To say that I am proud of myself for finishing the Hood-to-Coast this year would be an understatement. Not only did I run the entire way (my husband didn't even manage that this year!) but I ran (a) 7/19/31, a leg combination of medium difficulty and length; (b) a pretty good average time around 9:30 miles; and (c) two minutes faster than predicted by the fancy-schmancy Excel spreadsheet thought I would! (I love outsmarting spreadsheets. I know, I'm a geek.) Seeing Jonathan during the race (I found him sleeping a little after dawn in Mist) was an unexpected thrill.
Best of all, of course, it was fun, and I'm pleased that our team of urbanMamas, Run Mama Run, bested our time of last year and finished 16th in our category. Running six-and-a-half weeks post-partum was certainly not easy (although I've decided it's far easier than the feat accomplished by another team member -- running eight weeks pregnant! Ouch!), and my advice to anyone else wishing to attempt such an, umm, interesting challenge is thus:
- Begin training as soon as humanly possible after birth. I started at exactly 18 days, and it would have been sooner if I hadn't injured my tailbone in birth. I was able to get in 40 or so miles in the next four weeks, and it worked for me.
- Run with other mamas. Thank goodness the women on my team were eager to change Monroe's diaper when my leg was fast approaching and cheerfully endured his occasional frantic cries. They even cooed and fussed over him and gave me the best bed when we slept. Mamas rock!
- Eat and drink more than you think. I often found myself flagging because my nerves prevented me from eating enough (last year, I was so nauseous before my second leg I could only eat one. boiled. potato). I bet it would have been a better race with a little more energy.
- When someone passes you, remind yourself, "I just gave birth six weeks ago! I rock!" I have a hard time getting passed a lot, and I got passed a lot Sigh. Roadkills will have to wait for next year.
- Run efficiently. If you're like me, you'll still weigh 25 pounds more than your optimum racing weight. This makes it really hard to run up hills. Yuck. However, if you manage to run efficiently -- leaning into the hills and using your arms as much as possible going up, and taking advantage of gravity (relax, let your arms and your hips swing free, breathe easy, just fall) down the hills, well, maybe you'll be like me and pass at least a few inefficient guys.
- Hold it in. The only way I could run comfortably was with a triple layer: snug undies, compression shorts, and running shorts over the top of that, plus a couple of snug layers on the top as well. Too much bouncing post-partum will make you very, very sad.
I'm pleased now that I can simply enjoy my training runs in the upcoming weeks; the Hood-to-Coast deadline means I've gotten my regular self back, more or less, and I can run happy. I'm looking very forward to the next race, for which I'm sure to have lost a dozen or more pounds. Boy hills will look easy after that!