"When it comes to miles and times, I only compete against myself and I try to see my life more globally. I wouldn't trade my life/kids/work for really amazing numbers. I can't be awesome at everything, so it's okay to try to keep my awesomeness with my kids and work--and my running can be just somewhat awesome."--EllenAbout five years ago, a friend of mine, Sandy, who happens to be an accomplished triathlete and Ironman told me about a t-shirt she saw. She thought I would like it. "Badass Mother Runner" was emblazoned across the front. Oh yes, right up my alley! I headed to Google, found the shirt and the original badass mother runners, and I was hooked. I subscribed to their blog and found women who were just like me.
|The original badass mother runner shirt!|
So many of Dimity and Sarah's posts spoke to me. I commented several times on the blog, and even had one of my comments featured, a comment about an unsupportive spouse. I couldn't believe how many other mother runners had the same issue. I even read the blog post to my husband. I'm not sure how he felt about being the featured spouse, but he has definitely warmed to my running since then. When SBS's mom was ill, I sent her words of support and received a personal email in reply. That's the kind of ladies Dimity and Sarah are.
When they began taking their show on the road, to promote their second book, Train like a Mother, I was thrilled to see that they were hosting a house party in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, which is about 40 minutes from my home. Although I didn't leave the party with any new friends, I felt a kinship with the women I met. Both Dimity and Sarah signed my book, and I was breathless meeting these ladies who I felt "knew" me.
|Where it all started--my tribe (sans me) with Dimity and Sarah; Sara, Sarah, Dimity, Karen, Penny, and Michelle (picture courtesy of anothermotherrunner.com)|
|The tribe--Karen, Penny, Michelle, Sara, and me|
|Sporting yet another fun AMR shirt while meeting up with Ashtyn, another mother runner!|
This is the essence of AMR, and heart and sole (pun intended) of the book. Dimity and Sarah have created a "tribe" and they haven't forgotten that the tribe is central to their success. As they say in the introduction:
"Even if we've never been in that situation, we all know exactly where she's coming from."and
"Despite the speed bumps life is throwing at her, she (the mother runner) realizes the transformative power of a mile, the importance of pushing toward new challenges, the value in taking care of herself, one step at a time." --Tales from Another Mother RunnerTales of Another Mother Runner is a collection of essays from a variety of mothers who run. There are essays by "celebrity mother runners" and bloggers. The essays are categorized, but there is a central theme throughout the book: we all run because of and in spite of the fact that we have a million other responsibilities.
Some of the essays that really stuck with me included one called "Taking the Long Way Home" by Heather Johnson Durocher--not just because that's the name of my blog, but because of the struggles she endured in her marriage and how she worked it out through running.
"Nearly everything I know about myself--the person I am today at forty--I've discovered through running."--Heather Johnson DurocherI loved the essay by Bethany Meyer on her coach, cleverly titled, "Who Needs Prada, I've Got Coach". I've written about my coach, and it was fun to ready Bethany's thoughts as she gave her running over to her coach.
"Being accountable to Coach meant demanding more of myself. Although it sounds harsh, the demands didn't leave me feeling drained. They actually gave me confidence."--Bethany MeyerYes! Yes! Yes!
One of the most poignant essays was written by Dimity. In her essay, she writes openly about her struggles with depression.
"And the fact that I have a life with only first-world problems made me believe I was a selfish, ungracious fool for feeling so terrible."--Dimity McDowellAs one who has struggled with anxiety and depression over most of my adult life, I read her essay with sadness and understanding. Running has saved me from the depths of depression. Dimity talks about this and how when she's running, she "rarely feels anguish or worry".
"Running, I am the person I want to be when I am standing still."And how finally, one day, the sun began to shine. Powerful stuff.
There are essays by authors like Kristin Armstrong, whose work I always enjoy, and our own book club author, Jennifer Graham. SBS writes about aging. Throughout the book are quotes from women who contributed via the blog or the survey. All meaningful.
It's not a stretch to say I loved this book. I kept highlighting passages and folding over page corners of essays I wanted to come back to. All of the mother runner books have been great, but this one is the most personal of the trilogy. This is the stuff I read the blog for. The aha! moments when I read something and realize it isn't just me that feels a certain way. The TMI posts about things too squeamish to mention but hey, it happened and maybe it happened to you. The quotes that hit home so hard, I want to commit them to memory.
I'll be coming back to read this book over and over. Because as mother runners, we're all in this thing together.
"Many people think running and racing is about speed, but really, it's about slowing down. You may be moving faster than you ever have on two legs, but in the quiet of a prolonged effort, time stretches out and elongates. You listen to a song you've heard a hundred times before, and it sounds different. You hear it with your body, not your brain. You absorb everything around you...Your mind drifts away; you're moving on instinct. You are transported without ever leaving your body...."Katie Arnold
What did you think about this book? What essay inspired you the most? Have you been to any of the Mother Runner parties? If so, did you make any friends? Do you have a tribe?
A side note: I have not heard back from Dimity regarding my interview questions. As you know, SBS broke her ankle, and Dimity is having to host all the parties, plus run the show aka the blog and social media outlets. I'm sure she's completely overwhelmed! If I do hear back from her, I'll be sure to pass her interview along.
Be sure to link your review below! You know the rules...just link back to the original post. The badge is below. Be nice and read the other posts! Sharing is caring after all...and if you don't have a blog, just post your review in the comments. I'm really excited to hear what everyone has to say.
For next month's book, I've chosen a light, funny book! It is summer after all...We'll be reading The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances by Matthew Inman aka creator of the Oatmeal. If you aren't familiar with his work, his comics are irreverent (which is probably why I like them so much); since Inman is a runner, he takes his sense of humor to the road! I hope you'll join us in this one.
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