One about running

It's time to get all philosophical about life now. Ready? Go!

Did you even know that Nate and I ran a half-marathon on Saturday (that's today, in case you were wondering)? Yup, 13.1 miles---which was our third half to date, but first post-baby. And let me tell you, this race has really brought a lot of deep thoughts along for the ride.

First, some background:
Our very first half marathon back in 2005 was a 2:10 time. Not horrible, but not great either. Then in the Spring of 2009 we boasted a 1:57 and were ecstatic with a sub-two hour time. Now with both of these halves we trained our tails off, strictly following training programs which called for hitting the pavement at least 3 days per week, if not 4. Ah, the luxury of running for hours at a time without a care in the world.

This post-baby race was something I wanted to do as a symbol; one that said 'Hey, look at what my body can still do after growing a baby, gaining 43 pounds, pushing said baby out of my pregnant body, recovering, and regaining some parts of my former self.' I also wanted this race to say, 'I'm still a runner, even if I'm a mom.' And subsequently, the race also asked the question, 'Is it possible to have a good race when you only run once or twice a week?'

I signed up for this race while I was still pregnant as a motivating factor for my large and in charge baby-making self. Nate wanted to run with me and it was going to bring me back to the good old days of training and exhilaration and mindless eating and a sense of pride. But I must admit that I had a mini-breakdown earlier this week when I came to a stark realization: I am not the person I was before Truman. I am not the runner who has time for 4 jogs a week. I don't get the sleep I used to get. My body has more important things to do, like produce enough milk to sustain my son, while juggling other hats to wear like 'breadwinner', 'wife', 'caregiver'. My fun little running hobby just isn't a priority anymore. I have another human being to care for and thus, indulging myself in the---dare I say it?---selfish act of running doesn't always fit into my new life.

Which, as I realized all of these major changes in my life, I began to sort of mourn the loss of my old self. My old identity that included 'runner' at the top of the list. Training for this half marathon did not bring the old me back from the past, it just proved that the new me has a shift in priority.

And yes, my life is incredibly blessed, rich with love and family and friends, and I would not trade a second of it for a life without Truman. But change is still hard and figuring out where new priorities lie is not always easy.

So I had a mini-breakdown when I came to understand that this half marathon would not be like the others. I had to lower my standards and prepare myself for a time that was closer to 2:10 than a sub-two hour time although I wanted so badly to compete with my former self from 2009. And so Nate and I decided to just go out there, have fun, and not worry about time at all. Do you realize the magnitude of this feat for a Type-A pefectionist? I had to let go of my former running self who used to run a 9 minute mile and embrace my slower mommy-self. And I really was at peace with that thought.

When the alarm went off at 4:45 after we'd been up for about an hour with Truman at midnight, I was less than excited. But I sucked it up, knowing what tired feels like all too well, and went through the pre-race paces as before. Truman stayed home with Grandma but we kissed him goodbye and were off to Madison for the event. I had to pump in the car on the way up there, which is another fun part of being a lactating, running, mommy. It turned out to be uber-cold, at least by my standards, but at least it wasn't raining or snowing. And with 2000 other runners, many in costumes, we began our trek to 13.1 for the third time, but in a way for the first time all over again.

We ran at a comfortable, easy pace and chatted like the old days. How simple and fulfilling it is to bob down the roads with my husband as a team, re-connecting without passing our baby to each other. But of course, the topic of conversation DID turn to T-man more often than not because we are those proud parents who can't stop talking about their kid.

It wasn't until mile 9 that I finally glanced at my Garmin to check our pace. At mile 10 I looked again and noticed that we were right at 1:30---which of course meant that my unannounced, back burner goal of running a sub-two was actually achievable. We decided to bust it a little more than what was comfortable and that is when I started to feel tired. I wasn't even paying attention to the mile markers at this point so when I saw one approaching I prayed to God above that it would say '12' and not '11'. Sure enough, we only had 1.1 miles left and although every ounce of my being was telling me to slow down because of the pain we kept plugging along (and semi-snorting and grunting along the way).

We saw the finish line and broke into what felt like a sprint. As we crossed, our Garmin told us 1:59. Our official race results are 1:58:59 which is pretty much just one minute slower than our 2009 time. And yes, it's sub-two hours. To say that we surprised ourselves is a total understatement.

