Category Archives: training

One Year

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One year ago today, I was sitting in the “induction room” at Chinook Regional Hospital.  Dan and I knew that our baby boy would be coming sometime soon, and it was sooner than originally planned.  Andy was originally due November 3rd, but he made his appearance when I was 38 weeks along at 12:32 am on October 19th, 2017.

We didn’t know what the next year would really look like other than the fact that we had a small human to take care of.  What things would we be involved with as a family?  What things would Andy and I find to do during my maternity leave?  What would my post-partum running actually look like?  Sure, we were able to theoretically imagine what the next year would look like, but we really wouldn’t know what it was like until experiencing it first hand.

I have said many times before, but I am beyond fortunate enough to be here in Alberta, Canada, where I have a one year maternity leave with my job.  Also with my job, I was guaranteed my same position as long as I came back by that one year.  I had sick pay covered for the first 15 weeks (I maxed it out mainly because I ended up having the emergency appendectomy 7 weeks post-partum) and then I received unemployment insurance for 35 additional weeks.  Along with the money we saved in the year leading up to having Andy, we were able to live comfortably and take part in a lot of activities and trips.  Some of the things specifically Andy & I were able to do were:

-“Mommy Connections” 8-week programming during three different sessions

-“Baby Steps” postnatal classes at the Lethbridge Health Unit

-“Baby PACT” (Parent and Child Time) 10 week session at Lethbridge Family Centre

-Swimming Lessons!  10 classes

-Baby Mama Boot Camp through Kinetic Fitness.  We did this often twice a week during the winter and spring and then once a week in summer

-Stroller Boot Camp at University of Lethbridge for one winter/spring session

-Kindermusik Drop-In program at CASA

-Library programming like “Babes in the Library” and “Small & Tall”

-HIGH Fitness classes held at the northside LDS church

and much more!

The great thing about these programs were that they were all locally operated in Lethbridge and while some cost money, many were lower cost (Baby Steps & PACT) or FREE! (Library, HIGH fitness).  These programs were important for both mine and Andy’s well being as it got us out of the house in the dead of winter, we got to socialize with other adults and children, and it kept us active.

While it was mainly Andy & I doing specific classes together, Dan also took Andy to a few “Me and my Dad” drop in programs at Family Centre on Saturday mornings.  He plans to start doing this again when winter rolls around.  I would also often bring Andy for visits at my school, we would go to basketball games, we would do mall walks when it was brutally cold and even just going grocery shopping got us out of the house.

We were also able to do some trips this year.  Our first ‘road trip’ was Christmas, where we packed Andy, Snoopy, Woodstock & Faron (2 month old baby, beagle, and two cats) in our car and drove 3.5 hours to Red Deer to see Dan’s family.  A highlight was going to Edmonton to see Dan’s Grandpa and get a four generation Pottage men photo.  Dan’s grandpa passed away in late spring 2018 so this will definitely be cherished.

In April, we flew out to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.  We met my mom out there and experienced our first family vacation via plane.  This helped us tons in preparation for our summer trip where we flew out to Milwaukee over 4th of July to visit my family.  We also acquired a camper in the summer and plan on using it for family camping trips.  We tested it out for one night in Beauvais Lake and it went so well!

Lets not forget about RUNNING!  Running was going to be a big part of my maternity leave year, as it is a huge part of me in general.  I knew that if I couldn’t run, I would possibly run the risk of falling into a depression.  I was fortunate enough to be able to keep running during the first  37 weeks of my pregnancy, with one week off before having Andy, and then two weeks of recovery.  I ran my first 5km race post-partum at just 1 month having Andy.  If you are interested in all my races and times in detail check out the result links at the top of this page

Then the appendectomy hit.  Ouch.  But a month later I was back.  Boot camps, walking, running….it came back slowly but it was worth the wait.  The picture below depicts all the races I was able to participate in during my maternity leave:

I was able to run in 15 different races:

Four 5km races (Claus Cause, Superhero Fun Run, Travelling Beer Garden Race, Coalhurst Family Run Run)

One 4 mile race (Firecracker 4)

One 8 km race (LadiesFest)

Three 10km races (Moonlight Run, Star Wars 10km, Fort Macleod Wilderness Run)

One 10 mile race (Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race)

One Trail Race as a Relay (Coulee Cactus Crawl)

Three Half Marathons (Star Wars Half Marathon, Red Deer Half Marathon, Lethbridge Police Half Marathon)

One Full Marathon (Berlin Marathon)

OH YEAH….WE DID THE BERLIN MARATHON?!?!?!?!  HOW COOL IS THAT!?  If it wasn’t for being on my maternity leave at the time, it would have been very hard to make this work.  What an amazing experience that my husband and I can say we shared in together.

I was also able to run some amazing times in the last year.  I hit an unofficial 5km personal best of 20:30 in the Beer Garden race (chip time was 20:50 and course measured long) and my Police Half Marathon time was actually my 2nd fastest half marathon time EVER! (1:37.39)  Andy and I ran in a 5km race last weekend and were the first stroller across the finish and actually the first female runner too.  I won some money at different races and I also earned ago group awards throughout the year.  While I was worried on how pregnancy and postpartum would treat me as a runner, I think it’s safe to say that all my hard work before, during and after pregnancy has paid off.

So what’s next?  Well, there’ll be another year to follow.  And years after that.  And while I have ideas of things we have as plans, goals and dreams, we really can’t say those things for certain until they happen.  There will be family events, trips, races, and just family time.  A quote many of my friends have shared on Instagram and Facebook this year comes to mind right now:

“The days are long but the years are short”

To say that this past year went fast is a huge understatement.  But many days were long and tiring.  Some were filled with frustration.  But in the end, all the days created lasting memories.  Next year the days may feel long too.  I know going back to work is something I am struggling with in my mind.  Some of those days are going to feel hella long.  But when we have the free time as a family to do things, we will.  We need to fill our time with memory-making opportunities and seize the moment.

