Friday, September 15, 2017

Dream Big, Mama

Given how I sign all these posts, there is a lot of appropriate gear for my Baby:

Dream big, little one.

It seems the phrase "Dream big, little one" comes on just about anything you can imagine.

It’s left me wondering, where are the “Dream big, Mama” signs? We can’t expect kids to do things (be kind, say please, eat vegetables) that we don’t model ourselves. Yet one thing I’ve been (mostly subtly) reminded after becoming a mom is that I should quit all this dreaming big nonsense.

Since having my daughter, lots of people have asked me if I’ll ever get back to running, as if it would be strange to do so. When I say yes, the follow up question comes with a sneer and a heavy dose of cynicism, “Will you try to get back to the level you were at?” When I say, “Yes, I’d like to qualify for the 2020 Trials,” there is often a silence as if I’ve answered the question wrong, and the topic usually changes. (After I responded that I am running and would like to get back to where I was, one person completely ignored my answer to say that, even though parenting can be overwhelming, “at least you don’t have to worry about running so much anymore.”)

Others are not at all surprised I’d want to get back to running or try to make the Trials. But when I say how much I’m already running and that I want to race soon, I feel the need to temper it. “I’d like to run a marathon this fall,” I say. Then I quickly add, “But I’ll drop to the half if I need to, if that’s not realistic.” Because people give me a look like it’s not realistic. (Note: I know of both pros and amateurs who have PR-ed 7-9 months post-baby. And I’m not trying to PR, I’m just trying to race again.) I know they mean well; they are afraid I’ll hurt myself or become too overwhelmed. They’d rather I’d relax about it and take my time.

These responses make me feel obliged to defend myself. I’ve actually stalled writing this post because I’m not sure I ever do it sufficiently... but here goes:
(1) Like everything about pregnancy/postpartum/parenting/life, everyone is different. Some runners come back quickly, some take their time. There are reasons for both approaches and all that matters is you do what works for you and your family.
(2) I realize the injury risk and I’m increasing my mileage and training load carefully, focusing on eating right, and (trying!) to sleep as much as possible.
(3) Running helps me be a better, happier, less anxious Mom and reminds me that I’m still me, even with this new role. And, for me, the fun of running lies in challenging myself and training for races, so that’s what I’m going to do.

...Saying (3) means I have to also add that (4) OF COURSE I love my daughter/being a Mom/spending time with her. (That should go without saying, but it seems like if a Mom ever says she wants to do something selfish (e.g. run because it makes her happy, spend many hours training/away from her daughter), there’s some backlash as if that means she doesn’t care enough about her kid. Which is ridiculous.)

Being a parent requires sacrifices, absolutely. But I don’t think you should stop being yourself and pursuing healthy hobbies and passions. If you can find a way to chase your dreams that works for your family, then you should. Your kids will get a lot out of watching the pursuit: the work you put in and how you deal with both the failures and the successes.

So the short version is: Yes, I’m running again. Yes, I’m training for a marathon this fall. And yes, I'm racing soon... as in, on Sunday.

Here’s my fall schedule:
Navy Half Marathon: September 17
Army Ten Miler: October 8
Richmond Marathon: November 11

My training plan is looser than normal, with my goal pace ever evolving as I see what I’m capable of in workouts. (That should always be the case, but I’m typically more stubborn/rigid about my goals.) The buildup to the marathon is shorter than usual (12 weeks when I prefer 16) and I won’t hit the mileage I have in the past. All that means that I won’t be chasing a PR, but I’m excited to be working my way back. I know this season is a stepping-stone to the next… and to 2020. So I’m aware of my new reality and where I’m at right now. But I’m still super excited to race again and to…

Dream big,