(Un)balanced

The other day someone asked on Instagram if I have balance in my life in reference to all of my training.  I use my Instagram account as a running account, and it’s full of training pictures, but it still made me feel a little defensive.  I read the post right before I went to bed, so I went through various stages of answering this question in my head throughout the night (made possible when your baby wakes you up in the night and starts the thought process over again).

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I woke up clear headed with my answer.  No, I don’t have balance.  That’s not my goal.  If we’re honest, not many people have balance, whether they are training for crazy goals, or just trying to survive motherhood in a world that has traffic and work and grocery shopping and housework and relationships to attend to.

I don’t think there have been many stages in my life where I lived a balanced life.  I’ve always lived in extremes. I finished first in my class in high school, skipping my senior year and going to college early.  I didn’t drink before I turned 21. I was not good at math growing up, so I majored in engineering and ended up getting my masters degree in it.  I finished the masters degree in 1.5 years, while my peers took 3+ years to finish.  I married the first person who I ever went on more than three dates with.  I never missed a workout until I hired a coach and she made me so tired that I finally took rest days seriously.

Like most runners, I’m a bit A type, and I also really love to train and get stronger and faster.  So this past year of running postpartum has been a lot of work, but it has also been extremely rewarding.  I compared my Boston Marathon experience to Disney for adults.  In that case, training for my first 100 mile race and completing it was heaven.  And the feeling of satisfaction in training a little harder to get my sub-3 marathon was the icing on the cake.  While I can do it, I’m going to keep going.  I have a supportive husband and a baby who fits right in to the schedule.  It’s hard work, and I have to make sacrifices, but that’s where I am in life right now.  Unbalanced.  🙂

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Is balance one of your goals?

Race Day with a Baby

I’ve heard from a lot of pregnant or new moms (mostly over Instagram) who say that they are relieved to see that my training days didn’t end when we had Cadence.  She’s been a great little buddy in the stroller or pack and play while I run.  And she likes to play in our basement while I do weights.

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That’s all great for training, but what do you do about race day?!  I have two races coming up in the next week (Saturday 8.9 mile trail run and Thursday Thanksgiving Half Marathon), so I thought it might be a good time to mention our experiences with race day and childcare.

  • Husband: If my husband isn’t racing, that’s a no brainer, and he watches the little dumpling. We brought Cadence to Boston with us when I was 6 months postpartum,
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    Boston Marathon Finish 2016, 6 months pp

    and Jon hung out with Cadence the whole day from the time that I loaded the buses until I finished my run.  They are the best spectators, my reward!

  • Crew: For the Yeti 100, my parents and husband watched Cadence and brought her to the aid station stops for me to soak up her goodness and get a little motivation.  I pumped at three of my crew stops, and it helped to see the baby and get a little baby love.
  • Daycare/babysitter:  For local races where Jon and I are both running, we use our daycare person to babysit.  Our daycare is an in-home facility down the street from our house, so this is very convenient.  It’s also a lot easier to ask a grown adult to babysit at 6:30 am instead of a teenager. 🙂  We just drop Cadence off on our way to the race, and she’s happy because it is familiar.

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    Yeti 100, mile 53, 1 yr pp

  • Grandparents: My first race postpartum was the Thanksgiving half marathon last year (I’m getting ready to run it again next week).  We had a house full of company, and everyone was getting up and running the race the next day.  Everyone except our 8 week old… So I spent the night with my parents 35 minutes away and got up race morning super early to drive back to my house and meet up with everyone else running the race.  I did not get much sleep at all that night, but that seems to be the trend for all of my races since Cadence was born.  Haha.  It was nice to see my parents briefly for Thanksgiving, and I always love to have my parents watching our baby. My mother in law hasn’t watched Cadence for races yet, but she has been super to come over on Sunday mornings to let Jon and me get in some of our runs together.  A little date on the run!

