My Nutrition Plan

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We are coming up on a week until race day for the Pittsburgh Marathon! I wanted to share a bit about my nutrition plan (especially race week nutrition) now so it’s fresh in your mind for next week.

If you’ve known me for awhile now, you know I’ve had many longer races (beginning in 2011) spoiled by stomach problems. It’s very soul-crushing to put a lot of time and energy into a race and come up short on a goal because of porta-potty problems. I’ve been working on little solutions and while I don’t want to jinx myself, I think I have quite a bit figured out. I haven’t had any stomach issues in races in 2015 so I thought I’d share a bit about my normal diet and then tell you about how that changes during race week.

I found out I was lactose intolerant during my sophomore year in college, but I continued consuming most dairy (except milk) because cheese/yogurt/ice cream/etc are delicious and I could deal with some bloating most of the time. When I started running seriously about 10 years later, I began realizing my body couldn’t handle long or intense runs with dairy in my system. I also found out through elimination dieting while breastfeeding that both of my babies were miserable and fussy when I consumed dairy. This is the very short version of many years of struggling with my love of these foods and my body’s hatred for them. I have found a happy place where I don’t have dairy MOST of the time, and don’t usually miss it. I will sometimes have quesadillas or pizza with real cheese and of course ice cream. I just avoid these foods 2 days before workouts, and a week before a big race. But most of the time I just avoid them completely because I don’t usually want them. If you would have asked me even 2 years ago if my life could ever be this dairy-free, I would tell you no. After the initial mourning period (of many months), it was actually pretty easy.

A typical food day for me includes a lot of calories. I’m a 60-80 mile per week runner, a hands-on active parent of 2, a person who chooses to walk over driving on most occasions, and a breastfeeding mother (until I weaned my son about 2 weeks ago). You can imagine the thousands of calories I need to support my activity level. I try to eat the way many people do – mostly from the earth, minimally processed foods. However, a typical day finds me grabbing convenience foods or cooking frozen dinners.

A typical day might look like this:

Breakfast within minutes of waking. 99% of the time I eat toast with some type of nut butter, chia seeds, and banana. I drink about 30 oz of water and a mug of black coffee. This is the meal that never changes.

After my run I will have either a Vega recovery drink, a picky bar, or another banana with nut butter.

Recovery at it's finest! Double fisting Picky Bars and Vega Sport!

Recovery at it’s finest! Double fisting Picky Bars and Vega Sport!

I usually also snack on something junk-foody if it’s there. This would be candy from the latest holiday or a pastry from the bakery next door. If I don’t do this in the morning, I might do it in the afternoon.

For lunch I eat something like hummus and crackers and a few eggs on bread with avocado. Or I’ll have a veggie burger with avocado. I usually eat 1-2 avocados a day.

In the afternoon, I usually have a few more bananas. They are the easiest fruit in my opinion. No washing, very portable, delicious! I also eat whatever other fruit my kids are into at the time. I might also have dry cereal, crackers, nuts/trail mix.

My goal for dinner is always something with lots of veggies, a grain, some beans or tofu, occasionally some fish or meat. On good days, I accomplish this goal. Many days, dinner is something frozen from Trader Joes (insert anything in their frozen section here). Family favorites are probably their pizzas (they have a good dairy free roasted vegetable one), or fish sticks and sweet potato fries, mini frozen tacos, and spanakopita. Usually by the end of the day the kids are feeling a little wild and my husband gets home late and prepping my perfect little meal just doesn’t happen. We also go out to dinner fairly often.

When we go out for dinner, I TRY to pick something healthy. If I'm lacking in vegetables, I order a big salad. I love a big veggie burrito as well! I'd say about half of the time I end up getting a sandwich and fries or tots.

When we go out for dinner, I TRY to pick something healthy. If I’m lacking in vegetables, I order a big salad. I love a good veggie burrito as well! I’d say about half of the time I end up getting a sandwich and fries or tots. I’m obviously not a food photographer!

Before bed I have either some kind of dessert or another banana or two with nut butter. Yes, I eat 4-6 bananas every single day!

The most important part of this post in my opinion is what I do during race week! I’ve been feeling really good about my pre-race meals and hope I can help some of you who may be having tummy troubles. First of all, I completely avoid dairy the entire week before my race. Besides that, I don’t change much at the beginning of the week. I start eating fewer vegetables and fruits about 4 days out from the race and eat more pretzels and crackers.

I think the biggest change I’ve made is my diet the day before the race. As I looked over my diet, I realized I consume a lot of calories and my body has a lot to process. I thought maybe I could change the timing of my calories so my body would get everything it needs but still have time to work everything through before race time. This is the plan that has been working for me:

On race-day-eve in the morning I eat my normal breakfast and recovery foods immediately after my run. Then I eat a very large lunch. I like a huge omelet with just a few veggies (no cheese!), potatoes, and toast. I drink a good amount of water as usual. In the afternoon I snack on some pretzels or bread. Then at dinnertime, I eat a much smaller meal than normal. I make sure I’m content but not full/stuffed. I have found this combo – a side order of rice, 2 spoonfuls of black beans (this is totally random), and 2-3 flour tortillas – to work great. It’s the most boring and smallest meal I eat, but worth it to feel good the next day.

