Oh, the joy of motherhood. . .and being able to run fast while experiencing it.
Just ask Allyson Thompson, who hardly missed a step after bringing twins into the world some four years ago.
Or better yet, check the current Bucks County Roadrunners Club’s Winter Series results.
She’s won every race this year. And did we mention she’s 40?
Allyson barely took time off after having the twins – one named Tyler, after Tyler State Park, where she and her husband, Chris, first met and later got married. The origin of twin Brooke’s name apparently is slightly more random.
Thompson says it was a challenge to maintain her quickness during the early years of raising children but never a burden.
She was walking on a treadmill just a couple weeks after the twins arrived and she’s been steadily gaining speed ever since.
There was never a doubt she would skip a lengthy maternity leave from running.
“Pretty much just to keep myself sane,’’ she says of the quick return. “I started getting up early just to get it in before everyone was awake.’’
How early was closing time the night before?
“I was getting to bed by 8:30,’’ she says with a laugh.
“It was challenging because there are two of them and I had them in the winter, so that made it harder to get out(side).’’
And having a treadmill definitely helped. The kids were just plopped in front of the contraption while mom put in the miles.
Offering a lot of help and support is Chris, a fellow runner who teaches special education students at a Philadelphia school.
Allyson works full-time as an auditor for Health and Human Services, a federal agency with an office in Trenton.
The 1997 Council Rock High School graduate splits her work week between the office and her family home in Langhorne.
Right now, the Winter Series offers her a chance to compete against the best local runners and complements her training with some of the Roadrunners’ elite male athletes.
Thompson, Justyna Wilson and Gina Miller have friendly battles every week.
How do Thompson and the 44-year-old Wilson stay ahead of all those 20-something speedsters?
Well, for starters, masters women these days aren’t conceding anything to age.
“I don’t think women in their early 40s are slowing down. You can see the top elite runners, they’re 40, 42,’’ Thompson says.
She’s run Boston (2007) and her PR time of 2:57 was set just six years ago at Philly. Chris has also qualified for Boston in the past. The plan is to run Boston together some year when the twins get a bit older.
Allyson says maintaining good health is the most important item on her running checklist.
“The key is keep the consistency up,’’ she says. “I do get injured a lot. I probably run more than I should and need to. I find that cross-training helps a lot. Even when I’m not injured, I swim at least two to three times a week (she swam competitively for Council Rock). When I’m injured, that’s pretty much all I do.’’
People marvel at how quickly she returned to competitive running after having the twins.
“Honestly I felt like I needed it (running again) right away because after the C-section I started walking on the treadmill two weeks later,’’ she says, “Just for my sanity I needed it.
“I probably started running too soon. I guess I needed it or I would have gone crazy. Even though I know I can swim and bike, there’s something about running.’’
The support from BCRR has been a big part of her success. She’s been doing the Winter Series since 2002, basically right out of college.
“We do our track workouts Tuesday mornings, even if it’s 10 degrees out,’’ she says. “Without them to push me, meet up with, I’d probably be at home on the treadmill.
“It’s fun to see everyone working hard. When you see the other guys run well and fast, it makes you believe you can do something.’’
When a “mature’’ runner like Thompson keeps experiencing success, does that make her a role model for younger runners?
“I hope so,’’ she says. “There are a couple younger girls, a couple in their 20s. I hope they see that just because you have a couple kids that you can’t run competitive and take the time to yourself.
“It (motherhood) is hard, I do work full time. I’m home with them two days a week. I’m just trying to keep my training going. I run scared every week, that some younger girl is going to come along one of these weeks because they’re just getting faster.’’
It’s not all fierce competition. On any given weekend, Allyson and Chris will break out the stroller and head to Council Rock.
“I think it’s good to get out,’’ she says. “We’ll run four to five miles with them in the stroller and then we’ll let them go run on the track.’’
They might have to wait awhile before they can keep up with mom.
BCRR Winter Series Honest Abe 4.6-Miler, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com