Posts Tagged by summer running

Confessions & Observations: 7 months

I have been doing this mom thing for 7 months now. That’s more than half a year, which basically makes me an expert on all things running-working-mom related. At least according to the internet.

Amelia 7 months_1

So today I’d love to impart that wisdom useless information onto you.

It took 7 months of “recovery” time for me to finally run my first 30 mile week. All my talk about wanting to get right back out there, being anxious to train, and wanting to run miles upon miles again was just that – talk. When it came down to it, I took my sweet time getting back into running regularly, a fact that I do not regret in the least. And while I feel a little silly to be so excited about running 30 miles after 7 full months of not being pregnant, it’s progress!

It took me almost that long to feel like myself while running. I’d say the big shift happened between 5 and 6 months. I suddenly realized that running no longer felt awkward and the stride that felt like it belonged to someone else for so long finally came naturally again. Things were actually starting to flow, and I didn’t have to focus on keeping my pelvis tucked under me when I ran. At least most of the time (downhill continued to be a problem for awhile).

That doesn’t mean my body is back to “normal.” It probably never will be. My stomach is still soft, I still don’t have any feeling around my incision and I seem to have developed a lovely little c-section shelf. Apparently those are all the rage these days (obviously sarcastic here).

And while we’re on the subject, I still have a canyon between my abs. Because, as it turns out, when you have a significant separation between your abs, that gap does not miraculously go away on its own. Sure, I avoided stressing my rectus abdominis for a very long time (still don’t do core work – hence the soft stomach) and for a few weeks I focused on a few exercises to help mediate the problem. But if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t really give the problem the attention it deserves. So it’s either time to accept that I’m going to have a gap forever, or get serious about fixing the problem.

I am terrible (terrible!!) about cross training. Worse than ever before, really. Remember that Barre3 membership I signed up for months ago?? Well I stopped using it and forgot to cancel my membership until last weekend. Smart use of money, right?

And while we’re confessing things, it’s time to put this out there… I’m a (new) mom. I also happen to be a runner. However, that does not, in fact, make me a #motherrunner.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about in the last sentence, you’re probably better off. Look, I’m not really against the hashtag itself. I can understand the usefulness of it (to a degree) and could maybe even get on board with using it once in a while…if I didn’t see it after almost every single post in my feed on a daily basis. I mean, I get it — finding time and energy to run when this little helpless being is depending on you for survival is no easy feat. The fact that you are a mom who runs is significant and commendable.

But, really, the fact that you’re a person who runs is pretty awesome too. So could we just tone it down a little bit? Don’t know what I mean? Here’s an example:

Just ran my fastest BOB 5K ever! Baby was cheering me on #motherrunner = relevant use of the hashtag

I love my new Sauconys! Best running shoes EVER! #motherrunner = not relevant. Unless Saucony starts making shoes specifically for mother runners. In which case I will take back everything I said.

Being a #motherrunner is a cakewalk compared to being a #pregnantrunner. That’s something I’ve actually suspected for a long time. Now that I’ve experienced both, I can finally let you all in on that little secret. Yeah, logistically speaking, it’s a lot more complicated to figure out how you’re going to fit in a run or travel to a race once the baby is no longer permanently attached. But you want to know something amazing? Your body is yours again! You can push as hard as you want to! And you might even have (a little) more energy to do it.

#pregnantrunner — now that’s a hashtag I can get behind.

…and now that I’ve offended at least half of my remaining readers….

I don’t know if I can commit to a fall marathon, and I’m having a bit of an identity crisis about it. At this point, training season has started. Many popular races have already filled up, and my window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller.

Why the internal battle? What’s the point of signing up for one if you don’t have the desire to train, you ask? Because I think that in some ways the regimented training could do me good. And honestly — when it comes to running marathons, I’m a little rusty. It’s hard to think about another year going by without a marathon in it.

But on the other hand, I just don’t think I have another non-PR marathon in me. Not that you’re ever guaranteed to PR in a race of any distance, but I’m just not sure I can commit to the level of training required to PR at this point. Call it prideful or whatever, but it’s a lot harder for me to muster the motivation to stand on yet another starting line knowing I’m not in shape to give my best effort. Getting my speed and strength back is humbling enough. I don’t need to spend over $100 to find out just how much more work I need to do to get there.

