My First 5K as a Mom

Training:

Up until last weekend, I had been training for my first 5K as a mom for 8 weeks using the Couch to 5K app. This required getting up at the crack of dawn in sometimes freezing temperatures to run with my neighbor before work. Other times, when it snowed or rained, I ran on a treadmill and fought boredom. Either way, just finding the regular time to run meant good planning with my husband, and the willingness to run whenever I had the chance. **I have since added the exception of running an hour after Taco Tuesday dinner. That was not a good run. But I did it. Barely.

IMG_8466.JPGWhenever I get back from a run, I am mauled by my entourage (this photo includes a neighbor’s dog who was visiting this particular day).

I remember training back before kids over a decade ago. I had such nice, relaxing evenings of stretching under the ceiling fan while watching Sex in the City and enjoying a cold adult beverage.

My strength training didn’t include an infant lying on my stomach as I did pelvic lifts, or a preschooler crawling repeatedly through the “bridge” of downward-facing dog pose as I tried to inhale and release my stressed muscles. Ah, those were the days.

The Night Before:

Despite going to bed before 10:00 p.m., my mind was nervous about the race. Could I do it? How hilly would the course be? Would my weakened bladder (thanks kids) make it? Would I forget to nurse the baby before going to the race so I wouldn’t have that kind of leaking? Hey-I keep it real here. These are legitimate concerns. Count yourself lucky if you don’t have to worry about these things before a race!

Just as I drifted off, the crying began. My one-year old is teething again (we assume). He cried off and on until about 3:00 a.m., when he decided to just stay awake and thrash himself around in our bed until 5:00 a.m. We had to get up at 5:45. That was a short night.

Race Day- Before the Race:

Our eldest son woke up on the wrong side of the bed. He melted down because he couldn’t find his little American flag that he wanted to wave at the soldiers and veterans competing in the Memorial Day Run and March. It was nowhere to be found. Once our team of diplomats resolved this issue, we were out of pears and also didn’t have the right kind of cereal. Realizing that negotiations were futile, the diplomats gave up and went to a more reasonable preschooler’s home.

Meanwhile, I was trying to fuel up and also feed the baby who was throwing his food on the floor in his first physics experiment and crying because his breakfast didn’t bounce.

We made it to the car, most of us crying, and all of us apologizing. We were solidly in a festive mood by the end of the 15 minutes it took to get there.

Ten seconds after leaving the registration area, a kind woman asked my son if he wanted a little flag. Where the heck was SHE an hour earlier?

During the Race:

I went out too fast at the start because I was all excited to be running in a pack-a rookie mistake that I should have avoided. This meant that I ended up taking four walk breaks near the end because I pushed too hard at the start.

At one point in my first walk break, I let that mean girl voice take over and tell me I can’t do this. What am I thinking? I am starting over 12 years after a marathon. I should give up after this race. If I can’t do 3.1 without walking, how will I EVER do 13.1?

Then I thought of my boys, and how they were waiting to see their mom cross the line, and by golly, they were going to see me finish strong. So I ran when I could and walked when I needed to, and I rounded the corner with a smile on my bright red face.

After the Race:

I finished in a time that was great for me-I really only wanted to cross the line on my own feet and not by stretcher.

The best part was that my boys were all lined up, waving that tiny flag, when I crossed the line. My eldest son, who had sacrificed and eaten second-choice cereal before the race, beamed at me and told me he was proud of me for “winning the race.”

I don’t know what other people went through in the 8 weeks leading up to their race, but I definitely think I am winning.

Call a mom and set a goal!

Last week I had the good fortune to attend several workshops at the University of Denver during the DU Women’s Conference.

One of those workshops was designed for working moms, led by three working mothers at DU. Let’s just say that the circulating boxes of tissues were vital to this conversation. I sat there with my own tears of guilt and sadness and listened to the stories of so many women who are hurting in the process of finding their balance. Just like me.

The common feelings included fatigue, guilt, loss of self, feelings of alienation, regret that hobbies, housework or self-care fall behind in the priorities of daily life. These feelings are also common among my friends who are stay-at-home moms.

As moms, we often put others first, sometimes at the cost of our own well-being. I know that I do the same, moving through the daily routines until I crash, exhausted and with nothing else to give, night after night, only to go through it all again the next day.

