Come out with Mom (and family!) and enjoy a 5k this Mother’s Day!
Come out with Mom (and family!) and enjoy a 5k this Mother’s Day!
I am back from Los Angeles, site of the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials. I’m coming down from a the high of the weekend slowly, and wanted to share my unique and wonderful racing experience here. For the record, this is my second Olympic Trials marathon (2012 was the first), and also my second DNF (did not finish). Stepping off the course after completing the first 2.2 and one 6 mile loop, I was all smiles. I was hot, sweaty, tired, and my pelvis ached and popped, but I couldn’t have asked for a better race result.
Why would I be excited about dropping out in the biggest US stage? For many reasons, but mostly because running that race was the culmination of years of work, sacrifice, and balance by me and my entire family.
I worked hard to qualify for the Trials. I earned my spot on that starting line, running my qualifying time at Grandma’s marathon in 2014. Just over two and a half hours, a single race is the shining capstone behind which the long days, months and years of accumulated mileage, hard workouts, good runs, bad runs, time spent stretching, cross training, recovering, etc. all hide. Activities which I am able to do because of the support of my husband, and more recently, my daughters.
Going into the 2016 Trials, I knew there was no way I was going to finish the marathon and I was torn about whether I should even show up for the race. I just gave birth: I have 4-month and 3-year-old daughters. My husband and I are both in the middle of our grad school semesters. My longest run this year equals the distance I ended up running in the Trials: 8 miles. My training pace has been closer to 7:45 minutes per mile – not the sub-6 minute miles I’d anticipate running in the race. I’m nursing, and my daughter eats roughly every 2 hours. My pelvis is still mobile, and is quite painful.
After much back-and-forth, we ended up deciding that we would go to the Trials together, as a family, and we would experience this race together. My trademark procrastination resulted in exorbitant flight prices; so we drove. 700 miles from Albuquerque to Los Angeles [and back]. We drove overnight, stopping only for nursing breaks and gas fill-ups so our carsick-prone 3 year old would sleep most of the way.
The four of us stayed in the same room in the host hotel. My 3 year old helped me decorate my fluids bottles, and was my pajama-clad sidekick at the pre-race breakfast. My husband chatted with all my runner friends, with our 4 month old riding in the front pack on his chest. We walked to the starting line together with my parents and brother, who also came to offer their cheers and child-care support. We laughed and cried a bit together as we watched the race finishes from the sidelines. We took turns swimming and napping, and reveled in being part of this inspiring scene.
Many people have shared their condolences that I didn’t finish this race, but I don’t feel sad or defeated in any way. Sure, pocketing $80k and making the Olympic team would be totally rad, but there is no question in my mind – not even an inkling of doubt – that I would exchange a spot on the Olympic team for even one moment of the fun, full, chaotic & family-driven years of training I have lived over the past decade+ of competitive running. Being at the Trials – a mom of two, having just defended my PhD dissertation, being part of a loving marriage – that is exactly who I am. I am glad that I got to race, hope that my daughters will look at my work and performance as they grow up and strive to achieve their own big, wonderful goals. My DNF was an expression of my love of running, and also a testament to a life lived fully and joyfully. I come away from Los Angeles motivated, excited, and excited to get back into true racing shape.
The biggest star of this process is my husband: I can’t express the love and overwhelming gratitude that we are partners. He loves my running, keeps me positive, helps with my training, watches our daughters while I am running, and is the motivating force that [sometimes literally] kicks me out of bed to go running when it’s cold and dark out. He’s also an amazing father to our daughters, a model of patience and love. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the Valentine’s Day weekend than I did this year: racing, playing, driving, cuddling, surrounded by my family, celebrating the highest levels of running and teamwork.
Speaking of support, I have a hat’s-off thanks to Brooks running, who’s supported me through 2 Olympic Trials, 2 pregnancies, and is totally cool about my unique approach to running. Thanks to Powerbar, who’s kept me fueled for several years. Also my local team, the Dukes Track Club, members of whom ran with me during my pre-second-baby training, and the clubs’ sponsors, Nuun, Honeystinger, and Zensah. Additionally, a huge shout-out to Roll Recovery for offering to reimburse all athletes entry fees for the US Olympic Trials marathon.
Thanks everyone for the well wishes for the US Olympic Trials marathon! I ran just over 8 miles before dropping out. I’m happy to have raced and think that’s pretty good result for being just 4 months post- baby! Special thanks to my husband, John, who makes all things possible, my lovely daughters, and to my cheering squad: my brother Benigno, my parents and brother-in-law Steve! I am inspired by all the racers today, and can’t wait to get back into the thick of elite competition!
More details on this incredible weekend to come!
Mommy-daughter time! #TummyTime #corestrength #motherrunner #RunHappy https://t.co/L6NA7g7w1j
I’m currently wrapped in fleece blankets, achy and feeling feverish chills, surrounded by teacups and used tissues watching a cold drizzle outside. Our new daughter, now 3 months old, is drowsing restlessly in her swing next to me, sniffling and snorting.
Last year finished strongly for me: two highlights included defending my PhD in early September, and even better, welcoming our second daughter in late September! (Happily, the two did not coincide.)