I am, however, craving speed. I raced my first 10K a couple of weeks ago (this one doesn’t count) and as painful as it was, I’m sort of hooked. I can see glimpses of that speed coming back and I want more. There have been so many times in the past where I’ve told myself I was going to take a break from marathons and focus on shorter distances instead, and I’ve just never done it. So maybe this fall is finally the time?

Sunrise runs are actually kind of peaceful. Even though it’s always too foggy around here in the early morning to actually see it.

 I don’t think I’ll ever truly love being a morning runner, and I certainly don’t love how slow I am at the crack of dawn, but there’s something so calming about hitting the pavement before most of the world is awake. What I can’t figure out, though, is how people do speed work before 6:00AM? One foot in front of the other in a shuffling motion is about all I can muster.

With the exception of running while pregnant, I’d say running first thing in the morning before nursing/pumping has got to top the charts for most uncomfortable running experiences. Why yes, I could wake up earlier to pump (I refuse to wake up the baby to nurse before I run just for my own personal comfort), but I’m just not that dedicated. I tell myself the discomfort will make me mentally tougher. Either that, or it’s a sure recipe for mastitis. I’ll keep you updated.

Running with the stroller? Also difficult. Especially in the summer heat. I do love running with Amelia though, and I just keep telling myelf pushing a stroller up hills is only going to make me stronger.

stroller runI swear there is a stroller in this photo…

I tweeted this the other day but it’s worth repeating. It’s my third summer running in Vermont. And even on the hottest, most humid of days, I can still say that I would much rather run up a mountain than through the middle of the city…even if the route was perfectly flat. There’s just something about that fresh mountain air.

It took nearly 7 months, but I finally ran without a shirt. I know women are on both ends of the spectrum here — some do it all the time and others refuse. The important point is that I have done it many times before, and even had a few very hot, shirtless runs during pregnancy. But, you know, things are a lot larger and softer in that area now, and I’ve been way too self-consious to bare my tummy since.

Except on Sunday it was hot and humid and the shirt I was wearing felt so stifling. So after 3 miles of ridiculous internal debate, I finally whipped that thing off. And you know what? Not only did I instantly feel so much better, but the world didn’t come crashing down at the sight of my soft belly. Imagine that.

Koli_river pupNot really a relevant photo. Except to show that on this particular day, it was also hot. 

Being a working mom is an absolute roller coaster. Some weeks I actually love being at work. Love the stimulation, the creativity, the adult interaction and responsibility. And then other weeks I absolutely dread it. I have a hard time focusing and find myself in a rut of self-pity and guilt that I can’t be there with Amelia all day (and am giving her over to strangers to “raise”). I’m 99.9% sure stay at home moms feel the same way about their own situation from time to time. So I guess I can just say that being a parent (and all the decisions that go along with it) is hard. This is groundbreaking information, obviously.

Being a parent is also the best. I know I talk about Amelia all the time, and spam Instagram and Twitter with her pictures, but I really can’t help it. I have never been more exhausted, anxious, worried, humbled, or felt more out of my league than I have every day for the past 7 months. But I’ve really never been happier. I know that probably sounds crazy to you…it barely makes sense to me. The truth is that I’ve never felt joy like this; never known love like this. Never truly thought it was possible that this little person who can’t even talk yet could have such a grip on my heart.

Amelia 7 months

Another thing I didn’t know was possible? How a baby who can’t even crawl yet can get into so much! Her reach is incredible. And she never sits still. I used to joke that my baby would come out running…now I’m starting to fear that’s coming true.

Amelia_office move

And Just Like that, June is Over

Hello! It sure has been awhile. An entire month, it seems. A fact I am sure all of you have noticed. I’m also fairly positive you all have been waiting each day with baited breath to see if or when I would ever post again. Well I’m happy to allay your fears today.

