Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Colchester Causeway 15k

Last month a coworker told me about the Colchester Causeway 15k. Would you believe that I had never run the Causeway in all of the years I lived in Vermont, even during my time running for UVM? I was curious about the race, especially since I had never ran a 15k, but didn't sign up for it until the day before, on Friday. Lately, it seems that once I hear about a race I can't get it out of my head until I run it.

Tom volunteered to watch Ella and cheer, so our little family headed out that morning. I've been slacking on warm ups, barely running at all, and certainly not doing any drills. Saturday was no exception. I wasn't as excited to race that morning, unlike the last two races. It didn't seem like a race, just a long run with a lot of people. However, I did approach it a little differently. Unlike the last two races, I knew that I could get through 9 miles and because of this I had a finishing goal time in mind.

The start was interesting for me: I was up with the lead men as we ran around a dirt trail at Airport Park before heading onto the causeway. Perhaps if the VCM had not been the week before there would have been other runners there to push the pace, but for the first mile I was right there with the leaders. Lately when I wear the watch I turn it to face the ground so that I can't see it, but I had to check my pace because it felt too easy.  We were at a 7:00 pace so I stuck back with them until they finally started pulling away after the first mile.

Once we were on the Causeway it was a lot of the same ol' scenery. The morning was muggy and there was a fog in the air, so there wasn't too much to see except the open causeway ahead of me. This was probably the hardest part of the race, as the race was more of a mental challenge rather than a psychical one. All of the other ladies were behind me and there were a few men in front of me. I didn't feel like I had to push the pace, only maintain it.

Miles 1-5: 
7:04, 7:07, 6:56, 7:09, 7:12

We turned around at mile 5 on the out-and-back course which gave me an opportunity to take my mind off of the rocks and gravel and cheer on the runners heading out. I calculated that I had around 2 minutes on the next female and figured that I would need to just hold onto my current pace. I wasn't sure if she was going to try a negative-split technique, where she could run back faster than she ran out. I assumed she wasn't going for that and that maintaining my pace would be enough.

Miles 6-9: 
7:09, 7:17, 7:24, 7:16

These were lonely miles as the 15k runners were now behind me, there were no spectators, and there was only one man ahead of me, far off in the distance. I was so lonesome that at one point I began to cheer for myself out loud. Anyone would think that I was crazy but I figured that since I was doing it in my head I might as well say it out loud to keep myself awake.

Around mile 8.8 I saw my little cheering section - Tom and Ella! She was awake this time, unlike the first time I passed them while heading out at the start. I also began to pass some of the folks that were heading in from the 5k that started just after us.

Final time: 1:05:36
5th Overall, 1st Female

There were no awards at the finish, just food and socializing. My goal was to get around a 1:05, so I was content with the finish. It's interesting to think that in DC that was my 10 mile time. I know I haven't pushed myself anywhere near my max so the next race I run I will need to do it, to see what I'm capable of. I seem much more laid back about racing right now than I used to be, but plan to get in some actual speed work in now that I'm done teaching and will have time this summer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pump It Up 5 Miler Race Recap

This past Saturday marked my return to racing when I decided last minute (on Thursday) to jump into the Pump It Up 5 Miler. I have done no speed training and I am truly lucky if I get out for 5 runs a week. Some days those runs are only 3 miles, but I am OK with that because hanging out with Ella is usually much more fun than going for a run.

Speaking of Ella, I was supposed to race a half marathon last month but Ella came down with a stomach virus (that I also came down with two days later) and we were up all night. I couldn't justify leaving her that morning and didn't run it. It seems baby sickness is becoming a prerequisite before races as Ella came down with a cold Friday and did not sleep well that night. Thankfully, Tom was awesome and was able to stay home with her that morning even though they (or he) wanted to be out there to see me run.

The race was held in town. I debated about running to the start as my warm-up but decided to drive. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning with temps in the 50s. I felt light and more like my old racing self during warm-up and thankfully got in line for the one port-a-potty early so I could continue with some drills and strides after.

I didn't have a plan for the race except to run at a faster pace than I have been. Tom and I are doing the VCM 2 person relay at the end of the month and I wanted to get in some faster runs to somewhat prepare for that race. I had some goals in mind for Saturday, but only in my mind. I didn't know how feasible the first two were:  Plan A (dream plan): Run 34-35 minutes, Plan B: Break 37, and Plan C: just hit 40 - an 8:00/mile pace. I just had no clue what my body could do. I had only run 2 miles at a tempo pace (faster than 7:10) so this was going to be an adventure.

There were 85 runners and my plan at the start was to go out easy and at my own pace, then work into the race, hopefully finishing faster in the second half. It was an out and back on a dirt road, so we would see everyone in front and behind us. Interestingly, women did not line up in front of me, even though I was standing back from the start. Once the race started I ended up leading the women for a few minutes. I tried to keep a relaxed pace but felt pressure knowing that I had women right behind me. Finally they got the hint and took the lead and I stayed tucked behind the third place woman, now happy with the pace I was running.

