Getting to Heartland

This past weekend’s win at Heartland is finally starting to sink in.

I’d set this as my goal race for 2019 essentially before I’d even had Walter. I knew that it may or may not happen depending on how postpartum recovery went, but I needed a goal that would make me feel more like myself.

Things were pretty different after Walter than after Jules. Before having Jules, the furthest I’d ever run was a 50k. I had a very different expectation for what postpartum training would look like the first time around. Not only was training different with Walter, but surprise surprise, they’re totally different tiny humans. Walter is way less interested in sleeping through the night and way more interested in breastfeeding. Postpartum recovery was totally different as well. Though, like with Jules, I was cleared to run at four weeks postpartum. I did a lot of running for time rather than mileage. I stayed as held back and easy paced as I could on my runs. I did a lot of two a days to start. It allowed me to get my mileage higher without as much steady impact on my body.

I spent a lot of time listening to my body, and easing back when things were hurt, but there were a few things that just wouldn’t go away. I was having some low back, hip, and pelvic floor pain that just kept popping up. It started taking longer and longer to pop up, eventually it just got to where I couldn’t break the thirty mile mark without pain showing up, particularly in my right hip. That was kind of putting a kink in the whole Heartland thing.

Fortunately I have an incredible Dr. who I absolutely love. She knows me well. It would have been really easy to have had this brushed off, because honestly I probably was brushing it off myself a bit. I knew I wasn’t making anything worse and she’d been okay with me running through all of it before because of how it was presenting. Around the six month postpartum mark she basically insisted that I go see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. She is really good about reminding me that “your normal is not everyone else’s normal”. I went to see someone at Foundational Concepts and cannot say enough good things about them. I could get into all of the specifics, but basically they identified what was causing pain and set me up to fix it. Having both a Dr and a PT who don’t bat an eye at the mileage I race, and talk about training with me seriously while asking how the kids are is a dream. I am so incredibly grateful for that. It really helped inform my training. My cut weeks became much bigger cut backs because my body really needed it. I had to build and cut differently than I’d done in the past. I had to add more yoga too.

The timing of this though meant that up until this was worked out I was training for a race I was still only maybe 70% sure I was starting. As much as I wanted that distance back, I wasn’t going to hurt myself for it.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how I fit in training.

Answer: I just put things where they fit.

Nathan and I just communicate a lot, spend time sitting down in front of a calendar and finding space for things.

Sometimes that means that long runs go on a Tuesday starting at 9:30 am on a day where the heat index is well over 100°. Sometimes it means back to backs instead of longer miles because of the time we have, or late night runs. Nathan is so supportive I can’t even express.

Coleen also listens to me talk about running more than anyone should ever have to listen to any single topic. Helping look at my data and going over plans anytime I’d get worried (which is frequent).

Finally it became obvious that I was able to start, but my goals kept shifting. I’d originally had ambitious time goals, but the postpartum setbacks had made that something much more stressful. I’d finally decided to take time goals off the table and move forward. Taking that stress away was huge.

As we got closer to the race things started to click again though. Tapering can be really hard for me. Not just the I hate tapering thing, but I have kids and clients, and it can be really hard for me to actually truly get enough rest. I’m learning to allow myself longer tapers because I just really need them.

So there it was. I actually felt pretty good. I even felt calm. The weather had shifted in my favor. So a few days before when it was clear that I was actually tapering down and hopefully peaking appropriately I was actually getting really excited and hoping for a good day. I felt calm at the start and just so so grateful that I was able to do this again.

There’s not even a ton to say about the race. I just ran. I love love love running. I got to do that all day and into the night. I stayed as steady as I could. I ran as long as it felt comfortable and tried to hold back early and not worry about anything or where anyone was until mile 50. I made myself keep looking around in just utter awe of how incredibly beautiful that course is. I just kept being grateful.

The major point day of that made this happen to is my crew. I could go on and on. Coleen, Barbie, and Nathan had everything taken care of for me at aid stations so quickly that there’s no way I could have gotten in and out like that without them. They ran with me and kept me positive and made it fun. They watched the baby. Deb, my sister in law came in and watched Walter while Nathan paced. She made that easier on everyone than she can probably ever understand. They cheered for me and made me feel incredible. This was 100% a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Something I’m working really hard on is owning my successes. I’m trying really hard not to chalk this up to being a fluke or come up with reasons why I just had one good day. I won a hundred miler. I’m really really proud of that. What do we tell all of our clients? “It’s not luck, we train for this.” I got to do my favorite thing and feel incredible doing it. Not only that I got to do it with people I care about. MY HUSBAND PACED ME! It was so special. Time completely aside though, I got to run a hundred miler again. It made me feel so much more like myself. I love running. I love that distance. I love this sport. I’m excited to cut back a bit this winter and focus on strength training and yoga and allow Nathan more time for his running. I’m also excited though to train again next year and run that distance again. It’s my favorite.

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