I decided this weekend to interrupt that cycle by inserting a goal (or two) into my life. Although I don’t consider myself an athlete anymore, in another decade before children I ran a marathon. Since the kiddos have been around, I rarely exercise. In my earlier post At 20 or 40, tired is tired, I let you in on the secret that I am going to climb a Colorado fourteener (a mountain of at least 14,000 ft).

I would never do such a thing alone, so I proposed this goal to a neighbor a while back, and she accepted the challenge. This weekend after a 6-mile walk in beautiful Cherry Creek State Park (pictured below), we made the plan. We named our mountain. We will hike Mt. Bierstadt in late summer. Naming the goal has made it more concrete, and I plan to go stare it down in the near future.

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My neighbor, unlike me, is a stay-at-home mom, but in our few weeks of training we have realized the impact of working with another mom for a goal that is outside of our family’s needs. To some, that may sound selfish. To me, I think it has everything to do with helping my family. Because it is healing me.

Not only is our regular walking routine improving my mental health through physical exercise, but the return of my confidence and sense of accomplishment is a nice bonus. My family will hopefully be able to see the journey to the summit as proof of what we as individuals can accomplish. I hope that my sons will carry with them the knowledge that women are strong, and that they will treat the women in their lives with respect and maybe a little awe.

Not a person to set just one ridiculous goal, I have been tempted by another friend who threw out an even more outlandish idea last week- what if we trained (in our respective states) for the 2016 Rock and Roll half marathon in Las Vegas in November?

Stay tuned to see if I accept. For now, I am working on hiking and cardio at altitude.

If you do not find running or hiking to be fun and rewarding, the point of this self-involved narrative is that goal-setting is important, but to achieve a goal with a fellow mom doubles the impact. You don’t have to start an organization or swim the English Channel to make a difference in the world or to feel accomplished. Make a difference for yourself and another mom by doing something together and celebrating it.

I’d love to hear what you and your mom friends achieve! Leave a comment if you wish to return later and share.

At 20 or 40, tired is tired.

This is the week when the peak season at work, my personal fitness goals and my baby’s teething rituals all coincide to produce the desperate fatigue that should come with a warning label. I would wear the label on my shirt front and center, allowing me to stumble across campus mumbling to myself and wiping obsessively at a stain on my sleeve without making excuses for myself.

“I’m old. I don’t have the same energy as a 20-year-old.” I commiserated with a fellow 40-year-old who is the mother of a toddler. It would be so easy to slide down that pity path, ignoring the reality that it’s all relative. Many of us, but especially women, seem to view aging as a limiting factor.

I spend enough time fretting my way through mom forums to know that 20-year-old moms of young children are just as tired as I am. Stay at home moms, working moms, moms who travel abroad, moms of one child, moms with 5 children. All of us are tired.

We obsess over the development of our children, research their ailments (real or perceived), face night-time feedings, drive them to school and sports, wipe noses, kiss boo-boos, break up fights, calm tantrums, read books, play games, sing songs, dance, chase, pick up, hold, and repeatedly return them to beds.

Then there is the constant cleaning up from potty accidents, bed wetting, food slinging, booger wiping, muddy boot stomping, and toy box explosions.

All of these tasks are small and easy when considered on their own, but combined with a sleep deficit and the nagging feeling that despite all of these heroic efforts we are not living up to our own expectations, these things can weigh us down more than larger tasks-like filing taxes or climbing a mountain.

Which brings me full-circle to this week.

I plan to climb a mountain this summer. I’m going to “bag a fourteener” to be exact. For everyone outside of Colorado, a fourteener is a peak that is over 14,000 feet. There are a lot of them here.

It’s week three in my training for this adventure and I have that nagging voice telling me that I have no business trying to do this. I am 40, after all. I have been defeated by laundry. My body is not what it used to be. There is no way I can make it.

I am not sure if that voice is really mine, or the imagined voices of everyone around me. Either way, it is really getting me down. It threatens to keep me down. My fatigue makes me feel like my body would never allow me to do something like this, so why even try?

I try because these past few weeks, my loving and supportive husband has nearly pushed me out the door to train because he knows the benefits of exercise. He willingly looks after the kids, and I feel a real high from the exercise.

For about an hour.

Then I hit a wall of whining 4-year old, or wrestle a baby through a 30-minute breathing treatment, and I am back to energy level zero.

I am not sure if I will bag a fourteener this summer, but if I don’t, I will blame the kids, not my age. Because at 20 or 40, tired is tired.