6 Months Postpartum, Backtracking on Race Updates

I have to be honest, running is going well, but daily life feels like I’m almost drowning, barely staying afloat with not enough hours in the day. Every day I ask myself, “what HAS to be done today?” and that’s what happens while the rest falls to the next day. So naturally, blogging about my racing takes a backseat to my actual racing and training. But here I am, house a complete disaster, but foam rolling while trying to write a blog post about all the running and racing I’ve been doing the first 6 months postpartum. Both boys are sleeping and my girl is in school so let’s see what I can accomplish.

My last post covered my 5 *week* postpartum 5k and I was extremely pleased with that 18:49 and 2nd place finish. If you follow me on Instagram, you know since then I’ve competed in a track race, a 10k as part of a triathlon relay, a 5k, a half marathon, and a 10k and all were races that left me pumped up for days.  I’ll do little recaps of all of these races in the coming weeks, I hope, starting with the track.

Track Meet: I haven’t raced on the track in at least 14 years… since my 2nd year in college! I can’t believe that much time has passed. Even in college, I was plagued with injuries so I really haven’t raced on the track much in life. I’m very much a beginner and have a lot to learn if I decide to compete on a bigger level on the track in the future. Thankfully, this postpartum track meet was very low key, put on by my running club, the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds. I signed up to run the full mile (not 1600), the 3k (because how often do you get to race a 3k?) and the 4×400 meter relay. I was 3 months postpartum at the time (knocking on the door of 4 months postpartum) and was curious to see how I would run for a few reasons.

  • First, we arrived back in Pittsburgh at 1am the day before the meet from a 5 week west coast family vacation and I knew I would be tired (this vacation was not all fun and games as we had a 6 year old, 2 year old, and 2-3 month old baby traveling from Pennsylvania to Washington through Oregon and California, back to Washington then Pennsylvania by both car and plane. Some of this was for my husband’s work and part was just family fun. It was mostly great fun and manageable with a few rough spots of “Ahhhh… I’m alone in a new city with 3 kids, husband is gone all day+night and what on earth are we going to do?!” but it all worked out pretty well. (I’m comfortable breastfeeding in public and hanging out with all 3 kids in public without another adult. If that wasn’t the case, this trip could have been a nightmare!) :)
  • Next, We had been living in mostly 55 degree weather and were coming back to Pittsburgh’s heat and humidity. The track meet was scheduled to start at 6pm and temperature at start time was supposed to be 95+ degrees. Typically, I don’t do well in heat, and especially not for the first year postpartum.
  • As stated above, I was 3 months postpartum.
  • I haven’t raced a mile, 3k or 4×4 relay in a VERY long time!

I was (and still am) breastfeeding so I pumped milk until completely empty and packed that bottle right before we left for the meet. My husband and older two kids were also racing and the baby didn’t accept bottles from me at the time (he would take bottles just fine from others at that point, but that was something we had to work at as he didn’t love bottles initially). I put the bottle on ice even though my baby is particular about body temperature milk! It was too hot to leave the milk out for a few hours. I hoped he would accept the milk fine when the time came and he did. I ended up keeping it on ice until it was about 15 mins before I thought he’d want it then I let it sit in the heat of day in the stroller and he took it just fine. Whew!

I could have breastfed during the meet and I have breastfed at races, but with my husband and other kids running too I wanted to prep as much beforehand as possible. I wasn’t sure how much time would be between events and between the 4 members of my family racing different events, we ran almost every event of the track meet! I wanted to be around to cheer and take photos of the bigger kids so a bottle was a good choice for me that day. I also wanted to run my first race with as little milk inside me as possible and pumping right before leaving for the meet that was 2 miles away from my house was perfect.

The mile: I had seeded myself with a 5:10 mile and 11:00 3k a month earlier. I immediately regretted submitting those times. I felt like such an idiot expecting to run that fast postpartum, in the heat and felt so embarrassed that my time was listed there for everyone to see. At the same time, I actually thought there was a chance I could run sub 5:00. Does anyone else’s runner brain do that? I can feel 100% foolish about a race goal, yet feel 100% confident that I could do even better. Strange. Anyway, I started the mile in the back on the first lap and picked people off until the last lap with about 200 meters to go when I passed the last guy and won my heat in 5:13! I was elated to feel so good running fast and get close to my seeded time.

