it’s always funny/cool when i find myself doing the thing that i once imagined myself doing in the future. in spring last year i bumped into emily and i was pregnant and she was still nursing her not-even-1-year-old boy graham. She told me that she was training for (and about to run) the rock n roll half marathon and i remember thinking ‘woah, that’s amazing.’ and i remember thinking that in a years time my baby would be about the same age as graham and i wondered if i could possibly have it in me to train for and run a half marathon before my next baby was 1. with mika there would have been no way. I didn’t run my first post-mika half marathon until she was 18 months or so and even that felt HARD to train for with all the sleep deprivation. (but i wasn’t even nursing her at that stage).
and so when teo was 4 months old and i decided that i was ready to start running again, i was trying to be reeeeeally easy on myself. my goal was to stay HEALTHY and run frequently instead of far and do absolutely no speed training. i wrote myself a 12 week schedule, which generally had me running between 2 and 5 miles on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, rest on Friday, long run (increasing by 1 mile each week) on Saturday and rest on Sunday then cross-train on Monday.
and it worked! i managed to do EVERY single day of my training schedule. during the week i would run with the stroller and push both kids (or sometimes 3 kids!) or i would wake up before 7 and run alone or wait until after 6pm. On saturdays for my long run, ivan would be wherever i needed him to be to pick me up. I love mapping long new runs that end up somewhere new or random or fun and it is even better when i have a supportive family waiting there to meet me and bring me home.
I planned to run the Brooks 10km trailhead race 3 weeks out from the half marathon and it felt great. I finished 3rd in my age group and 5th overall female. The only problem was that it ended up feeling like such a big event that i almost lost momentum to run the half 3 weeks later.
But i set my alarm for super early on june 18th and ran/bussed to the start line at seattle centre. i had no idea how huge the race was, but i DID know how emotional i would get the moment i saw all the people/heard the national anthem/gathered at the start line. i have no idea why i get so teary and emotional during races, but i love it.
i took my phone and jacket to gear check and then went to find the 1:45 pacing group near the start line. the pacer told me that the course measured a bit long and that the second half was much hillier than the first. so she said they’d go out slightly faster to make up for it.
i headed out pretty fast and figured they would probably catch me up somewhere before half way but i never saw them again. the miles sped by and i choked back tears as i ran past supporters. i even get emotional when i approach the drink stations…i just think people who support and volunteer at races are SO great. the spirit and energy at a race is so wonderful and addictive.
ivan had said they’d try to meet me around mile 7 or 8, but i didn’t see them and then the course went into a long motorway tunnel and i realised i wouldn’t be seeing them for a while yet. i felt sort of bummed out/worried/all the emotions and then at mile 10 i saw them! it was over MUCH too fast but seeing them brightened me up and gave me exactly what i needed to finish the final 3 miles.
the final incline to the finish line was the same one from the seattle half marathon and it is THE WORST THING. it is such a small incline but still, it’s UPHILL and after 12.9 miles or whatever it is almost enough to make me walk in protest. but somehow i ran all the way and crossed the finish line in 1:43:31 which i was happy about. It put my average pace at about 7:50 per mile (or 4:53 per km) and i was 106th woman out of about 7,000. I know it’s much more about my personal time, but i think i would really like to place in the top 10 one day. i’m thinking of training for the seattle half at the end of november and incorporating some speed work. Maybe.
but after the race i bumped into emily (of all the thousands of people there!) and it totally brought me back to that time at the lake when she planted that little seed of an idea in my head that i could train for a race whilst nursing. it’s easy to beat myself up about my time or wish i could have done better or tell myself i should train harder and get faster, but seeing her there after the race reminded me that when i had seen her a year ago i thought she was radiant, strong, determined and inspiring. and so in a weird way by finishing this race it made me feel all those things too. (and wanting to high five all the mom runners i saw holding their wee babies after the race)
I have feet that make people do a sort of cringe thing when they look at them. if i was to write a list of things people will never say to me ‘oh your feet are beautiful’ would probably top the list. i lost 2 toe nails after my last race and the bunion on my left foot is only getting worse. once i had 2 stress fractures in one foot at the same time and my x-rays were used as freak examples for med students to study. what i’m trying to say is that i am quite positive there will come a time when running is no longer enjoyable for me and i’ll be forced to stop. BUT and SO.. until that time comes i’m going to continue to make the most out of how amazing running makes me feel. mika has mentioned a few times lately that she really wants to do a race with me and so i told her maybe next summer she could do one of the kid’s races. and then when (if, i know) she ends up running races later on in her life, i can be one of those awesome amazing supporters on the sideline that get me so teary and emotional. CAN’T WAIT.
This week Ivan and I haven’t watched a single television show. This is a big deal. Usually we’re exhausted and it’s 1030pm and before we go to sleep we decide to watch one of the many television shows we seem to have become attached to (Breaking Bad (up to season 3), Homeland, The Walking Dead, Modern Family). And then it’s 1130pm and we’re extra exhausted but kind of wired from staring at a computer screen.
Mika has been having a rough time sleeping in her new toddler bed. Last night she was up every 2 hours (WHAT THE WHAT?!). And there are so many books I need to read and teachings I need to practice and letters I want to write. So on Monday I asked Ivan if he would support me in us NOT watching television before bed and he said yes and it has been so great.
On Monday I took Ivan through some yoga poses and then we were so exhausted we went straight to bed. On Tuesday we played our old favourite board game and talked and laughed together. Last night I read my book and turned out the light around 930pm.
