Tag Archives: running

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.

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You Look Fantastic for Just Having a Kid

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…Thanks…?

PREFACE: I have thought about doing a post like this for some time, but always shyed away.  But, in the last week a few things triggered me to do this.  If you are looking at the title of this and are thinking one thing about what I’m about to say, either stop reading or maybe read all the way though.  And I’d also suggest holding comments until you’ve read the whole post….or maybe after reading it you’ll just keep your comments to yourself….

And now onto my post….

I’ll be honest-I am one of those mom’s who get the random comments about “how great you look for just having a kid.”  And I will say it now, that I do feel pretty damn great about how I look right now.

 I’m sure some of you are thinking “Andrea you arrogant bitch, why are you writing about this?”  But bear with me.  

The trouble with this comment is that it comes unsolicited from strangers.  I most recently had a mom say it to me yesterday at Andy’s swim lessons.  She was watching her two kids in the lessons, while the youngest sat on the side with her.  Yes, it was nice that she said this to me.  But what do I say in response?

If I say a simple “thanks” and walk onward, do I not look appreciative?  I am not the most exuberant person out there, so sometimes my responses seem cold.  Is she expecting me to unload about how I got myself to look like this?  What is my workout regime….do I follow a special diet….maybe I am one of those mom’s who can just bounce back to a good figure…

But what if Andy was my adopted son?  And I never was even pregnant with him?  Then really it’s a stranger commenting on a postpartum body when maybe it was never pregnant at all.  What would an adoptive mother do in a case like this?  Do they just lie and say “Thanks” or do they go on a whole story about how this isn’t actually their biological child.  Then the stranger is in for an earful and really they probably didn’t want to hear your whole life story.

You’re probably still thinking that I should just smile and say thanks and move on.  But really, it’s bothering me.

The whole fascination on postpartum bodies is a topic in itself.  But every body is different.  And for strangers to go up to new mom’s and make comments on their bodies, even if they are in heart “positive” is just a little invasive.

If a stranger comments to me about my body, do they really want to hear the whole story?

Here is the bullet-point timeline

  • Always felt awkward looking in grade school due to bad haircut and fro
  • Didn’t like that I was taller than most of the girls growing up (funny, I know…I’m 5’3)
  • Was on Pom Pon Squad and Track & Field in high school.  Naturally muscular and never “skinny”
  • Wanted to be “skinny”
  • Bad couple months in grade 12 where I dropped close to 15 pounds with the stupid goal to get under 100 pounds
  • Hit puberty late after high school probably because of my intense exercise all those years and the body issues.
  • Dad dies end of freshman year in college in 2004
  • College is a yo-yo of bad food and lots of drinking
  • Started running long distance, however, it was maybe one race a year
  • Graduated college and met Dan
  • Moved to a new Country less than a year later
  • Did the crazy ‘pre-wedding diet’ before our wedding in 2010
  • Started taking anxiety medication mainly related to the death of my father
  • Slowly gained weight after wedding and tried to figure out what I wanted to do for exercise
  • Started this blog in 2013 and signed up for a shitload of running events
  • Kept running in 2014 and realized if I put my focus on running I could get a whole lot faster
  • Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon twice in 2014.  Failed.
  • Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon once in 2015.  Success
  • Decided to wait to try to have a kid until after Boston Marathon
  • Ran Boston Marathon in 2016.  Yay!
  • Foot Surgery in June 2016.  Can’t run until August.
  • Start trying to have a kid in fall
  • Find out we are pregnant!
  • Have a miscarriage
  • Get pregnant six weeks later
  • Run four times a week for the first 37 weeks of my pregnancy until I can’t run due to elevated blood pressure.
  • Have Andy on October 19, 2017!!!
  • Cleared to run two weeks later
  • Sign up  for 2018 Berlin Marathon
  • First week of December have an emergency appendectomy.  Can’t run again until January
  • Would have to be going back to work if I was still a teacher in the USA. However, I have am fortunate to be taking a year off here in Canada
  • Slowly get back into running and going to various stroller/baby mama boot camps
  • Run my first half marathon postpartum in April 2018 (farthest distance I had ran since June 2016)
  • Keep going to boot camps and training for the Berlin Marathon all while using a running stroller
  • Proud of my postpartum body but realize that my body did not become this way overnight

So you may still be thinking I should just say “Thanks” and move on.  What the issue I have is that strangers really should be mindful of both pregnant women and mothers before making comments.  Really, people should be mindful of just people in general before they make comments.  Its one thing to make these seemingly innocent comments to close friends or family, but why do people find the need to say it to strangers?

