On the Road and On the Track

The past week we have had the opportunity to come see some of the fastest races in the world at the Oxy High Performance Meet. For the first time Joanie was trackside at daddy’s race and made it until the very end seeing the 5000m at 9:40pm. As I suspected there was no way she could shut down and sleep until the excitement was over.

For both Alan and I, Joanie has been great in bridging the gap between getting caught up in the grind of everyday life activities and being a witness to the miracle of a new human being just starting her life.

We joke about how as you get older, its just a matter of not getting bored and it becomes harder and harder since nothing is new. I remember the first time I went to Six Flags Great America at age 10 and how I thought that day must have been exactly what Heaven was like. The first roller coaster ride was such a thrill that I remember talking about it word for word to my friends for weeks. On the drive home I still felt like I was on a ride and was overwhelmed by how amazing that day was. It was completely worth the wait of over 2 hours just to get on the newest, scariest ride Batman. I remember stating to my parents when I got home that my dream job would be to work at Six Flags one day. As the years went on I looked forward to the one day a year I got to go back until I was in about high school. By that time, chasing boys around was more exciting than a rollercoaster ride. Today I would probably dread waiting in line to get on Batman if it was over 20 minutes.

For Joanie everything is so exciting and new, so now we can relive our childhood and remember how the small things in life can be so awesome. It can be especially helpful in bouncing back when things aren’t going exactly how we planned. When Joanie sees a swing at the park she starts shrieking with anticipation and immediately has the biggest smile and laughs when she gets in. When she gets to pet a dog her face lights up and she squeals her version of the word “dog”. There are firsts every day that give Joanie joy like holding her own spoon or riding in a shopping cart or meeting another baby who is her size. All these small things make you take a step back when life isn’t perfect. It helps you realize that in the big picture no matter how much money you make or how fast you run doesn’t matter, and what does is experiencing and sharing your life with others.

That being said, of course Alan (and I) want to run fast! Even more so, it would be great if Joanie could someday understand and see why daddy lives in Mammoth Lakes all spring and the only time we see him is when we get everything packed up, get on an airplane and leave most of her toys at home.


For Joanie and I, instead of finding mom playgroups or getting in a real routine back in Portland, much of our free time revolves around getting out in the stroller to run, doing errands, playing at the park while mommy does core and getting ready for our next big trip. Joanie’s babysitters come over twice a week so I can get over to the track for a couple hours or go to a local race. Our last babysitter used for non-running purposes was a date for my birthday on Valentine’s Day.

She has no idea that it’s not normal to spend over an hour a day in a running stroller or watching dad do crazy warm up exercises with an altitude simulator mask on. Most dads come home from work at 6pm in a business suit while her dad comes home at noon to give sweaty hugs and eat what most people would consider 2 or 3 meals worth of food, take a nap while Joanie does and then puts on his tights and goes back to work.

I know I personally don’t have to do these workouts or put so much emphasis on running, in fact most of the time I have a slight feeling of guilt since there isn’t a big purpose to mine. Having run for more than 12 years I am not delusional to think I will ever “make it” as an elite level runner. I do it for my own sanity and thrill so I don’t get the dreaded boredom with life. I could be putting my energy into a full time job, but after being a nanny for a successful mom/lawyer, I just couldn’t do it. I love being a mom and look forward to everyday I wake up to spend all the time in the world with Joanie. She is only going to be getting bigger and I can never take back these moments right now when she is almost a year old and changing daily. Alan also doesn’t want to miss any of this, so that is why we have been traveling so much so he only goes 2-3 weeks max without seeing her.

It has been such a privilege to travel, and it has been getting easier. My first time I flew was age 19 but so far Joanie has made over 8 round trips in less than a year! I love when I show up to security wearing a baby, pushing an oversized running stroller packed with stuff and people look at me annoyed while they try to rush in before I get there. Only then I make sure I get there before they do and then get through security faster than they could. It’s the little challenges like that by going about your day that make being a parent fun once you get the hang of it (I’d say after the first 6 months).

You try to master fitting in as much “me” time as you can while still giving so much of yourself to this kid to make sure they are able to experience all they need to be happy, learn, grow and feel loved. Along the way, you are certain to make costly mistakes like feeding them too much of a new food causing a wake up from 4-5:30am with tummy pain (last night!). Any of those times are all part of the deal in which makes all the little victories of smiles and laughs so much better.

At the moment we have been in Mammoth Lakes for the week and it’s been a luxury to have the family together. I’d sacrifice less oxygen any day to spend quality time with Alan. The new group has been a great transition and despite having less than ideal results from recent races, I have seen how Alan is really enjoying himself day in and day out. Now that he has been healthy the last few months and doing workouts with guys who are running great, I know it has to be only a matter of time before things start clicking along.Image

As for me, I am so fortunate to be healthy and completing some of my fastest workouts in my life, and I also need to translate that during my next race! I live for the tough workout days I meet with my training partner Kristen Rohde (and others) and have decided to make a focus on getting my steeple PR down. The only downside is that the girls I run with don’t do that race, and I find much more enjoyment going through the process race day with them.

Even after all this time I still have to fight my race day nerves and conquer my inner thoughts during the race. My nerves have been a big limiting factor in the past and I’m trying to change that now. Thankfully I have an amazing coach Jon Marcus who can help me snap out of it and remind me “Don’t be a dork!” My next shot is May 29 at the USATF Oregon steeple championships and Alan may be back for Pre. We’re excited for these next few months!


  1. Cool. It helps me keep it real

  2. Robin Judice · · Reply

    Julia, I am so impressed with your approach to life…and return to running! Congrats on YOUR performance in the steeplechase at PDX tonight. You are an inspiration. It sounds like you and Alan are creating a nice balance.

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