This year, I ran my first half marathon. Now, if you know me "in real life," you will know how amazing—and hysterical—that statement is. Let me explain.

It all started with this statement on my personal blog. It's from a list of "goals" I set for the new year. (I don't do resolutions, but I do set goals... they seem so much more achievable for some reason.):

Run a Half Marathon. I’m not even sure what inspired this one.  Part bucket list, part inspiration from others, part late night inspirational reading. Whatever it was, it resulted in an athletic commitment larger than I’ve ever taken on. You may recall that I’ve said I really don’t like running. And I don’t. I might even hate it. But I do love a challenge, and I also love having a large goal to train towards as we go through the process for #2. (Yes, the decision had a lot to do with the decision to adopt again, I know that… but I’m still surprised that I’m doing it.) It’s time to go big or go home.

Every year my goals range from tactical goals such as better e-mail management, more blogging, and Project 365 commitments to aspirational goals of laughing more, organizing my life, and becoming a gourmet chef. But this running one. Well, I think that was part crazy. Actually it was a lot crazy. This stemmed from wanting to step away from the computer more (work and most of my hobbies are computer-based which is a bad combo), and I wanted to make sure to work out more and become stronger. I could have said "I want to join a gym!" or "I want to lose XX pounds!" But, like I said... it was time to go big or go home.

Now, let me share a secret with you all. We can keep this between us, right?! I specifically chose running because it required me getting out of the house—preferably ALONE—for long periods of time. Now don't get me wrong. I love my family to the moon and back... but sometimes you just need a little space to breathe. When you work at home, you find yourself looking at the same four walls. A lot. When your spouse travels for work, you see even more of them... because there is no escape after bedtime, even if said escape is just a trip to the grocery store. And I think that most of us can agree that many of our pre-kiddo pastimes and hobbies disappear when we become parents. Most days, I don't even have the energy to clean a different room in the house. And ... given that I made the above declaration in the middle of winter in New England, I was clearly suffering from cabin fever.

I also chose running because, for the most part, it's affordable. Don't get me wrong, there are expenses that come with the sport, such as sneakers and gear... but there was no membership that I could feel guilty about not using, and no equipment that was really needed besides the shoes. Now, I managed to buy plenty of cute running skorts and sports bras along the way, but let's just forget about those for now... ok?! OK.

So here I was, making this huge statement of "I'm going to run a half marathon" when I could barely run a mile. In fact, I probably couldn't at that point. (Looking back now, I realize I truly had no idea what I was talking about.) But I put it out there to the public, so you better believe I was going to do it. And I did, literally step by step. Some days those strides seemed light as air. Other days, I felt as though my legs were made of lead. Many times along the way, I felt failure was imminent. I battled illness and injury as well as the feelings of inadequacy. I trained through one of the hottest summers we have ever seen. I overcame an injury a mere two weeks before the big day. While I set this goal thinking it would challenge me physically (And boy, did it ever!) I also discovered that it challenged me emotionally too. More times than I care to admit, I had to pound down negative feelings about myself as I pounded the pavement.

At some point in my journey, I made a realization... I realized that I kept putting one foot in front of another. Again and again. Mile after mile. Even when I didn’t feel well. Even when the last thing I wanted to be doing was running. Miles passed by, and along the way, I became a runner. A runner! And somewhere along the line, I got hooked. Running went from being a chore, to being a hobby. I'm not really sure when that happened, but I was hooked. I was signing up for races on whims, I was looking at the running sites more closely. My cross-training became more focused on building strength, rather than just counting that walk to the mailbox and back. As with everything, there are good days and there are bad days. And there are even days when I hate every.single.moment. and I wonder “why am I doing this?!” But no matter how that particular run goes, I now find myself looking forward to the next run.

Some might question why I set a goal that requires so much time away from my family. Some may question why I would pile yet another thing on my plate, instead of devoting more time to what is already there. I questioned that myself. Until I realized that I was so much more present in my life once I started running. I became a better Mama, a more dedicated spouse, a friend who gave more than I got. I guess it goes back to the whole concept of "if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others." There's a reason there's a tribe of us mother runners; I just didn't understand why a group existed until I was part of it.

Yes, I am a runner. "Just another Mother Runner" as they say. I covet more running time, and I savor each run like some might savor high-end chocolate. I have gone from "NOT a runner" to a "Half-marathoner." This time last year I was wondering if I would embarrass myself with this declaration of completing a half. This year, I'm entering lotteries for half marathons on both coasts.

And... In case you are wondering, I did complete the half. My husband and son were able to cheer me on at FOUR different spots along the way. (You could say my hubs also ran a half that day!) And while achieving my goal was pretty amazing in itself, it was made even sweeter by hearing my little one chant "Go, Mama! GOOOOO!" along the way.

{At the finish line of the half with one of my biggest fans!}

Have you picked up a new passion or hobby since becoming a parent?!