State #17-California

Motherhood reminds me of those coastal mountains I found in Big Sur and the constantly curvy Highway 1. The mountains are jagged, they are challenging and the road is twisting and turning, and you often don’t see what’s coming next. The ride through them is exhilarating. The ride is exhausting. Sometimes you pull over to linger in the view and soak it up fully knowing you may never see this view again. Other times you just want the ride to stop, a break from the constant twists and attention needed and the mental focus. Funny how those same challenging mountains and winding highways also offer majestic views that take your breath away. Views that make you actually pinch yourself they are so beautiful. This destination seems like a great analogy to motherhood.

It’s also kind of like this destination how I wrote this post. Instead of trying to make it perfect, I finally just decided to put it out there as it is. Written over four years, choppy, to the point at times, rambling at others and me struggling to put into words what this trip was for me.

Over four years ago I ran the San Francisco Marathon. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write this considering the race was perhaps my favorite race ever and one of my best trips ever. Looking at photos the other day has been reminding me of the epic road trip I took down the coast of California on Highway 1 after the race, so I decided I needed to do my report now. Better late than never?! I also find myself missing racing and training quite a bit; I look forward to getting back to this after I get further into my postpartum days.

As I play my music playlist from the Summer of 2018, I am revisiting a trip that meant so much to me and the race that made me feel like a real runner again. Running the San Francisco Marathon in July of 2018 wasn’t just about a race and a road trip. It was my first post-babies marathon. My first time away from my kids for more than two nights. The summer of 2018 was the first season I was not pregnant and/or breastfeeding in four years. It was a big deal. Writing this race report while an eight week old snoozes on my lap has me revisiting all the emotions and sides to being a mom.

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L-Grandad’s Half Marathon-May 2016 (Pierce-12 months, Aria-16.5 weeks growing inside) R-Eau Claire Half Marathon-May 2018 (Pierce-3 and Aria-1.5 years)

In a lot of ways taking this trip to California was me fighting to fit in some semblance to my life before kids. It was about finding some time for me again. I’ve always known as a mom there really is no balance. There are ebbs and flows to responsibilities and needs for all. As moms it doesn’t take long to figure out that sometimes you have to fight for a section of that time to be for yourself and sometimes it just can’t happen. I have a supportive husband, but moms just do so much and the mental load we carry in parenthood is enormous. He knew I needed something like this though and encouraged me to go for it.

During my training cycle leading up to the San Francisco Marathon I had ups and downs like any training cycle. There were early morning runs in the dark, snowy and slippery runs and long runs in the heat and humidity. There were runs filled with mom guilt over leaving my kids behind. There were fast runs. There were runs filled with self-doubt that I could actually do this with a body that was not the same post-babies despite putting effort into those issues (hello significant diastasis and pelvic floor issues).

Spring training arrived and my confidence grew as I saw paces than I hadn’t seen in a long time. Even with that confidence I knew my emotional well being could not handle a demanding training schedule. I knew with it being my first marathon since kids (and in four years) and on the hilliest course I had ever ran, a time goal was definitely not going to be part of my plan. I planned to enjoy this race and exploring on my own time for myself.

And enjoy it I did. It was such a special trip for me. And we really should take the advice of our coffee cups. Maybe it is the universe speaking to us.

I flew into San Francisco on the Friday before the Sunday race. In true to me style, I had a jam packed schedule and immediately was on my way to my hotel. I took the BART to my hotel and then Ubered my way to pick up a bike I had rented for the rest of the day.

This little fox, officially known as Little Foxy, was along for the adventure. Each day I snapped a photo of Little Foxy and its adventures to my kids. That’s normal mom travel right?!

On my first day in California I biked through San Francisco en route to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was my first trip to San Francisco, so I was seeing it all for the first time. As the bridge appeared ahead my excitement built. As I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, I paused at several places to take it all in and appreciate the freedom of the wind whipping through my hair and the beauty of the Marin Headlands in the distance.

