Friday, November 6, 2015

34 Week (Lack-of-Running) update

How ironic - during my last post I wrote about how I had been getting in 20 miles a week and things were looking good. I even met up with Tessa and Karen, two other Vermonters with Oiselle, that weekend to run along the Burlington bike path. While my body felt awkward, it was exciting to be out there on flat ground and with ladies who took my mind off the act of running and allowed me to enjoy the experience again. I was able to keep up a quicker pace than I had been running on my own thanks to their company. We filled the run with talking and catching up/getting to know each other. I left excited and optimistic for a few more weeks of running.

The next day, Monday, my running came to a stop at 1.7 miles into a 3.5 mile run.

Me at 5 weeks vs. 29 weeks: also happens to be the day of my second to last run.

About 1-2 weeks prior I had started to feel some pressure in my lower pelvis after long periods of sitting. The pressure started to become more common and I could feel it on days that included a lot of walking and standing (teaching days). Soon, the pressure was just constantly there. There was never any pain, just the feeling that something wasn't right and something (a baby's head?!) was pushing down. Having never experienced something like this before, I became cautious about what I was doing, not wanting to make anything worse.

With all of the heavy pounding of running, I was only able to put up with the feeling for 1.5-2 miles before I was done. Running was no longer fun and felt very uncomfortable. I called my doctor's office that week and was reassured that this feeling is normal - after all - there is indeed a baby in there and gravity is doing it's thing.

The nurse I spoke with had a magical way of putting everything into an honest prospective, saying, "Since there's nothing you should be training for at this point in your pregnancy, you might as well stop and find some hilly walking routes instead." That's easy to say, but hard for a runner to accept. However, I realized that her outside perspective was absolutely right. While walking never gets the same satisfaction as running (not to mention it takes MUCH longer), I don't feel the extreme discomfort that running was bringing. Since then, I have stuck to walking for the last few weeks.

I tried to run once but it had been about 2.5 weeks since my last run so my body naturally felt awkward and bigger and I didn't last longer than 30 seconds in each burst. Fortunately, I was able to get in a few days of "real" cardio a few weekends ago when we were staying at a Marriott in Florida, It was amazing to get on an  elliptical and a stationary bike. If I was made of money I would have already bought both items for my home, but since I'm not, walking has been my workout lately. I've also kept up with yoga every other week. I'd like to do it more, but I can't quite justify spending the money every week when I'm used to working out for free. It's also becoming more difficult now to get in the poses, but overall, I love connecting with other moms/moms-to-be and having some personal, quiet, and active time.

The end of the second trimester and the start of the third trimester taught me that each week is different and you can only accept what your body is giving you (or not) at that moment. I've had weeks of crazy rib pain or lower back pain only to have it completely disappear a few weeks later. The back pain I was beginning to feel all the time magically disappeared once I stopped running (go figure!) so as I get bigger and more awkward I no longer have to worry about my back giving out on me all the time.

31 weeks
Going into this pregnancy I had small goals for myself. Ideally, I would love to have been able to run up to delivery day. That was goal A. Some women can do it, and right now, I'm a little jealous of them. Goal B was to make it to 7 months. I did that so I am content. Another A goal was to get in 1000 running miles with the baby, but I always had a feeling that that particular goal would not be met. My Believe training journal has sat on the same shelf, unopened, for four weeks, and the running mileage total will most likely stay at 848 miles. I was surprised to find myself close to the goal, so I'll accept that number and look forward to training again next year.

I have now entered uncharted territory - the longest break from running that I have experienced since I started running at age 14. I honestly think that 3 weeks was the longest I've ever taken. I'm starting to feel it in my body; I can't sleep as well at night and I don't think it's just because I'm huge. I'm also feeling it in my circulatory system, however, I am also carrying 50% more blood and can't take in as much oxygen with each breath, so perhaps that's the actual reason.

