Sunday, February 01, 2015

Running and Motherhood

For what feels like the umpteenth time, I'm dusting off this running blog to share that I've started running again. This time, though, I'm really hoping that it won't go by the wayside like it has so many times before. What I think is different is that while running was just a part of regular life before, and so seemed to belong on my other blog as well, now it's my special "me" time, and something a bit separate from our family life. So, we'll try out the two blog format for a while and see how it goes. 

Enjoying one of the many fun events we did when we moved - "Cork to Cactus" wine festival at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

It's funny - since we moved to Arizona two and a half years ago, I really lost all my motivation to run. I'd had no idea how dependent I was on the beauty of my surroundings for my running motivation until I lost it. And, to be honest, blistering temperatures half the year certainly didn't help. The trails here are brutal, full of rocks and "threatening" plants and were very unforgiving, which made it easy to take a break, pour myself a glass of wine, and decided to give up my runner identity for a while. It was enough to support Ed and cheer him at his trail runs.

Last big hike (and I was big!) at around 37 weeks pregnant

But, something funny happened when I got pregnant. I had this vision of our family with a little one, and knew without a doubt it included me being active. Of course, that meant facing this state and finding out what it had to offer! To my surprise, I discovered that while trail running here isn't for me, there are many beautiful hikes well within my abilities.

Hiking with my sweet boy

Once I recovered from giving birth (and the blur of those first months of new motherhood), I knew that I wanted to start running. With the clock ticking down to our move back to California, I knew I wanted to be in good shape. And, more than that, I wanted Evan to know a mom that was active, that loved being outdoors, and that was adventurous, things I sort of lost when I moved here. 

Running in Cambria over Winter Break

So, I started running. Well, run/walking at first. I spent about 3 months building up from nothing to my first 5k, the Dana Point Turkey Trot, in November. It went fantastic. I earned a very impressive (for me) 32:41, which was a 10:32 pace. In addition to running, I was (and still am) doing a baby workout class twice a week, getting in some much needed strength training that has somehow helped me become fast!

Finishing the Sedona 10k (you can barely see me as the back runner in this picture

Of course, once I did my 5k, I immediately set my sights on a 10k, and picked out a race in our favorite Arizona town, Sedona. The beautiful red rocks immediately calm your mind and body and put you in a very happy place. I don't necessarily buy into the "vortexes" but I can't deny that there is something truly special about this location. I'd like to do a full race report later, so I'll just share for now that it went even better than I expected, considering I didn't look at the elevation chart beforehand, so I didn't realize it was a very hilly course. Despite the hills, I finished in 1:07, for a 10:49 pace (and, if I go by my garmin, which credited me with an extra tenth of a mile, I had a 10:40 pace!). My last mile, even with some uphill, was a 9:50. 

Hiking off of Highway One north of Cambria

I'm definitely a runner again, and it feels great. Next up is maintaining this fitness for a few months.  I almost always like to go from zero to marathon when I start running again, which is exciting but ultimately less sustainable I think. So, I'm just going to hold steady for now, doing 6-7 mile long runs on the weekend, and 3-4 mile runs a few times during the week. I want to keep hiking at least once a week, and do my baby workout group a couple times a week. I know that this privilege of time will evaporate when I start working in the fall, so I need to make sure I take full advantage of it! 

Adding some running at the end of a hike

For now, I've set my sight on the "Water to Wine Half Marathon" in Santa Rosa in August. It'll be a celebration of moving to our new home, and a last hurrah before I re-enter the workforce. And hopefully in the meantime, I'll have some fun adventures to share.