At the Marin Headlands I locked up my bike and headed out on foot to do some exploring. Hiking has always been a big part of any travel plans I make. Running and hiking let you see so much of a place. A location is more than just a restaurant or a shop.

I will forever have the smell of eucalyptus and cypress in my head as I descended into Kirby Cove. That cleansing and grounding smell. That warm sunshine on my face tilted towards the sky. That fresh sea breeze. The water below. My heart light and full. Not a worry on my mind. I felt free. So free and me.

Eventually I was reminded if I was going to make it back to San Francisco and not miss my ferry ride, I needed to get moving again. It was back to the path on foot and then the bike to ride the rest of the miles to Sausalito. Sausalito was a cute little town full of shops and homes built into the hills. It was here where I caught the ferry back to San Francisco and enjoyed a pale ale, sunshine on my face, smells of ferry exhaust and views of Alcatraz on the way “home.”

The next morning I took the BART to do a shake out run on the Embarcadaro, enjoyed one of the most delicious breakfast burritos I’ve ever eaten, grabbed coffee and went to the farmers market.

Post-run and fueling it was time to do some race nails (love Sarah Marie Design Studio) and head to the race expo. The race expo had some of the best features. I’m not a huge race expo person, but drinking kombucha shots and enjoying the displays was actually pretty fun.

After the race expo, I headed out on a long walk/hike on part of the San Francisco Bay Trail, then to the Battery to Bluffs trail and then the Presidio/California Coastal Trail that would take me to Marshall’s Beach, the Battery Crosby, Bakers Beach, China Beach and eventually to the Lands End Trail. I enjoyed approximately 6.5 miles of rocky cliffs, ocean wind, Golden Gate Bridge views, historic batteries, coastal plants and views that will never be forgotten. This San Francisco Bay Trail/bike path is currently 350 miles and will one day connect all of the San Francisco Bay communities totaling 500 miles in distance.

I finished my evening with a local brew, a delicious burger and warming up by the fire. I had a VERY early Lyft ride arriving at 4:20 a.m., so it was early to bed after laying my race gear out. I did not sleep well with my Lyft ride unconfirmed for the morning. Luckily, this would not be an issue in the morning.

Before my eyelids even shut, it felt like race morning was here. I was feeling ALL of the emotions. You name it, I probably felt it. I could not wait to start this race, but I missed my kids. I was excited to see the city, but I was nervous about the hills. How painful would this be? Would the pain start in the teens or not until after mile 20? All questions I would know the answer to soon.

Since over four years have passed, I don’t have my mile splits to share in this post, which is really more for me to reflect on anyway. I like having old posts to review what did and didn’t work for me and when things took a turn, if they did. I also love the reminder of the one of a kind experiences running races has given me. While I can’t race now, I had some serious nostalgia going through some old posts recently. We will race again.

Waiting in my corral in the dark for quite some time, the nervous anticipation building for a long time, I was so antsy to get started. I was super excited for this experience to begin. For a few moments I also reveled in the fact that doing this race initially was something I casually mentioned to my husband. I was actually at the starting line. About to make it happen.

The first miles were flat and filled with nervous anticipation.  I loved that the race started out nice and easy. During mile 1 we ran past Pier 7, the Ferry Building and Coit Tower.  Mile 2 had us running through Fisherman’s Wharf and past Pier 39 and Alcatraz.  Mile 3 took us past Ghiradelli Square, Fort Mason and somehow I also had to pee.  Not what I was hoping for in the first few miles, but necessary.  I also was NOT even close to being the only one.  So many people also had to pee. 

Chrissy Field

Mile 4 provided views of the San Francisco bridge and the excitement started to build. During mile 5 we ran past Chrissy Field knowing the bridge was getting closer and closer with each step I took on the graveled trail. We took a sharp turn and began our climb. The smell of sea was so refreshing. I was loving my time so far.

Mile 6 began the climb. It is easy to forget that to cross a larger bridge there is usually a climb involved. We followed a bike path trail as it curved and wound its way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. The view got better with each step we climbed. It was gorgeous. I’ve always felt like seeing things while running takes your appreciation and gratitude for the experience to a new level. I feel like you see things in an intensified way and it etches into your memory in a new way as well. We finally reached the bridge.

