Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 New Year's Goals

The last couple years I've enjoyed setting some different fitness goals for myself.  I've learned that they have to be varied, quantifiable, and measurable so you can track your progress and improve the chances of success.  For 2010, I set both distance and speed goals.  (I also reference my 2009 goals in that blog post) And then I was blessed to get pregnant on the first try in March. :-)  So I didn't quite hit all my goals, but came surprisingly close for having been pregnant most of the year and not really setting my goals using that assumption (although it was always the plan, I didn't want to publicly share my family planning intentions when setting New Year's goals!).

For 2011, I've been wrestling the last couple weeks with setting my New Year's goals.  And I've had a ton of work to do getting ready to produce the inaugural New Year's Day Half Marathon, but it's still something that's been poking at the back corners of my mind.  I really want to set some goals, it's how I've enjoyed starting the last couple years, but I just don't know what 2011 could hold for me.  With a new baby and still in the middle of doctor-ordered C-section recovery, I have no clue how my body will recover and how quickly I'll get back running again.  But I love to push myself, so I needed to set some sort of goals.  So here we go...

I am setting two conservative goals aided at getting me moving and back racing again.  And they are goals I plan to hit within the first 4 months of the year.  And once these goals get met, I will immediately reassess the journey so far and set more goals.  I think 2011 will be about incremental goals as I get back to my previous fitness level and then hope to improve on my previous good running throughout the year.

GOAL #1: To work towards a 50-mile month.  In 2010, I had my first 100-mile month, and did that a few months out of the year.  That was high mileage for me!  As I recover, and since miles will take more time with the high percentage of walking I'll be doing, I think that working towards getting a regular run or walk workout in will culminate in this goal of a 50-mile month.

GOAL #2: To complete my first half marathon back by the end of March.  I put this target because I am already registered for the Rock N Roll Dallas Half Marathon.  I'm not a huge fan of Rock N Roll races because I feel the entry fees are too high especially because I don't feel like I need frills or a ton of post-race food or a post-race party to have fun at a race, but I had a great $20 promo deal one day that made the entry fee "reasonable".  Also, this goal means I'd be able to participate in the Big D Half Marathon, one of my favorites to do.  It would be my fifth time doing that race.  Big D Half was my first half marathon back in 2005. :-)

So those are my goals.  They are very different from my 2009 and 2010 goals, but that's to be expected given my current situation.  As I recover from surgery and adjust to having two small children, it's important that I focus on my fitness health as well, but my general health and my family are two priorities that will always come higher!

Happy Running, and an early happy new year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Doctor, I Warned You!

I had my post-surgery check-up with the doctor on Wednesday.  I told her how well I had been recovering from the C-section, how I had already done a few slow walks totalling almost 6 miles, and how I had several registered nurse friends worried about how active I'd been so soon after major surgery. In the hospital, another doctor in her practice had seen me each day as my doc was on vacation.  Now I had made it very clear to this doctor I was a runner - and not in an ambiguous sense.  I told her total mileage over the year and averaged month to month.  I told her the various distance races I ran while pregnant.  I didn't want her thinking it was a case of "I run/walk a couple miles a few times a week".  I wanted her to know that I'm the kinda stupid to go do 8 miles because I kinda feel like it.

Given how great my recovery was, in the hospital this doctor cleared me to walk a little more and a little faster each time as long as I felt good. Note that running was still a no-no for 6 weeks.  So to me, a 2.7 mile slow walk 8 days after a C-section seemed rational.

Well, my doctor was NOT thrilled.  She told me to lay off the walking for another week or two.  Turns out, even though the incision was looking great, the thing I didn't understand was that the sutures on all the inside layers could rub rub rub together while walking, even a slow walk, and could lead to infection or hemmorhage.

Now a couple days later, and I'm a little annoyed again.  Doc knows I'm Type A, knows my training history, and lets me off with a "take it easy for a week or two?"  So what happens on day 15, when stupid crazy me does a 12 mile walk?  Okay okay, I'm going to try to stay really reasonable and rational.  But I'm wishing she had quantified what's considered okay and not okay in her book a little better since we'd already had a difference in expectations.

With producing a race on 1.1.11 (the New Year's Day Half Marathon), I'm not planning on doing anything until I'm past that event.  And then I figure a couple miles here and there at a walk will be okay until January 15 (6 weeks post-C-section), when it's okay to start slowly running again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's Been a Busy Ten Days

On December 1st, Sophie Camille Jones was born at 9:37 am, weighing 8 lbs, 11 ozs, and 20 1/2 inches long. I had to have her via C-section because I had broken my tailbone having my first daughter by normal delivery.  She's beautiful, see for yourself...

Everything's Relative - That Applies to Recovery Too

We were blessed to have good insurance that wouldn't shoo us out the door in 24 hours.  After having Sophie Wednesday morning, we were able to stay in the hospital until Sunday midday!  This was some great recovery time and wonderful one-on-one bonding time Steve and I both got to have with baby Sophie.  I felt pretty good considering I'd had major surgery - a lot of people are so nonchalant about C-sections, but it is major surgery, people! Before the first 24 hours post-birth had passed, I was up and walking around.  Everything's relative, but this recovery seemed so easy compared to the time in the hospital with blood clotting issues and a broken tailbone (that I should add, is rare enough that everyone treated it like a sore strained muscle and basically ignored it until it continued to hurt so bad and was x-rayed weeks after the birth!).

Recovery Regimen in Hospital

Steve and I kept me super-hydrated and eating lots of food, and we made routine walks around the entire maternity floor of the hospital. More than one loop around the floor at times.  I didn't max out pain pillsl quite the opposite in fact.  Many times the nurses would come in with one encouraging me to take it because it had been so long since my last one - they were worried the pain would intensify and I'd be stuck waiting for a pain pill to kick in at that point.  So I took just enough to continue recovering and resting, and not end up staying in bed the whole time.  The doctor was so thrilled with the recovery that they took out the staples across my incision early on Saturday rather than before discharge on Sunday.  Knowing my runner history, and seeing how I was doing, the doctor encouraged me to go ahead and keep walking and increase distance and pace a little at a time as long as I listened to my body and felt okay.

Recovery Once We Got Home

Back at home, I was completely off pain pills within a couple days.  Between the fourth and eighth days post-C-section, I walked 5.8 miles over those 4 days, at a very slow pace. I'm taking time off from my walks now until I have my checkup with the doctor on Wednesday to verify that how good I'm feeling warrants my activity level. I don't equate slow walks with "exercise" (general guidance says you should wait 6 weeks post-delivery before exercising), but thought it good to check up with the doc.  I have been very good about not going up the stairs but a few times (unlike some doctors, mine said I could use stairs but take them very slow), and I have NOT been lifting anything heavier than the baby. Not even baby + carrier.  I think the lifting is probably a place where a lot of women get complications during recovery - I had luckily spent the last few months of the pregnancy retraining myself and my 3 year old that she wasn't going to be carried anymore, and that's helped a lot.

Meanwhile, my weight is dropping nicely.
  • I gained about 30 lbs over the pregnancy.
  • I was 190 lbs at delivery.
  • In 10 days, I've lost 24 pounds and am back at 166 lbs, the weight I hung at for about 5 years until shortly before I got pregnant.
  • At the time I got pregnant, I had lost 6 lbs the couple weeks before, so my weight was 160 lbs, so I have another 6 to lose to get to that point.
  • My lowest weight during the pregnancy was 157 lbs in the first trimester.
I'm excited to continue my recovery at a much reduced weight, so much easier on the joints.  And we'll see at Wednesday's doctor's appointment how she feels my recovery is going.

Darling Sophie

Amidst the recovery, I've had my wonderful new baby girl and the joy of seeing Marissa playing the role of big sister so well.  Sophie looks a lot like Marissa did as a baby, but she has the cutest chubb that Marissa never had...
And she's a great sleeper...
Steve and I feel so blessed for this new addition to our family. Now back to enjoying my girls, and looking forward to getting back to running as soon as is wise!

Happy Running All!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cheering a Race I Will Always Feel Connected To

I haven't blogged in a few weeks.  Life has been hectic preparing for the arrival of my second child.  And when you currently aren't running, there's frankly no reason to blog regularly about running, right?

It can be very lonely as a runner when you aren't actually actively running.  Ask anyone who has been injured and they'll agree.  Many of us have mostly other runners as friends, or they are the only ones who can tolerate us constantly talking about the sport!  Add to that being a suburban stay-at-home mom and well, it's easy to feel disconnected from the local running community.  Thank goodness for Facebook and Twitter to keep me somewhat sane, living vicariously through running friends' achievements.

