Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Weekend to Reflect on Womanhood and Motherhood

This weekend I did something I have never done before – run events on two consecutive days! I’ve often been tempted to do this, but I never have actually done this. It’s likely because of my former competitive/performance mindset; how can you give one event your all, leave all of you on the course, and then turn around and do the exact same thing the next day with only 24hours recovery. No doubt one event would suffer as a result so what good would that be? So perhaps now that my mindset is about just staying active and having fun with it, trying two events back-to-back for the first time is exactly the ticket.

I signed up for the Shoppers Drug Mart Run For Women 5K in early February. I was pregnant when I signed up but had no idea at the time. I signed up because it to me sounded like a fun even celebrating women, and it just so happens to fall on Mother’s Day weekend. As a Running Room run coach (who’s taking a break from coaching), I got my race entry for free and so it was a “why not” type of scenario. After realizing I was pregnant, I thought it’s even more meaningful to be part of this event. I’m discovering every day how truly magnificent it is to be a woman. And now I get to experience a part of womanhood I haven’t experienced before.

Then a few days ago, my friend Karen told me about the Fairmont Mother’s Day Run which takes place on Mother’s Day itself. Another friend, Sara, had mentioned she was doing it a while back, but it didn’t clue in at that point that it might be something I’d want to do. I guess I thought that I was already doing an event, so why would I want to do another. Then Karen told me more about the event a few days ago, and it sounded like fun and decided, hey why not. I feel that at almost 17 weeks pregnant, I am kind of like a mom, and I should absolutely celebrate in this way. And I don't know for how many more months it will be comfortable to run events anyway.

The thing is for me, Mother’s Day has always come and gone with mixed emotion. For years, it was a difficult day because I knew what it stood for. Since the invention of social media, it got even harder. I would see almost everyone I know post a message sharing their loving relationship with their mother on Facebook. I had nothing to post for myself. I have made peace with my strained relationship with my own mother. And it has become much much easier since marrying Cam 3 years ago. I feel that now I can legitimately call his mother “Mum”. But you know what, it still isn't an easy day.

While we certainly tried to have a beautiful relationship, it simply never happened for my mother and me. A complex relationship like ours meant that for the longest time, I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be or was ready to be a mother myself. How could I possibly give my child the meaningful mother/child relationship they deserve when I haven’t experienced firsthand an example that works? But I soon realized my own experience actually makes me very capable of doing this. I have learned through years of heartache. I know I won’t be perfect, but I’m sure going to love my child and do my very best for them.

So with this pending Mother’s Day, I was feeling a bit conflicted. How do I feel about this day now? I’m not officially a mother until I give birth or am I? Cam surprised me last night with a "mom-to-be gift" so he believes I'm eligible. The outpouring of love from friends today makes me feel eligible. Next year will be my first official mother's day, but as I’m so thrilled and over the moon to be a mom-to-be, so why not start the celebration now. If I can turn my feelings about the day toward thinking of me and my own family that I have created with my husband, this shall be a beautiful day indeed. I find running gives me a positive outlet to reflect and I often somehow find a way to express myself through this sport. An event in the community where I get to celebrate what motherhood can be with other mothers sounded like exactly what I needed.

Shopper's Drug Mart Run For Women
The Run For Women yesterday was a really fun time. It wasn't the usual kind of event I attend - more of a community fun run than a runner's run as I didn't see even one person I knew until after I finished and found my girlfriend Patti on course walking with her two daughters. It is a timed race, but no awards for time, and no competitive element whatsoever. The event is all about fun and celebrating womanhood.

I arrived to the site about 40min before the race start time, just enough to get the lay of the land, find a washroom, and see if I could locate Patti before the race. I didn't find her, so I spent the pre-race time on my own. It wasn't so bad really as I enjoyed taking in the energy of the event. When it was the 5K runners time to line up, the announcer explained the corrals and that "really fast" people, as in those who expect to finish in under 35 minutes should enter the first corral. I certainly knew I would be under 35min or around that anyway, but I felt odd lining up in the first corral with my pregnant body. So I lined up at the front of the second corral instead. But I also have never thought of 35min as a super fast finish time anyway!

The course pleasantly surprised me as I actually hadn't given the course map a look. Starting from Wesbrook Village in UBC, we went into the trails of Pacific Spirit Park, before looping back to the village. The course closely resembled that of the Canada Day Run I've done a few times. The wave start meant it never felt crowded. The weather was perfectly mild and I felt great! I wasn't sure how I'd fare as we had a late night the night before (the U2 concert!), but I slept great in the time that I did get, and all conditions were perfect to run strong.

