Getting to Carlsbad

To accurately tell the recap of this race, and explain all the work that went into it, I need to rewind… It’s March 2017, and our good friends John and Emily are visiting us in California. We went to BJ’s to enjoy some pazookies and the idea of running a marathon gets thrown on the table. I can vividly remember telling someone I had no desire to ever - EVER - run that far. it seemed insane. Yet, here i was, readily agreeing to sign up for a marathon with my best friends. Emily was on the fence about it but after a lot of peer pressure and some research on when she could bail out on the race - we all signed up. November 2017 we would all run the Vegas Rock n Roll marathon. Fast forward to June, I find out i’m pregnant (with the first hint being throwing up in my neighbors yard during an easy run). After some pretty awful morning sickness, that lasted the entire pregnancy I knew I would never be able to train and run the marathon. Colton and John still ran the race, while Emily and I froze waiting for these boys to finish. I was incredibly jealous and watching the run just fueled my fire to come back stronger than ever.

Fast foward to February 2018 - I labored for 30 hours, actively pushing for 2 of them, ultimately resulting in a c-section. While in labor (about 20 hours in), my doula-friend asked me ‘how many more miles do you have to go?’ We had discussed the comparisons between running and labor on countless occasions so i knew what she meant and i answered ‘i’m only halfway, I have more to give, i can do this’. William arrived, perfectly healthy and cute as a button at 2:34 PM and I began counting down the days until I could lace up my running shoes.

March 23rd came, my 6 week checkup with the doctor. ‘you are all clear for life. do as you please’. perfect. The next day i laced up my running shoes and ran/walked the slowest (13:48) mile of my entire life, smiling the entire way. I had waited for this for so long and I absolutely loved it. I knew that getting back into any type of shape would be tough work and would require a lot of determination but I was so up for it. I kept tinkering away. Run/Walking a mile or two until i could run without stopping. I got back with my coach and she encouraged me to be gentle with myself and walk when i needed to.

We had discussed when I was pregnant - that I would tackle 5k/10k distance, since I would have a baby - making the time for longer runs would be harder and with William breastfeeding i didn’t want to be away from him for hours at a time. So, naturally, around May I signed up for a half marathon. I just couldn’t stay away. I found a routine that worked for me - nursing before longer runs, stocking the freezer with ounces of milk for Colton to use as needed. These longer runs also allowed time for Colton to bond with William. I think Colton would admit these were hard at first because all William would do was cry but I think they are pretty fond of each other now.

In September I was notified of an opening in the RRCA class and in 20 seconds I was registered. The class was so incredibly interesting and inspired me to run a marathon, sooner than i would have ever thought. I texted my coach that night and told her ‘i’m going to run a marathon’. Soon after I found Carlsbad marathon - and saw it was on January 20 - perfect.

I went back to Iowa with William for part of October and my training for the half started to fall apart. I didn’t complete two of my long runs due to lack of sleep/pure exhaustion. I knew this wasn’t going to be great come race day but I also knew I couldn’t dwell on it. I was a mama first and taking care of William was my main concern. The half came and I ran it in 2:06. I was happy with this time, especially since i was only 8 months postpartum. I was still getting into shape, I was ready to start preparing for the marathon.

I began training a week later. We increased my mileage week by week, added in speed workouts and tempo runs and grew my long run. I loved it. I loved the challenge of it all. Before I even ran the marathon i knew i was hooked. I liked the entire process of it and wanted to do it again. At 11 months postpartum I ran my FIRST marathon and when I crossed the finish line, I teared up. I had just run 26.2 miles - I had set a new half marathon PR (1:56) - I finished in under 4 hours (3:59.43) - it was my 26th birthday - and to top it all off, I had the cutest boys cheering for me the entire time.

As i reflected on the journey it took to get me to that finish line, i thought of all these factors. I know without a doubt that had I been able to train and run the Vegas marathon, I wouldn’t have trained with as much passion and determination as I did for Carlsbad. Training with a baby is hard - juggling schedules - paying sitters just to get a tempo run in - pumping - sleep deprivation - pushing a jogging stroller.. the list goes on, but it was all worth it. Throughout the race I would do inventory on myself, how was i feeling, what hurt, how was my mental game holding up. Each time I would tell myself ‘you’re alright. you have more to give.’ Carrying and delivering William has forever changed my look at life and running, which made a huge difference in my race today. I enjoyed every second of the race and I am so excited to tell William all about it one day.

I wouldn’t have been able to train the way I did without Colton. I am so thankful he supports these crazy dreams of mine!

I wouldn’t have been able to train the way I did without Colton. I am so thankful he supports these crazy dreams of mine!

William practicing biting the medal, pretty sure he will be an olympian one day!

William practicing biting the medal, pretty sure he will be an olympian one day!

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Jessica KennellyComment