But Sunday was a fun morning for me.  The DRC Half Marathon was held in Dallas that day.  A race dear to me because it's the major fundraiser to provide local running scholarships to Dallas ISD students and because of my past involvement.  I got involved in running leadership and race directing via that race, after volunteering during it while I was injured in 2005.  I served as Volunteer Coordinator in 2006.  Then, I co-directed the race with good friend and Heels and Hills founder Paula Robertson in 2007 - the race was 2 weeks after my first daughter Marissa was born.  There are pictures of me in early labor on my Blackberry working on the race. Here's one my hubby snapped...

The plan worked beautifully - I did a lot of the planning and prep and the second the baby was born, Paula took over for the chaos of the last two weeks of executing, and then we both were there all day race day to make it a success.

In 2008, I directed the race solo, and it was a record year that has not been matched since in terms of entrant numbers or finisher counts.  4,450 registered, about 3,700 of which finished the race and were chip-timed!  I turned down directing the 2009 race.  A race that size involves such a large quantity of hours and effort to make happen.  You basically don't sleep the last couple weeks.  In 2009, I needed a break from that, and it was great because it let me focus on being able to be more involved with Heels and Hills.

Like I did in 2009, on Sunday I came out and cheered on all the runners.  I had my camera in hand and took 130 pictures of awesome running friends looking so strong as they passed me around mile 9 1/2.  Some, like Jose, were literally flying (no really, look at his feet, they aren't touching the ground, and yes, Jose is FAST!).

And of course, I saw tons of Heels and Hills shirts, like what Jill is sporting here!

It was a lot of fun, but cheering is always bittersweet for a runner.  You wish you were out there with them, running alongside, relishing the anticipation of that upcoming finish line.  But I'll be back, and with a vengeance, post C-section recovery to running again in 2011!

Happy Running!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Like I Wasn't Busy Enough, Excited for New Year's Day Half Marathon - 1/1/11 - Allen, TX

On December 1, I'm going to give birth to my second daughter.  I have to have a C-Section this time which has been a little concerning to me because I'm an impatient runner and want a fast recovery time, but considering I broke my tailbone the last time I gave birth, I'm not sure I think it can be any worse than that.

But there's still the reality of taking it physically "easy" for 6 weeks before getting back to the swing of things slowly. So then there's no rational reason I would decide to put on a new race on New Year's Day, 4 weeks after having the baby.

The idea had been rolling around in my head since around June.  I wanted to do a new race, and I knew I wanted to do it in my own town of Allen, Texas (a suburb of Dallas, TX), and I knew I wanted to do my favorite racing distance, the half marathon.  And I kept having this thought popping into my head about the fact that this New Year's would be such a unique date - 1/1/11.  I told my husband, "I just think it would look so awesome on a finisher medal or an event shirt!" New Year's also had so few races going on in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex according to the race calendars, so I knew I wouldn't be making runners choose between this event and an event any friends or other race directors were putting on.

So as irrational as the timing may seem, I kept going back to feeling like it just needed to be done.  Sitting down with my ever supportive husband, because I couldn't do it without him, we agreed that we would need to ensure the event was kept at a size that would
  1. Be manageable for me to work out all the logistics with a newborn at home
  2. Be able to support with volunteers, which we didn't know how many we could get for a holiday morning.
So I arbitrarily settled on a limit of 200.  Having directed half marathons of 4500 runners and walkers, what a different scale a race of 200 is! But the size is perfect for why this race was developed.  As much as everyone signing up wants to kick off the new year's the right way, I thought it would be a great way for me to kick off my new year - doing what I love providing a conduit for people to get active and feel good.  I wanted it to be small and fun, kinda intimate in its size, and keep it as affordable as possible for a small race and hopefully break even on the expenses I personally incurred to make the event happen.

I'm keeping the focus on the things people have enjoyed seeing at races I help produce - nice custom race bibs that make good mementos, an event technical shirt rather than a t-shirt that runners will want to wear on future training runs, and a nice finisher medal.

After directing races with confusing names for years, I went with the most explanatory name ever: New Year's Day Half Marathon! You see back in 2006, the Dallas Running Club board, of which I was one member of, rebranded its big established half marathon from "The Half" (which was causing confusion with "half of what" and various other comments) to the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon, at the same time that the club's name had changed to DRC from Cross Country Club of Dallas.  Rebranding is an interesting transition for a race, but it generally went well. 

Separately, directing Heels and Hills Half Marathon events cause race founder Paula and me to answer lots of questions about "Do I have to run it in heels?" (No, it's just a women-focused fitness organization!) and "Is it really hilly?" (No, the hills were removed with our new course 2 years ago!), so I just wanted a race name that didn't ever have to come with any explanation.  Yeah, might not be creative, but you know exactly what you are looking at with it.

Anyway, I had all my ducks in a row a couple weeks ago and opened registration.  I put the race on a couple local online race calendars and put out the word via my Facebook page to all my runner friends.  The price structure has the entry fees being based on how many have already registered.  So the entry fee starts at $50 for the first 50 runners, and then goes up $5 every 50 registrants until it sells out at 200.

Within 26 hours of opening registration, there were 50 registrants.  And after a week of registrations, the race was almost half filled.  And at the time of this post, the race is 90% full with less than 20 slots left!  This presents what would be a nice side effect of the smaller race field, having the race sell out before the baby comes so I'm not having to process new registrations post-partum!

So I'm excited about this new race.  And if you would like to do a half marathon, I hope you'll consider coming out and having some fun New Year's Day morning in the DFW metro area with me.  It's going to be a great chance to start the new year the active way - to kick the New Year in the booty and tell 2011 who's boss!

If you don't want to run it, I will be searching for volunteers. I will need them.  I can't pick up anything more than an 8 lb. baby at that point, so I'll need aid station and finish line help!

Regardless of running it or not, of registering for it or not, of volunteering at it or not, please "like" the Facebook fan page, so word of the event can spread for 2012, with won't present the same limiting factor (new baby) that caused the 2011 race cap.

Happy Running!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Celebrating 10 Years Since My Darkest Hour

September 2000 was a major month in my life.  It revolves around something I rarely talk about, and I think in big part it's because I once felt so defined by it and never want anyone to do that to me again, because I won't give it more credit than being an influence of my identity.  It's kinda long, but it's the shortest I can write it, sorry!

I have a chronic medical condition, fibromyalgia, for which the doctors thought I would never be able to be an active or very mobile individual, and in September 2000 I was in the depths of my darkest hour with the condition. I came out the other side but don't think I'm past it.  It's a condition I live with every day, it affects the choices I've made in my life, and it's a big part of why I'm obsessed with this sport of running and want to encourage so many other people to get active, because I know that if I could, others can!

A Quick Background
An overly simplified history of my illness, written as I recall it now, which may or may not be completely factually accurate, but it's the best retelling I have:
  • Age 13 - Occasional serious back pain is ignored by doctors as simply "growing pains"
  • Age 16 - Pain has become more chronic.  I'm put on heavy daily doses of Advil by a doctor who never should have done that.
  • Age 17 - I've resorted to sleeping on the cement floor in a sleeping bag in my college dorm room because the mattress seems to be only making my pain worse.  A doctor takes me off the Advil, puts me on a painkiller that gives me intense "real-like" nightmares.
  • Age 18 - Rounds of physical therapy are becoming routine life for me.  I've begun taking painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers regularly to continue to function normally, all while getting great grades in college and holding a professional corporate internship in the actuarial field.  I feel a little crazy as the pain worsens in different parts of my back at different times with still no diagnosis.
  • Age 19 - I jump from specialist to specialist.  I've not had an agreed-upon diagnosis, just agreed-upon extreme measures.  While the pain is mostly in my back, I have generalized muscle pain and occasional phantom pains in other parts of my body.  Words like "disc disintegration", "lumbar facet syndrome", "osteoarthritis" are thrown around but often seem to be filler words for what the doctors can't figure out.  We try out different drugs, and I'm getting occasional cortisone shots.  The pain is strongly affecting what I can do - can't stand for long, can't sit for long, spending more time in bed, etc.  At that point, doctors are beginning of throw around the idea it could be "fibromyalgia" which unfortunately is not easily diagnosable (its a condition identified by a collection of symptoms so you can't just test for it in a blood test or something like that) or curable.  Some days I'm still not comfortable with the term because I'm a quantifier and don't like using a term for something the medical community itself finds so unquantifiable.  These doctors' negative thoughts send me into a downward spiral as I lose hope.  I'm told I need to consider having surgery to fuse the worst vertebraes affected together.  But that this normally leads to an additional 14 surgeries over time as the other vertebraes end up needing to get fused also.  I'm told I will never run and will very possibly not be able to walk past age 35 if this continues to progress and conditions continue to deteriorate. 
  • Age 20 - I'm frustrated by the only options being high dose painkillers or surgery and a specialist sends me to a "pain management clinic".  I'm excited until I'm confronted with the reality that their only ideas of pain management for me, on top of what we've already done, is cortisone injections straight into the bone routinely - very painful itself.  I refuse.   
The Month of September 2000
This brings me to September 2000. In the few months before this, I've turned 20, finished my Bachelor's degree in Mathematics with an emphasis in Statistics, gotten married, moved into our first apartment together, and begun a full-time job as an actuary.

