Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon: Just One Marathon

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Hi. My name is Jenna. It has been twenty-three hours since my last Pittsburgh Marathon training run.

Hi, Jenna.

Only One Marathon

I’m exhausted.

I mentioned it in my last training post, but I need to flesh it out more fully in a post this week. I need to make sense of what I’m feeling in my head, in my heart, and in my aching, tired hips.

Pittsburgh will be on my only full marathon.

I know, I know. I’ve said that before, and people always counter with, “You say that now! But they’re addicting! Wait until your after-marathon high!” And then there’s that thing where I say I’m not going to do something and then I do it anyway. First I said I’d never run a half marathon. Then I said I’d never run a full marathon. Watch me sign up for an Ultra next year or some such nonsense. But really, I don’t see myself running another full marathon. At least not while I am working full time with two children living under my roof. I may revisit this post when my children reach that point in adulthood in which my presence isn’t always needed (which, you know, isn’t always the moment that they turn 18).

I know there are other mothers who work and have partners and hobbies and friendships and go to church and volunteer at school and do all the things and still manage to train for multiple marathons each year.

I am not that mother.

I am not that partner.

I am not that daughter, friend, blogger, employee, volunteer, sister.

I am not that woman.

Marathon training has been really hard for me, much more than training for my first half marathon this time last year. Finding the balance between running and wearing all the hats I am supposed to wear has been stressful. And then there’s the realities of living with anxiety and depression. Also, the whole endless winter and the germs that come with an endless winter leading into a spring marathon didn’t quite help. I’m not sure a fall marathon would do me any better as I tend to hate running in the heat, which I remembered the hard way during yesterday’s seven miler on some of my area’s biggest hills.

Where Did Spring Go?
During my run yesterday, thinking: “I mean, honestly! Where did spring go? I don’t want to complain about non-winter weather, especially since we’re getting snow tomorrow, but really? 80 degrees?”

I don’t like feeling out of balance, like I don’t have some semblance of control over the state of the clutter in my home or my work inbox or how often I can find or make time to blog or read or simply sit on the front porch while the boys play in the front yard. Maybe other runners are more capable of handling it all, but I’m 100% fine admitting that I am not capable of managing all of the stress that comes with my normal life and a 36 mile week. I’m fine running my own race, which may not look like another runner’s race. It doesn’t have to; it’s my race.

After my run yesterday when I noticed, “Oh my, I really need to clean the bathroom. Like whoa.

That said, I am still enjoying myself. I mean, I beat the wall and I do still have one crazy long run left. But honestly? I’m having fun. I love the challenge. But I also love knowing that on May 4th, the challenge will be complete. I’ll cross the finish line, accept my medal, and collapse in the arms of my husband. And I can take a shower, eat a giant meal at my parents’ house, drink the biggest glass of wine ever, and sleep all day Monday. (I’m taking the day off, because duh.)

I’m excited to become a marathoner, but I’m also excited to go back to being a half-marathoner. Or even just Jenna who likes to run, be a mom, read books, write, take photographs, be in love, sleep, and walk without wincing when she encounters a set of stairs.

Now, if you could wish this not-yet-a-marathoner some luck on the big 20 miler coming up this weekend, I’d be really grateful.

52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One Where We Went Back Outside

52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One Where We Went Back Outside

Spring arrived.

Now I find myself saying my very favorite sentence of the year, in any number of variations: “GO OUTSIDE!” “GO PLAY OUTSIDE!” “GET THEE OUTSIDE, MY YOUNG LADS!” No, really, I’ve said that to the boys.

The best outside time has always been and will always be our after dinner playtime in the fresh air. Right now, the fresh air is tinged with the cool sweetness of early spring. We find ourselves popping back inside for jackets as the sun dips lower on the horizon; we find ourselves seeking out the spots that the sunlight still touches, still warms, and avoiding the fast-cooling shadows.

BB Catching a Pop Fly

Baseball season also began at the end of March, and the slowly warming temperatures mean that we’re spending some time in the front yard—as the backyard is still super mushy—throwing the ball around from glove to glove. The sound of the ball hitting the glove is now our soundtrack, a new sound this year as the boys have stopped running away from the ball and have found comfort placing themselves directly in the ball’s path.

FireDad Throwing to the Boys

The love of my life tosses the baseball high, high, higher still into the air while the intended recipient of the ball giggles, neck craned and eyes strained to keep it in sight. Too far forward one time, too far back another. And then, smack, into the glove it falls. With BigBrother, we begin to expect the smack, the catch, the happy giggles. LittleBrother, two years younger, still rocking the t-ball pace—slower, happier—isn’t always quite there, isn’t always under the ball in the right place.

And then, it happens. As it does. Smack.


I actually had to ask him to stop and smile at me again, because I missed the first excited look on his face when he caught the pop fly that evening, in the hour after dinner, the golden sun setting all around us. I missed capturing it with my camera because the joy I felt by witnessing the joy he felt meant I forgot to press the button. Instead, I yelped and cheered and smiled the smile of a mother whose child is happy and proud.

I sat and watched as they happily caught ball after ball, pop fly after pop fly, grounder after grounder. They threw the ball back, sometimes right on target and sometimes off in a random direction. I smiled at the joy, at the sunset, at the cool, crisp feeling in the air, at the lack of arguing, at the time spent together, at the joy of baseball, at the innocence of it all.

And then LittleBrother took a baseball to the face and the moment ended. But still, it happened. New Customer 50 Free Prints Offer