A friend of mine posted an article that had to do with someone asking a new mother the question “Are you Breastfeeding?”  I can see now, as a mom, why this question can cross the line especially if a stranger asks.

IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Sure, maybe we are breastfeeding.  Great.  If I answer yes to you, are you going to say “Congratulations?”  Maybe I tried to breastfeed but my baby was born so early that my hormones were all jacked and my milk never came in.  Maybe we chose from the start to feed our baby formula.  Maybe we are choosing to exclusively pump, which by the way counts as breastfeeding.  But then maybe that stranger will look at your cluelessly to why you are doing that.

I recognize that a lot of the times these innocent comments from strangers are meant with the best of intentions.  I am fortunate that I did not receive a lot of unsolicited advice while I was pregnant, and really I haven’t had a lot of that postpartum either.  But I know of friends who have felt the “mom-shame” before and I can imagine it sucks.  While the title of this post does not particularly seeming ‘mom-shame worthy” it is still putting a mom in a weird situation that could just be avoided.

Being pregnant with Andy and now being a mom has taught me a lot.  But honestly, one of the main things is to just bite my tongue.  When you are around new mom’s in a “mom group” and you don’t necessarily agree with someone’s parenting technique…is it really worth arguing about?  Same thing goes with social media:  someone says something you don’t agree with, say, in the political arena.  I’ma math teacher, not a social teacher….I’m not a political science expert. I keep my mouth shut and don’t chime in my two cents. (I do possibly hide some people from my newsfeed just so I don’t have to keep seeing our opposing views)

So next time you feel the need to say something, anything, to a stranger (or even a close friend or family) take a second to think if it is really a necessary comment.  Are you saying it to just make yourself feel better?  Are you saying it to incite turmoil?  Why do you feel the need to say it at all?  While we may have been brought up with the ideal that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it…maybe even save some of those seemingly innocent “nice” comments or questions to yourself.  You never know what the whole story is about a person.  And if you ask, you may open up a whole new can of worms.

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.

Wisconsin Race Recap

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From June 30-July 17th, I was back in my hometown visiting family and friends.  During that time, my husband and I were able to participate in a four mile race, and then I was also able to do a 5km race.

Firecracker Four

Firecracker Four is a 4 mile race held in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.  This is a suburb of Milwaukee, very close to where I grew up.  I had done this race years ago, and was excited to do it again.  It would be an 8 am start on the 4th of July.  I couldn’t think of a better way to start off this holiday!

It was HOT.  that is an understatement, actually…it was HOT AS FUCK.  The humidity was ridiculous.   I believe the “feels like” temp was in the 90s by 7:30 am.  Both Dan and I weren’t sure how we’d do since this felt like a large sauna.

We ran into my college friend Matt before race start, so it was nice to see a familiar face!  He was with his buddy Kevin, who also went to the same college as us.  They grew up in Hales Corners and always do this race every year.  They think it was the biggest turnout this year, with over 1100 people doing the 4 mile run (there was also a walk portion that had people too).  It was also the 40th anniversary of this event so that’s pretty cool.

Once the race started, I knew I wanted to just push as hard as I could.  This isn’t my normal race distance, so really I had nothing to lose.  One crazy thing was that before we even ran half a mile an ambulance had to come through.  Dan and I thought it was part of the race, but if you weren’t in the front pack you got stopped to let the ambulance through.

