What to Do for My 26.2

I ran 20 miles today! It was my longest run in 5 weeks and I didn’t have pain. Of course, I ran at an average of 8:04/mile pace (2 mins/mile slower than my original marathon goal pace), and these easy runs have been pain free for over a week now. Still, I was happy with 20 miles of feeling good.

I’ve been really torn about this marathon. My husband and I have flights/hotel/race already booked and paid for since a few months ago. I decided I’m definitely running, but what is the strategy? Do I run the race all out? Do I run it as a training run, knowing I can probably run faster in a few months when I get back to some decent training? This is the dilemma! You see, this training cycle has been unlike any other. I trained hard postpartum. So hard! I had a body and mind of steel. There was nothing that could get in my way. I’ve never felt so unstoppable. Even when I thought I wasn’t trained to run the times I was running, I knew my mind could carry me through. I was feeling tougher than ever.

Then in creeps this non-injury, injury. I took a week of basically nothing. Pretty much what I would do after a goal race. But there was no goal race. Then I started rebuilding. I did the week of almost nothing. Then the week of 30 miles. I was shocked to get 54 miles of pretty much pain free miles last week and 69 miles of pretty much pain free miles this week, including my first long run in 5 weeks (!!!!!) a 20 miler. I know I lost some fitness. My original goal was crazy fast. I know I’m not sharp enough to hit that pace now. But am I sharp enough to hit a respectable time (for me) still? I know the answer depends on my mental state. This mental state that felt unstoppable just weeks ago is now feeling so fragile. I ask runner friends almost daily to help reassure me. I know if this happened to anyone else, I would tell them their goals were still attainable. They could still PR, even if they didn’t hit that super crazy fast goal time. But when I’m talking to myself, it’s a whole different game. Do you understand this feeling?

All I know is, today I ran 20 miles pain free. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold. Maybe I will be sore. Maybe I won’t be able to run. Maybe I will feel perfect. Maybe this week I will feel horrible and maybe this week I will feel good enough to test some tempo miles for the first time in 5 weeks. I don’t know.

I have 2 options. Run CIM as a fun race, enjoying 26.2 miles as a training run in preparation for something bigger and better later this winter. Or I can run this goal race as intended, albeit slower, but with ALL the fierceness I can muster on race day. Tough call, and time will tell.

Race day is 3 weeks away! Ready or not, a decision will be made soon.

Return to Running!

Back to running!

Back to running!

I am running again! To backtrack a bit, I ran all the way through my pregnancy, until the day I went to the hospital to give birth. I averaged about 20 miles a week toward the end and my runs were 1-2 minutes/mile slower than my normal easy days (which are already very slow/easy compared to my workout/race days).

One of my last runs before Baby Ryles was born, added bonus of having my big girl on the bike.

One of my last runs before Baby Ryles was born, added bonus of having my big girl on the bike.

So this post will outline what has worked for me in the past and what seems to be working for me in the present. I’m not saying this is right for everyone, but it’s a glimpse into my journey back to running. I would strongly urge everyone to listen to their body and not get caught up in “this person started earlier/later than me”. It’s definitely better to start cautiously slow than to come back too fast.

How to decide it’s time to start running again:

  • When your body feels normal again – After carrying a baby for 9 months, everything in the general stomach area feels a bit jumbled and out of place. It’s been making room for this giant thing growing inside and it takes a little while for everything to navigate back into place. For me, this usually takes a few weeks.
  • When you stop bleeding – Did you know a mother will bleed for usually 2-6 weeks after having a baby? I had no idea when I had my first child. I always figure my body is getting back to normal when the bleeding stops. With my first child, this was 4 weeks. With my second, it was 3.5 weeks, with my third, it was 3 weeks.
  • What does your doctor/midwife/healthcare professional say – While I do believe in finding a good healthcare professional, I know many women struggle with someone who is stuck in the past, thinking running isn’t good during pregnancy or for a long time after. I’ve always had a return to running plan (based on what I’m writing here) and I always tell it to my healthcare provider instead of waiting for them to tell me what THEY want me to do. And I’ve always gotten the green light. I try to take control because I’m the only one who truly knows how my body feels. And I personally wouldn’t run if I didn’t know my body was ready because a HEALTHY return to running is more important to me than a few extra days of running that will result in injury or other bodily harm.
  • When do you feel like it – If you are exhausted and struggling to make it through daily life and have no desire to run, it might not be a good time to start. If you are itching to get back out there and are feeling great, go for it! If you are itching to get out and run and you are feeling horrible, it’s probably still a good time to go for it! I know the first few runs for me are always very freeing and exciting because it reminds me of my “normal life” before this new addition and gives me a better sense of myself and that everything is going to be OK!

