A few weeks ago, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego half-marathon. I was only nine weeks postpartum at the time, and probably would’ve opted out if it were any other race, but I’ve run this one every year since we moved to San Diego in 2009. I couldn’t break my streak!
[*I should note that my midwife cleared me to resume running at seven weeks postpartum. While I didn’t have time to “train,” I did run throughout my pregnancy and stayed active while recovering. I had a good base and felt I could handle a half-marathon, but planned to go slow from the start, walk if needed, and dropout if necessary.]
Friday, June 2nd — We headed to the expo. Parking can be a nightmare downtown, and since Leo was sound asleep, Jared dropped me off with Liv. We love having Leo join us on our adventures, but one-on-one time has become extra special, and we had blast making our way through the convention center “just us girls.”
While I waited in line to register for next year’s race — it’ll be my tenth year running, so I registered for the FULL marathon!!!! — I told Liv she could go sign her name on the wall. It took a few minutes for me to complete the registration and by the time I was done, she’d added quite a masterpiece to the banner!
I’m grateful we went on Friday versus Saturday, because I needed a day to recover from the expo! Liv just wanted to run from booth to booth, snatching up samples and freebies, charming everyone with her sweet smile. She told me the floor was “hot lava!” so we had to walk along the pathway of stars. And at some point, her flip-flops came off and she refused to put them back on. Oh Liv…
Sunday, June 4th — Leo woke us at 3:30 AM — a half hour before my alarm was set to go off. I nursed him, pumped, and got dressed. Jared woke my brother and Liv and loaded everyone into the car. They dropped me off at Balboa Park by 5:30 AM and Liv sent me off saying: “Go win the race, mom!”
Amidst the tens of thousands of runners, I was grateful to find my running friend, Eve, and we even got to start the race together! She zoomed ahead right away as I focused on settling into a comfortably easy pace.
- Mile #1 – 9:41
- Mile #2 – 9:30
- Mile #3 – 9:38
It was around Mile 3 when I spotted my “crew.”
I saw Jared first — he’s always the loudest, brightest spectator out there, so it’s hard to miss him, ha! My brother, Ryan (a.k.a. “Uncle Rhino”), was snapping pictures, while Leo chilled in his carseat, and Liv raced towards me, ready to run!
I handed off my long-sleeved shirt, paused for kisses and high-fives and continued on. It was a heartwarming relief to see them all, especially our two kids!
With each mile marker, I tried to remind myself: “You just had a baby, slow down!” But I was so happy to be out there that the miles were flying by and I lost track, suddenly finding myself at Mile 9, thinking: “How’d I get here already?!”
- Mile #4 – 9:41
- Mile #5 – 9:21
- Mile #6 – 9:18
- Mile #7 – 9:36
- Mile #8 – 9:11
- Mile #9 – 9:22
- Mile #10 – 9:05
When I didn’t see my family again by Mile 10, I figured I wouldn’t see them again until the Finish Line. (Jared later shared they missed me at Mile 6, doh!) I had just passed the taiko drums — (Here’s a video of the drums someone took from a few years ago. They’re always my favorite!) — when I spotted them along the most beautiful stretch of purple jacarandas.
Again, I paused briefly before carrying on with a renewed smile. I felt unexpectedly great and knew I was going to finish strong as I headed into those final miles.
Up until Mile 11 I’d been telling myself to slow down, but with only two miles to go, I picked up the pace. I can’t do justice to how amazing it felt running fast. After nine months of progressively slower pregnant running, dropping below 9:00-minutes-per-mile made me feel like I was flying.
- Mile #11 – 9:23
- Mile #12 – 9:05
- Mile #13 – 8:16
I passed so many people on that final stretch to the Finish Line, where my inner voice went from: “You just had a baby, slow down…” to “I just had a baby and I’m flying!” And just like that, I was done.
Official Finish – 2:03:27 @ 9:26/mile.
I stopped my Garmin, excited and shocked to have finished well under 2:10. I got a little teary when a volunteer handed me a medal, but I was anxious to find my family and let the running high sink in. I scooped up as many snacks as I could carry and headed away from the crowds.
This post-race reunion was extra special since my brother got to join us. Liv showered me with hugs, dug right into the snacks, and kept exclaiming: “You did a GOOD JOB, mom!” Leo, my newest little fan, offered up some sleepy gurgles and coos. And last, but certainly not least, my #1. I gave Jared a dozen opportunities to bail, saying I could run the race solo, or maybe Leo should stay home with Ryan, etc., but he knew how memorable it’d be to have have both kids there. He made it happen and it’s a day I’ll treasure forever.
I haven’t publicly shared much about my postpartum struggles, because I’m working through them, but also because I’ve been somewhat ashamed. Leo is a dream baby, sleeping through the night, rarely fussy, and as easy-going as can be. I have the most patient and supportive husband, a loving daughter, and I’ve been surrounded by family over these last few months, so I’m frustrated to be battling depression and anxiety now — at a time that feels like it should be the happiest of my life. Finally being cleared to run again has been a game changer and each mile has me feeling more like myself. And so this slow, untrained race was especially good for my soul — a reminder that despite the adjustments and challenges, I am still me.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon 2017 – Rundown:
- Finish Time: 2:03:27 (9:26/mile)
- Lifetime Half: #39
- Spectators: 4 = Jared, Liv, Leo, and my brother, “Uncle Rhino”
- Fuel: (Pre-race) Costco protein bar & (during) water
- Post-Race Treat: PF Chang’s gluten-free chicken lettuce wraps and beef & broccoli
- Favorite Mantra: “You just had a baby, slow down!”
- Favorite Song: Love Runs Out by OneRepublic
“I got my mind made up and I can’t let go // I’m killing every second ’til it sees my soul // I’ll be running, I’ll be running, ’til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out // Ooh, we all want the same thing // Ooh, we all run for something…”