{End sarcasm font.}

I didn’t really mean to take a month-long vacation from the blog, but June was absolutely crazy. To bring you all up to speed, I figured I’d do a quick update. I’ve got a few actual posts in my head that I would like to write sometime before the end of the year, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

In the past 30 days I:

Bought new pump parts and have managed to keep them intact…so far.

Amelia Lynne_6 monthsAnd someone turned 6 months old!

Went on an awesome vacation to Asheville, NC.

Family_prayer mtn hike

We got to join 3 out of my 4 sisters at my parents’ house for a week and it was amazing. If I didn’t love Vermont so much (and you, know, had an actual source of income down there…minor detail) I would move to Asheville in a heartbeat. Cool, quirky downtown, awesome food with lots of vegetarian options, beautiful scenery and incredible hikes. Evan and I even got to go on a couple of trail runs together, which has made me want to seek out some trails by my own house.

Follow the leader

Spent over 36 hours traveling home to Vermont, 24 of which were continuously spent in various airports/airplanes across the country. Between flight cancellations, delays, and fighting with unhelpful Southwest gate attendants, we could’ve driven home and back again in less time. Depressing thought. In the course of that 36 hour period, we traveled from Asheville to Greenville, SC twice (by car), flew to Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore, and finally, Manchester, NH…and then drove 2 hours home to Vermont. Because obviously the shortest way to New England is through the Midwest.

plane napThe only way I could get her to sleep

But that wasn’t even the worst part of the Great Travel Nightmare of 2014. Nor was it arriving at the Manchester airport at 3:00 in the morning and waiting an hour for our suitcases only to find out they had been in the back room the entire time (thanks so much for failing to mention that there was a back room we could check when we arrived, super helpful baggage claim employee!). Nope, the worst part of the entire trip? After being awake for over 24 hours, trying to keep a 6-month old occupied during the entire debacle, running out of diapers, and surviving on crummy airport food, we realized that the car keys were NOT in a suitcase like we had expected. Instead they were locked in my father’s car, alone at the Asheville airport. Awesome.

Needless to say, we will be sticking close to home (and avoiding Southwest airlines!) for the foreseeable future.

Packed up our entire house in 2 days (literally), only shedding a few tears when it came time to take apart the nursery. I’d been counting down the days until we were able to move closer to my work, and had been so excited about it that I never stopped to think about how emotionally attached I was to our house. That was the house where we prepared for Amelia’s arrival. The place we brought her home to. The only home she has ever known…and now will never remember. It was harder to let go than I expected.

Millie_nursery last daySaying goodbye…clearly she was pretty torn up about it

But…now we’re finally in the new place and all the sadness has been forgotten. My commute has been cut in half, I love our new neighborhood, and we are close to actual THINGS again. We’ve spent the past week exploring new running routes, trying out the local restaurants and finding new trails to hike. I’m even seriously contemplating joining a local running club for the first time in my adult life (now that it’s on the internet, I’ve got to do it). In short, it’s been pretty amazing.

Hazen breakfast hike

Ran a 10K…and actually felt like I was racing. Recap to come soon. But I will tell you that it sucked — in the most amazing way. Funny how when you’re unable to race, you kind of forget about the level of pain that’s involved. And then when you finally catch your breath and have a moment to reflect on everything, somehow you’re able to block all that pain out again. Enough time has gone by that I now find myself thinking that maybe I could’ve gone faster. And I’m almost willing to temporarily forget about the absolute suckiness of the 10K distance (because really, it’s the worst) in order to find out if that’s really true.

Red white and blue 6.2I won King Arthur Flour pancake mix! Pretty nice prize if you ask me

Gotten into a groove with running again. It only took 6 months, but I’m finally getting some of that mojo back. And I’m trying really hard to embrace the early morning run. I do not love the half-asleep, slogging through humidity feeling. But I sure do love that all-day runner’s high. Well, until I crash at about 3:00pm, that is.

Became an aunt again! My youngest sister is in the Air Force, so it was only fitting that she had her baby on July 4th. Welcome to the family Madelyn Michelle!

