I'm sure you know the expression, "It takes a village to raise a child." Well, it doesn't take a village, but it does take someone with a big ol' selfless heart to watch marathoners' kids so they can run a marathon. That "someone" in our case has been a family member--my sisters, my mom, Rick's sister, or Rick's parents. In the last four years, we have done seven marathons where we needed a sitter to come with us, to meet us in a different state, or to watch our children at our house so we could run the marathon. This is huge. Without them, we simply could not achieve what we have done over the last four years. They have fueled our dreams. "Thank you" does not encompass my gratitude for what they have done for us. I liken it to give someone with a broken leg crutches so that they can walk. I am not kidding. It enabled us to do something that would be simply impossible without their help.
My younger sister, Laurie, has gifted us once already with her babysitting skills. Laurie was a twenty-five year old PhD student in chemical engineering with little free time and no children of her own when we asked her to watch our kids (1 1/2 years and nine months old) so we could run the Madison, WI marathon in May of 2008. It was to be our first marathon since they were born. We didn't know if it could be done. It couldn't, without Laurie's help. We were thankful for Laurie.
Laurie is going to help us again this week so that we can run the Chicago marathon. So again, we are thankful for Laurie.
Do I envy people who can do it all themselves, as I used to before I had my kids? No, I don't. Learning to rely on others-- to meet me on early morning runs, to encourage me in emails and blog comments, and to watch my children so I can run---has made me a person who is full of gratitude, a person who realizes that it is not all about me.
What is it like marathoning with young children? Can you picture traveling with two babies for twelve hours in the car, having a sleepless night before the race, dropping them at a sitter's house in the early morning, running the marathon, and rushing back to nurse your nine month old? So what is that like? It is wonderful. I am thankful for the chance. And I wouldn't change a thing.
I finished the race in 3:56:02, but it is was one of the races where my finish time was really irrelevant. The whole experience meant so much more to me than my finish time. I ran that race with my husband by my side, and I knew my children were being well taken care of while we ran. I couldn't ask for more than that.
Here are some pictures.
|Two pack 'n' plays set up in our hotel room side-by-side.|
|Carbo loading with Aunt Laurie|
|Back at Laurie's apartment after the marathon|
|Post race ice cream shared by the whole family|
|A tired little one after the big marathon day|
|Laurie with her two small charges|