This route went through neighborhoods in Hales Corners.  There were a ton of people in their front yards and driveways cheering us on.  And these kind souls also had sprinklers going and hoses spraying us.  Seriously, I don’t think I would have ran as well as I did if it wasn’t for all the water being sprayed.  They also added a third water stop because of the weather.

I was able to hold on and finish with a time of 27:54, beating my goal of running 28 minutes!  I placed 99/1124 overall, 14/546 in female and 4/81 in my age group (just missed a medal!)  My splits were 6:35, 7:05, 7:11, 7:05.  And in true Wisconsin fashion there was a variety of beers at the finish line for us to enjoy.  8:30 am beers on the 4th of July is pretty damn American if you ask me!  USA!

Travelling Beer Garden 5km Race Series-Grant Park

Photo Credit to Jeff Crosby

Continuing where we left off at the Firecracker Four…..I did a 5km at one of the Milwaukee County Parks Travelling Beer Gardens.  Oh Milwaukee….you are amazing.  This park is located in South Milwaukee, right along Lake Michigan.  While it was still hot out, it wasn’t nearly as toasty as it was on the 4th.  And being so close to the lake helped because of the breeze.

Take note I had been eating like shit and drinking too much by this point in my trip.   It was July 12th and my body had been going through hell and back.  I really didn’t know how this would go, considering all the damage I’d done to my insides.  This race was a 6:30 pm start, with the “highlight” being that once you finish, you get a ticket for a free pint glass and beer at the beer garden.

I started out strong and felt like with this smaller field I would have a shot at being near the top.  The interesting thing about running races in a location you don’t normally run is that you don’t know your competitors.  When I am in Lethbridge I know who I should be pacing off of and who I am trying to catch.  Here, its a crapshoot.

I ran mile 1 in 6:30.  Alright, this is an epic pace for me.  If I kept this up, I would have a shot at a personal best.  The field had started to thin out, but there was one girl right in front of me.  I decided to draft off of her and hope for the best.  It was an out and back course, so at the turnaround I saw that I was comfortably in 2nd place, within reach of the female leader.

Mile 2 split was slower, at a 6:44.  I got my head in the game and knew I needed to push for that last mile to see what I could get.  I wasn’t sure if my body was going to give up and get another 15 seconds slower or if I could hold on.

I didn’t get slower, in fact, I got faster.  Mile 3 was a 6:36!  Holy Shit!  I kept pushing and pacing off the lead female and was able to come in right behind her with a chip time of 20:50!  The course measured 3.16 miles, so a little long, and other people also agreed that their watches measured it longer.  My time at the 5km point was actually a 20:30, which would be a personal best for myself!  I was extremely satisfied with my performance, placing 1/21 in my age group, 2/74 in female, and 8/156 overall.

The great thing about this night was that my mom and Andy came to watch (Dan had already flown home).  And while we were there, we saw a bunch of people who I knew…Mike & Christina with their kids, Lindsey who I ran with in high school, my friend Amanda and her husband Nathan….this is what is great about coming “home” to run.  I get to see people who I don’t normally see on a daily basis up here in Alberta.  I look forward to the next time we are back in Wisconsin and hope there’s a race somewhere that I can do!

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….

10 Mile Road Race Recap 2018

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While the 10 Mile Road Race was held on Saturday, April 7th, it actually felt like Saturday, January 2893821th.  This winter has SUCKED. SUCKED!!!  Seriously, our son was born October 19th and he’s been cold ever since.  Our trip to Disney World can’t come soon enough!  But, back to the race.

Yes, it was cold.  In the morning I checked the temperature and it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit.  Ha ha ha.  But, there was no wind.  There was sun.  And there was no new snowfall.  All those things could have gone the other way and it would have been just awful.  So since our bodies have just gotten used to this perpetual winter, race morning actually didn’t feel too bad.

