People run for all sorts of reasons. Beyond the health benefits and weight loss advantages, it’s not uncommon for mothers with young children to use running as a way to get a bit of “me time”. Running provides a break from the trials of parenting and offers a way to get that much needed stress relief and maintain mental well being. But there are so many things to consider when starting to run again after child birth. When is your body ready? What to do with the sweet bundle of joy while you run? How to balance it all?
Tulsa runner, Jessica Mace, gave birth to her youngest son earlier this year and has made it back to running after a few hiccups along the way. She is a half marathoner, a wife, a blogger, and streak-er. But more importantly, she was willing to answer a few questions about her experience of running while pregnant and getting back to racing after baby. Thanks, Jessica, for sharing your experiences with Run Oklahoma.
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your running history.
A. After I had my oldest kid 11 yrs ago, I couldn’t run a block without stopping to walk. Some gals at work were doing the Jingle Bell Run in 2006 and they convinced me to sign up. I ran it without training in just under 39 minutes and then couldn’t walk properly for a few days…but I was hooked! I ran my first half marathon in 2013 and have since done 6 halves, 4 15ks, and countless 5ks.
Q. You were a runner before pregnancy and continued to run during pregnancy. How did running change for you while pregnant?
A. Oh man, it was different! Before I got pregnant, I had just gotten to where I could comfortably run 8 min miles. I became pregnant in the summer and I was nervous that the heat would harm the baby, so I toned it waaaay back. I did 3 5ks, a 2 hr trail run, and the Quarter Marathon with no problems. But, after the Tulsa Run 15k, I started having a lot of contractions. They went away with some rest and water, but my doctor and I decided that it would be best if I stop running. I ugly cried the entire way home from the doctor that day! I continued walking and completed the Route 66 5k. Then I took it easy, just walking a mile or two a few times a week, until baby arrived in Feb.
Q. Now you have a sweet, new baby at home; it’s been a hot summer so far; and you even had a few health issues including a broken arm several weeks ago. What has been the hardest part of returning to running?
A. Motivation and stamina! I decided to start back with a C25k program, so as not to overdo it. Like you said, I fell and broke my arm the first time I ran postpartum, so that made getting out there even harder! It’s definitely hard to get out there when baby keeps me up at night, and it’s even harder when the heat index is 116°! Making plans to run with friends and siblings gets me out there when I feel like staying inside. We’ve been going out to run early and, thankfully, I have a treadmill when it’s too hot for baby. With the C25k app, I’m up to running 28 minutes without stopping. I’m not trying to increase my speed yet, I’m just trying to build up my stamina!
Q. What’s been your biggest motivation to begin running again?
A. Running is good for my mental health! Even when I’m pushing a 25lb stroller with a 15lb baby, it’s just so freeing to get out there and run. I think it’s so important to set a good example for your kids. I like my boys seeing that mom isn’t going to give up. I like it even more when they come with me! Also, fitting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, for sure. My husband would appreciate if I didn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe!
Q. If you had to give advice on running to other women who are pregnant or just had a baby, what would be the key things you would suggest they consider?
A. Listen to your doctor and your body. After the contractions at the Tulsa Run, I was still determined to run the Route 66 half, but I had contractions every time I ran, even when I would go very slow. So, I went to the race and watched my friends and family run instead of running it myself. Many women can run distances during pregnancy with no problems. It’s important to know your body and to listen when baby says to slow it down!
Q. Do you have any upcoming goal races?
A. I’ll be running the Firecracker 5k on July 4 with my family and the Bedlam 10k on July 30. I plan to run the Tulsa Triple (the Quarter Marathon, the Tulsa Run 15k, and the Route 66 half). Say hi if you see me!
Favorite way to run right now, with or without a baby stroller? Without! That thing is HEAVY!
Favorite Tulsa area race? The Tulsa Run and the Route 66. It’s always fun to cross the finish line with a crowd cheering you on!
Favorite after run treat? food or nap? Post race banana and then a shower!
The Runner Like You series is back! It’s been a while since the last spotlight (the struggle bus has been making frequent stops to my house lately). Is there any better way to bring the series back than with a person who has been on top of their running game lately? I think not.