It is fascinating to experience the changes that happen to a body when it is carrying a baby. Nature totally takes over and knows what to do, and it is sometimes hard to accept what has to come. I'm trying to remain mentally flexible (because I'm not that physically flexible anymore) with what happens, and am taking each day as best as I can.

My last-minute Halloween costume at 33 weeks
Perhaps it was handy that running had to stop when it did as we have been busy with various baby classes and are honing in on the last minute things that need to be done in the next 6 weeks. Weekends will become less busy now that friends have visited and we've made our trip to Florida, allowing us to appreciate the smaller joys that only a couple experience before our world is revolutionized next month. In a few weeks we'll celebrate with a baby shower, then Thanksgiving, and of course, that starts the holiday season which always flies by. Soon enough, the little squirt will be with us.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Running at 29 Weeks

I'm technically not at 29 weeks until tomorrow (Saturday) but know that if I don't publish this post today then I won't sit down to write another for four more weeks.

Since my last post at 20 weeks, my belly has definitely popped. I got my Oiselle singlet in the mail last week and tried it on expecting it to not fit, but wouldn't you know - it did! I loved the fabric and the light-weight feeling much better than my PR singlet I've raced in for the past two years and CANNOT wait to begin racing in it next spring. I have race ideas lined up in my head, but nothing set in stone yet. 

Running is still happening - but slowly. It helps that Vermont was so warm during September (the warmest on record by TWO degrees!). I feel slowed down when I have to start layering and I was so happy to be in a tank top this past weekend. With the cooler temps that arrived on Wednesday I know I'll be feeling a little more sluggish - if that's even possible. 

My goal up until last week was to get in 20 miles each week. This is a goal I've had throughout the second trimester. Then things started to change last week. I don't have a desire to run that much anymore. I don't know if I am mentally becoming weak (no more workouts + no more long runs = brain doesn't care to work hard) or if it's just a natural part of the process. I've also said goodbye to my watch for good for the last month. Without it I can finally get into the "zone" and when that happens, running is easier. 

Nothing hurts on me like it did a month ago when I had back/rib pain on my left side. I feel perfectly fine now, but just different. The slow pace is just slooooow. It's hard to keep moving at that pace when I could just walk and put in a lot less effort. In fact, I remember someone mentioning to me that I may not run the whole pregnancy because I'll get tired of moving that slow, and yeah - I'm about there. I won't stop running, though, because there are good days. Some days I get done 5 miles and feel like I could go for a few more. Other days I'm perfectly fine at 1.7 miles - a number I thought I would never be fine with. Since I never know how a run is going to go I just accept it for what it is and know that I may feel totally different the next day. I'm not giving up on it quite yet.

Since it is clear that I cannot possibly sign up for Boston with the deadline now past, I don't have that in the back of my mind pushing me to keep running. I have to admit that I was the crazy one trying to figure out how to make Boston work. I love that race with all my heart. I wanted nothing more than to be there again next year, but I know the reality: how was I going to recovery safely and then begin to train again in less than four months, all while adjusting to a new life? I wasn't. Not to mention the problem that nursing would have brought; There's no way to nurse a baby or bring a pump to Marathon Village that morning. 

Rather than totally sulking like I wanted to do, I had to remind myself that I have an even better, and more difficult race ahead of me in December. Just like with any other marathon, it will take months to recover, so I need to give myself that time. I want to make sure I come back healthy and strong, not rushed and have that result in injury.

In other news, I'm been keeping busier with teaching but have much more time on my hands than I did in DC. I go to yoga when I can, but it doesn't always fit with my teaching schedule so I don't get to go every week. Tom painted the nursery a few weekends ago and we both started birthing classes this last Monday. Guys - it's all getting real! Now that we're less than 3 months away and I have a baby with more powerful kicks it is really starting to sink in. It's exciting, yet there are a lot of unknowns. I am thankful that I have Tom by my side and feel totally relieved to know that we'll make it through together with a lot of laughs along the way. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Running: The First 20 Weeks

I've reached the half-way mark of this pregnancy. Sometimes it feels like it's moving along at a good pace, other times it feels super slow, and then I realize that in no time at all there will be a little human to care for and my life will change in ways I can't even imagine right now.

