Tag Archives: body after baby

St. Augustine Half Marathon Recap

The St. Augustine Half Marathon, aka my second half ever, is complete. Woohoo…is what I wish I could be saying, but instead I am me and being Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

The good news is that it’s done. My feet covered 13.1 miles for the second time in my life, and I have the shiny medal to prove it. Which may have stayed on during lunch 100 miles away from the race site.

The tough-to-digest part is that this course was bananas, and I had no idea. It’s not like I had eight weeks to study the course map posted online or anything. Instead, I chose to show up and be all, “oh, there’s bridges?” And the course was all, “UM. FOUR OF THEM.”

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

The friend that I’d trained with and planned to run with ended up getting sick last week and decided race morning to not put herself in the hospital by attempting a half marathon feeling like death. I hated it for her, of course; I’m not a completely horrible person. She even came all the way to St. Augustine for two nights to not run. But, frankly, I hated it for me, too. Two weeks before my first half I begged and pleaded with Clayton to run it with me because I didn’t know if I could push through on my own. It was quite a stunner to plan for having a partner with me, and then realize that wouldn’t be the case an hour before the race. (Missed you, Kelly!)

High hopes on race eve that we'd be crossing the finish together.

High hopes on race eve that we’d be crossing the finish together.

I was way nervous in the morning and couldn’t finish my usual breakfast or coffee. Clayton, Addison and I left about 10 minutes later than we’d planned, but we were staying so close to the race that I didn’t think much about it. When he dropped me off and I realized the start line wasn’t where I thought (seriously, eight weeks of non-map studying), I started freaking out a little about missing the start. I jogged to the big mass of people, made a quick as lightning bathroom stop on the way, and just as I asked someone if this was the half marathon start, the gun went off.

And there I was, running. I had very little time–okay, zero time–to steady my head or stretch or get my bearings. The first five miles were lame city. We ran over the Bridge of Lions immediately, and then spent the rest of the time on a major highway passing strip malls and Sunday morning traffic. I really wanted to hold off on listening to music in case I needed a boost later, so it was just engines and feet out there. Luckily, there was a decently funny guy behind me that kept me entertained with sardonic commentary. We’re all idiots for doing this, let’s just embrace it.

My pace for those first five miles was exactly on target. I’d wanted to keep it somewhat conservative but not start too slow to the point where I couldn’t ever increase to my loftier goals. Turns out, that ol’ increase would never take place, so that became a moot point. It was a positive split parade after six miles. But at least for five miles I stuck to the plan.

Around mile 5 we hit the second bridge (the Bridge of Lions was the first), which was long and long. I felt pretty good going over it and saw my speedy friend coming back down the other bridge (numero tres, if you’re keeping count). She looked really strong and that was exciting. I saw Clayton twice around this point and his lanky torso hanging out of the car trying to snap pictures was too much cute to handle.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Once we descended bridge two, it was maybe 0.1 mile before we turned around and ran up the third bridge. And this was my coffin. I seemed to have lost all steam going up that beast. Trying desperately to be funny and encouraging, I made some comment to a girl that was walking. She passed me less than a half mile later, so I doubt I’ll be throwing out any more hilarious and obviously effective words of wisdom at any future races. I’ll probably invoice her for coaching fees.

I tried to remember my friend telling me that miles 3-8 were going to suck. Just get past that point, I thought. But mile 7 was it for me. It was the last time I felt any sustained strength. From that point on, I battled against quitting and walking my pissy butt back to the car. My initial strategy was to turn things up at mile 9. In real life, this was the point I vowed never to do a full marathon. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t stop at the mile 10 marker was because I knew how long it would take for me to walk back and there was no shortcut. I had no other motivation to keep running other than I’d finish slightly faster that way.

I had to walk a few seconds here and there but got so annoyed with myself I started back up pretty quickly. [Text to husband somewhere around this point: "Babe it's over". Dramatic much?]

There was actually a sad little pack of us who would run some and then stop to walk and then try to run again between miles 10 and 12. Clearly, this was not our day, and I felt bad for all of us. We never envisioned this would be our race. Womp womp.