Late in 2015, the Runner Like You series was created as a way to spotlight everyday Oklahomans who are doing amazing things like running in numerous races or simply remaining dedicated and showing up to daily workouts. The purpose of the Runner Like You series, as well as this blog, is always to encourage each level of fitness and running and to remove some of the intimidation out of the sport by showing that runners are every day people finding a way to fit running into their lives. This month’s Runner Like You, Clint Owens, is no different.
I first “met” Clint through his Instagram feed. The man is ALWAYS racing. Seriously, he is at pretty much every single race in Oklahoma City.
So if you see him at a race (and you likely will), say “hi”. Clint and I were often at some of the same races so I liked to read what he had to say about each race. Beyond the races though, I was inspired by his dedication to training captured in his Instagram feed. The interesting thing that really caught my eye was when Clint began wearing a Training Mask. If someone is willing to wear an odd looking mask in an effort to intensify training, that definitely deserves a spotlight and I desperately wanted to ask questions about the mask.
Without further ado, take a minute to learn more about Clint, a Runner Like You. Q: When did you start running?
A: I always loved to run ever since I was a kid. My favorite event in grade school was the 600 yard dash (Not sure if they even do that anymore, I am old!). From there, probably my college years I was the most consistent, running 6 miles per day during the week. I didn’t actually participate in my first race until the 2009 Redbud Classic and decided to run the OKCMM half marathon that same year.
Q: Do you remember the first moment you “felt like a runner”?
A: Probably the first time I felt like a runner was after joining the Landrunners. The marathon training plans along with participating in the series races really helped keep me accountable and improved my running tremendously. It is a great group of people. Very inspiring to get up early on a Saturday morning to attend a training run and there be 300+ other crazy people ready to go.
Q: Which is your favorite race distance and why?
A: I enjoy the half marathon the best. My legs and lungs usually don’t get to cooking until mile 6 or 7 and I am able to push a lower pace toward the end and finish strong, provided that I am running injury free.
Q: Do you have a dream race?
A: I have yet to do a true trail race. I would like to someday do a 50K destination trail run, preferably in the mountains of Colorado.
Q: You’ve started to train with a Training Mask. How is your performance benefiting from wearing the Training Mask?
A: The training mask is awesome. After battling plantar fasciitis for over a year, I changed my training up in order to reduce injury. This included reducing quantity of miles with more quality miles and increasing my cross-training. Using the mask has enabled me to shorten my workouts and strengthen my lungs at the same time. I am already running at pre-injury pace and getting faster each week.
Now time for the Lightening Round:
Galen Rupp or Meb? Meb
Recovery drink of choice? Water and 1st Phorm Phormula 1 and Ignition
Last month’s blog post that highlighted “Runner LIke You”, Becky Craig was a great success! There are many amazing folks here in Oklahoma that make running and fitness a priority. It’s extremely rewarding to know that others, like me, enjoy learning more about these dedicated runners. In addition, it’s an honor to highlight a few of those runners and share their stories and contributions to running communities around Oklahoma. I’m ecstatic to introduce you to a runner that makes marathons appear to be a party. Her enthusiasm and flare for the sport make you want to join her on long runs or, at the very least, cheer her along from her Instagram feed. Jen is an Arts education advocate, a member of Red Coyote Racing as well as Oiselle Volée. She is also a Nuunbassador and last but not least, Dopey certified (completing the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon within pacing requirements at runDisney). Jen was nice enough to answer a few questions about how she got started and what her most recent marathon meant to her.
1. Why did you first start running?
Basically because I couldn’t run! I used to be a band director and as a part of summer band the students ran to help build endurance to perform a 7+ minute marching show. I wouldn’t ever ask a student to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself, and my first couple years of teaching I struggled to keep up with ANY of the kids. So, during spring break in 2010, I started the couch-to-5k running program in hopes that I could somewhat keep up with the students during summer band. A friend said I should sign-up for a 5k since I was doing the training. I had no idea what a 5k was or that races were even a thing. I found one to run, and have been hooked ever since!
2. You just finished the NYC Marathon. To gain entry you completed fundraising for Team for Kids. Can you tell us about the timeline for fundraising and your experience for running for a charity?
