Mama and Marathoner and Keeping God First

My body knows how to wake up right at 5am, it’s been conditioned to do so since my collegiate swimming days, if not before when our first bell in high school chimed at 7:25am. Jon jokes that he always thought he’d be the early riser, but God had other ideas. At this point it hardly matters even though most people think it sounds horrid. One hour is on the clock, I down a glass of water first thing, grab a banana and start the coffee. Maybe this already sounds way to structured for a morning to some, but this is me and this is the gifting and personality I’ve been given! And for the most part its propelled me.

I open up my laptop and send my first messages to my team, since they are ~11 hours ahead time is of the essence in making sure tasks are moving forward and bugs are taken care of. About 20 minutes later with coffee in hand I grab my Bible study and let everything fade around me. We just came back from Maryland, I didn’t take my study because of the nature of our trip and the fact my current study book is giant! Over the past year and a half Bible study discipline is one of the core areas I have worked on, it’s been challenging and beautiful. Now, I miss 5 days of study and I feel similar to not getting water after summer runs in Atlanta. The unquenchable thirst. In both cases if that weren’t the case I would be worried. Like a rain gauge that has been sitting dry for far too long in both running and spiritual growth hydration is the key.

After I wrap up study time (for anyone interested I do the She Reads Truth Monthly Study Plan) I usually have several messages highlighting my notifications bar. If I have a few spare minutes I’ll go ahead and try to resolve whatever is lighting up, but if Elijah is ready to get up then it waits a few minutes. It’s 6am Elijah is typically stirring, I let the dogs out, wake up Jon and we are off to the races. And for me that means semi-literally. It sounds intense, however, my gaze has been set for the day, not on the never ending to do list and work crises but above on the things that matter, therefore I feel sturdy and ready for the day.

I rock Elijah for a few minutes, and then he’s ready to move. He knows mommy goes out the door soon so quickly asks if he can go “side”. I fix him breakfast as Jon makes his way to the living room and by 6:45am, at the latest, I am out the door. I get in 6-8 miles depending on the day, some days depending on work load I’ll break my miles into a morning and afternoon run, but I always get them in. Not every run is easy, especially in Georgia summers, but they are worth it. Usually I’ll go half and half throughout the week between listening to Worship music or a podcast, and there is always one run that I go completely silent. It’s rhythmic, and my soul needs quiet and worship as much, and even more than my brain wants to know “all the things”. I’m not slow by any means, but I also have a long way to go to reach some lofty goals and so there is always the question….

But wait, why? You aren’t at Olympic Trials, you aren’t that caliber of runner (yet), why work that hard? And it’s something I battle with regularly. One, because I’ve been gifted with athleticism, and I’ve tasted that level in another sport. My mom told me when I thought about hanging up my cap and goggles after my sophomore year at GT that God gives you a gift and he gets to tell you when it’s over. That “over” was very clear after my senior year ACC Championships, but I still left a lot of potential on the table and this is just a continuation of something that started when I was 8 years old. Second, it allows me to build community all over Atlanta. People I love and a lot of people I would love to meet Jesus. So I want to keep showing up and putting what I’ve been given on the floor every day. And last, like anyone feels the mental release when you workout – thanks dopamine – it helps you breathe out and relax when it’s over!

So I warm down at by 730-745am, walk inside grab a shower, get Jon off to work and Elijah and I start our day together. It’s not easy friends, I am incredibly blessed I can work from home with flexibility. There were a few months that were really hard, now he’s able to have a little bit more structure around his day and it has made all the difference. In August he will go back to his Mom’s Day Out program two days a week, and that will be exciting as I get into the heaviest part of marathon training to be able to use some of that time for training. However, the grounded and peaceful feeling I feel isn’t because I have it all figured out, but because I know who does.

The days go on, most of the time they fly by. I pray we stay anchored in truth and love, that God brings clarity to the sport I love and have built such a community around, and that our top priorities remain our top priorities. Mama & Marathoning isn’t easy, but there is a whole lot of beauty God is bringing through it.

For now friends!

9 Months Postpartum

At the end of pregnancy and the beginning of Elijah’s life I can honestly say I couldn’t envision the day he had been alive longer than I was pregnant. Yet, here we are, just a few days shy of him being 9 months old. Ever since I was little there were some moments in life I could + wanted to envision, and some that just seemed blurry (even though God usually changes even our best laid plans + dreams), but I’m learning to love stepping into the unknown to find what lies ahead. Now, the following might be a little detailed for some and if that’s you, no hard feelings if you stop after this next sentence. Moments can be simple and moments can be hard and a lot of times it’s a combo that makes something beautiful. This is true whether you are 8 or 80, and remembering the faithfulness of God in your life makes the hills and valley so worth it.

