Product Review: Fuelstrip

You’ve heard me say it before on this blog and Twitter, but I’ve been feeling really depleted on long and/or hard efforts. A big part of it is running 50+ miles per week while nursing my 6 month old cutie. But, I’ve always had problems with energy levels plummeting on long runs and during marathons.

Here’s a crazy little tidbit about my marathon journey. My first 4 marathons (during both training and racing) I took in NO FUEL ever. I would occasionally stop by a water fountain on a 20 miler and would take a few sips of water out on the marathon course, but in general, I didn’t think I needed fuel. I thought it would just slow me down. I know, it sounds silly and is very embarrassing to admit this!

When I finally realized fueling both in training (occasionally) and during races could substantially impact the quality of my running, I jumped on the fuel bandwagon. Still, I’ve only done 4 more marathons since I started fueling and am still trying to figure the whole process out. What works for me? How can I take in enough, but not too much, since I also have a really sensitive stomach?

When I heard about Fuelstrip, I knew I wanted to try it out. I read “Fuelstrip is able to detect the metabolites in your sweat to allow you to refuel to your body’s exact needs.” and “As your glycogen reserve tanks are depleted from full to empty, the Fuelstrips react to form a series of colors that approximate a full tank (orange), 3/4 tank (yellow), 1/2 tank (green), 1/4 tank (blue). The periodic testing of your sweat will allow you to refuel to your body’s exact needs at the moment.” Testing involves swiping the end of the fuelstrip across your sweat and checking the results (color of the Fuelstrip) 20-30 seconds later.

My first impression was, “Sounds cool, but does it work?” and then “Will I really want to carry these strips around with me and test during a hard, long workout?“.

To put the first question to the test, I did a few easy runs, 30-40 minutes, and tested my sweat. These were runs where I felt great from start to finish and was hoping to see an “orange, full tank” reading on the test strip. These were my baseline runs and the strips tested exactly as I anticipated.

First fuelstrip use! On the treadmill!

First fuelstrip use! On the treadmill!

Next, I decided to run a normal longer workout, 80 minutes with warmup and cooldown, and use a Fuelstrip at the end to see how my glycogen levels tested. I did not fuel during the run, just tested with a Fuelstrip at the end. I was feeling really depleted when finished and wasn’t surprised to see the Fuelstrip test green, indicating I was depleted “1/2 tank”.

2nd use of the fuelstrip, got a green or 1/2 tank reading.

2nd use of the fuelstrip, got a green or 1/2 tank reading. Look, it matches my shirt!

My next test was going to help answer my second question as well. Will I really want to carry these Fuelstrips around with me on a long, hard workout? My run for the day was a slightly longer workout, just over 90 minutes with warmup and cooldown and I decided to take a vial of the Fuelstrips and the Fuelchews with me. I planned to test and use a Fuelstrip every 30 minutes, then use the Fuelchews as directed. I was a little nervous about carrying the vial of Fuelstrips and the Fuelchews since I don’t like taking anything with me on a run.

The vial is super light and surprisingly very easy to open, even when running fast.

Very easy to open when running. Just a gentle push on the tab with my thumb, tilt the vial and a fuelstrip is ready to go!

Very easy to open when running. Just a gentle push on the tab with my thumb, tilt the vial and a fuelstrip is ready to go!

I tested every 30 minutes and took the chews as directed. I have to say, I felt better on this run than I had on any postpartum run to date. The chews were larger than I expected but I was used to the size of them after the 3rd chew. I have no complaints about the taste. They were fruity and sweet but not so sweet that I wanted to gag. I have to admit that I finished the remaining chew after the workout was over “just because” and crave them even when not working out… oh boy… They are dairy free, gluten free and kosher (and like I said, pretty darn tasty!) They were easy on my stomach and gave me sustained energy. I never felt like I had too much or too little. It really seemed like the perfect amount of fuel for my run.  All of this being said, this was also the only run postpartum run in which I’ve taken in fuel so I’d expect to feel better than usual.

Post workout. The Fuelchew shown is the one I ate "just because".

Post workout. The Fuelchew shown is the one I ate “just because”.

Overall, I found the Fuelstrips very easy to use and access while running. The Fuelchews kept my energy levels steady during my long, hard effort. They taste great and are dairy and gluten free. I still don’t love carrying anything with me on a run and the Fuelchews felt bulky in my pocket. If you are used to carrying chews of another brand, these are a very similar size to others I’ve seen (package is more square than rectangular). I would use Fuelstrip and Fuelchews a few times each training cycle, but not for every long or hard effort.

*I received a Fuelstrip Starter Pack through Base Endurance. All opinions on this blog are always my own!

 

Perfectly Imperfect

Wells is 6 months old!

6 months old!

6 months old!

Check out the new onesie he’s sporting from the Believe I Am Fit Mommas collection (it’s actually on sale right now!):

Hand-stitched, made in the USA, & so cute on my little guy!

Hand-stitched, made in the USA, & so cute on my little guy!

Like many parents, I think both of my babies are perfect little miracles. I wish I had this onesie when Currie was a baby too! It’s funny how many things change when you have kids. You learn to embrace how perfectly imperfect life can be! We’ve definitely traded in “perfect family photos” for new kinds of wonderful, perfectly imperfect, fun pictures that will keep us chuckling for a lifetime!

