Training Update

So, here I am, about 3 months away from Musselman (half iron distance) and I have given myself a little kick in the rear. Balancing family, work and training is not easy but it is doable. That’s what I keep telling myself. I am determined to make it happen. Although I won’t be training at the level I was previously, where I usually nailed all 10 of the scheduled workouts each week, I am doing the best I can.

Right now, what that looks like this this:

  • Mondays: afternoon (lunch hour) lift plus an evening run (that I lead for the team)
  • Tuesdays: afternoon session on the spin bike at my gym; evening swim at the gym near my house
  • Wednesdays: run (usually speed work)
  • Thursdays: abbreviated spin 2-25 min (due to time constraints) and lift
  • Fridays: rest or makeup day
  • Saturdays: long run
  • Sundays: ride

A far cry from typical week 5 years ago, when I was training for Ironman.

This past weekend I got out on my bike for the first time in…a LONG time. I can’t even remember when the last time was. There was a 20 miler some time last fall and then ill-fated 4 mile ride some time in December of January where is started pouring so we took Max home immediately.  Fortunately I have been putting in time on the spin bike and on my trainer. By time I mean usually 30-45 minutes, but it is something.

But I am on track this week and I’m excited about it. I am hoping to keep it up for a while, at least until the Knight’s next overseas trip. I need a strategy for getting in the workouts while I’m solo. It is hard because Max was a disaster with the gym childcare when I tried to take him – he may be better now. I am not ready to pull him in the trailer on my bike. So when we’re solo I can run and I can run. And if I am very disciplined I can spin when he naps or goes to bed at night but there is so much else to do that it almost never happens.

I am happy to say that I did 27 miles on the bike and felt great during and after. I rode with a friend for the first part and then rode with the Knight and the little Prince for the second half. The little Prince likes the trailer but yells “No!” when we hit a bump. He’ll get used to it. On Monday we can home and he pointed to Oli’s bike and said “Bike!” I asked him who’s bike it was and he thought for a second and said “Dada!” I asked him who rides in that – pointing the trailer and he said “Ma!” which meant Max. So cute.

I did get back in the pool last night after a couple of weeks off. I wasn’t pretty but it was way better than nothing. I am proud of myself for getting back to it.

I got speed work done this week (tiny little speed intervals, but speedy nonetheless). I lifted twice (one day was legs/back/bicpes; one day was chest/shoulders/triceps).

I am hoping that this momentum will continue and I will make good progress going forward. It will get done. I will finish. It might not be glorious but I have done it before and will do it again.

20140417-150646.jpg

Advertisements

Nike Women’s Half Marathon Race Report

I know you’re surprised. It’s a race report. From me. It has been a while, I know. But, hey, I raced, so I will report.

This was my third race since becoming a mom. My first was a 5k last October. It was cold (30-something degrees) and I raced with the stroller. Not just any stroller, but the snap and go, which is not at all designed for racing. Heck, it is just passable for walking. But Max was just two months old and he wasn’t ready for the running stroller just yet. I can’t believe I did that. There was even an off road portion, which had me struggling just to walk. There was no way I was running over grass and gravel with that stroller frame.

Last month I ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. That was a whole other story. To make a long story short, it was after a week from hell (daycare issues, the Knight was away for 3 weeks, work was stressful). Until the day before I didn’t know whether I would even show up or not. I couldn’t figure out how to work the logistics with pumping and such. I finally decided just to go for it. I had no goals other than crossing the finish line. I accomplished my goal and was very proud of myself for not quitting before ever getting to the starting line.

Fast forward to this weekend. I decided that I didn’t want to “race” the Nike Half, but instead I would run for fun. I chose to run with a friend. She was going for a PR (personal record) and I wanted to try to get her there.

So together we ran the 13.1 miles through the streets of DC. You could not have asked for more perfect weather. It was beautiful. I helped my friend set a PR by over 15 minutes.

The race itself was a mixed bag. There were some kinks that come with it being the inaugural race. The corrals were jam-packed – to the point that you couldn’t actually even get into the corrals because they were so full. I’m not sure why Nike didn’t anticipate this, but hopefully next year will be better. On a related note, the course was seriously congested. Had I been trying to snag a PR I would have been more upset, but I just relaxed and kept running.