As we began our first crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge my excitement grew. You would think having biked across the day before would have ruined this experience, but it really didn’t. To feel the winds whipping and be able to take in the experience at a slightly slower pace was so rewarding. I had thought about this moment many times during my training runs. I’d made it. I was doing this. When you haven’t ran a full marathon in five years you appreciate all of the parts of the experience of getting to the starting line. You also know it is never a given.

Mile 7 was on the Golden Gate Bridge.  I took in the red-orange color (technically called orange vermillion) and its structure and its features (it is 1.7 miles long).  I appreciated the sea breeze blowing on my face, even if it was whipping.  Race morning was a foggy morning and it made the experience even more surreal.  I was glad I biked the bridge in the sunshine Friday afternoon because it gave me two perspectives of being on the bridge.

We descended down the bridge and continued our descent down a fire road before climbing back up a steep climb during mile 8.  I had actually biked this on Friday and remember biking this steep section (ok…I walked my bike some).  I had a general idea of the course before the race and the major areas we would run through, but didn’t know each detail.  The best part of a climb or descent is the views.  We got a beautiful view of the city with the Marin Headlands looming large.  We enjoyed ocean views and the headlands as we looped back around to begin our bridge crossing back to San Francisco.

Mile 9 was all about crossing the bridge back to S.F. Mile 10 began our descent off the bridge. I felt great, but was also nervous that the excitement of the bridge was over. How would the next miles go? As I stepped off the bridge a little bit of apprehension crept in even though we were enjoying a downhill section and amazing views of the ocean. That smell of eucalyptus and cypress were back again. I’m obsessed with this smell now. Mile 11 continued on a downhill with amazing views of the water, Baker Beach and Marshall Beach. I enjoyed visiting both while exploring the day before.

From the day before. 🙂

It was around this time that I made a potty stop again. And this time I had to wait for several minutes in line. I share this detail not for TMI, but it was a question I used to wonder in my early marathon days. How many people use the bathroom during a marathon? To be honest, I rarely did before kids. Now I’m not sure I can run an entire race without a stop or two. It is something I need to continue to work on because it really adds on time. While I haven’t had a race goal time in my last five post-babies marathons (California-2018, Indiana-2019, South Dakota-2019, Texas-2020 (virtual) and Virginia-2020 (virtual) adding minutes to every race because of potty stops is not ideal. I need more practice with timing my water intake again and continued pelvic floor work.

Mile 12 took us through the Presidio area and began to lead us through some neighborhood miles. Mile 13 continued this way for the first half, and I do appreciate seeing different neighborhoods in different cities. The cultural influences make every city so unique. Both miles brought on the neighborhood hills like you visualize when you think of living in San Francisco and Full House.

It was during a part of these miles I ran alongside a running inspiration of mine, Dean Karnazes. I knew he was from the Bay area and often ran the San Francisco Marathon as training having read all of his books, but I never imagined to run alongside him for part of the race. His running of 50 marathons in 50 days and the book he wrote about it really got me into this whole idea in the first place. There was also the humbling reminder he was on a loop of the ultramarathon which runs more than one loop of the course. It still powered me through those iconic neighborhood hills.

The second part of mile 13 had us entering Golden Gate Park. I knew this park was big (bigger than Central Park), but I knew little about it. I had “saved” this section for surprise. I didn’t preview photos or look up the park. I knew this race would need me to have a trick to pull out of my bag. This was that trick.

This mile also was tiring and the start of a section of miles I don’t really remember much about. The miles 13ish-19 were all in Golden Gate Park. It was a beautiful park with unique trees, but to be honest it was a park. It was on the roads going through the park, and I just didn’t find it that inspiring or motivating. I mean it is hard to top running across the Golden Gate Bridge and views of the ocean, so it was kind of a let down. Between mile 19 and 20 we headed out of Golden Gate Park and back into neighborhood views for a few miles. There were people cheering and some excitement, but again with the excitement of the early sights gone it was a struggle for me.

