6 Months Postpartum, Backtracking on Race Updates

I have to be honest, running is going well, but daily life feels like I’m almost drowning, barely staying afloat with not enough hours in the day. Every day I ask myself, “what HAS to be done today?” and that’s what happens while the rest falls to the next day. So naturally, blogging about my racing takes a backseat to my actual racing and training. But here I am, house a complete disaster, but foam rolling while trying to write a blog post about all the running and racing I’ve been doing the first 6 months postpartum. Both boys are sleeping and my girl is in school so let’s see what I can accomplish.

My last post covered my 5 *week* postpartum 5k and I was extremely pleased with that 18:49 and 2nd place finish. If you follow me on Instagram, you know since then I’ve competed in a track race, a 10k as part of a triathlon relay, a 5k, a half marathon, and a 10k and all were races that left me pumped up for days.  I’ll do little recaps of all of these races in the coming weeks, I hope, starting with the track.

Track Meet: I haven’t raced on the track in at least 14 years… since my 2nd year in college! I can’t believe that much time has passed. Even in college, I was plagued with injuries so I really haven’t raced on the track much in life. I’m very much a beginner and have a lot to learn if I decide to compete on a bigger level on the track in the future. Thankfully, this postpartum track meet was very low key, put on by my running club, the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds. I signed up to run the full mile (not 1600), the 3k (because how often do you get to race a 3k?) and the 4×400 meter relay. I was 3 months postpartum at the time (knocking on the door of 4 months postpartum) and was curious to see how I would run for a few reasons.

  • First, we arrived back in Pittsburgh at 1am the day before the meet from a 5 week west coast family vacation and I knew I would be tired (this vacation was not all fun and games as we had a 6 year old, 2 year old, and 2-3 month old baby traveling from Pennsylvania to Washington through Oregon and California, back to Washington then Pennsylvania by both car and plane. Some of this was for my husband’s work and part was just family fun. It was mostly great fun and manageable with a few rough spots of “Ahhhh… I’m alone in a new city with 3 kids, husband is gone all day+night and what on earth are we going to do?!” but it all worked out pretty well. (I’m comfortable breastfeeding in public and hanging out with all 3 kids in public without another adult. If that wasn’t the case, this trip could have been a nightmare!) :)
  • Next, We had been living in mostly 55 degree weather and were coming back to Pittsburgh’s heat and humidity. The track meet was scheduled to start at 6pm and temperature at start time was supposed to be 95+ degrees. Typically, I don’t do well in heat, and especially not for the first year postpartum.
  • As stated above, I was 3 months postpartum.
  • I haven’t raced a mile, 3k or 4×4 relay in a VERY long time!

I was (and still am) breastfeeding so I pumped milk until completely empty and packed that bottle right before we left for the meet. My husband and older two kids were also racing and the baby didn’t accept bottles from me at the time (he would take bottles just fine from others at that point, but that was something we had to work at as he didn’t love bottles initially). I put the bottle on ice even though my baby is particular about body temperature milk! It was too hot to leave the milk out for a few hours. I hoped he would accept the milk fine when the time came and he did. I ended up keeping it on ice until it was about 15 mins before I thought he’d want it then I let it sit in the heat of day in the stroller and he took it just fine. Whew!

I could have breastfed during the meet and I have breastfed at races, but with my husband and other kids running too I wanted to prep as much beforehand as possible. I wasn’t sure how much time would be between events and between the 4 members of my family racing different events, we ran almost every event of the track meet! I wanted to be around to cheer and take photos of the bigger kids so a bottle was a good choice for me that day. I also wanted to run my first race with as little milk inside me as possible and pumping right before leaving for the meet that was 2 miles away from my house was perfect.

The mile: I had seeded myself with a 5:10 mile and 11:00 3k a month earlier. I immediately regretted submitting those times. I felt like such an idiot expecting to run that fast postpartum, in the heat and felt so embarrassed that my time was listed there for everyone to see. At the same time, I actually thought there was a chance I could run sub 5:00. Does anyone else’s runner brain do that? I can feel 100% foolish about a race goal, yet feel 100% confident that I could do even better. Strange. Anyway, I started the mile in the back on the first lap and picked people off until the last lap with about 200 meters to go when I passed the last guy and won my heat in 5:13! I was elated to feel so good running fast and get close to my seeded time.

Racing the mile, last lap

Racing the mile, last lap

The 3k: Next was the 3k maybe an hour later, I really don’t remember how long I had between events. I was snacking on a Picky Bar and water between events. My kids ran the 100 and 200 in there somewhere and I was just listening for the announcer to call the events. I was slightly worried about what I would have left for the 3k while also being excited to get back out on the track and push through some pain. I felt ok in the 3k for the first 2 laps, then it was a struggle but I finished much under my time goal in 10:25 for about a 5th place finish in my heat, first female. After the race I asked my husband “did I look like I was…” and I was going to say “cruising” because I was in pain, but I felt like I had a good rhythm. He finished my sentence with “struggling”. Hahaha!!! He is the most supportive, yet realistic husband ever and I still laugh when I think of this interaction. Obviously I looked worse than I thought. :)

First time in starting blocks!

First time in starting blocks!

My husband ran the 5k immediately after my 3k so I think his warmup wasn’t perfect but what’s ever perfect when juggling 3 kids and racing, right?! He is very good about showing up last minute and performing and we proudly cheered him on as a family!

The 4×4: Finally, right after the 5k we did a family 4×400 meter relay and it was the most awesome thing ever! I was the first leg of our relay. I handed off the baton to my 6 year old daughter who handed off to our 2 year old son, who handed off to my husband! We were last place by so much but it was an amazing experience! My son even fell on the final straightaway and as he laid on the ground unsure of whether to cry or quit and run into the infield, everyone on the track and in the stands started clapping for him and he got up and finished. It was such a beautiful moment!

Family post relay!

Family post relay!

So, it was an exciting evening. I got home and fed the baby, ate dinner, and tried to go to sleep, though night races always leave me wired and my body was still on PST. The baby was sleeping like a champ at the time so I recovered well and kept up the training. My next race would be a 10k as part of a triathlon relay and I wanted to start to mentally prepare for hurting for a longer amount of time…

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