Mother! What are you doing to me?!

Mother! What are you doing to me?!

Wells is unsure about this photo

Wells is unsure about this photo. Much more fun to wear these tacky sweatshirts from my childhood than fancy attire at our holiday party!

Smush faces for Valentine's Day!

Smush faces for Valentine’s Day!

This way of thinking has helped me in my running as well. The pressure to run the perfect race, the fastest time, and beat certain people weighed heavily on my mind and made racing stressful and therefore not very enjoyable for many years. Having my first child 4 years ago helped me realize that racing should be fun and if it’s not enjoyable there are so many other things I can do instead! I still get worked up over races (and even workouts!) but I use the nervous energy as fuel now instead of paralyzing fear. Thank you to my little angels for teaching me this important lesson!

Here’s an example of a run I did last week that was perfectly imperfect:

Fartlek run on schedule. Realized I was late bringing Currie to school which meant I had to push her 1/2 mile in single jog stroller fairly quickly uphill. Pushed stroller back home, empty. (If you’ve pushed a BOB stroller when it’s empty you feel my pain here!) Another 10 minutes of warmup by myself then did fartlek workout finishing last fast rep at my door. Rushed in house, bundled baby as Jeff rushed out door, buckled baby in single jogging stroller and took him on 15 min cooldown. Realized I was late for baby’s doctor appointment so mixed up a recovery drink, grabbed a Picky Bar, threw those things and a few diapers in the stroller and quickly ran 1/2 mile to appointment. Devoured recovery food/drink in waiting room. Perfectly imperfect at its finest!

With that being said, my running felt more normal this week! Since I had Wells, most of my runs have felt really hard. Even easy runs have been harder than I’d hoped. I have little glimmers of hope here and there where I’d do some strides and feel super strong, but most days have me on the struggle bus. Oftentimes when running fast my legs feel like they are flailing around… like I have no control or strength behind them. They feel they are just doing their own thing.

One evening this week, I went to the track with a goal of 6 x mile in a pace that seemed too fast to comprehend (5:40). I ran the kids 2 miles to the track in the double jogging stroller to meet Jeff who was going to take them to the playground.

Double strollers are intense... especially in hilly neighborhoods!

Double strollers are intense… especially in hilly neighborhoods!

I did a lap of strides then got started. The first mile was 5:39 and I felt strong. I was shocked when I looked at my watch. I expected the first few to be 10-20 seconds slower. The next 2 miles flew by comfortably and on pace as well. No weakness, no flailing legs, just strength and speed. Reps 4 and 5 felt more challenging, but never out-of-control and right on pace. Right before the 6th mile, Jeff and the kids just happened to make it back to the track cheer and take my picture! The last one was the hardest, but I hit my time again and knew I had another rep in me if needed (no more needed, workout was done. My dad always told me I should finish every workout knowing I could do one more rep at the same pace. I have always believed in that little nugget of wisdom).

Jeff snapped this shot on my last mile repeat.

Jeff snapped this shot on my last mile repeat.

After that workout, I tweeted:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.07.52 PMI think this is a good thing to share with new moms, people just starting to exercise, people coming back from injury, or anyone who is struggling with their workouts. If you hate running (or hate ANYTHING for that matter) you should stop doing it. But if there is any part of you that still loves it and wants to hold on, I encourage you to stick with it. Every time I’ve been at a breaking point in life (and especially with running) and saw it through just a little bit longer, the rewards have been totally worth it.

Hope you have a great weekend! Thanks for reading!

Gate River Run 2014

Wells is still 5 months old!

Just lounging!

Just lounging!

I raced the Gate River Run over a week ago! It’s been hard for me to write this recap because there’s so much to say in such little space. Basically, weekends like this one just make me love running so much more. The process of becoming the runner I want to be and the people I meet through running teach me so much about myself and the life I want to live. Gate River Run weekend was no exception. I met a few big name runners who I’ve been dying to meet for years. I met a few Oiselle teammates who far exceeded my high expectations. Nearly everyone I talked to changed my life (for the better) in some way. It was a wonderful weekend with so many great memories that I won’t share here but will hold in my heart forever (you wouldn’t care, but all very important to me!) Even though my race wasn’t quite what I wanted, I’m so happy I had this experience and hope to run Gate River Run many years in the future!

Ponytail flying as always

Ponytail flying as always

Let’s get down to details! It was a 15k, 9.3 miles (the USA 15k Championships and the field was stacked! Shalane won and broke the American record! Whoa!) I ran 57:55 which is about 6:14/mile pace. I wanted to do 6:10/mile pace (or faster, of course!) and originally thought that’s what I did, but turns out I was a bit slower!

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Race morning: Woke up, had a bagel, peanut butter and less than 1/2 mug of coffee, 3 hours before the start. (I planned on getting more coffee before I got on the shuttle to the start but the hospitality room was closed and I didn’t have time to go to a coffee shop.) I also started chugging water and had 32 oz within 30 minutes of waking up. Then I sipped water until the race started. I like to do the majority of my hydrating right away, it just seems to work best for me. I met up with my Oiselle teammates and we rode the shuttle to the elite warmup area. I think I used the restroom 2 times before starting my warmup. One of those times, I went in directly after Shalane, and Amy Hastings went in right after me. That was probably the coolest porta-potty sandwich I could imagine (ew, that sounded gross)!

