Half Marathon Success!

Well, we did it! Over the weekend, my neighbor and I ran and finished the Wine Country Half Marathon!

two women standing by a giant 13.1 statue, in front of a sign saying "Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon"
We finished!

Race Story

Race stories are like battle tales, the highs and lows, successes and struggles. For me, the first mile went by in a haze of wine country beauty, cool weather, a slight downhill paved road, and the adrenaline of being surrounded by hundreds of other runners. The following five were similarly blissful, though more hilly than our training runs. (Side note – we did a grand total of 1 hill during our training, a week before the race, and for only about 10 minutes. Oh well!) We chatted, enjoyed the scenery, and observed the other runners’ style, speed, and variation.

This particular race had the option of doing a relay, in which one runner started the race and their teammate would meet them at the 6.5 mile marker to sub in for the remainder of the race. It’s a creative option and I considered it weeks ago, when I was feeling less confident. That said, I was determined to run the half marathon. Plus, the date to change to the relay passed last month. 😉

On race day, though, for those of us running right by the relay trade-off location, it felt like some people were cheating as they got to stop running and others popped in, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and much fresher than those of us who had already run 6.5 miles. I know I’m not supposed to compare myself to other runners, but how else would I get that peer pressure encouragement from a large race? So, my morale began to waver at that point.

Mile 7-8 was absolutely gorgeous. The road was shaded and again a slight downhill. And that’s when my right leg began to ache. It almost felt like it was threatening to cramp. Still, I powered through.

Then came the hardest part of the whole run. Just when my body was starting to get uncomfortable, miles 10-12 were on a gravel road. My feet protested the wobbly footing, and the dust made it harder to concentrate.

When I saw the 11 mile marker at the top of a hill, I committed to getting there, then said I needed to walk a bit. I slowed to a walk while my neighbor ran on ahead. It felt demoralizing but also so close! What kept me going, you might ask?

Three or four runners all muttered, “you can do it!” as they ran by. And I found myself whispering to myself, “come on, come on, come on” in time with my steps. I made my way back up to a run, and only walked one more brief time, at the start of a hill right after it switched back to pavement.

As I approached the 13 mile marker, at the top of another small hill, I spotted my family in the distance. My dad was taking pictures, my mom held A and my husband held B. My support network was there! I sped up and turned the corner to find the finish line right ahead. The clock showed 1:59:40, and I sprinted the last block or so to finish just under 2 hours. My official chip time showed 1:59:29 (gun time was 1:59:50). That’s just under a 9:00 mile for 13.1 miles. Whew!

kids and grandparents holding hand-made signs saying "yay mommy" and "mommy did it!"
My support team (plus husband, taking the photo)

Reflection

In thinking back, I accomplished what I set out to do. The plan and implementation worked!

It worked to schedule runs in the evenings most days, after the kids went to bed. It worked to coordinate with my partner so we could both get our workouts in. It worked to use my long walks with the double stroller as cross-training. And it worked to train together with a running buddy, setting a clear goal, and being accountable to all of you as well.

As a result, I ran the half marathon. I also lost nearly 12 pounds over the past 6 months. I feel strong. I can definitely keep up with my kids (though they keep getting faster and faster). And I may even try this crazy plan again.

I plan to keep running a few times a week, probably with my neighbor, and probably in the 3-5 mile range. That said, we’re taking a break, planning a fun night of dinner & drinks instead of running, and scheduling a few date nights with our partners in the meantime.

And this post will close this blog, at least for now. Thanks for reading, for being one of my sources of accountability, and for cheering me on through the half marathon!

In the comments, share your proudest work.run.mom accomplishment (or goal in progress)! Let’s celebrate together!

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Post-Partum Running

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a medical professional. Talk to your doctor to determine your own abilities and limitations post-partum. I write only from my own experience as a mom.

In the days after giving birth, my body was a mess. Like many of you, I delivered full-term, vaginally, and am fortunate that I did not encounter serious complications. That said, 6.5 lbs of human came out of me, twice, in addition to a lot of other stuff. Then, I was plagued by night sweats, hormonal swings, continuous leaking from ungodly parts, and pain in most places. Meanwhile, I was prevented from sleeping and suddenly responsible for the survival of a tiny creature with no business being out in the world on its own.

Why did I not realize that it would take me a few days to walk comfortably again? That I’d continue being exhausted for weeks? That my underparts would never be the same?

All that to say that running was out of the question immediate post-partum. I remember going on my first “long walk” (read: approximately 4 blocks) with my mom, about a week after A was born, and remarking, in surprise, that it felt like my insides might just fall right out of me. Of course, they didn’t. And over time, that feeling subsided. But can you imagine attempting to bounce or do anything remotely like a run, while worried that your skin might not hold your organs in?

Ok, enough gore and guts. Let’s talk about what brought me back from that brink.

  1. First of all, I started walking farther and farther, with A or B strapped to me in one of my many baby-wearing devices (neither one tolerated their car seat/stroller for their first 3 months). These were my favorites: Moby Wrap, Ergobaby with Infant Insert, Moby Ring Sling, and occasionally the Baby Bjorn as he got older but not too heavy.
  2. Starting at 6 weeks post-partum, I joined Fit4Mom, which involved participating in Stroller Strides twice a week for the remainder of my maternity leave. This was an incredible group and challenged me to move again in ways I had forgotten my body could! It also eventually taught B to fall asleep in his car seat.
  3. Then I stopped cold-turkey and did almost nothing for 3 months. I don’t recommend this part. That said, it was winter in Portland (aka raining and cold). And I was learning how to be a working mom of 2. In other words, if you need it, give yourself a break.
  4. I tried a few Barre3 classes. This was lots of fun and I LOVE the beat. I also enjoyed going with friends! But it didn’t help my confidence that I could do literally none of the ab exercises.
  5. Then, when B was 6 months old, I started training for my upcoming half marathon. This is taking all four of my strategies to make possible. I worked up to 3-4 runs per week with long walks, then 1-2 runs per week, increasing my distances over the course of a few months.

Things to watch out for:

  1. Diastasis Recti – separation of ab muscles common after giving birth
  2. Pelvic Floor issues – incontinence, prolapse, and other results of vaginal delivery
  3. General muscle atrophy – after not using certain muscles for months, I needed to take it slow before building up the stamina and strength to do much more than lift and feed my babies
  4. Probably lots of other things – ask your doctor!

How did you get back into running after having a baby? What worked for you? What didn’t? Share in the comments!