As far as what to do the day of the race, you should do whatever you practiced! Here’s what I do, and it’s still a work in progress!

On race morning I eat a plain or salt bagel or piece of cinnamon raisin bread, depending on what I can find, topped with a bit of nut butter 3 hours before the race. I drink no more than 6 ounces of coffee, and maybe 30-40 oz of water in the few hours leading up to the race. With 30 minutes to go, I drink a Vega pre-workout drink. Then with 10-20 minutes to go I take a vanilla Gu.

During a half and full marathon, I take water or the electrolyte drink provided on the course at every stop. During a half I will take a swallow of gel (most of the time) around mile 7, about 40 minutes into the race. During a full, I will do the same as the half with fluids every time provided and a bit of gel every 6-8 miles.

Hope this helps someone and feel free to ask me any questions!

 

Pittsburgh Wild Half Trail Race

I ran the Pittsburgh Wild Half Trail Race on Saturday. I was debating doing a 5k Saturday and 10k Sunday since I haven’t done anything “fast” in awhile, but the trail race was calling my name (my husband was really excited about trail racing as well) so we chose the 13.1 on the trails. I ended up first female (3rd overall) and setting the female course record by 14 minutes. My husband won overall and set the course record as well.

Jeff and me post race.

Jeff and me post race.

I planned to do a few easy warmup miles, run at least part of it at a “tempo effort” (not knowing what the course would be like), then do a few miles cooldown. We ended up getting to the race later than anticipated so I probably only got about a mile warmup, then ran the race, and finished with just a bit over a mile cooldown because we were SO SORE! The course consisted of single track trails that were very hilly, muddy (think shoes being stuck in mud in many places, 2 creeks to run through, 2 grassy fields that were easily under an inch of water, lots of roots/trees to jump over, trees to duck under, you know, any obstacle you could imagine in the woods. It was totally awesome and a huge physical challenge.

Thanks JL Photography and Design for the photo!

Thanks JL Photography and Design for the photo!

While I was never running fast (ended up 30 mins slower than my last half marathon!) the course was very intense physically and mentally. The physical was explained above. The mental challenge came from the need to pay attention to every step I took to keep myself from falling. My husband always lovingly jokes “watch out, there’s a flat part coming up” because I tend to trip on nothing at all when running. Add some obstacles and I’m asking for trouble. Also, I tend to completely zone out during parts of my run. Sometimes on training runs I don’t remember parts of my course until I look at the data from my Garmin! There were very few steps of this race where I wasn’t intensely concentrating on where my next foot would land. No zoning out this time!

While this race was definitely the most challenging course I’ve run, it was great fun and a nice way to change things up a bit. I wish I would have worn trail shoes instead of my regular training shoes (Asics Gel Cumulus) so I wouldn’t have done so much sliding around. I got some nice prizes as shown below.

Shirt, plaque, visor, feetures socks, water bottle, 2 gift certificates, a box of power gel, and a power bar

Shirt, plaque, visor, feetures socks, water bottle, 2 gift certificates, a box of power gel, and a power bar

Feeling stronger every day and ramping my miles back up this week. I’m even thinking of adding another goal race to my calendar soon!

My next post will be on nutrition lately (since having my second child and running at a high level) and my pre-race nutrition that has been keeping my stomach happy! Thanks for following along!

 

Time to Race Again!

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I’m out of my funk and ready to get excited about racing again! And this is good news because the Pittsburgh Marathon is less than 3 weeks away! I took some down time after my marathon fail, running whatever, whenever. I was getting the itch to go fast again and completed my first real workout post marathon yesterday. (It was 6x 4:00 on, 2:00 off for anyone interested!)

I’m racing the next 3 weekends and all of my races are special to me for different reasons. This weekend I’m doing a very challenging (think intense hills!) trail half marathon. I’m running this race more like a workout. I’m so excited about this race because I am a bit obsessed with running on trails. I only remember running one trail race and it was at least 7 years ago so this feels like a good way to switch things up and have some fun! I plan on doing a few miles warmup, sort of running it like a tempo run based on feel since the hills, mud, etc will prevent any sort of normal pacing, then finishing with a few miles to make it my long run of the week. I hope to come away with the course record, a good workout for the 13.1 distance, and some cool swag.

The following weekend I will be running the Glass City Half in Toledo, Ohio. I’m excited about this race because it’s close to my hometown and I have quite a few friends running it! Also, the afterparty is a lot of fun! (Yes, runners, you know where to meet me post race!)

And the next weekend is Pittsburgh Marathon weekend! Just 7 months postpartum when I raced last year, I had such an incredible weekend that I told my husband “I will race the half or full here every year forever! How could I miss this?!” I’m excited about this race because it’s on my home turf and I love running in this city! I’m excited about racing faster than last year and tearing up the streets here in Pittsburgh.

