One thing that many busy working mothers don’t do is set aside time for
themselves. We are always so busy taking care of others that our own needs are
neglected. About three years ago right before I turned 40 I took up running. A much
younger co‐worker of mine did as well and we began running a few times a week after
Before long we were entering practically every 5k the county had to offer. We also
got a couple of our parents involved as well after the first year. Now our little running
group has grown from 2 to 4.
I have a blended family with a total of three children in
the home ages 10, 13 and 20. Michelle, my co-worker has a 3 and 7 year old and our
other runner girls, parents at Partners In Learning, Ashley and Melissa each have one
child under the age of 3. So you can pretty much agree we are busy ladies.
About 6 months ago I started to set the stage with Michelle about it being time for
us to compete in a full marathon, 26.2 miles! After a month of hesitation she agreed
and we signed up to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 15. A few weeks
later Ashley and Melissa decided they would join the fun and register for the Myrtle
Beach Half Marathon, 13.1 miles.
Let the training begin! With the help of David Freeze we had our training schedules
for our prospective races and we were ready to begin the four months of preparation
that would get us ready to complete the race, we did not set out to break records or
even attempt to but to merely be strong enough to finish the race. We would run as a
group when we could, as pairs and as individuals depending on our crazy schedules.
There were weeks of set backs for all four of us through out our training. I had my
tonsils removed, had the stomach bug twice and had a knee injury toward the end of
training. Michelle, Ashlee and Melissa all had various soreness which prevented runs.
As well as bouts of the stomach bug also which hit every member of their families. We
did not let this stop us though. We pounded on each week as best we could. On the
weekends we would complete out longer training runs, sacrificing family time for
As race day approached we were all very excited to have finally made it to the big
day! Ashley and Melissa would run their first half marathon and Michelle and I would
run our first full marathon. Accompanied by our families, children and husbands we
were off ready to see what we had in us. Ashley and Melissa stayed together during
the majority of their run and texted Michelle and me when they were done.
Michelle and I were at mile 14 when they completed their half and we still had
another half left to go. This is where you really find out what your made of. Michelle
and I had stuck together thus far. I was having lots of pain with my knee and for a
passing moment thought of quitting. Michelle too was having the same issue and the
same thoughts but we visited the medic station, got iced, taped and kept on going.
We had gone from a good pace to a hobbling, limping 15 minute per mile pace.
I had seen my family already along the race course and they could tell I was having
pain. Michelle’s family kept popping up all over the place and each time her children
saw her limping a little more and going a little slower but nonetheless they saw her
keep going. We had laughter, tears, aggravation, competitiveness and doubt in those
last eight or nine miles as we limped and cringed with every step due to knee pain and
blisters but determination and perseverance won out and we finished that dang race!
My 20-year-old son met us at mile 24.5 and stayed with us hearing our struggles over
the last 10 miles but our inability to allow that to stand in our way of what we set out
to do. All the rest of mine and Michelle’s children came running and cheering across
the field at mile 26 and ran the last .2 with us. Three of them are girls and at very
impressionable ages. They could see when they ran up to us that we were hurt, in
pain, on the verge of tears and ready to be done but what they could really see, and
the image that sticks with them the most is that no matter what happens along the
way, you finish the race you started.
Michelle and I finished that race with 12 minutes to spare before the time limit of
seven hours was up. This was disappointing to us as we had hoped for better. But
looking back, the valuable lessons of determination, perseverance and reaching a goal
you had set for yourself that we taught our children that day was better than any
“time” I could have predicted.
Deboroh Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.