Mile 1: 6:47

I was surprised to see how easily that 6:47 came for the first mile, but wasn't surprised at the time knowing I had run faster at the start. The second mile was more challenging as we entered the "rolling hills" portion of the race. The distance between the 2nd and 3rd place and me widened a little.

Mile 2: 7:25

In the third mile I began to catch up again to the 3rd place woman. I felt bad when she stopped at the turnaround to fix her shoe. Unfortunately, that must have offset her pace and shortly after that I passed her. At that point, my old racing self would have focused my eyes on the back of the 2nd place woman and made her my goal to pass. It was different this time: I had now reached the point where I had not run that fast for that long in about a year. I didn't know what was going to happen, so I didn't push it. I wasn't running an easy pace but I knew I was far off from my top speed.

Mile 3: 7:10

I had a few moments on Saturday when I began to feel tired only to realize that that feeling was NOTHING like what tired and the pain of childbirth was like. And while I'm on that topic - I never got to use the relaxed breathing techniques that I learned in my Hypnosis for Birth classes during Ella's actual birth because she came too darn quick for me to calm down enough to think. However, I am now putting those strategies to use while running and made sure to relax muscles that didn't need to be tightened and to take controlled deep breaths while running on Saturday. It really does wonders when I focus on these actions in the race and can regroup my thoughts and running.

Mile 4: 7:22

The last two miles flew by. I just kept thinking how amazing it was to be out there, how lucky I was that the weather was perfect, how my body seemed to be doing great with no speed training, and I began to feel optimistic for what the next few months of running could be like.

Mile 5: 7:07
Final Time: 35:53
3rd Female, 1st in AG

Since I didn't approach this as a real race, I didn't put forth a truly hard effort. I finished and wasn't tired and know that I have so much more in the tank to give. The race served its purpose. It gave me more confidence in my abilities and now I believe that my body is ready for faster paces and more regular running.

The last two weeks have really shifted my mind frame for running. Two weeks ago I had a New Mom Consult at Evolution PT because my body felt so off while running. While I could go into more details, the brief is that my right glute is weak, causing pain in my right quad. I also found out that my ab separation is closed, so I have resumed some modified core-work. All of this is good news as I am no longer afraid of damaging my body and I have exercises to do to make it stronger. This race also showed that my body is capable of handling more. I have resumed running very cautiously, and perhaps more so than I needed  to, but I fully believe that it is better to be safe rather than sorry when starting to run after 4 months off and a child birth thrown in there.

I really enjoyed the race and will certainly want to keep doing this one in future years. I didn't mind the out and back and there was enough food at the finish to refuel before awards. The smaller race size (compared to DC) was relaxing and more fun. Oh - and the awards weren't bad either: I had to choose between Snowflake Chocolates or Poorhouse Pies, and while chocolate is almost always a no-brainer, the pies seemed to have quite a reputation.

And folks - Poorhouse Pies are amazing. I haven't been to their self-service pie shed yet but I seriously would have no problem going there once a week for a pie this summer to try them all. I picked the blueberry pie with streusel topping and wanted to eat the entire thing myself in one sitting.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Generation Good

Before E was born we had been using Seventh Generation cleaning supplies for a few years. As we planned for her arrival I thought we would use cloth diapers. It would seem odd that an Earth Science teacher would want to add to the mess we have created. However - what I learned quickly is that babies poop A LOT in the beginning, so disposable diapers became the go-to.

Since I wanted to still be conscious about my impact on the environment it was easy to decide to purchase Seventh Generation products. Last week we received a free sample of their baby wipes, but honestly, I already knew that I loved them. We tried various brands of wipes in the beginning but I always hated their perfumed scents. I felt like chemicals didn't need to be added to E's skin, and thankfully, very few chemicals exist in these wipes. I hate to say it, but I cringe a little when we have to use any other wipe.

We've also experimented with other diaper brands but as soon as she went pee we knew it. It was very obvious, but not in the nicest way. Fortunately, Seventh Generation diapers work really well at holding in smells, as well as the other stuff that comes out of a baby. We have been hooked on these right from the start.

Two months ago I discovered a company Grove,co, that used to go by epantry. They have a great monthly Seventh Generation diaper bundle that includes wipes. I love knowing that I'm supporting two smaller companies as I order diapers.

If any new moms are interested in saving $10 from a Grove.co order (they have more than just diapers!) use this link.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Introducing Ella!

Hello world! Let me introduce you to Ella, who was delivered to us on Christmas Eve!

Or should I say we delivered her on Christmas Eve?

It has been fun getting to know her over the last four weeks. Gosh - I can't believe it's already been four weeks. She happens to be the why this wasn't posted sooner. Somehow that human being knows just when I sit down to drink coffee, start reading work emails, or eat any meal and instantly needs attention. A blog post hasn't been a priority, but I'm ok with that. It's more fun to play with her than to write and each day we learn a little more about each other than the day before.