Racing the mile, last lap

Racing the mile, last lap

The 3k: Next was the 3k maybe an hour later, I really don’t remember how long I had between events. I was snacking on a Picky Bar and water between events. My kids ran the 100 and 200 in there somewhere and I was just listening for the announcer to call the events. I was slightly worried about what I would have left for the 3k while also being excited to get back out on the track and push through some pain. I felt ok in the 3k for the first 2 laps, then it was a struggle but I finished much under my time goal in 10:25 for about a 5th place finish in my heat, first female. After the race I asked my husband “did I look like I was…” and I was going to say “cruising” because I was in pain, but I felt like I had a good rhythm. He finished my sentence with “struggling”. Hahaha!!! He is the most supportive, yet realistic husband ever and I still laugh when I think of this interaction. Obviously I looked worse than I thought. :)

First time in starting blocks!

First time in starting blocks!

My husband ran the 5k immediately after my 3k so I think his warmup wasn’t perfect but what’s ever perfect when juggling 3 kids and racing, right?! He is very good about showing up last minute and performing and we proudly cheered him on as a family!

The 4×4: Finally, right after the 5k we did a family 4×400 meter relay and it was the most awesome thing ever! I was the first leg of our relay. I handed off the baton to my 6 year old daughter who handed off to our 2 year old son, who handed off to my husband! We were last place by so much but it was an amazing experience! My son even fell on the final straightaway and as he laid on the ground unsure of whether to cry or quit and run into the infield, everyone on the track and in the stands started clapping for him and he got up and finished. It was such a beautiful moment!

Family post relay!

Family post relay!

So, it was an exciting evening. I got home and fed the baby, ate dinner, and tried to go to sleep, though night races always leave me wired and my body was still on PST. The baby was sleeping like a champ at the time so I recovered well and kept up the training. My next race would be a 10k as part of a triathlon relay and I wanted to start to mentally prepare for hurting for a longer amount of time…

Pittsburgh Marathon 5k, 2nd Female, 18:49!

I am delighted to say I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k on Saturday in 18:49 and was second female! I’ve never participated in a race so soon postpartum, but Pittsburgh Marathon weekend is one of my favorite weekends and I couldn’t let it pass without participating in something as long as I was feeling healthy and running. The goal was to run fast, but not all out. Afterall, my baby turned 5 weeks old the day before the race. I told my coach it would be like a true time trial to show where I’m starting and if anything felt bad or weird at any point I would just jog/walk it in. It wasn’t meant to be a true race effort, just my first harder effort post baby and I was pretty excited.

pittsburgh marathon 5k finish

My good friend cheered her head off and captured this shot at the 3 mile mark!

*I should also note that I was lucky to have the least complicated labor this time around. It was vaginal, fairly quick (less than 3 hours of pain), and no ripping/tearing during delivery and very little swelling after. This helped my body feel normal much quicker. Coming back to running and especially harder efforts would not have been possible with another scenario so I got lucky.*

I didn’t run anything fast at all since having the baby until the race. My runs have all been easy pace ranging from 7:50/mile to 9:00/mile. I have been trying to just get in some miles and return cautiously. My coach told me I couldn’t even do strides on my training runs. I thought doing some strides might remind my legs they have speed before the race but he told me to just take it easy and I listened!

In the week leading up to the race, I chatted with 2 friends about time goals. I told them each I had this crazy thought that I would run sub 20 minutes, but that was only if everything was perfect. In reality, I thought I would run 21-22 minutes and that would be great! And I had these thoughts in my head, but I didn’t set a limit to what I could do. To be honest, in a dream world that I didn’t really believe, yet didn’t rule out either, I thought it would be cool to run 18:45, or 6:00/mile pace. This sort of came to me as I was running with my friend Kate and she was telling me she believed in me and reminded me to reflect on postpartum races and workouts of the past.

Race morning was just as hectic as every morning. I got up at 6am (8am race start time), quickly got partially dressed (everything but my sports bra/tank since I needed to feed the baby and pump). I ate breakfast, got my older son and daughter ready, fed the baby, pumped the rest of the milk out, finished getting ready and we left the house at 7am, 15 minutes behind schedule. We got downtown around 7:20 and waited in line for our bibs since I didn’t have time to get them at the expo the day before. Because the race day bib pickup lines were long, I didn’t start my warmup until 7:35. I probably jogged about 1/2 mile, did my first strides in FOREVER and felt super awkward on those.

Thankfully my in-laws came to town for the race so my husband and I could both do the 5k. I thought maybe I should feed the baby one more time before the race since I could already feel my chest getting heavier, but there was no time. I pulled on a second sports bra and knew baby and I would both be fine. We took off for the start line and left the in-laws to find a cheer spot with all 3 kids – sons in the double stroller and daughter on foot.

Crazy bouncing singlet! I'm 10lbs heavier than normal and can't fit into any of my racing stuff right now, but luckily purchased this oversized singlet from my running club, the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds, when I was pregnant and needed something to race in last fall. Now it's too big, but better than something that's too small and it was bouncing around like crazy the whole race!