Madelyn Michelle_7.8.14

—-

Unrelated, shameless plug: My amazing parents (you may remember my Dad from this post) have become pretty avid hikers since they moved to NC, and have decided that it would be tons of fun to take on a 28.3 mile hiking challenge in North Carolina this fall for Make-A-Wish Foundation. I can’t even contemplate hiking more than the marathon distance through the mountains in one day (I’m half convinced the lack of oxygen from their climbs may have addled their brains a bit). But if that’s not enough, they have also committed to raising $5,000 for Make-A-Wish, an amazing organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening conditions. Every single penny raised will go to helping a child’s wish come true. I never ask people for donations, but if you feel compelled to give, they would be forever in your debt. You can find more information here.

The Afternoon Runner’s Guide to Becoming a Morning Runner

I am an afternoon runner at heart. I always have been. But almost every summer, as the temperatures rise, I make a pseudo-commitment to try running in the morning in order to escape the heat. Except my heart has never really been in it. And after waking up early to escape a few unbearably hot days, I’d inevitably switch right back.

Afternoon runs, I just can’t quit you.

Or at least that’s what I thought. Because honestly — no matter how hot it was or tired I felt in the afternoon, running was more appealing because (wait for my pridefulness here): I could run faster. Plain and simple. Who needs slow-and-sluggish-barely-awake morning runs when you could fly in the afternoon?

But, my friends, I think I’ve finally found the secret. A perfect storm of events that have made me finally give up my afternoon runs for good. …or at least while there’s still light in the morning. And today I’m here to share my “expert” advice with all of you.

So all you afternoon runners who just can’t get yourself up in the mornings, take heart. If you follow my simple advice, you too should be able to call yourself a morning runner in no time.

How to Become a Morning Runner in 4 Simple Steps

AM run

In no particular order…

1.) Start your switch in the summer.

Obvious, but vital to success. Only crazy people get up at the crack of dawn when it’s dark and freezing out. Winter time is for afternoon runs. Summer is for escaping the heat.

2.) Accept a job that gives you a significant commute in the morning. And set a work schedule that requires you to leave the house before 7:00 am.

How is this conducive to morning runs, you ask? It’s not. But it is good practice for waking up early. After a few weeks of this super fun schedule, work with your supervisor to push your hours back just a bit, giving yourself one extra hour before you leave the house in the morning.

Now? Set your alarm for the same time (okay…maybe a little earlier). When it goes off – get out of bed! You’re already used to getting up early, and you tell yourself you’re not allowed to go into work late unless you run. Plus, it doesn’t matter how early it is — you’ll quickly realize that spending 40 minutes to an hour on the roads in a groggy, half-awake state is way more appealing than spending an hour in the car in the same condition. Probably safer for everyone around you too.

3.) Prepare yourself a breakfast of champions. Something that sits well in your stomach but gives you energy to make it through your run when you’d rather be sleeping.

Such as a small piece of toast with cream cheese and raisins on top. I know, I know…peanut butter is supposed to be the fuel of champions but I’m telling you all — cream cheese is where it’s at. Especially on toast. And especially when you add raisins.*

Cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner

*Don’t worry…I would’ve thought this combination was disgusting a few months ago too. 

And last, but certainly not least…

4.) Get knocked up.

DSC 0452And prepare to get bigger from “here” to “here”

This is the crucial step here, ladies (gentlemen, I’m sorry…I don’t have an equivalent step for ya). For several reasons. First of all, speed is no longer an issue. Since pregnancy and speed are not friends, you no longer have to worry about running slower in the morning. You run slow all the time! So embrace it. And secondly, prolonged exposure to heat and dehydration isn’t too great for anyone. But word on the street is that it’s especially bad for growing babies. Which means that if you want to run and escape the summer heat, you basically have no choice.

 

This formula has proven so successful that I’m probably going to start marketing it. All I need is a catchy name. So set that alarm, roll out of bed, lace up your shoes and hit the road. And consider yourself lucky that you heard the secrets here first.

 

**Results not guaranteed postpartum

Runfessions

I have a running ego. Which is not really news to anyone who knows me, I guess. While I have no delusions about the level of my ability, I do take pride in being able to run certain paces, conquer certain distances…and pass lots of people. I’d like to say that said ego has disappeared since finding out I’m pregnant but…no such luck.

