On Sunday morning, A and I trekked down to Santa Cruz, about 45 minutes away, to participate in the She.is.Beautiful 5k race, specifically in the ‘baby mama’/stroller division. Santa Cruz is Meg land, as far as I’m concerned, and luckily, she was racing the 10k that morning–along with her friend Lesley–so we all met up at Meg’s before running about 2 miles to the race start on West Cliff, parallel to the ocean. I should have stopped to take pictures on our run over, but suffice it to say that seeing surfers in wetsuits out tackling waves is pretty sweet. The wetsuit-clan surfers really intrigued A, as well.
It was weirdly humid–which made sense, since soon after the race, it began drizzling–and otherwise kinda gray out, but Santa Cruz is beautiful any day of the week, in any type of weather (though weirdly, every time I’ve run in SC with Meg and my daughter, it’s raining; maybe the three of us should run together in SC more often to mitigate the drought damage?).
I was running s.i.b. while pushing A to help promote the ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon and 10k in June (still time to register, cough cough). I had heard of s.i.b. from last year’s race, but I think it might have also been Oakland Marathon weekend, which prevented me from doing it. At any rate, like I wrote before, even before s.i.b. began, I totally digged its message and its feel-good vibes, and the fact that I could race with my daughter in a stroller-specific division was just groovy. I hadn’t raced with her since maaaaaaybe sometime in 2012, and truth be told, I haven’t run with her in months (because I’m usually running when she’s at school), so I figured that this race would be special for us. Oh, and right, running with A while I was pregnant with Kiddo Dos… yeah, family affair. I’m all over that.
Anyway, I didn’t have any time goals going into the race because a) pregnant, b) stroller, c) racing a 5k is gruelling, even sans stroller or sans pregnancy, so I just wanted to do the best I could–whatever that was. Based on previous years’ results, I thought that I *might* have a chance to fare pretty well, but the thing about looking at previous years’ results in this race–or in any race–is that you have absolutely no control over anything. In other words, you don’t get to decide who does or doesn’t show up to race, so truthfully, the only thing–the best thing–you can do is just worry about your own race and not really give a whole lot of mental real estate to anyone (or anything) else. That said, that was my plan– to just run (and push A) and hope for the best. Plus, stroller running feels like you’re constantly running uphill, even on pancake-flat surfaces, and that shit is tough. Thus, my plan to not have a plan.
Shortly after those couple warm-up miles with Meg and Lesley, those two split off to prepare for their 10k, and A and I continued to do our own little warm-up, which included A getting out of the stroller, sprinting for about .1 mile, and promptly popping a squat in the woods to pee. Honestly, I think she was as excited to get out and run around as she was to piss in public (sweet child of mine). We meandered our way to the near-front of the starting area, since everything was self-seeded and I didn’t want to get stuck behind throngs of participants, and fortunately, for the most part, the other participants–99.9% of them women–were cool with a stroller duo inching our way toward the front. Even though the race had a separate stroller division, there wasn’t a separate stroller start–nor was there any sort of separation or delayed start for the 5k and 10k participants–so I just had to hope that we wouldn’t get plowed over in the beginning mile by faster participants.
Once the race began, I quickly realized that I should have gotten to the starting area even earlier than I did. It wasn’t a huge deal, but the best I could do was announce ourselves as we tried to pass people. The BOB Revolution SE, while an amazing running stroller, isn’t particularly nimble, and I was trying to be extra cautious and avoid hitting anyone or clipping anyone’s ankles. Unfortunately, within the first 20 or so meters, we came up on a woman who was walking/running very close to us and who didn’t hear our announcement, and she fell to the ground, seemingly in pain, because we had apparently clipped her; however, when I (and the other women in her vicinity) asked her repeatedly if she was in pain or needed help or anything, she insisted that she was fine and that we all go on. I felt like a tool–and apologized profusely–but took her at her word that she was ok. I still feel like an ass about it.