Crazy bouncing singlet! I’m 10lbs heavier than normal and can’t fit into any of my racing stuff right now, but luckily purchased this oversized singlet to represent my running club, the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds, when I was pregnant and needed something to race in last fall. Now it’s too big (but better than something that’s too small) and it was rolling up and bouncing around like crazy the whole race!

There isn’t too much to report on the actual race. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to check my Garmin and know my splits during the race or not, but that was decided for me as there were clocks at the different mile markers. When I saw the 1 mile mark clock in the distance and it said 5:40 I was a little shocked. The first mile felt so comfortable, maybe like a tempo run, not a race, and by the time I hit one mile it read about 6:10. Mile 2 was less comfortable, but still felt pretty good! That mile was a bit faster, about 6:05 and I was just so pumped about how I was keeping this pace feeling so strong. The last mile was my fastest, sub 6:00 pace and I stayed strong through the finish line. I was so surprised that I pressed the “lap” button at first instead of “stop” but guessed my time was probably just over 18:50. (I later saw official results and found I was just UNDER 18:50, at 18:49 woohoo!)

My daughter took this photo in the finish area!

My daughter took this photo in the finish area!

I talked to a few friends as my husband and I went through the finish shoot then we reunited with our family. My daughter took a picture of us then my husband went for his cooldown while I quickly nursed the baby as my daughter was set to start the Kids Marathon in less than 30 minutes and we had to walk to the start line over 1/2 mile away. Of course she wanted to run most of the way there!

high five during kids marathon

My daughter giving a high five to Daddy during the race!

My daughter had an awesome time running the Kids Marathon. I ran with her as my cooldown. We spent a few hours hanging out in the finish line area. They have tons of kids activities during the day and the kids always have so much fun! A few hours later, my older son did the Toddler Trot. Of course my baby was screaming his head off because he was hungry right then so I was walking to the race area while trying to nurse the baby. #multitasking at it’s finest.

Pittsburgh Marathon toddler trot

My son and husband before the Toddler Trot

I was surprised to feel really good the next morning (Sunday) but I wanted to take it really easy to be smart. For my run, I went to the 15 mile mark of the Pittsburgh Marathon course, just 1/2 mile from my house, and ran back and forth over a 3 city block area, cheering for everyone who passed! It was the best way to spend the morning until I had to be home to feed the baby again. I love running the Pittsburgh Marathon (half) partly because the fans and cheer sections are so awesome! Since I’m always running the event, I’ve never been able to cheer even though it passes so close to my house. It was so nice to be on the other side this year and be part of the amazing Pittsburgh cheer sections!

A lot of people (myself included) asked me after the race “how did you do it?!” I’ve done some thinking about it and here are my answers.

  1. I was in killer marathon shape when I unexpectedly got pregnant. I was in the best shape of my life and was gearing up to run a whole marathon at the pace I ran the 5k this weekend. Since I ran through my whole pregnancy (though I only ran easy runs and did 20-30 miles a week with that being on the lower end as I got closer to my due date) I was able to maintain some fitness.
  2. I went into the race physically well rested. Although I’m getting up in the middle of the night and not sleeping as much as I’d like, I’m taking my physical activity really easy. I had 3 weeks completely off running, And have come back slowly with short, easy runs the next 2 weeks, and a day off 2 days before the race just to let my body completely rest.
  3. Big cheer section. I can’t thank all my friends enough for showing up on the course and cheering! I heard my name so many times and it made the run feel pretty effortless (as far as racing goes anyway!)
  4. Belief in what I can do. This should probably be #1 on the list. While I was shocked at how fast my time was, I knew deep down it was possible. I didn’t expect too much from myself, but also didn’t put a limit on what I could do. I spent the first 16 years of my running life putting limits on myself and only started seeing my potential when I learned to start letting that go (I’m still working on this aspect of my racing and life, but I’m leaps and bounds from where I was just a few years ago.

I talked to my coach this morning and got the go ahead to do 30 miles this week if everything feels good. I ended last week with just under 22 miles with one day completely off.

Thank you everyone for the encouragement and cheers and for following along! I really appreciate it!


Glass City Half Marathon 2014

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

7 months old!

7 months old!

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

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

So, here’s the RUNdown:

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

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

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

Mile 1:

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

Mile 2 & 3:

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

Mile 4 & 5:

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

Mile 6:

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

Mile 7 & 8:

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

Coming up on the 2nd place woman.

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

glasscity2014Miles 9, 10, 11:

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

Mile 12:

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

Mile 13:

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

Last .1:

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

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



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

glasscity2014_4 glasscity2014_5

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

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

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

Any PRP stories to share?

Ever race back-to-back half marathons?

