a student, a graduate, and on the morning of my wedding. I ran it through every job I've ever had, and I can so clearly remember what I was thinking or worrying about at any given spot on the road. It seemed only fitting to be running it again today (even if I had to stop at a restaurant for a pee break... even though I went twice before I left) at 11 weeks pregnant.
It seemed impossible to believe that 6 months ago I ran my 4th marathon, but all in all, I felt great. I made sure not to let myself get too out of breath and cut off about a mile and a half, but I finished 5 1/2 miles feeling strong and happy and more like myself than I had in months. From the outside, I knew no one could tell anything was different. Even in tight running pants and a t-shirt I'm lucky not to be showing yet. From the inside, I know that everything is, but days like today give me confidence that somehow in 6 weeks, 6 months, and 6 years, I'll still be able to remember who I am and what is important to me with a quick lacing of my sneakers.