Don't Call it a Comeback: Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh

Before sharing my personal recap of my first post baby marathon, I want to acknowledge the deaths of two runners in yesterday's race- prayers for comfort and peace go out to their families. If you are a runner, please join me in doing two things before your next race: 1. visit your primary care physician and get clearance for endurance activities 2. learn CPR.

Sir Walter Raleigh got in the spirit! 
Race Preparation:
I signed up for the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh as soon as they announced it. I was still in the first trimester of my pregnancy, but wanted a race on the horizon to motivate me after having the baby. Luckily, I was able to run comfortably during all 39 weeks of my pregnancy (more on that at a different time and place!) so it's accurate to say my training for this event began a long time ago. Like my first marathon, I didn't have a time goal- I simply wanted to cross the finish line.

37 weeks pregnant
I've trained for over 40 marathons, but having Christian really made me approach things differently. Having had success with CrossFit Endurance style programming in the past, I opted to follow it again- this time more out of time necessity rather than performance. With a new baby, I simply don't have time to log 3 hour long runs every weekend or do 2-a-day workouts. I understand high volume works for some, but there is more than one way to scale a mountain.

I did 4 runs per week- 1. short interval session 2. long interval session 3. social run with Christian in the stroller and Fayetteville Running Club  4. alternated between either a time trial or long(ish) run. My longest single run was 16 miles (half of that was pushing a jogging stroller!) and I never exceeded 30 miles in weekly volume. I partnered this with 3 traditional WODs per week at CrossFit Ferus, where they offer smart programming and childcare.

"Sorry Mom, you can't have me AND long runs!"
Race day:
Woke up at 3 am to drive up to Raleigh and get Christian situated in the hotel room with his babysitters for the day, Papa Tom and Grandpa Randy. The early alarm didn't phase me- having a 5 month old will do that for you! We even got situated in time to meet up with Fayetteville Running Club (FRC). I could write an entire blog about the support, motivation, and friendship this group has provided- instead, I'll just encourage you to get involved with your own local running club and experience it yourself. You can search for one here.

We have runners of all shapes, sizes, ages, and experience levels in FRC

My Mom was doing the half, so we got to walk to the start together- hands down, one of my favorite moments of the day. She has been there for most of my marathons in the last decade as a spectator so it's such a gift to share the race as participants. This was her second 13.1 and she got a PR- even more impressive when you consider the hills in Raleigh versus her first course in pancake flat Savannah. Way to go, Mom!
13.1- check! 26.2- check!

Post-race treat food- peeps & cadbury eggs. Thanks, Kevin!
It was great to spend the moments before the race with Ann and Anna, who was running her first marathon. Talking with them made me less nervous and I was focused when the gun went off. I've always maintained I don't need a cheer squad to do these things, but the spectators were great. My favorite signs of the day:
THIS is how you support a friend (& make strangers smile!)
Seen at mile 20- ain't that the truth?!

This was not a flat course. I stayed in control with my pace and felt confident on the hills- they were where I passed other runners. Chalk it up to a combination of CrossFit and the joging stroller. It didn't matter what type of incline I was served- running without pushing 35 pounds of BOB, infant  seat, and Christian in front of me or carrying a 1 pood kettlebell in each hand made it seem easy. Don't hate me, fellow RnR participants- I just never really felt broken. The heat got to me and robbed me of a negative split, but for a gal who thought the best case scenario would be just under 4 hours, I was thrilled with this:

3:39:55 overall time, 104 OA, 29th female, 7 AG

I enjoyed seeing fellow Marathon Maniacs out there- wearing my MM gear always makes me feel like part of a team and invites great conversation with amazing athletes. The course was gorgeous, beginning and ending downtown and taking us through neighborhoods with interesting, older architecture. Not a lot of shade in the second half of the race, which was a bummer as it started to get hot but mile 24 totally made up for it. The wonderful folks at Wear Blue: Run to Remember were out in full force with a memorial for fallen soldiers that was so significant, I think I'll remember every step through it more vividly than the finish line. You don't have to be a military wife to appreciate the beauty and sadness of this:

Among these heroes: SSG Michael A Dickinson, KIA at 26 years old in Iraq.
 His wife is a FRC member & dominated 26.2 to honor him!

Overall, this was a great event. I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for easy logistics, lots of crowd support, challenging hills (rumor has it the net gain was 4 digits), and doesn't mind big box races.

What's next for me? Reverse taper, then All American Marathon in 3 weeks. I'm thrilled to be racing again and so glad I'm finding a balance between being "Suzy the Mommy" and "Suzy the runner"!
Family, friends, and food (chocolate milk & pizza!) at the finish

Best training partner ever!

Still the best "model" for my hardware