Running With Mo

I’m in a running rut. It’s been the better part of a year since I’ve run with any consistency, but I call myself a runner just the same. Despite an inauspicious running debut (I took up the sport out of spite but that’s another blog post), running has been a part of my life since 1996. I’m still running 15 years later, but today I run for me.

I’ve run at home in Cape Breton and through a frigid and equally glorious Arctic winter. I’m pretty slow but my stamina is quite good. Running has been the constant in my life through career changes, cross-country moves, pregnancies, injury and baby open-heart surgeries. It has brought me more than I ever thought possible, including friendship and my “outing” as a pro-choice feminist.

When our first-born was nine months old, I joined a Strollercize group. One of the other moms running was a feisty red-head who I’ll call Mo. Mo seemed no-nonsense, confident and strong. She was…cool. I liked her instantly and made it my business to get to know her. We kept running. We soon learned we were both recovering Catholics and both staunchly pro-choice. We ran our first 10k race together. We became friends.

My own pro-life hypocrisy had met a glorious end in 1991 when I chose an abortion when faced with an unintended pregnancy. My pro-choice education came in waves and my feminist philosophy evolved as the years passed. I knew in my heart that I would some day commit myself to a cause that was close to me and related to feminist issues. Sexual assault? Too close for comfort. Childhood sexual abuse? Ditto. Abortion? Possibly, but at what cost? People who advocate for reproductive freedom paint a set of cross-hairs on themselves. I didn’t think I had the courage to take on that fight.

Then I met that feisty red-head.

She had a few years on me and she had spent many of them dedicated to this very issue. She invited me to join her and her friends in the fight for reproductive access in Canada. I didn’t hesitate. Fate had found me and who was I to argue?

It’s been almost eight years since she and I first met. We still run together when life craziness allows. Our kids play together. She has been a great friend and she has been a mentor. She’s moving away in a few days (for only two years, thankfully) so it’ll be a while until we run together again. Ottawa Race Weekend 2013 sounds like as good a time as any, wouldn’t you say, Mo?

I’ll be getting back into running in the next little while. I plan to kick things up a notch with a fitness coach to help me cross-train more effectively and safely. It’ll be tough but the incentive is strong.  I have an important running date to keep, after all.

See you in two years, my friend!