When I describe how a newspaper gets put together or how bread rises, I usually give some drawn-out explanation. When I can tell the listener doesn’t understand or stopped caring I end with “and it work’s just like magic.” And usually that person snaps back to reality.

I could go into a scientific explanation of how running has improved my relationship with my family, given me a new mental mindset, etc., but the truth is it’s magic.

I was a wanderer. I just did what I needed to do to get by, and I must admit there are some days were I still do that. But running has given me a set of goals. In order to accomplish them, well, I have to focus. Having this mountain mama focus is on par with finding gold in your backyard: Nearly impossible.
With those goals came something else, a need to learn how to make my goals possible. Sure my body was willing, in fact, it loves running. But my mind, which tells everything to move, wasn’t into it. It liked how easy everything was; there was just kids, work, food and sleep.

Throw in trying to cram in workouts and spending time contemplating what you like about yourself and … well, my mind probably exploded somewhere along the way. I take that back, I know it did.

Piece by piece, I’ve been putting my brain back together. I’m putting pieces back that are positive, energized and ready to move forward. The negitivity is tossed in the trash. I still find some pieces here and there but I’m trying to reshape them by turning them into motivation. Take that (insert name here) who taunted me in high school. I’ll kick that person’s butt if I ever see them in a race with me.

It’s amazing how the physical activity starts reshaping things. You want to see improvement in other parts of your life. If i can run a sub-30-minute 5k, why do I have trouble with my family budget? If I can maintain a training schedule, why can’t I solve the world peace problem?

I can’t say why running does what it does, it’s magic.

It’s spending time with yourself to make time with your family mean something more. It’s knowing that you’ve seen the results of under- and over-preparation during a race, so why do those things in regards to other aspects of your life?

In the end, it’s a race against yourself. During my metric marathon (26.2 kilometers), I ran most of the race by myself. I was about 100 yards or so from the people in front of me. When you’re running for three hours, you have a lot to think about when your music stops playing.

I took in the scenery, the Great Allegheny Passage is very pretty in August. I thought about my kids and husband and whether they’d survive a morning without me cooking breakfast (they did). But it was mostly about me, confronting my fears and sometime laughing at myself. I had never run that far before. I didn’t feel physically ready, as I got a touch of motion sickness on the bus ride to the start and I had only four hours of sleep the night before.

When the race started, I just wanted to survive. Then I saw the wind turbines. It was the closest I’ve been to one and now I could see how they work. I settled into the mindset that this was an adventure and my legs were taking me to my destination.
And I still remember the sheer exhaustion, yet sense of accomplishment when my body crossed the finish line. And how freakishly giddy I was through most of the race because I was doing something I had never done before.

It was magic. Like finally being able to understand what my 3-year-old says. Or sitting with my daughter as I work on her mani/pedi.

Moments like those won’t continue forever. But the memories do. My body remembers how much it liked running up and down the basketball court, the plink-plink-plink as I rolled a discus across my fingertips before getting into the circle to throw it.

Running reminds me of my childhood and opens the door of possibilities I had closed with my self-doubt.

I can’t say I’m feel like a teenage again. This time, I feel better than I did as a teenager. I’m a little wiser and have more to gain and lose by training. It has made me more aware if how my actions have consequences. Not just for myself, but for those around me.
It’s magic.

How would you describe your hobby? Feel free to contact me here through the comments or stop by my Facebook page, also called Running Mountain Mama. You’ll see a picture of me from the metric marathon I did as the icon.