Okay, we admit it. We’re feeling pretty BLAH right now after seeing all of your accomplishments. How do you handle comparing yourself? Have you struggled with people being uncomfortable with this type of rare success you've had? It's really rare to see a woman do what you did! Tell us about that.

I learned a long time ago that a comparison for me is only worth taking if the action taken immediately after moves me closer to my own goal. If it takes me further from the goals that really mean something to me, I mean deeply, I try looking at it as her accomplishment, or his accomplishment, as nothing to do with me. I could see discomfort in the comment sections of some of these videos: women talking about how they didn’t want the expectation set for all women to perform at some elite level after pregnancy. That was hard for me to listen to.

I think seeing someone else’s light should cause you to reflect on your light, not put it down. I don’t think we should focus on outcome comparisons, but I do think we should focus on process comparisons. Like, wow, I’m so inspired by that effort, I’m going to see what happens when I use that same effort and energy in the pursuit of my own goals. Your 100% might look different than your sister’s 100%, but it's raising yourself to that 100% that helps you access your purpose, and get closer to your own ultimate potential.
By the way, that was a very small group in the comment section. Most were beyond supportive!

Did you ever just want to quit? What kept you going during your pregnancy to not just sit back and be a normal pregnant person? Do you have a love for running, was it the goal to qualify so soon after, or a mix of both?

I truly believe we do not rise to our aspirations, but fall to the level of our systems. I’ve really implemented this in my life because I have a long history of planning to accomplish X and quitting before the finish line. Since solving for this, (mostly, not always) I now have a system that keeps me going when I want to quit.
During pregnancy I had weekly mileage expectations for myself. I always had some cool trail I was going to explore next. I had a husband who wanted to run with me. Sometimes I would commit to going out for only a mile, then realize it was worth going another 7. Setting up an environment for success is really key for your goals, and sometimes just taking the first tiny step is all you need to finish the rest.

In terms of motivation, I couldn’t help but think during the pregnancy, "What if? Why not?" 

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit this because it seems so dramatic, but I would dwell on the hardships women have gone through, single moms, neglected mothers, women just trying their hardest and feeling like they will never be good enough, and it would get me so fired up and my pace would pick up by 30 seconds a mile.

I kept my goals prioritized and I told myself that if things lined up I would go for trying to qualify, but a healthy pregnancy was first and foremost. Since that was happening for me, I really tried to enjoy the process and not focus on the outcomes of what shape I needed to be in 6 months postpartum.

What is your no. 1 favorite Gathre product in your home? What is your favorite thing about it and how do you use it most?

Honestly, my favorite Gathre product is whichever one I’m using. I really did not realize what I was missing in my life! My large Maxi Mat is so fun to take to the splash pad because it’s comfy, easy to wipe up, and I feel like a model just sitting there. Don’t get me started on how great the Home Mat is for yoga...

If you had millions of dollars to decorate your dream home, what style would it be? Where would you get inspiration? Where would you shop?

I would love to have a very simple house, with an open kitchen, big windows looking out into the pines, a river running next to it, and spare rooms for weary travelers, extra family, or refugees! I would love a library with nooks and big comfy couches for people to feel welcomed and cozy. The most expensive thing I would want to build is a natural pool with tons of vegetation and a small bridge that people could jump off of. Nature would be the inspiration because I love natural tones and patterns. I bet we would end up with a lot of cool wood so wherever you buy that, is where I would shop. In my mind it’s a combo of industrial and cabin-style.

We see a mom who is finding balance between motherhood and personal passions. This is a constant battle for women around the world. What tips do you have for moms who still want to pursue their own dreams and passions, aside from motherhood?

Huge kudos to the moms whose passion is motherhood. Let’s be clear that different pursuits bring different people joy in different ways, and that’s the spice o’ life, baby. I thoroughly believe that all mothers ought to feel purposeful, all should find it within the scope of motherhood itself, but some divine additional purpose from other areas, too.
With that said, I think everyone needs three things: some form of meditation, a person to talk to, and the ability to learn from mistakes. My top tip is to find something that gives you clear direction and meaning, and know you won’t find an exact balance. That’s okay. Give yourself grace, and know if you keep trying it will add up on both ends.

Tell us about your earliest memory of realizing you loved running. What was it like to absolutely destroy that qualification time? We got chills.