I got a text from a friend when I was feeling especially womp-wompy that said “hope the run went well today!” After I got over the boiling rage of her thinking I’d be done when I still had two more miles, I realized there were a lot of people who knew about this race that were going to ask me about it. I could not imagine saying I gave up at mile 11, so I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. But I wasn’t happy about it.

We had to go back over the Bridge of Lions at the last mile. Four bridges would be an accurate summation. Luckily, that was the easiest of all of them and wasn’t too awful at that point. Life in general was looking rather dismal so a little incline wasn’t going to swing that vote too much. I was able to pick it up ever so mildly at the end when I saw my fast friend–2nd place in her age group and 9th woman overall, wha?!?!–and her fam. A little farther down towards the finish line I spotted Clayton and Addison’s huge grin, which was indescribable. But more than anything, I was glad that it was over. I was so hoping to finish feeling more than that.

finish3

I wasn’t impressed or anything after I finished, but having that six-mile mental battle so fresh in my mind, I was proud that I pounded it out. As the hours dragged on, and I looked over and over at my terrible splits, and the official times were posted, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

I don’t know if I had more in me during those hours, but I am bummed that this race was the culmination of a totally healthy, really strong, 12-week training cycle. I felt great after every long run and did speed work consistently every week. My long run paces were all better than what I ended up with at this race, and my long runs had always felt easy. That is so, so frustrating. I was hoping, planning and training to race this thing, and all I could do was finish.

But hey, I did finish.

Lunchtime bling.

Lunchtime bling.

Other positive notes: technically I did reach my very basic goal of beating the time from my first half marathon (by 6 minutes) and Miss Black Shirt was all about trying to pass me in the finish chute and did not, thank you very much. I didn’t even know anyone was near me until I looked through the pictures.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

Plus, mom bonus: I ran a half after baby birthing. When I remember that first two-mile run a few months after having Addison, it’s hard to believe I conquered (okay, tolerated) 13.1 miles. Those first few weeks were u-g-l-y.

Oh, speaking of ugly.

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

So what now? Well, I am going to sulk and eat cookies for another day or two. I’m going to join my sister in law for a pedicure and wine date. And then I am going to put my big girl tempo shorts on and get ready for

this.

The definition of insanity...

The definition of insanity…

I am certain I have a better race in me, and I am not wasting this training on that miserable half.

At least we know one person was glad I made the trip to St. Augustine. (Total accident, by the way.)

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

So, anyone feel like running a half in December???

The Body Issue

I’ve debated writing about this for awhile for fear of being judged shallow or having the “wrong” priorities. But here’s the deal: having a baby demolishes your body. I read a lot about how the body changes during pregnancy and what each alteration is doing for the baby. Surprisingly, my growing abdomen didn’t bother me at all during those 38+ weeks. Lots of people love a pregnant belly and my friends and family obviously embraced the changes.

picnic island nat

About 12 hours before my water broke

The Then

But then the baby came out. She weighed 8 pounds. Not 35. The day I went home from the hospital, I had packed the most unflattering, body-hugging nightgown/dress. I tried to hide myself heading down the elevator and getting into the car. When I got home, my well-intentioned brother who had no experience with pregnancy, childbirth or the aftermath looked at me and said, cautiously, “So, not trying to be mean, but now what happens to…all of this?” And waved his hand over my midsection, which still looked like I was stowing away a baby.

nat abn hospital

I shrugged it off at the time, knowing that the few days after delivery were not going to be my most attractive. My midsection was the least of my worries.

In the first two weeks, I got down about 20 pounds from my heaviest pregnancy weight. It was encouraging, and I figured it was a sign that my body was going to bounce back quickly. And then that little weight loss factory completely closed up shop. Stalled all production and  locked the doors and windows. Nada. Nothing. Nil. I didn’t lose one pound for about two months.

first walk nat clayton

About a week and a half after delivery

Now, no one means to make you feel bad, but once there is a baby to play with and talk about, the conversations directed to you are frequently body-related. I was often faced with well-meaning “you’re looking good”s and “have you lost weight?”s. The problem was that I hadn’t lost weight and didn’t feel like I looked remotely good. Those comments only reminded me of how unhappy I was with my figure.