Right now this is where I, we are at. We made it 8 months of breastfeeding, and I still have a supply of frozen milk he gets supplemented with a couple times a week, and I am so grateful for that season. My original goal was 6 months, and then he wasn’t ready and honestly neither was I. Then, we crossed the 7.5 month mark and as simply as I am typing it he decided it was time and so did my body. It felt worn out and in every milestone thus far he has firmly told me when he was ready, it’s so reassuring to me as a mom. It’s also reassuring to me as a person, when we talk about God’s faithfulness so much and a lot of times choices and viewpoints are clear as mud, so when you do get the opportunity to have 100% clarity – TAKE IT.

So, has there been mom guilt for stopping? Absolutely. There are so many voices in my ear that tell me I should have / could have gone longer, my body would have adapted. It’s a struggle when I let those opinions have too much weight, and then I look at that thriving boy and the way I am able to show up for him so much better than I was the last few weeks of nursing and it’s a God-whisper it was all in His timing and His plan. Can anyone relate, in general life?

Now a few days shy of 9 months this little boy is doing everything. Talking NONSTOP, so playful, curious, now has 3.5 teeth (all on the bottom), and thinks he can stand/walk without falling. It makes the helmet that much more of a safety net. And speaking of the helmet we are on the home stretch. In full disclosure this feels similar to breastfeeding, he’s always fidgeting, his scalp is itchy, it’s uncomfortable to sleep in, we have to clean it and his head every day, and it was EXPENSIVE. However, every uncomfortable for him, emotional for me moment has been worth it even though I’m exhausted and I can only imagine he is as well. The noticeable difference we have been able to see, the confidence that if he has to wear glasses or a sports helmet one day the level of comfortability he will have, and hopefully a decrease in opportunities for bullying makes the hardest of moments worth it. But hooray for tests passed and a change of season!

There are further chapters that are about to close, the end of this remarkable, and markable year 2020 – the best and hardest year. Other than the end of a 3 month helmet journey and breastfeeding, we now have the addition of a school day. A day away from me, a breath of independence for both of us. It’s scary putting him with people I do not know yet especially in COVID season, but I am also excited for him to get to experience new things and Jon and I both felt this was the right timing and the right place to try some separation + new stimulation/learning. Work from home has been rewarding, but there are also times for milestones and this step is right for us. I’ve gotten comfortable in our 2020 bubble, we have wonderful neighbors, a great neighborhood, we’ve been able to refresh our house a little and since my parents both 100% work from home we can see them easily and it’s nice and cozy, but 2021is a time for renewal and I want to step into that with eyes, heart open walking in obedience to what God has for me and us.

Now, so far we’ve mostly talked about Elijah and of course he is the star of the show, but this past month has also showed me what my body can do and how healthy rhythms help me show up better as a mom + wife. When it comes to running I not only love and am passionate about it, but they wake me up, help me focus, and give me energy. I get to walk in afterwards to the cutest toothy grin smiling at me and as the breastfeeding weight shed my body felt lighter. I was enjoying it more and started hitting my target paces again, I am competitive so it gives me a lot more energy then it does exhaustion to go out and crush a workout (if you aren’t that way it’s okay too). And because of the pregnancy journey I have been able to have a healthier relationship with food because I need it for me and him. That doesn’t mean I have it all figured out and I still have plenty of hard days, but there is a motivation on multiple levels as well as the training I have spurring me on to healthy training. God always knows what you need when you need it and like my back injury in college helped gut punch my pride issues the same goes with a timely pregnancy to truly show me the value of food in healthy ways.

And there are days I feel guilty for going out for a long run, but I remember the gift I have been given and the flexibility of time I have in so many other ways to care for my family, and it makes me a better mom/wife/coworker/etc. Don’t feel guilty for taking the time for you, I do not know if I am fully on the – do whatever you need to for you – train but I do think taking care of ourselves is Biblical and important so we can serve and give towards others, it’s what we are called to.

So what is next in racing and in life? I wish I could tell you, my races continually get cancelled or moved to virtual and it’s starting to wear on me. I want to be able to test my fitness, but for right now I will train in the shadows until next time – summer 2021?!? I will keep working in the job I am doing which I feel has purpose until I have a new opportunity that is God-called, and I will hopefully keep jotting down some words here and there to encourage moms, friends, and athletes alike.

Elijah doesn’t define who I am, I don’t put my identity in my child or marriage, but rather what God says about me and who I am as a child of God. And THROUGH trusting in those truths it calls me up to more in taking care of Elijah, Kada, Kali… Jon. And if there is one thing I have learned in this season, I have said it over and over, it’s that God gives you exactly what you need for the day. I usually don’t have any or much extra but God is faithful to help me step into ANY situation with enough energy, patience, compassion, etc as I need. Whether it motherhood, dog motherhood because those days are still very much a thing – see Kada’s great escape of October 2020, wife, teammate, and even daughter, sibling, running partner and so on and so on.

There are so many words I could say about being 9 months in, Elijah and my independence and our togetherness, six months now of working form home with a babe, how I am gearing up to run competitively again, but simply it is this: God gives you what you need. His trustworthiness is steadfast in EVERY season.