Wednesday night hill sprints

The baby turned one year old a few weeks ago, and it felt like a major milestone for me as a parent, like a graduation of some sort. Finally, surely, we're out of the hard part and things can go "back to normal," right?

That phrase! A lot of people say it -- don't! "Back to normal" is full of assumptions and judgments that are just wrong. First, why fix a narrow part of my late 20s as my "normal" life? Second, why assume I want to go "back" to that time? Third, why suggest that going "back" in time is possible with just a little effort, when we all know (despite spending all of our energy and money repressing it) that we're steadily marching toward death?

Still, it's an intoxicating idea, that I could somehow keep my baby but get back all the things that I've lost. I loved my life before I had a child: I loved my free time, I loved my body before pregnancy, I loved my dignity that has been lost amid those postpartum months of stains and sleep deprivation. And because this is a running blog: I loved training, running fast, and having all the time in the world for that and anything else I had a whim for. People don't talk enough about that grief of losing the empty hours, the opportunity to indulge in something frivolous or dumb-seeming.

On one of my first runs after having a baby I came home so sad, because nothing felt the same and I couldn't imagine how I could ever enjoy running again. And I suddenly saw that every thing I chose to do from here on would come at a terrible cost, which is spending time away from my child. If I'm slow now, is it even worth it? Do I really need to spend a weekend morning doing the whole race thing if I'm not even going to be competitive and PR? If I don't have time for serious training do I really need to be racing?

I know intellectually that the answer is yes, of course. In my vision of motherhood I'm a fully realized adult, not a martyr. But I can't tell you how hard it is to make the choice to do something for myself on a day-to-day basis. The only reason I'm managing to run when I am now is because it's still light out in the evening and I can go after the baby goes to bed.

Even when I do make it out, some of those runs have really sucked. Some are just okay. But some, like tonight, have been like hearing a whisper in my ear from my old, "normal" self speaking to me from the past. "Psssst. You're doing great. You're killing it, you're amazing. You've fucking GOT THIS."

There's a big hill around here that I try to avoid whenever I can. The grade is 3% on the sloping part, up to 9.5% on the steep part. Most nights, I'm like, no thanks, I'm too tired/not "really" training/just want to chill. I'll turn around when I get there or go another way. Tonight I charged up it (about ~200 meters) four times, each time faster than the time before. ~7:00 pace, down to about ~6:30 pace.

There's no going back -- I'm not going to have the kind of time or freedom I used to. I'm living into this new normal. Tonight it felt so good to be sprinting up toward something, even though it was hard. Eyes fixed on the ground under me, I didn't even think to glance back.

Gear update

Note: There are no affiliate links in this post and no ads. Just ordinary links to things I like and use. Any questions? Just ask!

I pulled on my Sauconys to go for a run today and realized that I'd been running in these same shoes since 2014. Not Sauconys -- but THIS pair of Sauconys. It's been that long since it's seemed important/necessary to get new running shoes.

Once I was back at home I did a rough estimate of how many miles were on them, and yeah, I'm more than overdue for a fresh pair of shoes. These were my race day shoes for the Tobacco Road Marathon back in March 2015!

I've been in stability shoes since I started running back in 2011 -- first, the Brooks Adrenaline, then the Ravennas. Later I switched to Saucony and ran in both the Guides and the Mirage, but the Mirage (now discontinued) never really worked for me. The Guides have kept me healthy and fit great. I wear them for road and trail running, and every workout, no matter whether it's a long run or track workout. Every once in a while I get it in my head that I want to try a new shoe, but fear of injury or spending money on something that doesn't work out for me usually stops me. I thought about trying a lighter stability shoe (maybe the Fastwitch) for speedwork or races but let's be honest, I'm a ways away from trying to shave time by cutting a half ounce off my shoes.

Here's the gear I'm into lately:

Shoes

  • Saucony Guide (I'm on the 8, but just ordered the 9). Great shoes! No complaints!

Clothing (favorites)

  • Nike Essential Running Crops: I've tried other brands but nothing holds up like these Nike 7/8 length crops. And they are not very thick, so I can run in them for three seasons out of four, even here in North Carolina.
  • Lululemon Speed Shorts: Every time I try to quit these shorts I come back to them.
  • Moving Comfort Juno Bra: A million sizes and colors, and also great for breastfeeding!
  • Darn Tough No-Show Sock: I've been running in wool socks since 2012 or so and they are fantastic. I've only gone through about 10 pairs of Smartwool socks since then (WOOL!) but I recently discovered Darn Tough. Their socks come with a lifetime guarantee. A lifetime guarantee!! On SOCKS! Don't let anyone tell you America isn't great.
  • Any old shirt I have around the house

Fuel:

  • Honey Stinger gels: Easy on the stomach and have more grams of carbs than Gus or any other brand I've found. Plus, caffeine.

Accessories

  • Garmin 310xt: Still into this watch! It's a great watch with a super long battery. I admire the new ones but don't feel the need to upgrade anytime soon.
  • iPod Shuffle
  • Earbuds
  • Dog: Still into running with this dog! She lost some of her fitness over the past year or so but now that we're running together it's coming back for both of us. Today during our run, no fewer than 4 people rolled down their windows, leaned out their cars, and gave us a thumbs-up. How's that for an endorsement.