1st Postpartum Half Marathon: Complete

>> Monday, May 7, 2012

First postpartum half marathon is officially in the books -- and though I didn't PR, I certainly surprised myself with my finish time. I've done many races since having Ada (several 10Ks and a 15K), but this was the first race that required me to be at the start line early in the morning. I also didn't start any of my long runs before 9AM the entire training schedule. Any of you breastfeeding mothers know that having plans early in the day means quite a bit of planning, especially if you have a baby who is finicky about taking a bottle.

Actually, I wasn't nervous at all about running the race . . . it was making sure my morning routine was perfect so I could be comfortable on race day and know that Ada had what she needed while I was away. So, start time was 7:30. Ada woke us at 4:30 to eat, we went back to sleep for an hour, and then Stephen and I carefully tiptoed around to get ready. I won't go into all the drippy details, but I pumped a bottle for when I'd be away, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, and then pumped again so my chest wouldn't be bursting at the finish line. (OK. I do think I crossed the TMI line there, oh well!)

It all worked out pretty well, but I must admit that I don't love this new race day routine. Ada was still sleeping when Stephen's parents arrived. His dad took us to the start. His mom stayed behind to babysit. I feel like we go to the start exactly at the right time -- with 30 minutes to spare. Enough time to hit the restroom line three times.

Yes. Three.

Race day conditions were also perfect. Sunny, cool, and not humid like it had been all week. I could go into each and every detail, but here are the highlights:
  • The gun went off. The first mile was one of the best I've had in a race in a while because I feel like I appropriately lined up with people running my pace. I tend to start with slower runners and get tired passing people. There was a guy standing at the 1-mile marker giving times: 8:23 was my pace.
  • I think my hardest mile was between 3 and 4. It was still early on and I didn't know if I felt much like running the full distance. Whereas I used to be able to say "Oh, I'm going to run an easy 13 this Sunday" . . . now it's my max distance, so it's a much bigger deal.
  • But then I found myself next to a father and his teenage daughter running the race together. I chatted with them for a bit and told them they were living my dream of someday running a distance race with "my own daughter" . . . one of the first times I've said that and it's hit me that I am a mother.
  • Miles 6 through 9 were sort of a blur. I zoned out and missed the 7 mile marker, which made mile 6 feel like forever. But when I hit 8 -- I was super happy to have "skipped" a mile.
  • Also between 6 and 9, I had decided to pick up my pace after chomping on some Honey Stingers and getting a jolt of energy. Felt good to push myself again, since last year was a battle of holding back.
  • Right before I hit mile 10 I saw one of my friends on the course. She gave me a huge boost of confidence I needed because after picking up the pace, I felt like I might not be able to maintain the rest of the way. She told me I'd just cruise all the way down to the finish, and I held onto that imagery the rest of the way.
  • I got to mile 11 and felt strong. I didn't know where it came from all of a sudden, but the downgrade to the finish certainly helped. I didn't wear a watch, but I'd estimate that I started the race running around 8:30 miles and then settled into low 8s and in the final 2 miles upper 7s.
  • I all-out sprinted the last half mile and, as I approached the clock, was c.o.m.p.l.e.t.e.l.y shocked to see 1:48:40 and not 1:58:40!

My official finish time is 1:48:28 (8:14 pace). Two minutes slower than my best-ever half marathon time. I have no idea how I pulled it off because my long runs were consistently at 9-minute mile pace or slower. And on those long runs, I felt completely wiped.

Needless to say, I'm THRILLED with my finish. If you had told me at the beginning of my pregnancy that I'd be close to my old race times 6 months after childbirth, I would have laughed. Now I feel like a PR isn't far off. I'm extremely motivated to incorporate speedwork into my next training cycle. We just need to find a good race to run.

Any suggestions?

Stephen had a great day, too -- PRing and finishing 8th overall (there were about 1100 runners) with a time of 1:14:47 (5:41 pace).

And how did Ada fare? Extremely well. She not only took her bottle with no complaints . . . but she also went down for her nap as if we were home. This is a huge step forward and I'm feeling confident about getting out more. Thanks to grandma for her help!

Oh, and if you'd like to see scenes from our weekend, check out today's post on Writing Chapter Three.

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