1.29.2018

Blog Jump Start: Week 6


This week's Blog Jump Start hosted by Donna at What if God Says No is rerun of Week 3 asking us to clean up an item from our draft folder.

Before I get to this post - there are some new posts on the private blog and after I finish this one, I'm heading over there to add another one. (And if for some reason you asked for one, but didn't get an invite, please let me know. Or if you'd like one.)

I've been slowly making progress on getting my draft folder to actually be a draft folder and moving not-for-publishing journal entries into a folder in my Google Drive.

The post that follows is a topic I've tried to write on a few times since Sugarbeet was 6 weeks old and I laced up my running shoes for the first time after giving birth. It doesn't work to just tweak it and publish the most recent draft because so much time has passed since I last worked on it. But the topic of running after having a baby, and really just my running journey in general is one I've been coming back to off and on without quite getting it right for more than 2 years now. I'm going to, once again, write in more of a stream of consciousness and not work for polished at this point. In hopes of finally getting this out.

Let's recap my running journey a bit.

January 2010 - realize that if I'm going to buy new jeans, it would be in a size I refuse to be. Face the fact that I either need to eat less or move more. I like to eat, so move more it is. I decide I'm going to run - something I've never really done and when I've tried I haven't enjoyed. At the same time, my BFF Sara, who was a runner in high school and college, decides she wants to lace up her shoes again too and has discovered the Couch to 5K app. So, we start it. The first time out I feel like I'm gonna die running for 60 seconds.

May 2010 - run my first ever 5K! Get a taste of the finish line.

September 2010 - start TTC - this is related to running because if you've been around here for 5 minutes you know that running has been a necessity for my mental and spiritual health. For most of 4 years, it was running that kept me from hating my body. It wouldn't make a baby, but it would run distances I never dreamed of and often my mantra as my feet would hit the pavement was 'strong and powerful' when I felt weak and helpless.

Fall 2010 - October 2013 - fall in love with running. Break all of my own "I'll never do thats" with the purchase of a fuel belt, running in the rain, running in 8 degree weather, running in the snow, running more than 6 miles, buy a Garmin watch, run a marathon and probably a few more I'm forgetting. I learn to find peace in the miles and my heart craves it as much as my legs do. Both my Dad and Sara are diagnosed with cancer. I miss my running buddy and my dad cheering me on.

October 2013 - run the Marine Corps Marathon. Two weeks before Sara runs her first marathon. My Dad comes and cheers me on for 5.5 hours as I run all over DC. Experience major marathon hangover afterwards, only made worse by knowing I face another surgery and its mandatory 6 - 8 weeks off afterwards in the Spring.

April - December 2014 - run on again and off again. Find solace in the miles as TTC comes to end and so does my marriage. Find out I'm pregnant in December.

January 2014 - October 2015 - no running :(. I knew enough to know that it is not advised to start an exercise program while pregnant, and so I walk a lot and look forward to running again.

And that's where I want to pick up and share what running has looked like for these past 2 years or so.

The 'magic' number for being cleared to return to physical activity is typically 6 weeks postpartum, and asking if I could start running again was definitely on my list of questions for my 6 week appointment. I got the go ahead and headed out that afternoon. While it felt good, it was different. My body felt different. I was nursing, so I had to be very careful to take care of my breasts wearing by wearing 2 bras and I could tell my joints still weren't quite tightened back up after the high levels of progesterone that pregnancy brings.

And so, for a few months I started and stopped. My heart and legs longed to go, but my body was screaming at me that it wasn't ready. I read an article saying that it can take up to a year post partum to really start feeling like yourself again as far as exercise goes. While I was seeing plenty of other new moms out there, my body was telling me clearly it wasn't ready.

May 2016 when Sugarbeet was about 9 months old, I bit the bullet and bought a jogging stroller. With R back to work it was hard to get the alone runs in, and so Sugarbeet became my sidekick and off we went. I started out too fast, registered for a half marathon just 7 weeks away and ended up injuring myself. While it felt good for most of me, my left knee just wasn't ready for that much that fast.

At the end of the summer, after Sugarbeet's first birthday, I started from scratch. Revisiting the Couch to 5K. I remember the day I set out to run 20 minutes without stopping. It was like the first time I had done it. So much anticipation and worry that I wasn't ready. But, just like that first time, I made it. I was finally feeling better about running and signed up for the Pittsburgh half marathon in May 2017.

In the meantime, Sugarbeet self-weaned at 16 months (December 2016) and a month later, I remember it so clearly, I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw *my* body again. It had more weight on it than I like, but it looked more like me. It's hard to explain exactly. My body shows the evidence of pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, but I was no longer actively doing any of those and my body visibly showed that. My feel during runs changed, as well. It's hard to explain.

My training was a bit hit or miss and by the time the half marathon rolled around my goal was a slow 12:00 min/mile pace and to finish without injury. Thanks to a friend with a similar goal, I had a running buddy for the first 10 miles and enjoyed every step of the race. I wish I could say I stayed consistent through the summer. I was working hard to not let my running interfere with our daily life nor ask R to pick up any additional responsibilities so I could run. I knew he would, I just felt like I was being selfish if I did so.

After having to drop from the half marathon to the 8K here in Morgantown in the fall AND inching closer to that pants size after Christmas, I realized I was right back where I started - move more or eat less. I still like to eat, so moving more it had to be.

R and I chatted and he, as I knew he would, was completely supportive of doing whatever I needed him to do in order to commit to and keep a regular training schedule. So, on January 2 faced with a weather forecast that made me want to cry, I joined Planet Fitness and embraced the dreadmill. I think I've logged more dreadmill miles than street miles so far this year. Snow and ice will do that to you.

Despite all of my on again off again, I am continually amazed at muscle memory. At how my legs seem to say "we got this" when I start again. I have an ambitious but achievable race schedule for this year, culminating in another full marathon in September. This time on my streets, in my town. Part of the route is even visible from where my Dad is buried, so for that stretch, it will be like he is cheering me on once again. I'm starting slow and I can already see the fruits of doing so - though I will not be sad at all when 2 mile runs are no longer a weekly thing. Especially in the cold weather - there is barely enough time to get warmed up and then I'm done. Ugh. But necessary at this point.

Almost five years ago, Sara gifted me the necklace above with all of the multiple meanings you can imagine tied into those two words. You'll notice it is well worn. I haven't always honored it perfectly, but I have also never taken it off. It has served as a reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other and I am so glad that I have.

Running was the sport I never wanted to do. I always thought it was boring. I had no mental ability to overcome the challenges. Sometime over the past 8 years that changed and I fell in love with it. I find my footing with each step. I pray, I cry, I process, I listen to loud {mostly inappropriate} music, and I zone out. I've learned to love the miles with my sidekick and I love that she loves to put on her 'running clothes' and 'running shoes' to get strapped into her stroller. Toddler trots may just be the cutest thing going.

Postpartum running really had me questioning if I'd ever find this peace again; if I would ever really feel like I was answering the call of the miles. I am so grateful that I have.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I admire your perseverance with running! I currently can't run or do the burst training I was doing pre-pregnancy so I am wondering how it will be when baby is born. I did not think I would love exercising but pushing my body beyond what I think it can handle (which I discovered I did not think much of my abilities in the first place) has been so good for my mental and spiritual health. God made us to have physical bodies and not just souls for a reason! I miss the endorphin high from high intensity exercise but it is something to look forward to postpartum :)

    ReplyDelete