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2016 (Santa Cruz) baby mama 10k race report

2016 (Santa Cruz) baby mama 10k race report

I really enjoy racing, but very infrequently do I run all-women’s races or races that are heavily marketed to women. More often than not, I usually feel that all-women’s or heavily-marketed-to-women races almost distract me from the racing experience and sometimes even leave a bad feeling in my stomach. It’s tough for me to describe why I feel this way, and though the explanation comes up a little short due to my inability to better elaborate, suffice it to say that I often think that all-women’s/marketed-to-women races come off as more misogynist to me than supportive, celebratory, or competitive.

Don’t get me wrong – I totally get that many women don’t feel safe or comfortable racing amongst men, that they’re self-conscious or intimidated or whatever – but I don’t see where the connection comes to trading in the “community” aspect of running with mostly women for the weird marketing insinuating (or explicitly stating) that finishers will receive their race premiums “from hot firefighters” or that “sweating is sexy” or stuff like that. [In full disclosure, in the hundreds of races I’ve run over the past decade or so, very few of them – maybe 5? – have been of the all-women or mostly-all-women variety. Maybe I shouldn’t make blanket statements about races that have a more “gendered” focus than the standard garden variety, but I don’t know. I guess I’m just extremely selective with my races and think it’s kinda weird bullshit that I have to accept my racing medal from a half-naked dude or that for some godforsaken reason, my athletic endeavors – things I do to take care of my body and to maintain my health – has to be sexualized (you know, “sweating is sexy,” “fit is the new hot” and the like.]

Anyway, not long after I moved to the Bay Area, I learned about the Run 5k and 10k (and accompanying “baby mama” stroller divisions) that takes place down in Santa Cruz, just over the “hill” (the Santa Cruz mountains) from me. In 2015, when I was promoting the now-gone ZOOMA Napa Valley race, at around 5 months pregnant, I ran the “baby mama” 5k stroller division, pushing my eldest, and we won. It was so much fun, and I vowed to return. Similar to the ZOOMA race series, with s.i.b., I immediately noticed that while yes, it is an all-women’s (or heavily-marketed-to-women”) race, it is absent of all that nonsense that I just alluded to; in 2015, when I first ran it, there were no undertones linking (or explicitly stating) how or why running/being fit/being healthy to being “sexy” or “hot,” nor were there clads of half-naked dudes waiting for eager and willing (and sweaty) female participants to get selfies with them post-race. In fact, I’d venture to say that s.i.b. is kinda like the antithesis of the all-women’s racing in that regard. Sorry, tangent. Back to 2016. This time around, with an ultra-cheap $29 registration fee (early bird pricing FTW), I ran the “baby mama” 10k stroller division while pushing the baby; big sis was out having the time of her life at a friend’s house/easter egg hunt/birthday party, so I’m pretty sure she didn’t mind.

sib IG

Screenshot from 2016-04-04 07-09-15
s.i.b. posted a throwback to the ’15 race on their IG and featured this gem with Meg, Lesley, A, and an in-utero Spike

It has been years since I raced a 10k, and since I was just six days post-marathon, I knew my legs weren’t going to be fresh for this race. Plus, who am I kidding? I’m running (or “racing,” note the quotes) with a freakin’ stroller. For those playing along at home: the single-BOB stroller is about 30 pounds, the baby’s about 20, so yeah – running one-handedly while simultaneously pushing about 50 pounds. Not easy. Just like at last year’s s.i.b. race, I wanted to have fun and to enjoy the wonderfully supportive and uplifting environment and immerse the baby in it, even though she’d be pretty oblivious to the entire thing – and the entire morning just ended up being one of those “ahhhh, this shit’s so good for my soul” type of days, thanks to the beautiful weather, the camaraderie of running with so many of my teammates, the super-encouraging-and-still-competitive environment of the race, and the small fact that I had a kiddo in tow. It was a great combination. I didn’t have any time goals for the race, and my only soft goal was to try to place in the top 3 for the “baby mama” division (and maybe repeat my ’15 “baby mama” win), but again, with post-marathon legs (and a right hamstring that was still in post-marathon purgatory,), I didn’t set anything in stone.