Onto year 2!

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Berlin Marathon 2018

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Wow. We conquered the Berlin Marathon! What a crazy experience it was! I could write multiple blog posts, all very long, detailing the day by day events. But, it’s 9 pm on a Friday…I am worn out, sick, and have an 11 month old who may wake up middle of night! So I’m doing a small recap that’ll touch on some details I think are worth noting, especially if you are contemplating making the trek out to do this race.  update.  It is now Sunday.  I hope to finish this post today!!!

Pre-event issue…I started feeling sick on the Tuesday before the race. At first I thought it was just my body being sore after boot camp, but I think I was just wearing out. On the drive to my in laws on Wednesday, I started popping cold medicine because my nose was a running machine. Great…a transatlantic flight is upon us and I feel like trash.

I think the whole adrenaline of the trip made me feel better, because once we got to the airport I just forgot about it. But the transatlantic flight was tough. We left at 6 pm Thursday. It was my first time flying overseas and the first leg of flight was 9+ hours from Calgary to Frankfurt. Neither my husband or I slept well. But we kept pushing. By the time we got to Berlin it was 2:30 pm (8 hours ahead of home). Our only confusing transit issue in Berlin was getting from the airport to hotel. We hadn’t researched which “zone” we were travelling to, and the lineups at the machines to buy tickets were long with a lot of other confused people. We did make it to our hotel eventually…freshened up, changed, and headed to the expo.

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The expo was very easy to get to from our hotel. I booked our hotel on Priceline in December and got it at a rate of $82 USD/night. It was walking distance to the Friedrichstraße station, which could link you anywhere. And also walking to the start/finish by Brandenburg gate. We got to the expo quick, and arrived around 5pm.

I’m glad we didn’t have anything we really wanted to stop and purchase because this was the first instance we realized this event was going to a semi-organized chaos. The room to pickup your race packages were in the way back of the old airport hangers, and everywhere around you there were lines. And the lines weren’t straight, just a mosh pit of people pushing through. Luckily I had preordered us two event shirts (no shirts included in registration fee) so we didn’t have to push through people to buy them. Just had to find that line to pickup.

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We didn’t spend much time at the expo. We headed back to the hotel, went out way too late, and then slept in the next day. It was the day before the race, so in theory we should have been taking it easy. But seriously…we were in Berlin. We needed to see as much as possible.

We did a short shakeout run by the river. After changing and finding food, we then trekked around Berlin seeing all sorts of sights. Highlights included Humboldt University, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Berlin Wall memorial, and Topography of Terror. We also had a group dinner that evening for all of us in the Runners Soul group. Ate at a fantastic Italian place called Via Nova II. By the time Dan & I made it back to the hotel we had clocked in 11.5 miles. Time to rest for the marathon!

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Marathon morning cake bright and early. But with this being a 9:15 am start time for the elites, and our hotel so close to the start, we didn’t have to get up at a ridiculous time. We had pre-bought some breakfast items the night before and I went to the McDonalds two blocks away to get coffee at 6:15 am, so we were set. The group met at 8 am for a photo and then we all dispersed.

Biggest thing to know about this race is that the Europeans “organize” things differently. 44,000 runners and I’d guess the number of pre race porta potties available were 1/10 of what was available at Boston (25,000 runners). My friend Heather waited 45 minutes to use one and missed her corral start. Dan and I stood in line for about 15 minutes and then left the race grounds to go to a cafe, pay 0.50 euros at a turnstile, and use their bathrooms. People were pissing all over the park on their way to the corrals. It was disgusting. I don’t know if the city just doesn’t have the supply of porta potties or what, but you’d think since they’ve been doing this race for 44 years they’d know it’s an issue.

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So the race itself.  Well, it was 26.2 miles through Berlin and my Garmin clocked it as 26.44 miles.  That’s bound to happen in a race this large with all the weaving going on.  Instead of going through a mile by mile recap, I want to just note some key things during the race.

  1. I was in the second wave of runners, in corral E.  You could just jump into any corral with no one checking your bib…I didn’t have an issue with people around me being in an incorrect corral (up too far) and I was able to weave myself pretty close to the start of our corral.  I was about 10 deep to the left of the start area.  It was an awesome feeling at the beginning with thousands of runners being let off at once!
  2. I kept on perfect pace through the half marathon point.  I actually had a 1:47.30 once I crossed the timing mat, which if I were to have replicated that exactly in the second half I would have had my goal of 3:35.00
  3. My legs started to cramp and tighten in my hamstrings and quads around mile 9.  I am guessing due to transatlantic travel and the ridiculous amount we walked the days prior while touring
  4. Water stations were plentiful, and were also stocked with gels (which I heard tasted disgusting) and fruit later on.  The issue I had with these water stations is that it was not like when you run a race in North America….no “excuse me” or “sorry” or people being aware of those around you.  I got smashed into by no less than a dozen sweaty men during the course of the race as they plowed into the water stations.  Even when I would raise my hand up once getting water to signal I was walking someone would plow into me.  The etiquette I am used to was not present here.
  5. On the website, they said there were 40,775 runners representing 133 nations who finished, with 12,332 being women and 28,443 being men.  So while we are used to races in North America being pretty closely represented by women and men, this european race was not.  Also, while all of Berlin seems to speak English, the race participants I was around did not.  There was no one I could have a conversation with when I started to struggle at mile 16.  Everyone was so serious.
  6. Once I got to mile 16, I knew I needed to slow up and try to just enjoy the last 10 miles.  That’s when I started getting more frustrated with the lack of people around me who I could talk to while running, and all the pushing and shoving by the water stations.  I will say that the course is shaded pretty well in areas throughout, with no long stretches of blazing sun.  This was important because it was actually quite warm compared to what I would be used to doing a marathon in.
  7. For better or for worse, I stopped at the bathroom after mile 20.  Then, lo and behold, Marissa from our Runners Soul group came up behind me.  She was having frustration also and just wanted the race to be “fucking over.”  I now had my person to talk to the last 6 miles!
  8. We had a ton of fun in the last stretch, stopping for water and fruit when we could.  Just past mile 25 someone had a makeshift beer station so we stopped for a beer too!  Finishing as strong as we could in the final stretch through Brandenburg Gate was awesome, because each of us started to just pure on race one another to try and beat the other person.  Marissa’s chiptime came out on top by about 3 seconds.
  9. The finishing area was pretty well organized compared to the whole mess getting to corrals.  I wish I had selected “Poncho” instead of “bag drop” because the poncho that people got was nice.  And I was getting chilled in the shade as we waited for people from Runners Soul to finish.
  10. My husband came in about an hour later.  He started in a farther back corral than me.  I am so proud of him! He finished his second marathon with a 4:00.35 run, beating his first marathon by over 4 minutes.  Since the course ran long, he could have been under 4 hours if it had been less crowed.  And he also, along with four other guys, helped a Brazilian woman across the finish line.  And by help, I mean they carried her because she was passing out.  They just wanted her to finish.