My work is getting frustrated with the off-and-on sick days depending on my pain level and send me off for a one-month disability leave to see if we can make me better.  I'm hooked up to a portable neuro-stimulus unit a few times a day and feeling awfully bedridden.

I feel helpless, hopeless, and fearful. I spend hours on the phone arguing with and fighting through paperwork with my medical insurance and disability insurance company because that's the way the system works. I recall looking back that I cried a lot.

During this time, I start doing yoga and Pilates, which the doctors would have hated if I told them because of the impact on my bones and muscles.  Pilates helps me feel like I'm getting stronger - which shouldn't be possible according to the doomsday docs.  I start managing my stress level in my life better, getting more sleep, canceling all the doctor appointments, and finally - going off all the drugs. 

September 2000 was a game changer for me.  It was the month that I saw the bottom, hated it, and decided that life was not a life I wanted.

It's really the month that I feel like I took back my life.  Since then, I struggle some days. I wake up every single day in some level of pain and choose to live life and not let the world see the physical pain on my face.  I've carefully worked towards getting more active, sometimes with baby steps since it's a muscular condition and can flare up from time to time. We think the fibromyalgia was what made pregnancy more painful for me - the stretching of the muscles during the 9 month transformation was not something my body looked kindly on.  My world is influenced by the condition I was dealt, but I still make the decisions, not the medical condition.

Quite a Journey
I have defied all the doctors' odds, have not seen a doctor for the condition since September 2000, and am in the best shape of my life.  My first half marathon was walked with a finish time of about 3:35.  I've completed 20 half marathons in 5 years, even after a running injury in late 2005 that took a year to fully recover from and a hard pregnancy with my daughter in 2007.  I'm obsessed with encouraging others to get active, because I wish someone had been that little voice for me.  So I have volunteered a lot in the running world and spent hours coordinating running events just to see the smiles of first-timers crossing the finish line.  My husband, family, and friends have to endure hours of me strategizing my training, my racing, and my running.  My husband is the best window into my soul for all this obsession - it helps show me how justified it is.  He takes all this obsession in and listens and helps and lets me vent and watches me spend hours on the computer planning a race for others to enjoy.  And I know it's because he had to watch firsthand what I went through.  He took care of me in that darkest hour, and it made us stronger together for having been through it.

Ten years... it's been quite a journey.  I can't wait to see where the next 10 years leads.

Went from "Gungho!" to "Heck No!"

Yes, I've had some moments like this during the pregnancy, but this morning's a pretty strong one.  On Tuesday, I completed a 6.3 mile run after a 3 week hiatus, and in the running high afterward, thought I would run a 15K on Saturday.  I even pre-registered for the event.

I was kinda sore yesterday.  Today, I'm having searing abdominal pain below my belly button (not that unusual for me and had awful abdominal pain my last trimester with Marissa).  Left leg is locking up into my hip again which is causing some stabbing pain and a numb lower leg.  I've now reminded myself of how sore I was in my pelvis / core / upper thighs after the last 15K a few weeks ago.

So after waking up to that joy of joys, I told my husband no race on Saturday and right now I'm not so keen on running anymore. PERIOD.

Why? Here's how I summed it up to him:
"At this point in the pregnancy, everything's uncomfortable, and now it's all about what's less uncomfortable.  And I have to face it, running is doable but really uncomfortable."
I don't know how I'll feel about all this tomorrow.  I want to continue to keep my weight gain in check (while keeping the baby a healthy size) and my muscles active, to aid in recovery.  But I also get discouraged now that they've actually scheduled the required C-section and it's now hit home that they are going to cut through my entire abdominal muscle and there's only so much you can do now that will help THAT major surgery recover better and quicker.

We'll see - I'm down but not out.  Just venting my thoughts for the day. This blog only keeps me honest when I talk about the lows along with the highs of this journey.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Pregnant Running Girl Loves Her Some Icing

I promise the title will make sense if you read to the end... :-)

I did a quick elliptical workout about a week ago that had a significant result.  But I was also in the middle of executing a 1400-person race event, the Heels and Hills and Him Half Marathon, for September 26, that I couldn't really think through it or document it properly.  Now I can fully process this but only with a review of where I've been and how I got here...

In 2009, I ran 457.2 miles. I completed 8 half marathons. I worked hard and had never really documented my miles before 2009, but know I had made great strides.

So 2010 comes.  I worked very hard the first couple months of the year. I did a 63 day running streak, running at least a mile OUTSIDE regardless of weather every single day.  I added to that with 6 half marathons in January and February. 
My runner friends were like "Whoa, what got into you?" No one knew that this was all prep work for the decision my husband and I had made to get pregnant with our second child. 
I wanted to whittle down my half marathon personal record some before that happened, I wanted to put myself in the best possible health after such a difficult pregnancy with my first child, and I never imagined I'd actually lose weight after years of no weight changes (I lost 10 pounds in March).  January and February also marked my first two months ever where I hit at least 100 miles run over the month.

I was blessed to again get pregnant with my second child on the first try in mid-March. The first trimester I had the same debilitating fatigue I'd had with my first pregnancy.  As a result, in April and May, I only ran a total of 36.8 miles but it included one half marathon.

In June, my energy returned and I returned to running.  Also adding in time on the elliptical to supplement, as advised by the doc.  The obstetrician kept a careful eye on me but while I had standard pregnancy symptoms, I would actually feel relatively good when running.  Early July, I was able to get the El Scorcho 25K race director to allow me into the sold-out race.  I prepared for it, it kept me motivated, and I completed my first race of longer than a half marathon at 5 months pregnant.  15.5 miles in just under 4 hours with a headlamp on in July in Texas in the middle of the night.

August heat took its toll and my running fell off.  In September, I went ahead and did the Fort Worth Runners Club Labor Day 15K at the beginning of the month, and it was hard on me. I truly raced it as hard as possible given heart rate and walk break requirements the doc had set, and was able to finish only 8 minutes slower than the same race, same course the previous year.  After that race, I felt as bad as my hardest half marathon, then I went through some cold symptoms a week later, September weekends were horribly humid and hot, and then I was engulfed in preparation to put on the Heels and Hills and Him race.  Last week, I snuck in a little hard 0.80 mile elliptical workout.  And today, I ran for the first time in 22 days and completed 6.3 miles.

What's so significant from that elliptical workout last week?
  • In 2009, I did 457.2 miles.  In 2010, as of September 20th (that last elliptical workout), including my elliptical miles, I have already completed 457.4 miles for the year, 3 months shy of the end of the year.  Yes, 45 miles of that is elliptical, and some will say they aren't comparable, but I laugh and say, who cares? I worked hard for 457.4 miles this year - it counts to me, and that's all that matters.  And maybe by the time they baby comes, I'll be able to say I full out ran or walked over 457 miles, not counting elliptical miles.
  • In 2010, I did 8 half marathons.  In 2010, as of July 25, I completed 8 races of half marathon length OR LONGER.
I had set goals for myself for 2010, and I'm thrilled about the progress I made, since most had to be made under the assumption of a full year with no pregnancy, or face having to publicly discuss my family planning which was not something I wanted to do.  Here's what the goals were and where I got on each:

2010 Distance Goals

  • Complete at least 10 half marathons in 2010 aka "10 halfs in '10". Well, once I got pregnant on the first try, that goal was easy to give up.  My thought had been that I was on track to have that happen if I didn't get pregnant for a few months of trying.
  • Run 500 miles by June 30 - Again, made plans on January 1 around the idea that maybe I wouldn't get pregnant right away.  Still happy that maybe I'll hit 500 for the year. And if not, I still did more miles than 2009.
2010 Speed Goals
  • Complete 3 half marathons in 2 ½ hours or faster - I did complete two (Houston PR 2:29, Cowtown PR 2:26).
  • Finish a 5K in 31 minutes (10 min/mi pace) or faster by June 30 - Ah, who cares? The running streak was way more beneficial but made short distance speedwork go straight out the window.
  • Run a mile in 9:30 by June 30, run a mile in 9:00 by Dec. 31 - Actually set a new 1 Mile PR of 9:04 on a training run in February! I don't care that the 9 minute mile won't be seen until after recovery in 2011. 
At this point, I'm very happy for the active pregnancy I've had.  The baby has seemed healthy and a perfect size through the development cycle, while I've felt much better physically than my first pregnancy and very underweight for this point in the pregnancy (which the doc is okay with so I am too, and it will help me recover faster after birth!).  So now, every additional mile until baby comes is my ICING on this active cake. And yum, this pregnant girl loves her some icing!!!

