My alarm sounded from underneath the worn and thin pillow on the bed, and I groped for my phone. It took two, maybe three tries for my brain to connect with the nerve endings in my hand so that I could turn it off.
Turn it off before anyone woke up. Mark, Miles, Si ... especially Si.
I padded downstairs and went through my normal pre-run routine. I made coffee, went to the bathroom, made something to eat. I poured coffee and plated my food, eating and drinking as I scrolled on my phone. I got dressed. I went to the bathroom again. I put on my shoes.
And on this day, a recent Saturday, I filled up the bladder to my Nathan vest, tossing in three fruit punch Nuun tabs and two Nuun Plus tabs. I downloaded the new Another Mother Runner podcast and slipped an extra tank in my pack.
I looked at the clock. 10 minutes. I'd leave then, so that I could begin the first part of my long run. This leg, the first of three, would be solo before meeting up with friends for another 5 and then running a 4-mile race to hit 16 for the day.
Just as I weighed the merits of another cup of coffee versus another bathroom stop, I heard the babbling of a small but mighty Si upstairs. I put the cup down, opened the freezer and grabbed a waffle for the toaster.
I went from wondering what to do with 10 minutes to moving about furiously. Buttering and cutting the pastry, destemming grapes, pouring milk. Climbing up the stairs, showering a cute face with kisses, changing a dirty diaper. I peeked in on Mark and told him he had 5 minutes – and to enjoy them.
The 5 minutes he laid in bed I spent trying to make up for the fact that I'd be gone for the better part of 3 hours so that I could run 16 miles.
And the next day, Sunday, I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to do the same. I tried to change all the dirty diapers. Do an extra load of laundry. Make bacon. Be extra dutiful. I went shopping with the boys while Mark went to the movies.
But as I stood in Gymboree, watching Miles try on Halloween shirts (he wanted one that glows in the dark) and listening to Si scream from the stroller, I put my hands in my head. I took four deep breaths – just like Daniel Tiger instructs – and wondered what I was doing.
I could have stayed home. I could have picked up the house. I could have sat the kids in front of the TV instead of making a trip to Barnes & Noble to get the boys each a book and later to Starbucks for cake pops.
I could have done anything but what I was doing – compensating.
While I am fervent in my belief that moms should not feel guilty for working out or going to run, myself included, marathon training is a whole different beast. I do feel guilty that I'm leaving for three, four hours a day on a weekend and then spending another hour cleaning up, shoveling food and trying to feel normal.
I have feelings, as my friends say, about my training taking priority for not just one weekend but for 16 of them. That my kids wake up and I am not home. That when they ask where I am that the answer is always, "Momma is running."
So I treat my boys – all three of them. I take them to lunch, buy them fun things, make the dinners they like. I try to make sure that I talk to them about anything but running.
I try to compensate.