Tag Archives: postpartum fitness

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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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.

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

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In my final post regarding the Star Wars Race Weekend, I will finally talk about the Half Marathon.  In case you aren’t familiar with the RunDisney race weekends, they have all sort of evolved to having a “Challenge” option.  With exception to Marathon Weekend in January, every other race weekend has an option to sign up for both the 10km on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. (Marathon Weekend goes one step further and has the Dopey Challenge where you do the 5km, 10km, half and full….I did this in 2014 and that was my driving force for fundraising in memory of my late father)

Dan and I were both signed up for the Dark Order Challenge, so in addition to the 10km we completed on Saturday we would be running in a half marathon on Sunday.  We went to bed at a reasonable time Saturday night and then participated in a Groundhog Day style moment Sunday moment where I got up at 2:30 am to pump and we got ready and headed to the transportation to race start.

I did want to make sure we got closer to the front of our corral than we were for the 10km, so that meant we weren’t going to waste time wandering slowly in the open areas.  We walked all the way to the back portion of the staging area to use the farthest porta potties and then went to the holding pen for Corral A.  They eventually moved Corral A into the starting gate and we were only a few rows back from the very front.  Nice!

Waiting around is kind of boring at any race, so at least at a Disney race they have announcers, video footage, and characters to help pass the time.  Again, I am not a Star Wars fan.  I am not against it, or hate it, I just don’t know anything about it.  What I learned while standing there watching different trailers for new movies and highlights from old movies is that 1.) Good guys have blue and green light sabres and 2.) bad guys have red light sabres.   Am I right?

Onto the race….

I knew this would be interesting because this would be the first Disney race challenge that I would try and ‘race’ back-to-back events.  I usually will race one of them, and take the other easy.  For instance, in 2015 I raced the Disneyland 10km and then for the half marathon I ran with Ali pacing her to a personal best.  Really, that’s the smart thing to do.  But I wanted to push.  Dan agreed to run along with me this race so at least I’d have him by my side.  Race started and off we went!

I knew the first miles of the course were technically just like the portion of the full marathon from after the monorail hotels.  But this would be different because at 5:30 am it would still be dark.  I was nervous it would be as boring as the previous days’ 10km, but both Dan and I were pleased the the first couple miles that were heavily tree-lined also had lots of lights, music, sound effects and photo stops on the side.  We weren’t stopping for any photos but it is still nice to see these up ahead and to look at them as you run by.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, we were getting warm.  The humidity was bothering me more today than Saturday, and I am not sure if it was more humid even or if it was just the fact that I knew I had more miles ahead of me than I did the day prior.  I tried not to think about it when we ran through Animal Kingdom, and I actually forgot about it briefly when Dan and I had some man draft behind us for about a mile who had the most annoying breathing pattern.  I kept trying to speed up to lose him but he kept creeping behind us and right between us.  GO AWAY!!!!  I eventually slowed a tad just to let this guy through because I was ready to lose my shit.  This was at about the time we were running through Pandora so I didn’t really get to take in all the scenery as I was just annoyed with this man. If anyone knows the man in the photo below between Dan and I, please let him know he should not sidle up to others. Thanks.

We made our way out of Animal Kingdom by way of Dinoland and hit an aid station.  Dan and I were so thirsty that we decided to powerwalk through the aid station to drink Powerade and dump water on ourselves.  Did I mention it was humid?  Shortly after this aid station we made a joint decision:  we would walk through every aid station and pound Powerade and dump water.  It would be needed for survival.  Ultimately, I am glad we did this even though I know our time was slower because of the walking.  But if we hadn’t, the final time may have been even worse because we would have been piles of crap.

Also as we left Animal Kingdom I did an unheard of thing for myself: I took my tanktop off and ran in my sports bra.  I may wear revealing bikinis on the beach, but when I work out or run or do yard work I do not like just being in a sports bra and shorts.  Just not my thing.  But again….the humidity was terrible.  Dan encouraged me to do this, as he had already taken his top off and felt better immediately after doing so.  I will admit it did feel great to get the top off.  I didn’t ditch the top, as it is one of my favorite LuluLemon tops, so I wrapped it around my water belt.

After making the decision to take it easy through the aid stations and shed my shirt, Dan and I both relaxed and had a lot of fun!  We still tried to keep up a good pace, but my legs were getting pretty tired, most likely due to the 10km from the previous day.  We were also getting hungry!  I think our early 5pm dinner the night before, the smaller breakfast that morning, and my pumping before the race all played into my hunger pains.  The Powerade provided some liquid calories and sugars to keep us ‘up’ and then when we got to the food station we both took two packs of the Sport Beans to eat.  We needed fuel bad!  Once we got to Hollywood Studios, however, I knew we could both muster the necessary energy needed in order to finish strong.

While we didn’t stop for any photo stops, we did get lots of great Photopass picutres taken of us.  During the food station I actually took some time to get my race bib off of my sweaty, wet tank top and put onto my water belt.  This was important because your race number IDs you for the photos!  Since my mom is an annual passmember she gets Photopass included and she could register our race bibs on her account.  So ‘free photos’ if you want to use that term loosely!

We finished the race with an official time of 1:50.35.  Dan’s time did not show up on RunDisney and I am thinking it is because he ruined the timing chip on his bib the night before.  After running the 10km, he took his shirt and wrung it out because it was soaked, completely crumpling his bib.  I pointed out he needed to use it the next day and the look on his face was so crushed.  Our splits were as follows (and for the record my watch recorded the distance to be 13.3 miles.  I glanced at my watch when it hit the 13.1 and the time was around 1:49.14)

I don’t know when the next RunDisney race weekend that we attend will be, but I know this won’t be the last!  We really did enjoy ourselves, from the well-planned out expo, to me running beyond my goal time in the 10km, to us running together as husband & wife in the half!  You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘fan’ of the race theme to have a great time at the race weekend!

Note: I have extra medals compared to Dan because I had registered for the Kessel Run Challenge in addition to the Dark Order Challenge.  This meant I did the Start Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home, earned that medal, PLUS the Kessel Run medal at the completion of this race.  RunDisney sure knows how to take my money….bling bling.

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’.