It was a big, crazy, fun, borderline exhausting weekend. Our little girl turned one on Friday and we had her birthday party on Saturday. I am not an overly emotional person, but baby turning one hit me pretty hard. A few months ago I was talking with a family friend who has three grown children and a couple grandchildren. I was talking to her about how tiring it can be watching a baby all day and she replied, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Such truth in that statement. It feels like this past year has gone by in a blink and makes me appreciate all the time I am blessed to have with our girl. I am getting choked up just thinking about how fast she has grown and changed. She’s not a baby any more…she’s a toddler. I actually had a little freak out moment Friday night and after baby was in bed I went with my running partner and pierced my nose. I’m not sure if I was trying to prove that I was still young or if I just wanted to do something crazy because I couldn’t quite handle baby getting older.
Her birthday party was so fantastically awesome. We didn’t do a big 1st birthday blow-out bash (my husband threatened to ban me from Pinterest a few days before her birthday, fearing I would decide to do a crazy 1st birthday last minute), but instead had a few close friends and family over for the afternoon. I love my friends so much and any excuse I have to get all of us together is awesome. Baby (can I still just call her that?) worked the room in her party dress and enjoyed all the attention, gifts, and cake. It was everything I had imagined her 1st birthday being, and I am so thankful for all of the wonderful, loving people she has in her life.
So if celebrating baby’s 1st birthday wasn’t enough, my running partner and I ran a half marathon race on Sunday. Our training schedule happened to call for a race the same weekend the local Hazel Dell Max Muscle store does their half marathon. It was nice that the race was so close so we didn’t have to get up that early, but the course was less than exciting. We have run the 3.1 mile Salmon Creek trail close to a billion times (it is close to where we live), and of course this race was and out and back from the Max Muscle store down to the Salmon Creek trail and back. At around 4 miles into the race we hit the trail and I was ready to take a nap…or run as fast I possibly could to get the run over with.
The race was small, with a little over 100 participants, and it was fun to see other runners from our community. I’m sure we have crossed paths with most of them while out on
training runs the past few months. And if we had to run down and back on the same old trail we always run, at least we got to see a few other faces. My favorite part was actually telling other faster runners “good job” as they were making their way back down the trail.
My running partner and I had been consistently running around 9:30s for the first 7 miles, but around mile 8 something in my brain snapped. I’m not sure if I was feeling the residual emotions from baby turning 1 or if the months of training suddenly hit me, but all I wanted to do was run as fast as I possibly could for the next 5 miles. I started picking up the pace and my running partner let me know if I needed to go ahead that it was alright, so I started turning over 9:16s and when a faster time didn’t satisfy my I tried to pass as many people as possible. We did the run/walk and it gave me a sick amount of pleasure to pass runners who were exhausted because they had been running steady 9:00 minute miles for over an hour-and-a-half.
By mile 11 I felt like the run had become a game. I would push myself as hard as I could bear for 4 minutes, pass other runners, walk for a minute and they would pass me, then I would start the whole routine over again. Eventually my pace during the 4 minutes was faster than those who I was playing the cat and mouse game with and I ended up pulling away from them. The fact that I was able to push for the last few miles of the race and ran negative splits leads me to believe that the Jeff Galloway run/walk approach to distance running does work, at least for me.
The course had rolling hills for the last two miles, and though I was tiered when I hit the uphill sections, knowing that I only had to push myself for 4 minutes before I got a nice 1 minute walk break allowed me to charge the hills and finish strong. As I rounded the corner at mile 12.5 and saw a steep hill I wanted to cry, then I told myself, “You only have to run for 4 minutes. You can do anything for 4 minutes” and up I went. I even was joking with the volunteer at the top of the hill as I was running up that she should could have made money on the side by offering runners a tow rope.
When I crested the last hill and saw my husband and baby waiting for me near the finish line I got a boost of energy and picked up the pace even more. I crossed in finish line in 2:00:55 and beat my goal time by 9 minutes and beat my last half marathon race time (Heart Breaker Half in 2011) by a good 7 minutes. I am very, very happy with my time, my pace, when and how I ate and drank (carried fuel belt, ate gummy bears and drank PowerAid). I honestly feel like I couldn’t have pushed myself harder and I was still able to function the rest of the afternoon without being hurt, tired, or too sore. The only part of the run I didn’t like was the fact that I left my running partner. I still don’t know if that was the right choice, but she finished only a couple minutes after me and I hope that I pushed her to run faster. It was her first half marathon race and she shattered our goal time as well as my previous half marathon time.
A lot has changed since my last half marathon race in 2011 (no husband, no baby), and I’m glad that I proved to myself that being married and having a kid doesn’t mean life as I once knew it is over. In fact, I’m actually getting better. Maybe the experts have it wrong and sleeping less, eating sporadically, worrying non-stop, and breast feeding is the key to running success! I am happy that the hard work is paying off and proud of myself and my running partner for going out and pushing ourselves week after week to achieve our goals.
This week is of course crazy and busy again. We have a 9 mile run tomorrow, biking Wednesday, running 6 on Thursday, and another 13.1 training run this weekend. I am also starting my job with Energy Events this weekend and am working at the Fort Vancouver Run Saturday and Sunday. My wonderful mother and mother-in-law are watching baby (husband has to work) while I am out at the race and while I run 13.1 Saturday afternoon. My husband and I also met with our lender and are going to start the process of getting our house ready to sell in the spring. Needless to say it’s not going to be easy to get the miles in the next couple months, but why would I ever choose to do anything easy?