San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon Preview

What a strange feeling. I’m running a half marathon on Sunday and I have NO IDEA what finishing time to expect. I’m 5 weeks post-marathon. While I know some people run distance races that close together, I’m not one of those people. My body needs time to recover. While Grandma’s Marathon wasn’t an all-out effort due to the restroom situation, it was a very hard, almost all out effort.

I’m obviously not PR ready. First of all, I took a week off after Grandma’s Marathon then ran easy for another 1.5 weeks. I’ve done 4 short workouts that didn’t feel awesome, but didn’t feel horrible either. I feel much more recovered after this marathon than marathons of the past, but it’s hard to say how I really feel until I get into a racing situation! After doing a few intervals at 6:05 pace a few days ago, I joked with my husband “don’t they always say ‘if you can do it for 6 minutes in practice, you can do it for 13.1 in race conditions’?” I know, I’m hilarious…

In 2011, I ran a 5k just 3 weeks after a marathon and my legs felt trashed from the half mile mark. It was my first speed attempt after that marathon and I definitely felt I needed more recovery (ran 17:56 when I had been consistently running low 17s). Anyway, all that being said, I think my time will be somewhere between 1:18-1:25. I think on a good day (and I have every reason to believe it will be a good day!) I will run in the lower range. I’m excited and so ready to suit up in my racing gear again! But now the dilemma is… what will I wear on race day?

"the original". This was my first Oiselle singlet from when I joined the team in late 2010.

“the original”. This was my first Oiselle singlet from when I joined the team in late 2010.

 

The first elite singlet and the one I originally packed for this race when we left Pittsburgh for the summer.

The first elite singlet and the one I originally packed for this race when we left Pittsburgh for the summer. Oh, hey Frank Shorter!

Most recent pro kit - won't actually wear this because it's in Pittsburgh, but had to include.

Most recent pro kit – won’t actually wear this because it’s in Pittsburgh, but had to include.

The latest singlet!

The latest singlet!

Pull a Kate Grace and race in the Rizzo suit? Just kidding! My milk-filled chest wouldn't stand a chance RUNNING in that! :)

Pull a “Kate Grace” and race in the Rizzo suit? Reference here. Just kidding! My milk-filled chest wouldn’t stand a chance RUNNING in that! :)

That decision will be made tomorrow, I suppose!

Finally, here’s a link to my San Francisco Half Marathon preview post on Oiselle’s blog. Thanks for the words of encouragement, everyone!

California, Here We Are…

A lot has happened since my last post. I’ve done 3 workouts, traveled to Seattle, moved into an apartment in California with my family, had my 33rd birthday and did some #RUNootd!

Workouts:

After Grandma’s Marathon, I ran easy for over 2 weeks, then decided it was time to bring a little speed back since I’m running the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon on July 27th. My first workout back was just strides at the track. My second workout was another light day and one of my favorite workouts, 1 min hard, 1 min easy. My third workout was a 4 mile tempo! It was supposed to get progressively faster each mile, but I accidentally started at 5:50 pace so the miles got slower. This wasn’t supposed to be a 4 mile race, just a nice, controlled tempo run. Oh my… I was happy with the workout anyway. I actually attempted another workout just one day of rest after my tempo but my body was saying “NO NO NO!” so I shut it down soon after it began. I will probably do 1 more light workout before my race next weekend.

Seattle:

We love Seattle (used to live there) and usually make it back every Jan/Feb and then again in the summer. (All of this travel is related to my husband’s work – so yes, there are perks associated with his intense work & travel schedule.) This summer, we had work plans in California, so we thought we wouldn’t be able to squeeze in the Seattle trip. Luckily, we were able to spend a few days there afterall, actually in Bellevue this time, so we kept our summer Seattle streak alive.

Kids picked (& ate) blueberries in Seattle!

Kids picked (shared & ate) blueberries in Seattle!

California:

Headed from Seattle to California. Currie *just had to* take this pic!

Headed from Seattle to California. Currie *just had to* take this pic! Wells is not impressed.

Every summer, we pack up our lives and spend time in another state so my husband can do some consulting work (and so we can have some summer adventures). Every year I say “sounds fun this year, but next year life will be too hectic.” Then the next summer approaches and I decide things aren’t too crazy afterall and we might as well take the opportunity. We usually end up on the west coast. This year, the opportunity was in Mountain View, California so that’s where we are living!

I was partly excited and partly stressed about this opportunity because we moved to Pittsburgh less than a year ago, I’m finally meeting friends and running buds, I have 2 small children and I sort of wanted a summer of getting more comfortable with my new city. But, the excitement of traveling and being somewhere new for the summer won me over as usual so here we are! I wouldn’t say leaving for the summer is all fun and games, but every *problem* is SO *first-world-problems* that I won’t even think about complaining. :)

When I found out we would be here for the summer, I reached out to a few Oiselle teammates who live in the general area and Robin *convinced me* (as if I ever need much convincing to race) to run the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon. That’s how I ended up signing up for a half marathon so soon after my marathon. I am running the race for *fun* with no goal time but will obviously run my fastest, compete and place as high as possible!

33rd Birthday!

I spent my birthday running, playing with the kids at a playground, swimming with the kids, then relaxing until dinnertime when we went out for sushi. I even had dairy (a big ice cream cone) for dessert then had a few meals since with cheese. Hello mexican restaurants! Wells has been waking up at least every single hour at night (last night we had a few 15-20 min of sleep between scream-fests so I’m going dairy free again)!

Anyway, my birthday was a good day. My husband showed me the bank where he wired the funds for my engagement ring. :) I got 2 bags of free Pop Chips at the grocery store. Sure, I spent way too much money on mostly fruits and veggies at this overpriced market before the cashier said “here take these for free”, but I was very thankful!