I was able to attend a cool event for the Kids of Steel program on the last day in February. It was an indoor training day (free event!) with different fitness stations set up for the kids. As the kids performed different exercises like running races, burpees, core work, egg balancing on a spoon races, hula hooping, etc, they could mark the activities off on their list and go home with a ribbon and some prizes. It was a really special event for the kids and a fun event for me to attend!

Racing with some kids at the Kids of Steel indoor training event. I think I came in last place! :)

Racing with some kids at the Kids of Steel indoor training event. I think I came in last place! :)

My next blog post will be covering the results of my trail half and I’ll talk about how my race week nutrition has changed recently. After some deep thinking and experimentation, I think I’ve finally found foods that sit well in my stomach during race week!

Thanks for following along!

 

DNF

What do you do when a goal race becomes a DNF? It took me a long time to write this post, not because my life has been crazy, but because that question has been haunting me, hurting me, making me take some time to heal emotionally. Physically, I’m fine. (Thank you to everyone for reaching out to me, making sure I am ok!) I am having a problem with my left hamstring, but that had nothing to do with the race. To make a long story short… on race day I just felt FLAT.

Pre-race selfie

Pre-race selfie

Yes, I went into race day confident, but not “too confident”. I had my share of awesome runs and some failed workouts. I think that’s actually the perfect recipe for a training cycle. Push training to that line where you can’t do everything as prescribed, but keep building and pushing and know that most runs went just how you wanted. During race week, I felt kind of blah, but that’s just how taper can be. On race morning I seemed to feel fine, but by 10 steps into the race, something just wasn’t right. My legs felt like trash. I was fighting my own body. I felt totally flat.

I’ve been running long enough to know that sometimes it takes 5, 7, 10 miles to feel good on a run. Sometimes you just need to work the junk out. But I was feeling worse each mile. At mile 13 I started thinking I should drop out. Not because I couldn’t finish. Not because of an injury. I was thinking of my main goal this year – to qualify for the Olympic Trials marathon and I *knew* it wasn’t happening that day. I have 2 shots this year, a spring and fall marathon. (I’m not a superhuman runner who can do more than one marathon every 5-6 months.) So in order to salvage my spring season, I dropped out at 15.5 miles with a plan to choose another full.

I ran off the course and straight to the ocean. I ripped off my singlet, socks and racing flats, looked out to the sea and cried for a good while. I was 3 miles from my hotel, shivering, and a big emotional mess. Some very kind lady on the beach let me use her cell phone to call my husband. Jeff and I walked toward each other on the sand and met in the middle. He comforted me better than anyone else could, but I was feeling very broken.

After some tears (and beers)

After some tears (and beers)

What I didn’t anticipate is the toll a DNF would play on me. DNF feels like a black mark on my record; a storm cloud hanging over me that won’t go away. If I wasn’t going for this goal, I wouldn’t dream of quitting (aside from injury) so why is this ok? Could I have started feeling better a few miles later and killed the last 8-10 miles? My mom always tells me to never give up, because things might turn around and something special might happen. While I think it was extremely unlikely in this case, we will never know.

The decision to drop has been weighing heavy on my heart and making running miserable for the first time in a very long time. So I made the decision to just run whatever I want for the time being (or don’t run at all). Whatever I feel like doing until I feel the urge to train like my normal hardcore self is fine. This time was originally supposed to be marathon recovery/down time and my body wants and needs that so I’ve been honoring it.

Thankfully, I’m blowing away the dark cloud a little more each day. Running isn’t a struggle mentally anymore. Three weeks later, it’s time to let it go! All I can do is move forward now. Running is SO IMPORTANT to me. It’s a huge chunk of who I am… but come on, it’s just running! I’m turning the page and getting pumped for my upcoming half marathons! I can’t wait to see so many friends at races this spring.

Some people are probably wondering if I have any idea what went wrong. Can my bad race day experience somehow benefit you? Do I know what mistakes I might have made leading me to feel like poop on race day? Oh, speaking of poop, my stomach felt awesome on race day and that was the one positive part of my personal race story. I think I figured out a good pre-race meal and I’ll talk about it in a future post. I know of 3 things that could have contributed to my horrible race and will put them out here for anyone who wants to know. Hopefully it can help someone! In no particular order:

