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Boston 2014 Follow-up

So…Boston. Are we still talking about this??

2014 boston registration news

Registration is open! My social media channels are saturated with pictures of entry confirmations or excited tweets about signing up. And up until basically the last minute (ie the day before), I was pretty convinced I’d be forking over $175 to add my name to the list. I had some hesitations about it, of course, and I carefully read and thought about each and every piece of criticism/advice about why running Boston 4 months postpartum may not be the smartest decision (honestly — the comments on the post are way more interesting than anything I ramble about. If you’re thinking about training for any race postpartum, I highly recommend reading through them!). But I still remained convinced.

Evan was supportive, as was my mom — a woman who had 4 children of her own and has been an athlete all her life. One of my biggest role models when it comes to working hard to achieve your dreams while also balancing a family told me that she thought it was great to have a goal for myself, and she was truly on board if I felt like I could handle it. Even my OB said that she was confident I could run Boston and that I’d have no problem finishing.

So then, if I was so passionate about wanting to run the race and convinced that I could physically and mentally handle it, why not sign up?

Because ultimately I realized I couldn’t just ask, “Can I do it?” and let that answer guide my decision. I had to follow that question up with an even more important one, “At what cost?”

Now, this question is a lot more complicated. And it got me really thinking about postpartum exercise: How soon? How much? And how important is it? I realized that a lot of the comments on my last post really pertained to that larger discussion. It’s not just about Boston. It’s about how we push our bodies as runners and how that changes once we go through labor/delivery. It’s about the goals and values we have for ourselves, our families…our lives outside of raising children. And I find it all really fascinating. Because it goes well beyond what we can (or should be able to) handle physically.

I don’t want to get into that whole discussion in this post. Partially because I’m not on that other side yet. As a pregnant woman who is still only dreaming about getting back into shape post-baby, my opinions come with a strong measure of naiveté. I can tell you what I hope/want to be able to do, but we all know that my life is going to change forever in a little over 3 months.

Framing it in terms of Boston, however, most of the concerns with postpartum exercise that I heard/read fell into 3 categories:

1.) Time away from the baby

2.) Toll that training takes on your body

3.) Logistics of the marathon

Taking time away from a newborn baby to train

To be perfectly honest with you, #1 was my lowest concern. Maybe that makes me sound like an awful mother…maybe that just convinces you that I’m even more naive about motherhood than I thought. Yes, I’m planning on working and yes, the baby will be in daycare during the day. So obviously I am going to want to see her as much as I can on the weekends, evenings, etc. But, I’m really not nervous about training taking away from that time. First, because our daycare is literally right down the hall from my office. I may not be with her all day, but I can stop in and see/feed her at least a couple of times during work, and she’ll never feel too far away. Second, I have a husband who is really really excited about this baby. When I asked him if it was selfish that I wanted to spend time away from the baby to train his response was: “What about MY time with the baby? What if I want time alone with her?” Yes, I know my relationship with Cheese Baby will be different from my husband’s. I know she’s going to be a lot more dependent on me than him in those first months of life. But I also really value his relationship with our future child, and I’m excited that he wants to take such an active role in her life.

And finally — I don’t want to get completely caught up in that post-baby haze. Okay, so maybe I do a little. I know the newborn stage goes by quickly and you never get those first few months back. So I’m sure that I’ll be 100% content to have my life revolve completely around her at the start . But it’s going to be winter in Vermont. Cold, dark, lonely. I need something that motivates me to get out of the house now and then. I need something that makes me feel like myself — something beyond just being a mother. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with just embracing being a mom for a while and putting other goals to the side. I know many women who do it and are completely happy. But I also know that’s not for me.

The toll that training takes on your body

This gave me a bit more pause…not just because I have no idea what my labor/delivery/recovery will be like. I hope to breastfeed. I want to use cloth diapers. I’m going to be sleep deprived. Balancing a newborn and work. My life is going to be turned upside down (in the best possible way) and I will need to figure out how to manage it all. I want to train for something, but a marathon within 4 months might be a little too much to handle. I could face issues with my supply, or do further damage to my body down the line if I’m not careful.

That being said, I don’t really feel like this is insurmountable. I still believe that if I was really careful and put in the bare minimum number of miles to train, I could definitely finish the marathon. It wouldn’t be easy and I’d probably be exhausted, but I could do it.

Logistics of the Boston Marathon

Personally, this was the tipping point. Even if Cheese Baby arrives right on time and I have a perfect labor/delivery…even if training goes well and I feel strong…even if everything fell into place in those months leading up to Boston, there’s still the issue of race day. A huge race that requires lots of sitting around beforehand. And after last year’s tragedy, it will have even tighter security measures. BAA has already stated that runners need to expect stricter baggage claim policies, and has warned that that may not be able to check a bag at all. Running a marathon while breastfeeding would require me to pump right before the race. If I can’t check a bag, I definitely can’t pump. And if I can’t pump…I honestly have no idea how I’d make it through the day.