Would you consume an expired GU?



First Race Post Baby #2, Columbus Turkey Trot

I’m beat! Columbus Turkey Trot, 2013. Although I debated racing in buns for this race, it was far too chilly and I was happy I chose the apparel you see above!

I ran my first race since baby #2 on Thursday. Wells was 2 months + 1 day old. I was 68th place overall, 4th female in 31:14, or 6:15/mile pace. Last year I was 17th place overall, first female in 28:19, or 5:40/mile pace.

As a side note, I ran my first postpartum race after Currie (a 5k in 18:09) when she was 5 months old. I almost puked and felt equally awesome and horrible. See pic below!

10 Ugly Men, first race post-Currie, July 2010.

Back to the present: last week’s first postpartum race was a 5 mile Turkey Trot in Columbus, Ohio which is about an hour from my in-law’s house. I was probably more nervous/excited in the days leading up to the race than anyone else toeing the line at a Turkey Trot! Most people seem to run these races for fun… I was trying to get a good starting point for real workouts. I was unsure how I would feel, and was anxious to test my fitness.

On the drive to the race, the sky was gorgeous, and the temperature was a chilly 20 degrees or so, with winds less than 10mph.

I bundled up – so many layers – and still felt a bit cold standing around pre-race. Long sleeve, singlet, vest, and 2 light jackets with one warmer jacket on top, fleece lined tights and warmup pants on bottom, heavy mittens and a headband to round things out.

So many layers, I felt like a marshmallow! This “selfie” perspective doesn’t show the true marshmallow-ness of my look.

Before long though, it was time to head to the start line! I did 4 strides and positioned myself in the second row. Then I looked behind me and saw my friend Casey from Rochester, NY! I also got to quickly meet and hug Molly who I’ve known online for awhile now. Both of these ladies pumped me up more than they realize! I ended up lining up right by Casey maybe 6 rows back (she should have started in row 2 because she’s speedy) but we both stayed back.

The gun went off and we went out in what felt pretty comfortable. The first mile drops 100ft and I was shocked to see we ran 5:36-7 that first mile! Ah! (The course goes out, does a loop through Ohio State’s campus, then comes back up the last mile to end where it started so the last mile is back up 100ft, on a long gradual uphill.) I got that sort of hollow feeling in my arms that mile, like I get when I’m either freezing and/or run a lot faster than I’m used to (Does anyone else get that hollow feeling?) and knew that would be my fastest mile! During this mile the girl who ended up in first place passed me and Casey.

Mile 2 feels downhill but I guess you go up and down so it ends up having no elevation gain or loss. I was 11:38 or about a 6:01 mile. I was still feeling pretty good. I let Casey go this mile. I knew she was in better shape and she didn’t need to hang back with me. This left me in 3rd place female.

The third mile is another 20ft drop and I was 17:50 or 6:12 mile. At that point I started thinking a 5k sounded much better than a 5 mile…

I don’t know the elevation for the 4th mile, but I was at 24:25 or a 6:35ish mile. I was passed by the girl who ended up 3rd female at the end of this mile.

My final time was 31:14, making my last mile 6:47ish. So obviously my body doesn’t know pacing, and it was a long death march to the finish. Like I said in my last post, I didn’t pass anyone at this race. Instead, I got passed by all sorts of people the entire race. Makes sense when I saw how much I positive split the race!

Almost to the finish!

During the last mile, my arms and legs had a dead feeling and I was happy to know I was giving a great hard race effort. Could I have run a little faster? Probably… Am I 100% happy with my time? Well, I’m probably happier with this race than I’ve ever been with a race performance (aside from my 5k PR race). My goal was 33:00 and I thought on a great day I could run 32:xx. So, yes, I was pretty pumped!

Since the race I haven’t been obsessing about what I could have done differently for a faster time like I usually do. I’m almost never satisfied with a race (always hungry for more attitude which I’m proud of!) but I’m satisfied with this one.

Post race, I got to see my friend Kathy (who ran at OSU with me) and my friend Casey again for a very brief moment. Of course I had to take a pic!

Kathy, me, Casey

Then I went to Peets Coffee to “refuel” with an almond milk mocha as big as my head. Turns out if you tell a barista you want a mocha and don’t mention size they choose the largest size for you.

Big ol’ almond milk mocha

As far as awards go, they were better than last year’s trophy. For 4th place female, I got a trophy, a medal, a “Chase” embroidered fleece, duffel bag and water bottle.

Awards. Can you tell who sponsored this race?

I recovered from this race much better than expected. I was just a tiny bit sore for the first few minutes of my run the next day and felt completely better the next day for my long run. Now… it’s time to decide what race will be next!

Hope you are having a great week and thanks for all the support!