by Kara Goucher | Mar 16, 2011 |
I’m on a plane to New York. Adam and Colt are here with me. Flying cross country is always a hassle, especially with an infant, but I am more excited about this trip than I’ve been about any trip I’ve made in a long time. My last couple of flights were to races where I knew I would not perform great, and I didn’t. But lately I’ve been feeling like my old self again, and I can’t wait to race like my old self for the first time in more than a year and a half!
It’s amazing how quickly things can change—for better or worse—in running. You can be on a terrific roll when suddenly your knee starts to hurt or you start to feel stale and the whole thing unravels. Or you can be grinding along, working hard and seeming to go nowhere, when suddenly something clicks, and after that you’re stronger every day. That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago. I was really frustrated after getting my butt kicked at the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego on February 5. But the very next week was when something clicked, and I’ve been feeling stronger ever since.
Until that breakthrough happened, I had serious doubts about my decision to run the Boston Marathon only six and a half months after giving birth. Some people thought that was a crazy thing to even attempt, and I was beginning to think they might be right. But now I’m starting to feel that I will be fitter than I thought was possible in the best case scenario before I started down this road. I’m not trying to count my chickens before they hatch, but it’s not hard for me to compare where I am now in my training to where I was at the same point in training for past marathons and see that I am going to be as well prepared for Boston as I was for any of my previous three marathons.
Recently, Alberto asked me to look over my old training logs from the New York City Marathon in 2008 and the Boston Marathon in 2009. I resisted it, because I was afraid that seeing how fast I ran in my key workouts would crush my confidence. But when I finally forced myself to do it, it had the opposite effect. Yes, I had some great individual workouts back then. But what struck me the most was how much more total work I’ve done this time around. And my workout times are starting to get pretty close to my best times from the past.
One of the many factors that’s motivating me to run well in Boston is my desire to prove that what I’m trying to do is possible. I want to show that a woman runner can stay fit throughout pregnancy and bounce back fast afterward while still putting her child first. Of course, many women have already done this, but I don’t think anyone has won the Boston Marathon six and a half months after giving birth!
I feel that I’ve done almost everything right in this process. I took the right approach to staying fit during my pregnancy, and exercised the right amount of caution to make Colt’s well-being my top priority. It was right for me to set an aggressive “comeback” goal and return to serious running as quickly as I reasonably could. Even in the early days, when I was so exhausted from breastfeeding and being up all night that I didn’t know how I was going to put one foot in front of the other, running kept me sane, and a sane mom is a better mom!
It’s nice to be rewarded when you do things right. I am looking forward to Sunday’s New York City Half Marathon and to the Boston Marathon on April 18 as my rewards for following my heart through my pregnancy and my return to running. I also hope that my running well in these races will reward the many people who have supported me along the way.