The Connection Runners + [training]

The First Week and The First Marathon

October 17, 2009. We anxiously slurped down pasta and hydrated with Gatorade. We talked ourselves through the route one last time, noting where aid stations would be and reiterating pace goals. At long last, probably a few minutes too late in the evening, we rolled into bed with only our fearful thoughts to guide us into restless sleep.

The next morning, we would run our first marathon. We had no idea what to expect, other than the notion that the race would be hard, and our bodies would be challenged.

By noon on October 18, husband Kevin, friend Kevin, and I had completed the race. Celebrating over beers and pizza all day, we were overjoyed by what we'd accomplished.

I remember every detail of those days leading up to that first marathon because I feel like I'm reliving them now; however, instead of preparing to run 26.2, I've been figuring my way through new momhood for the past 11 days.

While I've written about the similarities of running and pregnancy before, I had to take another post today to now reflect on just how much delving into parenthood is like preparing to run your first big race. And it gives me some reason to write about running since I haven't actually done it in, oh, 2 months? (Trying to stay relevant here people.)

The biggest lesson I've learned over the last week and some days is to always expect the unexpected. As with the first marathon, being a newb parent comes with its share of surprises. In the marathon, you're hit with pain in regions you didn't know existed, alternating feelings of hunger and nausea, and the ever-present "will I live to see the finish line?" thoughts.

As a new parent, challenges you've never figured out how to prepare for come your way each day. Perhaps the biggest hurdle we've tumbled over thus far happened a week ago today. Charlotte had a nasty case of jaundice, and we ended up checking into the ER at 11:30 p.m. so she could receive prompt treatment.

It was slightly terrifying to see her tiny body all cooped up under the bililights, IV stuck in her arm. Luckily, though, the good folks at our hospital got her back on track, and she's eating and peeing and pooping just as she should be.

Speaking of poop, I'm pretty obsessed with it these days. I inspect her bum and chart her diaper changes every day to make sure she's processing all of her eats correctly.

(Need a visual aid for this part of the post? Well, just imagine mustard. Add some chia seeds to it. Sprinkle with water. This equals baby poop.)
And when I don't know if what I'm doing or what she's doing is right, I take to the Internetz to see what other moms and dads have experienced. Sometimes, the Googling makes me feel less at ease as it doesn't provide a definitive answer, but just knowing that others have the same issues makes me feel a hair more normal.

Falling into a comparison trap happened while marathoning, too. Checking out others' pacing, what they were wearing - it all made my head spin. But I wanted to be sure that I had at least a lick of faith that what I was doing was along the same lines as everyone else.

If compulsively Googling and comparing doesn't quite cut it, I finally turn to a trusted marathon training technique: taking it mile by mile day by day.

The marathon is 26.2 miles of both heaven and hell. And, honestly, so is raising a child so far. There are moments of pure euphoria. In a marathon, maybe it's glancing down to see a great split; with Charlotte, it's when her giant slate blue eyes dart around the room to take in the world.

And there are moments where you throw your hands up, hit the wall at mile 23/3 a.m. because you're not sure if you'll make it to the next mile/morning. At that point, you can only put one foot in front of the other and hope that with each step, you'll figure out how to make it to the finish line intact.

But when you look back on it all - the worrying, the overpreparing, the unknowing - you know that it's all worth it.