When I was super pregnant, I had this golden idea that instead of keeping a traditional baby book I would create a baby box for my little girl. In it I would keep various keepsakes from her first year of life, starting with her first ultrasound photos, baby shower cards, and hospital armbands. Now that she’s 9 months old, it’s filled to the brim with so many precious memories from the last year. Buried among the treasures are my daughter’s first race medals.
My daughter has been earning medals since before she was born. In fact, she was conceived during a half marathon race weekend. My husband and I had suffered a loss and running became part of my therapy. Training for that race allowed me to find myself again and, in turn, my daughter also found her way to us. Two weeks later we received confirmation she was on her way and I saved the medal in her honor.
One day, I plan to share that medal with her and tell the story of why that race meant so much to me. I’ll share photos of when I was very pregnant, still running around the block, and still racing. I’ll point to my belly and say, “that’s you.” I’ll tell stories of how she would instantly fall asleep when I took off, then kick and punch me whenever we stopped. I’ll share all of her race medals, my love of running, and how it connected us from the start.
While the races I ran while pregnant will always hold a special place in my heart, what’s even more fun is getting to experience the runs with her as a duo. I’ve started double checking races to see if they allow strollers, and have run a couple of 5Ks with my daughter in tow. She’s also competed in her first diaper dash, and already has registration confirmed for another. What was once my favorite solo sport, is now my favorite mother/daughter time. For that, I am grateful.
We all have these dreams for our kids. Mine is that one day my daughter will find her passion, that thing that drives her to jump out of bed – ready and excited to start the day. That’s how I feel about running. It pushes me to be stronger. It reminds me to be patient. And it doesn’t judge me if I’ve had a bad day. Thanks to running I’m motivated to get off the couch, have made lasting friendships, and explored some incredible places on my own two feet. My hope is that living the way I run – by getting outside and simply living life – I can inspire my daughter and show her there’s more to life beyond the couch.
Meghann Anderson-Russell is a seven-time marathoner and 2013 IRONMAN Florida finisher. When she’s not training for her next big race, she writes the blog Meals and Miles – one girl’s journey through food and running.