Then the miles got so industrial and hard and about finishing the next mile. Boring, run-down buildings and almost no cheering spectators. The last mile redeemed itself when it met back up with the wharf area. We ran around the back of AT & T field (Giants were playing the Brewers that weekend 🙂 and then finally the finish line was in site. In this races defense the early miles through the wharf, across the bridge, along the bay and even the park make a few hard, boring miles SO worth it. I also find that most marathons I have run have some industrialish miles and often they are in the weird, hard miles of 20-24. It is a reminder of just how hard this goal can be, how much you push for it with every mile, and really every step you take is a choice not to stop.

I finished tired, but SO, so proud and with a heart full of I-just-finished-a-marathon-joy. I could have cared less that a few miles didn’t inspire me. The bridge and the experience was so amazing. Marathoning mama was back. Finish time- 4:20.

This race was also so much about the Highway 1 road trip I was leaving for later that day, so I’ve also included some highlights of those travels in this post. This goal of mine was never to see how fast I could run 50 marathons in 50 states, rather how could I complete this goal while also exploring and enjoying the area surrounding the race and explore new places.

This race just happened to have a week of fun exploring and road tripping that followed it and a weekend exploring San Francisco. It gave me time and space away from my family to feel like me again and appreciate what I have in a new, deeper way. I never regret these travel experiences and coming back with a full cup. Four years later, I still look back on this experience and am so glad I got myself to that start line and went for the experiences that followed. I still feel a cup filling feeling when I look through my photos years later.

The afternoon after the marathon I set out for San Diego via Highway 1 also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. 600+ plus miles of coastline and rugged California, dramatic coast views, rugged mountains, hiking forests and trails, camping on ocean bluffs, local brews and wine hikes in Malibu with cities along the way (Monterey, Big Sur, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, etc), and I was at peace. Content. Joyful. Take that trip.

Sarah

{Those 20 Milers…}

Yesterday I ran 20 miles. Then I celebrated.

It wasn’t the first time or the last time I will run 20 miles. I actually have no idea how many times I’ve run this specific distance. I do know we work so hard to achieve goals that forget to appreciate what we do to get there. We judge ourselves and dwell on our failures and missteps along the way to reaching our goals…and I’m over it. I’m currently as slow as I’ve ever been with my running paces, but I celebrated my accomplishment because it is just that.

20 miles has such significance for me. It’s so much more than just breaking out of the teens for mileage. It’s the distance that you look ahead at on the training plan. The long run you both dread and get excited for. It feels like a test of your training with its outcome a measure of how the big race day will go (it’s not always accurate, but it feels like it sets a tone). It’s the confidence builder we need before 26.2 and is often the starter of the taper. 20 miles is a barometer of the type of training I’m doing. One 20 miler is a just going to finish marathon. Two or more 20 milers and I probably have a time goal.

It’s the long run I failed to complete because of mother runner life in my last marathon training cycle before running the San Francisco Marathon last year. As a result, it’s the long run distance I haven’t run since before I had kids and got pregnant in 2014. It’s a mileage goal I haven’t checked off since having my kids… until yesterday that is. So yesterday I celebrated the one distance that has always meant so much to training for a marathon, and that I can finally cross off my training plan again.

I think we all need to celebrate more of our successes and those little victories we casually overlook or dismiss on the way to a bigger goal. These little successes set a tone and give us hope in our daily lives that we can achieve bigger things. They make you feel that pride that no one or no bad life event can take from us. We keep them as ours and use them on days when life throws its challenges at us.

So this 20 miler I’m celebrating a little longer, a little bigger and because I love champagne. I made a goal to do something every day that makes me happy. Running and champagne both do that for me.

What little victory should you be celebrating right NOW?!?!

