If you happen to check my 10k time, know that it would be more accurate with at asterisk that says: 57:41 *and also she biked 3 miles to the start (so her quads were a liiiittle tired before she even started).
That would be an excuse.
The real story is: the race was awesome. The weather was great, I felt good the whole time, I met my goal, and my baby didn’t learn to crawl when I wasn’t looking.
And Tom? He had a great race, too. “Great” meaning he blew it out of the water. Great meaning 36:52.
Tom started running to impress me back in 2008 when I told him I would NOT be his girlfriend. We’ve both come a long way since then.
Back to the 10k.
When I first started running this race I hated that it was so early in the morning.Now I sort of can’t believe it starts so late. The 8:30 start time gave me time to wake up, eat breakfast, feed the baby, and shout baby-care orders at my mom for an hour. The combination of pre-race jitters and neurotic mom nerves made me a force of nature. At one point my mom suggested I do some stretching before the race and I burned a hole in her forehead with my eyes.
We went outside and cheered for Tom before I set out. There was a light drizzle in the morning, which turned out to be perfect. No humidity, cool, and usually when you’re running the second half of the race the sun is positioned exactly 6 inches from your eyes, bearing down on your very soul. This year, the sun was politely tucked behind the clouds.
When Tom ran by he shouted his pace and we had the following conversation:
Mom: What did he say?
Me: I was hoping he’d tell me how fast he was running, but I guess that’s the time he wants to eat dinner, because there’s no way a human could run THAT fast.
After cheering for Tom, I hopped on my bike and booked it to the starting line.
The whole city is in utter chaos on 10k race morning, so it took me a looong time to get to the start. (It’s chaos, but well-organized chaos. For such a large race, the organizers do an amazing job.) I started about 30 minutes later than I planned, but whatev. The wave I landed in happened to be behind a wave with a bunch of parents pushing their children with special needs in strollers. I spent the entire first mile with a lump in my throat cheering for them as I passed each group.
I spent the second mile running in the vicinity of a guy wearing a Kuba Kuba shirt. People: if you want the crowd to go crazy for you, wear the t-shirt of a local restaurant. The dude was a celebrity. And a genius.
When you start the race as late as I did you never really run in a straight line. You spend all your time dodging runners and walkers and planning where you’ll go next.
Because of all the crying and Kuba-Kuba-ing and weaving, I didn’t notice my first mile split. Or my second.
That’s when these girls jumped in with me. They’re two of our Track Club stars.
These girls were both born in Africa. A while ago I told them that the best runners in the world were born in Africa. They didn’t believe me until they saw the 10k leaders blaze by.
Watch out for these girls.
My parents were holding David at mile 3 and I got to kiss his chubby cheeks.
Let me just stop right there. Doesn’t it ALREADY sound like a party? That’s why I love the Monument Ave. 10k. It’s a 6.2-mile party.
Even if I didn’t talk about the second half of the race — the band playing “Fat Bottomed Girl” (my theme song in high school) at mile 4 or the girl holding up the sign that said “You Look Skinny!” at mile 5 or Tom jumping in to run with me at the very end — the first 3 miles had more fanfare than most ticker tape parades.
I was running faster than the pace I needed.
I felt amazing: relaxed, strong, fit.
Tom jumped in around mile 5.7 and ran with me for a minute or so. I told him how good I felt, how I felt like I could run all morning.
He replied, “Then what are you doing!? You have less than a half a mile to go! TAKE OFF!”
And I said, “Oh. Duh.”
So I did. I pushed it for maybe .2 miles, and crossed the finish line feeling like a million bucks.
The race was great. I probably could have gone faster, but I’m REALLY so thankful that I’m running and feeling good 7 months postpartum. After you have a baby it seems like you’ll never feel like yourself again. I’m still getting up in the middle of the night, and David is still nursing — so I still don’t feel like my “normal” self, but Saturday felt so good, it reminded me AGAIN that I have a new “normal” self.
The race was a reminder of what I love about running: the challenge, the community, the celebration. I also enjoy post-race bagels.
Tom and I rode home together on our bikes, and then we feasted on some post-race Greek pizza with my parents while David sucked on foam letters.
When you find out you’re going to have a baby you have no idea what to expect, but you start wondering if you’ll ever feel like yourself again during pregnancy. Then when the baby’s born and your beautiful 8lb tyrant has turned you into a stumbling, mumbling zombie you realize that not only will you never FEEL the same again, but you’ve also lost the ability to put together coherent sentences.
This weekend made me realize I need to change my attitude. No longer will I be tentative about things like 10ks. Instead, my new attitude is: I had a BABY, I can do ANYTHING.