I’m not fully ready to write this race report, but if I wait until I’m fully ready, I’ll never write the thing. So let’s just do it and see how it goes, shall we?
I had that exact thought a few weeks ago when I registered for Albuquerque’s Lavender Run, a 4-mile race on a flat course, held in conjunction with a lovely lavender festival. Also: my first race as a mom.
Heck yes I was nervous. I had doubts and hundreds of questions. My typical run is currently only two miles. What happens if the baby decides to not let me sleep the night before? I am building this up WAY too much.
In an effort to slam the door on all of that spinning, I did it. I clicked that confirmation button, and signed up.
I added a few longer runs to my schedule – nothing reckless, just enough to get me to a slightly better place mentally. I knew I could complete the task ahead of me; I just didn’t know what it would look like. Frankly, I’m not sure I cared.
In no time, it was race day. I felt a couple butterflies, but couldn’t give them much quarter because there was a baby to change, dress, and feed, and babies really don’t care about pre-race jitters or whether your number is on straight. For that, I was thankful.
We all – myself, Robin Hood, baby Caroline, and our coonhound, Ann – managed to leave the house on time. Hallelujah! It was an easy, uneventful drive to the race site, but as we made our way to the start, my thoughts alternated between the race and concern/guilt over leaving Robin Hood to wrangle both baby and dog. Good thing? Bad? I don’t know.
I do know I was excited to see my friend Charity at the start – she is a big running inspiration to me these days, and seeing her helped sharpen my focus.
The horn sounded, and we were off.
The first mile felt good. Lots of weaving, and that beautiful, seductive first-mile adrenaline, but I felt like I handled it reasonably.
Then I started getting hot. I remembered that I was running three hours later than I usually do, which can be a big deal in the summertime.
Oh well. I was out there, I was doing it – I just had to accept going a little slower than I had hoped. Could I have pushed harder? Maybe, but healthwise, that seemed risky. When you have to put your mom hat back on after a race, it turns out you’re much less likely to be reckless in said race. Good thing? Bad? Again, I don’t know.
I kept putting one foot in front of the other, grabbing water at the aid station, trying to pick up the pace here and there. I told myself, “Be strong for your daughter!” then did a mental eye roll because Caroline was probably at that moment sleeping and/or filling her diaper. I engaged in a little leapfrog with two other runners, which made me feel cool and competitive. I passed Robin Hood, who was trying to ring a cowbell and feed Caroline at the same time, which made me feel all kinds of things in the space of a few seconds.
My point is: it was hard. I was very happy to see that finish line. What made it hard? The less-than-ideal training? The heat? The build-up in my head that I had tried, in vain, to avoid? The fact that running isn’t my #1 focus anymore? The fact that I’m trying to get my racing groove back but also trying to be a good mom and wife, and I don’t know how to feel about it, much less how to write or talk about it? Wondering if other runner moms feel this same ambivalence?
This is a start to sorting it out, I guess.
I will say this: I’m proud that I did it. I’m proud that I got my butt in gear and ran a race. I’m proud that I ran – no, raced – four miles in 38:10 on a hot day seven and a half months postpartum. I’m proud of my imperfect but honest efforts at racing, mothering, and writing. And I look forward to continuing my practice at all of these.
Fully ready? Nope. But let’s just do it and see how it goes, shall we?
P.S. Thank you to Robin Hood for your support and for wrangling our little family so well. You are a champion.
P.P.S. Thank you to Charity for being such a terrific friend and overall rock star. I maintain that you will run a marathon one day!