Category Archives: challenges
Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?
Oh hi there, remember me? Last time we met up here I had just
crossed crawled over the Boston Marathon finish line and was living the life in runner’s Narnia. It’s hard to believe that was almost two years ago now.
So where have I been since then? Well fast forward exactly one year later and I found myself sucking air during the BAA 5K, a complete 180 from my athletic feat the year before. When I woke up the next morning and went for another sluggish six miler I started to realize how sore my boobs were. Somewhere in the middle of the day I decided to take a pregnancy test. And on the morning of Christmas Eve….
Riley Parker entered our lives. 9 pounds, 4 ounces, hair for days, and eyes that could look right into your soul. It’s been almost three months since we met face to face and I every night as I rock him to sleep I look at every perfect little feature, amazed that he is mine.
I was blessed to have a relatively easy pregnancy physically, but mentally and emotionally it was a tough 40 weeks. After all my body had been through and achieved over the last four years the thought of undoing all of that while growing a human terrified me. And while I always knew I wanted to have kids, it took me some time to accept that I no longer had control over my own body. As a first time mom you don’t really look “pregnant” until the 6th or 7th month, but I could feel my body changing in small ways almost overnight. It constantly put me into panic mode. So at the end of my first trimester I made the executive decision that I no longer wanted to know how much weight I had gained, I only wanted to know if it was becoming a concern.
And so I ventured on. I ran until I was 28 weeks, completing 6 road races with my little buddy inside. I continued to strength train several times a week, and I was in the pool just two days before my water broke.
I ate, as conservatively as a pregnant girl often does; chicken became an enemy pretty early on, bagels were constantly on my mind, and my afternoon snacks consisted of peanut butter and fluff. I’ll admit I got pretty lenient towards the end, more lenient that I have been with myself in a very long time. I can very clearly remember parking my big belly on the couch the night before my due date with a bowl of peppermint stick ice cream (which in real life I don’t even LIKE!) and some holiday Joe Joes. “Eh, what does it matter at this point – I’ll deal with it once this baby is here”. Looking back now I can be honest with myself and say that I was eating to deal with how I was feeling about being 40 weeks pregnant, becoming a first time mom, and missing my active self. Old habits die hard. I’ve never considered myself thin, but looking at old race pictures made me realize how true it is that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
No one prepared me enough for just how foreign my body would feel those first few days after giving birth. My feet had ballooned due to all of the fluids I was given, my hips seemed wider, my boobs had reached porn star status (medium nursing tanks? THAT was a joke) and my stomach was a numb ball of putty. And to top it all off, I had this lovely Frankenstein-esque scar across my abdomen from ending up with a c-section. I remember comparing my body to the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. It was definitely hard to swallow what I saw in the mirror.
I gave myself the “I just had a baby” card and told myself I would deal with it after my 6 week checkup, when I was finally given the golden ticket to exercise again. To pass the time until then I spent Saturday mornings walking laps around the indoor track, cringing that I was still wearing my maternity workout pants and cursing the toned, athletic women running by. Was it just my imagination or was I once one of them? That girl who I had been just 9 months ago seemed like a very far off memory. And I continued on with my baby diet postpartum because, duh, breastfeeding.
A few nights before my doctors appointment I decided to bite the bullet and look at the damage. I sat down at my computer, clicked into my provider’s online portal… and there it was. I had to blink a few times just to make sure I was reading the right line and then my heart sunk and I started to cry. I had gained a total of 56 pounds from my last pre-pregnancy weight. I was almost back to my starting weight from years ago. The weight I swore I would never see again. My biggest fears of getting pregnant had come true.
And so here we are again, in a place all too familiar and yet completely different from 5 years ago. I thought it was easy to come up with 100 excuses in the past, but having a newborn gives you at least 150 of them. Part of me feels insanely embarrassed that I’m here again, but as I’ve realized in the past it’s better to just face the facts and get down to work.