I didn’t sign-up to be a charity runner until early March, so I had from March until October 1st to raise my commitment of $2,620. Registration to be a charity runner for 2016 is already open so participants could potentially have almost a year to raise the funds. I registered at the same time as another running buddy here in OKC with the commitment that we would help each other with training and fundraising. We were very fortunate to have so many people step in to help us fundraise! One of our running buddies typically brings a crockpot meal for after our Thursday social runs for everyone to enjoy. She hasn’t ever asked for compensation, but people have often tried to give her money since she essentially made their dinner! After we started fundraising, she set up a jar to collect donations towards our efforts!
We also have another friend that hosts do-it-yourself paint parties. She helped us host “Make your own medal hanger” parties to help us with our fundraising. People had a fun night with friends, made something for their race bling, ate a good dinner, and we were able to raise a lot of money thanks to the generosity of our friend only charging for the materials! (Special shout-out to PhotoVille for leading the parties, and Café Icon for donating 10% of food profits to our fundraisers!) I was lucky enough to reach my fundraising goal on my birthday in August thanks to the generosity of everyone that donated! My training took on a whole new meaning . . . people gave their money to an organization on my behalf, I had to get out there and train! (For those times I might have rather stay in bed!)
It’s hard for me to put my experience of running for a charity into words. For big races like the NYC Marathon, there are so many charities to chose from. I knew that Team for Kids was a huge charity with the New York Road Runners and that the “perks” were awesome, but I researched many organizations before committing because I wanted this to be truly meaningful to my heart. (Note: fundraising for ANY charity is incredible! I think to successfully fundraise that you need to find an organization that pulls at YOUR heartstrings. Potential donors want to know your heart is 100% in with the cause.)
Team for Kids spoke to me from the first moment I heard of the organization, and after researching other causes; I knew Team for Kids was the perfect place for me! Even though Team for Kids is based in NYC, money raised goes to school programs all around the country. TFK did host weekly runs in NYC for the locals (or if you were traveling in the area you could stop in!), and they were great about posting accountability posts and weekly emails for those of us that couldn’t join the fun in person.
Fast forward to race week . . . the NYC Marathon has a formal opening ceremony on the Friday before the race. It is basically a celebration and a parade of all nations represented. Team for Kids gets to start the parade since they are the biggest charity partner with the race. I was lucky to get a spot in the parade! I got to meet kids that directly benefitted from my fundraising efforts. WOW! (I also got to meet Meb who is a Team for Kids ambassador!) On Saturday morning, TFK hosted a breakfast for all fundraisers. Again, we got to meet more kids and we were able to visit with some of their parents also. By the end of the breakfast, my heart was completely full. I started training with a specific finishing time and was determined to do it, but after the full experience of fundraising, I honestly just felt completely lucky to get to run the NYC Marathon for Team for Kids!
The fundraising experience was so fulfilling that I know that’s my path for future races. If I ever get a qualifying time for certain major races, awesome. . . but I will be running them for charity!
3. You have run over a dozen marathons and about 20 half marathons. Each of these races takes a lot of time for training. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
Wow, this question has so many answers! Sometimes a hot cup of coffee or a cold popsicle waiting at home motivates me to just go get it done. Other times I just remember my goals and how bad a half marathon or marathon will hurt if I don’t properly train. I’m a terrible liar, so knowing my friends can ask me at any time how my training is going also provides motivation. I would be embarrassed if I was constantly lazy during a time of training! My husband is great at keeping me motivated. I have my conscience, but I also have his voice to remind me of my goals, and sometimes our schedules line up for him to run with me! In the spring I am a training coach for Red Coyote Running & Fitness, so I have built-in accountability! I need to always be on my A game to help those in the training program. The participants always inspire me and make running so much fun! (Even in the dark, cold, wind, snow, etc…) As I mentioned earlier, training for NYC took on a whole new meaning for me. All of my training miles had so much value, whether I felt like running or not. I was very focused on achieving my goal, and making Team for Kids proud to have me as one of their runners.
4. Because you have run in so many races, what are the top three “little things” you do to prevent injury?
Running more frequently while gradually building miles. (To prevent injury…wait, what?) Running 4-5 times a week has helped my body get used to running frequently, and it’s still possible to do so while gradually building miles. When I first started training for long-distance races I was lucky to get in three runs/week, and I wondered why I hurt so much after long runs. Now, I love running a 100+ mile month with my longest run only being 10 miles! Or 36 mile weeks with my longest run only being 14 miles.
Listen to my body! If something hurts, I try to not ignore it! It can usually be a simple stretching solution, or maybe I slept in a weird way one night. Or maybe it’s new shoe time. . . I mean, isn’t it always new shoe time?!
