Finally Feeling Fast, 3 Races, A 5k PR

Whoa! Time is flying!

I’ve raced 3 times since my last update. The Deschutes Twilight 5k on 8/14/14 (17:14), Boy Scout Half Marathon on 8/30/14 (1:22:19 *workout*) and Steelers 5k on 9/1/14 (16:38). Despite my best efforts to post race recaps, some training updates and some general this-is-how-I’m-feeling-postpartum running, I just choose sleep over everything else. So let’s start with that:


Wells is 11 months old and covering the whole couch!

Wells is 11 months old and covering the whole couch!


My baby just turned 11 months old! He was an expert sleeper from almost the very beginning, sleeping through the night very early. Then he started getting teeth and little colds here and there and I have been up with him at least 2 times a night almost every night for the past few months. Some nights, we are up much more! I try to take a 15-20 min nap each day while he is napping and while my 4 year old is doing something quietly but it doesn’t always happen. Long story short, sleep is still something I need to work on, but I don’t have a lot of control over that right now.

Postpartum feelings towards training:

Right around 10.5 months postpartum, approximately 3 weeks ago, my training started to feel right again. I started feeling like running was less of a struggle and more of *my thing*. I wouldn’t say running and workouts are easy – I’m training hard! I just think it’s all starting to feel right and I’m feeling like myself again. Coming back from both pregnancies, I had time where I was struggling to feel fast and then one day it clicked. That clicking point was right around 10-11 months postpartum both times for me. It might be different for you but if you have the desire, keep trying! (And let me just add here that if you don’t feel great after having the baby, just use the time to enjoy your baby and stop stressing about being fast again! The speed will come, and running will be there waiting when you are ready, but you really never will get that teeny tiny snuggle bug time back from your babe. Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t loving postpartum running. It’s ok to be patient and enjoy the early months/years of motherhood.)

Wells at 10 months. He's walking and my life just got more interesting...

Wells at 10 months. He’s walking and my life just got more interesting…


Do you even care about my workouts? I don’t know. I go back and forth about posting times, distances, splits because I hate the comparison game. What works for me might be the wrong path for you. But, for those who want to know, I’ll tell you about some of my workouts lately.

I’m ultimately training for a late fall marathon, but a few weeks before the Deschutes 5k, I wanted to whip my legs into some speedy shape. I had been running 60-65 miles a week with one workout and 2 days of a few 20 second strides. Two weeks before Deschutes 5k (my first 5k since baby #2!) I did 6×400 meters at the track. It started with a 2 mile warmup, then I ran 71, 71, 72, 71, 72, 72. I had a 2 minute walk break between each rep. The workout was a big shock to my system. My breathing was like wheezing. My legs were like jello. My body hadn’t run anything like that in about 2 years! But I was pretty happy with the paces. Ok, I wanted to dip below 70, but it wasn’t happening. I finished with 2 miles cooldown with the double jogging stroller and that was my workout that week.

One week before Deschutes 5k, I ran 5x1k with 2 minutes walk rest on the track. I was supposed to hit an overall pace faster than my 5k PR (16:40). I was terrified of this workout. I didn’t feel like I was ready for it at all. I pumped myself up by talking (to myself) about the paces every day. “You just have to hit 80 second laps. You ran 71s and 72s last week. This will feel much more comfortable”. Then the little devil on my shoulder told me “but last week it was only one lap. This week it will be 2.5 laps!” I kept squashing that negative voice with positive ones. Sure enough, on workout day, I hit my paces just as planned and had an overall 5k time of 16:36. My legs remembered they are fast and I felt ready for a 5k.

Deschutes Twilight 5k:

Pre-Race shot of #birdcamp racers! Photo credit to Thomas and Velo Photography!

Pre-Race shot of #birdcamp racers! Photo credit to Thomas and Velo Photography!

I ran this race, my first 5k since baby #2, when Wells was 10 months old 8/14/14. I finished in a time of 17:14 and was ecstatic to feel good and strong. I decided the race was going to be painful and I needed to accept it and I think that powered me through to the time I wanted. I would have been excited about anything under 17:30, so I was very pleased with this time. Since it was an evening race (7pm) I ran 3-4 miles that morning, then a 3 mile warmup, then the race, then another 3 miles for cooldown. I shared all of those runs with Heidi, aka “The Goddess”, which made them even more enjoyable!

Close to the finish. Another Thomas and Velo Photography gem.

Close to the finish. Another Thomas and Velo Photography gem.

