2018 was the best year of running I’ve had to date. Not only was I running faster times than ever before, but I started loving running more than I ever have (which I believe was one of the secret weapons to my success).
My postpartum journey started out slow. I had my son in November of 2017 and didn’t get off the ground running until February. I took the first 5 weeks of postpartum completely off and focused on rest and rehabilitation. At 5 weeks, I set out on a run and new instantly that my body was not ready. So I decided to do a Beachbody program (80 Day Obsession) and stuck with that (and only that) for the next 50 days. The combination of strength training and a healthy diet was the answer to my recovery and what worked for me.
As I became stronger, running started to feel more comfortable.
I started out with a 2 mile run at 9:45/mi and felt like I was flying! I didn’t let the numbers get to me and I enjoyed it. Fresh air — strong legs — healthy body. That’s all that mattered.
Over time I was consistent and graceful with myself. I never put pressure on myself to hit certain paces or run certain mileage. My only goal was to have fun while also being purposeful in every run. Sometimes I ran for the exercise, sometimes for my own head space, sometimes to pray, and sometimes to get my butt in shape. This lead to me signing up for my first postpartum race.
My goal was to feel good and have fun. Let’s be honest though, we always have those numbers in the back of our heads, right? I set my goal pretty low, and told myself I’d love to run those 12.4 miles at a 7:45/mi…well, my body was ready for much more than that!
Here is a quick glance at my 2018 race results:
DAM to DAM 20k, Des Moines, IA. June 2nd, 2018.
20k | 1:30:03 | 7:15/mi. 10th woman overall.
I will never forget that feeling! I was so proud of myself for completing my first race postpartum. I felt STRONG and CONFIDENT. That race lit a fire in me that made me hungry for much more.
Next up: BIX 7, Davenport, IA. July 28th, 2018.
7 miles | 44:16 | 6:20/mi
During those 7 weeks between races, something clicked. My internal drive, my running accountability, my joy, my thankfulness…it was all coming together and my cup was overflowing. When life is good, I tend to treat my body well, and this lead to positive performances in my running. However, I wasn’t doing all this training alone. I had my Thorsday crew that I met with in the mornings, my City High XC high school squad, and most importantly, my co-coaches who gave me the workouts that left me bent over and pushing myself way beyond what I could have done on my own. All these little things became much greater than the sum of their parts and once again, I left this race on a runner’s high and was ready for more.
Quad Cities Half Marathon, Moline IL, September 23rd, 2018.
13.1 miles | 1:24:55 | 6:25/mi. 3rd woman overall.
My main goal at this race was to PR. My previous PR was from a half marathon I had done 3 years prior, in 1:31:XX. I knew I was fit enough to run sub 1:30, and in the back of my head (there’s that unspoken time goal again) I wanted to go sub 1:25.
So let me tell ya, the moment I turned the last corner of this race with 200 meters to go, I saw that clock ticking and went guns-a-blazin’ to catch that sub 1:25! And sure enough, I made it by 5 seconds! I left that race feeling like I expended all my energy but also knowing I could do so much more. So next thing you know, I’m looking up the next available half marathon in the area…Des Moines here I come.
IMT Des Moines Half Marathon, Des Moines, IA, October 21, 2018
13.1 miles | 1:21:57 | 6:14/mi. 4th woman overall.
Ya’lllllll this is that race you always remember. The one you look back on and think, “I had no idea my body was capable of that.” Less than a month from my Quad Cities PR, I decided to go for it. That’s one of the joys of half marathons, isn’t it? You don’t need to take 2 weeks to fully recover…give me 2-3 days and I’m ready to hit the ground hard. I got a couple quality sessions in between the two races and decided to see if I could maybe, just maybe PR again.
I started this race out faster than planned. My goal was to hit 6:20’s in the beginning but I was hitting 6:10-6:15’s. Instead of getting lost in the pit holes of my mind saying, “this is too fast,” or, “I need to slow down or I’ll never last.” I decided to say, “this feels right.” And, “I am capable of this.” It’s insane how much our brain, words, and simple decisions can change what our bodies are actually capable of.
Some miles later, I found myself crossing the finish line in a sub 1:22. Yeehaw! The last few races of my 2018 career were full of fun and no expectations. A fundraiser 5k and a couple trail races that only solidified my love for running and competing.
Run 4 Relief 5k, Iowa City, IA, November 4th, 2018.
3.1 miles | 18:12 | 5:50/mi. 1st female, 4th place overall.
I didn’t do specific workouts for this race. I just went based off of my fitness from the previous months and had the goal of FUN. Plus, it was my high school’s fundraiser 5k…the opportunity to enjoy 3.1 miles and smile the whole way.
Living History Farms Road O’ Cross, Des Moines, IA, November 17th, 2018
6.15 miles | 42:41 | 6:56/mi. 1st woman overall.
This race ROCKED me. My first ever trail race and it was exactly that. A muddy mess full of hills, creeks, climbs, jumps, and splashes. I road tripped with my Thorsday crew and although it was a cold, wet, and muddy day…it was nothing short of a blast! It allowed me to focus completely on effort and place, and nothing on pace. We concluded that day with lots of wins and top finishing awards for Thorsday T.C., along with hot cider and donuts.
Last, but certainly not least…VALHALLA.
Valhalla, Solon, IA, December 8th, 2018.
12.4 miles | 1:22:44 | 6:37/mi. 1st woman overall. Top 10 finisher. Course Record.
Soooo what is Valhalla? The most EPIC race of the year to be quite honest.
Thorsday is a running club in the local Iowa City/Coralville/North Liberty area. It is full of runners of all abilities and racing goals. Every Thursday, people meet up to run “The Thorsday Loop” which is the same, 12.4 mile loop that consists of road, gravel, dirt, a spillway (sometimes a hop and a skip, sometimes a swim) and beautiful steep trails. Once a year, the loop is put the test with a race followed up with awards, brunch, and a recap of the Thorsday year. I’ve been running with this group of dedicated athletes for almost a year, and to be quite honest, feel super lucky about it. The people of this group held me accountable, challenged my speed, and were the engine behind my consistency with running. Without Thorsday, I wouldn’t be the same runner I am today.