I did a 2 mile warmup, used the restroom again, and before I knew it we were headed to the start line. We all took our pre-race gels on the walk (I took a vanilla GU). I used the emergency single start line porta potty one last time, did a few strides, and lined up with my teammates. Our goal was to start off together, stay controlled, and work together as long as possible.

Pre race with my favorite Allisons!

Pre race with my favorite Allisons!

The race: Mile 1 was great, of course. Isn’t it always? Allison, Allison and I came through in 6:06. Mile 2, I started to feel really hot (hello postpartum hormones!) but still doing ok. We came through in 6:07. Mile 3, I started feeling a bit claustrophobic because I was getting hotter. I dumped water on myself and drank some too. (I did this at every water stop throughout the race.) We ran 6:05. I was tucked in behind the Allisons. Mile 4 was my last mile with them. We ran a 6:04 and I needed to step back. I ran a 6:06 5th mile. My 6th mile was 6:10. I was starting to regret not having a gel to take during the race. Normally, I wouldn’t take fuel for a race shorter than a half marathon, but I’m burning through calories like crazy while breastfeeding and I could have used some fuel. I assumed there would be Gatorade or something similar on the course but I only found water. I should have checked on that beforehand! Mile 7 was 6:12. I was just settling, trying to finish. Mile 8 (the big hill known as the Green Monster!) was 6:34. Mile 9 was 6:11. My last .3 was 5:48 pace.

Post race:

Teammates!

Teammates post race!

Another post race pic with fabulous teammate, Holly!

Another post race pic with fabulous teammate, Holly!

Jeff had a very enjoyable race and of course a wonderful weekend with me. :)

Jeff had a very enjoyable race and of course a wonderful weekend with me. :)

I finished happy initially. I had a great cooldown with the Allisons.

cooling down!

cooling down!

I met up with a friend from Seattle. I changed and chatted with some runner friends. But then the regret started seeping in. I ended the race feeling too good. I knew I conserved too much energy and didn’t push the pace to my potential. I let little excuses and worries get the best of me during the middle miles when I needed to keep pushing! I got a little angry with myself.

I am fully aware that pacing and knowing how hard I can push is a weakness right now. I know I hadn’t done the workouts to have an amazing race at Gate River Run, but I could have been faster. I know every race is going to hurt much more during this comeback than during a regular training cycle. I think it’s similar to when a person starts running for the first time, or when they start running after an injury where they took time off completely without cross training. Everything feels bad. Running fast isn’t carefree and fun yet, it’s just uncomfortable! The body and mind aren’t calloused enough to those feelings of pain. This is why you often hear runners say their faster races felt easier than their slowest races. When you are in great shape, a harder effort just feels better!

I have been thinking about my first postpartum comeback, approximately 4 years ago. Every race for the first 8 months after having my little lady felt horrible. I really thought about quitting and wondered why I even tried at some point during every race! I remember wanting to stop during a 5k because it just felt so hard and I didn’t know if I could finish! Really, a 5k left me feeling that way, and I was training for a marathon.

Then one day everything clicked. I know it will click again. Until then, I’m going to be riding this pain train and probably be disappointed with some aspect of every race. But… I’m making a point to be proud of some aspect of every race as well! Despite the way the last few paragraphs might sound, I’m happy I ran Gate River and have a very positive outlook on the next few months of training and racing! I am feeling even more motivated to start some real training again!

I’ll end with a few cool pics from the weekend:

Shalane!

Shalane!

Janet! p.s. She has an awesome outlook on running and life. I can see why she is so successful and happy! I'm an even bigger fan after chatting with her.

Janet! p.s. She has an awesome outlook on running and life. I can see why she is so successful and happy! I’m an even bigger fan after chatting with her.

grrsunset

photobomb

photobomb

Party time!

Party time!

 Thanks for following my journey!

 

 

 

Double Strolling, Last Minute Race and Gate River Run!

So much to share, so little time! Let’s get to it!

Seattle

We were in Seattle for a few days about 2 weeks ago. While we were there, Wells turned 5 months old!

5 months of sweetness!

5 months of sweetness!

And I got to see my Oiselle crew, and do my first double stroller run! It wasn’t bad at all with my run-friends (and being on a flat paved surface at Greenlake). Photo below by Dr. Lesko!

2 loops around the lake!

2 loops around the lake!

I have since run around Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh with the kids and realized it’s much harder alone and on hilly courses! Nothing makes me feel equally unbelievably weak and unbeatably strong as pushing a double jogging stroller. I pushed Wells in the single jogging stroller the other day and couldn’t believe how much lighter it felt. Even when Currie hops on the front of the single with Wells in the official seat (for short walks), the single is so much easier to handle!

stroller1

Pittsburgh and the Toenail

We arrived back in Pittsburgh and I lost my first toenail. I knew this was coming (sort of anyway) after I got a blood blister under my big toe during the 5 mile Turkey Trot. I wore the wrong shoes and paid for it that day and had a feeling the toenail would pay for it too. Sure enough, the toenail was ready to go, just hanging on by a sliver of nail. I’m sharing the disgusting toenail removal photos below:

Currie paints my toenails each week. Going to have to skip this one for awhile!