#RUNootd

Finally, Runner’s World is featuring reader submitted Run Outfit of the Day #RUNootd and I was featured on July 14th! (Scroll to bottom of the link to see my #RUNootd.) All you have to do is take a picture of what you wore for your run and hashtag #RUNootd on Intstagram or Twitter. I think it’s a cool idea!

I’ll leave you with a picture of my baby wearing a “hat” because it’s hilarious!

wellshat

 

 

Keeping it Cozy & Cute

I’d like to start by saying thank you for the kind words on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and text regarding my last post. I learned a lot from your comments and stories and I know others did too. Thank you!

I’m running again and feeling good! My first few runs were as expected – delighted to be back at it, but felt a little rusty. Saturday was my first run where I felt good – light, fast and free! It made me excited to start workouts again – just not yet. I’ll probably try something fast again later this week.

In other news, it’s summer (like you didn’t know)! I usually spend my summers in cheap flip flops, but not this year! My main problem and injury-prone-ish area is my feet. I haven’t had any “real” injury for years *KNOCK SO HARD ON WOOD* but I get weird tightness problems that start in my feet or calves that eventually mess up my hips/back/hamstring area. I decided to put an end to that this summer. Cue “the summer of keeping it cozy and cute”.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I can usually be found running around doing fun stuff with my 4 year old all day, and now I have a mobile and energetic 9 month old too. I find myself constantly on my feet and on the go. I think of it as good cross training (HA), but I feel the effects on my feet and legs by the end of the day. I started a quest for the perfect summer footwear routine, where I could mix practical style and comfort and I think I have it figured out!! I’m sharing my choices below!

Birkenstocks – Lucky for me, they are apparently back in style. You can wear them with anything, from shorts to jeans to dresses! They mold to your feet after some wear, are comfortable and supportive! Cozy – check! Cute – check!

Look at those beauties!

Look at those beauties (the shoes, not the feet!!)

Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 – These sandals are fairly light and super comfortable. The footbed is made from a yoga mat (for real!) and the sling is made of stretch knit.  For me, new shoes usually take a few days of wearing before they feel comfortable, especially shoes that have a piece between the toes, but these felt great right away! The people involved with the company seem really fun and laid back. I think we’d be friends IRL. Cozy – check! Cute- check!

Imagine I'm sitting cross-legged on the beach instead of my kitchen floor.

Imagine I’m sitting cross-legged on the beach instead of my kitchen floor. Or at least pretend my kitchen floor is clean :)

Sketchers GOwalk 2 – I decided to try some Sketchers shoes (for daily wear, not running) after Meb won Boston. I decided even if I hated the shoes, I love Sketchers for believing in Meb. I found these shoes and thought they were pretty cute as far as slip on athletic shoes are concerned. When they arrived, I decided they were even cuter in person and they were so comfortable I didn’t want to take them off. I have a hard time wearing any other shoe – they are that awesome. They do run a half to a full size big so order down, especially if you aren’t going to wear socks. Cozy – check! Cute – check!

Fog on the plane!

Ok, I know this is a strange picture, but I wanted to use this to show the fog on the airplane on my way to Grandma’s Marathon. The flight attendant said “it’s just condensation!” then walked away angrily.

Asics Gel Cumulus – My good old standby running shoe! My body feels happiest when I’m running in them, so I stick with this shoe. Cozy – check! Cute – well, I LOVE the current colors (blue/orange combo) so check!

Cool running shoes plus my little darlings on the 4th of July!

Cool running shoes plus my little darlings on the 4th of July!

currexSole RUNPRO – I’m not one to add anything new to my running routine unless I feel it will benefit me. I mostly live by “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. But, when I hear about something that could potentially help a problem I’ve been facing (sore feet), I’m glad to try something new! Insert the currexSole insoles. I had to opportunity to start wearing these early this spring and they have been really good to my feet. I started out wearing them when walking and transitioned them into my running shoes when I could trust they wouldn’t mess up my running!

I was pleasantly surprised immediately with how comfortable they felt. They weren’t stiff, heavy or bulky like every other insole I’ve tried! They have a zero mm drop so they won’t interfere with shoe construction and they are designed to move with your feet instead of restricting movement. They were easy to insert into my running shoes – just slip out the insoles that come in the shoes and slip in the currexSole (the instructions on the box show you might have to trim the tip to fit properly, but mine fit great without altering them at all).

The insoles are made based on foot type, body weight and leg/knee angles to ensure that you get a proper fit for your body. My fitting showed I should wear the RUNPRO HIGH - hello high arches – but the best way to know what will work for you is to go through the fitting system yourself. I wouldn’t say my feet are 100% ache & pain free, but they have definitely improved since using the currexSole! Cozy – check! Cute – well, no one sees them, but they have moisture/odor management built in and don’t smell so we’ll give them some cute points!

currexSole RUNPRO HIGH

currexSole RUNPRO HIGH

So tell me – do you keep your feet cozy in the summer? Do you go strictly on style and forget about comfort? (I used to wear fashionable high heels constantly except when running, but those days are long gone!) Do you hang out in cheap flip-flops all day? Any cozy & cute shoes you’ve found this summer that you can share with me?

*I was given the currexSole to review on my blog but all opinions are my own.

Breastfeeding and Pumping While Racing (and Training!)

I’d say one of the most frequent questions I’m asked when talking about my training and racing during the first year postpartum is: “are you breastfeeding?” And then, “how do you do it?”

The answer is yes, I exclusively breastfeed (haven’t used formula) and started my little guy on some “solids” starting at 6 months. He’s currently eating a few ounces of food (mostly purees) at mealtimes and the rest of the time he’s breastfeeding or taking bottles of breast milk.

