This question crosses my mind frequently. During a speed work out it’s: “How long can I keep up this pace?” During a long run it’s: “How long can I keep going before my legs give out?” Sometimes I wonder how much longer I can simply run several times a week before I become too busy or the boys will no longer accommodate my schedule. It goes beyond running as well. How long can I spend 1 1/2 hours making dinner before I get burned out and realize that jarred spaghetti sauce really is a gift from God? How long can I keep walking all over town with our children and several bags before I decide I need a car? How long can we live in this city, period? Often the question is brought on by fatigue and frustration, almost as though I were asking, “How long do I have to keep this up?”

But then I catch myself. I don’t have to do anything. Except love these boys that I birthed and this man that I married. The question is: “How long do I want to keep this up?” I’m having a hard time finding anywhere that says that I have to stop spending so much time making tasty food. And nowhere can I find where it says that once we hit a certain point we’ll need to get a car or the City of New York will escort us to its border and bid us adieu. If I want to be able to run 6:30 miles for 5K, I’m going to need to train pretty hard, but if that is where my priorities lie, then I can make it happen. If we want to live in this city until the day we die (which, fyi, we don’t), we can probably make that happen too. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how we are going to go on family runs when Manchild 1 grows out of the stroller and/or we have another kid, but I am pretty sure that no matter how many kids we end up having, I can still make the time to run and train and race — even if it means I have to get up at 5:00 in the morning in the dead of winter to do it.

Because if those are the things I want to do, I’m going to have to make sacrifices to do them. Running takes time from other things (as does blogging about it). So I may not become a super crafter. My sewing projects might take months rather than days. We might have to forgo a Netflix subscription to fund our race fees. We may be the oddballs who run to the beach just for the fun of it. And someday the menchildren might start to think it’s weird — embarrassing, even — that their parents put on short shorts and tank tops several times a week and come home with sweat dripping off their bodies and down to the floor. But sparing our children embarrassment is probably not going to be very high on our priority list at that point. Especially not if it means sacrificing our sanity-saving, relationship-strengthening, energy-inducing running habit.

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