  • Breastfeeding issues. I had been breastfeeding my little guy quite a bit this winter (3-5 times/day). We had a lot of sicknesses going around in my household so he was doing a lot of comfort nursing. I considered weaning him but he was very interested in continuing so I tried to cut back to just 2 feedings a day 3 weeks leading to the race. Then a week out from the race, I went to 1 feeding a day, and during race week I stayed at 1 feeding except one day where I didn’t breastfeed at all. I felt really hormonally out-of-whack. While I haven’t done much research on this, I think it would have been better to stick with what I was doing at least 2 months out from race day.
  • Taper issues. I tapered HARD for this race. I told myself as long as I got to the start line healthy, I would be good to go. I did a solid workout 3 weeks before race day and didn’t really put much effort into running after that. I didn’t follow my training plan at all. I just went out and did less mileage and hardly any quality work. I thought I would feel fresh on race day by doing this. That obviously wasn’t the case! I’ve thought back to the week I ran my half PR in January. I wasn’t tapered. I was getting over a week of high mileage and even my first double run of the training cycle 2 days before the race. And I had more than a 2 minute PR. I think a 3 week taper could very likely be too much for me.
  • Mental issues. I have a pretty solid mental game, but there are a few things that can “get to me”. I think many people have these things and it’s good to know them, accept them and find a way to fix or avoid them before race day. Instead of having lighthearted conversations and nervous running chatter with my husband (which is my mental power zone), I found myself talking with less positive people about less positive things. I don’t want to sound dramatic, no one was trying to sabotage my race. I was having conversations with innocent people who didn’t know they were bringing me down. I should have ended when I knew it wasn’t good for me but I didn’t. Instead I spent the next few hours (when I should have been sleeping) wide awake in bed trying to visualize my race and think positive thoughts to erase the bad thoughts that were entering my head. I was mentally exhausted on race morning.

I can’t say enough THANK YOUs to everyone who supported me, reached out to me, or gave me positive thoughts during the very difficult last few weeks! You all helped bring the running sunshine back in my life and I appreciate it!

 

Hey Pittsburgh Half Marathon – I’m Back! #GameOnPGH!

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I’m excited to say I’ve been accepted into the Elite Field of the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon this year AND I’m an Official Blogger for the Pittsburgh Marathon! This will be my second year running the half marathon here in Pittsburgh and I’m pumped to see how fast my legs can carry me through my wonderful city! Last year I was 7 months postpartum when I raced the half and came in 5th place. This year I hope to be a few minutes faster and compete for a top spot once again.

pghrace

Pittsburgh is a stunning city and I love running over the bridges (5 bridges in the half, 3 rivers!), taking in the sights, and hearing the cheers/music/cowbells around the course. I’m fortunate to also have friends who will show up and add to the cheers in each neighborhood. And I’m very lucky to make this race a family affair! My daughter ran the Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon (1 mile) last year. She asks about the race multiple times every month and can’t wait to run again this year. You can read her post about it here. Easily the best post ever featured on this blog! My husband ran the half last year and will run it again this year. My older brother ran the full last year. I might even talk a sibling or two into racing this year!

As I mentioned in my last post, this will be my final big race of the spring – the icing on the cake! My full marathon is now just 3 weeks away so my training is well underway. I will take a week off running after my full, then start gearing up for what I hope to be another half marathon PR!

I will do follow up posts talking about things like my preparation/hydration/fueling/nutrition in general or anything else that pops into my head. And please feel free to ask me any questions you might have!

Thanks for following along!

 

Rock N Roll NOLA, Taking Chances

I ran the Rock N Roll New Orleans half marathon a month ago, on 1/25/15. I was 3rd female, (15th overall) and ran a PR of 1:15:59. I am overjoyed with this race because I took a chance, had confidence in myself and executed the race plan.

Proud to share the podium with these 2 sweet & speedy gals!

Proud to share the podium with these 2 sweet & speedy gals!

As far as a race recap goes, this could get really boring. I ran a pretty evenly split race, every mile between 5:40-5:50. I was in 3rd place (females) most of the race (mile 5 on), I ran most of the race alone, and nothing spectacular happened as far as racing was concerned or what anyone could see. But something very exciting was happening inside me. I was on a mission to run down my old PR of 1:18:05. I had a fire burning inside. I had a lot to prove to myself, and this was my big chance. All the races I’ve finished feeling like I had something left in the tank, all the races where my stomach (uh, intestines?) revolted, all the doubts I’ve faced from others and even myself… all of those things needed to be left behind to become the runner I know I am.

I had the common A,B,&C goals. My C goal was just to get a PR. I ran 5:57 pace at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler in November and finished with way too much in the tank, feeling awesome, yet horrible for feeling so awesome. 2 months later looking at RnR NOLA I knew that even on a bad day I could run that pace for 13.1 and could kick it in for a PR. My B goal was sub 1:17. I had a good base, my workouts were going pretty well other than the 3 weeks in December when I was down mileage and workouts with the flu, but on a good day, there was no reason I couldn’t run 1:16:xx. My A goal was to run sub 1:16. I wasn’t going to taper for this race since it’s in the middle of marathon training, and this goal honestly scared me a bit. Run 5:48/mile pace for an hour and fifteen minutes?! WHAT? Then, “wait, why not?”

Taking the turn in the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler in November

So, I went to New Orleans with my husband (Jeff) who was also racing the half. We left the kids with the grandparents and I looked forward to a weekend of sleep (and fast running)! Well, I slept more than usual, but I also enjoyed the alone time with Jeff. I also had to drag my breast pump to NOLA as my little guy (who was 15 months old at the time) is still breastfeeding.

The Fam

The Fam, yes my son is a giant baby!