Thankfully, with the exception of that first 20 meters, the rest of the 5k was smooth sailing. By about half a mile in, the crowd had thinned considerably, so we didn’t fear for anyone’s ankles or Achilles any longer. I kept scanning the crowd for other strollers, saw one, caught up to her around mile 2, and chatted with her for a bit before learning that she was running the 10k that morning. This other baby mama runner was super sweet (and strong!), and she’d go on to finish 1st or 2nd in the 10k division. I’d later learn that she was just 12 weeks postpartum and that she was pushing her two year-old in the 10k.
True to form for 5ks for me, pregnant or not, by about mile 2/mile 2 and change, I was ready to be done. I started my watch early, so I think my first mile split was a low 8, and my second around a 7:35 or so. The 5k and 10k folks split once we got back to West Cliff, and all I could do for the final 1.1 miles (or less, since I didn’t know how wrong my watch was) was just think 8 more minutes, 7 more minutes and 50 seconds, over and over again, a la Kimmy Schmidt and “you can do anything for 10 seconds at at time.” During our first mile, in part to announce ourselves as we approached and passed the other runners, and in part to keep A entertained, we talked about how many pink tutus, shoes, shirts, wigs, and socks we were seeing–the s.i.b. race labels itself as “the pinkest 5k and 10k” around, and participants really go to town with it– but during that final mile, A and I barely talked except to mention the very sweet motivational sides adorning the side of the course or to greet the volunteers and photographers.
Sometime in the final mile, a spectator yelled that we were the first stroller–awesome–so I just tried to focus on my turnover and not get passed by too many other runners, stroller-bound or not. Physically, I felt fine, but that whole “stroller running feels like constantly running uphill” thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah. With probably fewer than 20 strides left–practically in the finishers’ chute–a couple of other (non-stroller-bound) women passed us, which burned, but I felt pretty happy that at least one of those women was far less than half my age. You go, 13 year old… you go! That final mile was around an 8:teen– an ugly way to finish a 5k, especially when the previous mile was a 7:3x something, but whatev. Happens.
I had no expectations or time goals for the day, and I’m totally satisfied with how things fared. Honestly, I initially told myself that if I could post 9s while running with A, what with being 19 weeks pregnant and carrying around 10+ pounds than usual, that I’d be ecstatic. Besides feeling like I’m running uphill while pushing a stroller, even on the flat s.i.b. course, running with A means that I’m pushing more than 70 pounds (the stroller is 30-35, A is 40+) and essentially running one-handedly; suffice it to say that it’s an entirely different feeling than what you get when you run and can use both your arms simultaneously and not push anything in front of you. Those factors made me not particularly care about my time but instead, made me finish with a huge smile on my face, shitty splits be damned, because at no other time in my life have I managed to run a 5k while pregnant and while pushing my three-year old … and win our division (!).
Eventually, A and I met up with Meg and Lesley and learned that they all had excellent/PR races as well, so it was good times and good vibes all around. For our efforts, the race rewarded A and me with a babysling from Santa Cruz-based Onya Baby, and I very much look forward to using it come August. A practically spent most of her infancy in a sling, being worn by C or me, so I anticipate that we’ll get a lot of use out of the Onya (thank you, again!).
After the race concluded, in the on-and-off again misty drizzle, A and I posted some additional cool-down miles–including about .8 of a mile that A insisted that she run/walk herself (!)–and called it a morning. Besides the usual race atmosphere, I really enjoyed seeing how many mother-daughter, sister, best friends, moms’ groups, and even wedding party teams participated in the race together. I think that this race is really special to a lot of people in the area, and after doing it with my kid(s), I can totally understand why. During some of our cool-down miles, A and I trekked back over to the finish line to watch more participants come in, and dammit if I didn’t have to suppress some raging pregnancy hormones and not cry watching some of these women finish their races. She.is.beautiful is obviously just really special and really meaningful to a lot of people, and that’s just fuckin’ lovely if you ask me.
I really enjoyed racing s.i.b. and am quite grateful to ZOOMA for allowing A and me to race and promote ZNV in the process. She.is.beautiful was well-organized, super inspiring and motivational, and really, just a lot of fun; plus, the 5k course is probably pretty fast, provided you’re not 19 weeks pregnant and pushing 70 pounds of kid and stroller.
Next up: another 5k stroller division race with A, this time the AAUW Wildflower 5k on Sunday in Morgan Hill. Looking forward to it!