Currie paints my toenails each week. Going to have to skip this one for awhile!

Ohio

I had just enough time to unpack, do laundry and repack our bags before I left for Ohio with the kids to see my new nephew. Jeff was in NYC for work so this was my first time making the 4.5 hour drive alone. The kids were both perfect angels on the drive and I was thankful.

The night we arrived at my parents’ house, after eating one of those meals that fit into the category of “things I would never eat the night before a race” my dad says, “did you know the Beer Bottle Open is tomorrow?”  The Beer Bottle Open is a 4 mile race in Columbus Grove which is about a 30 minute drive from my parents’ house. My dad used to race it every year and I knew it was a fun race even though I’ve never done it myself. I immediately said, “oh man, really? Well, I’m not running it. I’m just going to finish this 4th piece of birthday cake.” Translated: I AM going to run the race.

Currie's 3rd birthday cake, this time from my parents in Ohio. Her birthday was in February, but this was our first chance to celebrate with them!

Currie’s “Ohio birthday cake”. Her birthday was in February, but this was our first chance to celebrate with my parents so they got her this cake!

I got online and saw the race started at 2pm (my least favorite time of the day to run, as I always feel sluggish from 2-4pm). I saw the race was certified 4 miles and I’m a sucker for certified courses! I saw the cost was $12 and the course was very flat, like all the terrain where I was raised. I saw there was a $500 award for breaking the course record. I knew the course record was blazing because the area has produced a few professional runners. Sure enough, I found out I’d have to run 21:40 for 4 miles to get the cash prize. The rational side of me knew that was out of reach, and that I would be shooting for 24:00, 6 minute mile pace, if I ran. The irrational dreamer side of me said anything is possible and it’s worth $12 to try to win $500! I also knew the top finishers received ceramic beer steins which is a fun, unusual award. I went to bed repeating to myself “you are here to see family, not run a race”.

All night I dreamed of racing.

I woke up and thought about doing my workout for the day. My sister, her daughter and new son arrived and I was hanging out with them. My sister finally said “just go run that race, I can tell you are obsessing over it!” She was right. I needed to run the race. I started to gather my running gear and noticed I was missing a few things:

  • My singlet and racing flats – both essentials for normal race day, but since I didn’t plan on racing I didn’t bring either to Ohio. I like to do workouts in my training shoes, but always race in flats. Still, not a huge deal.
  • My running socks – over the past 7 months, I’ve become a little obsessed with my Injinji socks and I somehow didn’t pack any running socks! Finding socks was easy enough problem to fix considering my parents have plenty of athletic socks but I worried about how my newly torn off toenail would deal without Injinji socks.
  • My SPORTS BRAS! I specifically remember packing them, but they must have fallen out at some point when I was packing. I had laundry all over the room so it would have been easy for something to fall out unnoticed. This was NOT GOOD. I’ve always needed sports bras to run, and especially now with breastfeeding boobs, the compression is a must! I couldn’t run even an easy run without a sports bra! What was I going to do?! Mom to the rescue! She found some super old, stretched out sports bras from when I first started running. Yes, they were about 20 years old and not the most supportive, but mom had an idea. What if I layered all 3 of them? And then what if mom tied string around the back. Hey, it didn’t look pretty but it worked!
3 old sports bras + ear plug cords + shoestrings... whatever works!

3 old sports bras + ear plug cords + shoestrings… whatever works!

The race went off at exactly 2pm, with light snow and wind. The first mile flew by even with a side/head wind and I clocked in at 5:47 pace. I moved from about 7th to 2nd female during that mile and enjoyed chatting it up with a few guys. During mile 2 we did a 180 degree turn and the wind still seemed to be a side/head wind. I passed a few guys that mile and gained on the lead lady running 5:55. Mile 3 was my hardest because I was alone with the wind on a country road. The lead lady gained distance on me as I ran 6:04. I came in the final mile alone, at 5:57 feeling strong. My official time was 23:43 which was right around where I wanted to be. I was second female, 12th overall. It’s always fun to race and I’m so happy I decided to that day! It helped me realize that even when things aren’t perfect (no sports bra, no favorite socks and toenail problems, bad pre-race meal, no racing flats, etc) I can still have a solid performance.

My award for 2nd female

My award for 2nd female

Future Racing

Finally, I’m excited to be running my first big race post-baby-number-two this weekend. It’s the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida (USA 15k Championships). The kids are off with Grandma and Grandpa and I miss them so much already but I’m excited to race such a speedy elite field this year! Click here for a little pre-race interview Oiselle did with me and my teammates racing this weekend.

I’ve also been accepted into the elite field for the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, Ohio and the Pittsburgh Half Marathon right here in Pittsburgh, PA! I have one more big race in mind for this spring, depending on how training shapes up so more to come on that!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Spring Thaw 10 Mile Race

Wells is 21 weeks old (as of yesterday)!

Always reaching the hand to the mouth. I think teething has begun...

Always reaching the hand to the mouth. I think teething has begun…

We are having some fun exercising together. (I also bench press Currie but Wells isn’t old enough to take pictures of that…)

He's 18lbs and a perfect Russian Twist partner!