So could I do Boston 4 months postpartum? Yes. And I am so thankful for all the encouragement I got from many of you and other people in my life.

But at what cost? Between trying to fit in the training with a newborn while keeping myself (and her!) healthy and trying to figure out race day logistics, it became clear that the cost might be too much. I debated signing up anyway and just seeing what happens. That would spare me from the regret I feel right now about not registering, and the regret I’d feel on race day if everything was going well and I felt capable of running. But I ultimately decided I might regret it more later if things don’t work out. Not only because I could use that registration money for things that might actually benefit Cheese Baby (like nursery furniture and baby products!), but also because in the end, I’m not sure if I can handle another failed marathon attempt. In 2012, I wasn’t able to run either marathon I trained for (Boston due to injury; NYCM due to cancellation). 2013 started with another marathon DNS due to pregnancy. Do I really want to continue this trend for yet another year? Or do I want to pick a race, train my heart out for it, and cross the finish line breaking my 3:18 streak once and for all?

For now my plan is to come to Boston in 2014 as a spectator once again. I wish I could be one of the runners on the course, but at least I’ll be able to celebrate from the sidelines. Meanwhile, I’m going to find another race to train for. I won’t plan a marathon only 4 months out, but I need a goal to work toward. Whether that’s a few spring half marathons and a fall full or something else, I don’t really know.

All I know is that I am a runner. Running has been with me through all of life’s major changes. It’s more to me than just a form of exercise – it’s a constant in my life and an integral part of my identity. I don’t see how having a baby should change that.

Nuvision action image storefront 1692316Crazy to think this was almost a year ago now

So I may not be running Boston. But when 2014 comes around, I plan to be running.


31 Responses to Boston 2014 Follow-up

  1. I loved reading all the comments on your last post and I love reading your follow up here.

    I was in Lizzy’s camp on the whole issue, so I’m so glad you’ve decided to hold off. Even though I’m not running it this year either, I’m already trying to figure out the logistics of just going to WATCH it with a new-ish baby, especially with the heightened crowds and anxiety I am sure this year will bring.

    I applaud you for making such a difficult decision and think you’ll appreciate going into the new mother haze without the added stress of a marathon looming in the distance. I’m pretty sure we’re in for a marathon of our own with these little babes, anyway, right? :)
    Marie @ Finer Points of Life´s last post ..Pregnancy Confessions: Part 1

    • Yes we are. I’m not sure all the training in the world can prepare me for this particular marathon…but I’m strangely excited for it.

      And the logistics of watching with a baby are definitely going to be tough. I want to be there in April and I’d love for the baby to be with me, but it’s a lot to think about/figure out.

  2. Good reasoning, good choice. And I am 100% certain you will qualify again.
    Dori´s last post ..Richmond Marathon Training: Week 9 – In Which I Register For Another Marathon

  3. Great post, as always! :)

    We can cheer together next year because I plan on being there for sure. I can just picture Derek and I cheering with you guys and Cheese baby and it sounds amazing!

    You’ll get to Boston again for sure and you bet I will return to cheer for you once you’re there.
    Steph´s last post ..I Am Not Running the NYC Marathon (again)!

  4. I really respect the thought and openness with which you discussed this on your blog. I wonder if a lot of women bloggers/runners/mothers get caught in a pressure cooker of trying to be all things to all people at the same time. And it just isn’t possible. Sometimes priorities shift – maybe month to month, maybe hour to hour.
    Anne Taite´s last post ..Mini-Moons

    • Thanks Anne. I think it’s hard not to get caught up in that pressure sometimes. I went into this pregnancy with certain goals, many that I haven’t been able to reach. And I’m sure motherhood will be the same. It’s a crazy, life-changing adventure and I know you’re right – priorities are probably going to shift all the time.

      • You’re only about a week or two ahead of me and my pregnancy (I’m 24 weeks on Monday). Anyway, not nearly as avid a runner as you, but I’ve followed your general progression as well – scaling back distance and pace and being humbled and proud at the same time. Just think how much we still have to learn!!
        Anne Taite´s last post ..Mini-Moons

  5. <3. Just <3.
    krissy m. murphy´s last post ..GO, Ashley, GO!

  6. Glad you made a decision that felt right to you! Having a baby is going to change your life in ways you’ve never even imagined (I’m sure you’ve heard this 100000 times – and probably rolled your eyes when people tell you this, I know I did!!), BUT you will always have running. It will wait for you. And I’m willing to bet good money that you will be faster than ever when you return to racing!
    Michelle´s last post ..All The Things I Didn’t Expect

  7. I’ve been waiting to see what you decided! This is a great post and it is clear you have really thought through the pros and cons and have made the decision that is right for you. I love the distinction between running Boston and continuing to run and train. However, isn’t it a little funny that you brought up all these broad-spectrum points that didn’t sway you completely one way or another, but the idea of not being able to pump right before the race was basically the deciding factor? I completely agree with you and I could relate to that logic, but it’s still a little funny :)
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen´s last post ..Bringing Braxton home & my eyes are bigger than my heart

    • Haha….well, it was more that there were a bunch of reasons why it probably wouldn’t be the best decision to run it, but then the logistics was the wake up call I needed to finally give up on running next year. Probably because I could talk my way out of everything else… ;)

  8. Awesome post! You made the best decision for you and that is all you can ask! I will be there cheering on my husband so we can cheer together and then hopefully in 2015 I’ll be right there with you RUNNING!
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun´s last post ..Five Things Friday

  9. Great post and, for what it’s worth, I think you made the right decision. I hope you’re peaceful about it! And ‘your space’ may well go to someone running for the first time whose heart has been set on it. That’s a lovely thing to do.
    Cathryn´s last post ..This week…Mini-Taper!