Again, as always, I ran by feel rather than by monitoring pace on my watch. I paced myself comfortably and intentionally walked up a few of the hilly sections (not that it was super hilly but there were a couple incline sections), just because I didn't want to push and risk the abdominal discomfort I had after the BMO 8K, especially knowing I had to run the next day. I crossed the finish line in 33:25 which surprised me considering what felt like a leisurely approach. Again, something so wonderful about this second trimester. Perhaps I should have lined myself up in the first corral afterall!

I was given a finishers bracelet and a swag bag from Shopper's Drug Mart that is actually kind of obscenely huge - loaded with all kinds of product including full-sized (not sample sized) shampoo, antiperspirant, soaps, razors, you name it. Then after this swag, Life Brand gave us more goodies, and food vendors did the same. Around the corner was a delicious pancake breakfast complete with fruit topping! I couldn't believe how much we were spoiled. I stretched, wolfed down some pancakes, and headed to my car to unload the goods I'd collected and grab my sweater. I was then able to check my phone to see the official results and to confirm that I had not missed Patti crossing the finish line. As my car was parked on course, I stayed there (it was warm!) and watched the race.

When Patti and her daughters were in view, I hopped out and joined them to the finish line. Her eldest wanted to run but was tired so I offered her my hand and that seemed to make her want to run to the line and she grabbed my hand again stronger to make sure I came along. So I crossed the finish line a second time with them and it was a very sweet moment. I loved seeing them and being able to enjoy the post race festivities with this beautiful family and inspiring example of a loving mother. When we parted ways for the afternoon, I headed downtown to collect my package for my event the next day.

Here I am with the post-race afterglow.

Fairmont Mother's Day Run
So today was the 2nd event of the weekend, the Mother's Day Run. Like yesterday's event, there was a choice between a 10K and a 5K but I opted for the 5K given I was running back-to-back days. I was quite tired when I got up this morning, but I had a good 8.5hour sleep. I could feel yesterday's run in my abdominal region and groin. This is a common active pregnancy symptom, so I just knew in my head and heart that today I'd have to run a bit slower.

Being a point to point course, there are some logistics to sort. The start and finish only being about 3km apart though meant it was a little less stressful to navigate. The race organized shuttle buses between the start and finish so I parked near the finish and shuttled to the start. I was able to connect with both Karen (a mother of two who came to the race solo) as well as Sara who was there with her family. Here are Karen and I pre-race.

After some catching up, we checked our extra gear for pickup at the finish line and lined up at the starting area. Karen is rather speedy these days and knowing again this isn't a competitive race, placing is a real possibility here. So she lined up near the front and I joined her but kept to the side of the path to allow others to pass me as needed. This course ran from Ceperley Park in Stanley Park to Jack Poole Plaza with one loop around Lost Lagoon. It's a very flat course with only one incline area of note toward the end to get up the ramp to Jack Poole Plaza. I took only two walk breaks compared to three yesterday but still felt my pace was a lot slower than yesterday (again, I didn't track it, just did what felt comfy), and made very sure not to push myself.

The weather was perfect for the run and just started lightly raining as I neared the finish. As I walked up the ramp to Jack Poole Plaza, the sky started to open up and rain started coming down. Karen, who finished about 10min ahead of me, took this blurry photo with her wet cell phone of me crossing the finish. Notice the bump in my profile?

When I got to the finish, a volunteer wrapped a beautiful pashmina scarf around my neck, the finishing gift to all moms running. It's beautiful and kept me warm in the rain that was now pouring down. Karen and I quickly sought cover and awaited Sara's family's finish and word on whether they were giving out awards. Karen got 1st in her age category and I believe was the 2nd female to finish. I came in 10min later at 36:08 which was enough for 8th place in my own category. Not too shabby for me and the bump!

It was brilliant seeing Sara and her family there too. Sara is a new mom herself and this was her first official Mother's Day! She knew how special today was for me and surprised me with a lovely mom-to-be Mother's Day card. How very thoughtful.

I felt so much love today and yesterday and I can't wait until my first official Mother's Day when I get to spend it with my child. Until then, I will keep on gestating and keep on trying to be a healthy and fit mama.

Thanks for reading!
<3 Z


  1. Sounds like a super awesome race weekend! So much fun!! I LOVEEEE it when you run "leisurely" and surprise yourself with the pace/time. <3 I also really appreciate you sharing your reflections on mothers day weekend - I had a lot of mixed emotions myself over the course of the weekend and felt like maybe it was just me that found this weekend hard or at least a really big mix of things. I appreciate your honesty and openness in sharing

  2. Thank you Monnie! I think it's important to be honest. I tend to keep that sort of thing to myself, but I wouldn't be authentic if I didn't mention it. It's definitely not just you that finds the weekend hard. There is a minority out there and we should all support one another. <3