Sleep! It’s easy to remember that you have to get to bed early the night before a long run, but we can sometimes neglect sleep throughout the week. It’s obviously difficult for most adults to nap on a consistent basis, so getting to bed at a decent time is very important every night of the week for successful training.
5. What’s next, racewise?
My next big race weekend will be the RunDisney Star Wars Rebel Challenge (10k + Half Marathon) + 5k over three days! My husband and I are running these races together as a part of our celebration of our first wedding anniversary!
6. If you could deliver one message to fellow runners like you, what would it be?
Smile! (And sparkle!) My good friend Layla always reminds me before a big race to SMILE! Whether I am running a personal best or personal worst, I am always thankful for the experience. Smiling doesn’t exert extra energy, and makes everyone feel better. I try to take a selfie after every run to remind myself that I did it, and still smiled at the end no matter the quality of the run.
Sparkle! Whether that means literally, like with a sparkle skirt, or just find your own sparkle! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! I think one really unique aspect about running is that it attracts all types of people. There is no reason to fit in a mold in running, so why try? If you want to run races in tutus, do it! If you want to repeat the same races over and over, do it. Running is such a freeing experience, no sense in not being yourself!
Compression Socks: Yes or no?
Depends on the situation. I rarely wear them for races anymore, but frequently use them for recovery!
Running Solo or with a group?
NYC Marathon or runDisney?
There is no short answer on this one, ha!! Both are very special to me for different reasons, and I’m not sure I could chose!
Running can be intimidating, especially running long distance races like a marathon or half marathon. But it doesn’t take a super human to accomplish these fetes. Regular people like you and me prove time and again that persistence and dedication can take you pretty far in training and running a race. Becky Craig embodies all of this. She is a mother, works a full time job, creates delicious confectionary treats at Sugar Shenanigans, and still finds time to train and run in some pretty prestigious races like her most recent journey to St. Georges Marathon. Becky is a fellow Oiselle Voilee runners and has graciously agreed to be the first spotlight in the new Runner Like You series. Each month Run Oklahoma highlights runners like you and me that find time to dedicate to this sport that intrigues, mystifies, and at times eludes each of us.
Without further ado, I introduce a Runner Like You, Becky Craig.
RO: When did you start running?
BC: I had tried to run a few 5ks in my early 30s but it wasn’t until I turned 35 and decided to sign up to train for my first sprint tri that I actually started running regularly. Although it took probably a year before I had any kind of consistency.
RO: Do you remember the first moment you felt “like a runner”?
BC: Maybe when I got my first Garmin. It was a Christmas gift after I ran my first half in Tulsa at the Route 66 in 2010. I remember thinking, now I have this new watch, guess that means I have to start running.
RO: You just finished the St. George Marathon. That particular race was included in Runner’s World 10 Most Scenic Marathons and was voted in the Top 20 Marathons in the USA. Can you share about your experience running in this race?
BC: St. George was definitely beautiful, but in my opinion, the course is no joke. Sure they say it’s downhill, but there are some serious uphill spots and downhill isn’t always easy I had a great race for 17 miles, I felt good and like I was on track to run a good race. After that, sharp pain in my leg prevented me from running at all. It was a long 9 miles to the finish line.
RO: What’s next, racewise?
BC: Well, I have an MRI scheduled for Monday afternoon and I am currently limping around in a boot. I am hoping it’s not a tibial stress fracture, but I will have to wait until next week to find out what’s going on. I have plans to run the half at the Route 66, I have done it every year since 2010, but I will have to see what my doctor says.
RO: What’s the coolest place you’ve ever run?
BC: The coolest race I have ever done is the Ragnar Colorado. Probably the hardest running I have had to do, mostly on account of the whole lack of oxygen, but this was the most fun race I’ve ever done. Driving around in a van with five other runners in the middle of the night is seriously fun.
RO: If you could deliver one message to fellow runners like you, what would it be?
BC: Everyone has bad days, we just have to keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, because sometimes it will take a long time.
• Running with music: Yes or no?
Music only for races when I know I will be alone. Otherwise I prefer to run with friends and talk. Trust me, I can talk a lot during a six mile run.
• Kara or Shalane?
• NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon?
NYC! I prefer a race that I could actually run some day! Lol.