My little cheerleader!

Nike pre-raceOverall, I think Nike did a good job putting on this race. I was particularly impressed with the “Expotique” which featured free makeovers from Bare Escentuals, free sign making from Luna, and a lot of samples.

The course was a great tour of downtown DC. For me it was familiar territory, which was nice. The starting line was right near my office. I imagine it was also nice for visitors as we ran by the monuments, over the memorial bridge, and past the Capitol.

I admit that a big motivator for me to do this race was the race medal. Or rather, that the medal was actually a Tiffany necklace. It is a nice memento. I also like the finisher’s shirt.

Photo Credit: Priscilla (“PDiddy”)

;

Nike Half

With Janene around Mile 9
Photo Credit: Joe

All in all, it was a good race. I feel so blessed to be able to go out and run 13 miles like it is nothing. The last time I ran longer than 4-5 miles was 6 weeks ago for the Rock and Roll Half, so I didn’t know what to expect this weekend. I would definitely do the Nike Half again next year. Then again, these things always sound like a good idea when the weather is nice. But sometime around January I start questioning why I sign up for Spring races. Winter training is hard. For that matter, so is summer training. Heck, all training is hard. But we love it, don’t we?

Running Love

It is no secret that I am finding being a new(ish), working mom a challenge. It is also a challenge being solo for one to three weeks per month when the Knight travels. It is important to me to be honest about both the ups AND the downs.

So here’s some honesty for you. I believe that if I didn’t exercise I might be on antidepressants right now.

I am a totally different person than I was before. I still haven’t figured out if it is hormones, exhaustion, or what. I don’t think I have post partum depression. But I do feel like I have very severe mood swings, and tend to be very emotional these days.

Even though I feel like I don’t have time, or much motivation, I force myself to workout at least 4 days per week. I try to do more but some weeks four times is the most I can do. (A far cry from Ironman training, eh?) I am so fortunate that I have a gym in my office building and I am able to make it work.

Monday was a tough day. Between daylight savings time and a baby that stopped sleeping well, this momma was beat. I was tired, weepy and stressed.

Then I went for a run.

And I started thinking.

Good thoughts.

Endorphin-enduced thoughts.

About how lucky I am to have a beautiful, healthy baby.

…And a totally wonderful husband.

…And health.

…And a job.

Et cetera, et cetera.

When I got back, I felt like myself again. Like my sane, stable, capable self.

I thought of the sticker I’ve seen that says “Running is my Prozac.” Seriously. If I didn’t run, I think I would be a mess.  

I wish I could spread the word. I believe that my positive response to running, and any exercise for that matter,  is probably pretty common.

So get out there and do it. You won’t regret it.  I know, I’m preaching to the choir.

therapy_magrunning drug

The Yogic Breath

I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of meditation and breathing. When I read about these things I think, yeah, I’m going to do that. But let’s be honest. I am just not good at it. Really, it is amazing that I like yoga as much as I do, because I think of myself as too type-A and endorphin-starved to sit still long enough to do yoga. I was the kid who got excused from nap time in preschool. I just hated it. (Now of course, I’d pay for the privilege).

I have good intentions. But I really struggle to clear my mind enough to meditate. Even when we do the breathing part of yoga in class I usually fight myself to focus on my breath and clear my mind. Those of you can relate are probably also aware of how this can wreak havoc on falling asleep.

Anyhow, Rachel, the fabulous yoga instructor for my pre-natal yoga class, recently emailed us about the “The Complete Yogic Breath.” This kind of breathing is extremely beneficial whether you are pregnant or not. Personally, I really like how I feel after just few yogic breaths. She agreed to allow me to post this.

For me, this breathing is a very manageable way to get a little bit of peace and relaxation in the day. I am not saying I can necessarily stay focused – yet – on doing this for an extended period of time, but even a little while has a benefit.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

From Rachel at YogaVita

BREATHE:

The Complete Yogic Breath (this is the most common yoga breath..you may exhale through the mouth if you are too hot.)