Sarah

{Hard Days}

With a heavy heart and a discouraged soul, I logged a few miles less than my training plan called for this morning. I walked away from a daughter saying, “I don’t want Mommy to run in the basement” despite not being more than two meters from her at any point during the 14 hours the day before. While I pushed “go” on the treadmill a Gigantosaurus (who is really enormous 🦖) roared his displeasure with me taking a few miles to myself.

Truthfully it’s been a hard week. Perhaps the most frustrating part of my life currently is that despite my Type A tendencies and all my planning and organizing it’s accepting that I actually have little control of my own life. It’s something I fight and tell myself isn’t true, but weeks like this remind me that I am under the control of two tiny people.

Their early wake ups and the winter weather causing my husband to leave even earlier than usual in the morning are making working out in the A.M. impossible. I live a life where if it doesn’t happen in the tiny window of planned time, then it won’t happen because there is no later or move it to here or adjusting.

When the husband also surprised me on my midweek long run night with an unplanned late meeting and daycare calls work to pick up a sick child early, along with all the early, early wake ups (why do they have to wake up between 5:00 and 5:15???) and leave times, I’m not so gently reminded I have no control over these things.

I said I wouldn’t let these things weigh on me or get me down, but I did and I have been. It’s hard to want something, but literally feel like you can’t make it happen. Some days are so challenging, but I know I’m a better mom for making a bit of time for me. I know I have to let things go in this season of life, but some days are just hard. The important thing is I keep moving forward.

Unlike some, getting to the starting line of any marathon for me is filled with missed runs and training plans that didn’t go as planned. I do the best I can with the supports and resources I have. As I reflect and stretch myself to find some learning from this hard week, I acknowledge that perhaps the beauty in the hard days is appreciating the good days more.

The marathon journey isn’t in the 26.2 miles ran on race day. It’s the hours of training, obstacles and focus that come from committing to training and accomplishing that training as best as we can. My training is never as planned, perfect or easy. I’d hate for anyone to think it’s all easy for me. It’s not. Ever.

But it’s worth it.

So I keep going. I shake off a hard week. It doesn’t have to be perfect or as planned. I move forward knowing this because it IS worth it. With fresh eyes I see my kids as the amazing little people they are. Sometimes they just need their mom, and that won’t always be the way it is.

Sarah

{Giving Up My Stilettos…Sort of}

I’m giving up my stilettos. Seriously, I don’t wear them anymore.

About two years ago I first thought about the irony of my blog title and Instagram profile since wearing stilettos wasn’t and isn’t really something I do anymore except on rare occasions. This post has sat in my draft folder for six months waiting for me to finish it. For some reason, I’ve been hesitant to share my world lately.

Despite being adamant that becoming a mother wouldn’t make me give up the old me, that’s exactly what has happened. What is even more,  I don’t even miss it that much.  Okay…some days I do, but those are usually the “I don’t have to,” lots of whining and exhausted days. These kids just change you in so many ways. And, really, heels just hurt now.

Truth be told, I fall asleep most nights moments after I sit down (often around 9:00-9:30) or while pumping before bed.  I can’t handle late nights and wouldn’t want to imagine what the next day would be like after really getting crazy.  I don’t even really drink anymore.  I had less than 6 glasses of wine this past summer and have had no beer since my elimination diet began mid-June.  It has now been six months since I enjoyed a beer.  (I do miss that.) My one glass of wine a week works just fine for me now.

I can count on one hand the number of kid free moments the husband and I have had together in the last year plus, and it’s kind of okay with me for now.  After having my second baby I also learned, through much research, that all that heel wearing likely contributed to the abdominal separation that I am still battling. And battle it has been.

To think of how becoming a mommy has changed me is almost indescribable.  I’ve become much softer (literally and figuratively), think of myself less, consider what others might be going through more, and ask myself how every choice I make will impact my kids.  I find joy in much simpler things.  I feel like I need less and want less.  I make sacrifices every single day. I ride tire swings even though it makes me so nauseous just to see that big smile and hear that laugh.