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Below are a selection of the professional race photos (which I bought).  I will say that these photos are of higher quality than the Marathon Foto ones I am used to from North America races.  I wish I had seeked out more photographers for pictures before and after the race so I could have had some with Dan.

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And we are off!

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Somewhere in Berlin between miles 20-26.2 🙂

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Focused on finishing

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Probably my favorite photo, having an on course beer with less than a mile to go.  The tossing of the cup totally captures how we feel.

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Brandenburg Gate in the background and coming into the finish!

 

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Berlin Marathon finisher!

THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!  My husband and I would have not been able to take part of this if it wasn’t for Runners Soul in Lethbridge putting together a travel group.  Also, if I was not still on my sweet 1-year Canadian maternity leave (sorry Americans) then we could have not left the country during this time of year…teachers have a great amount of days off, but you can’t just take time off at random times!  Oh, and if my in-laws couldn’t have watched Andy for a week then this trip would have been impossible..We want to do more races overseas, particularly finishing the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  We have New York (yeah, not overseas), London and Tokyo left for myself.  Dan still needs Chicago and Boston too.  We hope that Runners Soul does more travel groups to these races and that we are able to attend.  Dan still does not love running.  However, he loves these experiences of seeing new places and being with friends.  On our drive back to Lethbridge we talked about races in the future we want to travel to.  It is awesome that we have a common hobby that we can enjoy together. Until the next race…..Auf Wiedersehen!

Next Stop…Berlin!

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So. The time has come. My husband Dan and I are all trained and packed and ready to head on a whirlwind trip to Germany. The Berlin Marathon is this Sunday, September 16th! Friends have been asking “are you excited?! Are you nervous?!?” Of course I’m both, but I already feel more relaxed as I sit here in the car and we head up to Red Deer for the night. At this point, everything is packed for us an also everything is packed for Andy for his week at Nana & Gramps’ house. If anything has been forgotten, we’ll just have to go to a store.

A few weeks ago I was really starting to think about how this race will go for me on Sunday. While you can’t predict with certainty how it will play out, with my experience I am able to pinpoint pretty well reasons why this race will either 1.) be a success or 2.) be a mess.

Let’s start with the pessimistic view first:

Why it Could be a Mess

1.) This is the longest race I’ve ran since Spring 2016

While I trained all during my pregnancy and pretty damn quick after it, I didn’t put miles of over 13+ on until maybe late June of this year. And those were just training runs. And to go with that…

2.) I didn’t get in as many long runs as I would in previous training cycles

For this training cycle, I loosely followed my plan that was made for the Vancouver 2015 marathon. I did, however, adjust the weekend long run distances to align with what Dan and I would do together with the Runners Soul group runs on Saturdays. For distances over 15 miles, I had one 16, 18, and 20 miler during this cycle.

3.) The Stroller made my training runs a lot more challenging

I couldn’t get to the paces I wanted to hit as easily during training runs when I had to run with Andy.

4.) Training in the summer sucks

See above. That’s enough of a description

Now a bit more optimism…

Why it Could be a Success

1.) My consistency with training during pregnancy and postpartum has been awesome

37 weeks of prenatal running, a week where I couldn’t run before Andy was born, and then two weeks to recover…then back at it. I think that speaks for itself

2.) My August workouts were on point

Late in the training game workouts boost my confidence. The 20 miler went well (we even had Alyssa watch Andy so no stroller was needed!), I had some good goal pace workouts, and I got help from my friend Heather on speed workouts. The positive physical output gets my mental game set.

3.) The Stroller made my training runs a lot more challenging

So, since I’ll be running sans stroller on Sunday that should make it feel like a breeze, right?!?

4.) Training in summer sucks

I hate the heat. But it’s prepared me for if it’s a toasty day on Sunday!

All in all, I am set. I can’t change any of my bad training runs in this training cycle. I need to just move forward and do the best I can come Sunday. Maybe I’ll meet my ultimate goal for that race, but I need to recognize that even if the time doesn’t match up with what I’d like, the fact that I’m going out there to complete a full marathon just shy of 11 months postpartum is pretty bad ass.

My next World Marathon Major

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So, since I’ve been so scattered with my recaps and blog posts, I am not even sure of when the last time I mentioned the fact that I am training for a full marathon.  Not just any marathon, but the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany.  Yes, this is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Major events.  The others are Chicago (completed in 2006), Boston (completed in 2016), Tokyo, London and New York.