Deep breathing alone is an effective stress management tool. By breathing properly, you not only cleanse your body of the by-products of metabolism, but you also provide sufficient oxygen to the cells of your body allowing them to function efficiently.

Before you begin check your posture.

Sit comfortably allowing your spine to extend through its natural curves.
Inhale

1. Use the muscles of your diaphragm to pull the breath deep into your body—as you do so your belly moves out.

2. As you continue to inhale, feel your ribs expand,

3. and then feel your chest rise.
Exhale

1. As you exhale, first feel your chest fall,

2. then your ribs contract.

3. Finally, pull your bellybutton in toward your spine and use the muscles of your diaphragm to squeeze the last bit of air from your lungs. Belly moves in.

As you continue, allow your breathing to deepen and to slow down. Keep in mind the SLOWER (or the longer) the inhale and ESPECIALLY THE EXHALE, the better your chances to relax.

The best way to focus in the present moment is by starting to focus in the breath. We have covered the abdominal breath (inhale belly out, exhale belly in) and the sighing breath. Also, just being aware of daily mundane stuff that you do as you do them, helps you. Like when you brush your teeth think “I am brushing my teeth” instead of having other thoughts, just be mindful or aware of what you are doing as you are doing it.

Here is an article Rachel wrote for a local publication about the importance of focusing in the present moment in general and what you can learn from that.

Posted with permission from yogavita.com

[Note: Rachel provided more information about the yogic breath which was directly related to labor & delivery. If you’d like to read that, send me a note and I will forward it to you.]

Race Report: Scope it Out 5k

Yes, you read the title right. This is a race report.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t be “racing” right now. But I am still running so that’s what I did. I ran. 

History

First, please bear with me for some background about this event. Scope it Out is a local race dedicated to raising awareness of colon cancer. The organization also raises money for colon cancer research and other initiatives.

Did you know that Colon Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths (in both men and women)? Did you know that it is mostly treatable? Colonoscopies save lives! And while the thought is unpleasant, they’re really not that bad. I know. I had one. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss.

Anyhow, the Scope it Out 5k is the first race I did with Team Z when I joined in 2009. I remember not knowing many people, but being warmly embraced by my new teammates. For starters, it was the day that I met my good friend Holly. We had been emailing each other for a while in relation to her charity Cancer to 5k but had never met in person.

I also remember getting on the metro in my Team Z running top and quickly being accosted, I mean, befriended by this very outgoing and talkative girl named Andrea. She entertained me all the way home. Hi Andrea! She, too, became a good friend.

However, as wonderful as these memories are, what really stands out for me is remembering my friend Shawn Felty. Shawn was fighting colon cancer at the time and put together a team for this race in 2009. He had the biggest team that year and it was a great day for Shawn – and for his many, many friends. Unfortunately, Shawn passed away in December 2010. He is dearly missed!

So, as you can see, this race had some significance for me and I wouldn’t have missed it. There was no question that I would be there to run in Shawn’s honor.

Race Day

For those of you who don’t know, Team Z has a special role in this race. I don’t know who thought of this craziness, but I love it. Fifty Team Zers dressed in red shirts and red beanie hats with the slogan “Catch the Polyp.” We are actually quite a sight.

Joe and me before the race. This will serve as the substitute weight challenge photo for the week.

All of the Polyps!

 

Thanks to Coach Alexis for the pictures

As for the race, there’s not much to tell. I certainly didn’t go out there planning to race. Initially the Knight and I planned to run together. But when I thought about it, it occurred to me that this was a good chance for him to test himself and really go for it. He wasn’t so keen on that idea, especially since I sprang this on him on the drive to the race. Also, he had raced the Rock & Roll Half the week before.

In any case, I had planned to take it easy and run at my usual, comfortable pace. But you know me…probably better than I know me.

We started out together (with Joe and my teammate Stephanie tagging along for the first part). I kind of felt responsible for everyone’s times so I had a little extra fire in me. I was very careful to pay attention to my body and the baby and not hurt myself. I was running faster than I had in a while. I just couldn’t help myself. The energy of the race was getting to me and it felt terrific. (Terrific in an intense heartburn and constant spitting kind of way.)