I'm running anywhere from 3-7 miles a day, 5 days a week. I'd run more if I could go longer without needing a bathroom. Sometimes I wish I was in DC: It would be easier to stop there, but there aren't places around here that I can sneak into without being noticed. I don't want to become "that pregnant lady that always stops to use our bathroom" so I suffer wait until I get home.

I like to hit at least 20 miles a week, but it feels like we have been busier here than in DC, so some days it is just impossible to get a run in or the rain keeps me away. I'm not training for anything so I can totally take a day off due to rain now! This will be the only time in my life that I'll allow myself to do that.

I've put on roughly 670 miles this pregnancy, which averages out to 33.5 miles a week. I ran higher mileage in the beginning (40/50-something mile weeks) while finishing the training for Boston, but have been staying stead at around 20 miles a week for the last month.

Right before a run - 18 weeks

I'm not sure how long I'll continue to run. Ideally, I'd like to run as long as I can, including up to the due date, but I'm speaking as someone who has never been through this and someone who is a lot skinnier now than I will be in a few months.  Each week seems to become a little bit more difficult than the last. I need more air when running (or even walking) up hills, which are EVERYWHERE around our new place, so the pace has been pretty slow.

And I mean way slow. I'm really happy if I can hit a pace that's 1.5 minutes slower than my easy pace days from training this spring. I am much easier on myself than I was a few months ago, especially as I get bigger and further along into this pregnancy. Last Thursday I took a run without my watch (because I couldn't find it!) and had the most amazing, relaxing time. I ran to truly run. I wasn't looking down and seeing slow splits. As a result, I decided that I would briefly take a pit stop at home around 4.5 miles before tacking on another 2.5 miles. That was the longest run I had done in over a month and it felt amazing.

I vowed that I wouldn't touch a watch again for the next five months, and then I found my Garmin! Oh great, you're thinking, just what I need. Actually, it was nice to have it on a few runs to see that I wasn't going as slow as I thought! It was also nice to see that yes - hills do kill me (10 minutes/mile pace), but if I'm going downhill I can get back to 7:30/8:00 pace without even trying. Together - the watchless runs and the Garmin splits have helped to boost my confidence in running again. I'm not trying to win any races (or run in any) but I'm just trying to maintain some fitness as long as I can.

Side note: I stopped to think about why it is that I have trouble running, besides the obvious. It's the breathing, the inability to feel like I can fully put forth an full effort, the more time on my foot for each landing due to my slower pace, the hills, eating too soon before going running, forgetting to go to the bathroom - just in case - right before leaving, the traffic that is now inches from me as there are no sidewalks in VT, and the gravel roads that make footing a little trickier. My mind is always "on" now while I'm running, as opposed to being able to float freely through the run. There are also a lot of unknowns that go through my head on each run. How long can I keep running? What is it going to feel like when I return? When will I be able to race again? How soon is too soon to run a marathon? etc, etc.

Besides running, every week I take 1-2 days to do yoga at home. I went to a class a few weeks back with other moms-to-be but decided that I should wait a little while before rejoining. Talk about intimidating to be sitting next to someone that is due in 5 days! I was by far the least furthest along that night. Fortunately, a month later, I am in the new wave of moms and am not the least furthest along. In no time at all I'll be that mom saying that I'm due in 5 days. Scaryyyyyy!

I also like to get in some strength training for the legs, but have to admit that I have totally slacked on upper body strength. I basically stopped all crunches and core work the minute I found out I was pregnant because 1) I was in taper time for Boston and 2)tend to think those aren't as necessary anymore if the point of your stomach is now to expand. It's ironic that I got pregnant when I did because for the first time in my life I had achieved real abs. That's how the cookie crumbles, isn't it? Those abs will come back post baby, as long as I can keep away from those crumbling cookies.

