Five Life Lessons Learned from Running a Half-Marathon

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Thank you, Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags, for sponsoring this conversation and helping Strong Moms everywhere tackle big messes every day. All opinions are my own.

Three years ago, had you told me I would have completed one half-marathon in 2016 and two half-marathons in 2017, I would have had to excuse myself from the room. Not because I was sick, but because I would have laughed in your face. While it was a dream to run in two half-marathons to get the pink Coast to Coast medal, it wasn't attainable. I was a mom of four small children. So far removed from a runner. I could barely walk around the neighborhood because I spent the whole time chasing my kids who were 6, 5, 3, and 1 at the time.

There was no time to think, let alone train for a half-marathon.

But something happened in 2015. I realized I had put my life on hold. I was simply trying to survive twenty-four hours at a time, with no time for living. There was a mind shift. I saw my oldest trying to emulate me, but I was just a shell of a person. My boys loved me for me, but I didn't know who I was anymore.

I realized that I desperately needed to do something for me. To prove to myself and to my kids that hard work does pay off. To show them that dreams really do come true. To give action to my words that they could see and not just hear.

I signed up for my first half marathon in 2016 to not only prove to myself and my kids that you can do anything you put your mind to but also to model strength for my kids, as I'm helping them cultivate self-image and teaching them how to make smart, strong decisions in life.

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Training for a Half-Marathon

Training was HARD. By nature, I'm not a runner. I don't have the discipline to get up every morning at 4 am to run while my family sleeps.

Actually, that scares me. I picture myself throwing my shoes on after having slept in my workout clothes, and someone trying to grab me in the dark of night during the first mile. I may or may not have an active imagination.

Running during the day with small children is nearly impossible. Even if you stick two in a jogging stroller, the older two will stop every three feet to pick up a random stick, rock, or a piece of trash. It's always when you've hit your groove and any stopping kills your momentum. Yeah, it's hard.

But even the hard things are worth doing well.

Training for that half-marathon looked nothing like I thought it would. I felt ill prepared and unworthy to even try.

My goal was simply to finish and not get swept. I had nightmares of seeing my kids faces after the race and having to tell them that I had a medal, but had failed them and didn't finish well.

The day before the race, I wavered between wanting to throw up because of nerves and excitement for my first race. At dinner that night, as I was sitting next to my oldest. She hugged me and told me she would be cheering me on. I looked her in the eyes and half-jokingly asked her if she'd still love me if I didn't finish. Her reply, “Of course I'll still love you, Mommy. But I'll be really disappointed.”

That moment solidified to me that I wasn't just running this race for fun or for me. I was running this half-marathon for my kids. That medal wasn't just mine. When I crossed that finish line, I was proving to them that hard work pays off. They were seeing it in action, not just hearing the words.

Race Day

Getting up at 2 am for a 6:30 race isn't easy. I asked myself multiple times what in the world I was doing. I climbed on the quiet bus and found an empty seat. I watched as teams gathered together and friends sat next to each other chatting about their weekend and plans after the race.

Running isn't all about physical strength. I would say that the majority of running is mental endurance. Can you mentally shove down the intruding thoughts that tell you you aren't good enough, that you can't finish, and that you have no place on that road with the REAL half-marathon runners?

Other than my goal to finish, my other goal was to find people to run with. I had heard that the running community is awesome and welcoming.

After the start of the race, I started searching for people to run with. I looked at their pace and started making small talk with two runners. That lasted all of two minutes before they took off. Seeing two more runners at my pace, I ran towards them and the same thing happened. It felt like the cafeteria in middle school.

Struggling with intruding thoughts that I wasn't good enough and needed to stop before I embarrassed myself, a sea of runners parted and I saw my “running angels” to the right. I knew then that those ladies were going to help me finish this race. Just seeing them was like a breath of fresh air. I timidly asked if I could join them and they readily welcomed me into their running group.

Together, we finished that half-marathon.

I didn't have to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I couldn't finish. I was able to look them in the eyes and tell them I did it. I earned that medal. It was worth all the sweat, tears, and sore muscles.

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Five Life Lessons Learned from Running a Half-Marathon

1. Your dreams are worth the perseverance, hard work, and pain to takes it reach them.

2. You can't do it on your own. Whether it's the support of friends, family, or strangers, you will need a community to help keep you focused and on the right track.

3. Don't lose sight of the goal. There might be other good things out there, but you have to fix your eyes on the goal to reach it.

4. It takes discipline and hard work to put action to our words, but that's what people will remember. They will remember seeing you fulfill your dreams, not the words you said.

5. Anything is possible.

My kids don't remember me talking about running a half-marathon. They remember their dad coming home early so I could train. They remember traveling with me to Florida as we turned the race weekend into a family vacation. To this day, they get out my medals and we talk about them. We talk about their dreams and how they can achieve them.

We talk about how our decisions in life impact our future. We also talk about how I'm not just a mom who cleans up messes all day.

While that's part of what I do, there's more to being a mom than messes.

Little did I know, my training would motivate them to run their own races.

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Hefty Strong Moms

Running half-marathons is exhilarating and fun. But once my feet cross that finish line, and that medal is around my neck, duty calls.

“Mommy, can you button this?”

Splash. “Oops! Oh, Mom-my.”

“Mommy, can you wipe my bottom?”

There will always be messes to clean up. Especially with four kids and a dog. There is always a mess somewhere.

That's why I love using Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags to contain the messes after they've been cleaned up. I don't have to worry about bags tearing open as I walk them to the dumpster with the active tear resistant technology for better puncture-resistance, or the smell of trash smelling up the apartment because of the ARM & HAMMER™ patented odor neutralizer. I know it's not going to fall inside the trash can and no one notice because of the break resistant grip drawstring.

Did you know Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags have a 100% satisfaction guarantee? They do! Hefty® can handle all your trash bag needs or your money back. How awesome is that?!

Thank you, Hefty®, for celebrating strong moms who tackle strong messes DAILY.

Just like Hefty®'s trash bags, today's moms are Ultra Strong in everything they do.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags.

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