About halfway through the race I told the Knight that he needed to get going.  He went for it.  Me? Yeah. I kept going. I mean, I let him get ahead of me but then I just kind of found a groove and I pretty much stayed behind him the entire time. My heart and lungs were on fire but my belly and the rest of me felt terrific.

Final result: I finished in 34:50. That is about 7 minutes behind my 2009 time and I’ll take it. I felt great afterwards – and I still do. I ran harder than I have in many, many months and I loved it!

I learned some things: 

  • At this point, it feels like a bit of a struggle to run at *any* pace. When I run 12 minute miles I feel like I’m working hard. But running 10 minute miles on Sunday wasn’t easy either. It really wasn’t that much harder, though. I think running is just challenging now.
  • I am incapable of not racing when surrounded by the energy of a race. I didn’t consciously try to pick people off on Sunday, nor was I trying to stay with the Knight.  It was just subconscious. Boy, I have missed it!
  • Call me crazy, but I love racing and I love running. I get a sense of satisfaction from running that I don’t get from anything else.

I keep hearing that after childbirth you become a faster runner. I’m looking forward to testing that theory. I plan to continue to take it easy and listen to my body over the next 20+ weeks. However, I am very much looking forward to being a running momma. I need to start shopping for a running stroller. Any recommendations?

A Relationship on the Rocks

All relationships have ups and downs. Even in the best of circumstances, there are times when you question what the future holds and try to remember how you felt in the good old days.

Lately, I have to admit, the passion is gone. In fact, I find myself dreading our time together. I am trying to work through this and realize that I’m going through a lot of changes right now. But still, I long for how I used to feel. Is it hormones?

Of course, I’m not talking about my marriage. I’m talking about running and me. I can’t honestly say that I used to be truly excited about running, but I did enjoy it most of the time and I could usually catch a groove.

I distinctly remember one deranged moment when I was training for my first marathon in 2007. It was a beautiful October day and I was 18 miles into my final long run of 26 miles. I remember thinking, “Darn, I only have 8 miles left. But I don’t want to stop!” Even at the time I realized that was insane but I just felt great.

It is no surprise to me that running while pregnant feels different. I figured that that at some point there would come a time where it would become awkward and my body would tell me when it was time to stop. But that’s not supposed to happen for a long time. Right?

I admit to reading about pregnant runners who keep running well into their third trimester. In fact, Jen at the Runners Trials seemed to really enjoy running up until 33 weeks of pregnancy. I want to be like her!

But you know what? Running is just not my thing right now. It is not that it hurts. It is just that it is difficult and not enjoyable. Most of the time I’m out there I’m watching the clock thinking “How much longer do I have to do this?” And boy do I procrastinate getting started.

 The thing is, I didn’t expect for it to be so hard at this point. Yes, I am heavier – about 10 pounds more than my usual weight. But should that really make a big difference? It is not like I have a big baby bump that is making it uncomfortable or awkward to run.

 Now, I realize that my body is directing a lot of energy to growing the Little Olive. It takes a lot of resources. I am really taking it easy. While I run I tell myself “there is no such thing as too slow” and remind myself that I the only thing I am training for is having a healthy baby. I am taking it so easy that  sometimes after my runs I debate whether I even need to take a shower.

In some ways, I think this experience is good for me. For one thing, it helps me understand a little bit about how most people probably feel about running. I think, “Oh, so this is what it is like when it doesn’t come naturally…”

Don’t be confused. I am not naturally a runner. I actually used to hate running. I think it was mostly because I was always trying to go fast. I was a sprinter. When I finally made myself slow down it became far less of a grind and I started to enjoy it. Most of all, I enjoy the effects of running on my body, my mental well-being, and my sleep.  

Another positive is that when (not if) things finally do get back to normal, I think I will appreciate my ability to run even more. You know, that whole gratitude thing that Kate talks about.

Please don’t take this as a complaint. It is just more honesty about my pregnancy journey. This is far from a problem. Just a challenge that I will happily face. I can stop running any time I want and I don’t need to justify that decision to anyone but myself. However, I honestly believe that running is good for me right now and that’s why I am forcing myself to do at least 25 minutes 2-3 times/week. The other days I hit the elliptical or the spin bike. I even swam once. Voluntarily!