The only time I'll let Tom take a photo like this - a tiny bump at 17 weeks

Speaking of cookies and food, one main focus of mine during pregnancy is gaining enough weight. I don't restrict myself to any desserts, and have greatly cut my mileage in order to gain weight. What is important for people to know is that I run because I absolutely love the feeling that it brings. I have never run to lose weight. I put that out there because some people tend to believe that is why all runners run, but most runners out there know otherwise. I sometimes feel bad telling the doctors that I'm still running, but I can't imagine what would happen to my body if I stopped. I've been running for over 14 years and it's such a natural part to my daily routine. Exercise in pregnancy is recommended, but I have to make sure I'm gaining enough weight in the meantime. Bring on the chocolate milkshakes!

That's how the running life is going now. This coming week we will find out if it is a boy or girl and then I feel like we can begin to really plan for this baby. It's crazy to think that as that milestone is reached it also means that summer is very quickly coming to a close and school will start up again. I will be teaching high school this fall and look forward to getting back into the classroom and trying something new. Unfortunately, I won't be coaching, which is probably the thing making me most sad about starting at a new school.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stay Hydrated with a Nuun Discount

I'm popping in quickly today to tell you about Nuun's Friend and Family sale that is happening right now. You can get 20% off when you shop through until 7/23/15. All you need to do is use the code: NuunSummer15 to get the deal.

If you haven't tried Nuun this is the perfect time to do so, especially as we hit the peak of summer. Hydration is key to feeling good on runs and recovering after workouts.


I love Nuun and crave it after hot summer runs. The flavors are great and it's always easy on my tummy. They recently came out with Plus for nuun, a tablet that you can add to your water with your favorite Nuun flavor to give carbohydrates in addition to the electrolytes that Nuun provides. I haven't used it myself because it came out after I got pregnant, but cannot wait to try it next year when I resume training.

Nuun working its magic

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Vermont City Marathon Relay Half

The Dynamic Shoe-O (our teamname) made a second appearance this year at the Vermont City Marathon (May 24th) after taking last year off to attend a wedding.

When we were told we were accepted into the relay I was super excited because I was nearing the end of training for Boston and was hitting some FAST training times. My goal was to get my half down to 1:26 and I was confident that it could be done. A week before Boston we found out I was pregnant and all race goals for 2015 were thrown out the window. At best, I wanted to get sub 1:40, but I knew I would have to be happy to just finish. That was quite a mental change for someone who has been used to setting sub-PR goals for every race for the last few years.

Now that this race is over I'm here to announce to the world that I am done racing for this year. I know plenty of women who have run races throughout pregnancy but I can't. It killed me at the VCM. I hated looking ahead at the racers in front of me seeing where I should be instead of where I was. Every time I race my mind is programmed to work for a PR. I can't accept racing for pleasure. I'd rather save the money, the time, the stress, and the planning, and just run 13.1 on my own.

Race Morning
The two-person team is fun because one person starts the race and hands off to the second runner after the half. Neither of us knew who would go first until we woke up on race morning and it was decided that I would start. I had been having a lot of issues when I got hungry - feeling incredible hunger pains that left me nauseous and kind of shaky - so we didn't want to risk me waiting around for another 1+ hours after the start to have that settle in. We figured that this way I could run then get food and feel good for the rest of the morning.

My body fully cooperated with me race morning which was quite a miracle. However, I was on day four of a horrible head and chest cold and on my warm up all of my airways felt like they were burning. My nose was totally clogged up and I knew it was a horrible idea to run. If I wasn't part of a relay team with Tom then I would have said "No-way-Jose!" and stayed in bed or on the sideline, but I knew I could finish (feeling horribly) and didn't want to waste our entry and make Tom run for nothing. I sucked it up, hoping that I'd feel better once the race started.