I may not be out there speeding up when I pass people I know or glancing at my watch near the end of a mile and picking up the pace so my split clocks in at 7:59 instead of 8:01, but I still do silly little things to make myself feel better about my current abilities. Like standing up straight and lengthening my stride to make it appear that I’m moving faster when I pass fellow runners. Or pushing the pace for the last mile just to see if I can get my overall average down just a bit.

And I hate catching my reflection in store windows…though I always look (I can’t help it!). I find myself excited for the days when I’m toting around a noticeable bump instead of just a protruding gut.

I’m also a running hypocrite. I would tell anyone else in my situation that she was being absolutely ridiculous and no one even notices (worry about yourself, you idiot!). But accepting the ridiculousness of my behavior has done nothing to change it.

Another way that I’m a hypocrite: I never really liked those “running for two shirts” (sorry, but I don’t!). Except now that I am pregnant I find myself wanting to purchase one so I can wear it on every single run. Again, no one cares about this stuff but me. Nor do they want it rubbed in their faces (#pregnantmotherrunner coming through!). But like I said, I have a running ego.

Speaking of which, how do we feel about the sports bra + pregnant belly combination? I can’t say I haven’t already been considering it…once I have a belly to show, that is. Hey – it’s summer and it’s hot…and in my mind I’m going to look just as amazing as Paula Radcliffe or Lauren Fleshman.

Pregnant lauren fleshman(Source)

Please don’t burst my bubble now…I’m sure that’ll happen naturally.

No matter how many times I go to the bathroom before leaving on a run, I always have to pee within the first mile. I don’t know where all that liquid comes from, but that urge seems to be getting harder to control. At this point I’m able to wait it out, but I’m starting to think that won’t last forever. So I’ve recently been trying to scope out some good “pit stop” locations along my favorite routes. The only problem is, I run mostly through neighborhoods and along well-traveled roads…neither of which provide for much privacy. My solution? I’ve been contemplating just “letting it flow” when the time comes. .

…or maybe I just need to find some more adventurous running routes.

Remember when I posted this story about my dad, which featured a photo of him racing in some sweet star-spangled short-shorts? Well, my mom had a matching pair (yes, they wore them during the same race. I love my parents) and has graciously passed them along to me. I cannot wait to rock them during the 4th of July 4-miler we’re doing next week. In fact, it’s pretty much the sole reason I signed up for the race.

star spangled running shortsI hope these still fit by next week. Though who am I kidding? I’ll squeeze into them regardless.

Now if only my dad had given his pair to Evan so we could match…

I have never been a morning runner. But you know this already. Pretty much every summer, I make a bold proclamation about how I’m going to start running first thing in the morning. But then after a few weeks I’m back to my old ways. It’s not that I can’t run in the morning…I just hate doing it before I’m well fed and caffeinated.

But now here I am once again attempting to climb back on the AM-run bandwagon (I fear I’m starting to sound like a broken record). This time because I have another person to worry about. Last week’s high temperatures made me realize that if I want to keep running through this pregnancy, I need to suck it up and start making morning runs a habit. The humidity in the morning sucks, but it’s better than running in 80+ degree heat. So this week I’ve started “LB becomes a morning runner attempt #5.” We’ll see if this one sticks.

I need new running shoes. Actually – I’ve needed them since April. But I’ve been holding off because I’m secretly afraid that I’m going to need something more supportive as I get bigger. I have to admit that I only just accepted the stupidity of this logic. First of all, the shoes work for me now, so continuing to run in my old ones will do nothing except increase the likelihood that I’ll get injured. And secondly, if the day comes when I do have to make the switch, I can put my Mirages on the shelf until post-pregnancy. Either way, it’s not a waste of money.

I still haven’t ordered them. Just like I’ve been holding off on buying new sports bras (well, besides one…but there’s only so many times you can wear these things before they need to be washed). I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder why I spent so much time making myself uncomfortable. But I’m stubborn.