Have a great weekend! Run a little extra for me, okay?

Ironman Training and Pregnancy: The Parallels

Official photographer and mother of three, Janene, recently commented that completing an Ironman is much harder than childbirth. With all due respect to Janene, I’m not sure if she’s right, especially since she hasn’t done an Ironman (yet!).

That got me to thinking (in the middle of the night). In a lot of ways, pregnancy and Ironman training are similar.

Training/Prep

Ironman training and pregnancy are roughly the same length of time. People always ask me if I would do another Ironman. My answer is that the race was hard, but manageable. It was the training, however, that was the hardest thing. It was roughly nine months of hard work and sacrifice. I’m not sure if I want to do that again. Pregnancy…yeah. It’s long. It can be difficult. I am only part of the way through, but I am willing to bet that the nine+ months of pregnancy are more trying than the one day of childbirth, but I could be wrong about that.

Nutrition/Diet

Both endeavors require a lot of attention to what you consume. You constantly think about whether you are giving yourself enough of this or that nutrient, all with an eye on the goal. In addition, for me, both often result in sleeplessness due to hunger. One of these days I will figure that out.

Energy

In many ways, the energy roller coaster of pregnancy is a lot like IM training. One day you feel great and the next you are totally dragging. I distinctly remember sitting on the couch one weekend day during IM training thinking to myself, I have some free time, I should really get up and DO something. But I just didn’t have the energy. That is much like what I am going through now. I want to take advantage of all of my childless time, but sometimes it is just better for me to continue bonding with the couch.

Focus

I don’t have to tell you that like most pregnant women, I spend a lot of time thinking about the pregnancy and my baby. I’m not sure if it is more or less than the time I spent focused on IM training. Maybe I just have an obsessive personality.

Planning         

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “plan the race, race the plan” and other such expressions. A lot of IM participants, including me, go so far as to write out an actual plan that includes everything from logistics to attitude to nutrition. It also covers how to handle the unexpected. I haven’t gotten to the point yet, but I understand there is a similar tradition in developing childbirth plans. Maybe I can use the IM plan as a template.

One long day

Dr. Keith, my fabulous chiropractor, laughed at me last week when I told him that Ironman and childbirth really come down to one really long, uncomfortable (or painful) day. Call me crazy, but when I think of it as “just one day” it is much less intimidating.

Repeat performances

As challenging and painful as both race day and childbirth (and training and pregnancy) are, people who’ve been through it generally seem to be willing to do it again. The same goes for Ironman and the training. After my first marathon I said, “That was okay, but I don’t see why anyone would want to do that more than once.” Call it amnesia, but I think it was four months before I signed up for number 2. That period of time has steadily decreased with each additional marathon (yes, I’m thinking about when I can do #9). When I start to have a little anxiety about what lies ahead, I remind myself that there are lots of women who voluntarily go through the experience more than once, so it can’t be that bad. Right?

Joining the Club

When people learn that you are training for an Ironman, or that you’re pregnant, it is like you are a member of a special club. The members of the club welcome you in. Everyone wants to share their stories – the good, bad, and the ugly. Because you are fellow club members, ordinary conventions regarding TMI (too much information) are greatly relaxed.

Feeling special

There is something about being pregnant that makes you feeling like you are royalty. Strangers want to talk to you – or touch you. People want to hear about how YOU are. It is much like IM training. It is so fun to tell people you are training for an Ironman and see their reactions. At the same time, it is fun sharing the pregnancy news with people. Both periods involve people caring about how you are doing and often wanting to hear about your experiences.

Worthwhile

Both undertakings are hard, for sure. There certainly are sacrifices. But I hear that pregnancy is worth it in the end, and I definitely think that Ironman training was worth the investment.  Hearing the words “You are an Ironman” is pretty darn great! Not to mention that Ironman medals are cool. Of course, at the end of this pregnancy thing, we get the most amazing prize of all. I can’t wait!

I’ll be sure to report back in about 6 months and give you my newly enlightened assessment.

Previous Older Entries