To wrap up our Runner Mom Series, I want to introduce you to Melissa. Melissa is a runner, wife, and mom of two kiddos, Samson (5), and Raelyn (almost 4). She’s also vegan!! So naturally I like her and think you will too. Plus how sweet is this photo of Melissa’s tattoo that matches her daughters feeding tube. (More to the story later in this post)
Melissa, since this series is all about moms who run, tell us about some of your running accomplishments.
I think my biggest accomplishment running wise would be qualifying for Boston 6 months after running my first marathon (4:18) and being able to cut off 51 minutes in a year. I worked incredibly hard over the past few years to get faster and I am so happy it showed come race day! See, more proof that you can qualify for Boston if you just work at it. I think my other accomplishment would be defeating doubt and body insecurities. I spent a long time in my first few years running comparing my fitness level to how I looked, and not considering myself a runner because I felt like I didn’t look the same way as “everyone else”. In the past 2 years I’ve really gotten over that and embraced that I may not look like the typical runner but I have a runner’s body, this is what that looks like and I’m still a strong mother runner. I think we could all learn this lesson and put it into practice.
Speaking of accomplishments, check out her shiny new PR…
Were you a runner before you have children?
I wasn’t a runner until I started college. I actually rowed on my high school’s crew team. When I went to a college that didn’t have a crew team, I started running. I ran one half marathon in January 2010 with my dad with very little training behind me and finished in 2:16.
You’ve been pregnant twice so you’re basically a pro in my eyes. What was your fitness and running like during them?
When I was pregnant with Samson I was not active at all. I gained well over 70 pounds and ate TERRIBLY. I ended up weighing 200 pounds after he was born and started doing home workout DVDs to lose the baby weight (and did!). When I was pregnant with Raelyn I was determined to stay fit and active. I did some workout videos from home and ran 2-3 days a week between 2-6 miles. Sometimes solo and sometimes with Samson in the jogging stroller. I was able to continue running until 30 weeks when I had to stop due to some pregnancy complications.
Your pregnancies were very different. Could you tell a difference between your labor and recovery for each?
Physically, my pregnancy with Samson was pretty easy, regardless of my lack of fitness. My labor was pretty easy (and fast!) and I recovered well. But my pregnancy with Raelyn, was much better for my mental health and made me feel a lot better and happier through my pregnancy with her. I think it really helped my post partum anxiety knowing I had kept up with running as long as I was able to and was allowed to start running sooner after birth.
How has your fitness/running changed after kids? Any suggestions on how to get back into shape?
I would say my running has changed post kids in that it’s more important for me to make as a priority now. Before kids it was easy to just put off running or working out all day, but now it’s my one moment of quiet where I’m free to be myself and not be held accountable for anyone else for a little bit. It makes me less stressed out and more patient with my babies. And it makes me feel like myself again when at times motherhood, and caring for a child with some special health needs can be very overwhelming.
I would suggest taking it a day at a time. It’s easy to give up when you are getting back into shape and frustrated that you’re not where you used to be (or want to be) the minute you get started. So taking it a day at a time and celebrating little victories of an extra 10 minutes of working out a day is key to not getting overwhelmed and frustrated! Also, I’ve learned that getting it done first thing in the morning sets the tone for your day and makes you feel great all day knowing you’ve already accomplished something for your health!
So you’re a vegan as well! I love it!!! Why did you choose to go vegan and is the rest of your family also vegan?
I am vegan, the rest of my family is not. I chose to go vegan for health reasons. I think I overall feel better and definitely am less weighed down without eating processed foods and junk. I think it’s important to set a good example for your family’s health in that our food is fuel and that God wants us to honor our bodies with what we eat. However, since I just went vegan about 3 years ago, I didn’t think it would be fair to force my entire family to eat that way. So I am hoping I can lead by example, offer healthy options for my children and husband and one day if they so choose they can go vegan as well. (I have a feeling my daughter will at some point, my boys, not so much haha)
Would you mind sharing a little more about Raelyn’s feeding tube?
She’s our little force to be reckoned with. She has had a feeding tube since she was 11 months old. She eats by mouth a totally normal and adequate diet of 3 meals a day and snacks, but due to some malabsorption issues and metabolic disorder, her body does not process foods correctly. She get’s an additional 1200 calories from formula over night through her feeding tube. This helps her gain and maintain weight in a way she was never able to before she had her feeding tube. It was a really hard adjustment at times, but Spencer and I are so thankful for her tube helping her thrive. We thank God for His hand over her through everything she has had to go through through the years and praise God continually for giving us the resources to be an advocate for her, and keep her healthy and thriving!
Thank you Melissa for sharing your story with us. I love your reminders about when you’re on your post-partum journey to celebrate little victories – even if it’s 10 extra minutes of a workout. And you are setting such a wonderful example for your precious little family in all that you do.
I hope you enjoyed Melissa’s journey. Check out some of our other Runner Moms in the series here.