We all have our own fitness journeys and when it comes to mothers, we all have our own postpartum comeback story. Actually, I shouldn’t even call it a comeback, it’s more that our path changes course and we probably will never go back to the route we were on before we became mothers. Some women get back to their pre-pregnancy weight and paces quickly and others take longer.
For those who may be newer readers, I’ll give you some background. Right before I got pregnant, I attempted to qualify for Boston and was in the best running shape of my life (I still got a PR of 3:35:27 at CIM but missed the BQ by just 28 seconds). I immediately went on a 3 week vacation to New Zealand, got pregnant and kind of fell off of running longer distances. I did end up running two half marathons in the first trimester and trained for one in my second, but ended up not running it due to a stomach bug. After that race was out, I ran when I felt like it, which ended up not being often.
My last run was at 32 weeks pregnant but I’d call it a walk more than a run, and it was my first run in at least a week and a half. I returned to running at six weeks postpartum but put no pressure on myself to train for a goal race. I did train for the Rock n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon which I ran at 8 months postpartum and then went on to run the New York Marathon a year and one month after having Siena, but my goal for both races was to finish, not to run fast.
I successfully used P90X and 21 Day Fix to get back to my pre-baby body, appearance wise, but it took longer to get back running wise becuase honestly, it just wasn’t my main focus. It wasn’t until I joined my running club, the Seaside Striders, in December of last year that I really started focusing on improving my running. With a lot of dedication, I was able to improve my fitness and get to what I consider the best shape of my life to prepare for the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon in May. But, despite that fitness, I ended up missing my goal at M2B and because all of my tune-up races to get prepared for M2B were in the middle of training with no taper (for example I ran 18 miles the day before a 5K!) so no PRs happened. After M2B, I was set on getting at least one PR out of this training cycle, because I plan to take some time off of hardcore training and racing for a bit. I set my sights on the Scripps Ranch Old Pros 10K on the 4th of July and convinced Mike to run with Siena in the stroller!
Long story short, we arrived at the race with 10 minutes to spare before the gun went off due to missing a key interchange on the freeway that sent us 20 minutes in the wrong direction (plus we had to get gas – the gas thing ended up being a blessing in disguise because I could use the restroom there instead of waiting in line at the start). The parking lot wasn’t near the start so we had to run the 1.2 miles uphill from our car to the start, which actually also turned out to be a great warm-up. My legs felt heavy and crappy on the run to the start which I didn’t take as a good sign, but it’s not unusual to feel this way during a warm-up.
I made my way to near the front of the start line and got ready to go. I saw a couple of my Seaside Striders Running Club teammates from afar, but as soon as the gun went off, I saw more of them. By the time we made it up the steep ramp up to the lake I saw a few of my teammates again, including a few of the ones that I regularly run with on our Wednesday night speed workouts. I told myself “just keep up with them” and it helped A LOT – I instantly had more energy.
My pacing strategy for the race was a negative split, with the first mile being my slowest. My PR was 47:06, which is a 7:35 pace. I guessed that I could run the race between a 7:15-7:25 pace (in training I always use 7:20 as my 10K pace during speed workouts), so my goal for the first mile was 7:30 ish. It ended up being 7:28, although I noticed I was already behind the official mile markers (which I wasn’t surprised by because the course has a million turns so I knew my watch would be off).
The first five miles of the race wind around Lake Miramar. As you can see from this screen shot, it’s a lot of winding! It actually kept it pretty interesting becuase I was constantly thinking about running the tangent and the inside of the course which helped keep my mind off the pain. 10Ks are tough – they are nearly as painful as a 5K but twice the distance! By the time I was through mile 2 (another 7:28 mile), I was already counting down the miles til the end. During a marathon, 4 miles seems so short but during a 10K it seems SO far.
I had now pulled ahead of our little group but kept assuming that they were right behind me. I kept reminding myself of how much I wanted a PR. Even though I wouldn’t say my legs felt the best they ever have in a race and it was a warm day (although it could have been MUCH worse), I was determined to get that PR! Overall my mental talk was really good and I just focused on getting through each mile. Miles 3-5 were 7:19, 7:26, 7:31.
I asked for pacing tips from my fellow Oiselle athletes in our private Facebook group and one person told me to tell myself that I could slow down at mile 4, even just for a minute. This strategy actually really helped becuase I focused on pushing it until mile 4 and then allowing myself to back off a tiny bit before pushing to the finish.
Right before we exit Lake Miramar to head into the neighborhood we run along the only straight section of the entire race which has a view of San Diego and is lined with American Flags. It was a really cool sight to see so many of us running past the flags with the beautiful city in the background. This is also where the FREE photographer was standing and I made sure to SMILE! I smiled becuase I knew I had my PR in the bag at this point (knowing the final mile has a nice decline definitely helped with the mental side of things).
Once we got away from the lake and into the neighborhood, I just focused on finishing! As we headed back toward where we had started, I noted we were at 5.4 miles. We spent the next 0.8 miles winding and flying down residential streets. Mile 6 was 7:18 pace (yay negative split!) and when I got to the flat section right before the finish, I turned it up and finished the final 0.26 at 6:31 pace! My official time was 46:10, nearly a 1 minute PR. I was so happy when I finished – it felt DAMN GOOD to PR!!! Hard work pays off!
I found some teammates shortly after and soon Mike was finishing. He ran 52:52 with the stroller! I was really impressed. Siena did great too. The finish line party was great – it even had a bounce house and slide for the kids (too many big kids for Siena to get involved, maybe next year!). The beer garden was apparently pretty epic with unlimited craft beer. We didn’t make it there since strollers aren’t allowed. We met up with one of Mike’s best friends and his family and enjoyed chatting with people after the race. It was a great morning!
We headed over to Mike’s parents house afterward to swim and BBQ and then went home and hosted a couple friends for a BBQ at our place. It was a jam packed day but one of my favorite 4th of July’s yet!
Do you like racing 10Ks? Mamas, how long did it take you to get your running fitness back after having your kid(s)?