I did it! This is me coming up to the finish line of the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon with a finishing time of 2:25. It wasn’t the performance I envisioned for myself but if this ‘Mama’s Half Marathon’ journey taught me nothing else, it helped me to expect the unexpected when pursuing an active lifestyle with small kids.
Ten weeks ago, I very hesitantly set out on a journey to train for and complete a half marathon with my husband. If you were with me during that first post, you may recall that I admitted to hoping the race would sell out before I could register and that my first attempt at a training run was not a success.
My hesitancy was not for lack of desire to exercise routinely or to run. Pursuing an active lifestyle via sport and exercise has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. No, my hesitancy came from a feeling of already having too much on my plate as a Mom to a 6mo and 2.5yo.
I wear an Apple Watch (because I’m an Apple geek like that) and one of its features is that it tracks your minutes of exercise and calories burned. There would be many evenings that I would flop onto the couch post-kids’ bedtime feeling completely drained only to see on my watch that I had only achieved a small percentage of those daily goals. Where would I find the time or the energy to start running again?
Once again, reaffirming my extrinsic motivation, hubby signed us both up for the race and slowly but surely I started finding the time in my day to run little bits here and there.
If you followed me on my journey, you already know that it was far from a textbook training regime but I thoroughly enjoyed documenting my progress – and lack of progress – each week on the blog. It was amazing to see my desire to exercise intentionally increase and even more so to see the boys adapt to Super Dad and I going for a run and working out throughout the week.
MHM Week 1: 9 Weeks until race day
MHM Week 2: Training plan + tips for running
MHM Week 3: Training eats + Why we don’t feed our kids dessert
MHM Week 4: Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy marriage
MHM Week 5: Running while pregnant
MHM Week 6: Race weekend logistics
MHM Week 7: What’s your motivation?
MHM Week 8: A full circle journey to race week
Race day itself was very much a reflection of my journey to get there. It required the help of family, the encouragement of one another and friends, the proper motivation and just enough grace to handle the unexpected.
Race weekend started for us when we dropped off the boys at their grandparents house for a sleepover on Saturday afternoon. They agreed to bring the boys down and through the crowds to meet us after the race the next day. From their house, we ran some errands and then snuck in a ‘date night’ dinner on the patio of our favourite restaurant. We made our way home to pack our bags for the race and get a full night’s sleep.
Our race started at 9am on Sunday morning so we were up and out the door by 7:30am to meet with friends and ride the bus together to the start line.
We made it just in time to power walk to the start area, squeeze into a coral and start our race.
I was off to a great start, pacing a full 30 seconds faster than my training runs. I was anticipating this to be the case with all of the excitement and the crowds so my quiet goal of finishing sub 2:04 (a previous personal best) was pushing me along.
Nearing the 10km mark is where things started to go downhill for me.
It was a hot day – the first truly warm day we had had in weeks – so I was untrained to sustain a decent pace in the heat. Being the competitive person that I am, I figured this was the case for most participants and pressed on as best I could. The race was well organized with mist stations and lots of water so it was manageable – but not ideal.
Despite having previously blogged about training around the same time of day as your race, my long runs were always in the mid-late afternoon. It coincided with Jude’s second nap and was a good time of day for his grandparents to watch him. I realized mid-race that I would normally have had breakfast and lunch prior to a long run which didn’t leave me wanting for any running snacks. Now part way through a morning half marathon, my piece of toast with almond butter wasn’t doing a great job of sustaining me.
After my long training runs, I noticed that my knee was sore for a day or two. Even after my last few short runs, it started to bother me in the same spot. I attributed this to my need for new runners and figured I would put up with it for the race, deal with the sore knee in my recovery and pursue new shoes for my next event. Ever so faintly in the back of my mind were the words ‘listen to your body’ but I figured I had come this far… Sure enough, at the 15km mark, my knee wasn’t having any more of me running on it and I was brought to a halt. I called my Mom and we talked on the phone while I alternated hobbling and speed-hobbling for the remaining 6kms.
In hindsight, the relaxin hormone may have also contributed to my sore knee. Training for this race as a nursing Mom had never given me any trouble but race day was not so fortunate. I pumped while I ate my toast in the morning but with it being a rush to get out the door, I was still pretty full leaving the house and wouldn’t be seeing Jude for another four hours. Sure enough, while on the phone with my Mom during the race, we were discussing what was more uncomfortable – my knee or my overbearing need to nurse.
Despite all of this, I pressed on and was proud and relieved to run (read speed hobble) across the finish line. I did it!
A few quick things to consider for future races:
– Give myself more time to relax and pump before leaving the house;
– If Super Dad and I are both running a long distance race, I will consider arranging childcare for overnights pre and post race…nursing, snuggling and changing diapers can wait one more day;
– Invest in new shoes at the start of training and consider a shorter distance if pregnant or nursing;
– Always avoid the stroller in large crowds – once again, it was baby wearing for the win!
Thank you again for following me on this journey. I am proud to have participated in Ottawa Race Weekend and to have accomplished my goal! I would love to hear about what you’re working towards and your tips or tricks to make race day a success with a young family.
Next week we are switching gears entirely to embark on a new family adventure – be sure to check in and see what we’re up to!