The cold winter was definitely the reason the participant numbers were down.  At least, that’s my assumption.  All winter has been snowy, cold and ugly so unless you’re a nut job like me….you probably haven’t been running much.  This race is actually called the 10/4 Road Race…there is a 10 mile distance and a 4 mile distance.  Last year when I was pregnant, I did the 4 mile distance because I had not announced my pregnancy yet.  I figured doing the shorter distance would trick people, I don’t know.  Last year, there were 155 participants in the 4 mile distance.  This year there were only 89.  And in the 10 mile distance, there were only 38 runners this year compared to last year’s 92.  With a much smaller field, it was hard to stay fired up during the race (especially once we got spread out in the river bottom).

I had set a goal to run a sub 1 hour 20 minute race.  This equates to an 8 minute/mile pace, which is essentially my ‘goal’ marathon pace (or at least it was when I qualified for Vancouver in 2015).  I also figured this was reasonable given my previous attempts at this race, but also a little ambitious keeping in mind I would be 5.5 months postpartum.

I had done the 10 mile distance at this race three other times.  My race times were:

1:23.14 in 2013

1:14.49 in 2014

1:12.59 in 2016

The race is out and back from Lethbridge College.  You follow Scenic Drive and head north.  Once you get to Lynx Trail by the pedestrian crossing you head down to the river bottom.  You follow the trail adjacent to the river and wind over to the bridge.  You hit the turnaround before crossing Indian Battle Road.

The racers get spread out pretty quickly, and this year it felt even more spread out with so few runners.  By the time we were heading down Lynx I could barely make out the two females who were ahead of me.  When you get into the river bottom, all the winding messes with your head and you can’t see anyone in front of you.  That is where my splits started to slow and get above 8 minutes.  The turnaround itself helped boost my morale because I was able to see how close I actually was to the ladies in front of me (and the ones behind).  I knew I needed to push.

Running back up Lynx is never fun.  Usually, I do quite well on this hill in this very race.  But I am still not back to where I was at before Andy, so I still need to get some more hill training in.  I did not walk at all up the hill, but I definitely was going slow!  Once I got to the top of the hill my vantage point of the runners directly ahead of me was much better than when we were in the river bottom.  I could see there were some runners I could hopefully catch, and maybe even move up in the female placing!

I actually caught up to one of my grade 10 students on the hill.  He was walking some segments of it, and when I caught him on Scenic I started giving him a hard time (he’s a kid I know I could without hurting his ego).  I said “You know, I was pregnant 6 months ago….are you going to let me pass you?”  He laughed and that was enough to get him moving again.  We ran the last two miles together and honestly it helped push me a ton!  I like to think that I helped push him too!  Yes, he did beat me down the final stretch (he runs 400m and 800m in track and once we had only 800m left I told him he had to just gun it) but running with him in the last bit helped me pass a few other runners and also brought me into 2nd position for women!  I finished the race 10th overall out of 38.  I was 2nd out of 16 females and then 2nd in my age group of 30-39 year olds (only 5 of us in the division).  My (rounded) splits were as follows:

7:24 (starting off a little too excited), 7:58, 7:44, 7:44, 8:02, 8:05, 9:18 (up Lynx!), 8:35, 8:10, 7:42 (nice final mile!)

Did I break 1 hour 20 minutes?  No….but I got damn close! My final time was 1:20.39.  Given the cold conditions, I’ll take it!  Also, a shoutout to my husband who ran his third 10 Mile Road Race.  He finished 5th overall with a time of 1:15.44.  And as much as he claims he doesn’t care about “the bling” he appeared actually upset that he didn’t place in his age group during awards (The top three finishers were all males in 30-39).  So he got 4th in his tough age group!

As long as I am in town, I will always do this event!  It is a well organized race and I get to see lots of people I know at it.  Hopefully next year we have a better winter and this race is actually a Spring event!

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’.

 

January

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Well. You thought I sucked at blogging while pregnant…it’s even worse now that Andy has arrived! It’s not even just not having free continuous moments to sit and type, it’s actually more of “what do I blog about?”

