Sunday, March 13, 2011

On running and babies

The last time I competed in the World Cross Country Championships was 2006, when it was in Fukuoka, Japan. I remember the members of the Japanese women’s team giggling and looking at us. Finally one of the girls got brave enough to come over and talk. The entire team was probably under 20, while our runners were all in their mid 20s and 30s. They were shocked we were so old — ouch! They looked at us in wonder and asked, “What about babies?”

No one on our team that year was a mom, but a witty teammate replied, “We have dogs.”

Before Quin, I can’t say I was around too many babies.

My only other experience with a competitive running mom was my college coach at the University of North Carolina, Joan Nesbit. She had just had a baby when I started as a freshman and made it look so easy. She brought the baby to practice on occasion and would race back and forth across the track with her little girl in a backpack, calling out splits as we did a workout. When the baby got older, you could find her in the long jump pit, using it as a big sandbox. Coach Nesbit seemed tireless dealing with running and parenthood. She even made the 1996 Olympic team in the 10,000 meters.

Now I realize there were probably tons of behind the scenes things I never know about. I took Quin to my first two races because I was still nursing and frankly could not bear to leave him. Though he was wonderful during the day, night was another matter. Maybe it was the over-stimulation or the disruption in his routine, but regardless, he cried both times from about midnight to 3 a.m. before the race. My husband Jon and I tried everything to calm him down.

It finally took a car ride with Daddy for Quin to get back to sleep. Though I never want to make excuses before I race, getting just three or four hours sleep the night before is never fun.

Luckily, taking Quin to practice or races has become much easier now that he is almost 2. While I was relaxing in the room the morning of my last race, Quin and Jon were playing in the hotel pool. I passed them walking to the race course and as I was warming up that day Quin yelled, “Hi mama” as I ran by.

Coach Nesbit used to say she did not like having her kids at her races because it made her soft. I have to say, I love having the whole family at my races. It helps that Jon and even coach Bob Sevene are on Quin duty the day of the race so I can focus on the task at hand.

There are some days where Quin says, “Mama, no running,” as I’m heading out the door. I hate that I have to go. Most of the time as I leave he says, “Mama, run fast.”

The poor kid doesn’t stand a chance with two parents who are runners. In fact, if you stopped by our house on most nights around 7, Quin can be found doing his nightly laps through the kitchen and living room. The other night, we must have done 40 laps, enough that I think I should count them into my weekly mileage.

Though Jon jokes we should stick a golf club in Quin’s hands, I admit I am proud of my little runner.

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