Tom and I got to Battery St. Park with enough time for a full warm up and the required pre-run bathroom stops. After getting in some Honey Stinger chews and catching up with friends, I headed to the start. We were in the 'elite corral' which, as far as I could tell, did not exist. People are supposed to line up by the honesty system but it doesn't work, and if it did work, I would have been more honest and started further back this year. But hey - it was my last chance to be up with the "pros" of running for the rest of the year.

The Race:
My first two miles were pretty good and I was really surprised to hit a 7:03 for the first one: I had done ZERO speed work since Boston. In fact, most of the time I truly struggled to hit sub 8:00 miles without feeling like I was dying. On top of that, my longest run since Boston was 10 miles, so I considered myself officially out of shape. I went in with zero goals but knew I'd be happy with a 1:40 half.

Sadly, around the second mile I was done with the race. It was pretty much a repeat of when I ran the entire VCM in 2010 and wanted to sit down the whole time. This early in the race I had decided that pregnant racing was not for me. I couldn't get past the fact that I was being passed by everyone for the first few miles. I wanted so badly to have one of those tacky shirts that say something like, "baby on board" or better yet - "I would normally speedy but I'm growing a human that's also consuming my oxygen". I was definitely too hard on myself and for some reason could not let go of racing. I knew I needed to focus on the fact that I was able to run and that running should be about the experience, but I just could not embrace that concept in that moment.

Mile Splits:
7:03, 7:06, 7:21, 7:15, 14:49 for next two miles, 7:36, 7:49, 8:01 (ouch - this was the hill on the Beltline), 7:36, 7:53, 7:55, 7:48, 0:55

My Final Time: 1:39:03
Tom's Final Time: 1:18:09 **A new PR!
Team Final Time: 2:57:12

Race Highlights
  • Seeing my high school cross country coach at his normal spot cheering us on, and then being able to tell him the news of our pregnancy on our way back from the Beltline. The funny part was that our track coach beat me to the news and shared it as she ran by since we had just made it Facebook official the night before. Vermont is so small that it's easy for news to travel fast. I also feel fortunate to still be so close with my high school coaches to be able to share that news and also get excited to see them at races.
  • Seeing friends out there cheering, even though I was trying so hard not to look at the sidelines because it was taking every ounce of mental strength not to stop and join them in the cheering. 
  • The end. I didn't realize the last mile would go by as quick as it did but it was SUCH A RELIEF to find Tom at the hand-off and give him our "baton". I was so done with the race.
  • Catching up with running friends on the walk back to the buses. It's fun to be able to run into everyone at the VCM because we come back to do it every year.  You don't really realize how small Vermont is until you leave for a big city and then come back. EVERYONE is EVERYWHERE!
  • Watching Tom blaze through the last 100 meters of the course. That kid was on fire! 
What I would give to have his form.......

Some not-so-highlights that stand out as highlights.....
  • Realizing at mile 2 that I was totally done with the race. 
  • Running by KKD and smelling the horrible smell of chicken wings or something along those sorts. I actually made a noise outloud and a grimmace. My pregnancy nostrils did NOT like that in the middle of the race.
  • Running right by Lake Champlain chocolates and realizing that a chocolate ice cream would have been perfect at that moment. If I had packed a few extra dollars in my running shoes like I normally do before races I probably would have been tempted to make a pit stop. 

Final thoughts about the Race
This is Vermont's biggest race with great reason. Everyone comes out to cheer, and a ton of people get to be part of the event between the marathon and the relay teams. Sadly, I know I could never do a full marathon in Burlington anymore, no matter how gorgeous and well designed the course is. Every year I become more and more frustrated with all of the relay runners. I L.O.V.E Boston because you get to run run with YOUR pace and you may even get to go through the race with the same people by you the whole time. The VCM is full of relay participants who jump in with more energy so feel that you're being passed all the time. I was semi-OK during this half, but it becomes more frustrating the more miles you run and the more tired you become.

Otherwise, the crowd support was great and the post-race food was satisfying enough to give me energy when I was done. And as with every Vermont event, it was simply wonderful to be able to catch up with friends who came down to run or cheer.