After 32 long, wonderful, excruciatingly painful, and extremely joyous miles running the 2016 Bryce Canyon 50K, I crossed the finish line — then made a beeline to my 6-month-old baby boy.
While I was happy to see my husband, my six older kids and a handful of other family members, it was my baby who I was most relieved to see — and if you have ever had a nursing baby, you know exactly what I mean. After 6 ½ hours of running, and another hour tacked on for pre-race wait-arounds, relief couldn’t come fast enough.
The milk inside my mom-jugs was starting to curdle, and I felt like Randy on “A Christmas Story” because the skin from one armpit to the other had been stretched so intensely, that putting my arms down was completely out of the question.
But, as I made my way to the (not-so) secluded tree stump just off the course, I looked in my baby’s eyes, and together we knew that we had made it. He would now eat, and I would be able to fit into my bra again.
This moment was one that I have repeated several times over with each of my children, so I fully expected and made preparations to minimize the effects of this tumultuous situation. Yes, as awful as it seems, my plight could have been much worse. And lucky for you, I am sharing my tips so you don’t DNF the due to painful bosoms.
1. Starve your baby during the night
Now that I’ve got your attention, I don’t actually want you to starve your baby, but not feed him as much during the night before the race. This especially rings true for babies who wake several times to feed.
The longer you hold your baby off, the hungrier he will be when you are ready to feed, and the emptier you will be for the start of your race.
2. Wake your baby early
From my experience, the earlier your baby wakes up, the higher likelihood that he will sleep while you’re gone. I usually get dressed, then get my baby up. Trust me on this. Daddy or whoever is the caregiver will thank you because a sleeping baby is much easier to deal with than a fussy one.
3. Limit the snacks while you’re racing
Oh, look. We’re back to starving your baby. Hmmm. Whelp, notice I said, “limit,” not deprive. Your baby will get hungry, so have a small bottle or snacks available, but ask your husband or caregiver to limit the food so that your baby will be ready to nurse when your race is over.
Some Ultramarathons are accessible to crew, which may allow you the chance to feed your baby intermittently throughout. Also, if you don’t mind adding a few more minutes to your race time, then adding a breast pump to your drop bag(s) may provide some much-needed relief.
If you choose to do either of these, you may disregard the previous tips.
4. Choose your bra wisely
Bouncing boobs may look good on Baywatch, but we all know it isn’t comfortable, especially when they’re filled to the brim with rock solid milk. This is why it’s so, and did I mention SO important to wear a bra that provides support for your growing mother load.
Everyone is different, so do your research to find the one that works for you.
5. Fuel, fuel, fuel
OK, so you know that fuel is important for you under normal circumstances, but due to the fact that much of your calories and fluid will still go to producing milk, you need to be doubly aware of it (pun intended).
Make sure to drink and eat more than usual before and during the race so that you will have the energy to sustain yourself, and have enough food for your baby when you meet again.
6. Have wipes handy
So, you know what it’s like to lick a salty, unwashed potato? Me, neither. But, I assume it’s pretty comparable to a baby to eating right after his mom ran in the heat for several hours.
Yeah, you might wanna clean up a bit before feeding your baby perspiration.
7. Include it in your training regimen
If you are running a race, you likely have a few months to train, so why not include your baby race plan in your training? If you do, when you cross that finish line, you will be able to focus on other painful matters — like lost toenails, pulled calf muscles, heat exhaustion, and creaking knees. And when you make your way to that (not so) secluded tree stump to have that joyous reunion with your nursing baby, the only crying will be tears of joy for having accomplished something spectacular.