I owe you a running update. The last time I gave you a postpartum fitness update, I was training for a 10k. I guess you surmised from the title that the 10K didn’t happen.
Even though I battled multiple clog milk ducts and mastitis that put the brakes on my training, I still planned on running the Flying Pig 10K in Cincinnati on May 5th.
Then, something came up. Something really important. Meghan’s first soccer game. I know that there will likely be hundreds of sporting events in Meghan’s future (if she ends up anything like me or her dad), but there will only be one first event, and this was it. I couldn’t miss it.
Look at this face. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.
So even though I was already signed up and paid for the 10K, I decided to skip it and seek out another race to replace it. I found a 5K a week earlier that was near my house.
I was actually relieved that it was a 5K instead of a 10K because of my lackluster training. I didn’t feel confident about maintaining a decent pace for a 10K, even though I knew I’d be able to finish it.
Luckily, I have no problem laughing at myself. There were plenty of opportunities on race day.
First, I didn’t make the final decision to run in the race until the morning of. I knew I wanted to do it, but just wanted to see how I felt because mornings were (are) rough when you have a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. That morning I decided I would go for it, though, but not soon enough.
I was running late, trying to pump milk for a bottle to leave with Tim, leave instructions for Meghan’s breakfast, etc… You know how it goes as a mom.
I finally get out the door and get to the race (that I haven’t even registered for yet) about 15 minutes before the start time. I park and hurry to the registration desk only to find they don’t take credit cards. I plead with them to allow me to do the race and pay afterwards. It was a small race and the coordinator happily agreed.
This means I have to hustle and call Tim and let him know I need cash. He was planning on bringing the kids to see me at the finish line, but this would mean he’d need to stop at the bank to get money. He doesn’t answer the phone, so I leave a message and hope I won’t be embarrassed beyond belief by not having the money after the race.
Okay, registration complete, now I can actually get ready for the race.
Normally before a race I’ll run a mile warm up before I stretch. I knew I didn’t have much time, but still thought I should get at least a little jogging in.
Looking around, however, I saw everyone just standing around chatting. Suddenly I feel awkward. It’s been so long since I’ve raced, I somehow feel like I don’t belong. And I certainly shouldn’t be running a warm up. People will look at me like I think I’m some kind of real runner. Which I’m not. Oh, the thoughts that were going through this strange head of mine.
So I don’t run a warm up. I stand around like everyone else, and stretch a little. Even though it’s the end of April and we’ve had such a beautiful spring, IT. IS. FREEZING. The wind is blowing icicles at my face and I’m wondering what on earth I’m doing here on this cold, cold Saturday morning.
I pop my earphones in and listen to some music to try to forget about the cold and my lack of a proper warm up, while I hold my phone. That’s right. I still hadn’t bought an arm band, so I would be holding my phone while running. See why I couldn’t run a warm up and risk looking like a real runner? Real runners don’t hold their phones when they run.
Then, my nose is running. Like, really running. There’s no way I can run with it, so I try to find a tissue. That wasn’t happening, so I do the next best thing. I blow a snot rocket. I, of course, try to do it discreetly when no one is looking. Instead of the snot making its way to the ground without anyone noticing, it ends up all over my shirt. Fabulous. See? Laughing at myself.
Finally, it’s time for the race to start. I shuffle to the starting line with with 64 other runners running the race. Remember? I said it was a small race. I wasn’t kidding.
Again, I feel awkward, not sure where I should make my space at the starting line. I don’t want to start at the front, but somehow I ended up there.
And then, we were off. I decided to stay behind the two women who go out first and the fastest. I start my Nike app, excited to see if it is accurate or not (it is!).
Despite the cold (in the 40s!), I start off feeling fine. I want to be conservative, though, as I have gone out too fast in races I’m ill prepared for before and it’s not pretty. So I try to settle into a pace that is comfortable, not too fast, but not too slow either.
I felt good at the one mile mark and ran it in 7:28. That seemed like a perfect pace and I hoped to keep it up.
Immediately after the first mile, we were directed down a very steep grassy hill and into the woods. Did I mention this was a trail race? Yeah, I didn’t think it was a big deal when I signed up. I thought nothing of it, actually.
I should have. Soon we are in the woods running on wood chips that are covering mud from an overnight rain. Trying to stay steady on these was a challenge. And this particular trail was nice and hilly. Very picturesque, but that was the last thing on my mind as I was running.
Mile two was tough. I soon discovered that trail running is much more difficult than running on the road. Not having a solid surface along with curves and hills equals a lot more energy exerted.
At one point I dropped my phone and had to veer off the trail a bit to pick it up. Again, laughing at myself.
When the course emerged from the woods and was back on a road, I was much happier. I’m not sure what my split was for mile #2, but it was a lot slower than the first mile.
For the third mile, I was feeling okay until the course went back into the woods and onto the trail. Of course that’s how the race ended. Of course. I was running through the trees, up and down the wood chip trail, just trying to hold on until the end of the race. I knew I was getting close to the end, but it seemed to be taking forever and I was running at a snail’s pace. All I wanted was for the race to be over.
The finish line was just ahead, unbeknownst to me, when I felt someone sprinting beside me. I stole a sideways glance to discover I was about to be passed by a cute-as-a-button-curly-haired-ten-year-old. (I checked the results later; she really was ten.)
There was no way I could let this little girl beat me. Suddenly, the legs I would have sworn had nothing left just moments prior were in all-out sprint mode. I turned it on and we had a race to the finish. I say this with embarrassment, not pride: I beat her. I beat the little girl.
Tim, Meghan, and Luke weren’t at the finish line until a few minutes later. They missed my finish, but they had the money. I could pay for the race. Whew.
Here’s my only post-race picture. Me showing Meghan the horses (the race was sponsored by a ranch that uses horses as therapy) and giving a big, cheesy smile.
My final time was 26:13.4, for an overall average pace of 8:40. I was first in my age group and the third woman overall. This is not a good time for me. I am glad I did the race and tried not to have too high of expectations, but it was still hard to see my time and know I’m so far from where I’d like to be. To put my time in perspective, I have run one half marathon, when I was 26. My time was 1:36:10 for an average pace of 7:20 per mile. I figured I could run around that pace for 3 miles, but apparently not. Granted, that was 8 years ago, before kids and before marriage. Still.
My first post pregnancy race is under my belt. It’s on the books. It’s over with, I can move on, and focus on doing better next time. If nothing else, I’m more motivated to improve and get to a better level of fitness. My next race will most likely not be until fall, when things will hopefully be more settled and I’ll be able to train without running myself ragged like I did this spring.
After the race, they had a race for the kids. Meghan got to run her first running race and won with a come-from-behind victory! Here’s a little video of her race. She’s the one with the dark pink jacket, purple pants, and light pink hood. Keep in mind, her dad was in charge of dressing her and doing her hair on this day. HA! 🙂