Santa Cruz is Meg land, so baby Spike and I got ourselves to her house early, nursed, played, and chilled before we three ran about 1.5 miles over to the new starting area at the Santa Cruz boardwalk with another Wolfpack runner, Meg. There were about 6,000 other (mostly women) runners who’d be doing the 10k, 5k, or corresponding stroller divisions, but the organizers did a top-notch job of getting people where they should have been. New for this year, too, were self-seeded start waves, so unlike last year, there wouldn’t be a sea of humanity running anywhere from 5 minute to 25 minute miles starting altogether. (Kudos to you for implementing this much-needed change, RDs. I came so close to clipping so many ankles last year).

Screenshot from 2016-04-04 07-08-32
this wasn’t even all of us! (PC: Lisa/wolfpack)
race start sib 2016
Look on the right-hand-side and you’ll see tall Sam and behind her, us 🙂 (PC: s.i.b.)

I audaciously lined up about 6 inches from the starting line – I didn’t want to repeat last year’s experiences of getting blocked in and accidentally take out anyone with my front wheel during the first half mile – and luckily, when the gun went off, people spread out fairly quickly and I didn’t have to do virtually any dodging. Santa Cruz is such a beautiful place to run, and as we ran by the boardwalk and up a little hill (stroller running feels like running uphill, so when you actually run up a real hill, it gets challenging quickly), we were on the super-scenic west cliff drive and were treated to beautiful ocean views. I laughed to myself, thinking only in a race in Santa Cruz will I see a bunch of surfers in wet suits yielding to runners on a Saturday morning. Aside from the race starting at the boardwalk, the rest of the course was about the same as I remembered from ’15: running along west cliff and connecting through neighborhoods before turning for the finish at the lighthouse.

SIB -1


you can (kinda) see the ocean in the background
you can (kinda) see the ocean in the background

Since I was running the 10k, I had the pleasure and incredible pick-me-up of seeing the 5k racers hit their turn-around to home, and so many in the top 10 or so were fellow Wolfpack ladies who were just flying and smiling en route. Between seeing so many of my teammates racing well and in the top ranks, and enjoying the super-encouraging s.i.b. motivational race signs (one thing, among many, that the race is known for) adorning the sidelines, I was just so fucking happy. I was having fun and racing as hard and fast as I could, given the post-marathon-legs and the small fact that I was pushing more than a third of my body weight, and quite surprisingly, my watch was indicating that I was running at basically the slow-end of my tempo/right around my steady-state pace. Well then!

The 10k wraps runners around and through the Natural Bridges state park area for a couple miles, which was a new experience to me this year. It was pretty and idyllic, though a couple hills in the park (around mile 4, I think) felt gargantuan. By the time we got dumped out of Natural Bridges, we were back on west cliff, next to the ocean, and making our way to the finish line at the lighthouse about a mile and change or two miles away.

The trickiest part about, depending on your race distance, is the final mile and change/two miles. As I was trying to come in hot on that final stretch, the sea of humanity who had been run/run-walking/walking the 5k was suddenly ahead of me. What made things even trickier is that the road was already divided, so there was a solid sea of participants still on the “out” portions of their 5ks/10ks on one side of the road, and directly ahead of me was still another sea of participants finishing the “back” portions of their 5ks. It quickly became a game of frogger and an incessant chorus of “on your left!,” “stroller back!,” “watch your ankles!,” because I wanted to finish my race as strongly as I could and not interfere with anyone else’s race. Fortunately, I was able to weave – a lot – between participants, some walking/running/run-walking many people wide or abruptly stopping to take pictures, and only a few times had to dodge into oncoming people traffic (!) because I didn’t have enough clearance. West cliff isn’t a wide road in the first place, so I’m at a loss as to how the RD could better manage the people traffic on the “back” portion. Maybe cones could partition a lane for the 5k participants and another for the 10k participants? I’m not really sure. Even the wave starts this year didn’t seem to account for the faster 10k runners coming hot onto the heels of the 5k participants.