I was not planning on running a full marathon this year.  When I was pregnant with Andy, I had told myself that the first year after having him would be just focusing on getting back with running and try to do some decent half marathons.  Fast forward to November 2017, approximately one month after Andy was born.  Dan comes home from race team and tells me that Runners Soul would be doing a travel group to the Berlin Marathon next September and that we should do it.  That’s right—my husband was the one who said we should do it (mind you he hadn’t ran a full marathon yet at this point…)  I would still be on maternity leave, so really…..we couldn’t say no!

I did my winter and spring running, getting my legs back at it and began to feel more confident in my postpartum body.  The training for Berlin would begin a week after the Red Deer Marathon weekend.  I decided to roughly use my same training calendar that I used when I ran Vancouver 2015 and qualified for Boston.

Pushing the running stroller is no joke.  It is definitely helping me with resistance training!  I usually run with the running stroller 3 times a week.  On my speed workout days, I try to wait until Dan gets home from work and then do those runs on my own.  And when we do our long runs on the weekend, Dan and I run together and alternate every mile or two with the stroller.

Berlin is less than 2 months away.  I feel ready, yet I don’t.  The reason why I didn’t want to do a full marathon in my first year postpartum was because I knew I would be hard on myself with the actual result.  Yes, I realize I had a baby less than a year ago, but I don’t want to go out there and be a shell of my former self.  My dream goal is to qualify for Boston again.  The weekend Berlin falls can count for the 2020 Boston Race, and at that race I am 35 and will be up an age group.  So the fact that I get an extra five minutes to my qualifying time makes me think there actually is a sliver of hope that I could do it.

I need a sub 3:40 to qualify.  My personal best is a 3:24.56, which was a 7:49 pace.  I am setting my sights on a sub 3:35 in Berlin, which would be a pace of about 8:11.  I can run 20 seconds slower per mile than I did back in 2015 and be able to qualify for Boston.  Seems doable, right?

But I also need to mentally prepare myself for if it doesn’t work out.  I can’t let potentially not qualifying ruin the rest of the trip.  I also do need to keep telling myself that YOU JUST HAD A BABY IN THE LAST YEAR and the fact that I am even going out there to do this event is pretty bad ass.  I am just going to keep picking away at my training calendar and hope that all the running I did while pregnant and all the running I am doing pushing Andy in his stroller will help me achieve the dream result-a return to Boston.

May Days

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Having a kid puts a damper on being up-to-date on my blog posts.  So, since I did three races in May (a trifecta!  5km, 10km and a half marathon) and haven’t written about any of them, I am going to do a post on all three.  This may become a new way of doing things…!?!

3rd Annual Lakeview Superhero Run 5km

I have actually done this race all three years and this was my fastest one yet!  This race is always a Wednesday evening, and the past two years it was hectic getting there because I would have been working during the day.  This year it was even worse because I was trying to deal with stuff at home with Andy before Dan came back from work and  then I had to rush over to the race start.  After parking I got to the start area with less than 10 minutes before the beginning of the race.  Close call.

The weather had been gross all day long and thankfully it cleared up in the evening.  While I would not have minded some rain while running, this is a 2km and 5km race geared towards children and I know they would have been miserable had it been raining.  The 5km runners started first, and the 2km would begin shortly after.  It’s a quick loop from Lakeview School down the green strip towards Bullys, then around the east end of Henderson Lake and back.  I don’t know my splits, because in the rush around the house before heading here I realized my watch wasn’t charged.  Rookie mistake.  But I do know that I finished in a time of 21:57!  I am super proud of this as last year I ran a 25:57(albeit I was 15 weeks pregnant or so) but back in 2016 I ran a 22:16…I beat that!  This sub 22 time that I ran was my goal for my July race in Wisconsin, so now my goal for that 5km will be to beat this time!

20th Anniversary of Woody’s RV World Half Marathon in Red Deer

Dan and I often go and do this race because his family lives in Red Deer.  This would be my 6th time running this half marathon. More notably this would be Dan’s first full marathon!

The weather was the best I’ve ever experienced for this race.  The race starts and finishes right near Dan’s old high school.  I had originally made a lofty goal of running a 1:40 for this race.  When I started, I had some trouble with my legs.  They just felt heavy.  I really thought that I would be able to shake that feeling after a mile or so, but the heaviness and tightness persisted.  I ended up getting pretty frustrated at the 10km mark, but after I hit 9 miles I had a second wind so to speak.  My last four miles were very consistent and back to where they should have been all along.  Here are my splits:

7:26, 7:45, 7:46, 7:48, 7:50, 8:12, 7:54, 7:45, 8:09, 7:51, 7:50, 7:52, 7:53

My final time was a 1:42.28.  So, not in the 1:40 range like I was hoping but still pretty good.  I hope to get down into that 1:40 range or lower by the Lethbridge Police Half this fall.

6th Annual Fort Mcleod Willow Creek Wilderness Walk & Run 10km

The weekend after Red Deer was this little trail race.  My friend Angela and I headed out to Fort Mcleod in the morning.  She would be doing the 5km while I ran the 10km.  While it was advertised as a “Wilderness Walk & Run” I guess I didn’t really take into consideration that this would be a trail race, and not on paved paths.  Surprise surprise!

I would say about 90% of the route was either on gravel, pebbles, mud, dirt, or grass.  I was the leader of the 10km for the first two or three miles, which was col, but very mentally challenging.  With no lead bicyclist, I was starting to lose focus and drive to stay at my normal 10km pace.  My feet just kept sinking into the stones and I felt my pace getting slower and slower.