Like training at a high level, breastfeeding is hard work. It takes a lot out of you, physically, mentally, emotionally! But it’s something that I am able to do and I’ve always wanted to, so I don’t see it as a burden or a hassle. I just make it work in my life. I understand it’s not for everyone, but for anyone who is interested, here is how I make it work for me. I’m going to start with a few tips, then go to what I did at my recent marathon which was 8 months postpartum, then go back to how I handled breastfeeding/pumping and training in the early months.

First of all, if you plan to train and race plus breastfeed you HAVE TO EAT. You will feel like a glutton, but if you don’t eat enough you won’t produce enough milk and you will end up injured. The baby weight will come off. This is not a time to diet!

Just a snack for a breastfeeding runner mom... only half joking here.

Just a snack for a breastfeeding runner mom… only half joking here.

Next, (if you have enough of a supply) I’d recommend starting to pump an extra bag/bottle of milk every day starting sometime in the first month or two postpartum. I used 6oz bags and froze them. If you store the bags flat in the freezer, you can stack them and fit quite a few, even in a small space. With both kids I had around 300 six ounce bags full of milk by the time they were 5 months old. This gave, and still gives, me freedom to leave the house to run and travel to races. While I hate pumping with every ounce of my being, I enjoy the freedom it gives me so I do it when necessary.

I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced in the backpack version. It’s my only pump. I also bought a battery adapter so I don’t need to plug it into an outlet when I’m in an unfamiliar place. I bring it with me everywhere I go, but these days I only pump before races or if I’m going to be gone for many hours. I’m no longer storing any breastmilk as my little guy just turned 9 months and he can transition off my milk within 3 months if we decide. (I breastfed my daughter 17 months and plan to let my little guy self-wean as well). Feeding him straight from me is much more pleasant and rewarding for me, so my pump hasn’t gotten much use lately. However, let’s talk race day… the last time I used my pump.

For Grandma’s Marathon, I left my kids at home and Wells got my supply of frozen milk. Although it’s so hard for me to “pump and dump”, watching all my body’s hard work go down the drain, I don’t save my milk when I travel. You can, and I applaud anyone who does, I just don’t. The few days leading up to the race, I tried to pump a lot in the morning, then not pump again until 2pm, then pump one more time before bed. (Wells usually eats 5 times a day, then 1-3 times at night, so I try to slow my milk production slightly and alter it so I don’t produce as much during the race. Who knows if 2-3 days of doing this really makes a difference, but I feel it sort of does.

At Grandma’s Marathon, I pumped in my hotel room at 5am for a 7:45am start. I had to be ready to catch the bus at 5:45am and just wanted to get the pumping done. By the end of the race, around 10:35am, I was feeling pretty full of milk. Sometimes when I have a hard effort, I don’t produce much milk at all, other times it seems like my body produces like normal. This race had me at normal production and I went back to the room and pumped 12 oz before I was comfortable! I would have brought my pump with me, but race security and the clear plastic gear check bags, I’m wasn’t sure what kind of extra screening I’d have to go through and I didn’t want anything to worry about on race morning. That being said, I’m sure it would have been fine and I could have easily pumped before the race. It was just something I didn’t want to deal with on race morning.

Speaking of screening, you CAN bring a pump as a carry-on in an airplane, or tucked into a carry-on suitcase. It will have to go through extra screening most likely (I think I’ve made it through one time without extra screening.) I always declare, “IT’S JUST A BREAST PUMP!” but TSA still wants to check it out.

I did bring my pump to gear check at Gate River Run when I was just 5 months postpartum. I pumped just 30 minutes or so before the race and I think I went behind a curtain or faced a wall, but I don’t make too big of an effort to hide my pumping. You gotta do what you gotta do! I know people will go to great lengths to hide their breastfeeding or pumping, but I’m just not going to do that. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a porta potty or similar space and I figure if someone is uncomfortable they can turn their head away. (If you feel uncomfortable but would like to get more comfortable with breastfeeding and pumping in public, let me tell you it’s just like anything else. Practice makes it easier! If you would have told me even 4 years ago that I’d be breastfeeding while walking down the aisle at Target, while hiking, while sitting or standing at a baseball stadium, or while waiting to start a race, I wouldn’t have believed you. Each time I nurse or pump in public, I realize how normal and natural it is. I’m completely comfortable with it now. Be proud Mama!) If you aren’t comfortable you can always bring a nursing cover or find a quiet, somewhat secluded place. There’s always somewhere to go where you can get some privacy.

Breastfeeding my little guy at the Pirates baseball game this past weekend, waiting in line for the kids to run the bases.

Breastfeeding my little guy at the Pirates baseball game this past weekend, waiting in line for the kids to run the bases.

A few thoughts of starting to run and breastfeeding:

I started running about 4 weeks after giving birth. At that time, my breasts were a good 2 sizes larger than usual, leaking all the time, and very painful. I found it easiest to feed the baby and pump any remaining milk right before my run. That way, I was storing milk for future use AND making my chest as light and comfortable as possible! I definitely wore (and still have to wear) 2 sport bras to be comfortable running. Dark colors (think black) are best in case of leaking. You can also slip breast pads or wear a sport bra with built in padding or liners for this stage.

Your body (and most likely your baby) will love a schedule, eventually anyway! It can still be hard to meet up with others as a feeding might take longer than expected, you aren’t able to pump enough milk, the baby is crying and you can’t pull yourself away, etc. I definitely miss running with people. In my situation, I’m also in a new city and didn’t know many runners when the baby was small. Now that I’ve been in Pittsburgh for 9 months and my baby can go 4-5 hours between feedings I have more freedom and know a lot more local runners!