Love this pic for this post - except change that to IT'S A GIRL in this instance! :-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Diabetes but Gotta Watch Those Calories

Monday morning was my roughly 28 week pre-natal check-up at the obstetrician's office. It was a full appointment of poking and prodding.

I had to do the glucose test for gestational diabetes. I had 4 minutes to drink a bottle of nastily sweet fruit punch, then I wait an hour while I get hyper and twitch and tweak, and then they draw a few vials of blood to test. If you are found to have it, luckily studies and protocal indicate that 30 minutes of exercise a day can keep having the move to taking insulin away and generally help manage the condition.  As a pregnant runner, that's doable.  Luckily, test came back negative - phew! That's a relief!

Also had to get an Rhogam shot because of Rh factors in my blood. I'm not a biologist or doctor so I'm not going to explain all that. Go google it. :-)

And we reviewed my weight.  I've been CHRONICALLY underweight this whole pregnancy. To the point where I was trying my best to shovel extra heavy carb calories down my gullet for fear the doc earlier on would take away my running because of the calorie burn from long runs!  At this appointment, we found I had gained 11 pounds in 4 weeks! Wow, maybe my body's trying to catch up.  Luckily, I'm now just at a 12 pound weight gain.  Normal weight gain over the full pregnancy term is 25 to 35 pounds. They estimate you should gain 1-5 pounds in the first trimester and than on average a pound a week from then on.  For 28 weeks along, that would mean they are expecting rough weight gain of 17-22 pounds.  So I've gotten a lot closer to normal expectations.

The concern is only if I gain ANOTHER 11 pounds over the NEXT 4 weeks.  I admit I've had more of an appetite (finally!) this last month and a rabid sweet tooth.  Plus I ran a lot less through August.  So I just need to keep an eye on those calories.

So, good appointment.  Everyone's healthy! YAY!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Guy Runners Didn't Quite Know What to Say: Labor Day 15K Race Report

Today, at 6 1/2 months pregnant, I ran a 15K! No, this wasn't my first rodeo - I have done a 15K before - but it was my first one while pregnant!

The Fort Worth Runners Club Labor Day 15K is a great race, organized so well by my friend Elizabeth, and the last two years has been privileged to be chosen by the Road Runners Club of America as a championship 15K race.  2009 was a Texas 15K Championship, and they did such a good job, they were easy to select to be the 2010 15K Championship for the entire Southern Region of the US!  As the RRCA North Texas State Representative, I was there to help support the race and assist in presenting the special RRCA Championship Awards to the top winners.

The race starts and I'm having problems already.  About 1.8 miles into the race, I realize my Garmin was never reset after my last training run.  This is only my 3rd or so run with my new Garmin Forerunner 405, so what can I say, I'm still getting used to it!  So I waste a little time there on the course panicking and restarting the workout, now having no clue what my cumulative pace is, but at least feeling better about the fact that my average pace kept seeming so slow (last training run was a slow 10K, I couldn't figure out how I was going that slow this race based on perceived exertion, LOL).

3 miles in, and I'm just hot, especially thanks to my "kryptonite" (high humidity).  The mostly out-and-back course along the Trinity trail is a nice one, but most of it is unshaded and there's direct sun today.  Add to it that while the temps were low at the start, low 70s, the humidity was 75-80% when we started.  At Mile 3 I throw my modesty aside and did something I had really hoped to avoid, but at the end of the day, I need to keep my core temperature in check, so off came the shirt.  Yep, if you were running back on the course while I was still running out, you may have been blinded by the reflectively white "babygut" I was sporting, LOL.

For around miles 3-4.5, the runners on the back portion of the course run along the top of the levee, while the runners still heading out, like me, are down at the river level.  I tried my best to yell words of support to the fast runner friends I could identify.

I have to say I loved miles 4.5-5.5.  This is where the course is truly out-and-back, running into the crowd of runners heading back from the turnaround.  I had not expected what happened along here.  A few guy runners would shout "Good job!" to me as we passed, but many seemed to eye me like they didn't quite know what to say.  I also got the feeling that some were not quite sure if my specific area-targeted fatness wasn't reflective of a severe love of beer, and not the pregnancy.  For fear of saying the wrong thing, I think some just thought it best to say nothing.  I can't blame them!  But the female runners were awesome.  You can't even imagine the "Go, girl", "Good job?!?", and especially a lot of "Way to go, momma!" and "Good job, momma!" with the incredulous tone of even seeing me out there.  I also have to say I ran some of my best run splits at this point, spurred on by the support. 

It was fun, looking down and seeing this protruding belly but also the occasional flash poking out below of the showy lime green and royal purple of my Brooks Launch racing shoes. Love those shoes - they weigh in at about 7.5 ozs (compared to my Brooks Ghost training shoes which are 9 ozs) but they still have enough cushion..

I raced hard as I could under my heart rate restrictions, and may have pushed the envelope just a little on my heart rate a few times (for example, my kick at the end of the race to the finish line).  I had finished 2009 (a hot year!) in 1:53:35, a 12:12 pace.  This race I mostly stuck with the doctor-ordered 5 minute run (@ heart rate 160) / 1-2 minute walk (recover to heart rate 140).  But here's what I'm happy with - my run splits were strong, right around or just about 15 seconds slower than the average pace of last year's race.  5 miles in, I even managed a half mile split with an 11:21 pace!

At the end, I had a 0.15 mile kick to the finish with a pace of 11:15! I finished to lots of friendly cheers with a chip time 2:01:59, a 13:02 pace.  So basically, I was 50 seconds per mile slower pregnant. :-) In fact, only 1:21 per mile slower than the 15K PR I set last November. :-)

I'm not trying to brag, and I know I'm still awfully slow (47th out of 49 in my age group today, LOL).  I'm just happy with the fact that I've pushed hard to stay active in this pregnancy, and I'm excited looking forward to Spring 2011 to see if I can recover quickly and perhaps set some new PRs!

Presenting an RRCA Championship Award to one of the female overall winner of the 15K

It was great seeing all sorts of friends this morning too, it's one of the best parts of racing!

Happy Running!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank You Lawn Guys

Today was beautiful weather and yet such a hard and easy workout all at the same time.  With this pregnancy, like my last, I am having some off and on recurring leg pain problems.  It started this time a few weeks ago. Assuming I'm not mangling what my sports chiropractor has told me, basically the weight of the baby in my pelvis is pinching some muscle/nerves at the top of my left leg.  Which means that sometimes I'm having numbness and weakness in that leg, and it's pretty painful where my leg connects with my hip.

So the past day or two, we've had this wonderful respite from the 107 degree weather with moments of temperatures in the *gasp* 70s!  Yesterday, I freaked out in the morning with my pile of errands - afraid I would miss this great weather.  So I grabbed 1.5 miles, all the time I could.

Last night, that leg pain started up again so no run.  This morning I thought it felt better and headed out the door.  It did not feel great, but it wasn't really painful.  I just felt, well, big and pregnant honestly.  But I had some good paces for the first 1.5 miles with my doc's ordered 5 min run / 1 min walk intervals.  The paces for my run segments were 11:20, 11:20, 11:08.  That's a sign of the good weather, that with pregnancy and all, I could get some run segments that are very very close to my pre-pregnancy easy run pace.

Then at 1.5 miles, that leg started hurting.  And each hop to that left leg in the run felt like a million pounds coming down on my femur (bone at the top of my leg).  So I moved to just walking.  I was feeling dejected and hot in the full sun despite the lower temps, but I got around the corner to my house just after the lawn guys had arrived and begun work.  Okay, I don't want to walk up to my front door through a cloud of grass, dirt, and allergens.  So I continued down one street.  I was only at 2.6 miles at this time.