When I started this blog in 2013, it was about running, Disney and my dad. I was raising money for American Heart Assoication and Heart & Stroke Fiundation in memory of my dad, and preparing for my big race in January 2014-The RunDisney Dopey Challenge.

Fast forward five years since starting this blog and now my husband and I have a 3.5 month old. So does that mean I need to turn this into a mommy blog? Thing is, I don’t know what to write about or share, or even if anyone wants to listen to my input on “mom stuff.” When I was pregnant, I was very happy I didn’t get much, of any, unsolicited advice. So I am not sure if anyone really wants to hear my “advice” on motherhood. But really, I know I had trouble with my first blog posts back in 2013. What do I talk about? If I talk about running, do I just blog about my training? Treat this like a journal? And I guess that’s what this blog has become. I journaled my way through my Disney race training and then onto my Boston Marathon qualifying attempts, including the failures. Then onto Boston itself. I reflected on past vacations with my family, memories with my dad, our trip to Quebec City in search of more information about his family history. Then onto my foot surgery, my miscarriage, my pregnancy, my running while pregnant. The blog started as one thing, and now it’s transformed into just everything that makes me “me.”

So, since January had no races to report on, I think I’m just going to talk about the month itself. I’ll break it into two parts. Part 1 will be “Mom Stuff” and Part 2 will be “Running & etc”. And in some cases, there’s two parts will overlap.

Part 1-Diapers and Feeding and Sleeping, oh my!

So in my attempt to talk about mom stuff, I figure I’ll touch on the big three. Starting with diapers, I am by no means an expert or trying to push an agenda, but we have opted to use cloth diapers with Andy. But there’s a catch—we are only using them about 65% of the time. At night, Andy wears disposables. We also use disposables when we travel away from home, and for instance, I plan on ordering diapers to get delivered to our hotel when we go to Walt Disney World (Garden Grocer for the win!). They serve their purpose at that time as he can go longer stretches between changes. But during the day and early evening he is rocking the cloth.

Love the Flip diaper covers!

I’ve actually had people use the term “brave” when they hear we are doing cloth. Ummmmm, that’s not a word that should be tossed around lightly. And really, cloth diapers aren’t that scary! We bought a bidet sprayer to attach to the toilet and we have our change table set up in the bathroom next to it. It make its super convenient when changing Andy as we can then just spray off the cloth inserts and then put them in the wet bag. We have a variety of cloth diapers that we got second hand from a friend, but we really like the Flip diaper covers with the inserts. As long as Andy doesn’t leak onto the outer cover, you can use the cover a few times before putting it in the wet bag. We end up doing the wash every three days or so, and no our washer isn’t getting ruined!

Food. It’s an interesting topic, as I have never talked about my boobs to my husband more than I have in the past 3.5 months. We are still breastfeeding, and I’d say that I’m pumping about 95% of the time. This month was a bit stressful though, because I came down with a little bit of a sickness. While I was still pumping, I started to get lazy about it….I was doing less pumping sessions per day and my daily output dipped a bit lower. We still had backup bottles in the fridge so there was no major worry. Until a Sunday rolled around and I pumped only around 600 ml. I freaked out.

After talking with my lactation consultant friend, we devised a plan to get those numbers back up. Basically, I couldn’t be lazy that week. I did about 7-8 sessions a day with the pump and slowly the daily amounts got back up. The bottle lineup in the fridge is starting to grow again. But, I do have to say that my husband kept me as calm as he could during this. He kept reminding me that worse comes to worse, we have a freezer stash to dip into. We did use about five bags of frozen milk, but there are still sixty or so left. And once I feel confident enough in the fridge bottles, I’ll try to add a bag a day back to the freezer. And he also stressed to me that if we have to supplement with formula, it’s not the end of the world.

The most important baby thing is own!

I think that’s the biggest mom thing I want to talk about—formula is perfectly fine! The baby is getting fed, that’s what matters. Yes, the research concludes breast milk is best. The benefits to baby are fantastic. But new moms need to do what works for them. Want to exclusively breastfeed? You go girl. Want to pump a lot? I got your back! Want to use formula, or maybe you have to use formula? Totally cool. No one should judge parents for what choice they make in feeding their babies.