Breastfeeding might make you very emotional! For some reason, pumping is even worse for me. Sometimes, I’ll pump a bottle before a hard workout (and before hard workouts I make sure to pump out every last drop of milk!) and I will feel so sad about leaving the baby that I get teary eyed. Sometimes, I’ll agonize over leaving my baby to run for the whole warmup, maybe even longer! I know it’s crazy while the thoughts are in my head, yet I can’t stop the feeling. This feeling is always worse after I’ve pumped myself dry. Just a warning in case that happens to you. You will be happy you ran long before you get home from your workout!

For the local races, I fed the baby and pumped right before leaving, then headed home as soon as possible after the race to feed him again. Yes, breastfeeding takes a bit of the social aspect of your running life away, but it can definitely fit into an intense training plan!

I hope this is helpful and please ask away in the comments or by email if you have any specific questions. I’m not an expert, but I know what has worked for me!

Grandma’s Marathon 2014 Recap

I ran Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday, June 21st! I was 8 months postpartum and ran 2:53:28. I was 40th female (talk about a stacked field) and am mostly happy with my race! I was about 5 minutes slower than the time I thought I would run, but I did what I could with what I was dealt on race day.

My little guy!

My little guy!

I will start by saying a few words about my training leading up to the race. I think it can be summed up by telling you about a conversation I had with my broach (brother-coach) before the final few workouts of the cycle. He said something like, “well, I’m not going to yell at you but it would be nice if you would finish a workout.” Ah, good point, broach. Looking back, I only finished 2 workouts as prescribed. The rest were either shorter or slower than the plan. I could insert a bunch of excuses here: lack of sleep, getting used to life with 2 kids, husband traveling constantly, me traveling (and driving a lot), lots of stress, breastfeeding, shall I go on? Or I can say I’m just doing the best I can every day with what life throws at me and I am proud of getting to the start line healthy! I didn’t beat myself up about missing workouts, completely throwing in the towel some days or running less mileage than planned. (I did have a 5 minute sob-fest in my basement when my back/hip started bothering me, but I got over it quickly.) I ended up running an average of 47.25 miles/week this training cycle.

DSC_0390

I went into taper feeling like I didn’t need a taper. It felt more like I was just gaining momentum and I should be starting a training cycle, not finishing one. Even without perfect training, I was (and still am) sure I could run sub 2:50.

Here’s the RUNdown of race weekend:

I arrived in Duluth about 1.5 hours later than scheduled on Thursday night (for Saturday morning race) thanks to flight delays. I got to the hotel and ran into a few awesome runners I know then headed out to get some food. I took a nice soak in the tub, read a bit and went to bed. Boy, did I miss my kids but it felt heavenly to sleep for 8.5 hours straight! Ok, I still woke up 4 times because that’s the schedule Wells has me on, but I fell right back asleep each time and woke feeling rested!

On Friday I did a nice little shakeout of maybe 3.7ish miles with my super stud buds (and both 2016 OTQs) Heidi and Aubrey. Heidi ended up running a 1:17 and Aubrey ran a 1:13 half this weekend! Rocked it! We went to the expo, met another Oiselle teammate (Kristine) had some lunch and went back to the hotel to chill.

Kristine, Heidi, me, Aubrey!

Kristine, Heidi, me, Aubrey!

That night I joined Aubrey and Melissa for the pasta dinner located at the race expo. On the way out we quickly cheered for the 5k, then retired to our rooms for the night.

Aubrey, me, Melissa!

Aubrey, me, Melissa!

I woke on race morning feeling rested! No kids, no roommate, and a good 10 hours of total silence was just what I needed. I probably slept 8.5 hours straight for the second night in a row! My alarm went off 3 hours before race start and I devoured my 2 Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bars, half a cup of hotel coffee, 20oz water, plus 16 oz of water mixed with Lemonade Generation UCAN. I went to catch the bus to the start line (it’s a point to point course) and found my friend Heather who I know from my Rochester running days. We chatted the whole bus ride as I sipped on another coffee.

Pre-race hotel selfie!

Pre-race hotel selfie!

It was a foggy morning with misty rain and around 50 degrees at the start. I did about 1/2 mile warmup, broken up with a bathroom break and we got to chat with one of my running heroes, Carrie Tollefson! I took a Vanilla GU around 15 minutes before the race start, did a few dynamic stretches and the race was off!

Pre-race with Kristine and Heather!

Pre-race with Kristine (who had a PR and broke 3 hours!) and Heather (who had a tough day and still ran 2:49!)!

Miles 1-10

In the first mile I spotted a girl decked out in Oiselle and running with another girl and I tucked in behind them. It turns out the ladies were twin sisters, running their 2nd and 4th marathons, but first time racing together. (They finished in 2:48, together! How cool! Great job Lucinda and Claudin!) We ended up talking a good portion of the first 20 miles.

The first 10 miles went exactly as planned as far as pace was concerned. I was running 6:20-6:30 for each mile and feeling good. Well, feeling good except I had a crazy side ache along my left ribcage that I just couldn’t shake. I tried different types of breathing, pushing on it, trying to ignore it, drinking water, nothing was helping. I took an espresso GU around mile 7. The side ache was nagging, but I could still run through it. I took a few sips of water at every water stop and one sip of powerade.

Miles 11-20

I was happy to feel so strong and have ladies to run with. We had a little pack of 4 women and a few guys and we were just chatting every so often and clicking through the miles. I took a vanilla GU around mile 14. Around 15, I felt some rumbles in my stomach and was immediately taken back to Cleveland Marathon 2011, when I had stomach issues that had me stopped on the side of the road, pooping my guts out at mile 16, not able to replenish all I lost, and finishing much slower than expected. I told myself I would be fine and wouldn’t be stopping to use the restroom. I would make it to the finish without stopping! I was still taking a few sips of water at each water stop.