I’m now a tea drinking, grain-free and sugar-limiting, La Croix drinking, bone broth making, collagen in my coffee, library card holding patron, hair pulled up most the time, baby wearing, head rubbing, one more story reading, momma hold me, kiss it all better mama.  To think kids wouldn’t change me entirely was crazy, yet you won’t see my blog name changing.

In a way the title still fits.  As a busy, and often overwhelmed, mom I still have things I want for myself even if they are different things or perhaps not actually “things” at all.  Although I really struggle when it comes to taking time for myself, it is a struggle I will always be battling.  How do I give my kids meaningful experiences, fill their cups full, teach them what they need to learn, run a household, work full time, breastfeed as long as baby girl is interested, and still have any time and/or energy for myself? How do I do that without taking away from the important things listed above and not feel guilty. When I figure it out I’ll let you know, but my guess is you might be waiting for a very, very long time.

Stilettos represented the social life I once had, and going out and having fun.  In a way, stilettos now represent the old me.  I am a Gemini.  While I don’t subscribe to astrology too much, I’ve always found myself to have two distinct personalities per say.  Part of me loves social time and getting out with friends and the husband.  Staying at home for more than one weekend a month used to send me into “I’m-going-to-go-crazy-if-I-don’t-get-out-of-here” soon mode.

On the flip side, I was also always craving my alone time. Just me and my sneaks on the pavement or the trail.  My mind going to a state that I never found anywhere but running.  Running made (and still does) me a calmer, happier and a better version of myself when doing all the other life things.  I was always trying to balance my social life with my running life.   Going out on Saturday night and having a long run Sunday…the two just don’t go together, but I was never completely happy settling for just one of those things, constantly going back and forth on my personality spectrum trying to make both work.

Now Sneaks and Stilettos represents a similar challenge in finding time to myself.  Those rare moments where I feel like my old self.  The pre-mom self who didn’t worry ALL the time about her kids about EVERYTHING.

Do they feel loved enough?  Will they like each other?  Like really like each other and be friends as siblings when they grow up? How can I help them form this kind of relationship?  Am I shaping them to be kind and generous people?  Are they learning what they should be learning? Should he be counting higher, naming colors, imagining more, playing with other kids his age more?  Are they going to have clothes to wear for that upcoming whatever?  Did I order more probiotic?  What will be our next food trial?  Is she reacting to my new vitamin? Should I be more concerned that she is not walking yet?  Are his ankles turning in when he walks?  Are they getting all the vitamins and nutrients they should?  Why is he so scared of bedtime?  How can I help him be less worried and scared of the dark? Are they happy?

How in the hell am I going to continue to survive the upcoming school year making everything from freakin’ scratch for my grain-free and sugar limited diet. How do I continue to accomplish my school goals and find time to pump at school?  Will this girl sleep through the night soon? How will I juggle all this and still be a niceish person?  How many moments will I miss while they are being taken care of by others?  Wait, did I change the diaper size on our next Amazon subscribe and save order?  Crap, I think that bill is due today.   My mind goes on and on.  So much noise.  So much worry.

Sneaks and Stilettos now represents the balance I try to find between being a mother and getting in time for myself.  It represents my effort to quiet some of that noise and worry in my mind.  I know after not having that balance for the past months that it is not good for me or for anyone when I don’t take care of myself.

Sneaks and Stilettos is about playing with my kids without distraction from my phone and giving them my full attention and later getting a solo drive to Starbucks and back for a little mommy recharge.  It’s about going out for a girls night and having a glass of wine after putting my kids to bed. Sneaks and Stilettos is about what brings me balance between mom life and still feeling like me the most-EXERCISE.

Exercise is a time to shut that worry off if only for minutes at a time.  It brings me a sense of carefreeness that is almost nonexistent once you become a mom.  You know, the before kids freeness.  I need to move my body to feel like myself.  I need to be outside and experience the simple joys of nature and sunshine to recharge. Exercise lets me forget that someone always needs something.  Someone is always sick or has some new thing just starting.  It takes me back to a time where there wasn’t always something that had to be done.  I maybe thought there was but, let’s be honest, there really wasn’t.