One guy did pass me and he stayed ahead of me for the duration of the event.  But having him in front of me helped me push a little more and get back on track.  Given the terrain of the race (and my loss of focus) my splits were all over the place.  (6:43, 7:36, 7:53, 8:05, 7:57, 7:46)  I was happy to see myself get my last mile back down a bit.  In hindsight, I probably went out too fast and had I known what the terrain would be like maybe I would have been a little less ambitious to begin.  My final time was 47:48, which was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st place female.  I got a sweet handmade ceramic mug as my prize!

So that was May!  It is already the first weekend in June, and originally I thought I only had one event this month.  But yesterday I joined a relay team for a local trail race last minute.  So who knows what else I’ll decide to do last minute….

Moonlight Run 10km 2018

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The annual Moonlight Run in Lethbridge was held on St. Patrick’s Day—March 17th, 2018.  This would be my 7th time participating in the event, having done 5 previous 10km distances and one 6km distance.  I have talked about this race at length in the past few years, so I won’t be going into as much detail about the event itself, but I do want to touch on the things that made it ‘unique’ this year…specifically 1) the weather 2) my postpartum race experience.

I’ll be doing a general recap of the race first, and then at the end I will touch on some specific things that came up as being a postpartum runner.  So if you don’t care about one of those things, skip to where you want to read and ignore the other!

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To put it frankly, this winter has been ugly.  We got our first snowfall on the night of October 1st, and I remember this because this was the day of my birthday and baby shower.   Just when you think winter is over, another dumping of snow comes….more ice, melting, snow, ice melting, grass, snow, snow..,..it hasn’t let up.  It has been nasty and cold.  And in the last week or more we got some bad drifting.  Well, everything started melting….and the river valley was so ugly that the organizers for Moonlight Run had to make some adjustments to the course route (more on that in a bit).  I went down the day before the race to check on one of the main paths….and the picture above shows the straightaway between Helen Schuler Nature Centre and Tollestrup.  When I took the photo Friday afternoon, I considered this to be great conditions…I knew what I had looked like at Marathon Club the week before!  By race night, it was even better.  Sure there was still spots with thick chunks of ice and a puddle here and there, but considering what our winter had been like, this was heaven.

Given the weather, I am not sure how many people really thought they would be setting personal bests at Moonlight.  Training this winter has been tough.  But, Dan and I both went into the race knowing we wanted to give it our best.  Dan has actually been legitimately training, running three times a week.  And I wanted to see what I could power out as my first big race since having Andy.  However, we obviously weren’t taking ourselves too seriously as we went to Sister’s Pub at 7pm the night of the race to share a beer….race started at 8 pm….

I knew I wanted to just try and power as much as I could during the race to really see what my body could handle at this point being 5 months postpartum.  Dan wanted to see if all his training really has made a difference.  When the race started, we both positioned our selves very near the front of the pack so we could have our space once the horn sounded.  Dan was immediately in front of me and it stayed that way the whole race (this would be the first race Dan beat his non-pregnant wife…him beating me while I was pregnant doesn’t count!)  The first mile of Moonlight is always great as we get to pass the bagpipe troupe and the Japanese drummers.  And it’s a fast mile as you are flying down 3rd ave to the river bottom, lovingly called the Wendy’s Hill (Wendy’s is at the top).  You can see in my splits later how fast that first mile went!

With the course adjustments due to the frozen and wet river bottom, we turned south on Indian Battle Road and headed on the asphalt to the water treatment plant.  We turned around there heading back on the same road, and once we got to the base of the hill we continued on Indian Battle Road to Helen Schuler Nature Centre, down the path to Highway 3, past the smell of the sewage plant, and turned around at Tollestrup.  This route was AWESOME as with the weather and conditions, if we had been on the normal route we would have encountered some very dangerous icy spots. With headlamps, road lights, volunteer flashlights and the bright moonlit sky I felt very safe and not concerned about falling and hurting myself.  Another change was that all the runners, both 6km and 10km, went back up the same hill to get to 3rd ave.  In previous years the 10km runners would head up on the adjacent trail (I found this part very mentally challenging).

While I did not stop to walk at all on the hill up, it was tougher than years’ past.  Obviously because I have just been getting back into hill work!  I made it up with help from the cheers of friends I passed who were spectating, and I pushed the final stretch back to the finish.  My best Moonlight Run 10km time is from 2015 (the year I qualified for Boston) and I ran a 43:47.  This year I finished with a 47:13.  I had not advertised to friends or family what my goal time for this race was, but I had written it down (along with my other goal times for races this year).  I had written a goal of 46-48 minutes for Moonlight.  So, falling right in the middle of that range is perfect and I am proud!  I am also extremely proud of my husband Dan, who did in fact run a personal best 10km with a time of 44:40.  Yes, he beat his wife….but I still have the best 10km time between the two of us (41:30 from 2015).

We were able to stick around for awards, as our friends were watching Andy while we attended the event.  Both Dan & I received age group awards.  Dan earned 2nd in the 30-34 male age group, where he placed 2/24.  He was 23/189 for men and 25/377 overall.  I snagged 3rd in the 30-34 female age group, placing 3/28.  I was 11/188 for women and 45/377 overall.  The pictures below show us before the race, the start/finish area, and us after the race together and with our friends Bob & Christine.

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So that was the race.  I felt pretty good during it, and after as we waited for awards I kept moving about so I didn’t tighten up.  I felt like it was a success and my body had held up.   Now, onto the postpartum issues.  So if you don’t care about this, stop reading now.

