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,
Teal

20 comments :

  1. Honestly, I (and I'm sure many others) get these same responses/questions about my running and I DON'T EVEN HAVE A BABY! I can only imagine what it's like in your situation. I have been dreaming up some big things lately (getting an OTQ (2020/2024), hiring a coach, potentially even running in the Olympics for Iceland if I get close enough to 2:45), and have even found myself more recently keeping these things to myself because whenever I state them outloud to people, I often get criticism...But hey, nothing people say to me is going to make me change my mind or make me think "maybe I'm not capable?", and I'm happy I'm confident enough in myself to be able to set their comments aside and keep working my butt off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love your goals! Olympics for Iceland, how awesome would that be??!! So glad you don't take people's negativity to heart. Often when people try to discourage me it just makes me want to prove them wrong/reach my goal that much more; whatever works, so long as they don't bring us down!! Best of luck with your goals :)

      Delete
  2. Good for you! I hate the mindset that once you're a mother you can't do anything else except be a mother. Every mom who I know who runs (or has another activity she is passionate about) is a better mother and a better person because she also does something she enjoys. Just like putting the oxygen mask on your child first in the event of low cabin oxygen on a flight, you must take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else.

    I often feel that I have to follow up any answer about my running mileage with, "I do 95% of my running while my daughter is still asleep in the morning," and I shouldn't have to feel that way. Okay, rant over, but I am happy for you in continuing to pursue big running goals!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh yes, I wish we didn't have to (or didn't feel the need to) explain ourselves. We really shouldn't have to feel bad about it!

      Delete
    2. Exactly! Plus no one feels the need to justify more typical leisure activities such as watching television (and I won't even get started on how our hobby is healthier than most things people do with their free time). My big goal is also to get an OTQ for 2020, and I over-use the phrase "dream big" in regards to my running, so I really enjoy following your journey. :-)

      Delete
  3. Love love love this post!
    How exactly are we supposed to be good role models to our daughters if the example we show is giving up everything we love? Our baby is about a month younger than yours (albeit we have a 3 year old as well) and getting out to exercise is the only thing keeping me sane. My energy levels have taken a massive hit lately, so the 10k I'd planned for next week looks highly unlikely, but there will be another one soon enough.
    Sure, being a parent means there are more priorities floating around. But looking after ourselves and staying true to who we are beats most things in my book.
    Please keep dreaming, it helps the rest of us to do the same :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lolly! It's other mothers like yourself that help me dream, so it works both ways :)

      Delete
  4. My grandfather was a world class runner (4th in the Boston Marathon back in the 50s, 6th in the Olympic Trials). He spent long hours training and due to financial strains, often had to leave his family to go to the biggest races on his own. He even died after breaking an American Record in his age group-- he was 56 years old and died of a heart attack. However, he has achieved larger than life status within my family. His daughters (my mom and aunts) talk about how great he was on a daily basis. To say he is an inspiration would be the understatement of the century. They watched the Boston Marathon Movie because they were certain a clip of him would be in it. They have Tom Derderian's Boston Marathon Book with the pages that my grandfather's in bookmarked. There is debate in the family of who gets to keep certain trophies. He has two family members named after him.
    My point is, my grandfather dared to compete at the highest level, and as a result he inspired and changed my entire family for generations. His legend inspired me to run, and as a result I got a scholarship to college. I can't imagine how different it would be if he had chosen not to run as much once he had children. I think even my life would be a little grayer.
    Never be afraid to dream big dreams. As my coach says, "Contentment is for losers." :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love love love this story! Thanks so much for sharing!

      Delete
  5. You have a very smart outlook. There is no reason why you can't run and race, you just have to be flexible. I ran a half marathon when my daughter was 7 months old. No one really asked me if I was still running after my kids were born but some were kind of rude about me running while pregnant. I have no doubt you will make it to 2020!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, I hated the negativity about running while pregnant. The science shows it's really good for the baby, but people like to judge anyway.

      Thanks for your confidence! :)

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Haha, not sure I know what this means...?

      Delete
  7. I’ve got no babies but you are amazing! Good luck with training and you will make it to 2020 for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  8. She looks like the happiest baby in the world, so I think you're doing something right, Teal! Go Mama!!!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thanks, Joanne! So sweet of you to say :)

      Delete
  9. Hi Teal- Just read your post. Im a mommy too and in my early 40's ( so technically a masters now- yikes). I have a 4 and 2 year old & I stalled greatly in my training and racing between kids bc I thought I couldn't do it all and compete at a high level. I finally put that aside after baby #2 and I am racing better than before and trying to be patient too. Seeing other moms & moms in their 40s and beyond competing at the highest levels has inspired me. My goal would be to qualify to run the trials in 2020 but Im enjoying the process more than the results now and love when my 2 year old says mommy how was your run. Keep chipping away- our littles will thank us and your a great mom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michele: Thanks for your encouragement! Glad to hear you are back at it and better then ever! Hope to see you in 2020 :)

      Delete
  10. Oh my goodness. Girl I get this on SO many levels!! While I'm not at the level you are at and aiming to be at running wise, ( I can dream though! I just want 18xx on the clock for a 5k��)I AM a professional figure athlete. I turned Pro after my 2nd baby and by the time the 4th baby got here I had 3 Pro cards under my belt. I too got the same questions and got guilt riddled responses. I was either being the worse mom ever by spending 3-4 hours a day working out (while the kids slept) or being selfish if I over slept and took the baby with me to the gym child watch. What I've learned is that there is no pleasing everybody. All you have to do is find a good training schedule that works for your family and know you are being a GOOD mom by perusing your big dreams. Children learn what they live. If children see parents that work hard and chase after thier dreams in life then more than likely they will too! You are setting the example for your daughter and when 2020 rolls around she will think that all moms are aiming for the OT, and there's nothing wrong with mom stretching at the play ground or doing endless loops around a track or the neighborhood with a stroller... mamma, you keep doing what your doing. Keep running, keep chasing your dreams and block out negativity and the nay Sayers. You are becoming the best role model in the world to the one that matters most: your daughter!! Keep at it super mamma, you got this!!!������

    ReplyDelete