With my first child, I took 4 weeks completely off running. With my second, I took 3.5 weeks. With my third, I took exactly 3 weeks off. So what did I do before starting running? Well, I guess that’s pretty obvious – love on my new baby and try to figure out our “new normal”. Of course with kids things are always changing and just when you think you have some sort of pattern or schedule, the kid throws something new at you! But there was definitely plenty to do in those first 3 weeks and while I missed running, I was completely ok without it too!

I wasn’t completely away from a fitness routine while I wasn’t running. With all 3 of my kids, I sort of instinctively started doing really simple ab work from day 1 or 2 postpartum. When I say simple, I mean VERY basic. I would concentrate on my abs (truly sitting there and thinking about them activating for a moment) then focus on pulling them together, up and in and holding. The first day, I really couldn’t even locate my abs to be honest, but I still worked on trying to find them and going through the motion in my mind. The next day I could do it a little.

And I kept going from there. While loving on my little guy, or while playing with/reading to my other 2 kids I would continue working on engaging my abs. At 5 days postpartum, I did 10 minutes of mind/body balance yoga. At 1 week postpartum, I added in some balancing on the bosu ball (My balance is really horrible right now!), some clamshells, and bird/dog. I’ve continued on this routine about 4 times a week since.

In terms of running, I’ve been back to it a little over a week now. I have done between 2 and 3.3 miles a day, until last Saturday when I ran a “long run” of 5.2 miles with friends. And yesterday I did the same 5.2 mile loop with my friend Kate. I’m just running easy and although I’m pretty exhausted (from having a newborn and 2 energetic kids at home with little sleep!) the running feels great!

It’s definitely different this time. When I had my first child, I came back to running feeling like a stranger. My first run felt awkward. It was as if I was watching myself in a dream – I didn’t feel like a “real person” doing “real running”. I didn’t have any goals, I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t have any running mom mentors or examples to follow. (This is just one reason why I think social media is awesome. As much as people, myself included, complain about the “comparison trap”, it’s so nice to have other examples to follow. You can learn from other people’s success and mistakes and know you aren’t alone.) After my 2nd child, I came back to running easier but it still felt foreign. I got back into workouts and built my mileage faster than after my first child, but I still came back slowly, cautiously, and smart. (I hit a big half marathon PR at 15 months postpartum, 1:15:59!)

This time around has been completely different. I started back running after 3 weeks off and from my first run, I felt like I hadn’t missed a beat. Well, I feel out of shape for sure, but mentally it seemed as though I had just run my normal trails the day before. I felt completely “with it” mentally and emotionally and it was such a great, and unexpected feeling.

Hotel bathroom selfie before heading out for one of my first postpartum runs.

Hotel bathroom selfie before heading out for one of my first postpartum runs.

As far as fitness goes, I have a long way back. As far as my body goes, same thing. I’ve noticed my balance is horrible. Just standing on one leg can lead me to topple over if I’m not paying attention. If one of my kids holds onto me for support while I’m squatting to tie my shoes, I’m going to fall down for sure. I’m not normally a person to get on a scale, and I don’t care how much I weigh, but I have a general idea of my weight because of doctor appointments and I’m about 12 pounds heavier than my normal racing weight right now. My body wiggles and jiggles everywhere except from my knees down, my elbows out, and my neck up. I don’t say that to sound insensitive. I told that to some girlfriends who lightheartedly joked with me that wiggles and jiggles are just “the norm” for them while running even when they are in shape. I think it’s important to mention since some women have a baby and expect to be back to their normal body ASAP. It just doesn’t work like that, especially not if you are getting back into shape in a healthy way.

The most painful wiggles and jiggles come from my much larger than normal breasts! Even though I pump until there’s nothing left immediately before my run (both for relief when running and also to build my supply for freedom to race and travel later), I still can’t believe what a huge difference I feel in my chest when running. I’m used to being a B cup and now I’m a full C/D cup. This added weight gives me shoulder and back discomfort. I know lots of women deal with this normally so I shouldn’t complain. I’m just saying I really feel your pain!

I also have a good 3-4 finger width ab separation (diastasis recti). I’ve had this problem after each baby and have been able to keep it under control doing exercises such as the ones in Steph’s post. I highly recommend this post! I will talk to my midwife at my 6 week appointment to make sure nothing crazy is going on this time and hope they pull back together with time (and lots of work!)

For now, I continue base building. Thanks for reading and following along! I hope the tips are helpful!!

Ryles – The Birth Story

newborn magee women's hospital

Introducing Baby Ryles!

I had every intention of blogging through my pregnancy and then getting the birth story up AND THEN blogging about my comeback to running, but here I am, almost 4 weeks postpartum and doing my first post in many months! I’m writing up a “quick” birth story for anyone who is interested in how my 3rd baby entered the world and then hope to get right into blogging again about coming back and how my running is going. (And for anyone who wants to see about life and running before then, follow me on Instagram as that is my main social media account right now!)