In 7th grade I ran a 5:59 in the mile, but there were rumors floating around that the teacher gave me the extra second to be nice. An eighth grader challenged me to the mile. His whole health class and my whole P.E. class stood on the sidelines watching. I was wearing my baggy black shorts, the P.E. tee rolled at the sleeves, and my fat D.C. shoes with a hole in the toe. This lanky 8th grader towered over me as I wasn’t even 5 feet tall yet. We raced 4 laps around the dirt track, with cheers and shouts from our classmates, and on the last lap I remember digging harder than ever before, and somehow my legs and I beat him by a full three seconds. I ran 5:48 that day without an extra mercy second.
Sometimes during pregnancy I gave myself the chills (and not in a good way) knowing that 8 months after giving birth I would have to run my 5k personal best... TWICE in a row to hit the qualifying time for the 10k. That magical day in Portland, I passed the clock at the halfway mark, and saw I’d run faster than I’d ever run before getting pregnant. I was doing it. THEN I channeled my inner 7th grade DC shoes, and ran the next 5k even faster! To run 20 seconds faster for the second 5k was some kind of miracle. Truly, a miracle. I felt so in control. Knowing my husband and baby were on the finish line watching the execution of months of deliberate work hit me hard in the chest.

Let’s talk birth versus long-distance running. What was the experience like after challenging your body so much with running? How did you feel like the two compared?

Honestly, believe me when I say my pain tolerance is that of a kitten’s. Buuuut my pain threshold is high. The difference is this: the time it takes for me to feel pain is longer because I have conditioned my body. But once it’s there I turn around and head toward Weenie Hut Jr. (#spongebob).

My labor was extremely uncomfortable! I crossed my threshold so fast. It continues to give me so much respect for this secret club women have belonged to since the beginning of humankind. The biggest difference I have found is that my recovery and healing was faster than average. Running is a completely different pain than labor, and labor is much more exhausting. I’ll say it again, it gave me so much more respect for what my body is capable of. While the pains of labor were different from running, the mindset was similar, and being able to stay present and focus a little bit ahead of you at a time was a good skill to have developed for birth.

How do you reset yourself after a draining day?

When I am irritated or exhausted, it blows my mind how often the answer is stabilizing my blood sugar or sleep. Somebody get me a bowl of cereal! It works 90% of the time. I fall asleep at 8:30 probably three times a week, and maybe 9:01 the other days. I always wake up feeling fresh to def tho.
Some days Kenny Lou and I go toe-to-toe. I finish a second run at the end of a 20-mile day, and she’s on her last straw. She bawls as I put on her jammies and change her diaper, feed her, then put her to bed. I close her door, walk over to our living room, lay on my back and do some relaxing stretches while my husband reads to me. Right now it’s a western.
I’ve also cried many a tear to my mom or sisters, realizing I just needed a nap to help reset, but they don’t judge, they just listen. I’m lucky to have them.

If you had to pick one: running on the beach or running on a forest trail?

Can we make sure there’s a river running through the forest? I find mountains of pine trees so enthralling and immense. It’s inspiring, and the air is always fresher. I’ll save the beach for relaxing and rolling in the sand.

You’ve obviously got major stamina. How do you feel like that has changed after having your baby? What has increased? What has decreased?

Big time increases after having a baby. I used to take naps and sleep way longer than I do now. I just get on with it somehow. It seems I’m able to prioritize so much better and let messes (figuratively and literally) roll off my back! Life is so much easier when I don’t worry about the things I don’t have direct control over. I’ve increased my capacity for chaos by centering on what I do have direct control over: my attitude (gratitude and laughter over frustration), and making my bed every morning.

I have found my time in the gym, core and strength exercises have decreased. That’s taking a backseat and I really need to figure out how to keep the ball rolling there. Also the amount of time I have to myself has decreased. Eating dinner? Share with me! Bathroom? Go ahead, stroll right in with me. Shower? Can I come too? Screen time? Not on my watch (literally because I’m trying to be careful about her screen time). She is ever present and I love it.

Overall, I really feel like I have changed to be a better human. There is something about improving for the little eyes and ears now watching and listening to how you talk to yourself, how you treat others, and how you are just trying, that make it easier to become a better mom and a better me.