Unfortunately, my stomach was getting angrier and angrier with each passing mile. By 20.4, there was no choice. I had to stop, or finish with a load in my pants. Seriously, let’s just say it was on its way out, and I was freaking out. No porta potty in sight! Gotta find one this time! (At Cleveland in 2011, I dropped my pants right on the side of the road, and have told the story to many runners friends. Most people responded “find a restroom next time!”) I drastically slowed, and finally, at 20.92 according to Garmin, I found one! I was in the restroom for about 2.5 minutes, trying to calm my stomach. It was squeezing and churning out of control but I knew I had to get back out on the course. At the time I didn’t know how much time I lost (checked Garmin later), I just knew I wanted to get passing a lot of the women who went by while I was in the restroom.

Miles 21-26.2

I didn’t feel great when I started back up. It’s hard for me to gain momentum when I’ve stopped very suddenly, especially since I was stationary for a few minutes, and my stomach still wasn’t feeling right. My next mile was about 6:50 and then my Garmin went dead. I was hoping my Garmin would motivate me and get me back on track, but now that plan wasn’t going to work. I think I was passed by the most people during mile 22. I was feeling rough, I had no idea how much time I’d lost and I was a little defeated for a moment. I had 2 more GUs with me but was afraid to take in any more fuel or hydration.

Luckily, I remembered some positive self talk! I told myself “you are strong, you are courageous, have faith”. I remembered my Erica Sara Designs “run” and “one mile at a time” charms and just told myself to make it to the next mile. I realized I wasn’t being passed by any ladies and in fact, even though I felt like a snail, I was passing a few!

At mile 23, some little kid made a comment about my belly button looking strange. He was yelling it to his parents and I was reminded of my umbilical hernia. I took a moment to feel weak. Then I squashed that thought and told myself I’m actually really strong!

Shortly after that, I was thrilled to hear a group of young, cute guys yell “number 51! (My number) you are beautiful!” I assumed I was looking pretty haggard so this comment immediately lifted my spirits. Then I saw the PITCHERS of beer they were all individually holding, 2/3 of the way empty, and thought “argh, beer goggles!” Either way, it gave me something to think about.

By mile 24 my stomach was calmed down and I just wanted to be done. The crowds picked up at that point and I was getting back on pace. At mile 25, I heard and saw some running friends cheering and I gave them a big smile and realized I only had a mile left! I started picking people off there and didn’t get passed by anyone that last mile. I passed 5-6 women and a few guys and wished I picked up the pace earlier!

Thank you, Kristine, for this photo!

Thank you, Kristine, for this photo from the finish!

I was pretty happy when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t give up and I stayed mentally strong. My time was about 5 minutes slower than I expected, but I now know half of that time was spent in the restroom and at least another minute was spent trying to feel normal again after abruptly stopping.

I’m taking this week off, but already getting excited about my next training cycle. I’m considering a handful of fall marathon options right now and once I plan that I will start to fill in some other races.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement!

 

 

Running a Spring Marathon!

I guess with all the running, recovering, and new mom-ing, I never really told anyone – I’M RUNNING A MARATHON! Yes, I’m running Grandma’s Marathon on June 21st, less than 3 weeks from now. Wells will be 8 months old! (I did my first postpartum marathon after having Currie when she was 8 months old as well!)

First postpartum marathon after having my first baby!

First postpartum marathon after having my first baby!

I didn’t originally plan to run a marathon this spring (I guess summer officially starts on my race day, but I’m still calling it a spring marathon). When I was pregnant with Wells, I decided to “get fast” and race a bunch of shorter races AND half marathons, ending with a goal race of the US Half Marathon Championships which I assumed would once again be in Duluth in June during Grandma’s Marathon weekend. Then I gave birth to my sweet little guy and quickly learned the US Half Championships were in January in Houston and I wouldn’t be ready to race a great half just 3 months postpartum (especially when I took the first month postpartum completely off from running). All of a sudden, I had no goal race.

Life brought races my way. I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot when Wells was 2 months old and beat my time goal. I raced a local 5 miler with a big hill at the end a few months later and did ok. I did a local 10 mile race and jogged another 5 to complete my first 15 miles postpartum. I did a last-minute 4 mile race near my hometown after forgetting my sportsbra and having no racing flats. I ran the Gate River Run 15k in Florida and had an awesome time with my friends, HollyAllison D and Allison K! The “Allisons” planted the seed for Grandma’s Marathon. We all decided that same weekend we would run the marathon together. IT WOULD BE FUN! It would be fast! Girls weekend! YES! Just like that, I was committed to running a full marathon this spring and in the same city and same weekend I originally planned for my goal race! (Since then, a few things came up and my buddies aren’t able to race the full, but we are still making it a girls weekend and they plan to race the half!)

Allison K, me, Allison D, and Holly post Gate River Run!

Allison K, Allison D, me and Holly post Gate River Run!

Next, I raced back-to-back half marathons - Glass City and Pittsburgh. I ran both half marathons in 1:19:24 and was very pleased with those times.