Ryles entered the world 2 weeks early, just like his older brother. The birth was similar in some ways (vaginal, no epidural, extremely painful delivery!) but also different (middle of the night, exhausted, starving momma this time around).

I’m going to start by going off on a little tangent and say BRAVO to all moms for carrying and delivering babies regardless of how the process goes. I think one of the worst parts of pregnancy for me is realizing around 8.5 months that a baby is coming out and it’s going to be painful and scary at some point and your birth plan is most likely going to go right out the window. I made it easier on myself with my 2nd and 3rd child by saying “this is what I want to happen in an ideal world, but I’m ok with anything that has to happen to result in a healthy baby and mom in the end.” Before having my first child, a daughter, I wanted a perfectly magical, natural labor. After taking birthing classes I felt like I knew exactly what labor would be like and I WAS GOING TO DO IT SO WELL! Then I ended up having a long, painful labor that ended with an epidural and I quickly realized I knew absolutely nothing and every labor is different and you really can’t prepare much for what it will really be like other than mentally preparing for ANYTHING. Epidurals happen, c-sections happen, blood transfusions happen, newborns in the NICU happen, the list goes on and on – you are NOT LESS of a woman or mother or person for the way you choose to have your baby or how your body chooses to respond to labor. We are all SUPERWOMEN!! Moving along…

I had a strong feeling on the Sunday evening before I gave birth (the next Friday) that I had a small, high, amniotic fluid leak. When I would go to bed at night, I would feel almost like I peed my pants a little, but I knew it wasn’t pee. I told my mom who urged me to go to the midwives on Monday. I had an appointment on Thursday and decided to wait until then. (I don’t want to recommend this, it was actually a poor decision on my part that turned out ok, but once your water is broken at all, you should go see your doc/midwife because of the risk of infection). Thursday rolled around and I brought my hospital bag to my appointment. I see the midwives at the hospital where I deliver and I just knew I wouldn’t be going home. I was right. They confirmed I had a leak and I would have to be induced Thursday evening.

Posing in front of the hospital after finding out I was going to be induced.

Posing in front of the hospital after finding out I was going to be induced.

I was a little disappointed to be induced. I felt like I did something wrong. But then I remembered what I typed earlier – we are all awesome and having a leak and being induced is not my fault and I’m not “failing” at anything. I did request the midwives check to see if there was a low bag of water that needed to be broken since I felt the leak was high and the baby was still surrounded by plenty of “water” and labor wasn’t going to progress quickly like that. I wasn’t feeling like I was in labor at all. I thought if they would check that and break my water my labor would start to progress. But they recommended not checking due to risk of infection and they would start me on Pitocin. I agreed on the Pitocin and reminded them in a *perfect world* I wanted a natural, vaginal delivery but to offer me an epidural when things got rough and let me make a decision then.

My family met me at the hospital but left after an hour had passed and it was clearly going to be a longer process than originally expected.

My family met me at the hospital but the kids left with our good friends after an hour had passed and it was clearly going to be a longer process than originally expected.

I had lunch at noon that day before my 1pm appointment and when I was waiting for a room to clear (2:30pm) they asked if I wanted to get a snack before they induced me. I assumed I would have a room soon and the induction would be quick, having me eating dinner by 6pm so I said I was fine. I didn’t want to feel full during my labor. Well, that was a horrible idea because I was STILL waiting for a room at 6pm and got started on Pitocin at 7pm. To make a long story short the Pitocin did nothing and I was still waiting for noticeable contractions at 11pm. I was on a clear liquids diet so kept requesting italian ice and gingerale to give me energy.

In my gown and ready to get this show on the road!

In my gown and ready to get this show on the road!

Face swapping with my husband to pass the time! HA!! :)

Face swapping with my husband to pass the time! HA!! :)

Living the granny lifestyle these days, I’m accustomed to a 9-10pm bedtime so by 11pm I was really wanting to get the show on the road. I was exhausted, starving, and worried the process might take all night and I didn’t feel like my body or mind would be able to handle it. I asked if I was still on a low dose of Pitocin because I was literally feeling nothing but Braxton Hicks feeling contractions. No pain at all. They had been increasing the dose every half hour and said I was up to a high level (still half of what is “allowed” but most people don’t go past the dose I was being given and nothing was happening). The midwife ended up coming in and I asked her to please please PLEASE!!! check to see if I still had the low bag of water that needed to be broken. She agreed and my instincts were correct. Baby was still hanging in tons of water so she broke the water right then, at exactly midnight. Within minutes, the real contractions hit pretty hard. It was now officially Friday morning and I knew my baby would be born sometime on 3/25/16!