I don't want to jinx anything, but I'm not as tired as everyone warned that I would be. Thankfully, Tom is a really awesome Dad and partner to have during this time and we seem to be making a good team. It's unfortunate that he had to go back to work this week because we had a good system going for the first three weeks. His new name is the "Baby Whisperer" and if I can't get her to stop crying all he has to do is pick her up and she stops. I wish I had his magical touch.

At her two week appointment

While I love reading other birth stories, I won't record  all of the details of her birth on here. However, here are a few details from the day she was born. 
  • I was out helping Tom with yard work on Christmas Eve because it was a whopping 67 degrees! I joked that it would probably be the day that I do go into labor since I was doing something insane like being a 40-week-and-5-days pregnant lady outside with hedge trimmers. 
  • I suspected I was getting contractions during a walk we took that afternoon, but didn't really believe it because they started in my quadriceps, not actually my abdomen. It turns out that each contraction would start that way for the rest of the night. 
  • Real contractions actually began around 6:00 pm and were 5 minutes apart very quickly. 
  • At 8:00pm contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. I lasted 20 minutes before calling the midwife back to tell her I was heading to the hospital. 
  • Shortly after  9:00 pm we were in the hospital.  She was ready to come and I was more than ready to be done. I'd say that I have pretty high pain tolerance, but with that fast of a labor, I found it difficult to deal with the rapid increase in pain. I knew it would be painful, but I suspect that if labor had been more "typical" of a first time labor then I would have had some time to adjust to the increasing pain levels.  People asked if I had an epidural and the answer is: No - I don't think I would have had time to get it unless I had asked immediately upon arrival at the hospital. And in case you were wondering, it is definitely more painful to give birth than to run a marathon. Nothing quite compares. 
  • I thought the midwife was joking when she asked if I was ready to have this baby (aka start pushing) after not being at the hospital for more than 1.5 hours.
  • I'm still amazed at what the human body does. Somehow it knows how to grow a human being and then "spit it out", and somehow that little human knows how to function. How on earth do they know where to latch on for milk when they've never experienced the world? 
Recovery has been going well. Immediately I felt like I had a clearer head and I no longer felt the urge to have coffee like I had for the last few months. I also went back to actually wanting salad on a daily basis like before I was pregnant, and would say that I overall am craving more fruits and vegetables. My body must know that it needs these things to keep the both of us fueled.

Ella at two weeks

While running is still a few weeks away, I signed up for my first "race", the Half Marathon Unplugged in April. Maybe it's too ambitious but I have no time goals, only to get my butt out the door. Actually, it's not as ambitious as it could have been - a few months ago I was still considering doing Boston! We also got a treadmill last week so I'm starting my core workouts and walking some each day to build up to being able to run again. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

40+ Weeks: Where's bébé?

Normally at this time I sit down to write a Year in Review of running but that's not happening this year. I thought that perhaps I would be writing a "Meet _________!" post, but that also isn't happening. I'm 40 weeks and 2 days and the little one has preferred the belly-apartment at this point.

Taken at 39 weeks. Belly is only bigger today

I've often considered this whole pregnancy thing like a long marathon, with the birth process being another marathon on the end. Lots of ups and downs, lots of waiting and taking care of yourself, many physical challenges that you have to adapt to, and always new things to encounter. I even had a dream the other night that I was about to run Boston again and I was equating the hills to contractions during labor. I thought for sure that was a sign of things to come since it appeared that my subconscious was ready for a baby, but the little one decided to stay put that day (and every day since...)

One difference with this and a marathon (among many other differences) is that a marathon has a start time that is usually spot on, and unless there's some natural disaster, it usually takes place on the day it was scheduled for.

Everyone asks how I feel. I feel good. Energy is good and I'm not totally impatient. I just hate the unknowns. I'd love to know what I'm doing for the next two weeks with the holidays, and then I realize that what the heck - I won't know what I'm doing for the next 18+ years. My schedule won't exactly be my schedule anymore.

The last few weeks have been busy with prepping for the baby and the holidays and also with catching up with folks that I haven't seen for some time. It was interesting to see people's responses at a party this last Saturday (my due date) when they asked when I was due. Or yesterday at our local maple store when the woman working asked and my response was, "Well, yesterday...." It also gets weird to show up to work each day and have people say, "You still haven't had that baby yet?!" Trust me folks, if I could, I would have. The best part though, was watching students freak out last Friday when they realized how close I was, and then offering to drive me to the hospital if I went into labor. Thanks kids - but I'm all set. I appreciate the thought though.

In other news - over the last few weeks I received word that I get to run as part of Team Nuun and Honey Stinger again in 2016. While there are a lot of unknowns about running and the thought of starting from total scratch scares me a little, I feel motivated to get back to work knowing that I've got those two companies by my side. I was bummed to turn down a Ragnar relay in 2015 with Nuun and hope to get a chance to run in 2016.

That's enough for an update. While I don't believe in those wives ta;es to trigger labor, I do believe in getting out and exercising. Since our December is unseasonably warm it's about time I get my butt out the door for a walk, and maybe - just maybe - that will actually do something. Hopefully next time I write there will be some good news.