He’s 18lbs and a perfect Russian Twist partner!

I ran a 10 mile race today and hit the exact pace I hoped for, 6:20 per mile! See the official stats below:

Took this pic after the race while waiting for awards. Pretty cool that they have computers showing real time results just waiting for the runners near the finish line!

Took this pic after the race while waiting for awards. Pretty cool that they have computers showing real time results just waiting for the runners near the finish line!

After so many frigid, icy, snowy runs (and more treadmill miles than I’ve ever logged) as I try to get in shape after having Wells, it felt good to run on a sunny, 45 degree morning. The wind was a bit intense, knocking Jeff’s baseball hat right off his head as we walked to the start line, but I can’t complain about this beautiful racing weather!

I have to start out by thanking my in-laws for making the drive to watch the kids so Jeff and I could both race. I also want to thank Mark and Kristy for being so helpful to me regarding everything “Pittsburgh racing” and inviting me to group runs every weekend even though I can rarely meet up!

The race was called Spring Thaw and after my first time running it, I’m already a huge fan and plan to run it every year. You pay one price for 10, 15 or 20 miles of racing and you can decide what event to finish at any point. It’s a 5 mile loop course and all runners are scored at the 10 mile point and then overall awards are given for those who complete the 20 miler as well. All entrants get a stocking cap, the 15 milers get a pair of gloves, and then 20 milers get gloves and a neck gaiter. The race is well supported with water and gatorade every mile, gels every 5 miles. I was a little intimidated when I arrived and saw the finish line area, wondering if it would tempt me to stop each time I passed the “Finish vs. Additional loops” signs, but the signs were down for the race part and I didn’t want to stop after 10 miles anyway! (I was just informed that the signs weren’t taken down, they fell down and injured several runners. I hope everyone is ok!)

Finish vs Additional Loops

Finish vs Additional Loops

I planned to run the first 10 miles as a race, then jog another 5 miles to get 15 for the day. For various reasons I only warmed up approximately 1/4 mile… and didn’t even end up doing strides beforehand! It worked in my favor because I started on the slower end of my goal pace, and ran about a 6:42 first mile. The rest of my miles ranged from 6:30s to 6:00, depending on wind direction and the rolling hills.

The first 5 miles felt very comfortable and conversational. I lined up behind, and had my eye on Ivan from the beginning because I knew he was running the race as a workout and his goal pace was close to mine. I wanted to hang onto him as long as possible. I tried to draft off of him and some other guys but I’m horrible at drafting and ended up kicking him not once, but TWICE! Geesh! I decided I need to branch off and stop annoying the group of guys so I passed them around mile 3-4 and looked to catch another group. I caught people here and there, but never found any groups. I ended up running most of the race by myself.

Mile 6 was the first time I felt like my breathing was “race appropriate”. The first 5 miles felt more tempo-ish than race pace. I never hit a point where I really wanted the race to end (until mile 13, 3 miles into my cooldown) so that was exciting and also makes me think I should have gone a bit faster at some point during the race. As I said before, I passed a few runners and only got passed by one person during the 10 mile portion. Once I dropped down to 7:30ish pace for the 5 mile cooldown I was passed by quite a few dudes (between 5-10) and one lady.

While I always WANT to be faster, I’m content with today’s race. I don’t have my sense of pacing back yet and feel I’m either going to start off too hard and die or start off too easy and feel I had something left to give at the end. As I get in better shape, I will find my sweet spot with racing and pacing again but for now, I have to be happy with hitting my time goal! My racing season is just beginning and I’m getting excited about the rest of it!

Here are the 21 week postpartum pics!

21 weeks postpartum!

21 weeks postpartum!

 Hope you are having a wonderful weekend of running, racing, or relaxing!

 

 

Garmin Freakout, Long Running & 20 Weeks Postpartum

Wells is 20 weeks old (as of Friday)!

Serious cutie pie

Serious cutie pie

I missed the 19 week post and am late with the 20 weeks post because we have been busy celebrating my little lady turning 4 years old!

DSC_0800

Then Valentine’s Day…

My little Valentines

My little Valentines

But now I’m back! I had a really great week of running. Check out Saturday’s snowy run in this Garmin pic:

12.74 miles in 40:36

12.74 miles in 40:36, HAHA!

Obviously, that didn’t happen. I really ran somewhere between 4-5 miles in ankle deep snow on my way to yoga and the Garmin was freaking out the whole time. Just another reason not to trust my best buddy, Garmin 405. I have to give the little guy some credit though… his strap has been super-glued back to the face twice now and he’s still getting the job done.

In reality, it was a solid week of training despite the snow and ice. (Check this Oiselle blog post for some great tips for getting through winter workouts in the snow!) I did a treadmill progression run, a “sprint the clear and jog the snow/ice spots” run and a 13 mile long run (after not getting a run longer than 8 miles for the past few weeks!) Actually, I started the week with an 11 miler and ended the week with a 13 miler so this was a 57 mile week. Highest post partum mileage week!

Also this week – another pair of Yaktrax bit the dust. Is winter almost over?!

I'm really going to try to sew these since the fabric to hold on the Yaktrax ripped apart but the bottoms are still sort of ok.