So thank you, lawn guys, for helping me extend this run/walk.  And if I had struggled painfully to keep running, I would have been back to my front door before the lawn guys arrived and probably would have only done the 2.6 miles.  Instead, with the help of the lawnmowers, I ended up with 3.4 miles! That's why each component of that workout happened as it did - to help me get just a little more done this morning. It all came together for a reason.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to Running...Maybe?

I admit it - after doing that first 25K race ever at El Scorcho - I hadn't run since.  Within a few days, the typical Texas summer heat hit us, and even well-hydrated veteran runners were talking about how hard it was running in it.  Running in the morning was bringing up my newer symptom of morning sickness and it was typically around 100 degrees still by 8 pm.  Add to it that Marissa was off school for two weeks, and a trip for a wedding to Mexico with no ability to run there, and before I knew it, it had been three weeks since I ran.

This morning, I had a yummy pancake breakfast with a friend.  And leaving I noticed the weather was pretty nice - area storms had cooled it down quite a bit and there was a breeze.  So with Marissa in school this morning, I decided to go for a run.

I could tell my tummy had gotten bigger and some muscles were not used to the work involved in running.  But I took turns between running and walking, taking it easy, and completed 3.1 miles in a little over 47 minutes.  Now let's see how sore I am tomorrow. :-)  I could feel my abdominal oblique muscles working overtime, and I really need to focus on my running form as I find my hips wanting to go into an anterior tilt (i.e. belly out, and tailbone out, hips tilted towards the back).  Too much of an anterior tilt will keep straining abdominals, irritate and shorten up my hamstrings, and cause low back pain.

I wonder what the weather will be like the next couple weeks. Maybe I'll be back outside running again soon!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cheering at the Hottest Half

Sunday, August 15, I made my way to a spot on White Rock Lake to spectate the Hottest Half Marathon and 10K.  I had previewed the map and was right at mile 2 as the runners were running by.  I clapped continuously as a very large crowd came by, everyone still looking strong.  But at only 2 miles in, I think a lot were worried about what the news had said the previous day was going to be the hottest day of the year, because as I cheered I was already getting responses of "Thanks, I need that." and the like.

By the time 10Kers were coming back at approximately mile 4 on this out-and-back course, our cheering group was a great size.  Heels and Hills Run Team member Veronica M. was there cheering her heart out.  Jeff S. had just spotted us during his short run and ended up staying to cheer, which was awesome.  Jose V. and his son Andrew came out to cheer and help out which was so valuable later when we all became part-time medical help, LOL, but I'll get to that.  And then there's Erik - poor Erik - who had an appendectomy 3 weeks ago and then a bad sinus infection earlier race week, but was smart and turned back several miles into the race, so stayed to cheer with us as his wife Michelle ran the half marathon.

There were quite a few people on the course in their Heels and Hills hot pink, which was so fun to see.

I had bought 20 lbs of ice and 3 1/2 lbs of gummy bears to serve half marathoners when they hit us again at about mile 11.  Well, the ice was a massive hit, and I don't think I realized how much each person in their desperation would take.  I could have easily gone through 100 lbs of ice!  So that went quickly.

But then people loved the gummy bears too. We got a few "I love you"s, which is funny.  And then when offered them, many would say "Sure, why not?"  This was hilarious given how hot everyone was. We could have said "Handgun?" and some runners looking for anything to get this done would have said, "Sure, why not?" without thinking.

It was so blazingly hot and that course has a lot of unshaded area, and runners started passing telling us to watch for a girl that looked bad and was weaving on course.  Then we saw a girl walking left and right across the whole trail approaching us. And then her knees buckled and she went down.  Jose did a great job attending to her. He wanted to elevate her feet and pulled off and stacked her running shoes to create that height - brilliant. He asked if we had anything to put under her head there in the grass so I ran to my car where I happened to have a big beach towel.  A few runners ran on to the next aid station to tell them to call the medical team.  While we waited, I soaked her headband in the last leftover melted ice and then luckily I had brought some water bottles (for myself to drink) which she ended up badly needing.

After about a half hour we were really wondering where the medical crew was.  I had a lightbulb and called Paula at our Heels and Hills tent at the finish line and told her exactly where we were (including address) and told her to track down finish line medical and send them immediately.  We were getting really worried as another guy had gone down and his eyes were rolling back in his head and he was losing consciousness.

Medical did come because of the call I made and attended to folks.  Shortly after that I was feeling a little overheated, especially having donated my own water to the dehydrated girl, and was supposed to meet out-of-town guests and my husband at brunch, so I sadly left before everyone finished.

Congrats to everyone who braved the heat and completed the event.  And equally awesome are those who realized they might be at risk and slowed down or chose not to finish because ultimately they needed to take care of their own health. Safety first, folks!

Monday, August 2, 2010

July Mileage Total - Where Do I Go From Here?

I ended July with the following totals and achievements:
  • Miles completed: 101.0
  • Of that total, elliptical miles accounted for 21.6 miles and all the rest was outdoor running... in the TX heat.
  • SECOND highest mileage month EVER! (Feb. 2010 is my highest ever with 110.5 miles)
  • Completed my first 25K race - race report here... - this made it my 8th race of a half marathon distance or longer in 2010!
Saturday and Sunday were intended to be longer runs with groups down in Dallas starting at 6 am. Saturday, I was not able to keep my breakfast down, and I'm a runner who always eats before I run. I would not dare to go out pregnant, in this heat, and run 10 miles on a newly empty stomach. So I went back to bed and missed that run.

Saturday night, 3 more hours of bad "morning" sickness (just bad nausea at least) along with baby kicking me like crazy. This kept me up late and I was exhausted by my 4:30 am Sunday morning alarm wake-up. I went back to bed and scrapped the Sunday run.

I worry I'm hitting a phase of more nausea and tummy problems coupled with the fact that the baby's been having marathon kick-my-guts-out sessions that are just unsettling - I would not want to run during those.

And the last two days have been incredibly hot. I'm not a morning runner anyway, I'm a night owl. But in the evenings, it's still been almost 100 degrees by 7-8 pm.

AND...Marissa's off school for the next two weeks so no mid-morning runs (more reasonable for this night owl).

So what do I follow July up with given all that? Part of me is thinking about just spending the month on the elliptical (we own a commercial grade elliptical here at the house so it's pretty darn convenient).  Maybe read the manual and try some different workout types (I always just hop on and log miles).  The whole point being to keep some cardio going, keep my leg strength up and my core engaged - especially important at 5 1/2 months pregnant. Then in September when it cools down, hopefully get back to running, if I feel up to it.

There's just no reason to tax my body in this heat or stress myself out about runs right now. Happy for feedback and ideas. But keep pool running thoughts to yourself - I've got some waterphobia so as good as I know it would do me, realistically, it's just not gonna happen folks given the mental issue with hopping into a pool.

Happy Running!

Monday, July 26, 2010

El Scorcho 25K - My First 25K...and at Midnight!

After not running basically at all first trimester because I felt so fatigued, I had begun running again in the second trimester, felt good, worked with the doctor to come to agreements on how much running, and just kept feeling stronger!

So then three and a half weeks ago, I got a crazy stupid idea.  I loved the thought of El Scorcho 25K - there was a huge safety net to it being on a 5K loop where you could stop after any given one, and it was the only event at the absolutely coolest part of the day for the next couple months.  While running felt good, getting out the door when you're pregnant is still hard.  So I was also looking for a firm goal to keep me motivated.  My first 25K seemed like a strong motivator.  I reached out to the race director who agreed to let me in even though it had sold out months ago - he was appreciative of my volunteer efforts as the North Texas State Rep for the RRCA so it seemed this was his thanks for that, so nice of him!

I had also chatted with my friend Elizabeth about the fact I was thinking about the event.  She's friends with the race director and, out of nowhere, she offers to pace me the entire 25K race! So sweet of her!

After several weeks of 25ish miles each week, and a last long run a week out of 12.5 miles, I was feeling trained up for this 15.5 mile race.  I had practiced with my headlamp (some areas are really dark) and have not really gained much weight so my balance didn't feel off (it's mixed terrain and can be rough).  I formulated my packing list for a full week ahead of time. I even arranged a hotel room to get a big pre-race nap and rest afterward before driving home.

At the race site, Elizabeth and I found a spot right off the trail, with an easy walk to the portalets, and set up our things.  My friends arrive right before the start with our 7 matching tutus. Yes, tutus.  Jennifer had made our group of twitter friends all tutus to wear.

I had measured my waist for her to make it, but it was a little looser than I had hoped.  So the tutu only made it the first 3.1 miles before being comfortable won out.