This isn’t actually a ‘gross’ issue that occurred, and it wasn’t something I really wasn’t preparing for.  Hopefully is there are other postpartum runners out there this can help them.  We left the race at around 10:15 pm and went to pickup Andy.  When we got home around 11pm, I sat down to pump (I am an exclusive pumper by choice).  I pumped for close to 30 minutes and got 275 ml—this is more than one regular sized Medela bottle.  Well, I had earned a post race beer by now so I went to grab one and go take a shower.  I immediately started having blurred vision and couldn’t really see clear out of my peripherals.  Ok, I must still be hyped from the race.  Got my contacts out, washed my face and jump in the hot shower.  When I was done with the shower my vision was still fucked.  I was feeling dizzy.  I went to the kitchen to get some food thinking maybe I din’t eat enough.  Strawberries….maybe my blood sugar was low?  I ate a couple handfuls and that seemed to help the vision.  But my head was starting to hurt.  I started pounding water.  I think it was too little too late.

While I had paid attention  to really hydrating myself during the daytime, I stopped my water intake about 2 hours prior to race start because to be honest, I was nervous about having to go to the bathroom while running.  And after the race, sure I had a bit of water (about as much as I would normally have after a race) but I didn’t take into account one major new issue—-I am now a milk truck.

The evening pumping session where I did not consume water did me in.  I was dehydrated.  And it hit hard.  I went to bed quickly and had water bedside.  When I got up with Andy in the middle of the night my headache was verging on migraine.  I drank more water and pumped again.  By morning, I needed Dan to get up with Andy at 7 while I slept another two hours.  My head was in so much pain.

I eventually got it under control by noon.  But, I learned one major lesson—I need to be drinking tons of water not only before the race, but after and ESPECIALLY during my next couple pumping sessions post race.  I had had the headache issue occur when I was running while pregnant, because I just simply wasn’t drinking enough water to adequately hydrate my body that was working overtime.  Even though I am no longer pregnant, my hormones are still in overdrive since I pumping about 6 times a day to feed our child.  And while I do pay attention to my water intake during a normal day, race days are different.

I am glad that this ‘problem’ occurred this race though.  It was better for me to realize the potential issues during a local 10km than have it happen during a destination race.  When we go to Disney World in a month and run the Star Wars 10km & half marathon I need to be taking in tons of water, not only because of the reasons I have now realized but because it’s going to be humid as hell down there.  To feel miserable one morning post race in my own bed is one thing…I don’t want to feel miserable post race while on vacation!  So, any breastfeeding or pumping momma’s out there who do any strenuous exercise…please make sure you hydrate more than you normal would if you do something beyond your normal daily activity.  If you are going to feed your baby close to after a big workout or race, have a water bottle handy and rehydrate yourself as your feed your little one….you start to become immune to realizing how much liquid you’re expelling from your body every time you feed or pump….and it’s important to rehydrate yourself so you don’t ‘go to the darkside’.

 

Final Thoughts on 2017

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To say that 2017 was a crazy year is an understatement.  I started the year off in Walt Disney World with my mom and best friend.  I was pregnant and participated in the Marathon Weekend events.  Then, shortly after coming home, I found out I miscarried.  An immense amount of anger took over me.  But things have a funny way of working out.  No less than 6 weeks after my D&C I discovered I was pregnant again.  We had many early ultrasounds and blood tests to confirm the pregnancy.  We went for the 1st trimester screening test and were able to see a clear image of our growing baby.  At 20 weeks we found out we were having a baby boy.

All during this time I continued to run, using it as a coping mechanism from when I first found out the bad news, and then as a stress reliever to help keep some normalcy in my life. How much did I run this year?  Not as many races as I had in years prior, but quite a few.  I did three 5km races, three 5km virtual races, one 6km, one 4 mile, one 8km, two 10kms, a half marathon relay, two half marathons and one full marathon.  I am most proud of the 10km I ran at 35 weeks pregnant, which I completed in 1:02.50!

It was shortly after that race that I found out I had pre-hypertension.  This was discovered at my 37 week appointment.  I was done with work immediately, and one week later I was induced and gave birth to our son, Andrew Allen Pottage.  Labour was the most pain I’ve ever been in.  It was worse than any race I ever competed in.  But making it to this finish line was oh so sweet.

I have now pretty much fully recovered from not only the pregnancy and delivery, but also from my surprise appendectomy that I had at the beginning of December.  Now that I am ready to take on 2018, I have some big plans.

I will be joining Runners Soul marathon club for my 6th season.  I will be training for the half marathon distance, where I’ll run the Red Deer Half over May Long weekend.  Before May Long, I will do Moonlight Run 10km, 10 mile road race and the Walt Disney World Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, with both the 10km and half marathon events.  That will be an exciting trip, as it will be our first time on an airplane with baby Andy!  I can’t wait to take him to Disney World, and even though he won’t remember a damn thing, the memories  and photos will be ones to cherish.

The biggest running news for 2018 is that my husband and I will be heading to Berlin, Germany, in September to run the Berlin Marathon!  The opportunity was presented to us through our local running store Runners Soul, and there is a group of us heading out there to run in this World Marathon Major event!  And did you notice I said “my husband and I”?  YES, Dan will be running a full marathon!  He actually will be doing the Red Deer Full Marathon in May as his first full, in order to figure things out and see how much pain he is in afterwards.  But this is going to be such a memorable race-cation for us!

I’ll still blog in the new year, though, it may not be as often as I used to.  With the baby and all, things are a little different.  I will always do my race recaps, but also hope to talk about how training postpartum is going.  I am sure there will be some frustration as I try to get back to where I was before baby, and I hope to share how it is all going.

