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Follow This Mother!

September 30, 2010

Megan and her stepson practicing their game-day faces before her half-marathon last weekend

When we tell the title of our book–Run Like a Mother–to folks, they either chuckle or ask, “what does it mean to ‘run like a mother’?” It’s a question with infinite answers. We think Megan Brooks, a 27-year-old mom of a 10-year-old stepson, of Keller, Texas, is proof-positive it doesn’t just mean running like you’ve birthed a baby.

Best recent run: Recently I ran a 4.45-miler in 35 minutes, which is just an unheard-of pace for me. It was one of those runs I dove into without planning for pace or distance and instead let my feelings be the guide. I sometimes find I perform the best when I let go a little and set expectations aside. I felt on top of the world after that run.

Not half bad: I ran my first half-marathon last Sunday, the Heels and Hills and Him Half Marathon in Irving, TX, with two 5K and two 10K races under my belt.  I was pretty nervous. I tend to let double-digit miles get into my head and intimidate me because they just sound long. How silly is that? I let the sound of the number 13.1 scare me. I think it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that I’m capable of running nearly from my house to downtown Fort Worth. I’m always dealing with my own self doubt. On top of that, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly last Friday and I had to leave town to attend his funeral during the week leading up to the race. This sort of threw me a bit. I decided to dedicate my run to him and even had my own race T-shirt made: “13.1 miles in loving memory of ‘Father Grandpa’” (he was ordained a Catholic priest at the sprightly age of 77). I finished in 2:06:06, ranked number 10 out of 39 women in my age group and 143 out of 518 overall. I’m pretty proud: I set a simple goal of just finishing, telling myself I’d be happy if I could just do the thing in under 2:30. I was pleasantly surprised with my performance. I see more half marathons in my future!

A real runner: When I was growing up, my mother used to wake up at 5 a.m. every other day and go for a run. It was like clockwork, in rain or shine or snow (we lived in Indiana until I was in high school). She didn’t measure pace or distance; she didn’t compete in local races; and she didn’t even leave the house with any idea of how long she’d be gone. I could tell it was a real passion and joy for her. She seemed to weave it into her daily life effortlessly, like it was as easy as breathing. She shaped my initial idea of a real runner, I think. I started my running blog a year ago because I wanted to weave running effortlessly into my life, too. I never felt like a real runner before, I always felt like an impostor somehow, and I was determined to change that. I’ve become frustrated with this because while the passion for the sport is there, I find it’s not as easy for me to make it gel with my everyday life: I’m not a morning person; I’m very dedicated to my career; and sometimes I’m tired and I just don’t feel like it! Over the past year, I’ve felt burnt out, I’ve gotten injured, and I’ve taken short breaks to tend to more important things going on. But I still keep at it. I still make the time, even when I don’t feel like it and even as I stumble through all the obstacles that life throws at me. And now, after one year of stumbling but still staying my course, I’ve decided that dedication is what makes me a real runner.

My minimalist shoes: I’ve been running in the Vibram Five Finger shoes for almost four months now and I’m in love with them. People tend to be fascinated (or sometimes appalled) by this trend, but the first time I heard about these shoes the idea made complete sense to me. Like many other well-meaning modern conveniences in our lives, I really believe athletic shoes with a lot of bells and whistles only hold us back. To me, there’s something very primal and wonderful about running in them. I feel like I’m engaging my feet, legs, muscles, tendons, joints, and entire being in a way that’s not possible in regular shoes. During the past few months, I’ve run faster, stronger, longer, and with less-sore muscles than I ever have before. I don’t know for sure whether the shoes have contributed to that or whether it’s just a result of my half-marathon training. But at the very least, they enhance my running experience by making me feel like a carefree kid zooming around barefoot in the backyard again. And that’s reason enough for me to keep wearing them.

Hoping to grow the fam: I really hope to give my mid-thirties husband another child (in addition to my 10-year-old stepson) in the next couple of years. That’s a pretty open time frame, on purpose. I was pregnant at the beginning of this year. I’ll never forget seeing the first sonogram at eight weeks, staring in awe at the peanut growing inside of me, too distracted by wonderment to notice the sonographer’s too-long silence that was finally broken by, “I don’t think this is a viable pregnancy.” Miscarrying was a huge shock for me. I knew it could happen in early pregnancy, but I had no iota of knowledge just how often it does happen or that it really could happen to me. I’m young; I’m healthy; I come from a family of Fertile Myrtles; and we conceived on the very first try. I thought I was a walking picture of reproductive health. People tend to take for granted you’ll just pick up where you left off on your baby-making mission after that happens, but I needed to step back for a while. I’m the kind of person who needs a lot of time to digest things. I’m pretty open about what happened when the so-any-baby-plans-yet? inquisitions come our way, as they inevitably do after two years of marriage, and what I’ve learned anecdotally talking with other women is that it’s tragically way too common. Even two or three miscarriages before a healthy pregnancy seem common. That terrifies me. But I guess when the time comes I’ll just have to jump in, be brave, and expect anything.

Post-run indulgence: authentic Mexican food.

