Marathons & Motherhood

I continue to be amazed at the parallels between running and motherhood.  Both are exhausting.  Both can be tedious.  But both bring unparalleled joy and rewards.

Saturday’s marathon was the first I have run since having children.  And while it’s been more difficult to find time in my schedule to run, overall the training was much, much easier.

Why?  We’re supposed to slow down as we get older, right?  The kids bring extra weight gain, sleepless nights, shifting priorities.  Running is a self-indulgence that many shrug off.  I’ve gotten more than a few wrinkled noses as I jog off past the school buses.  I hear so many of my fellow moms say “I’d like to run, but I just don’t have the time…”

I do run for myself, but I take my girls with me every step.  Before kids, if I was tired or if I hurt, I stopped.  I did not want to over-exert or injure myself.  I babied my feet, my legs.  Easy does it.

Well, Easy does NOT do it when your a mom.  You’re tired, but you are out of bed to comfort a nightmare.  You’re sick, but still rocking a colicky baby.  You’re cranky, but mediating sibling fights and temper tantrums.  You push through your own emotions and deal with whatever the day brings. Day after day after day.  That’s why my tag line is “Motherhood:  the ultimate long run”.  It never truly ends.  There’s no taper, no finish line.

But boy, is there a great medal that hangs around your neck!  Nothing beats the bear hug of my 2 year old Ladybug.  Or the snuggles of my 4 year old Mouse.  Or the cheers from my kindergartener.  The pain and fatigue vanish, and I’m left feeling totally WHOLE.

So Saturday, when the pain came, I let it flow over me.  When the fatigue set in, I kept my pace steady.  I knew it would pass.  And it did.  I knew my girls would be there at the end.  And their smiles and high-fives kept me going.

Just like labor, I swore Saturday I wouldn’t put myself through that pain.  Now its Monday, I’m still sore, but I’m looking forward to Shamrock in March.  Let’s do this again!!

How quickly we forget…

Richmond Recap


I ran my first marathon in nine years yesterday.  Can’t say enough good things about the Suntrust Richmond Marathon.  The race is extremely well run, the course is beautiful, and the crowds lining the street kept the energy level high.  And, as an added bonus, the last 1/2 mile is downhill – what a boon to tired legs!!

Going into the race, I had decided to run ~8:00/mile pace.  I based this on my predicted finish time from the McMillan Race Calculator (between 3:20 and 3:33) and more importantly, my last long run (20 miles), which I ran at an 8:01 pace.  I knew 3:30, my stated goal, was a stretch.  So many variables are at play that no matter how many hours and miles you’ve got under your belt, nothing can be taken for granted.

It was a chilly start (~30 degrees), and I wore my PJ pants and my husband’s rattiest sweatshirt to the starting line.  2 minutes before the start, I was still dressed in this get-up, looking totally out of place in the starting corral, chit-chatting with a kid wearing a Hagerstown singlet.  I’m sure he thought I was a homeless person crashing the race and wondered why a Richmond street lady would be telling him that Hagerstown was her hometown (gotta give my love to Western MD!)  He never did get to see me transform into my racing gear (ruffled lululemon skirt and all), but I saw that he finished 10th overall – way to go, kid!

Anyhow, I ditched the PJ’s before the race and the sweatshirt a couple of blocks later.  I eased into the clump of runners shadowing the 3:30 pace leaders.  The first 3 miles breezed by, and then I saw friends at mile 4 holding out an extra set of headphones for me (I’d lost mine in the scrum of the start).  Along Grove Ave, I chatted with the 3:30 pace leader – turns out he had run a 50 miler the week before (Mountain Masochist), and here he was – effortlessly leading us down the road….Incredible!

Mile 6 was all downhill, bringing us to the River Road Shopping Center (Party Zone 1) and my first sighting of Jimmy and the girls.  I gave them all a whoop and high-fives, then hit the Huguenot Bridge.

Honestly, up until mile 10, the miles flew by – I never breathed hard or had to push a bit.  Miles 10-15 were physically easy, tempered only by the hill coming up from the river to Forest Hill Rd. and the knowledge that there was still a LONG way to go.

Crossed the Lee Bridge back to the city, and made my way down Main Street.  For most of this middle part, I was slightly ahead of the 3:30 group (they passed me for good around mile 21).  BY mile 18, I was starting to feel the headwind, and my pace had slowed to ~8:10 (I was hitting 7:45-7:50 miles until this point).  I started to wonder if this was the start of a trend, and if I’d be slowing by 10-15 seconds a mile from here on).

I told myself that I just needed to get to mile 20, then the real test would start.  When I hit mile 20, I broke the race into two mile chunks…just get to mile 22…just get to mile 24…mile 26….

Right around mile 23, I broke through The Wall…my pace picked up (I was ~8:20-8:30) and I was back to an 8:10 mile.  At 25, I did a quick time check and realized that Boston was in the bag (needed 3:40 to qualify for 2013), so I really ENJOYED the last mile.  Downhill, spectators lining Cary Street, finish line in sight, hand in the air, whooping it up and loving the cheers that came, I crossed the line at 3:32 even (chip time was 3:31:23).

Thrilled with my race, thrilled with my time.  Wouldn’t change a thing (except to eat sooner after the race…I bonked HARD for two hours following until I forced myself to eat a ham sandwich).

Tomorrow I’ll post my philosophical thoughts on marathoning v. motherhood.  Maybe I’ll be able to walk by then….