Mud, Death and Strength
Today’s #ShesLosingIt #SLIMethod fitness challenge is to post your favorite family fitness picture. Here’s mine. There’s a story behind it.
Honestly, I didn’t want to go. I had been given a free blogger pass for the Spartan Sprint back in January, back when my mother had decided to stop chemo, and we were living our lives on the estimated timeline that she would make it till the end of summer. A Spartan Race in May seemed to perfectly fit that schedule and I paid for some passes for my children to do the Spartan Kids so we could race as a family.
My kids, Rylee (age 7) and Henry (age 5), were so excited. They had been training for months. We took turns running on the treadmill in the garage, made them carry heavy bags up and down a hill at the park with my husband, and did spontaneous burpees as homework breaks. Whenever they whined or complained my husband and I would say, “Spartan Up, Kids!”
Over spring break we even coordinated two kid sessions with my trainer, Robin Johnson Jr. He had them do bear crawls, pull ropes,
and run with parachutes.
They were really into it. When the other kids in Kindergarten spoke about soccer or baseball my son would say, “I’m a Spartan! That’s like a Ninja!”
We made a concerted effort to eat healthier and when my son would ask, “Can we go to McDonald’s?” my daughter would answer, “No, Henry, we need proper nutrition to fuel us.” (I think she secretly reads my blog.)
The stars had aligned perfectly for the May 10th race. My husband’s aunt, uncle and father would be flying in the week before for a Traugott family reunion for 40+ people we were hosting at our house. (Ask me how many Traugotts I knew beyond his dad and aunt. Zero.)
Two of them would sit with my mother at home while the other would wait with our kids as my husband, Henri, and I ran the sprint in the morning and we would all watch the kids in the afternoon. It was the perfectly planned #fitfamily Mother’s Day.
Only it never happened. God had His own obstacle course for us to navigate.
My mother woke up one Saturday in late April with her left leg swollen from her hip to her toes. She had a blood clot in her leg and it travelled to her lung, caused by her cancer. She went from hospital to hospice back in my home.
Henri’s family’s vacation was spent holding my mother’s hand and saying goodbye. I took on the role of nurse and had to give my mother shots of blood thinner in her stomach and morphine drops in her mouth while fighting with Mom’s bank and coordinating my brother’s flight. My cousin decided to fly out too. We had to rearrange the whole house to accommodate everyone. And, of course, arguments broke out.
All my energy went into making sure her final days were as calm and peaceful as possible.
My Mother’s Day was not spent in the sunshine and mud, but on a plane ride to New Jersey (where my mother was to be buried) writing her eulogy.
My kids had more depth of feeling and understanding of death than I realized, considering their ages. My daughter gave a toast at the meal after the funeral. “I didn’t know Grandma that well until she moved in with us last year. But I loved her and she taught me things, like you not to wear a dress that’s too tight. And she also taught me to make memories while you’re living.”
My daughter was right.
So even though my family was still grieving, I had to remind myself that life is for the living and we needed to make some new memories. I did not make the Spartan Race the weekend I was scheduled; I contacted the promoters and they graciously let us run the following weekend instead.
A Spartan Race is filled with long stretches of beautiful trail runs interrupted by difficult obstacles: climb over three 8′ walls in a row, carry a bucket of rocks up a hill and back, wade through a pit full of mud.
This time we had no one to watch the kids, so I ran alone while my husband waited with them. My start time was 10:30 a.m. and their race was at 12:30 p.m.
My only goal was to finish the race in time to see my children run. While carrying a 20 lb. sand bag through dirty, waist-high water, I twisted my ankle and fell in deeper, almost fully submerged. I was ready to scream, to cry, to quit this stupid race!, but I had to keep going if I ever wanted to get to my kids in time.
I finished in 1 hour, 54 minutes and 30 seconds. Relief washed over as tears filled my eyes. I got through it.
Just in time to see my kids run.
And oh! did they run! My son has no fear and he finished among the first group of kids, even though he was one of the youngest ones there. My daughter lost one shoe mid-race and kept going! Nothing was going to stop her from getting to that finish line. I was so proud of them – they worked so hard for this.
Life feels like a Spartan Race. Just when things are running smoothly you hit a seemingly insurmountable wall. Cancer. Foreclosure. Divorce. Death. There’s no way to prepare or know how you will feel; you just have to draw on your past experiences and deal with the situation as best you can. When you get through it you realize how strong you are.
It was hard, but ultimately I’m glad that I ran the race so soon after my mother’s funeral. It reminded me that I’m strong enough to bear the burdens of life and keep going. And that even though my mother has passed, her spirit lives on through my kids.
How about you? What fitness things do you do with your family? Did someone in your own family inspire you to get healthy?
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two. Her book, “She’s Losing It!” is available at Amazon.com.
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