I decided if all went well and was normal, I was going to approach this labor like a race – most specifically a marathon. There was going to be the part that was comfortable, then it would be annoyingly uncomfortable, then there would be pain, then it would get unbearable and I would want to throw in the towel, but if I could pass that point (which is the “transition phase” of labor I would “see the finish line” (pushing) and be able to make it through.

Luckily, that scenario is exactly how labor went. When things got really bad, the midwife offered the epidural and I said, “I feel like this is going to be less than 3 hours and I know I can deal with 3 hours of pain so let’s go without it.” I hit many points where I thought I would throw up, then I was sure I would pass out. Strange things crossed my mind like, “will I die?” or “will my baby die” and then “what will happen to my baby?” Most of this time I was laboring alone as the midwives are very much into letting you labor as you wish and not interfering. This is one of the reasons I chose the midwives. My husband was pretending to sleep on the couch, knowing I am independent and like doing hard things on my own!

When labor started to seem unbearable I reminded myself the finish line was approaching. I had the advantage of knowing exactly what the “transition phase” felt like from my previous 2 children and knew I was there. When I was ready to push, I buzzed for the midwife and nurses and they came to my room fairly quickly. My husband then got up and joined me and it was go time. I was so tired I started to worry I wouldn’t be able to push the baby out, but on the second contraction after the urge to push, I was holding baby Ryles in my arms. 2:44am, 7lbs, 8oz, 20 inches long. I had 2 hours and 44 minutes of real pain then I had my reward!

Relieved to have my baby in my arms and have the pain stop.

Relieved to have my baby in my arms and have the pain stop. So many thoughts and emotions running through my head at this point, but was mostly just relieved.

People say you forget the pain of labor, and that happened after my first child (labored for 35 hours and had an epidural with her for the last 12 hours). I also forgot the pain almost immediately after my second (he was quick and came just before lunch when I had high energy levels and high spirits and I didn’t have time to get an epidural as I was 10cm and ready to push when I arrived at the hospital). But the thing is, I can still imagine and feel the pain of this 3rd baby, even though the pain subsided moments after giving birth. So, don’t believe everything you hear about childbirth and never believe every labor will be the same! :)

Later that morning after I had about 30 minutes of sleep, the whole family joined us at the hospital and we got a family picture. I recovered really quickly and was walking around, using the restroom unassisted and doing all the things I needed to do in the first hour or so. Yes, I got LUCKY! I was able to leave the hospital the next day to join my other kids and parents at home and start to learn what it feels like to be a family of 5!

Bigham, part of 5!

Bigham, part of 5!

Thank you so much for all of the love and encouragement and I will blog soon about my return to base building, then real training, and finally back to competitive running! Spoiler alert: I’m “participating” in a race 5 weeks postpartum.

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!


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.


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!


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!


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!




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!

Perfectly Imperfect

Wells is 6 months old!

6 months old!

6 months old!

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

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

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

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

Mother! What are you doing to me?!

Mother! What are you doing to me?!

Wells is unsure about this photo

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

Smush faces for Valentine's Day!

Smush faces for Valentine’s Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double strollers are intense… especially in hilly neighborhoods!

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

Jeff snapped this shot on my last mile repeat.

Jeff snapped this shot on my last mile repeat.

After that workout, I tweeted:

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

Hope you have a great weekend! Thanks for reading!

Gate River Run 2014

Wells is still 5 months old!

Just lounging!

Just lounging!

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

Ponytail flying as always

Ponytail flying as always

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


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

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

Pre race with my favorite Allisons!

Pre race with my favorite Allisons!

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

Post race:


Teammates post race!

Another post race pic with fabulous teammate, Holly!

Another post race pic with fabulous teammate, Holly!

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

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

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

cooling down!

cooling down!

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

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

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

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

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



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

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




Party time!

Party time!

 Thanks for following my journey!




Double Strolling, Last Minute Race and Gate River Run!

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


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

5 months of sweetness!

5 months of sweetness!

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

2 loops around the lake!

2 loops around the lake!

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


Pittsburgh and the Toenail

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

All night I dreamed of racing.

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

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

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

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

My award for 2nd female

My award for 2nd female

Future Racing

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

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

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Spring Thaw 10 Mile Race

Wells is 21 weeks old (as of yesterday)!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finish vs Additional Loops

Finish vs Additional Loops

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

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

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

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

Here are the 21 week postpartum pics!

21 weeks postpartum!

21 weeks postpartum!

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



Garmin Freakout, Long Running & 20 Weeks Postpartum

Wells is 20 weeks old (as of Friday)!

Serious cutie pie

Serious cutie pie

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


Then Valentine’s Day…

My little Valentines

My little Valentines

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

12.74 miles in 40:36

12.74 miles in 40:36, HAHA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 weeks postpartum

20 weeks postpartum

Questions for you:

What’s the craziest thing your Garmin has done?

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

Is winter over yet?