I’m really going to try to sew these since the fabric to hold on the Yaktrax ripped apart but the bottoms are still sort of ok.

Most of my long runs have been about surviving, just logging the miles and getting used to running longer than an hour at a time again. (I only ran longer than an hour 3 times from December 2012 until mid-November 2013. In fact, many days of the last pregnancy, I ran just 30 minutes a day and logged only 3-ish miles so building back up hasn’t been easy!)

This week I decided it’s time to step it up a notch. I didn’t want to do a workout as part of my long run (yet), but I wanted to be thoughtful of my pace and know that I was running (not hanging out in la-la-land). I guess I was looking for the difference between my pace for running vs my pace for “jogging” or “slogging” as Hollie or Kris might say. As a side note, I personally love my jogging/slogging miles and do them every week. I don’t take days completely off unless I’m really in a bind with my family schedule or have an injury, so my “off” days are my 4-5 mile jog/slog days. Those are some of my favorite runs!

I know I can’t do all of my long runs at a pace where my heart rate is lower than when I climb a flight of stairs. So, with the Garmin beep of every mile, I reminded myself to stay present in the run, but remain very conversational. I kept to the plan very well! It ended up being about a minute per mile faster than I’ve been running, I got a great runners high, and I felt perfectly recovered on my run this morning. Mission accomplished.

Here are the 20 weeks postpartum pics! Gonna be breaking this hot racing kit out for Gate River Run in less than 4 weeks!

20 weeks postpartum

20 weeks postpartum

Questions for you:

What’s the craziest thing your Garmin has done?

How many runs do you get out of your Yaktrax (or similar brand grippy shoe covers)?

Is winter over yet?

The #Selfie

Wells is 18 weeks old today!

Hey you! Yeah, I'm talking to you!

Hey you! Yeah, I’m talking to you!

And we’ll switch things up and do my 18 weeks postpartum pic right here in the beginning. (Excuse the red splotches on my skin. I got home from a run and immediately ripped my layers off and threw on the Oiselle pro kit in about 30 seconds to get this shot before Jeff had to leave for work):

18 weeks postpartum!

18 weeks postpartum!

If you follow me on instagram or twitter, you know I love to share pics of my little ones. Maybe you also noticed I love to share the selfies. Did you know #selfie was “the word” of 2013?! I didn’t realize that until this NYE when I saw it on one of the tv specials. Then, we were sitting as a family, streaming my iPhone photos from 2013 on our tv, watching the year pass by and seeing how the kids have grown. Every 50 pics or so, some random selfie would pop up and I would be embarrassed. The selfies were almost never anything special… just something I decided was share-worthy in the post-run or post-coffee high of the moment. Seriously, photos like this kept popping up and I would cringe:

Oh hey family, look, I have beading on my shirt. I gotta take a selfie!!

Oh hey, look, I have beading on my shirt. I gotta take a selfie!!

And this:

Not in running clothes?! Sitting in front of a piano?! People HAVE to see this!

Not in running clothes?! Sitting awkwardly in front of a piano?! People HAVE to see this!

So on that night, I decided to stop taking so many selfies… WHAT IS THIS ADDING TO THE WORLD?! Why am I doing this?!

Then I started considering…

I love to run outside, and almost every time I go for a run I see someone taking a selfie. Many of them are runners who stop somewhere on the trail to show some amazing physical feat they are about to accomplish. “Look I’m running in 5 inches of snow!” or “This hill is enormous, and here I am ready to run to the top!” A little part of it is ridiculous, but I’m usually amused and excited the person is out exercising. If a person had to run 3 miles to a park to a certain location with “that special view” to take a selfie then run the 3 miles home, they just ran 6 miles they might not have run without it. At least that’s the way I like to imagine it.

Earlier this week, I was running on the treadmill and my favorite celebrity crush Carson Daly (yes, gotta mention him again!) did a little piece on #loveyourselfie “Show us how you see your beauty” and he said something to the effect of “search ‘beauty’ on google and you will see pictures of airbrushed supermodels. Search ‘beauty’ on instagram and you’ll see something completely different” (real life IMO. I highly recommend doing this, you will be amazed with the differences). 

These things got me thinking, you know what?! Selfies are sometimes ridiculous and narcissistic, but can also be beautiful. It’s a way for people to feel connected to others with similar interests. A way for normal people to show themselves for who they are and what they are feeling in the moment. Sure, there are filters, and camera angles that can really change a person, but not many people I know are airbrushing their social media pics. And that’s kind of beautiful and refreshing. So… I figured I’d change my attitude to “go on with your bad self-ie!”

And with that, before bed last night, I took another ridiculous selfie… one of me in bed in my Oiselle Podium Pajamas, and sent it to my mom with the message “Love you, goodnight”.

love you, mom!

love you, mom!

Questions for you:

Do you love the selfies or hate them?

What’s the most embarrassing selfie you ever shared?

 

Two Treadmill Tips

Wells is 4 months old today!

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Siblings after bathtime!

Siblings after bathtime!

I’ve spent most of the last week on the treadmill (I know I’m not alone here!). I’m getting more used to it the more I do it, but still strongly prefer running outside.