About 3 weeks after I had Addison I started doing light weights for my upper body in a last ditch effort to slim an ounce or two from my arms before my brother’s wedding. It was a lost cause. However, the wedding proved to be a glaring indication that my perception of my body was so grossly unhealthy and skewed. When it came time for the bridesmaids to put on our dresses, I almost had a complete breakdown comparing what I [thought I] looked like to what the other girls looked like. Their boobs were proportional. I thought mine spilled out of my strapless dress. The other bridesmaids’ dresses cinched in at their waist. I saw myself in a light pink column of fabric with nary a waist in sight. Their arms had definition. I saw every imagined extra fold of skin on my arms.

That day, I did my very best to keep myself together and redirect my focus. Of all the things to think about that day, I knew my overanalyzed body image didn’t even deserve to make the list. So I blinked back tears and tried to avoid the room in our suite that was wall to wall mirrors. Unfortunately, I also tried to avoid the photographer.

Thankfully, throughout the day I began to feel a little more comfortable and not deathly afraid of a camera flash. When I saw the pictures from that amazing day, I was so very disappointed in myself. Not because I looked fat and ugly, but because I looked beautiful. And there wasn’t one minute during the celebration that I allowed myself to feel it. I was tormenting myself about my appearance, and because of that, there are a slew of pictures I wish I had but refused to take.

The Now

And here we are today, almost four and a half months since meeting my little peanut pie. I have lost a few more pounds…s  l   o   w   l   y. To be brutally honest, I still hate how I look in the mirror and in pictures. One of the hardest issues for me is not feeling like myself. For months, I have not recognized the curves and the softness that I see staring back at me. I don’t know who that person is, and I still have not learned to accept this new shape. Instead, I try to hide it or avoid it. Witnessing me getting dressed is a whole ball of fun for my husband as he dodges the dozens of articles of clothing tossed around the room before the final ensemble is settled on.

I feel like I have been at a crossroads recently where it’s time to shut up about my hang-ups. Even though I am convinced everyone—family, friends, Facebook friends, strangers, Facebook strangers, cashiers at Target—are judging my appearance, the reality is that no one cares. The only one scrutinizing every pound and cursing at the scale is me. It is easy to throw into conversations that “it’s so worth it, though” and smile affectionately at my kid. I know my lines in this play. The real work now is to actually claim that belief and force myself to grasp what that easy sentiment means.

I had a baby for crying out loud. My body, with the teeniest bit of assistance from the hubs, created a human being. The most perfect, adorable, hilarious, smart, chubby little girl. My extra pounds were what nourished her. My extra skin is what held her. My labored breathing allowed her to have strong, hearty lungs. My gigantic boobs are what sustain her and give her those kissable cheeks. While my crazy brain has perfected the art of compartmentalizing my adoration of her and my self-deprecation, I need to begin using the former to combat the latter.       

So I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. Not to lose 15 more pounds but to be proud of all the other accomplishments I can brag about from the past 13 and a half months, some of which are entirely due to this temple of mine. I grew a baby, I pushed that thing out and now I am raising her the best I know how. I know that I won’t ever be satisfied with this current body. I am focused on changing it. But I am also working so hard on not being focused on my body all of the time.

Apparently, it’s a struggle. I would not have written a novella about this if I had done one sit up and out popped the six pack or if I could simply be fat and happy. Neither have been the case. I know that I don’t have throngs of readers, but if you have any experience with this—lost the baby weight in the first two weeks, still haven’t lost the weight, don’t even care about the weight or anywhere in between, I’d love to hear your story! Although, if you fall into the first camp, I have a serious eye roll with your name on it.

And here’s a video that prevents me from feeling anything other than sheer joy and will probably make your life: Addie the Enforcer. I’m not lying when I say she really is so worth it.