Jeff was a good sport, letting me play out race thoughts, scenarios, dreams over and over. Every time I said something about sub 1:16 being crazy, he simply said something like, “why is that crazy?” and then backed it up with some facts about how hard I’ve been working.

I settled on my race plan after a few discussions I had with Jeff. One was the night before the race when he said something to the effect of “I’d be much more impressed with you going out hard, dying, and having a really slow time, than running another 1:18 that you’re not proud of.” Touché.

So my plan was to go out hard, at my A goal pace and run a pretty evenly split race, with my fastest mile being mile 10, just to kick it back into gear for the end of the race. Would you believe I went out hard and ran a pretty evenly split race, and my fastest mile was indeed mile 10?  (I rarely look at my watch during the race but like to wear a GPS watch to check splits afterward and see where things went right or wrong!)

Pain face!

Pain face!

I didn’t check my watch at all until mile 11. At that point, I did the math (and I’m one of those people who gets MUCH WORSE at math when I’m running fast) but I could think clearly enough to know I was going to have a big PR. I was going to run 1:15:xx! And then I started to seriously consider, oh my goodness, the Olympic Trials Standard is 1:15:00! Can I do it? Oh wait, I think I have to close with like 2 x 5:20 something mile pace, probably not going to happen today. I fixed my eyes on the woman ahead of me and thought maybe I could catch her. I noticed I was gaining a bit. Then at mile 12 I looked at my watch again. I had a moment of weakness. I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone. I knew I was already going to have a big PR. I didn’t need to keep going so hard. I relaxed a bit. That relaxing almost cost me my A goal! Thankfully, I pulled myself out of it, picked the pace back up.  Within minutes, I saw the finishing clock 1:15:40, 41, 42… I had made it this far, I was going to get that A goal! I starting sprinting my little heart out and I squeaked to the finish in 1:15:59!

The top 3 ladies were escorted to the stage for awards immediately (very cool!) and then brought to the VIP area. My feet started cramping on the walk and I had to smile, knowing I haven’t finished a race feeling this worn out in awhile. I couldn’t stop thinking about the race, my PR… it felt 100% believable and also 100% unbelievable. Did *I* really just do that?

I guess I want to end this post by saying, don’t be afraid to take chances! You could come up short and fall on your face. But you could also soar! It is very exciting when you succeed. But it’s incredibly FULFILLING knowing you were willing to risk a complete failure of a race to make that success happen.

I have a big spring coming up with lots of races that I’m pumped to be running! My goal marathon is the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on 3/22. Then I’ll be doing Glass City Half Marathon and Pittsburgh Half Marathon later in the spring. More to come on those events!

Thanks for reading and following along!

Finally Feeling Fast, 3 Races, A 5k PR

Whoa! Time is flying!

I’ve raced 3 times since my last update. The Deschutes Twilight 5k on 8/14/14 (17:14), Boy Scout Half Marathon on 8/30/14 (1:22:19 *workout*) and Steelers 5k on 9/1/14 (16:38). Despite my best efforts to post race recaps, some training updates and some general this-is-how-I’m-feeling-postpartum running, I just choose sleep over everything else. So let’s start with that:

Sleep:

Wells is 11 months old and covering the whole couch!

Wells is 11 months old and covering the whole couch!

 

My baby just turned 11 months old! He was an expert sleeper from almost the very beginning, sleeping through the night very early. Then he started getting teeth and little colds here and there and I have been up with him at least 2 times a night almost every night for the past few months. Some nights, we are up much more! I try to take a 15-20 min nap each day while he is napping and while my 4 year old is doing something quietly but it doesn’t always happen. Long story short, sleep is still something I need to work on, but I don’t have a lot of control over that right now.

Postpartum feelings towards training:

Right around 10.5 months postpartum, approximately 3 weeks ago, my training started to feel right again. I started feeling like running was less of a struggle and more of *my thing*. I wouldn’t say running and workouts are easy – I’m training hard! I just think it’s all starting to feel right and I’m feeling like myself again. Coming back from both pregnancies, I had time where I was struggling to feel fast and then one day it clicked. That clicking point was right around 10-11 months postpartum both times for me. It might be different for you but if you have the desire, keep trying! (And let me just add here that if you don’t feel great after having the baby, just use the time to enjoy your baby and stop stressing about being fast again! The speed will come, and running will be there waiting when you are ready, but you really never will get that teeny tiny snuggle bug time back from your babe. Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t loving postpartum running. It’s ok to be patient and enjoy the early months/years of motherhood.)

Wells at 10 months. He's walking and my life just got more interesting...

Wells at 10 months. He’s walking and my life just got more interesting…

Workouts:

Do you even care about my workouts? I don’t know. I go back and forth about posting times, distances, splits because I hate the comparison game. What works for me might be the wrong path for you. But, for those who want to know, I’ll tell you about some of my workouts lately.