I'm not going to lie--we are already supremely sore and stiff. It's not exactly easy to bend down and pick up my 20+ pound son 'cause mommy has burning quads. But you know what? My confidence has been restored in a way I never expected. I know it's superficial and a little conceited to be so happy with a good race time but I think I really needed that.

My body may not be the exact weight it was when I got pregnant (but I'll never know since I swore off scales a few months ago. My old clothes fit just fine so I'm vowing to let go of the scale numbers). My boobs might be full of milk. My eyes might have giant bags under them permanently from soothing an 8 month old at all hours of the night. But I can still run like I used to on race day, even when my training is severely lacking.

And coming home to the cutest little pumpkin head in the world after a long race, seeing his face light up with recognition of his mommy and daddy, makes all the change worth it. Life may not be what it was before Truman but it's better than I could have predicted. That Julia who used to run all the time had no idea what was coming, or how amazing life would be as a mom. I find more happiness than words could describe, just by being Truman's mom and no matter how many miles I clock on the pavement it will never trump my job as a mommy.

Yes, evolution is a good thing. Discovering what really matters in life is just one of the perks of entering into this crazy ride called parenthood.

End of philosophical rant.

Begin a little photo dump:

Before--freezing, still dark outside, but ready to rumble.

And we're off:

All smiles while still trying to warm up



Pretty sure this is about mile 12 here---game time!

And ta-da! Mommy and Daddy get medals. The End.

And out of the costumes, there were some favorites:
This might be something related to Jersey Shore?

This guy cracks me up

And the Super Mario Brothers!

Fun times had by all. Off to stretch again...


  1. Just to give you some perspective, I've run a marathon and four halfs and my half PR is 2:20. I will probably never beat that. So don't be so hard on yourself. Good job.

  2. Congratulations! It really is a big deal to find you can push yourself just as hard for personal goals while also caring for a baby. I ran my first marathon this month, working training around my toddler's care. The sense of accomplishment was even greater than it would have been pre baby, knowing I did this as a mom.

  3. congrats on the race! i find your blog very inspiring. it's nice to know that being a mom, a wife, juggling a full time job, and getting back into shape is possible. ps. i think truman wins the best halloween costume contest!

  4. Not conceited at all! You have every right to be super proud of yourself. That is an awesome time! I can't believe you achieved that, with so little training. Way to go, mama!

  5. Julia, that is AMAZING! You are an absolute rockstar--and can I just say, you're looking quite fabulous in these pictures! You don't need no stinkin' scale! ;-)

    My (overweight, out of shape) mom asked me to run a half with her next year. I said no at first, but I think I'm going to do it. I'll never be a hardcore runner, but heck, I can walk 13.1 miles if I have to and I know it will mean a lot to her. I'll be browsing your old posts for advice!

  6. Thanks for this post! You are an inspiration! It's good to know that it is possible to juggle all of "life" at once.

  7. Good job, mama!!! I knew you could do it. And your time makes me happy we didn't run that with time wouldn't have come NEAR that!

    We saw a lot of those same costumes today. Funny!

  8. Congratulations! That's a great time! And thank you so much sharing your thoughts and reflections on being a mother, wife, PT, runner, etc.

  9. While I'm not a runner, I can definitely relate to trying to piece together the person I was before and who I can be now that I'm a mother - what is possible, and what I want. Definitely still trying to figure all that out...

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience - I love hearing about the good and bad!

  10. This post made me a little teary eyed - you should be so darn proud, and it's not conceited at all to feel that way!!!! Awesome job, I'm so impressed.

  11. Congrats to you and Nate! That is so wonderful that you two were able to run in such a good time!

  12. Awesome accomplishment! That time is amazing. You are both setting an awesome example for your son that fitness and time together as a couple does matter!

  13. way to go, i'm pumped for you! and this was a really interesting perspective to read. as someone who currently (well when I'm not injured, which I am now) lives and breathes running, it's good for me to read how things will change when I have a baby! As always, love and appreciate this blog so much!

  14. Congrats Julia! Looks like you had a fantastic race - way to go!!!


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