As we finished each loop, it was great to hear spectators cheer. I was pretty focused but heard personalized cheers as well. They meant more to me than I'm sure those people even know! A half mile out from the end of each loop I'd figure out what I needed to do at that quick break - drink gatorade, refill water bottle, did I need to potty, any stretching needed.  My sister had come to watch and actually stayed through three loops; she was an invaluable help as "crew", prepping my Gatorade and refilling my water bottle, grabbing supplies I needed to find.  After the third loop, I even changed my socks and shoes, because the humidity and distance made me nervous about getting blisters.

And Elizabeth stayed with me for every step.  I felt pretty good. Kept a good pace and walked every 5 minutes as the doctor wanted.  Not too tired from the time of day, and no tummy problems - spaghetti and meatballs three hours before race start was a perfect pre-race meal for me.

But the last loop was different.  My body had started stiffening up, especially the hips with the weight of the baby and the start/stop of run/walk-ing. As we started the last loop, I was saying how great I felt. Then we took the first walk break of that loop. And when it was time to run again, ugh. I just couldn't get any pace going.  I also realize I only took 2 GUs the whole race, so I probably could have used a pick-me-up before I started that loop.  My heart rate was staying low because my jog was so slow that eventually, we cut out the walk breaks and jogged the last twenty five minutes.

We could see the finish coming, and I told Elizabeth I had no gas in the tank left for any sort of kick to the end.  And then we got closer.  And I found that last big sprint. The last 0.16 miles I was able to pull a 12:06/mi after the entire last loop had been a 17+ min/mi pace! Guess when I needed to manage it, I found just a little speed. :-)

Here's the full results for my run:

And here's the post-race pic with Elizabeth on the right. I embraced the baby bump three loops in, it was just too humid to waste time being modest. :-)

An immediate post-race ice bath and then another one 16 hours later, and on Monday now I'm feeling pretty good. No DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). And saw the chiropractor this morning to make sure all the kinks were worked out.

So my first 25K race under my belt...what should my next goal be? ;-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Packing for El Scorcho 25K

I've been preparing my packing list for Saturday's race since Sunday, one week out.  What's El Scorcho? It's a 25K and 50K running race held at midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning on a 5K loop in Trinity Park in Fort Worth in the dark.  Limited to 500 running, spectators also come camp out and help make it feel like a fun little party.  This is my first year participating, and the longest race I've done.

The race is about an hour from my house.  So I thought, as a 5 month pregnant woman, I should do this as smart as possible.  I have a hotel room very close to the race site.  I'm going over Saturday early afternoon, picking up my packet at Fort Worth Running Company, and getting a few hours sleep.  Then dinner, Italian, at 8:30 pm before I head over to the race site at 11 pm.  The race will start at midnight, and I'm guessing it will take me 4-5 hours if all goes well.  Then I'll head back to the hotel, get a shower and probably an ice bath, and sleep for a few hours before heading home.  No sense trying to drive home fatigued for an hour at 5 am!

So all the more reason I get my packing list right since I can't just head back home.

Here's my packing list... If you've done a race like this, or this race in particular, please COMMENT and help me refine this list. It's very hard to feel like you have everything you need!
  1. Garmin GPS
  2. Heart Rate Monitor (required by doc to wear for all workouts)
  3. Camera
  4. Headlamp
  5. Extra batteries for the headlamp
  6. Glowsticks
  7. Cooler stocked with: gatorade, bottled water, chocolate milk
  8. Gu (4)
  9. Bagels
  10. Extra pair of shoes and socks (after my last long run sweating in this heat and humidity, I came the closest to getting a blister that I've come in about 3-4 years, I never get blisters. So I'll try changing out shoes/socks after the 3rd or 4th loop)
  11. Extra shirt (to change into for late loops or when done)
  12. Amphipod pocket (carries my phone)
  13. Bodyglide (a must!)
  14. Beach towel (for laying out to do stretches on the ground)
  15. Lawn chair
  16. Handheld water bottle
[7/23/10 - List Amended Due to Feedback on my Facebook Post of This Blog Entry]
  1. Bug Spray
  2. Baby wipes
  3. Extra towel for car when leaving and sweaty
  4. Extra hair ties
  5. Frozen washcloths
And I'm not including what I'm wearing to the race itself.

So what am I forgetting? Suggestions are most welcome!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feeling This Good Can't Be Good, Right?

I had my 20 week ultrasound and pre-natal appointment with the doctor this morning.  The sonographer was amazing - showing us every measurement, where it fit in the norms, every organ, every finger, every toe. 

  • It's a Girl! :-) We're excited to add another girl to our family.
  • Everything looks normal - brain, nose/lips (looking for cleft palates), heart, kidneys, intestines, stomach, and she was at an angle that we feel pretty certain that all fingers and toes are there!
  • She's actually 96th percentile for weight! And measuring at 20 weeks, 5 days - a little more than the 20 weeks I'm supposedly at!
Then we saw the doctor.  She looked over everything from the sonographer and she was beyond thrilled.  I was giddy with relief - I've had a hard time gaining weight this pregnancy and feel like I've been trying so hard to eat.  I'm actually still one pound below my pre-pregnancy weight, which sounds scary on paper, but the doctor was completely happy with it because as long as the baby progresses looking as great as she does size-wise, it's fine if the rest of my body is trimming down a little.

Besides my concern about weight gain, I was so relieved because I explained to her that there's this little feeling in the back of my mind that kept saying, "You're not supposed to feel this good.  Something must be wrong." I know, weird concept, but it's the thought that not everything can go that well, that the other shoe will drop at any moment.

Which  brings me to my running.  I gave her a chart that showed every workout and the distance totals that I've done since she saw me a month ago.  I had felt so good, I had lengthened my workouts from what she had approved as things seemed to be going well. 

Also, I told her how in the last week, I'd found I wasn't having to watch the heart rate monitor nearly as much.  It appears I may have acclimated to the heat because for the same pace, or a little faster, my heart rate's not going above about 155. 

She was very happy with all I had been doing and wasn't freaked out by the weekly mileage or longer runs.  I then told her about El Scorcho.  I was definitely hesitant about how to explain this race to her, so much so that she looked at my husband and said, "She's about to tell me about something I'm not going to like."

So I told her about the 25K (15.5 miles) race I'm planning on running Sunday.  I told her the following:
  • I would never consider this if it wasn't on a 5K loop.  So if something feels wrong, I can stop 9 or 12 miles in, easy to stop.
  • A good friend and veteran runner, who's fast and has run through 2 of her 4 pregnancies was going to be my pacer/crew, taking every step with me and making sure I drank and ate enough.
  • I know the folks coordinating the medical from Baylor and had gone so far as to call him to find out who would be out there.  It appears there will be, besides ambulance EMTs, two athletic trainers and a nurse, with the Baylor air-conditioned van.  Crucial because I have trouble at my angle around the belly relaxing the round ligament and oblique muscles on the side of my belly, so it will be easy to explain to an athletic trainer what muscle I need helped.
  • I'll have food and drink easily available at the end of each loop.
  • She asked how long it would take for me to complete a race of this kind, I said 4 hours. Probably in the low 4+ hrs.  I thought she'd be really upset with that.  Instead, she asked if I planned to take walk breaks or breaks generally.  I told her short breaks at the end of each loop, and then I planned to do the whole thing with 1 minute walk breaks for every 5 minutes of running.  She said, "Oh, okay."
  • Then I told her it was at midnight. Again, thought she'd be really concerned.  But no, she seemed relieved, said that it was at the coolest part of the day then.
After all this, she said I've obviously thought seriously about this, I'm taking all necessary precautions, she thinks so far I've demonstrated that I listen to my body, and as long as I stay smart, she's fine with me doing the race.  In fact, she's so fine with everything that I don't have to do another ultrasound in four weeks as originally intended under the premise that I'm running, she's okay waiting for 6 weeks!

Oh, by the way, did I mention this will be the longest race I've ever done? I haven't done a long run of over 13.1 miles in about 4 1/2 years.  And the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk (20 miles per day for 3 days) wasn't a race, so it doesn't count, and that was 5 years ago.   So this is all so exciting.

All in all, what a big appointment this was.  Steve and I now need to focus on baby names.  I'm so relieved that I can stop stressing over the whole "things are too good" feeling and no more worrying about my weight gain.  I'll see how long we can keep this running thing going, and I'll now focus on how happy I am with how good I feel and knowing the baby is so healthy too!