Now on to sleep. I feel like the most common small talk people make with my husband and I is “are you getting enough sleep?” Short answer is “yes.” This is why I chose to predominantly pump, because Dan and I can alternate bottle feedings in the middle of the night. Huge advantage!

Andy has been sleeping longer stretches at night, but not necessarily consistently. His longest stretch was a six hour one from 10pm-4am. Awesome! But then the little stinker still reverts back to three hour stretches at times. Mostly though, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he takes care of business with his bottle and then falls asleep rather quick.

Andy is currently sleeping in his pack and play bassinet attachment which is located on the main floor of our house. Our bedroom is six steps away, and we have an audio monitor plugged in so we can hear him if the door is shut. We moved him down here shortly after Christmas because we needed better sleep ourselves! Having him out of our room, but still close by, allows whoever isn’t up to feed him to keep sleeping. When he was in our room we found that whoever’s turn it was with him stayed up quite a bit longer, as we needed to take him out of the cradle, then down to the main floor. Feed, burp, change, rock to sleep, bring back in room to cradle….and then sometimes he’d fuss a bit more and that would just wake the other person up. We will eventually move him up to his nursery, but we are mainly waiting for him to have consistent long stretches of sleep at night. Hopefully when I write about a February recap I can say we are transitioning him up there!

Part 2-Getting my Groove Back

I did start my training back up once January hit. I knew my appendectomy had been healed, and I was ready to go. I made a reasonable training calendar (all the way through May) that includes my boot camp classes and running workouts. Marathon club would be starting part way into the month, so I would have my long run on the weekend to look forward to. I also made some goals; some to do with running times and some to do with weight.

I know losing weight after baby has to probably be one of the top concerns many women have. I’m trying to be reasonable about the process, and I also recognize that the number on the scale doesn’t fully represent where you are at. I have always felt like the number on the scale for me was higher than I believe I look. Maybe it’s partly to do with muscle mass, maybe a little to do with my short stature. Regardless, I would be using the scale just to monitor where I’m at but what I would care more about is how I am fitting into my clothes.

To give you an idea of where I was at before pregnancy, I was around 135 pounds in the summer of 2016. This was after my foot surgery. When I am hardcore into marathon training, like when I did Vancouver and Boston, I’m usually in the low 130s. On February 26th 2017, about a month and a half post miscarriage, I was 142 pounds. I wrote his down in a journal because this was when I had a positive pregnancy test! I also wrote that my goal after pregnancy was to get back under 140 pounds.

I’m on the right track. I gained about 30 pounds while pregnant with Andy. The last I weighed myself while pregnant was at my 37 week appointment and I was 170 pounds. Andy was born at 38 weeks. By December, I had gotten down to 147 pounds. But then my appendix surgery occurred. I was worried what that next month would look like.

On January 2nd, I weighed 147.3 pounds. Not bad considering 1.) I couldn’t work out in December and 2.) it was the holidays! I wrote down a plan for the next two months. I would start my exercise/training plan and not change anything with my diet. I hate dieting. It’s stupid and it’s stressful. I just wanted to see what I could do with exercise alone. So my goal is that by March 1st I get down to 140 pounds. On February 1st, I weighed myself and was 143.1 pounds—down four pounds! Three to go!

Dan already told me not to beat myself up over if I don’t get those last three pounds off this month. My body composition is going to be changing all month long. As I keep working out, I’ll gain more muscle mass back. This will weigh more. But at least I’m on the right track.

Running is taking time too. Yes, I am running and doing the distances. But my paces are way off from what they were pre pregnancy. My first race of 2018 is the Moonlight Run 10km on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve set a goal time for between 46-48 minutes. I am not sure if that is too lofty or just right. Only time will tell.

Well. That’s it for now. Not sure if I’ll have anything exciting to write about this month, but I may do a post in regards to my running as we get into more challenging marathon club routes.

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.