first post-baby race recap


that's me on the left and my twinner on the right
days later and i'm still gimping around from sunday's cherry blossom ten mile run. my time was nearly five minutes slower than my personal best and i almost dropped out halfway through, but man! it was great to race again.

when claudin called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that she had been accepted as an elite entrant for this year's running i was all, "yeay! that's awesome! go you!" but then she was like, "no, you've got to do it with me." and then i was like "mmm, yeahhhh... i don't know about that."

the cherry blossom ten miler is one of the biggest road races in the country and it was selected to host this year's US 10 mile championships, so in addition to the perennially strong international field, some of the nation's top distance runners would be in the mix. not only did i think that i had no business toeing the line with such high-caliber athletes, but when i planned my first race back from pregnancy, i had envisioned a more low-profile event. regardless, claudin urged me to contact the organizers to see if there were any more open spots. so i left the final decision to chance and in the hands of mr. race director

wouldn't you know it, i got in.

claudin arrived friday afternoon before the event and we spent saturday getting all the pre-race logistics in order. we checked in at hospitality suite, picked up our packets, ate the customary pasta dinner, and called it an early night. claudin was without her kids for the first time in years and andy was on baby-duty, so we nestled into bed and slept more soundly than either of had in months. as far as i was concerned, we were already winning.

the alarm went off at 4:30am on sunday morning and i wanted to hurl it at the wall (we're never using your ancient cell phone with it's devil ringer again, claudi). after lying a few minutes in bed until my heart rate returned to normal, i joined claudin in getting ready and twenty minutes later we were driving down the quite dark roads into DC.once on site, we dropped our things off and camped out in a tent that was designated for the invited athletes.

claudin and i warmed up around the national mall, while the day dawned around us. the sky was magnificently color-blocked with a soft orange on the horizon and a rich indigo overhead. the capital building sat against that stunning backdrop at one end of the mall and the washington monument was glowing in the light at the opposite end. everyone was pulling out their phones for pictures and once again, i cursed claudin's "dumb" phone for not having a camera. i don't know what made me more anxious: getting through the port-a-jon line before the race start or not being able to capture the photo.

the elite women were escorted to the line around 7:10am and we all took our final strides while the announcer introduced the field. when the bull horn sounded ten minutes later, i was running with this group of speedy women and heading towards memorial bridge like i hadn't missed the last year and a half of competing. the first mile of a race is always misleading. your body is fresh, pumping with adrenaline, and just steps ahead are some of the fastest women in the world. no big deal. for a minute you even think, hey! i might be in better shape, after all. this feels easy! but luckily, i wasn't *that* far removed from the sport so i knew to back off. claudin and i settled in at the back of a small pack of about six women who were running at our goal pace.

the next four miles went just as i hoped: claudin and i were running stride-for-stride at a comfortably hard pace, occasionally exchanging a few words of encouragement. as we approached mile five though, i sensed that while claudin was in cruise control, my foot was heavy on the gas trying to keep up. then, i started to feel a burn in my right quad/IT band. crap! we're not even half-way yet. it was too early for my body to be breaking down, so i knew that i was probably going too hard too soon. "go ahead, i don't want to hold you back" i told her. "no" she said and pointed to the ground at her side, indicating that i should get up next to her. i made the effort to catch up, but my wheels began smoking and the warning light came on. "if i don't back off now, i might not be able to finish" i told her and with that, claudin understood. she dropped me like i wasn't moving and left me alone in no-man's land.

we were entering haines point, an isolated peninsula where the only company was a bunch of demons hitchhiking on the side of the road. feeling lonely, i picked a few up, but those pesky hitchhikers were lousy companions. they kept talking about the pain in my quad and about how i haven't been training hard enough and how there were still five miles left to go. so after about a half mile of that nonsense, i decided that was about as far as i'd take them. without slowing down, i opened the door and kicked them out. when the next mile marker came up, i checked my watch and was surprised to see i was still on pace. if my body was holding on despite feeling so crappy, then the doubt was obviously all in my head.