How about running? Following the birth of our daughter, I took 6 full weeks off from running. After stopping running at 30 weeks pregnant, I transitioned to walking and it felt natural to return to increasingly long walks after giving birth. Despite lure of being slightly more fit at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February, I don’t want to rush back into running. I try to take a ‘consistency over crazy’ approach, and want to be sure my running builds all through the year (and beyond), encompassing physical aspects of running, form and strength training as well as the mental aspects of returning to elite competition. The last thing I want is to be sidelined by an injury sustained by over-eager, too-soon return to running after childbirth.
Apart from the physical aspects of learning to run once more after a traumatic event like childbirth, one of the hardest aspects of returning to running is the pure logistics of managing two kids. My husband works, we have a 3 year old, and baby P is too young to be in the running stroller. Additionally, Penélope has resisted bottle feeding, and still nurses every 1-2 hours during the day, so my time away from her is limited. I try to time my running just after I nurse – both so that she can sleep, and so that I can be more comfortable running.
More on how training is going in the next blog!
I went on my first dedicated ‘run’ this weekend after the birth of our daughter in late September. My run lasted all of a few minutes, but they were glorious! My heart was pounding, my legs pumping, and breathing came fast in the crisp, cold air as I ran through the bright fall colors of a northern New Mexico mountain trail.
Running felt wonderful – and hard! After 4 months off from running during the last stages of pregnancy and post-delivery recovery, I feel ready to start making progress on returning to running form. I just received a post card from the US Olympic Marathon Trials committee notifying me that there are 100 days until the Trials – here’s to taking steps to be on that starting line in February!
September had two major events for me and my family.
First, I defended my PhD dissertation the second week of September. This is huge! I started my PhD at the University of New Mexico, where I study geology, in 2010. I took a year off following the birth of my first daughter (2012-2013), but otherwise, have been working my way through the PhD process for nearly 5 years. Finding out I was pregnant again pushed me into high gear last spring, and I spent the summer focused on getting through my oral defense before our baby was slated to arrive. In fact, I had about 8 days during which I could schedule my defense: after the fall semester started, but leaving me a couple weeks before my due date, just in case the baby decided to arrive early.
Timing being what it was, I ended up having my defense scheduled while I was a day shy of 38 weeks pregnant: the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend. I had been experiencing false labor contractions all weekend (the irony!), but no true labor, thank goodness. I was nervous and pretty tightly wound during the last weeks of preparation for my defense, and being so near the end of pregnancy made things more interesting. Suffice to say: my husband is a saint. Luckily, my nightmare of going into labor during my defense did not occur, and I gave my talk and passed my oral exam without incident.
After my dissertation defense, I moved into what I call “hermit mode” and basically saw very few people, did a lot of walking, a lot of nesting in preparation for our new arrival. I savored the last few days alone with MariaElena, [finally] did some nursery preparation, and I did a lot of sewing, my creative outlet of choice. False labor kept me on my toes: on the day of the supermoon & lunar eclipse I was sure I was going into labor after 14 hours of regular contractions, but then….they went away while we watched the spectacular eclipse.
September closed out spectacularly for us with the birth of our daughter, Penélope. A week past her due date, I was advised to induce labor due to decreased movement, lowered amniotic fluid levels, and variable response to contractions by my (awesome) O.B. We settled our older daughter at home with my mom, who came to stay for a few days, and spent the afternoon fighting nerves (me) and feeling giddy about the imminent arrival of our baby.
Once at the hospital, I was given an IV and checked by the doctor on call; I had requested only intermittent monitoring and IV fluids as was allowable, so I was able to walk around freely most of the time. Apparently I just needed a little ‘push’ to get started: one dose of misoprostol to enhance dilation (I was <.5 cm dilated!) quickly resulted in my going into full-fledged labor. Pain escalated just as quickly as labor was progressing, and I requested an epidural when I reached ~5cm dilation. This was a hard request to make: I’m terrified of needles, the thought of one going into my spine was not appealing. However, it was the best request I made: three hours after induction began, our daughter was born, and I was able to enjoy the last hour of it calmly, holding Johns’ hand, fully aware and watching our daughter make her entrance into the world after only 4 rounds of pushing (less than 5 minutes). Fastest! Labor! Imaginable!
It’s been nearly three weeks, and our daughter has been sweet, calm, and incredible. We are enjoying our lives as a family of four, and MariaElena loves being an older sister. It was hard to imagine that our lives could be more full of love before our baby was born, but somehow each day seems to get even better. I’m re-exploring the quirks of the newborn stage, but as a much calmer and confident mother than the first time around – it’s a lot of fun!
Next up on the blog: So I just had a baby…How to start running again?
Welcome to the dog-days of summer. During pregnancy, body temperature is naturally slightly elevated. Add in soaring summer temperatures, and outdoor activity and exercise can be a significant challenge. I’ve hung up my running shoes for the rest of this pregnancy and am instead getting my exercise in alternative ways including walking, swimming, hiking and yoga. My favorite mode of exercise is walking: it feels kind of like running, gets me out and into the fresh morning air, and gives me some meditative time to myself, much as running does. Despite the heat, I still feel the desire to exercise, I would like to share a few tips if you’re out getting your sweat on while pregnant:
Here’s to hoping you enjoy your pregnancy, summer, and are able to stay active!