My main problems with the treadmill are:

  • It’s boring
  • It makes my hips and feet ache
  • It’s in my attic and it’s really hot up there
  • Distractions like household duties and kids make it really easy to stop much earlier than I would outside when it’s just me and the trail.

My main problems with running in snow + bitter cold:

  • Muscles get a little tweaked from being unstable every step I take
  • Wearing a million layers makes me feel heavy and slow
  • Wearing something over my face makes it hard to breathe, but not wearing something isn’t an option when it’s -15 degrees!
  • Doesn’t feel safe running by roads where cars are slipping and sliding

My great things about the treadmill:

  • I have one at home and can essentially do it at any time (as long as I get one kid sleeping and the other occupied and it’s not too close or far from my last meal!)
  • Being hot in the attic means I run in a sports bra and undies = a LOT less laundry!
  • I can watch something on the iPad to make the miles pass a little faster

I’ve tried everything to enjoy the treadmill more… talked to so many runners, read articles and blog posts, but it never really got easier. I just feel unnatural and like I’m sprinting the whole time, even when I’m running much slower than I’d run outside. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I’m moving my legs fast but not getting anywhere. When I’m running, I really connect nature + my body + my mind and when I’m on the ‘mill, it feels artificial… missing that triad. But, I’m thankful for the treadmill and have been determined to enjoy it a little more, especially with this crazy winter we’ve had so far!

Finally, some advice from my brothers and Oiselle teammate Heidi got me on the right track. My brothers basically told me to run as easy as I want to start, and just keep speeding up every so often. Maybe every 1/4 mile, maybe every 1/2 mile, whatever keeps me actively participating. They also mentioned that I should play video games while running. (HA, but seriously they said that! My older brother studied on the treadmill during medical school! I don’t know how he did it, but he did!)

Then, I was reading a blog post from Heidi and she just wrote a little blurb about how she loves watching the news on the treadmill. I’ve tried it before and haven’t liked it so much. But, then I remembered that my celebrity crush since 1998, Carson Daly, started on the Today Show and I knew he could probably pull me through at least a run. I downloaded the Today Show app on the iPad since we don’t have a tv by the treadmill and that first run was so wonderful! Carson didn’t disappoint. He had me laughing out loud and before I knew it my run was over. I like how that particular app has news snippets that are 1-4 minutes long, some serious, some lighthearted, some just plain kooky. I never know what’s coming next and that makes it interesting. I also like to speed up one increment with each news story. I even did a little tempo run on the treadmill last week, but that was the only speedwork that happened.

I’ve had 2 weeks in a row over 50 miles and I’m trying to stay there. I hope to get outside for a few more runs this week. We shall see!

Here are the 4 month pics! (Wells turned 17 weeks old on Friday, he’s exactly 4 months old today)! Took the pics at 9pm so I couldn’t use my regular location, Wells’ bedroom, since he was in bed. So here are some real life, end of day & feeling the bloat, racing kit photos for you:

4 months postpartum!

4 months postpartum!

 Questions for you:

What is your greatest treadmill running tip?!

Who’s your celeb crush?!

 

 

Big Race #1, Pro Kit Reveal & my 16 Week Old!

Wells is 16 weeks old! He’s such a happy little guy most of the time. We are very lucky so far…

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cw16

I’ve noticed my easy runs are feeling easier so that’s been a big improvement. I’m excited for when my hard runs start feeling easier too! This was my first week where I did 2 workouts. They were much slower than I secretly hoped and I was much weaker mentally than I like to admit. I find I’m always weaker mentally when I’m out of shape. Reminds me of how my fastest races have always felt easier than my slowest races. I believe the closer I am to optimal shape, the better I feel mentally and physically. So, I know this mental slug will pass. I give myself little pep talks, because I remember being this way after having Currie. When you don’t run fast for a long time and then you start back up, you can’t expect to start where your racing and training left off. Doing 3 mile repeats at a pace slower than I used to do 8-10 of these repeats is hard to swallow. But, next time I do the workout, it should feel a little better. And in a few months, things will start to click. For now, I’m just rebuilding and feeling proud of the smallest accomplishments every day.

I have 4 big races planned and almost completely set in stone for this Spring. If you know me, you know I love to race and do it often. Most races are local races and then I have a few big ones each year (usually a 5k PR attempt, half marathon and marathon). For the big races I will do a taper (or at least a 2-day taper) but for the local races I will just train normally, with an easy day the day before the race. So, while I run every race hard, the local races won’t produce my fastest times. The first “big” race I have planned is the Gate River Run on March 15th. It’s the USA 15k Championships and I’m excited to be part of the elite field. It will be the first race where I wear my Oiselle Pro Kit! I will be joining at least 4 other Oiselle teammates for a fun weekend of racing and bonding. I’m very excited!

Now that I have that planned, I decided I would start doing my weekly pics in my Pro Kit! Sort of inspired my Lauren Fleshman’s wildly popular “Keeping It Real” article, I’m posting one set of pics of me just standing normally, and another set of me flexing my nonexistent abs, standing with better posture, and smiling. You can’t see my face, but I really was smiling in the flexing pics! So… here they are! 16 weeks postpartum:

Standing normally

Standing normally

Flexing those abs & smiling!