I took training really easy the week between my back-to-back half marathon weekends (strides after an easy run and one workout which included just 12 minutes “hard” but slower than half marathon pace). I took 3 days very short and easy after the 2nd half. I was being smart… as far as training was concerned. But other parts of my life were messy and hindering my recovery. I was eating poorly. I wasn’t sleeping more than 4 broken hours of sleep a night because Wells started teething and both of my kids had horrible colds. I was hosting a few gatherings at our place. I was pretty stressed out in general. The next thing I knew, I tried to do my first workout post half marathon weekends and my hip said “no way!!” I ended up taking the next 2 weeks running short and easy. I missed 4 workouts and a long run. I missed about about 60 miles of running on my training schedule. Thankfully, I’m also smart enough to shut things down at the first sign of “injury” because pushing through won’t get me to the starting line! I was just under 7 weeks out from Grandma’s Marathon when the hip pain started. I knew 2 weeks of missed training wasn’t ideal at that point, but it would be ok.

I did a lot of stretching. I did yoga. I made an appointment for Active Release Technique (ART). I got a little more sleep (hard with a teething, sick baby, but I did what I could).

I had run one 18 mile long run, one 16 mile long run and a few 15 mile long runs at the point when I had my hip flare up. More than missing my workouts, I was worried about missing the mileage and the long runs. Thankfully, by 5 weeks out from Grandma’s Marathon, my hip was feeling 100% better and I was able to do my first 20 mile long run. The following weekend, I did another. I wanted to quit from the first mile, but I finished the solo 20 miles with some positive self-talk! The next weekend (this past weekend!) I did 22 miles. And that’s the longest run I’ll do as my long run taper has begun!

GPS watch comparison after the mentally tough and hot 20 mile run.

GPS watch comparison after the mentally tough and hot 20 mile run.

This training cycle has been very positive overall. I’ve had a lot of success, and just as many days where I wanted to quit. But like I said in a post a few months ago, every time I want to quit, but continue on, something wonderful happens. So here’s to the wonderful, hopefully happening on June 21st at Grandma’s Marathon!

Thanks for following along on my journey!

Pittsburgh Half Marathon, 2014

I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on Sunday, May 4th. I was 5th female, 3rd American female, and 42nd overall. I ran 1:19:24, just 1 second slower than the weekend before at the Glass City Half Marathon. I also had my best running payday yet – $2,000 ($1,000 for 5th female and another $1,000 of American Development funds for breaking 1:20:00. I had to be top 5 American and break 1:20 to get the extra $1,000 and it ended up being very encouraging when I wanted to coast during the race!)

Here’s the RUNdown:

Fuel: The night before the race, I had the pasta buffet dinner in the Wyndham Grand hotel. Dinner was a large helping of pasta, 2 rolls (only one pictured), a baked potato, rice, a few veggies and lots of water.

Pre-race dinner!

Pre-race dinner!

The morning of the race, I woke up 3:10 before race time and downed a Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar, a packet of Cran-Raz Generation UCAN mixed with 16 oz water (again, I DON’T like this flavor, but DO like the product and am not a wasteful person so I’m going to finish what I have then try another flavor) and another 8 oz of water. For the next 2 hours I sipped on a little water and 20-24oz of hotel coffee (the hotel “proudly brews Starbucks coffee” so I guess it was Starbucks brand).

During the race, I got water 5 times. I tried the “grip and crush” method, thinking the water would glide through my lips and down my throat. Instead, 3 of those times the water went directly into my eyes and I got a little sip down my throat. The other 2 times I choked and gagged a bit but was able to get a little sip those times as well. I got Gatorade 2 times on the course. The first time I apparently misjudged where my mouth was because I splashed it straight onto my bra top and it trickled down to my crotch area. So I pretty much felt like I peed myself around mile 3! The second cup of Gatorade went straight up my nose and a little down my throat. So apparently I still have a lot to work on when it comes to race day hydration. :)

Around mile 8.5, I took a little swallow of Espresso Love flavored GU. I continued taking in the same pouch of GU until mile 11 or so then tossed it. I probably finished 3/4 of the pouch. I wouldn’t usually take in fuel/water as often during a half marathon but with nursing and running 50+ miles a week, I need the calories.

Race:

I went into the race wanting to run as fast or faster than the weekend before when I had the PRP problems. But, after talking with a few people I trust, I told myself if anything didn’t feel right I was fine just dropping to tempo pace for any portion of the race.

I started off faster than my half the weekend before, but conservatively compared to other people in the race. I was told people tend to “positive split HARD” on this course since there’s a big hill from mile 11-12.5. I started out far back, maybe 15th woman or so. My plan was to go out comfortably and gradually pass people who went out too hard (that’s exactly what ended up happening).

Here I am at mile 4.5. Photo credit to Hodnick Photography.

Steady stream of people together at mile 4.5. Photo credit to Hodnick Photography.

Around the half mile mark, my calves were (already!) reminding me of my previous half marathon and I knew the race wouldn’t be easy. But the rest of me felt good and I had a feeling I could run sub 1:20 again. As each mile passed, I noticed there were no flat parts on the course. There’s always a slight uphill or downhill. It makes the course interesting, and it’s not a big deal if you are prepared for it, but it’s definitely a tough course.

Photo taken by my friend's husband! Thanks for sending, Kristy!

Photo taken by my friend’s husband! Thanks for sending, Kristy!

As the miles went on, I noticed they weren’t just clicking along like my last half. Each mile felt ok, but long! I never got that feeling of dread or “where is that darn finish line?!” which I felt during every race for the first 8 months after having my first child. I just kept telling myself “sub 1:20!” and “you can do it, but you have to keep pushing”.

Another Hodnick Photo

Another Hodnick Photo. Not so flattering, but hey, that’s what the camera caught! And look at that crowd support! Thanks Pittsburgh!