At any rate, though my pace remained surprisingly strong for post-marathon-legs and for stroller running – I’m pretty sure I’ve never posted those splits with a stroller before, ever – I was getting tired and toasty (for once, it was sunny in Santa Cruz), making the forced-slow-down from all the necessary people-weaving somewhat welcome and definitely not the end of the world. Tons of participants cheered me on, telling me I was first stroller for the 10k, which was a huge boost. I hadn’t seen any other strollers ahead of me for the entire race, both in the 10k and until the 5k/10k split, but with the crowd of people over the final mile and change, it was hard to tell. I, too, threw out tons of encouraging remarks to the other runners (good for the soul, ya know), and as we inched closer to the finish line (and things got a little less people-dense), I tried to throw down one last time for the final stretch.

experiencing the rapture or a coronary; hard to tell
experiencing the rapture or a coronary; hard to tell

Man, that was fun, and even though my (and most everyone else’s) watch had the course a little short (6.01 by my Garmin), that was among one of my stronger 10k races – which is bizarre, given the aforementioned post-marathon and stroller aspects. 10K races are grueling, and I tend to go out like a bat out of hell and die a slow and needlessly long death. By and large, I felt pretty strong for the entirety of this almost-10k, and I was genuinely surprised to see my splits at the end of the race. This makes me think that maybe I should shoot for some shorter racing this autumn and shelve an autumn marathon. (I can’t believe I just wrote that; I’m reserving the right to change my mind later…).

I soon reunited with Lisa, Meg, and many of my other teammates for celebratory pictures and vendor sampling, and we’d eventually learn that many Wolfpack ladies finished in the top ranks overall and/or in their age groups. I learned that I won the baby mama 10k division – my reach goal for the morning, hooray! – and for my efforts, I earned a shiny new BOB Revolution SE stroller. I can’t complain: I paid not much money to run fast with my baby in a beautiful location; I got to spend the morning with many teammates; and I earned myself a stroller that’s worth about $450 retailand, later in the raffle, another baby sling carrier (worth about $150; man, baby stuff is expensive!) that I gifted to 5 mos. pregnant Meg. It was a good morning.

run with a stroller, earn a stroller
tomfoolery post-race. Meg is getting stroller practice :) (PC: Lisa)
tomfoolery post-race. Meg is getting stroller practice 🙂 (PC: Lisa)

I had a ton of fun at the race. I really dig and appreciate the race’s message and positivity, and I absolutely love that I can participate in this with one or both of my daughters – as I have for the past two years – and still be competitive. S.I.B. is all about self-love and compassion – and being a good human being – and I love that I can come down to Santa Cruz and take part in a race that gives me the opportunity to run “fast and free” but also contribute to such an incredible environment. What I will always remember about S.I.B. though is that in ’15, I got to race it pregnant, while pushing Big Sis, and in ’16, I got to race it again, while pushing Little Sis, and both years, my performance surprised me and any expectations I had for myself that day. I guess that’s the funny thing about racing; sometimes we don’t know what’s there until we try – obviously. I doubt I could have run those paces just on my own accord on Saturday morning. This year’s s.i.b. shirt design’s message was that “your journey matters,” and without a doubt, it is this type of positive messaging that sets apart s.i.b. from other women’s-y races. is a locally-run organization and only has two races each year – one in Santa Cruz and one down in Santa Barbara – but if you find yourself in California during either race’s weekend, I definitely recommend participating. My shitty descriptions are failing me now, but out of all the racing I’ve ever done, I don’t think I can say that I’ve walked away from a racing experience feeling like I did both something wonderful for my body (racing, running) and something good for my soul. gave me both this year (and last), and I look forward to doing this race for many more years.

2015 ‘baby mama’ stroller 5k race recap

2015 ‘baby mama’ stroller 5k race recap

On Sunday morning, A and I trekked down to Santa Cruz, about 45 minutes away, to participate in the 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?).

R-L: Meg, Lesley, and the two of us (PC: Meg)
L-R: Meg, Lesley, and the two of us (PC: Meg)


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.

convinced we're running uphill
convinced we’re running uphill. I love her expression of absolute disgust.


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.

the best part of 5ks is when you're almost done with them
the best part of 5ks is when you’re almost done with them


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 (!).

finishing! one of us is THRILLED
finishing! one of us is THRILLED


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. is obviously just really special and really meaningful to a lot of people, and that’s just fuckin’ lovely if you ask me.

totally sweet picture if my super sweaty crotch didn't ruin it
totally sweet picture if my super sweaty crotch didn’t ruin it

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. 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!