Flexing those abs & smiling!

Questions for you:

What do you do to defeat the mental slug?

Anyone else doing Gate River Run or have done it in the past?

 

Frigid 5 Miler, First race in Pittsburgh!

I ran the Frigid 5 Miler on Sunday. It was my first race in Pittsburgh. Well, it was in North Park which is a 40 minute drive from my house in Pittsburgh, but it was my first race in the area. I was 3rd female, 11th overall. If you remember from my last post, the course was said to be “challenging” with a “great uphill finish”. Let me tell you, the race lived up to its description!

We got a late start to the race and didn’t arrive until 8:20 for a 9:00am start. We weren’t pre-registered because I just found out about the race this week and then the disaster happened and I wasn’t going to race. We got things under control around the house and decided to race afterall. Jeff and I both ran the race.

frigid2

We’ve never been to this part of North Park (I ran at North Park last week but not where the race started and finished) so we parked where everyone else was parking and figured we would jog to the start line/registration area, jog back to the car for racing flats and to strip down into race apparel, then head back to the start line. Little did we know, we were 3/4 of a mile from the start line and 1/2 mile of that was uphill approximately 260ft. Also, that 1/2 mile was the “great uphill finish” they were talking about in the course description. So, before the race, we ran up the hill, down the hill to the car, then back up the hill to the start line. My legs were feeling a *little* beat up already and the race hadn’t started yet! There was no time to delay because of our late arrival so we had to take the uphill part running a little faster than I would have liked both times. We arrived at the start line with 7 minutes to spare. Enough time to do a few strides.

Before the race, the announcer (who must have thought Jeff and I were fast-looking or unfamiliar with racing in the area) talked to us about how the roads were salted but slick and to stay off the center line and be cautious on curves. I’m terrified of running fast on ice, so I was a little worried toeing the line. But before I could worry too much we were off!

Mile 1 usually FLIES BY for me. Not this time. Mile 1 seemed like an eternity. Female 1 was ahead of me from the start and female 2 passed me on a downhill. I was losing a lot of ground on every downhill because #1 – I was worried about slipping and #2 – I couldn’t get my legs to go faster on the steep-ish down sections (which I think was just my mind not letting them go faster). The first mile was 6:10.

Mile 2 was 5:56 and uneventful other than the strong headwind and sleet. I was already running by myself and wished I had a group for drafting purposes! I noticed the road was a little slippery, but I never slipped or thought I would really fall.  On the downhills, other runners would gain on me and on the uphills I would gain on them.

Mile 3 was 6:05 and I remember thinking I wasn’t even breathing hard on the downhill but couldn’t get my legs to go any faster on that portion. I also realized I had WAY too much for breakfast. (I had 2 pieces of thick cut sprouted wheat bread, piled with almond butter, chia seeds, and a large banana. That is more than I usually eat before racing, but with nursing and running 50 miles/week, I am always worried about getting enough calories. Next race, I will cut it down to one piece instead of two.) I could feel and taste the breakfast, even though I ate it 3 hours before, and it was an uncomfortable feeling anytime I was running uphill.

Mile 4 was 6:28 and I started thinking about the uphill in the final mile. I know, big mistake! I’m usually good about staying in the current mile but I let my mind wander. I also started getting REALLY cold fingers at this point. They felt like fat frozen sausages.

Mile 5 was 7:07! I really thought I would catch the women ahead of me, but I only gained a little bit and wasn’t close to passing either one. I think I had a little more to give, but probably would have lost some of my breakfast. You can’t have it all. :)

Currie took this picture in her room post race.

Currie took this picture in her room post race.

Positives of the race (for me personally) were:

  • Challenging course, happy with my time
  • Heard someone yell “Go Oiselle!” correct pronunciation and all!
  • Good showing out there… about 500 people raced!
  • Pancakes, bananas and hot cocoa after race – yum!
  • There were people taking pictures and VIDEO at the end! I don’t know where to find them, but I will find them and can’t wait to see my pain face!

Down points of the race (for me personally) were:

  • Windy, icy, and alone most of the race
  • Had to rush home to get kids. Only had limited amount of childcare and race was 40 minute drive so no time to spare chatting post-race.
  • Got caught mid-pee squatting before the race (no time to wait in line at restrooms and lady walked right up to me with my pants down! At least it was a lady!)

Don’t let my personal down points fool you… this race was fun and challenging and I would definitely recommend it and run it next year! I made a few personal mistakes, but that’s just a part of racing. My goal was to run faster than I ran at my 5 mile Turkey Trot. I didn’t, but I’m fairly content with my time. Jeff ran ~ 2 minutes slower at the Frigid 5 Miler than the Turkey Trot and I ran ~ 30 seconds slower so I am mostly happy with the effort!

Another picture by Currie, she told me to do 3 fingers for 3rd place. Funny girl!

Another picture by Currie, she told me to do 3 fingers for 3rd place. Funny girl!

Warmup and cooldown were about 5 miles total, race was 5 miles, and I ran another 5.17 in the evening for a total of 15 miles on the day. I woke up a little sore, a little tired, but very happy this morning.

Questions for you:

Did you race this weekend? How did it go?

Ever eaten too much pre-race and know that gross feeling of “I might barf any moment”?