Happy Running, and wish me luck on Saturday night!  And if you feel like coming out to cheer, I would welcome the distractions, and I'm sure the other 499 running this race will too!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Whole Different Set of Running Muscles

Since my last injury that sidelined my running back in 2006 (plantar fasciitis), I've been luckier and smarter in my running to be able to avoid injuries the last 4 years.  Especially a good sign with a chronic medical condition (fibromyalgia).  And through this, I've increased my training miles significantly, completed almost 20 half marathons and many smaller races, and worked hard to get faster (Big D Half Marathon in April 2008: 3:08; Cowtown Half Marathon in February 2010: 2:26).

But now, I'm 5 months pregnant and running 20+ miles per week for the last 3 weeks.  And I'm learning about muscles I didn't even know I had.  Or knew that they were important for running. 
  • As the baby bump grows out front, the pelvis starts to tilt, and * ta da * now my hamstrings are constantly a little tight.
  • Have you seen those women in their 9th month of pregnancy waddling around bowlegged, legs turned out, feet pointed out? Turns out you have muscles on the inside of your thighs called hip adductors.  And they are kinda important stabilizing muscles.  The position and weight of the baby is starting to make those adductors a little sensitive, and I can definitely feel that after a run.
  • Those hip adductor muscles connect through a network of muscles that run along the shin.  So some mid-shin pain also.
  • Finally, the round ligaments are muscles on either side of the tummy basically all about stretching to make room for the expanding belly.  Last long run, wowza, I found out what those side stomach muscles can feel like when they are irritated.
So last week I spent about 4 1/2 hours over the week, running 21.6 miles.  That includes a 12.5 mile long run Friday night.  And then I spent about that same length of time, 4 1/2 hours, over the course of the week RECOVERING from these runs.

Saturday included an ice bath to start the day (long run was late the night before). Then in the evening, a warm epsom salt bath followed by a 1.5 mile walk and concluded with another ice bath. A lot of work, but I woke up Sunday morning with no DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that most would get not the day after a long run but the day after that.

I don't mind the time spent recovering to keep running because it's still better than the alternative.  First pregnancy, in 2007, at 20 weeks in I was already doing physical therapy 2-3 x a week. It was a hard pregnancy, with bedrest the last couple months and a lot of pain.  Not that surprising for a women with fibromyalgia going through pregnancy.  This time, I feel so much better.

And I hope for a while I can keep it up!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Run, Interrupted

Today's run was intended to be 10 miles. I met up with a group of friends running from the Central Market on Lovers Lane in Dallas.  I was one of the slowest in the group, but that's fine with me.  We all spread out over the run and then Dana gave her map to Luis and said she'd stick with me, since we were similar pace and I had a map.

About 3 1/2 miles in, Dana and I cross the intersection at Mockingbird & Hillcrest and about 30-40 seconds later, when we're a good block from the intersection, we hear a loud crash and metal scraping.  We look back to see two cars have crashed at the intesection.  No one is getting out. 

So we sprint back to the crash.  There we find a black Range Rover and a small gray pickup truck.  The Range Rover's front is completely smashed in, with pieces everywhere.  The truck must have spun around and the driver side has hit the big stoplight pole.  Dana calls 911 and talks to the woman in the truck who is complaining that her side hurts.  She's calling her husband and crying.  I go over to the Range Rover where the frail woman there is still very shook up and just sitting there. The powder's still coming off the airbag.  Dana sees fluid leaking out of the front of the Range Rover and suggests the woman gets out.  The crush to the front meant that I had to hold the door open as hard as I could while the woman squeezed out.  We moved her to the side and waited for the sirens.

Fire truck, police, and ambulance came.  While we're waiting, we call anyone on the run who might have a phone so they'll know why we're delayed.  They loaded the woman from the truck onto the gurney and to the ambulance.  The EMT asks the woman from the Range Rover if she's okay and she says she's fine.  While we're all watching though, she's rubbing one side of her chest, and when I ask, she says it hurts.  I grab one of the EMTs and let him know that while she said she's okay, she's not acting it, and he says he'll check her out.  The police had us wait around to give a statement, which wasn't helpful since we never actually saw the accident.

So we start our run back up after this 20 minute interruption.  We've decided that we'll switch to a shorter route that was mapped out ahead of time too.  This way we'll finish around the time the others do.

As we run again, it finally dawns on us that if we'd gone through that intersection 40 seconds earlier, it could have been really scary for us.  I'd hope we'd see the cars before it happened, but you never know.

Sadly, since we had a quick sprint back to the crash, then standing around not stretching for 20 minutes, our legs have stiffened way up.  It was a struggle to get back to the car.

We finished with 7.5 miles.  And the rest got back from the 10-miler about 10 minutes later to hang around and chat.

I hope the two women are both okay.  Meanwhile, the truncated run kept me from the 25 miles I'd thought would be fun to hit this week, but I did finish runs totalling 22.5 miles this week, so I'm still pretty happy!

Happy, and SAFE, Running!

Monday, July 5, 2010

There are Oreos in my Bathwater

Yes, the diatribes of a pregnant woman. The statement kinda says it all. But here's the whole weekend...

Saturday: Liberty 10K in The Colony
I won a free entry to this race - can't beat that.  First year they've added the 10K so it wasn't very big. After about 24 hours of so much rain, I drove to this race in pouring rain... and the second I get into The Colony, rain stops. There's still so much low cloud cover, and the humidity is outrageous.

The entire race, not a single drop of rain comes down. :-( But I'm also surprised a mile into the race when we turn onto the "trail", which is literally a flat dirt/gravelly trail. Muddy and uneven.
Okay, if it's not all concrete or asphalt, a race should really tell you on the race website in the Course section.  I've been surprised by two races before where the terrain's slight unevenness compared to concrete hurt my ankles - crushed limestone trail in one Fort Worth race and miles of settled years-old bricks in another Fort Worth race ironically.
Otherwise, race was uneventful. Just stuck with doc's orders - 160 beats per minute heart rate for 5 minutes and 1-2 minute walk to recovery below 140 bpm, then repeat.  Finished in 1:24:22.  Pregnancy has slowed me down, but I was still happy with my time.

I arrived home, saw on the heart rate monitor that I had burned almost 1000 calories between the run and during my heart rate coming down, and was concerned about replacing some of those calories right away.  I headed to the pantry and found a 6-pack (like the little travel packs) of Oreos that I had taken at a post-race food table and didn't end up eating right away. I rarely eat Oreos too. Feeling dripping wet still from sweating through all the humidity, I jumped into the bathtub and opened up my Oreos. I guess I'd forgotten how crumbly they are. Crumbs and pieces feel into the bath. "Well now I'm just a pregnant cliche", I thought. Funnier still since I've had very little appetite this pregnancy, not the ravenous hunger or random cravings at random times and random places that you would normally expect from a pregnant gal.  But the oreos in the bathwater continues to feel very symbolic for what's going on, trying to stay active and make it through all this the best I can...yes, sometimes with oreos in my bathwater.

Sunday: 12 miles, 8 running and 4 on the elliptical
Horrible humidity in the morning again. Ugh, so I instead opted to run about 3 pm - yes, 15 degrees warmer (90 degrees) but only about 57% humidity. Felt a little better than yesterday's weather package! I headed out with my handheld Amphipod water bottle (20 oz) and plans to shoot for 6-7 miles.

I was running low on water by about mile 3. Luckily had reached a shopping center and popped into a Potbelly's sandwich shop to refill my water at the soda fountain.  I had my Blackberry on me (always do on all runs now that I'm pregnant) and kept hubby up on what was going on and asked him to bring me a water bottle close to our neighborhood on my way back. So I had another refill at mile 5.65. I was still feeling pretty strong, although didn't want to overdo it. I hadn't run more than a 10K since I was 4 weeks pregnant in mid-April.  So I mostly walked from mile 6.1 until I decided to stop at 8 miles.

I really want to get my mileage back up so all along I had planned on trying to supplement my run miles with time on the elliptical. In the evening, I hopped on and reached the goal of 4 miles on there.  It's a good way to simulate running with the continued leg fatigue, while not taxing my heart rate too much in one day.

Ending the Week on a High Note
I'm feeling great, like I did at the beginning of the year, and this week's workouts show it too! I hit 27.18 miles for the week total = 22.18 miles running + 5 miles elliptical. And I got in a 1 hour Zumba cardio class.

Even if you are one of those who want to let out a  "pshaw" sound and blow off the elliptical miles, I'm still thrilled with my 22 miles ran in one week. At 5 months pregnant, I'm so thrilled to be feeling so good.

Happy Running All!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June 2010 Workout Miles Calculated

While I felt like my miles the last couple months were pretty paltry, given not always feeling so great in this pregnancy, I calculated end of month totals today and compared to the past and was pleasantly surprised.