  10. Great post. It really shows how much you thought about the choice and everything that went into it. There are always more marathons.
    EB @ Running on E´s last post ..Fuelin’ Up Friday: Pocket Fuel

  11. I found the comments on your first Boston post very helpful as well – I had already made my decision not to register, but they made me feel even more like I made the right decision for me.
    Added bonus of your decision – you saved $175. That can pay for LOTS of other future races!
    Andrea @ The Fit Scoop´s last post ..My Decision about Registering for the 2014 Boston Marathon

  12. What a wonderfully thoughtful post. I’m not a mother, so I’ve yet to dabble in these discussions, but thanks to you and commenters for what seems to me like a unique perspective on pregnancy/women’s health. As for the race, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time watching with your daughter. But if you really feel like you’re missing out, you should consider the baa 5k!

    • Evan and I were just talking about maybe doing the 5K instead! I think it would be a lot fun…and obviously a much more manageable goal.

  13. Wonderful post Lauren. Not much more than that to say!!
    Love, Dad

  14. It sounds like you made the right decision for you.
    Lee´s last post ..Baby is a…

  15. I’m sitting out 2014 as well…although for different reasons! (You know that.) While I think you could run Boston 2014 and that you’re smart enough to listen to your body and not let that competitive side come out…it’s still hard not to. And I don’t have a baby, but I would imagine those first few months are tiring and full of life changes. While I hope for the easiest and healthiest delivery for you and Cheese Baby, you never know what will happen and how long your body will take to come back…and I can only imagine the pressure of trying to get back into marathon shape, even if it’s just for fun. I definitely think you made the right decision…there will be more Bostons for us, and cheering next year will be special too.
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..that time my doctor compared running to smoking

  16. i know you know how i felt (seriously, i hope you were not offended!) but i really think this is the right decision. my plan is the same as yours – race some shorter distances in the spring (mostly to get myself back into racing mode and see where my speed is…or isn’t) and then marathon or ultra in the fall. but we’ll see how things pan out… ;)
    kristy´s last post ..pregnancy confessions

    • Was not offended at all! I’m glad you shared your opinion on my last post. And I honestly feel better about not signing up by the day. Definitely had some regret on Wednesday and Thursday, but if I’m completely honest, at this point I feel a little relieved. It’ll be nice to focus on building up slowly and gaining my speed/base back in the spring.

      Hope Philly went well today!!

  17. Love this post and completely agree w/your decision! For me, the hardest part of postpartum running and racing was pumping. At 4mos pp, I ran a couple 1/2s and literally fed Wyatt immediately before and after for comfort. It’s just so hard telling what will happen before you have the baby! I know you’ll qualify for and run Boston again. <3
    Jen´s last post ..Maybe baby

  18. I loved reading the comments on your first post, especially from people who have “been there.” Everyone had a slightly different take, which just goes to show how differently we each experience pregnancy/labor/delivery/recovery. The logistical issues related to feeding and pumping really were the biggest challenge for me in the first 6 months, as far as running lifestyle.

    Do you have a favorite spring race (other than Boston)? My post-baby goal was to run my favorite local 5K at 11 wks. Not my fastest – or slowest! – time, but it was an absolutely blast. I felt fantastic, was happy to be there, and it really kicked off more serious running once I saw I could handle the logistics of a smaller event.

  19. Hey, I just found your blog and really like it. Check out the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington. It is usually memorial day weekend, which would give you a bit more time. I ran it once and it was great. I see it might be (semi)local for you. I grew up in Vermont, in Glover which is in the NEK near St. Johnsbury. I’m in upstate NY now but love Vermont so much. I also ran the Marine Corp Marathon in DC and that one is great too and in October – so you’d have lots of time for that (and do your long runs in September and October in Vermont – nothing better!).
    Rowan´s last post ..Secret Behind Closed Doors

    • Hi Rowan – thanks for the tip! Vermont City was actually the marathon I was training for this year when I found out I was pregnant. We went up and spectated (and I ran with a friend for the last 10 miles) and from what I could tell, it’s an awesome race! I’ve been toying with the idea of signing up again for next year…or at the very least, running the half marathon relay. We will see.

      We have family up in St. J’s. Such a beautiful area!! There’s really nothing like Vermont. :)

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