In order to do that it’s time to pull out the old tricks from my bag: logging (does anyone remember my My Fitness Pal password?), monthly appointments with my RD/savior Andrea, and some good old fashioned Couch to 5K. Oh and you! In trying to figure out how I got there the first time I found myself pouring through old blog posts and reading over my entire story, from day one to the end. And I realized that yes, writing here helps keep me accountable. Even if no one is reading it. So I’m back in action. It may not be weekly (hell, I already am a day off from when I said I was going to write this), but my goal is to keep this up for as long as this journey continues… and let’s be honest it’s never ending for me. Now let’s go find the Half Ass Bad Ass and get her back.
Deep breath and here we go… again.
Today I will bundle up and head out for my last easy 3 of 2014 which brings my total miles run this year to … 713. 713 miles for the girl who never thought she’d be a runner? Pretty awesome. What I’m even more shocked about is that this year I logged 54.26 miles IN THE POOL! That’s pretty much a mile a week. That’s like swimming to New Hampshire (okay so I didn’t swim all those miles at the same time- but you get my point). This number really impresses me because I was incredibly anxious about really learning to swim, and now it’s become routine to me.
When I filled out this survey last December I was still on my new runner high. I had just finished an impressive year of firsts and PRs and figured that rush would just spill into a new year. And then came injury. Setbacks. Learning you can’t build speed and distance at the same time. ACCEPTING that you can’t build speed and distance at the same time. This year has had a lot of ups and downs, but I think I’ve learned a lot. After a year of 14 races (5 5Ks, 2 5 milers, 2 10Ks, 3 half marathons and 2/3rds of a triathlon) I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and work towards new challenges, new accomplishments, and as few niggles as possible. Here’s to a 3rd New Years Eve without resolutions, but with a commitment to keep moving forward.
Best race experience: I have two favorites here. The first being the Hingham 4th of July Road Race. I had just (barely) finished a miserable half, was in the middle of injury land, and felt terrible about my running in general. It simply took two friends sticking back to run with me, a few patriotic facts, and endless jokes to turn it into one of the best races I’ve done.
The other is the Timberman Half. The combination of a double out-and-back, a mid day start, and the first 13.1 I conquered on my own still give me goosebumps of pride. A challenge that seemed so impossible at first, but somehow I crossed that finish line grinning from ear to ear.
Worst race experience: Although there were a few “memorable” (for better or worse) races this year the Pilgrimman Tri definitely wins. A few weeks ago I slid into a lane at the pool with a guy wearing the yellow swim cap I threw away, and immediately felt my face turn 50 shades of pink. I’m still ashamed, still angry, and still a little shaken over the whole ordeal.
Race I will never forget: The Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run! From the half marathoners showing up shirtless with their numbers pinned to board shorts, to when I turned my head to find horses running alongside the course, this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I go back to it in my mind when my nose won’t stop running and my cheeks hurt from the cold wind. 🙂
Best run: My wedding morning “shake out” run. I’ll never forget heading towards the beach as the sun came up, letting the familiarity of “right left right” calm the nervous energy flowing through my body. I arrived back at my house excited, refreshed, and ready to be transformed into a bride.
Best new piece of gear: With Christmas less than a week behind us I would have to say all of the awesome winter gear my husband got me for marathon training. Which he wrapped in individual boxes. With motivational quotes on each of them. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this guy?
Best piece of running advice I’ve received: “Do it for you”. My PRs are never going to impress anyone, there will always be someone out there who is faster than me, and the majority of you could give two shits about my goals for 2015. Not a soul could read my weekly posts and I would keep writing them. I do it for myself, as a journal of my progress and a way of holding myself accountable. And if someone happens to read it and feels motivated to do the same that’s just a bonus. At the end of the day only I know where I’ve come from, only I know what I’m capable of, and I’m the one who gets to celebrate those wins, as tiny as they sometimes may be. My motivation can’t be to prove to someone else I can do something, I’ve got to prove it to myself.
Most inspirational runner: I have to take my answer from last year and firmly stick with it again. Because in fact, there’s still no one who inspires me more than she does. For a girl who is often so afraid to challenge and push herself, it’s crazy to observe someone who does it over and over again. I need someone to hold my hand and jump off the ledge with me, and she just dives in head first. She pushes and challenges herself without hesitation, at least in my eyes. The great thing about this relationship is that watching her dive in helps me be a little braver. Makes me want to try it too. And that’s turning out to be a pretty great thing. 🙂
If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Learning. Foam rolling. Stretching. Persistence.