I've started this blog post several times in the past week, and think I've finally figured out the upshot of last weekend's DNF at Deception Pass. Not surprisingly, it's not so earth-shattering; in fact, it's what everyone told me all along: things change after you have a baby.
After my crazy 40-hour endurance event that was labor and giving birth, I was excited to get back into ultras with a new-found higher pain tolerance. I felt similarly after completing a 100 miler: I can do ANYTHING! I am SUPERWOMAN! But as I should have remembered from my first 50k (another DNF) after the 1oo, a 50k is still thirty miles and it's not just a mental game.
My training went quite well until I caught the dreaded cold going around in November. I was out for an entire week, then nearly out for another. By the time I felt back to my normal self, it was past the time that my workouts would really do me much good for the race. I decided I'd just go out for a long mosey, but my competitiveness got the best of me on race day. What felt like an ok pace to be going at the beginning clearly was not, and around the half-way point, I knew I was going to have a rough go for the second part. I kept thinking about advice given to Cascade Crest runners: that if you're feeling bad, just slow down, eat a lot, drink a lot, and enjoy the scenery. I did just that, and took it easy on the first seven mile loop that I would have to repeat.
During that loop, I started beating myself up for not being in the kind of shape that I wanted, and all of the sudden I remembered a card that a wise friend from the Methow gave me at my baby shower: surrender. I think she was talking more about the process of labor, but maybe she meant it for everything; for surrendering to motherhood. For the first time (maybe I was a bit late coming to that party), I felt like I surrendered to our little being that is more important than myself, and certainly more important than training for and running ultras. The fact that I'm not in race shape is just fine. Fiona will only be little for such a short period of time, so fitting my training in (or lack there of, as the case may be) around her is ok! After coming to that conclusion, I immediately wanted to hug my little one, but also thought how interesting the whole thing (being a mom, I guess) is and had a new perspective to contemplate for the next ten miles.
I came through the aid station at mile 22 not feeling great and almost dropped, but with the urging of a friend (thanks, Linda) ate a bunch of chips and got out of there. Looking at my watch, I knew I wouldn't get the time I was going for, but I also wasn't doing that bad, so I figured I could walk the next seven mile loop if necessary, knowing that I'd still love the downhills. As I made my way up the trail, I suddenly realized that I didn't have gloves, a warm hat, or jacket. While I told myself that I was going out for a training run, I packed like I used to pack for a race, pre-baby, when I would be going fast enough to keep warm. With only a light long sleeved shirt and no gloves, I very quickly became cold. Combine that with running into my friend and carpooling buddy needing to drop and my desire to be back home, my day was done.
A week later, and I'm still thinking about the whole thing. I've fought giving up my old life that allowed me to do whatever I wanted, and schedule my time as I saw fit; when work and play goals were at the top of my priority list. The times they are a changin', or rather, they changed. I knew that would happen, but didn't know how it would manifest in my life with a career that allows me full control of my time. As it turns out, for the past six months, I have chosen to spend my hours in awe of life. So my identity has changed, but I still refuse to let go of the other parts. Running is still a huge part of who I am, and I want Fiona to see that personal goals are important. The trick now, is to find a way to fit it all together, and find where those personal goals fit in on a new priority list: a challenge I am excited to figure out.