It’s a time where there are not meals to be planned, groceries to be bought, budgets to balance, new clothes to order, bike helmets to be replaced because someone left it on the trunk of the car and mom didn’t know and drove off and it fell into the road and got hit by a car (this just happened a couple months ago), and so on.

It’s just me and myself.  My shoes on the pavement.  My own breath.  The wind in my hair. Music I chose for myself (no Old McDonald).   Sneaks and Stilettos is now about letting me feel like myself again for small moments so I can be the best version of myself the rest of the time.  It’s about choosing me and doing what I need for myself a few minutes each day, so I can be more selfless and present for my family later.

Sneaks and Stilettos was always about finding balance within myself, and finding happiness between the have to dos and the want to dos. That hasn’t changed even though almost my entire life has.  Despite all the worry and life changing moments, I would not go back to my old life if I had the choice.  Those giggles, hugs, first moments, sticky hands, tender nursing sessions in the middle of the night, even my son’s endless “why?” comments these days are all worth it.

As I finally get back into running, training, exercise classes, blogging and finding an inevitable unbalanced version of balance in my life that brings contentment again, I feel like my blog title is even more symbolic of my life today.

While you won’t literally see me in my stilettos much in the future, you’ll still see me trying to fit in what stilettos now means to me in between chasing my two kids in my sneaks.

Sarah

{Grandad’s Half Marathon Race Report 2016}


I knew I really wanted to run a half a marathon before the pelvic pressure or discomforts of running became too much this pregnancy.  16 weeks pregnant seemed like a great time to complete a half marathon.  Not exhausted in the first trimester and not uncomfortable yet.  I also needed an excuse to wear the PRO Compression Jailbird socks I’ve been in love with forever and haven’t worn.


Since I’ve been through this once before (pregnancy), it seems I’m having significantly less ligament pain and pressure on my pelvis than my first pregnancy.  I’m so grateful for this and plan to take full advantage of this.

Admittedly, my preparation for this race was not what it should have been.  In fact I didn’t sign up until the night before since I had been sick with a nasty cold and pink eye for the past week and a half.  The first trimester was not full of activity for me as I felt so tired and sick and struggled with time management, too.  I hadn’t run a run over 6 miles in 6 weeks, but felt like my experience running 20 half marathons, 14 full marathons and one ultra marathon would help me through.

I had run a steady buildup of long runs until March running 13 miles at 7 weeks pregnant. I did what you should do for any pregnant run during my race-listened to my body.  I went much slower than my usual non-pregnant paces.  I drank lots of fluids.  I mapped out the restrooms before committing to the race.  Bathrooms every two miles was a deal sealer for me.  I could hydrate and relieve away!  I said I had to be ok with needed walk breaks. Amazingly I only walked about a mile total during the half marathon.

For me running this half marathon was something I needed to do for myself while also taking care of the baby inside me.  I knew going in it would likely be my last half marathon for the next year.  Having a baby in October in Wisconsin means you won’t see much for races until April or May.  That would also put me at six months postpartum, which is just a few weeks later than when I ran my first half after having Pierce.  Six months feels appropriate given you train or up mileage prior to the race and your need to heal and work that pelvic floor.

One of the hardest things about becoming a mom had been letting go of running.  I needed to do one more race before having another baby, but I also wanted it to set the tone for the rest of my pregnancy.  Last time winter and being trapped inside for workouts combined with so much pelvic discomfort meant much less activity than I had planned for during my pregnancy.

This time I have spring, summer and early fall weather to help keep me going.  I’m really hoping to have a very active pregnancy.  Last time I was active, but not as much as I’d hoped.   I feel the activity I did do helped me feel amazing post-delivery and helped me get back to activity much quicker.

Back to the race recap!

Miles 1 and 2 are run down Grandad’s Bluff.  I personally don’t like downhill running a ton, so this wasn’t my favorite, but the views were great!  These miles tick by fast!  I of course drank a bottle of water with a Strawberry Lemonade Nuun on the bus ride (the best), and we waited forever to get off the bus so I only peed once before the race.  We got off the bus at 8:00 which is when the race was supposed to start.  It actually started at 8:10.  As a result I made an early bathroom stop at mile 2, drank some water and was on my way.