Follow this [step]mother at: http://blogofarunner.wordpress.com/

Stretching in her "alien shoes," as Megan calls her Vibram Five Fingers

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Tryna permalink
    September 30, 2010 10:58 am

    It sounds to me like you will be amazing mother. Keep the faith.

    Also, thanks for the info on the Vibrams. I’m toying with the idea, so may put them on my Christmas list.

  2. September 30, 2010 11:05 am

    What a great mother to follow!! Love that you shared about your miscarriage. I had one between my 1 and 2nd babies and was devastated and felt so alone. I love that you put it out there allowing other women to take comfort in your words and in the fact that they truly are not alone!

    And great job on your 1/2!! Way to go!

  3. September 30, 2010 11:24 am

    Megan: I also had a miscarriage the first time I was pregnant. I was terrified I’d never be able to be pregnant in a healthy way. I too had to take a step back, give my body and my head some time to breathe, and then forge forward again. Good luck in those alien shoes!

  4. September 30, 2010 12:47 pm

    I think I was meant to read this!

    I’m also a running step-mom! I’m a step-mom to four year old twin boys and have been married just over a year.

    I was also pregnant earlier this year. And have been taking my time to wrap my head around it. But our non-viable pregnancy was what got me started running.

    I wish the very best for this mom!

  5. September 30, 2010 12:51 pm

    Hi. It is so nice to meet you.

    I love meeting other running moms. I know how you feel. I have a hard time identifying myself as a runner or a triathlete. I have a picture in my mind that a runner/triathlete is much more athletic than I am.

    Great job on your run and I am sorry to hear about both your grandfather and the miscarriage. (I have had two placed between the five kids I do have…you are right that it takes awhile to digest and move on.)

    I look forward to hearing more from you.

  6. megan_runs permalink
    September 30, 2010 3:43 pm

    Thank you so much, everyone, for the encouraging words! It really helps to hear I’m not the only one who needed time to get through this. I hope you’ll keep reading.

    @Tryna you should give the Vibrams a try. You won’t regret it. 🙂

  7. September 30, 2010 8:10 pm

    Yay Vibrams! I ran in them for about a year before switching to Luna Sandals (Barefoot Ted makes them!). It’s nice to see another minimalist runner mother! I have not had a miscarriage, but pretty much everyone else I know has, and it’s got to be tough. Blessings to you in the months and years to come.

  8. September 30, 2010 9:07 pm

    I loved hearing about your mom! It’s stories like hers that inspire me!

    Still on the fence about the Vibrams though. Well, if they just showed up I would try them…. just not sure I want to spend the $$ without *knowing* I will love them!

  9. Suzanne permalink
    October 1, 2010 8:44 am

    Love your story!!! I also appreciate that you shared such intimate details of your life with us.

    I also had a miscarriage between my 2nd and 3rd babies. I hated that no one talked about it. I felt that I had suffered a huge loss and everyone was being so secretive. So I started talking about it and I know it made some people uncomfortable, but me being so open about pregnancy loss really helped a friend of mine when she recently lost her baby at 20 weeks. Thank you for sharing your loss with us and helping people realize that miscarriage is not a taboo topic. It helps when we find out we are not alone.

    Keep running!

  10. megan_runs permalink
    October 1, 2010 10:04 am

    @Suzanne I felt the EXACT same way! I felt so blindsided and wondered why I only learned how very common it is after the fact. I mean, of all the bizarre and outrageous details my friends are willing to share about their pregnancies and childbirths, why is this the only topic they won’t breach? I know it’s an awful thing that no one wants to bring up, but I just wish I would have been more prepared for it than I was. That’s why I talk about it so openly, too — I want other women to know they are not alone!

    • Laurie permalink
      October 4, 2010 6:15 am

      Great job talking about this tough subject. I had two miscarriages between my 2nd and 3rd sons. At the time it was so painful to talk about it and now that it is not, it seems harder to just bring up into conversation. And I am a big talker about “my stuff” :). Thanks for sharing this. I know from the expeience of family members and close friends that it is much more common than not. I just wish that folks in ob/gyn offices would be 1) a little more gentle in their dealings with it, but also 2) would be more open about how common it is. Now, when I know of someone that has had one, I let them know I am thinking about them and that I went through the same thing.

      Oh, and I can totally relate to the imposter syndrome. I still feel it!

  11. October 2, 2010 3:14 pm

    another great mother – love these posts.

    (separate note- I may be the last person in the western world to sign up on Facebook, but I have, for you guys, though I cannot find the give-away winners. Where should I be looking?)

  12. Val permalink
    October 3, 2010 9:09 am

    “I never felt like a real runner before, I always felt like an impostor somehow, and I was determined to change that.” Megan you motivate me to overcome this very same feeling… I’ve been running for years now, but only short distance. Just last January I began to build distance with a friend of mine and we stumbled across this book, its been encouraging but also daunting to think what class of women I am running along side throughout the world… I’m always constantly wondering if I belong. I guess your words make me feel a little more like a real runner myself! Congratulations on your half marathon!

  13. October 7, 2010 7:23 pm

    I love all these mothers, so inspiring, and I love how every story is so different. Been eyeing those Vibram’s for a while, I told myself not until I get to a “decent” pace. Way to go on your half!!

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