2017 started off really sour.  But it ended oh so sweet.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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As mentioned before, I started running again November 1st. I’ve been going to boot camp twice a week. I’ve been walking. I’ve been getting out of the house lots. I’ve been finding a “new normal” routine. It’s currently 4 am on Thursday, December 7th, and I’m pumping. This is part of the new normal I’ve created. December 7th marks 7 weeks postpartum. Considering how strong I started off, I should be even stronger now. But, I hit a very unexpected speed bump…

Monday, December 4th, started out like a normal day. I was a bit more tired than usual, so I took an epic nap with Andy in the morning. During that time, my stomach was feeling a bit uneasy and bloated. By the time we headed to our Mommy Connections class, I felt VERY bloated. I wore a hooded sweatshirt to cover my bloat and went on with the afternoon. As the afternoon progressed, this did not go away. In fact, a pain developed in my stomach. When we got home, I went to nurse Andy on the bed. Laying on my side is what I find to work the best for us when we do this. But this time, a major red flag occurred-I had trouble getting up.

The pain in my side was bad. So bad that we just laid there. I was about to call Dan to see if he was coming home soon, but then I heard him come in through the shop. Phew. He came upstairs and helped me with Andy, and I tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I googled some things as the pain progressed. Yes, looking up possibly ailments online is not the best thing to do, but I did it anyway. By 5pm, I knew something was wrong. I needed to go to ER.

Dan packed Andy up in his carrier and drove me to ER. I walked in and was immediately frustrated-quite a few people in the waiting room. The screen said approximately a 2 hr 7 minute wait to send a doctor once you registered. I felt like I was at Disney World. I registered and sat. Sat uncomfortably , that is. I must have been triaged ahead of people due to the fact that I was 7 weeks postpartum because I was soon moved to another waiting area and eventually a bed. By the time I got to the bed, I had the chills. When the doctor came in she performed an ultrasound. She couldn’t get a super clear image on the in-room ultrasound but was pretty certain there was a stone in my appendix.

Dan and Andy came by around 9:30, and at this time I had gotten brought up to the large ultrasound machine. The tech there confirmed I did in fact have appendicitis. When we met with the doctor back in the ER it was determined that surgery to remove this pointless organ was the best course of action. It would be performed as a laparoscopic procedure, with three “ports” created in my stomach area-one to the left of my belly button, one below my belly button and the third through my belly button. As long as all went well (which it did) they would remove my crappy appendix through my belly button.

By 1 am I was in recovery and then soon after brought back to a room. The room I was brought to was actually in the maternity ward, due to overflow space. This came in handy because the nurses there had gotten me set up with a pump and some bottles before I even went down to surgery. Dan had gone home with Andy so I gave him a call to let him know I survived, and then I tried to sleep.

The morphine in my system was causing me to fall in and out of sleep, even when I was trying my hardest to stay awake and post things on Facebook or send emails. This whole ordeal was surreal–I wasn’t supposed to be back in the hospital. I did that back in October. I had my induction day, my labour and delivery, and I was discharged out. I was supposed to be continuing on the up and up from there. But now I felt back at square one, and in some ways, even farther put back.

The doctor eventually came and told me the surgery went as planned, and my three incisions would heal over time. I had green bandages on my stomach that could be taken off later, but then some surgical tape and stitches that would eventually dissolve and fall off. I was slightly swollen. It hurt to cough. It was not easy to get up and walk. When I was discharged I was pushed out in a wheelchair and I can say with certainty that I felt worse leaving the hospital on Tuesday, December 5th, than I did when I left on Saturday, October 21st.

Running would be halted. Baby boot camp would be postponed. I had orders to not lift anything more than 10 pounds for 5-6 weeks. Andy is already in the low 9’s, so him in his car seat puts that over the limit. I was starting my postpartum healing all over again with a non-postpartum procedure.

Im not asking for people to feel sorry for me. But, right now at this moment, I feel very frustrated and vulnerable. Just when I thought I was on the right track to being “back to normal” it was all put on hold. I’m going from my body feeling great and ready to be back fully in the game to it feeling weak and beaten up. The activities I was participating in during the weekdays will have to temporarily change while I heal, and we aren’t going to be able to leave the house just the two of us as much.

Two steps forward and one step back. That’s what this feels like. And I feel like next week after my mother in law leaves (she came down less than 24 hours after my surgery to help) it’ll even feel like two or three steps back. I was fully independent and able to care for Andy easily on my own. Now I’m having to force myself to ask for help because when I don’t, I can tell I’m potentially doing more harm than good. As I anxiously await for my body to heal from an unexpected surgery, I am grateful for everyone who has stepped in to help us out. I know 5-6weeks is a very short time frame, relatively speaking, but when you’ve already been 6 weeks recovered and back doing your “new normal” going back to the starting line is very mentally challenging.

Getting Back in the Game

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Its been 5 weeks since I was told I needed to stop running and 4 weeks since I was admitted to the hospital to be induced.  I will admit, that one of my biggest concerns going into labour was “when would I be able to run again?”  I know, that’s a bit selfish.  But, running is part of my identity.  I don’t plan on losing that piece of me now that I am a mom.  I need it for my health, sanity and well-being.  My husband if 100% behind me running and working out again as soon as possible post-partum, however, he was nervous because he didn’t want me to go out there too soon and do something detrimental to my body.  Fair enough.

When we took Andy to his first doctor’s appointment on October 25th, Dan wanted to talk with him about when I would be able to start running again.  Dr. Galbraith is not only Andy’s doctor but mine as well.  He is also has a sports medicine clinic here in Lethbridge.  He is well aware of my running background and what I did as far as exercise during my pregnancy.  After talking with Dr. Galbraith, he informed us that it would be safe for me to go out and run after 2-3 weeks from the date of delivery.  This obviously is not the same for everyone who just had a baby.  He took into account my previous running experience before being pregnant, how active I was during the pregnancy, and any trauma my body may have went through during the actual labour and delivery.  My labour was painful as hell due to being induced, but my delivery went very smooth.  He made it key that I needed to listen to my body when I start running again, which was something I was doing all throughout the pregnancy.  I was very happy to hear this from the doctor, and it was enough information for my husband to feel confident that I would not be doing harm to my body once I started working out.