My first 9 mile splits were: 6:01, 6:00, 6:02, 6:02, 6:01, 5:59, 6:04, 5:55, 6:04. The tightness in my calves kept escalating, similar to the feeling I get in the middle stages of the marathon. I figured it was good mental callousing. ;)

I’m not sure what happened at mile 10, but I fell off a bit at that point. I know I was still passing a few people so maybe this was a tough mile for everyone. I ran 6:13.

Mile 11 was where the big uphill started and I ran 6:16.

Mile 12 continued that big hill and my brother-coach’s pre-race advice was to keep pushing because I would be rewarded with a downhill finish. I ran 6:22 and passed a few guys on the uphill!

My final mile was 5:31 (downhill!) with 5:42 for the last .1. I was SO READY to coast that last 3/4 miles or so since it was mostly downhill. Then, a guy who I had been leapfrogging with for the last few miles ran up beside me and encouraged me to keep pushing. I couldn’t even hear exactly what he was saying, but I know it was along the lines of “stay with me” and I knew he would be the one to carry me through to a strong performance. I’m confident my race would have been slower without his encouragement so THANK YOU SO MUCH, TIM! It’s awesome how a kind, encouraging stranger can change your race for the better. We embraced at the finish line and I probably said random delirious nonsense to him, but I hope he knows I appreciated it!

So there you have it! Two weekends, 2 half marathons in essentially the same exact time. I was happy with this race, which is unusual. Normally, I am up much of the night thinking about what I could have done better, where I could have pushed harder, where my weakest points were, but I didn’t feel any of that after this race! I ran about what I expected. I was secretly hoping to break into the 1:18:xx, but given the circumstances, I know I had a great race and solid effort!

My next post will most likely talk about my recovery (or lack thereof!) from those races.

Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement!

Pittsburgh Kids Marathon – Guest Post!

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Currie, my 4 year old daughter, ran the Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon. It was all part of the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend extravaganza and she had an excellent experience. This was her 4th race, but first time racing the 1 mile distance. I was able to sit down with her after the race to talk about her preparation and how she felt about the race. Here’s what she had to say:

Me: How did you feel when I asked you if you wanted to run the Kids Marathon?

Currie: Good! I was excited. Running is exciting!

Excitedly bouncing and blurry!

Excitedly bouncing and blurry!

Me: Did you do anything special to prepare for this mile long race?

Currie: Well, I was exercising before it.

Dancing is great exercise!

Dancing is great exercise!

Me: What do you like to do for exercise?

Currie: I like to gallop sometimes! I like to jump! And I like to run too! I like to ride my balance bike and my pedal bike too. I love my scooter and my yellow helmet.

Me: Can you tell us about your race day outfit?

Currie: Well, it said Oiselle on it, my shirt. My pants were black. My arm warmers were stripey and they are actually leg warmers that I put on my arms! I wore my green coat before the race. I wore my boots because they were fancy.

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Those boots!!

Those boots!!

Me: What did you have for breakfast on race morning?

Currie: I had Cheerios. Then a piece of sugar toast. {“sugar toast” is toast with butter, sugar and cinnamon.}

Me: How did you feel at the starting line?

Currie: Good and warmed up. (warmup provided by Jeff Eggleston and Heather Kampf. Very fast and wonderful people!)

Jeff and Heather, getting the kids pumped and warmed up!

Heather and Jeff, getting the kids pumped and warmed up!

Me: What did you think about the course?

Currie: Um, kind of curvy and stuff. It was a little hilly up on the bridge. Then I felt like I was going to burst when I was going downhill!

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Me: Did you feel tired at the end or at any point during the race?

Currie: No.

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Me: What did you do after crossing the finish line?

Currie: I got a medal and water. Then I got food. I made a smiley face cookie at the Eat’n Park tent. They had a bounce house that was made into stuff you could crawl through and slide down and climb up! I got some plants from the Giant Eagle tent!

Runner of Steel!

Runner of Steel!

Me: Would you recommend this race to other kids?

Currie: Yes.

Me: Any advice for people who want to run next year?

Currie: Stay on the track.

I was more excited about this photo than Currie. Clara Santucci would go on to win the marathon the next day. Had the extreme pleasure to spend some time with Clara this weekend and am an even bigger fan than before. Sweet and humble with a competitive heart. What an inspirational woman!

I was more excited about this photo than Currie. Clara Santucci would go on to win the marathon the next day. Had the extreme pleasure to spend some time with Clara this weekend and am an even bigger fan than before. Sweet and humble with a competitive heart. What an inspirational woman!

Athletes are the only "celebrities" I can about. Lucky enough to hang out with these fine athletes over the weekend. Jeffrey Eggleston, Andrew McCutchen, Heather Kampf, Clara Santucci.

Athletes are the only “celebrities” I can about. Lucky enough to hang out with these fine athletes over the weekend. Jeffrey Eggleston, Andrew McCutchen, Heather Kampf, Clara Santucci.

 Big thank you to Kristy for inspiring this guest post!

Glass City Half Marathon 2014

I raced the Glass City Half Marathon on Sunday. I was 2nd woman, running 1:19:23 and got $200 in prize money. This was my first half marathon since having Wells, who turned 7 months old on race day!

7 months old!

7 months old!

I am very happy with the race, as I thought my best case scenario time was 1:20 (based on my tempo runs and other workouts, plus looking back at my first half after having Currie and my training leading up to that. I just happened to be 7 months postpartum with her when I ran my first half as well and I ran 1:21:52.)

I raced Glass City Half back in 2011 in 1:18:45. I really like the flat, fast course (just a few rollers, but nothing I’d consider a “hill” especially since moving to Pittsburgh!) The only thing I didn’t like about the course in 2011 was the horrible headwind the last few miles. We had that same headwind this year, but not as strong.

