I’ve only participated in two races before – one marathon (yes, I conquered the 26.2), and a 5k. In that order. I know it probably sounds absurd to have jumped right into a full marathon having no race experience at all, but I did it …. and I loved every painstaking moment of the experience.
In 2009 I had my very first (and only) baby. Figuring out how to lose the baby weight is something that every new mom is challenged by, and I was no different. Being that I had a September baby, my challenge was increased by finding a way to exercise in my home during the winter months. So, as my “push present” I didn’t ask for diamonds … I asked for an elliptical. It was effective during those first months of motherhood, but quickly lost it’s luster. I found it difficult to motivate myself to climb on and want to sweat in between (far too close) nursing sessions, bouncing-the-baby-in-my-arms sessions, baby-wearing-while unloading-the-dish-washer-and-various-other-household-task sessions, and not-sleeping sessions. I also grew very tired, very quickly of the monstrous machine taking up almost 1/3 of the space of my living room. Spring came quickly enough and I invested in a jogging stroller. I had always wanted to be “a runner”, but never really got into running distances. I might do a mile here, or two there, but in general, my pre-baby workouts were mostly made of things like kickboxing, elliptical-ing (at the gym), and spinning/cycling. During the first months of warm weather, I ran with the jogger through my neighborhood streets, and worked my way up to completing four miles at a time. Then one afternoon, I got a Team in Training brochure in the mail.
I had heard of TNT before, and the work they had done to raise millions of dollars for cancer research, but I had never thought of participating in an event with them. I somehow convinced my mom to attend one of the informational meetings with me a couple of weeks later, and by the end of the meeting, we were both signed up to run a half-marathon 5 months later. I found the training process with TNT to be AMAZING. There was so much support, a clearly defined training schedule, and lots and lots of running buddies.
One gripe I have about being a stay-at-home mom is that I find it pretty difficult to get (or ask for because I’m kind of too proud to ask for help sometimes because I feel guilty – shame on me – this is not a good quality) any kind of help with childcare, and thus hardly any time to do things alone — like run. Having a clearly defined training schedule forced me to ask for help. I asked everyone – I asked my husband (bless his heart, he woke up extra early almost every morning for four months Monday through Friday), I asked my parents, I asked my brothers, and I asked my in-laws. I got all of the help that I asked for and then some. Maybe I will write another post about the mental health benefits that come with finding some solo time for exercise (ie. time that your child is in someone else’s care rather than sitting in a bouncy seat, or playing with building blocks in front of your elliptical, or yelling from the seat of your jogger for more snacks). For the first time since becoming a mother I found a bit of independence in training for my race. ‘Twas a beautiful thing.
Back to marathon training. As I said, I had originally signed up to run a half marathon with TNT. I was really enjoying every mile that I put in, I was feeling really strong, and I was actually pretty good at running (surprising, save for my short Sicilian legs). So, I felt inspired, and less than two months before the race, I doubled my commitment and changed my registration to the full 26.2. It is an incredible accomplishment to have finished a full marathon. I learned that less than 1% of the population has ever finished a full marathon, so, it’s pretty cool to be a part of such a small club. Someday I’ll write a post on my actual marathon experience because it was eventful, and I learned several important lessons about myself, and about training.
The only race that I’ve run besides the marathon was a 5k that I ran pretty recently with my husband, sister-in-law, and my daughter. (Technically she was a passenger … her Daddy pushed her in the jogger). It was a REALLY cool experience to have done something like that with my family. One of my goals as a mom is to make my child(ren?) understand the importance of, and find a love for activity. It’s not about exercise, just about moving your body. I think running races as a family, playing kickball as a family, baseball, golf, soccer whatever it may be – sends a GREAT message to kids. Aside from the sentiment of the race, I found it to be an interesting experience for me. I enjoyed the short distance because when I got my finishing time (26:42) I thought immediately “I can do better than that”. A 5k is a nice short distance that is easy to play with. I like the idea that I can try to improve my time and probably do it easily. Unlike a marathon, which would require a lot more training, and, of course, is subject to a higher risk of injury, etc.
So, I havent raced in a long time, or much at all, but it is one of those things that when you finish, you crave more, and more immediately. I do anyway. I love the atmosphere surrounding race day, I love the preparation for race day, and I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a race. That said, today I decided that its time for another. I’ve been toying with the idea of registering for the Diva Half Marathon since last year. I’ve heard it’s a really fun race, and a half seems totally doable for me right now. Being that I havent been running as much as I have been spinning, I’ve decided to be safe, and follow Hal Higdon’s half marathon training schedule for a novice. I’m not a novice, but as I said, I havent been running much, and I’d rather say I’m a novice and be able to do more than I should, than follow the intermediate schedule and get an injury. I’m starting late since it’s a 12 week schedule and the race is only 9 weeks away, but I think I’ll be ok. Right now I should be in the middle of week 3. I plan to just pick up there and hope for the best.
So, it’s back to the races for me, and I couldn’t be more excited!