I’m ultimately training for a late fall marathon, but a few weeks before the Deschutes 5k, I wanted to whip my legs into some speedy shape. I had been running 60-65 miles a week with one workout and 2 days of a few 20 second strides. Two weeks before Deschutes 5k (my first 5k since baby #2!) I did 6×400 meters at the track. It started with a 2 mile warmup, then I ran 71, 71, 72, 71, 72, 72. I had a 2 minute walk break between each rep. The workout was a big shock to my system. My breathing was like wheezing. My legs were like jello. My body hadn’t run anything like that in about 2 years! But I was pretty happy with the paces. Ok, I wanted to dip below 70, but it wasn’t happening. I finished with 2 miles cooldown with the double jogging stroller and that was my workout that week.

One week before Deschutes 5k, I ran 5x1k with 2 minutes walk rest on the track. I was supposed to hit an overall pace faster than my 5k PR (16:40). I was terrified of this workout. I didn’t feel like I was ready for it at all. I pumped myself up by talking (to myself) about the paces every day. “You just have to hit 80 second laps. You ran 71s and 72s last week. This will feel much more comfortable”. Then the little devil on my shoulder told me “but last week it was only one lap. This week it will be 2.5 laps!” I kept squashing that negative voice with positive ones. Sure enough, on workout day, I hit my paces just as planned and had an overall 5k time of 16:36. My legs remembered they are fast and I felt ready for a 5k.

Deschutes Twilight 5k:

Pre-Race shot of #birdcamp racers! Photo credit to Thomas and Velo Photography!

Pre-Race shot of #birdcamp racers! Photo credit to Thomas and Velo Photography!

I ran this race, my first 5k since baby #2, when Wells was 10 months old 8/14/14. I finished in a time of 17:14 and was ecstatic to feel good and strong. I decided the race was going to be painful and I needed to accept it and I think that powered me through to the time I wanted. I would have been excited about anything under 17:30, so I was very pleased with this time. Since it was an evening race (7pm) I ran 3-4 miles that morning, then a 3 mile warmup, then the race, then another 3 miles for cooldown. I shared all of those runs with Heidi, aka “The Goddess”, which made them even more enjoyable!

Close to the finish. Another Thomas and Velo Photography gem.

Close to the finish. Another Thomas and Velo Photography gem.

Boy Scout Half Marathon:

I ran the Boy Scout Half Marathon about 2 weeks later on 8/30/14 and was 1st female in 1:22:19. This was the slowest half I’ve run since I started training for half marathons. (I ran a few slower when I signed up on a whim while running 4 miles a day in my 20s.) I originally planned to race this half all-out, aiming for a PR. Then I decided to also race the Steelers 5k 2 days later and decided to make a race-day decision on how fast I would run the half.

The night before the Boy Scout Half, I was up all night. Ok, that’s not true. I slept one hour, from 4am-5am. My little guy, in true night-before-a-race fashion, got a bad cold and couldn’t breathe out of his nose. He couldn’t get comfy and couldn’t fall asleep so I rocked him, snuggled him, played with him, breastfed him, over and over again and he just cried and cried. He fell asleep a few times and as soon as I put him down, he woke up wailing. At 4am, I saw my mom in the kitchen and she saw me and Wells awake and told me “Go to bed! Why didn’t you wake me up!?!?!” So, I went to bed and slept until my alarm at 5.

I didn’t feel too bad after getting that hour of sleep. I think I was riding some sort of SuperMom rush mixed with so-tired-I’m-not-tired energy. We arrived at the race and I realized it was going to be hot, very humid, and windy! I did a warmup with my brother Josh, ran into my friend from high school (Breezy), saw another running friend (Emily) then it was time to race. I had decided the plan was to just run fast enough to win. I knew the lack of sleep was going to get to me (especially since I didn’t get more than 6 hours of sleep in the few days leading up to the worst night). When I realized no women were lining up in the first 10 rows or so, I had a feeling I’d be racing alone. I was right.

I needed a bathroom break before the start, but didn’t feel like waiting in line and figured I’d probably be doing more of a workout than race pace so I skipped that last restroom break. This was a poor choice as I was forced to run fartlek style (ha) from mile 8 on. The first 8 miles were uneventful. Me running, sometimes catching up to guys and saying a few words, no one wanting to chat back, then loneliness. I was really hot and the wind was against us on those country roads which was good because it had a cooling effect, but bad because we were running against the wind! The last 5 miles had me picking up the pace when my stomach could handle it, then slowing way down trying to calm the #poopprobz. I kept eyeing porta potties but didn’t want to stop because I wanted to just finish, get the course record of 1:21:53, and be done. By the last 2 miles, I was looking anywhere to stop. I knew there was going to be super slow walking, stopping, or a big problem. By this time we were in town and people were everywhere so I couldn’t just duck in a cornfield. Long story short, I made it to the finish without an accident, but the last mile involved slowing to a strange tip-toe walk at certain points, missing the course record by about 30 seconds, and jogging slowly into the finish. Ugh, at least I had a smile on my face at the finish. Thanks to my awesome sister-in-law Megan for taking this photo!

A few meters before the finish line!

A few meters before the finish line!

