Some days, I’m a process-oriented runner; if you ask me what I like more, the training or the actual race day, I’ll tell you that most of my enjoyment with my running endeavors lies in the work and hours and mileage that leads into the grand affair that is race day. Other times, of course, if you ask me my preference, I’ll say it’s all about the race day experience because, yeah, a lot of you can control, but much of it you can’t; it’s what makes the experience so magical–when all goes well–and understandably frustrating and humbling–when things go south.
Running during pregnancy is shifting my mindset toward a much stronger “process” orientation simply because I’m not in a train-my-ass-off-to-notch-a-PR mentality. If anything, I’m going after a one hour labor and delivery (hey, why not), but the running these days–even if it takes place at an actual race, wherein I adorn myself with my Wolfpack singlet and affix a bib to my ever-growing torso–is entirely and purely for fun. Yeah, I want to see what my body will give me that day, but no, I’m not starting (or finishing) any runs or races with any grandiose expectations or unicorn-chasing desires. I mean, obvs, right.
Sunday was Represent Running’s Race to the Row 408k, an 8k that started at the SAP Center and wound its way through SJ city streets and ‘hoods before ending at Santana Row 4.97 miles later. I totally dig 8ks for no real rational reason, and I was especially stoked for this year’s race because a) I knew I’d see a ton of my teammates volunteering or running, b) running and racing (relative terms) while pregnant is just a fuckin’ blast because it’s virtually absent of expectations, and c) A would run in the kids’ race a bit later in the morning. It wasn’t her first race–that came when she was about 1.5 years old, when we were still in Chicago, at a PBS-themed race on the lakefront–but nonetheless, she and I and C were all really stoked for her to be able to go “run fast like Mommy” because she really loves to run. Plus, prior to Sunday’s race, she and I volunteered at packet pick-up for a couple hours on Friday with fellow Team Run the Bay gal Bernadette (who is incredibly inspiring in her own rite–she recently had a stroke at the end of October, and two other runners from SJ’s chapter of Moms Run This Town wheeled her during the course before B got up and walked the final strides across the finish line. B-a-d-a-s-s). Anyway, it was a good weekend, and as always, race weekend and race morning gave me a wonderful reminder of how utterly and thoroughly I just totally dig the running community.
My race? Well, my 16 week self gave me a much better run than I had anticipated–it almost felt like a normal, pre-pregnant run, though significantly slower than how I’d race an 8k–but damn, was it ever fun. Highlights:
- aaaaaaaaaall the Wolfpack teammates and volunteers on course
- Choking back tears mid-race. I had a moment with myself in an attempt to avoid hyperventilating/ugly crying when we went through the Memorial Mile and past Joe Bell’s memorial his son had placed in his front yard. I distinctly remember talking to Mr. Bell mid-run last year, as I ran past his house, and this year, though he wasn’t there, the line of veterans who were standing on the street–some vets had even traveled in to SJ from out-of-state to be at the race, giving shout-outs, side-fives, and fist-bumps to the runners–evoked the same sort of emotional response in me. It was really moving. (For the backstory on why and how everything that happened last year in front of Mr. Bell’s house was so amazing, from the RD’s POV: http://www.soulfocussports.com/the-408k-goes-viral-or-human-moments/).
- In this mile, between miles 2-3, I did something I’d never do in a race and said “fuck the tangents” and veered left and right to get as many vets’ 5s as possible–sometimes, memories > tangents, kids–and left that mile thinking how great it was that RR started the Memorial Mile this year and hoped that it’d be something they’d continue forevermore. It was really cool.
- Miles 3 to 4, through more ‘hoods, was pretty quiet.
- In the final mile, about 5 or 6 mariachi bands lined the streets, and I instantly fell in love with the probably-not-even eight-year-old little mariachi boy vocalist crooning at us en espanol outside Valley Fair mall. He was darling. Steps from the finish line, I saw C and A yelling and waving ferociously–which rocked–and then was reunited with them steps later, since A was distraught; she loves to see me during races and wave to me and get 5s, but she hates– loathes– it when I run past her without stopping to get her. 🙁
It was a super fun morning for a race! We hung out for a bit before the real fun began–the kids’ race–and A got to spend the interim playing on a playground, coloring, and hula-hooping before her run began. She decided last minute that she wanted me to run with her, so we toed the line, got super excited, and began our maaaaaaaaaybe 100m dash with the kiddos under 5 and their caregivers. C was on the sidelines snappin’ shots while we ran by–she was so excited to see him!–and immediately upon finishing, she got her very own SJ 408k kids’ race medal (that also functions as a bottle opener, for those late-night … milk fixes). She was stoked and had so much fun!
If you’re ever in SJ on the first Sunday in March, totally look up this race. It’s well-organized, it’s a ton of fun, and I think it’s only going to continue to get better over time… though really, I don’t even know how it could because it’s already pretty damn awesome in my book. And! If you’re in the area AND you have a kiddo, totally register him or her for the kids’ race because it is just wonderful and so fun. 🙂 Next year, kiddo dos will be too little to run in the kids’ race by him or herself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if A tries to convince us otherwise.
I helped promote the 408k as a social media ambassador and member of Team Run the Bay, but obviously I wouldn’t do either if I didn’t totally love this race already. Views are my own and aren’t at all influenced by RR because they wouldn’t do something as d-baggy as that; instead, they just put on a really good race, making a positive write-up about it basically write itself.