Sabrina De La Cruz on being a new mom

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Meet Sabrina De La Cruz, mum to 8-month-old Myles, 2020 Olympic Trials qualifier, runner, social worker and founding member of Angel City Elite, a Brook-affiliated women’s team based in Los Angeles with a mission to increase representation of the BIPOC in running. We met De La Cruz as part of our Spring 2022 360 YOU Program. Our goal for the second edition of this members-only program, led by TrackClubBabeis how to unleash your potential.

Sabrina De La Cruz has been blessed to share most of the trials and tribulations of her tandem racing journey with her sister, her husband and her newfound family of teammates.

De La Cruz and her twin sister Regina Lopez followed similar trajectories beginning by training together in high school. They overcame eating disorders and eventually made their marathon debut together: the 2016 Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix. They both ran it in 2:52:02. Later that same year, Sabrina and Regina qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials at the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento. Sabrina crossed the finish line in 2:41:16 and Regina in 2:42:07.

In August 2020, De La Cruz married her college sweetheart – fellow elite runner Andrés De La Cruz, who also works as a chiropractor and trainer at California State University, Los Angeles.

Beyond her speedy family, De La Cruz is also the founder of Angel City Elite, an all-Latino five-person group whose mission is to “close the disparity gap in BIPOC’s representation in the running community. , Aware, Empower, Educate, and Inspire Since its inception in March 2021, ACE has connected with a variety of high school runners in Los Angeles and Houston, encouraging them to pursue running and inspiring them with possibilities.

And with all that support behind her, De La Cruz has leaned on them all as she navigates a new chapter in her running career: parenthood. Since becoming a mom in September 2021, De La Cruz has forged a new, happier and less rigid bond with running. Check out her postpartum journey in the conversation below.

Women’s running: How was your pregnancy?

Sabrina DelaCruz: Pregnancy was such a rollercoaster. I struggled with emetophobia, the fear of vomiting. It was very hard. Two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, fear gripped me and I couldn’t even get out of bed. The idea of ​​going to the toilet scared me, because seeing the toilet would make me want to vomit. I had to seek help from a psychologist and went to exposure therapy. It was difficult to function during the first four months of pregnancy. I couldn’t keep my running routine.

In the second trimester, I was much better. My husband and I purchased a Peloton. I was able to run 4 to 5 times a week on the Peloton.

In the third trimester, I gained a lot of weight and could barely lift my body. I had to stop running again. Keeping a consistent running routine during pregnancy was a lot harder than I first imagined.

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WR: What about your postpartum recovery?

SDLC: Motherhood brings me so much joy. It was almost hard to find the motivation to race again. I used to see all these women, after having babies, they come right back. I struggled to find my “why”. I started walking and jogging two weeks after having my son, Myles, but couldn’t find a good pace.

Mental health was another challenge. I had postpartum depression and cried all the time. Again, my psychologist helped. When I finally understood why I was depressed, I realized it was because I hadn’t run. Part of my identity has been lost. Three months after having Myles and undergoing mental health therapy, I finally started running on a more regular basis. The process of
coming back to racing reminded me of who I was again. I am a runner and a mom at the same time. Of course, sometimes one identity overrides the other, but they will always be integrated.

All the midnight meals, diaper changes, and juggling with my husband when we take turns doing our own errands…all taught me to appreciate running even more.

WR: Did anything about pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum recovery surprise you?

SDLC: I’m just surprised people were shocked to see me running in my second trimester. Many of my friends and family have told me that I should stop running with a baby inside me. I understand why they were worried, but I was also quite capable of it, and with the doctor’s blessing.

Probably the biggest surprise is learning how the body shifts and changes, before, during and after pregnancy. Weight gain was part of it, but also my digestive system seemed a little out of whack. I was very constipated and had heartburn.

After having the baby, it was almost a frustration that my body didn’t bounce back fast enough. I had to remind myself to stop comparing the new me to the old me and stop thinking like “I was able to do this”. It was not a compassionate way to talk to myself. This shift in mindset towards self-love was difficult.

WR: What was your greatest support during this life change?

SDLC: My family and the community. First, my mother and my sister. My mom gave me a gym pass last Christmas and we went to the gym together. It motivated me to get back to running. My sister was there for me. My husband, Andrés de la Cruz, always puts my racing needs first. If we’re not home together, our texts usually start with “Did you run

My Angel City Elite teammates were also my biggest motivation. They kept me informed of their racing schedule. That alone reminds me that I’m part of this amazing team where we push each other to grow. And of course, my friends, who never fail to check on me and invite me to run.

WR: What are your new racing goals? How has your relationship with running evolved, if at all?

SDLC: This spring, my goal is to get back in shape. I recently ran a local 5k with my teammate at ACE. It was great fun to get back to racing. I always focus on transitioning from motherhood to fitness slowly, at a pace that would allow me to balance my parenting duties.

In the summer, I will focus on racking up more mileage consistently (70+ miles/week); for the fall and winter, I could run a half marathon or a full marathon. Twin City Marathon and California International Marathon are two options.

RELATED: 360 YOU: running during pregnancy? Take it one day at a time

My big goal is to qualify again for the Olympic Marathon Trials. The new standard for women is 2:37, which means it’s a 5:59 pace. I have to train at a pace of 5:55 in order to have a margin of error. That’s about 15 seconds per mile faster than my personal best. It’s intimidating but I think I can do it.

My relationship with running has evolved to be more flexible. In the past, if I missed a race, I was anxious and angry. Now I have made peace with the unpredictability of my new life. Once Myles is older, I can’t wait to take him for a stroller ride.

WR: Throughout this course, which are the runners mothers that you admire?

SDLC: I look up to a variety of elite and non-elite level running moms. Lauren Floris is one. She is the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams at Pepperdine University. Elizabeth Camy-Blackwell is another. She has 2 children and a doctorate and works full time. She’s been known to get up at 3:30 a.m. to get started.

It was amazing following them on Instagram and Strava to see them running to their full potential, working, coaching others, growing in other areas of life, all while balancing motherhood. It makes me believe that I can still race at the highest level.

WR: What advice do you have for other new mother runners?

SDLC: My advice for new running moms would be to be patient. When you first start running, follow your feelings and don’t worry too much about your pace. Trust that your body will eventually get back to that rhythm.

Second, mix your running with strength training. Strength not only helps you get back in shape, but also serves to break up the monotony of running and adds variety and fun. My husband, Andrés, who is a trainer and chiropractor, gave me these exercises: Kegel exercises, squats, bridges, posterior pelvic tilts and diaphragmatic breathing. Try to incorporate these exercises into your day. Go to the gym once or twice a week. You will begin to see the body change.

Finally, be compassionate with yourself. The early childhood of a mother’s life is a special stage that passes very quickly. It is worth celebrating every day. Yes, it’s hard to juggle different priorities, but enjoy all the little moments with your babies. This means being flexible with your running schedule and pace; integrating your mother and runner identities; stay focused on your goals
but by trusting the process even more; and loving each other through the process.

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