I have to say the course support was awesome for this tiny race in Bowling Green, Ohio. Boy Scouts were all over the course handing out water, Gatorade, and Gu! They were so cute and I took something to drink/eat at every location. I would definitely run this race again (I’ll just make sure to use the restroom next time!) I walked away without the course record, but with a good workout under my belt and $500 richer. I ended the day with 17 miles.

After the race, I went to my parents’ house and took a 15 minute nap, then took the kids to meet my sister and her family for their county fair. The cousins rode rides and I tried to survive my exhaustion. This was a poor move on my part since I really needed sleep, but luckily, it turned out ok. I had promised my daughter we would go to the fair and I didn’t want to back out, even though I was exhausted. I filled my thermos with coffee and had a nice afternoon with my sister and kids. Then we made the 4.5 hour drive back to Pittsburgh (my parents and my sister’s kids drove their car to Pittsburgh and my sister rode with me and my kids to help keep me awake on the drive. They wanted to spend more time with us for the long Labor Day weekend and I was happy to have them). I passed out just after midnight, got 6.5 hours of sleep and somehow woke feeling rejuvenated.

Steelers 5k:

Post 5k PR race!

Post 5k PR race!

After the Boy Scout Half, I had a day of recovery before the Steelers 5k. I did 5.2 miles easy with 1 stride on the CMU track. I was running in a downpour, rain so heavy I couldn’t see and had periods of running in water up to my ankles, so there was no point in running any other strides or trying to go longer. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, laying low with my family and celebrating my mom’s birthday and Wells’ one year birthday a month early since part of my family was in town!

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I woke up on Monday feeling pretty good, legs feeling light and happy. At that moment I was happy I took the half easy so I could hopefully race a 5k PR. I stepped outside and was a little bummed with another day of extreme humidity. I described it as “soupy” outside. Pretty gross. I raced in my newest Oiselle singlet and Flyte shorts. I almost pulled off the singlet at the last second because the humidity had it sticking to me, but decided 3 miles is too short to matter much. Before I knew it, the race started.

I took the first mile out harder than I wanted. I got excited, passed the girl in front of me, and kept my eye on Tim, who helped me push through the finish at the Pittsburgh Half this year. I passed Tim and tried to keep pushing the second mile, but it was slower. There was a hairpin turn during this mile and right after that turn, the girl who ended up winning passed me. She dropped me like I was standing still, and I was really slowing down! I caught up to my husband Jeff and he encouraged me to go up and get that girl, but I just couldn’t… or wouldn’t. I had a loser attitude and decided I was hurting badly enough and 2nd place was fine. I don’t like having that loser attitude and it always gives me race regret so hopefully I won’t get in that mindset next time!

I was lucky enough to have Steph out on the course cheering and my dad as well! They both lifted my spirits and helped the finish line feel closer! When I finally entered Heinz Field, I looked at the clock and saw 16:20s! OMG! I can PR! Speed up! Go get it! I sped up just a tad and got that PR, 16:38.09 to be exact! Woohoo! My hard work is finally paying off.

I ended up getting Steelers tickets, VIP tent buffet on race day, a football, a Steelers hat, a huge bouquet of flowers, and a medal.  Currie quickly claimed everything but the tickets. I hid those!

Top 5 women, photo cred: Steelers.com

Top 5 women, photo cred: Steelers.com

Currie with my winnings

Currie with my winnings

Jeff and me post-race!

Jeff and me post-race!

I did a cooldown with my new running group the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds before heading to Sandcastle Water Park with my family for their last operating day of the season.

Wow, thanks for reading all of this rambling and thank you so much for all of the cheers and encouragement!

My next race will most likely be The Great Race (10k) here in Pittsburgh on 9/28/14. (You know, where my water broke under the start line 2 days before last year’s race?!) Wells will be 1 year + 1 day old for this race and I’m excited to race a 10k and see what I can do!

 

San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon

I ran the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon on Sunday and was 1st Female, in 1:20:08. I felt good the whole race and thoroughly enjoyed the event! I ended the week with 57 miles, my highest since Grandma’s Marathon 5 weeks ago and I’m feeling strong.

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We left for San Francisco (from Mountain View) on Saturday afternoon via the Caltrain. We hit up the expo just before closing, around 4:45pm. I picked up my bib, met up with some Oiselle teammates, had some Thai food for dinner, and picked up some snacks (soft pretzel, 2 bagels, and some almond butter) at Whole Foods. The pretzel and one bagel were for an evening snack and the other bagel was for breakfast in the morning! We did more walking than I’d usually want to do before a half marathon, but this race was all about fun and seeing how my body felt, not running a PR.

Bret, Michelle, Emily, me, Robin, Paulette!

Bret, Michelle, Emily, me, Robin, Paulette!

I was once again behind on sleep, so my goal was to try to get 9 hours the night before the race. I ended up with 8 which is the most I’ve had for awhile, but woke feeling a bit tired. Still, I got up with my alarm, 3 hours before race time, and had that bagel with almond butter and a k-cup of whatever coffee the hotel had in our room. An hour later I had maybe 4-6 more ounces of coffee shop coffee.

