As a new mom I hear a lot about the "mommy wars" where everyone is judging everyone else for the choices they make or don't make. Before you think, "I'm not judging anyone", just stop it. We all are, and we all know it. The mommy wars, however, have led me to start thinking about all of the wars in life. In particular in my life there are the running and city wars. The struggle is real.
I'm a pretty lazy runner. I run the absolute bare minimum that I can to still meet my goals. When I'm training for a marathon I run 3-4 miles two days a week and a long run on the weekends. That's it. No 90 mile weeks for this girl. If I run too many miles my IT band can't cut it. Plus - let's face it - I want to have a life outside of running. I remember training for my first marathon (Detroit) during football season. I ran 16 miles on a Saturday morning, sat in a chair listlessly drinking Gatorade during a tailgate in East Lansing and fell asleep in the stadium during a night game. There was nothing fun about that. Now I work my long runs in around the other fun things in my life. If running starts to take away the fun, what's the point?
When I ran the Ann Arbor Half Marathon last week runners in the pace group were trying to one up each other with training stories. One guy "hadn't trained at all" even though he'd just completed a half Ironman. Another guy was "only" running 70 miles a week. I loudly proclaimed that I hadn't run more than 5 miles at a time while training. I wasn't trying to prove anything; it was true. The looks of disdain I received were hilarious. I clearly wasn't a serious runner. I would only keep up with them for a minute. I REALLY wish I had trained more for the race, but even without a stronger training program I did okay (even though I could barely walk for three days).
Everybody posts online the links to their Nike or MapMyRun accounts when they complete a run. My training runs are often terrible. Last weekend I sluggishly pushed through four miles and then came home and scarfed down a bunch of gummy worms. Runner of the year. But you know what? Run accomplished. It wasn't fast; it wasn't pretty. It certainly wasn't worth bragging about on Facebook. But I logged a few miles, and my legs felt less terrible than earlier in the week. Winning.
In my world the city wars are also very real. I won't name names because that could get ugly, but every place in Michigan is better has reasons why they're better than every other place. I have heard people brag about how their town is the best, and they have the advantage of a ton of private money to complete projects. I've had people brag about how their community is getting everything done, and they've gotten large federal grants. The truth is every community has to work hard to create vibrant places, and some have unique advantages. It always takes vision and a community effort to create great places. Take advantage of the advantages, but recognize that they don't exist for everyone. Maybe cut the latter some slack?
I have to admit I'm always going to root for the underdog. The community that has the advantage of large community patrons will always be less interesting to me than the one that has to scratch and claw for every single thing it gets. This is what I love about living in Lansing. Lansing doesn't get everything handed on a silver platter. People with school age children leave because the schools are a challenge. The city is good enough for everybody to work here, but they leave as soon as the workday is over. It's getting better, but the superior attitude is enough to make me be a dogged Lansing advocate. I live in Lansing. I work in Lansing. I play in Lansing. You want to meet me somewhere? It'll have to be in Lansing. My city may be an underdog, but I'm always going to put money on it.
The running/city/mommy/etc. wars are all a constant, and for me the dark horse is always the way to go. Do what you've gotta do peops. Run or don't run. Live in the city or in the suburbs. Bottle or breast feed and know that people are judging you either way. Accept that the choices you make will always be unpopular to someone, and that's really okay. Be comfortable with what you believe and own it. That's how you win the wars.