I waddled along for a couple of miles at a time a few days each week, and I was happy to keep adding these slow miles to my log. Along with trying to keep up on needed farm work and get our nursery ready I was getting more than plenty of activity. I just needed the mental solace of those few weekly miles.
I’ve kept track of my running miles in a spreadsheet since my 24th birthday, so even if I’m not running very much or training consistently I still log the miles. It’s fun to see the overall total grow close to 5,000. 😄 Looking back at the start of 2016 I’m surprised to see I managed a six mile run on January 2nd and multiple four to five mile runs throughout February. By March I maxed out around three miles, and my last pregnant run was on March 22nd – five days before Speedy was born. Then I really did take a break.
In almost every way I relished the intensity of the first weeks after his birth. I got to stay home from work and chores for about two weeks almost exclusively, and even though it wasn’t long enough it was my longest break from work since my college days. My little son needed me so deeply, and I loved that I could provide everything he needed. Our world was small those first weeks but absolutely wonderful.
I felt no need to rush back to running and create recovery problems for myself, but after 6 weeks the weather was getting nice. I was itching to put on my running shoes again. I started with slow 15-20 minute jogs and walk breaks as needed. By the time Speedy was three months our doctor said I could run with him in the car seat adapter of my Bob jogging stroller if we kept to smooth paths. By six months I felt comfortable strapping him into the main stroller seat, but I actually missed the carseat adapter because he faced me so it was easier to watch and talk to him.
I love many things about being a mom, but I didn’t expect to enjoy running with a jogging stroller so much. My son is a sweet running partner who listens to me chatter away or sing as he takes in the scenery or simply falls asleep. I am grateful he enjoys the stroller as much as I do!
Our first race was a 5K on July 4th weekend in my hometown. I was thrilled to finish in 28 minutes and pass multiple people in the second half.
In August we did a 5K in our current town that turned into more of a 3.5 mile race with misplaced cones and a brief rain shower for good measure. No matter, Speedy was perfectly content with this race. Fortunately I brought his wide brimmed hat and covered him enough that he slept through the rain.
My ‘big’ race of the year was the Twin Cities Marathon weekend 10K. Speedy and I got up at an insane hour to travel to St. Paul for a 7:00 a.m. start, but I don’t think a race has ever been more worth it.
The fall morning was brisk and beautiful, I felt great running along behind my precious cargo, and I hit my A+ goal of averaging under 9:00/miles.
For me, this 10K proved I could still do it. I could still be a runner while being a farmer and a mom. I could still run a decent and enjoyable race even if I wasn’t running ALL THE MILES in training. I could pass people politely with my jogging stroller and feel good doing it. I was and am so grateful for this race.
By the way, I also met the amazing Sarah Bowen Shea of Another Mother Runner at the race expo, and it led to me being invited to chat on their podcast! I am still a little starstruck about it. If you enjoy mothering, running, or even think you might you should give this a listen.
Lastly, I’m happy with the running balance I found in 2016. My family, our farm and cattle, and my roles as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend need to take priority in my life. I’m grateful to God for the clarity He continually helps me find when I struggle with schedules, commitments, and balance. Even on the really hard days — the tear-your-hair-out days — if I can collect myself enough to pray for guidance I will know where my priorities and time need to be. The answer to this prayer is not always the same. But it’s always correct.
I think it might be a while before I can dedicate myself to serious high mileage training again, but I deserve to carve out time to run several days per week and chase after incremental goals. In early April I will hopefully be doing a 5K with some (or all four!) of my sisters. Just two months from now I plan to run my seventh Earth Day Half Marathon. If it’s not my slowest half that will be a major victory. These goals aren’t for anybody else. They are for me.
If this post got a little long for you, here’s a quick recap. Running in 2016 was great. I came back healthy after a post-partum break, I enjoyed my races, and I was realistic about the goals and mileage I thought I could handle. Because of that I finished the year excited instead of depleted, and I’m looking forward to more races and miles in 2017. Thank you all for your encouragement on this journey.