My bud Robin, Jeff and I got an uberX to take us about 3/4 mile from the race start and we walked the rest of the way. We used the restroom, did a short warmup (actually only a half mile for Jeff and me because we didn’t do bag drop yet and warming up with a bag is annoying!), and got to the start line. I was able to high five Michelle, Bret and Robin before the gun. It was hotter than expected and Michelle told me it was about 85% humidity and I made the last minute decision to ditch the singlet and run in the Scantron bra and competition brief.

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I was going to wear my Garmin during this race so I could have splits, but as I’ve mentioned on Twitter, it’s on its final days and although it was fully charged when I left the hotel, it went dead before the race started so I went without. I spent the first 1-3 miles (not sure how far because I didn’t see mile markers or have a GPS watch) with the 2nd place woman. We chatted briefly, and she was really sweet! I always enjoy a little small talk in the early miles of longer races. I learned she trained some with Lauren Fleshman after college and I later found out (while googling her – yeah, I admit that!) she ran at Princeton just like my older brother and husband and overlapped with them one year there.

The next few miles were uneventful other than the crowds we were fighting. Something I should explain about this race is there is a full marathon option, a 1st half marathon option (where you run the first half of the marathon course) and a 2nd half marathon option (where you run the second half of the marathon course). I ran the 2nd half marathon which starts almost 3 hours after the marathon start. So, we start and join up with marathoners in the 5.5 hour range. The cool thing about that is you pass people the entire race. The part that makes it rough is the roads are crowded and I found myself weaving a lot, taking the curves long, completely stopping at every water stop (because there were big backups and I take in fluids at every stop), and sometimes just coming to a dead stop because you are behind someone who suddenly stops with a tight muscle or someone who moves unexpectedly for some unknown reason. I gave and got a lot of unintentional elbows on race day, but I think it’s something everyone expects! I’m sure I ran quite a bit longer than 13.1, but I enjoyed having people around, cheering for others, and having them cheer for me!

Around some unknown mile, maybe 7, a guy ran up beside me and asked if I knew I was the first female. We chatted for a bit and I found out he has a son who was born just 3 days after Wells! We talked about training after having kids, goals for the current race and goals for the fall. We leapfrogged back and forth (it was hard to stay beside each other and pass full marathoners) and I eventually lost sight of him and I’m not sure if he finished in front of or behind me. When we were together, he looked at his GPS watch and said we were on a solid 1:18 pace. I was feeling good and happy to hear that.

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All of a sudden, maybe around mile 8, we were running in the bright, hot sun. I didn’t feel too hot, I just remember thinking it was gorgeous! The crowd support was awesome. It was a great day to race in San Francisco! As people around me cheered more and more that I was the first woman, no one else in sight, I decided to run it in a little easier and enjoy the day. I didn’t completely shut it down, but I did slow down and enjoy the sights around me. I rarely take the chance to do this and it was a nice change (probably won’t do it again for awhile, either!)

This race was by no means "comfortable" though, as evidenced by my multiple pain face photos.

This race was by no means “comfortable” though, as evidenced by my multiple serious and pain face photos.

Hello, tongue! This is the face I oftentimes find myself making as I pass people on training runs. #awkwardTonguePhotos

Hello, tongue! I’m actually glad the photographers caught this face a few times! This is the face I oftentimes find myself making as I pass people on training runs. #awkwardTonguePhotos

Somewhere in the last 3 miles, I saw a Oiselle singlet ahead of me and started cheering! It ended up being Sophia who ran the 1st Half Marathon and was running a few more miles with a friend. That was the first point in the course where I was feeling a little lonely as I found a clearing in the constant group of full marathoners and it was so nice to see her!

With about a half mile to go I heard the lead cyclist calling in to someone at the finish line that the female winner, #252 – me, was approaching. I have to admit, that was exciting to hear. I felt like I was just gliding into the finish and I couldn’t wait to break the tape. Before I knew it, they were announcing my name, I saw and heard Paulette screaming for me and I was finishing!

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After the race I immediately downed 2 boxes of water (I think they were each a quart), a banana, and some Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator (they had a booth after the finish line and I wasn’t too proud to keep filling the tiny cups they provided until I felt I had almost a real serving! HA!) Jeff and I got our gear from gear check and headed to the beer garden for our one free beer. We both enjoyed our IPAs, while chatting with other runners we met in line. Then we found some Oiselle team friends and talked a bit about our races before I realized we had to get running back to the hotel before checkout. Ahhhh!

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A lot of people asked me “was the course hilly?” Well, it was in San Francisco so I think you know the answer! But, the course skipped a lot of big, steep uphills and favored more long gradual uphills and steeper downhills. I have to say I’m horrible with downhills, in particular steeper downhills, so the downhills were probably my least favorite part of the course. Other than that, I really enjoyed every minute of this race!

Thanks for all the encouragement and well wishes! My next race (unless something else pops up!) will be the Deschutes Brewery Twilight 5k in Bend, OR on 8/14! Guess that means I’ll hit up the track for a few workouts sometime soon!

 

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!

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