On November 1st, I ran my first single mile since week 37.  I felt great out there.  I was cautious with my running, did not overdo myself, and was listening to the changes my body had taken.  This was just the start of the next chapter in my life as a ‘mother runner.’

My plan for the rest of 2017 is simple:  For November, I will be running 4 days a week.  Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  The distances on those days are not set in stone.  They will often be between 1-3 mile runs, working up to maybe a 4 miler by the end of the month.  I will go to Runners Soul Run Club on the Wednesday nights it is offered and do their route.  I also registered for my first post-pregnancy race on Saturday, November 18th—The Claus Cause 5km.  I am also adding in other components to my exercise regime on the days I am not running.  On Tuesday & Thursday, I will be attending Kinetic Fitness and taking the Baby Mama Boot Camp class, which I can take Andy to!  It is a great way to meet other mom’s and get a great workout in.  And on Fridays, I will attend the free Kinetic-On-The-Go HIGH Fitness class that they hold in the morning.  I can also bring Andy to this one, as it is in the gym of an LDS church and kids are welcome.

Every day has some form of exercise scheduled in, with also room for walks (weather permitting).  Having three fitness activities that I can bring Andy along with is key, as it gets us out of the house!  And being able to run those 4 days a week helps get me back at building a base.  In December, I will continue the classes at Kinetic but I also plan on participating in Runners Soul Run Streak, where you commit to run at least 1 mile a day each day for the whole month.  There are prizes each day, so there is that extrinsic motivation.  I also hoped to get on at least one 6 mile training run before the end of the year.  Once 2018 rolls around, Half Marathon Club begins and training for  local 10km, 10 miler and the RunDisney Star Wars Half begins!

I think it’s safe to say all new mom’s long to get their bodies back to where they were before being pregnant.  Yes, I am one of those mom’s.  But, more so than worrying about a number on the scale, I long to get myself back into the running shape I was in before.  I know it will take some time, and I also know it’ll take some work.  But it is important to me to get back to the level I was at pre-baby—I worked so hard to get to that point that I don’t want it to just be a distant memory.  I hope in the near future to re-qualify for the Boston Marathon…that will be the true signifier that I’ve done it.  But until then, I will put in the time and try not to get frustrated if it takes a bit longer than I hoped.

Lethbridge Police 10km Recap

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Saturday, September 30th, marked the day of the 5th annual Lethbridge Police Services Run.  They offer three different race distances—half marathon, 10km and 5km.  I have now participated in not only every year, but every event!  The first three years I ran the half marathon, and in two of those years I even placed in top three and was awarded prize money!  Last year, I ran the 5km with my cross country kids—-it was my first race after my foot surgery.   And this year, I ran the 10km.  More specifically, I ran the 10km while over 35 weeks pregnant.

All our race bibs for race morning!


I had kept up with my training all summer, and most recently I had done two separate 6 mile training runs on Saturdays in late August and early September to make sure my body was prepared for the distance.  As the race date approached, I knew I was feeling heavier (duh) and would have to just take the race with ease.  I had set in my mind to have a goal of an 11 minute mile, which if I could manage this would get me in at under 1 hour 10 minutes.  This would be very reasonable, considering my personal best in this distance is 41:30.  However, I understand that every day could be different in this pregnancy and I wasn’t entirely sure how my body would feel come race morning.

The race day came, and I was very happy with not only the cooler temperatures, but that the smoke from forest fires had been long gone.  I knew cooler weather would benefit me.  The half marathon started first, with the 10km and 5km participants following about 5 minutes later.  When our race began, I knew the first 5km would not be an issue—-cool weather, along with race adrenaline and the long downhill to the riverbottom, would all be working in my favour.  If anything, I knew I had to be cautious and careful as I wasn’t sure how my body would feel the last 5km.

My first 3 miles were a lot faster than the 11 minute pace goal—-9:09, 9:39, 10:31.  At this point in the race, the 5km runners had split off from us and the crowd of runners thinned.  We wound through the river bottom and made our way to the bridge, our past Helen Schuler, and back.  With less people out there, it was mentally challenging to get through mile 4 and 5.  I was able to hold on pretty close to my third mile split, running mile 4 and 5 in 10:35 and 10:32, respectively.

Now with only 1 mile to go, it was mind over matter.  I pushed my legs the best I could, all while still watching my heart rate.  There as a point in this final mile where I knew I could go faster, but my heart rate would spike.  I had to hold back a little bit.  Mile 6 was 10:32, and I was able to close out the last 0.2 of the race comfortably.  I finished my 6.2 mile run in a time of 1:02.50!

Coming in to the finish!


Finishing when I did was perfect—my mom and mother in law had just finished walking the 5km and were able to see me come in to the finish.  There were friends of mine who had done the 5km race that were watching the finishers—their words of encouragement helped a lot!  I was able to grab a bunch of food, which I normally don’t eat but figured baby needed, walk around to stretch my legs….I eventually went to the bathroom, but it was funny that I didn’t need to immediately!  Baby presses down on my bladder, but I just have to try and block that out of my mind when I race because I know I really don’t have to go to the bathroom!  I then was also able to catch my husband finish his third half marathon, with his second best time—a 1:42.56.  I am still so amazed at the times he can run given that he only runs once a week….ONCE A WEEK!  And it’s just speed work with Runners Soul Race Team.  Imagine what he could do if he took it seriously!

Mom and I


Overall, this event was again fantastic.  I had a great run, my family had a great time participating in it, and the event itself was put on so smoothly (like always).  I always enjoy this event, but this year will be extra special as it fell on my 33rd birthday weekend and baby shower.  This is a 10km to remember!