After a first postpartum run on October 9th, I tackled my third Let’s Go 510 10K on October 26th. Quick math can tell anyone that there wasn’t a lot of training heading into this event. However, it was training like I had never experienced before. My neighborhood is not flat in the least; even if you want to run a mile there will be incline involved at some point. Running hills is the only choice and now, with Mini Beastling in the picture, I can’t just decide “I’m going for a run” and take off. Now when I run, she comes with me. Take a ~25lb BOB Revolution Pro, add a ~12lb baby and it’s time for some legit resistance training over any given distance.
Total runs pre-race: 8
Total mileage pre-race: 16.75mi including cool downs
Longest pre-race run: 4.51mi
Runs without the stroller: 0
Confidence level when the race actually started: surprisingly high.
The morning of the race I got up early, snuck out of bed, scarfed some oatmeal and pulled on my compression socks one at a time. After feeding the baby one last time and getting her back to sleep, I laced up some shoes and then, the big moment: slipping on my singlet for the first time. As the fluttery, light fabric slid easily over my body, I felt as though I had pulled on battle gear, empowered and nerve-wracked all the same.
The Let’s Go 510 was both my longest postpartum run and first postpartum race, but as I mentioned on Instagram, was also my first event donning my Oiselle singlet as part of the Oiselle Volée team, a longtime dream coming true. I joined the team because not only am I a huge fan of the company, their people, their product, I am an advocate of their mission and the sisterhood (with a few good brobirds in the mix.) With them in mind, I readied myself in the parking lot. After being “that person” sitting in my trunk and changing out my driving shoes for my Hokas, I grabbed my handheld of Skratch, adjusted my visor and took a deep breath: this was it. I knew the course. I knew to pace myself. I knew there was a big hill we’d start down that we would have to run up at the end. I was as ready as I was going to get, yet somehow I was confident and comforted by my usual race day nerves. A National Anthem later, we were off… and I confess I silently swore as I weaved in and out of people walking all over the left and center of the course, two to four abreast. Race etiquette, y’all. Come on. I reminded myself that this was a smaller event and they probably didn’t know any better. It was time to focus on me and my run, not worrying about others. I tried to settle in to a good clip and found myself coasting along towards the soccer fields.
So many folks had taken off and left me in the dust. Was I going fast enough? Too fast? Would I burn out too soon? Had I not run far enough in advance? As these thoughts hit me, the 5K runners were starting to turn on the out-and-back course. I admit after seeing a Oiselle singlet in the top five women for the 5K I caught myself worrying I was somehow bringing shame to the team by not being faster. Then I reminded myself that Volée is for ALL women. It’s for fast ones, not-as-fast-ones, for back-of and middle-of-the-pack women, for moms and dog moms and moms-to-be. I thought about my baby girl waiting at home and pushed on.
In retrospect, as I began to find my cruising altitude for my first flight, I was thankful I had left Mini Beastling at home and not run with her in a stroller. I’d been told I would be welcome if I stayed towards the back and the right, but as I crossed large gravel, dirt, potholes and later sand, I was challenged enough! It would have taken me much longer to push her, even on the updated course that didn’t have us finishing on the track. As I usually do, I picked a pacer, an older gentlemen who was keeping a steady pace just ahead of me. I would later learn his name was Kenneth. I kept an eye on his yellow Brazen Racing hat as we ran along the water. Occasionally he dropped me, once or twice I dropped him, but we both remained fairly steady.
Somewhere past the halfway mark, over my shoulder I heard “hey congratulations” and felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. I looked up in time to see my Team Run the Bay teammate Erin cruise past me with an ease and speed that a woman who’d had a baby around the same time, and an appendectomy about three days prior, should not have had… but she’s a bad ass ultra mother runner, so really, it simply made me smile as she dusted me. It was nice to have a familiar face send some good tidings on the course. It also helped that it seemed like she was having fun.
As I closed in on mile 4, all I could think was “Hang on baby girl, mama’s coming home.” I thought about my husband at home with her. I thought about her little hands clinging to my shirt. I thought about every person who had encouraged me, about my weeks of low impact training before starting up running again, about how excited I was when I first received my singlet. As we reached the hill, I steadied myself: would I need to walk?
To my surprise, I powered up the hill, letting my breath guide me. Before I knew it, the hill was gone and I was cruising down from the top. Thank you stroller running, you made that hill easy this year! In the last mile or so, I passed another Team the Bay teammate but sadly it didn’t register at the time. Bernadette, a stroke survivor, was taking on her first race without a cane. I wish I had stopped to say hello and congratulate her. I first saw her in a wheelchair at the San Jose 408K; it was wonderful to see her on her feet.
As I laid eyes on the finish, I began to slowly stride it out, catching Kenneth in his yellow hat. Just before the final turn to go through the finish, he began to walk as I ran up on him. “You can’t walk now, you’ve paced me this whole race! We have to finish strong!” I told him. He began to run again. We turned the corner and I lengthened my stride as I saw the clock. Not a bad finish time, all things considered! I felt strong as I crossed. I was proud. I had done it. First flight, first postpartum race, done. No walking, no doubts, all smiles at the end. My official time was 1:05:26. No PR, but a victorious time all the same.
As he crossed, I approached Kenneth and thanked him for unknowingly helping me through the race and shook his hand. I laughed as he said he would’ve liked to have finished a few minutes faster. Me too Kenneth, me too.
This picture and the genuine smile really says it all.
Every year I look at my Let’s Go 510 pictures, I see improvement. My stride has slowly been corrected. My shoulders are more level. Most importantly, I approach the course with more confidence every year and feel stronger, more powerful, more at ease every year. This year taught me more about what I’m made of and what I’m capable of than years past. Who knows what 2016 will bring!
Thanks again for another wonderful event, Represent Running. I am proud to be an ambassador as part of Team Run the Bay and can’t wait to do run this race again.