Boy Scout Half Marathon:

I ran the Boy Scout Half Marathon about 2 weeks later on 8/30/14 and was 1st female in 1:22:19. This was the slowest half I’ve run since I started training for half marathons. (I ran a few slower when I signed up on a whim while running 4 miles a day in my 20s.) I originally planned to race this half all-out, aiming for a PR. Then I decided to also race the Steelers 5k 2 days later and decided to make a race-day decision on how fast I would run the half.

The night before the Boy Scout Half, I was up all night. Ok, that’s not true. I slept one hour, from 4am-5am. My little guy, in true night-before-a-race fashion, got a bad cold and couldn’t breathe out of his nose. He couldn’t get comfy and couldn’t fall asleep so I rocked him, snuggled him, played with him, breastfed him, over and over again and he just cried and cried. He fell asleep a few times and as soon as I put him down, he woke up wailing. At 4am, I saw my mom in the kitchen and she saw me and Wells awake and told me “Go to bed! Why didn’t you wake me up!?!?!” So, I went to bed and slept until my alarm at 5.

I didn’t feel too bad after getting that hour of sleep. I think I was riding some sort of SuperMom rush mixed with so-tired-I’m-not-tired energy. We arrived at the race and I realized it was going to be hot, very humid, and windy! I did a warmup with my brother Josh, ran into my friend from high school (Breezy), saw another running friend (Emily) then it was time to race. I had decided the plan was to just run fast enough to win. I knew the lack of sleep was going to get to me (especially since I didn’t get more than 6 hours of sleep in the few days leading up to the worst night). When I realized no women were lining up in the first 10 rows or so, I had a feeling I’d be racing alone. I was right.

I needed a bathroom break before the start, but didn’t feel like waiting in line and figured I’d probably be doing more of a workout than race pace so I skipped that last restroom break. This was a poor choice as I was forced to run fartlek style (ha) from mile 8 on. The first 8 miles were uneventful. Me running, sometimes catching up to guys and saying a few words, no one wanting to chat back, then loneliness. I was really hot and the wind was against us on those country roads which was good because it had a cooling effect, but bad because we were running against the wind! The last 5 miles had me picking up the pace when my stomach could handle it, then slowing way down trying to calm the #poopprobz. I kept eyeing porta potties but didn’t want to stop because I wanted to just finish, get the course record of 1:21:53, and be done. By the last 2 miles, I was looking anywhere to stop. I knew there was going to be super slow walking, stopping, or a big problem. By this time we were in town and people were everywhere so I couldn’t just duck in a cornfield. Long story short, I made it to the finish without an accident, but the last mile involved slowing to a strange tip-toe walk at certain points, missing the course record by about 30 seconds, and jogging slowly into the finish. Ugh, at least I had a smile on my face at the finish. Thanks to my awesome sister-in-law Megan for taking this photo!

A few meters before the finish line!

A few meters before the finish line!

I have to say the course support was awesome for this tiny race in Bowling Green, Ohio. Boy Scouts were all over the course handing out water, Gatorade, and Gu! They were so cute and I took something to drink/eat at every location. I would definitely run this race again (I’ll just make sure to use the restroom next time!) I walked away without the course record, but with a good workout under my belt and $500 richer. I ended the day with 17 miles.

After the race, I went to my parents’ house and took a 15 minute nap, then took the kids to meet my sister and her family for their county fair. The cousins rode rides and I tried to survive my exhaustion. This was a poor move on my part since I really needed sleep, but luckily, it turned out ok. I had promised my daughter we would go to the fair and I didn’t want to back out, even though I was exhausted. I filled my thermos with coffee and had a nice afternoon with my sister and kids. Then we made the 4.5 hour drive back to Pittsburgh (my parents and my sister’s kids drove their car to Pittsburgh and my sister rode with me and my kids to help keep me awake on the drive. They wanted to spend more time with us for the long Labor Day weekend and I was happy to have them). I passed out just after midnight, got 6.5 hours of sleep and somehow woke feeling rejuvenated.

Steelers 5k:

Post 5k PR race!

Post 5k PR race!

After the Boy Scout Half, I had a day of recovery before the Steelers 5k. I did 5.2 miles easy with 1 stride on the CMU track. I was running in a downpour, rain so heavy I couldn’t see and had periods of running in water up to my ankles, so there was no point in running any other strides or trying to go longer. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, laying low with my family and celebrating my mom’s birthday and Wells’ one year birthday a month early since part of my family was in town!