June 2010: 39.8 miles (27.8 miles running + 12 miles elliptical)
Compare to last June when I WASN'T ALMOST 5 MONTHS PREGNANT!
June 2009: 41.3 miles - almost exactly the same!

Plus, year-to-date totals have me feeling a lot better...

January - June 2010 total: 326.7 miles
January - June 2009 total: 180.9 miles (!)

Hoping I can keep getting in some miles for a while longer in this pregnancy! Ever hopeful!

Next up: Liberty by the Lake 10K in The Colony, TX, on Saturday, July 3.  Sadly, no Athena category - it is the first year this race has added a 10K to their usual 5K, and with a lot of local races to choose from, I'm wondering how lonely it will be in the back-of-the-pack of this 10K. No matter, just curious.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Feel the Need, The Need for Speed... Altered Speedwork for Pregnancy Running

Maverick and Goose in had the right idea, "I Feel the Need... the Need for Speed!" A sentiment many runners would agree with.

With concessions that had to be made to keep me running safely through pregnancy, my pace has slowed considerably between the heat, increased focus on perceived exertion, and keeping my heart rate no higher than 160 bpm with walk breaks needing to be included to allow heart rate recovery to lower levels often.  My pace for run portions (12:00) has been about a minute slower per mile than my half marathon PR pace, (11:00) and 1 1/2 minutes per mile slower than my 5K PR pace (10:20).

This morning, all things came together for a great run.  I felt good, the weather was pretty ideal, and I had a decent chunk of time.  It was drizzling about 9:30 am this morning and felt very humid near the beginning, but the rain increased while the drop size still seemed small and it was definitely a slightly cooling rain, not always the case with the rare Texas summer thunderstorm.  Plus no lightning! I headed out for a few miles in the rain. 

It was so fun to see how much faster I could go at the same heart rate without the intense heat.  After 1/2 a mile, I decided that my body really needed to satiate that desire for some speedwork, while still trying to stay safe.  So I altered my running to the following:
  • 1 minute of faster-paced running, still keeping perceived exertion no higher than about a 7 or 8 on a 1-10 scale, and watching heart rate and slowing it down a little as necessary.  1 minute was about all I could do before the heart rate would drift up much closer to 170, away from the 160 bpm max the doctor had agreed to.
  • 1 minute walk break recovery, extended on the couple of occasions where 1 minute wasn't quite long enough to drop heart rate below 140.  Really used these frequent breaks to practice really focusing on slower breathing to help for quicker recovery!
I did this for about 2.5 miles. So then at 3 miles, I was back at the house, went in to refill my water bottle, and then set out to do another couple miles! Can you tell I was feeling good?

Finished up the run with 5.75 miles total, my longest run since April 11.  And did the speedwork for about 3.5 miles in two different segments.  I feel great and hope it continues.

This weekend: I won a free entry to The Colony's Liberty by the Lake 10K, which sadly has no Athena weight division :-( but will still be fun.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First Race Run While Noticeably Pregnant (At Least To Me)

To clarify the title, I'm definitely showing sooner with this child - they say that happens with the second child.  I feel like I'm looking pregnant at this point, although it's possible it's not too noticeable to others yet.  I ran Big D Half Marathon 6 weeks pregnant in April, but I was so newly pregnant at that time, that Sunday was the first race I've run while noticeably pregnant (at 16 weeks now).

Yesterday, I ran the Summer Solstice 5K race at White Rock Lake in Dallas.  Saturday afternoon, I was sad and demotivated after 2 straight days of allergies and difficulty breathing had ruined my outdoor run plans.  But I was starting to feel better Saturday afternoon so I pulled up the local racing calendar.  I liked that Summer Solstice had a duathlon at the same time as the 5K (so I knew the place wouldn't be a ghost town by the time I finished), and I liked the earlier start time of 7:30 am, since it has been so hot and humid in the mornings.  Committing to a race would help me get that mileage in when I was otherwise not feeling motivated to get outside.  I reached out to friends and found a group going so that motivated me also. And the race director is a friend, so I contacted him and found out there were 4 Athenas registered as of Friday, so maybe my slow time would even get a trophy, which is kinda fun.

Race day morning, I felt good, not nervous - I was just getting in a 3.1 mile run as far as I was concerned and practicing the new run routine the doctor and I had agreed upon for this time of the pregnancy.  I ran for 5 minutes at a heartrate of right around 160 bpm, and then would take a long enough walk break for my heart rate to recover to at or below 140 before I would run again.  This meant about 1 1/2 minute walk breaks most of the time with I think one or two walk breaks that were 2 minutes.  My pace was definitely slowed, even just my run pace because of the heart rate restriction, but I adhered to the rules.

I've been doing a great job hydrating the past week and a half, drinking about 150 ozs of water a day.  So I actually felt pretty good out there the whole time. I finished 3.1 miles in 40:30.  I didn't want to stay in the sun so headed home right away.

Later I checked the race results and had placed 4th in Athena! More interestingly is that my normal pre-pregnancy 5K average pace would have resulted in 1st place Athena on this day.  But most interesting was the fact that, while placing in Athena is usually a higher probability than placing in my age group, for this race, if I had chosen to run in my age group instead of the Athena weight class, I would have brought home a 1st place age group trophy! Why is that never the case when I do a race that doesn't have an Athena category? Sigh.

Happy to have gone out there.  It did tire me out more than I expected, and I dropped asleep unexpectedly for a 1 1/2 hour nap about 11 am.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In-Depth Discussion Today With Doc About Running During My Pregnancy

After two weeks of some fretting, some heart rate monitoring, a lot of self-analyzing, and a wide variety of comments from friends, I sat down this afternoon with my Obstetrician to discuss in detail the level and speed of running I can continue during the pregnancy.  At my last appointment, she had declared the one-size-fits-all rule many doctors follow that your heart rate can't go over 140, and we'd agreed to check my heart rate to see where I fell.

Going into this appointment, I sat down at the computer this morning and compiled a 3-page document to lead the discussion with my doctor.  It included
  1. my training history over the last year so she could really visualize where I've come from,
  2. the heart rate data I'd collected throughout the last two weeks,
  3. other things I had been doing since our last appointment to improve my probability of getting to run
  4. online research I had done about exercising during pregnancy for those who were active pre-pregnancy
Yes, I truly am that analytical.

When the doctor sat down, I started with telling her that I understood where the 140-heart-rate rule had come from - she doesn't know I wouldn't do something stupid like run 10 miles in the middle of the day in the heat, or that I wasn't lying or exaggerating about my training history.  But I told her that I've been a model patient (perfect blood pressure, a healthy weight, no complications, no defects spotted with the baby) aside from the complications we know from the first pregnancy would arise from my fibromyalgia, but again, the running has helped keep the effects of that condition at bay.  So I asked her to go through all the info I had prepared and decide what were the right heart rate and other exercise guidelines for ME in particular.

She was great listening and discussing each item with me.  Immediately she expressed a "wow" at the monthly mileage summary of my training over the last year.  I laughed and said, "See, I don't know that it's not always getting communicated how much I've been running over the last year.  I'm not one of those who saws they are a runner but are doing a couple miles only a couple days a week!"

In the end, she agreed to the detailed compromise I suggested with the caveat that she was agreeing to it now but things might and will change throughout the pregnancy.  Here's what I presented on the paper that she agreed to...

• Would like to compromise on the strict 140 bpm rule with the following:
  • Stick with a pace that is about 160-165 bpm,
  • Have walk breaks every 3 to 5 minutes of running, walk break length of 1-2 minutes, whatever gets it back below 140 bpm
  • Always wear a heart rate monitor with all exercise.
  • Limit distance – no half marathons, but up to 1 hour of exercise (5 miles).
  • Always keeping perceived exertion no higher than an 8 on a 1-10 scale.
  • Mix in lower heart rate training like elliptical, Zumba fitness, and other classes like yoga and pilates rather than running every day.

Additionally, the doctor made notes in my chart and we agreed that I'll help us remember to discuss in detail my exercising and heart rate data at each and every pre-natal visit, and I'll be having more ultrasounds routinely to monitor fetal development.
We also discussed an item she brought up which I had already mentioned in a previous blog post and had on my 3 page report for the doctor - my caloric intake.  I've left another pound in the last two weeks.  She's not concerned, but I was already aware that I have to work on upping my calories to account for the 300-500 I'm burning several times a week.

While some who ran through pregnancy suggested I get a second opinion or a new doctor, I love this doctor (she delivered my first child also), and this proves why she's great.  She was willing to change her opinion with further information provided and she truly listened to what her patient was trying to explain!

Happy Running All!