Obviously at some point we’ll watch a television show again but this week we’ve created space for something new by making some positive changes and it feels wonderful. Sometimes that is all you need to feel a little unstuck.
Now we just have to work on Mika’s sleeping habits….
The world can be busy and full and overwhelming and it can be easy to lose sight of who I am. I can get caught up in work, in eating and drinking, in moving here and there, in rushing, in shopping, in driving. I can turn to autopilot and one day look in the mirror and wonder ‘who is that?’
To me, yoga is about turning off autopilot and opening my eyes. Yoga is a daily practice in saying ‘hello’ to myself. Yoga is a conversation, a relationship between my body and mind which is mediated or connected by my breath. Like all relationships, it practices understanding, honesty, love and forgiveness. One doesn’t try to control the other, it just lets it be, without judgement.
I practice asanas (or postures) on the mat to better understand my body and to allow my mind a chance to practice acceptance and love and sometimes a chance to rest. Off my mat, my mind can be overactive and I use my breath to connect it back to my body and find balance.
This practice is a lifelong journey. To me, yoga is about choosing to be awake, choosing to live fully, the best I can and in each moment and continuing to breathe. Because as long as I am breathing, there can always be yoga.
So beautiful, so energetic
Ivan and I were doing a yoga class for ‘new parents’ and the teacher mentioned something about this feeling of ‘needing to exercise more combined with extreme fatigue’. And I was like ‘YES!’ That is the feeling that I have been feeling so often since Mika was born. Of course I know that I should exercise, but the less sleep I get, the harder it gets. (Obviously).
So because I love lists, I have compiled a list of ways that I try to keep active, even when I am extremely exhausted pretty much every day:
I get passive exercise
It’s no secret that we don’t own a car. So we make the 2km round trip to the grocery store by foot. I ride my bike to yoga class. We hike up the big hill behind our house every day to go to the park.
I always get on my mat
Practicing yoga for me is about accepting where I am right now. If I get on my mat and realise that I am really exhausted, I can practice acceptance, I can practice some poses that help rejuvinate and invigorate me, or I can just lie in corpse pose for as long as I need.
I wear my workout gear
I’m probably the biggest fashion embarrassment ever BUT at least I feel good. Ha. If I intend to go for a run in the late afternoon when Ivan gets home from work, I find that it helps if I wear my workout clothes all day. This is ridiculous, I know, but it also means that I feel ready to chase mika, walk faster up the hill, stretch it out at the playground 😉 – passive exercise I’M READY FOR YOU!
I try to sleep well
Ha, OBVIOUSLY if I was childless this would be more under my control, but I am blessed with a beautiful daughter and so I spend many hours AWAKE when my body would probably rather be sleeping. However, to help me sleep well when I do get there, I keep a window open in our room, I don’t drink coffee after noon (heh…), and I am currently trying to avoid screen time after 930pm.
Any other tips or ideas on staying active/healthy when you are so so exhausted, are welcome!
The national anthem started and I had tears in my eyes. Was it my national anthem? I don’t even really know what that means anymore, so sure. I’m in America now and I got tears in my eyes during the national anthem.
I have no idea why I got tears in my eyes. Maybe the tears were for the fact that right after Mika was born I couldn’t imagine ever running again, let alone racing half a marathon. Or maybe they were for the fact that late that night before the race, Ivan had cycled to Walgreens to get my watch fixed which I’d only just discovered had stopped working, even though he has so much work to do, just so I could get to bed early. Or maybe I was crying because of all the 5am starts and cold rainy runs that I’d done, knowing that I was working towards this. Or maybe it was out of love and respect for my body – my body that had been feeling achy and ill all week leading up to the race – that was somehow able to pull this off. Or maybe it’s because for the first day in more than a week, there was no rain, and later the sun would come out.
I didn’t cry. Just so you know. But then the starting bell went and as we passed our first group of supporters, cheering and yelling, I welled up again. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I laughed to nobody at how ridiculously happy I felt and how surprisingly good I felt as I followed the feet of the pacer infront of me.
Running 13.1 miles is much easier than running 21.1 kilometres. For one, writing 12 splits on my hand is much easier than writing 20. And mentally I found this race possibly the easiest I’ve ever run. This is how I broke it down:
- Run 5 miles at target pace. Assess how I feel at 5 miles. I was following the 1:45 pacer for the first 5 miles and I felt super.
- Feeling good? Bump it up slightly and run another 5 miles. So I dropped the pacer and bumped up my pace until I was coming through 2 minutes under my goal splits for the next 5 miles.
- Now I’m at the 10 mile mark. Only a 5k to go. Run that 5k as hard as I can. I was hoping I would pick up the pace even more. But my thighs were cramping up and I wasn’t even sure if I was running anymore. I kept up my pace, maybe increasing it a fraction, and wasn’t sure if I’d make it over the line in one piece.
- Boom. Done. I made it. In one piece.
My PB for a half marathon is 1:30:00. There’s no way I’m training at that level now, but considering my training I’m extremely happy with my time of 1:42:48 for this Seattle half marathon. Only 10 minutes slower than my best!
Waiting for the bus to brunch, check out that amazing christmas train set!! Mika couldn’t take her eyes off it.
Ivan and Mika were at the finish line to see me cross and although my body was like ‘whaat?’ seeing them there in the super cold at 9am was possibly the best thing in the world (brunch at Chaco Canyon an hour later was a close second).
Alright, I’ve run my post-baby half marathon, we can have another baby now.