I woke up on Monday feeling pretty good, legs feeling light and happy. At that moment I was happy I took the half easy so I could hopefully race a 5k PR. I stepped outside and was a little bummed with another day of extreme humidity. I described it as “soupy” outside. Pretty gross. I raced in my newest Oiselle singlet and Flyte shorts. I almost pulled off the singlet at the last second because the humidity had it sticking to me, but decided 3 miles is too short to matter much. Before I knew it, the race started.

I took the first mile out harder than I wanted. I got excited, passed the girl in front of me, and kept my eye on Tim, who helped me push through the finish at the Pittsburgh Half this year. I passed Tim and tried to keep pushing the second mile, but it was slower. There was a hairpin turn during this mile and right after that turn, the girl who ended up winning passed me. She dropped me like I was standing still, and I was really slowing down! I caught up to my husband Jeff and he encouraged me to go up and get that girl, but I just couldn’t… or wouldn’t. I had a loser attitude and decided I was hurting badly enough and 2nd place was fine. I don’t like having that loser attitude and it always gives me race regret so hopefully I won’t get in that mindset next time!

I was lucky enough to have Steph out on the course cheering and my dad as well! They both lifted my spirits and helped the finish line feel closer! When I finally entered Heinz Field, I looked at the clock and saw 16:20s! OMG! I can PR! Speed up! Go get it! I sped up just a tad and got that PR, 16:38.09 to be exact! Woohoo! My hard work is finally paying off.

I ended up getting Steelers tickets, VIP tent buffet on race day, a football, a Steelers hat, a huge bouquet of flowers, and a medal.  Currie quickly claimed everything but the tickets. I hid those!

Top 5 women, photo cred:

Top 5 women, photo cred:

Currie with my winnings

Currie with my winnings

Jeff and me post-race!

Jeff and me post-race!

I did a cooldown with my new running group the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds before heading to Sandcastle Water Park with my family for their last operating day of the season.

Wow, thanks for reading all of this rambling and thank you so much for all of the cheers and encouragement!

My next race will most likely be The Great Race (10k) here in Pittsburgh on 9/28/14. (You know, where my water broke under the start line 2 days before last year’s race?!) Wells will be 1 year + 1 day old for this race and I’m excited to race a 10k and see what I can do!


20 thoughts on “Finally Feeling Fast, 3 Races, A 5k PR

  1. It was so good to see you!! I also got very little sleep that night, but my lack of sleep wasn’t due to a baby but rather nerves. Haha! But unlike you I hit the port-o-pot around the 3.5 mark. I couldn’t go any further! Lol! While you might not think your time of 1:22:19 was great I do think that is great! Congrats on all the fantastic runs and maybe I’ll run into again! Hugs!

    • Congrats to you Breezy! I didn’t realize it was your first half until I talked to your dad! So awesome!!! When’s your next one? :)

  2. Love this post! Love the encouragement about not being worried about feeling fast right after baby – good stuff! And holy cow, you look so freaking fit in the half marathon pic! Damn girl! So stinking cool that you are PRing! You can do anything!! :)
    Our babies sound like sleep twins. Great for the first few months, Bliss… Then… Not. Lol!

    • Thanks Heather! Well, I’m not happy that you are losing sleep because of baby as well, but it’s refreshing to know someone else knows how I feel!

  3. Hey Jen great blog! Enjoy reading about your progress and it’s amazing how you’ve progressed since having your second child! Can’t wait to see how you rock the Great Race course. That’s my PR 10k back in my hey day. :) keep it up and keep setting goals. Happy training!


  4. Holy smokes, mama! You are just amazing! Congrats on all your hard work paying off. And Bowling Green, OH is my hometown–that’s the fairgrounds in the photo I think? Didn’t know they had a half–may have to check that out next year:)

    • Yes, Susan! That’s the fairgrounds! You should consider the half! Really well supported for such a small race. It’s boring… well you know the area so I don’t need to tell you that running through cornfields can get a little old. And it’s probably always hot and humid, but they have lots of water stops, gu stops, and even sprinklers out on the course! I want to do it again next year!

  5. I was so excited when I saw not only had you PR’ed but you also won some of the coolest race swag ever. I guess (LOLZ) makes up for not having the half you wanted two days before. I’ve always felt worse two days after a race…Nice work.

    I also enjoy hearing about your workouts because clearly they are working out (pun intended) for you.

  6. You are incredible! I love hearing about your workouts- I get ideas and inspiration from awesome runners such as yourself. I applaud you for your dedication and success with two kids and little to no sleep. Keep up the great work. I love your blog.

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