Those are our examples of our experiences with childcare and races, and here are a few other tips on racing with a baby:

About breastfeeding/pumping: I have run every distance from 5k to 100 miler while breastfeeding.  It goes without saying, pump before the race.  If we are driving to the start, I pump in the car.  For the Boston Marathon, I had to load the buses at 7 am, but my wave didn’t run for several more hours.  In that case, I packed a manual pump and visited the first aid tent to pump before the race.  For my ultra races like the Hot to Trot 8 hour race, I brought my manual pump and stopped to pump along the way.  Typically, I can go about 5 hours without pumping.  Lecithin is a great supplement to help you prevent getting clogged ducts. (I’m now at >1 year of breastfeeding, so I am not worried about supply and will start weaning sometime in the coming months.)

Running on no sleep: Oh my goodness!  I don’t even remember what a good night of sleep feels like!  I’ve really not ever gotten much sleep before a race, still waking up with Cadence several times in the night, plus waking up early to take care of her before packing up and heading out for a race.  But it’s always been ok.  I’m not advocating that sleep isn’t important, but if you find yourself sleepless the night before a race, don’t panic.  Just drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the run.  🙂

The reward: For all of the new challenges of figuring out logistics with a baby on race morning, it is absolutely worth  every little inconvenience!  You just figure out what works for you.  If you have a good support system, that makes it all the better.  There might be a season of local races, but those can be just as fun for a season.

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Has anyone traveled to a destination and hired a babysitter while at the site?  I have heard that some races and hotels offer referrals for race day childcare if both parents are running.

The Sweetest Kind of Exhaustion

My relationship with sleep has changed a lot in the last year since Cadence was born.  You see, my baby doesn’t really sleep a whole lot, at least not in long stretches at a time.  I’m getting ready to run my first 100 mile race, and one mantra that I remind myself when I start to freak out about that distance is You can do hard things.  Out of all of my experiences in life, the two hardest things that come to my mind with that mantra are 1. natural childbirth (which really wasn’t that hard; more mental than anything) and 2. functioning for a whole year on very little sleep while training for races ranging from the Boston marathon at 6 months postpartum, to my upcoming 100 mile race at 1 year postpartum. img_20160120_1925463

I can do hard things because I can wake up with a baby all night long, still wake up for my training run in the morning, and then go to work all day only to return back home to the responsibilities of wife and mom.  I can do hard things.

My husband and I met with our pediatrician before Cadence was born, and he told us that babies can sense when their parents are stressed and it can affect the baby.  I tend to be an A type, need-a-plan kind of girl, so being stress-free does not exactly come naturally to me.  This piece of advice really made an impression on me though, and I decided early on that if we had a bad night with little sleep, that was OK.  And it has been. For a whole year.

img_20160814_081402From the beginning, we had the normal newborn, every two hour feedings, plus a few other wake up times for good measure.  Cadence started to get more on a three hour routine around three months old, and then I started back to work and she caught every single bug at daycare.  My lowest point (I can do hard things) was around March (6 months old) when Cadence was waking up more than 10 times a night (my rule is to stop counting at double digits).  I was nearing the end of my training for Boston, and my body was hurting in every way. Miraculously, just in time for Boston, Cadence improved to about 2-3 wakings a night, and we’ve pretty much been in that state since then.  Some nights are better and some nights are worse.

I’m not complaining.  Not one bit.  It has been hard, but I can do hard things.  It has also been one of the sweetest, most rewarding things in my life. I get to hold my tiny (growing) baby in the night when snuggles are the very sleepiest.  I’m still breastfeeding, and I know that even if she is distracted to eat very much during the day, she’ll make up for nutrition with breast milk at night.  I’m at work during the day, and my training takes up my early mornings and some evenings after work.  Night time is our time.

img_20151104_074223014Cadence won’t always need me in the night, so I am soaking up all of the baby snuggles while I can. I’m sure that the lack of sleep has limited my recovery after hard workouts, and I know that it has made my brain fuzzy many days at work, but I’m a mom first, and right now, my sweet little baby needs me. As I approach my race where I’ll be running (and pumping) through the night, thinking of Cadence will be my motivation to finish strong and fast so that I can get back to that little sleeping angel.

img_20160908_224336Any other moms still waking up with their babies at night and while trying to maintain a training schedule?