Mile 3 I struggled to set into a rhythm.  Around mile 4 things clicked.  My body felt warm and the rolling hills were almost over.  Miles 5 and 6 I felt strong.  I had a GU and water at mile 4.  I could feel it giving me some extra energy.  During these miles you run on a paved bike path with lots of blooming trees nearby.

By mile 6 I had to pee again, but kind of forgot.  I don’t know how this happened but it did.  Mile 7 felt good, but by mile 8 I was thinking of a bathroom every step.  I stared ahead in hopes of seeing that beautiful blue port o potty!!  Otherwise I felt strong.  I had another GU and water and Gatorade at mile 8 where I found a place to potty.  I realized I was really sweating even though I felt great, so I decided here on out I would drink both water and Gatorade at every water stop.

Miles 7-9 are my least favorite as they take you around a residential area in La Crosse. Residential areas are not all that motivating to me, but it was very flat.

At the end of mile 8 my legs began to feel tired for the first time.  I walked for a half mile and then felt good again.  The rest of mile 9 and 10 felt pretty good.

Mile 10 gets a bit more scenic as you run on a bike trail again.  At Mile 11 I took a GU, drank some fluids and used the bathroom for what I hoped would be the final time.  I struggled with this mile, but felt ok.

Mile 12 and 13 I felt good for what I was doing, but I could feel hunger and fatigue coming.  I was glad to only have two miles to go.  At least these miles are scenic as you run along the river and downtown.

Pregnant running can take all the energy right out of your legs in a way that I’ve never really experienced when running otherwise.  Luckily it only happened a few times, I’d walk a bit and then feel good.

The quiet time to myself also gave me time to daydream about baby and life.  Are you a boy or a girl?  Just how crazy will life be with two kids 18 months and under?  How great will the joy be to give Pierce a sibling?  Will I still like my husband in a year?  More importantly, will he still like me?

As I crossed the finish line I was relieved to be done and wanted a snack stat!  I ate a banana and a small cookie from the tent and then we enjoyed some time at Riverside Park. Then we headed to Fayze’s for brunch and walked around downtown while we waited for our turn to eat.  I highly recommend Fayze’s for brunch, but be prepared to wait if something is going on downtown.

On our walk we stopped at Addie Cakes for some cupcakes to enjoy later in the day.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a half marathon finish!


Oh, and getting a caramel macchiato later at Starbucks really helped too.  Dressing like your favorite drink is optional.


If you were looking for more race photos of the course, then you’ll have to check out my Grandad’s Half Marathon post from 2013.  The course has not changed since I ran it three years ago. I felt I had enough juggling to do with my music, staying hydrated and fed and listening to my body, so I didn’t take any photos during this year’s race.

Overall I really enjoy this course and it does have many scenic parts.  I still debate whether it is a PR course or not.  Prior to the change in course I did run a former PR.  The downhill is hard on the quads unless you are prepared and might hurt you later in the race more than the time savings at mile 1 and 2.  Definitely check it out for yourself.    La Crosse is such a fun town with so much to do as a couple and/or a family.


Lastly, this running for two tank is amazing.  It is so soft and comfortable AND it doesn’t move, ride up or do anything annoying.  Runner tested by me for 13.1 miles!  I’ve also worn in on several other occasions with the same experience.  A tad pricey, but it comes in a bunch of other colors and styles (yoga, barre, sweating, etc. for two). Check out For Two Fitness to see what they offer!!  I ordered mine in my usual size and it has room to grow, too.  (Just my opinions here, not compensated I any way to write this.)

Family, good food, running and relaxing sounds like a perfect day to me!

Grandad’s Half Marathon
Time: 2:17:23
Pace: 10:30 overall (9:30 running)
Overall: 695/1078
Gender: 372/680
Age Group: 79/161