I spend a lot more time than I should looking down at my feet when I run these days. Because I’m finally starting to see a little bump. And I have to admit that I kind of like the view.

pregnant running bump_14 weeks.jpg

 

Summer Racin’

For (what felt like) a long time, I couldn’t plan or even think about races because I felt so awful. Under that fog of never-ending fatigue, I was pretty sure that I’d never feel normal again…which made it tough to set goals or take on any sort of training.

But things are changing. Running is slowly getting better and I’m feeling a bit more energetic. And just like that, the drive to race is coming back strong.

Plus, I have to admit that I have some major race envy right now. Hearing about people training for and competing in fun summer races (especially now that relay season is back in full swing) has given me a deep ache that I haven’t felt in quite some time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be pregnant and I know I’m so fortunate to be able to experience this but…my heart longs for a starting line and some good old-fashioned runner’s high.

IMG 7184Post-race glow. It’s been so long!

I say all this knowing full well that racing while pregnant is going to be very very different. Probably even more so than I realize. And I know that it’s going to be difficult to tame that inner competitor. It’s one thing for me to take it easy on a run around the neighborhood after work…another thing altogether when I’m on the starting line feeling that adrenaline rush. Now obviously I’m not going to be physically capable of pushing my body to the same levels I did pre-pregnancy, and I’d never want to do anything to put Baby at risk, BUT doesn’t mean that I won’t want to…deep down. I’m fully expecting to feel some sort of internal struggle while I’m out there (though I’m preparing myself not to act on it!).

So I need some advice:

1.) Pregnant runners — how did you calm that competitive beast during a race? Again, I have no delusions that I’ll get out there and my speed will magically come back. I know my new limitations and really, I just want to have a goal to work toward and be a part of the racing environment again. I’m more wondering about how you came to terms with your new limitations and simply enjoyed racing for fun.

2.) How did you assure your nervous husband that everything will be okay? Evan is (understandably) a little hesitant about the whole racing thing. I don’t blame him — he knows how much I (normally) like to push, and although he trusts me, I know it must be hard to “sit on the sidelines” as I grow this baby. I’m so close to the baby all the time, it can be easy to forget what it must be like for him — in a position where he has essentially no control over something so important. I respect his feelings and he fully supports me, but I think he needs some reassurance from people who have been there before.

All that said, I currently have my eyes on a few summer races. They’re all short, local, and relatively inexpensive. Nothing that will take weeks of training or a complicated plan to prepare for. But, hopefully they’ll be fun ways to stay motivated to run during the summer (I need all the help I can get these days!) AND help me scratch that race itch. I feel like I’m going to be pregnant forever. It’ll be nice to have some mini-goals to work toward along the way.

With the exception of the Grafton race and the Cigna 5K (which I’ll be doing with work), I’m going to hold off on actually signing up for a little while. Obviously I need to respect all the effort my body is putting into growing a human right now, and so I won’t actually participate if I’m not feeling up to it.

Bill Powers Memorial Firecracker 4-miler on July 4th

I love the sound of this race because it’s so Brattleboro — local/organic foods, compostable cups, reusable water bottles — just the epitome of this quirky, crunchy little Vermont town. Plus it’s on the 4th, and I haven’t actually done a race on the 4th of July in a very long time.

Grafton Ponds Bear Hill 5K/10K on July 6th

bearhill-5k

Yeah, I know…two races in one week might be a bit ambitious. But this is the inaugural event in my old town — the town that brought me to VT. I’ve got to go back to support it!

Stowe 8-miler on July 14th

I know it’ll be hilly and tough, but the race looks so fun! Plus there’s ice cream (and Smuttynose, though I’ll have to miss out) at the finish. How can I say no to that?

Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K Road Race on August 8th

This is an evening race…in August. It’s going to be hot. And I’m still going to be pregnant. But work is putting together a team and I really want to be a part of it.

Just as a closing note…despite all my babble above, I am really excited about racing with Baby. Running and racing while pregnant are things I always hoped I’d be able to do. I love the thought of sharing this passion with our growing baby and the bond that that creates. I accept that right now my primary “training plan” is focused on growing a healthy human child, not running and racing. But I do hope to be able to continue doing so for as long as he/she will let me.

Let the summer of short/EASY racing begin!

Next Page »