If someone had told me I would be faster after having a baby, there is no way I would have believed them. I’m still not really sure how it happened, but I feel very blessed for running so well since having Cullen. There has been a lot of hard work, endless miles during the winter months, and many treadmill workouts, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be more fit after having a baby. I’ve had many other moms tell me that they, too, are faster after having a baby. (But I wouldn’t recommend testing this theory unless you really want a baby as well.)
This was the second time I’ve run the Alaska Heart Run. I ran it last year at 6 months postpartum and finished with a time of 19:31, 11 seconds slower than my PR of 19:20. I was surprised I was able to run that well 6 months postpartum, still breastfeeding, and a baby who was waking up no less than three times every night. At that time I wasn’t working with my coach, Nichole, but shortly after the race she reached out to me and said she had an opening on her team. I hemmed and hawed about it, but Craig encouraged me to hire her on. I still wasn’t sure. I said, “But I almost PRed.” (So obviously I was doing something right.) And Craig replied, “But you didn’t.” Okay, true. So for the past year, Nichole has been busting my butt, and I walked away with a 50 second PR in the 5K on Saturday.
I had a really great race and was very happy with my performance. Of course I went out a little on the quick side for the first 400 meters but quickly settled into a 5K-appropriate pace. I was targeting 5:50 – 5:53 per mile, but there was a short uphill stretch right before mile 1, which put me at a 5:59 for the first mile. During mile 2 we looped through a parking lot on the APU (Alaska Pacific University) campus before heading back down the hill. I really tried to gain some ground on that downhill and show the boys how it’s done.
We then turned into a really quiet part of the course (No people cheering. . .only some bag pipers playing, which isn’t necessarily the most motivating type of music when you’re running. No offense to those playing.). I knew this no-man land’s area was where I was really going to have to push because if I lost focus my pace was going to drop. When I hit mile 2, I told myself there was only a mile left, which is nothing when you’re used to running halfs and full marathons, but in a 5K it’s still a ways to hurt. Mile 2 was 5:59 again, but it should have been a little faster with the downhill.
As soon as we got back to the main road with more people cheering, I knew I was going to have to push it in because now we were at 2.5 miles. However, this is when my legs started to get a little heavy. I did my best to focus on the two girls ahead of me, and thought I might be able to catch one of them if I kept pushing. We rounded one of the last corners, which is where I saw Craig, Cullen and my in-laws, and my watch clicked over to mile 3, which was 6:01, so my splits were very consistent. Now I knew I really had to give it my all because once I turned the corner into the Alaska Airlines Center, the finish line was pretty much right there. As I got closer to the finish line, I saw 18:2x on the clock, which was a little disappointing because I was hoping to see something more like 18:1x, but I push through the finish line and immediately bent over, hands on my knees, huffing and puffing to catch my breath.
Truthfully I was hoping to run a little quicker, but at the same time I am beyond grateful for how it went! I can’t say it enough that I feel so blessed to be running this well after having a baby. I am excited for what lies ahead, but there is still work to be done. Now onto running 95 miles this week! (Yes, I’m crazy.)