i rallied my best survival tactics and coached myself into a more positive mind set. one thing that always works for me in these longer distances is breaking the race down into smaller parts - one mile is pretty easy to wrap your head around - so instead of thinking about the ten miles i had to cover, i focused on the one ahead. i looked for the runners in front of me and as it turned out,  i wasn't the only one hurting. there were a couple of women who had also fallen off the group. i set my my sights on their backs and gradually ran them down, one at a time. as i moved my way up, i noticed that there was just one woman between claudin and i.

with a mile left to go, i found myself on the heels of the next runner and less than 100 meters behind claudin. i passed the woman in front with ease but was nervous about her finishing kick, so to be safe, i pushed a little harder to create a buffer. despite my move, the distance between claudin and i remained the same. i lost sight of her around the final turn and instead noticed a particular couple on the sidelines that caught my eye: a handsome bearded man, holding an equally stunning little boy. "there's mama! go luci!"

it was with those two guys in mind (and the very real fact that if i didn't keep moving, my quads would shut down) that i bee-lined it to the finish and right through the line, like forrest gump running past the end zone. i clocked in at 1:01:06 and placed 39th. without ever stopping, i went straight to august and holding him my arms, paraded him around like i won top honors.

for the record:
+ my cellphone isn't any "smarter" than claudin's but the battery was dead that morning
+ claudin finished 20 seconds and one spot ahead of me. she's clearly at a new level since her 5th place finish at the marine corps marathon and i'm excited for her to run even faster in her next one!
+ there were two other new moms who put my performance to shame with how fast they blazed: sara slattery finished 14th in 54:14, while megan wright was 22nd in 56:51.  both have one-year-old boys.
+ my good friend and old high school teammate, chris sloane, also ran super fast and PRd by a minute.
+ after the race, claudin and i split a large pizza and each HOUSED a double concrete from the shake shack WHAT! (that one was for both of you, ne and nick mangum)
the cherry blossoms hadn't even budded but they're reported to be at their peak between april 8-12. but SHHHH don't tell anyone until after i've taken my pictures and left this coming saturday


Teru said...

Braaaaavo! Jesse girls!

Andrea Hull said...

love it all! especially the demons part. i mean, they suck, but your writing about it, awesome. <3

Rana said...

i'm crying ..... August is beyond top honors, he's the winning trophy. love love love this !

Claudin Mangum said...

ok, so you're my hero in so many ways - and here's yet another example of why. love the new perspective to life that motherhood has given you. it's hard to do all the things you want to do/ need to do and do it well... but you don't let that discourage you. YOUR best is all you need. and that "best" gets better and better with each new day. xoxox

p.s. that phone of mine is 10yrs old and hanging strong. we're gonna see this through to the end... so, yeah.

Marcus Hull said...

Very proud of both of my "baby" sisters. Love you guys!!!

Amy@eatsleepdecorate said...

Seriously balling right now! You are amazing!!

Hannah Smith | fox and willow said...

wow, i can't believe you were able to run that! I signed up for a 5k and am worried about that! I am so NOT a runner! You go girl! You have motivated me to get out there. I can't believe you never had to stop! so much respect.

Tanya Jean said...

Wow, congrats girl! Now if only I had the motivation to do a race of my own! :)
xo TJ

Sybianna Miller said...

awesome! i'm suppose to be running my first 5k in 2 weeks. SO not ready and totally scared. wah.

lucinda said...

don't be nervous, hannah! you are capable of way more than you think. just break it down, one mile at a time: 1, 2, 3! let me know how it goes! ;)

lucinda said...

ay! those diablitos! you know what i'm talking about, but you had to ditch them a few times too: that looong bike ride into potomac, el camino del chorro, n's birth... you're one tough chica!

Sophie said...

I honestly don't think I could manage three miles. So impressive, especially after a baby! At least your baby and man were there to see you through :)

Sophie x


Renee Skelly said...

"without ever stopping, i went straight to august and holding him my arms, paraded him around like i won top honors." and now I'm crying... LOVE


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