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Running Mom

By: Daniela Allee

“You’re basically at the 20 mile mark,” my husband, Andrew, told me last March. I was holding onto the hospital bed railing, transitioning into the pushing phase of labor. As contractions came and crested, I focused on the one I was in, trying not to think about the next. I told myself, “I’ve done hard, repetitive things. Try to focus on the present. What’ll come next, will come.” 

With a few more pushes left he said, “You’ve got 800 to go.” I felt this sense of relief wash over me as I rested between efforts. The end is in sight! And what a sight it was to behold my son, Mateo. 

Birthing him was the hardest, most intense and most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. 

Before having a baby, two marathons I’d done held that spot. In my non-parent days, my mileage was higher and more consistent, and I could regularly get to Tuesday Night Track. During pregnancy, I let go of goals and simply enjoyed the act of running. Getting back to it since becoming a mom has been a gradual and humbling, though often sweet, experience. The goals I have now include two key elements: my friends and more patience. 

My friends and running partners were there with me throughout pregnancy, slowing down with me on runs as my baby and belly grew. One friend and I even walked five miles on Mt.Tom as I entered week 41 of pregnancy in an attempt to induce labor. (It didn’t happen). They've held and played with my son, and have cheered me on from completing my first run without walking to hiking Smarts Mountain together 6 months postpartum. Now, we're scheming a Pemi loop for sometime this year. It'll be my first. 

Training for that feels a little daunting. I'm just now getting back to hitting 20 miles consistently. I fit in runs when I can -- early in the morning or swapping a lunch break for a running break. I call myself an opportunistic runner when anyone asks about a routine. Kids are unpredictable, and control over your own time vastly diminishes as a parent. So I’ve tried to take things a day at a time. I’ve learned in track workouts, whether it’s 1k repeats or 400s, it’s better for me to just focus on the rep I’m doing, and make the most of it, instead of fixating on the reps to come.

I wouldn't have set out my Pemi goal without knowing I’d have my friends Kali and Cara with me, not just there on the day, but in the months leading up to it. Seeing the number of professional runners who had babies in 2023 and have come back roaring this year has inspired me to keep at it. Every time I see Elle Purrier St.Pierre win a race, I tear up. I wiped a few when she dedicated her win of the Wanamaker mile this year to moms. When she held her son Ivan after setting an American Record and winning the world championship, I felt proud of her.

I feel proud of every mom I see, in particular of those coming back to running. Each pregnancy, birth and postpartum is different. Sometimes the return to running can feel like three steps forward, two steps back (one week it's 20 miles the next it's eight). Sometimes getting out even for 10 minutes with the baby in the stroller is a win. A lot goes unseen about what it takes to sometimes just get out the door. 

But after a few minutes of breathing fresh air and moving, a part of my heart feels quieter, less hurried, and more alive. Running is a joyful and meditative act for me, a place to reconnect, pause and reflect. My one-year old doesn't grasp that, but he does see the trees passing by, points at clouds moving and feels the warmth of the sun as he sits in the stroller. 

I love sharing this part of my life and world with him, watching him swing his legs to the rhythm of our pace. Maybe one day, we'll run side by side. 

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