So, here’s the RUNdown:

Woke up at 4am (7am race start) and downed a Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar, a pack of Generation UCAN mixed with 16oz water (I have Cran-Raz and can’t stand the taste to be honest but I think it’s a good product), 2 cups of hotel coffee all by 5am. 20 minutes before gun time I had a peppermint GU that expired 2 years ago. (Tasted just fine!) I pinned a non-expired espresso GU to the inside of my shorts for later. I never ended up using that GU because of pre-race-poop problems. I raced in my Oiselle singlet and Mac Roga because at 38 degrees and windy at the start it was slightly too chilly for a bra top and buns.

I felt kind of rushed from the time we arrived, getting my warmup done (2.3 mile warmup), getting to the start and gear drop off. We were able to use restrooms inside Savage Arena but they were upstairs so we had to walk up and down multiple times which ended up being a bit of a time killer. I was happy to run into a high school friend while in Savage Arena. She was running her first half and made her time goal of breaking 2 hours! (Great job Stephanie!)

All of a sudden, I realized it was time to head to the start line, in fact, it was a little later than I’d usually head over. I never did get my gear dropped off in the official tent, but thank goodness my sister-in-law was with us and took care of it for me and my older brother who was also racing! Thanks Megan! I was able to do 2 short strides, and heard a few people yelling my name. It was 2 of my high school friends who were getting ready to race the relay! I ran over and hugged them. Thanks Amanda and Breezy! That really brightened my morning! I lined up in the 2nd-3rd row at the start line and the gun went off.

Mile 1:

I positioned myself behind 2 ladies I didn’t know at the time. I knew there was an elite field of approximately 20 men and women and know from the past the winning time is usually 1:17-1:19. My goal was to start off at 6:10-6:15 pace to see how it felt and work down as the race went on. My first mile was 6:11 and felt very comfortable.

Mile 2 & 3:

This mile buzzed by as well. I ran 5:57 for both and was sort of tucked in behind a guy. The wind was at our backs. The first 2 women were still ahead of me. I took a sip of water at the first water stop and tossed the cup into the garbage can. She shoots, she scores!

Mile 4 & 5:

I was expected to start feeling the hurt at this point, but I still felt good. I ran 6:01 and 5:59 and the guy I was holding onto dropped me. I was in no-man’s land. I raced alone for the remainder of the race. I got another sip of water and tried to make a basket in the garbage can but missed!

Mile 6:

This is where I started feeling the urge to poop. Oh great. (I think the early race start and being rushed before the race contributed to me not getting my pre-race-poop (PRP) out. I was 90% sure I was going to have to stop the race and poop on the side of the street before I saw the finish line, similar to my Cleveland Marathon experience of 2011. Thank goodness, the urge kept getting stronger but I was able to make it to the end of this half without a potty break!) This is also where I planned to start taking my next GU. I knew if I took in any gel or even much more water I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end without a bathroom break so I skipped the GU altogether. I slowed slightly to calm my stomach and this mile was 6:06.

Mile 7 & 8:

Other than the PRP problem, these 2 miles (the miles I originally thought would be my most challenging) flew by! I had equal feelings of panic that I would poop my pants and so much strength. I couldn’t believe I was over halfway done and felt like the race just started! I passed one woman in these miles and took another sip of water. I was shocked when I saw the 9 mile marker ahead! I completely missed the 7 and 8 mile markers. I ran 6:05 and 6:08.

Coming up on the 2nd place woman.

Coming up on the 2nd place woman. Photos from Dave’s Performance Footgear!

glasscity2014Miles 9, 10, 11:

6:01, 6:04, 6:01. I was just running by myself, eyes on the 1st place woman. I gained a little on her and decided I was going to win this race (which sounds silly now, since I didn’t win, but I was still feeling so strong. It was unbelievable!) I took a sip of Gatorade and a sip of water. People were urging me to catch that #1 girl!

Mile 12:

Oh boy, this was my worst mile of all. Ran 6:13 and I’m shocked it was that fast. I was scanning the area for a porta potty, sure I wouldn’t be able to finish without a pit stop. I slowed a bit, hoping my stomach could calm down and I could make it to the finish. It did calm down a bit.

Mile 13:

I ran this in 5:58, still feeling good! I knew at this point I could make it without a potty break! I kept it strong and smooth and felt wonderful hearing everyone cheer as I closed in on the finish line.

Last .1:

This was in 5:59 pace. I ended 31 seconds back from first place, feeling better than I’ve ever felt at the end of a half marathon! And very relieved I made it without an accident! :)

After the race, I was able to reunite with my brother and do a few miles of cooldown with him. And of course use the restroom!!

Siblings!

Siblings!

I was also able to pose with the Pink Panther and reunite with fellow Oiselle teammate, Deloris who I haven’t seen since early 2012!

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Overall, this race gave me a lot of hope for the rest of the training cycle. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately, telling my husband I feel like I’m drowning most days with the training load and making sure I’m being a good parent and wife and keeping my house at a general level of cleanliness while my he travels and works a lot. My running has been getting better and “easier”, but I was definitely questioning my fitness before the race. I’m still trying to take everything day by day. I think many parents (and people in general) get these feelings at times and just try to make it through each day. Eventually we come out on the up-side and it feels so good.

This week is all about recovery as I’m racing the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this weekend! A few people have asked me “which race are you trying to run fast, Glass City or Pittsburgh?” My reply is “both”. I want to run fast again this weekend. The key is staying healthy this week and recovering from Glass City. Both of my kids have horrible colds right now so I’m concentrating on sleep and Emergen-C!

Thanks for reading and for all of the encouragement, friends!

Any PRP stories to share?

Ever race back-to-back half marathons?

Would you consume an expired GU?

 

 

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!