Monday, May 11, 2015

A Running Cityphile's Perfect First Mother's Day

In general I'm not a huge celebrator of holidays. Obviously I appreciate dinner or a card, but we don't go crazy for holidays. My first Mother's Day, however, felt different. I was almost embarrassingly thrilled to be able to celebrate this day. I let my husband pamper me. I slept in, he made me breakfast, my son* bought me a gorgeous new watch. 

I had so many wonderful family and friends who reached out to wish me a happy Mother's Day. I've been so open about our struggle to have a family, and I've been annoyingly joyful in sharing photos of our beautiful boy. My friends and family were amazingly supportive on my first Mother's Day, and it makes my heart happy.

We focused the weekend doing what I love doing best: running a race in a downtown. There could not be a more perfect way to spend the day. I registered for the 5/3 River Bank Run in Grand Rapids. Initially I registered for the 25k, but I realized that I really just hadn't trained to run 15+ miles. All roads lead to the New York Marathon this year for me, and I didn't want to risk being injured.

I thought of switching to the 10k, but that didn't seem challenging enough. Then I discovered that I could run both the 5k and 10k, totaling 9.3 miles of racing fun. I've also never run a race in Grand Rapids, so I thought that would be a fun new challenge. The only time I've ever run in GR was during my work's convention in 2011, so I was excited to check out more miles of the city.

We got to GR on Friday evening and headed to packet pick-up. The multiple races made parking for pick-up a little nuts, but the expo was impeccably organized. We headed in and grabbed my stuff including the super cute shirt. It is, after all, all about the shirt.

Our hotel was a few miles out of downtown because I booked it a little late, so we headed to the hotel with a hungry baby near his bedtime. Stellar parenting planning. We fed the baby and then headed to a random Italian restaurant a few miles from our hotel. One thing I really appreciate about Grand Rapids is its neighborhood development. Its downtown has redeveloped nicely, but its neighborhoods also have businesses and commercial development. Apparently this includes a gentlemen's club I saw during the race the next day right next to houses.  But hey, I'm not judging.

I was up at 4:45 on race day to feed the baby. Race day is different than it used to be. My focus was 1) feed baby, 2) drink coffee, 3) prepare for the race (in that order). We walked outside the hotel into a torrential downpour. It didn't seem like the best day for either running or spectating (in particular for my husband with the baby).

Race day provisions.
We arrived downtown, and I left my boys at a restaurant to get breakfast. I headed to the 5k start with several thousand of my closest friends. The 5k course looped through downtown, and the weather stayed relatively dry. I crossed the finish line just as the rain started in 25:29. It was a relatively fast 5k for me given than I had 6.2 miles left to run.

The rain began pouring in earnest during the 15 minutes between races. I really didn't notice because the race was so well organized. We all know I'm a sucker for organization. Volunteers had the spot for combo runners to exit well marked, and I grabbed a water and went to wait for my next race.

The 10k was a soggy mess. It was raining so hard, and I'd forgotten to bring a hat (rookie mistake). As I ran under overpasses I attempted to wipe the rain from my face with my sopping wet hands. The effort was futile. My shoes were squishy from the rain, and I really just wanted it to be over by about mile 4 of the 10k. I walked through the water stations and felt myself slowing down with a few miles to go.

As I rounded the corner to the finish I could hear spectators cheering. Even in the pouring rain there were people everywhere (take note Ann Arbor Half). I saw my husband and son near the finish, and tears filled my eyes. Since the baby arrived it's harder for my superstar spectator husband to be at all of my races, and I've missed having him there. Seeing them gave me the final kick to push hard to the finish in 57:42. It was about 4 minutes slower than my PR, but I didn't run these races thinking I'd PR. Plus racing three weekends in a row is a little tough on my legs. I'm glad to have a break.

My husband capture this great action shot. These arms are from toting around a heavy baby.
After I met up with my boys we headed back to the hotel so I could take the longest shower ever. Then we headed to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. This market opened last year, and it's phenomenal. Farmers markets are all the rage right now, and this market is beautiful. It's got every vendor one can possibly imagine, and it felt great to walk around the gorgeous space and stretch my legs while taking it all in. We had lunch at a Mexican place in the market, and it was delicious. I allowed myself the rare indulgence of a Mexican Coca-Cola which is the best caffeinated beverage on the planet. We then had ice cream before heading home. 

The 5/3 River Bank Run was one of the most well organized races I've ever done. I'm already planning to do the 25k next year and make my hotel reservation sooner so we're within walking distance. Grand Rapids is by all accounts one of Michigan's best downtowns, and we had a lovely time there. It's a race I will definitely run again.

As for Mother's Day...well, it could not have been better. My husband knocked it out of the park, and I sometimes want to pinch myself that this beautiful little family is mine. Running, a great downtown and a day that's all about me? Best weekend ever.    

*Watch was really purchased by husband. Five month old does not have a credit card. 

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