Recovery Mode

Again, more TMI.  But then we move on to our regularly scheduled exercise-related programming…

Recovering from childbirth is what I imagine recovering from an Ironman would be like… it’s long and it requires patience or you can hurt yourself further.  Plus, it’s different for everyone, and for the same person it may vary depending on the particular race.  With Super Girl, there was a lot that nobody told me about what the immediate aftermath of childbirth would be like.  So, thanks a lot for nothing friends who had kids before me.  I was not prepared for the cramping or feeling like my insides were going to fall out with every step I took.   I started to feel more myself around a month and was back into my workout routine around 2 months postpartum. Recovery with Super Toddler was pretty similar, but a bit more difficult because I was on bed rest the last three weeks of my pregnancy. I was careful though, and eventually PR’d a 5k when he was 6 months old (21 minutes-ish).

With Super Baby, I had terrible cramping for a couple hours after she popped out.  Like, worse than my strongest pitocin-induced contractions.  Oh wait, I had an epidural.  Still, it was not enjoyable.  Once the pain meds kicked in I felt a lot better.  But I had to take 800 milligrams of Motrin a few times a day for over a week.  That didn’t seem normal.  Otherwise, I felt really good south of my waist.  It helped that this was my smallest baby though not by much, and with it being my third child my body seemed to be kinder to me.  I was going for walks within a few days and at around 10 days, thought I could actually run – but I didn’t.  I felt like this was the universe’s way for evening out how ridiculous the labor process went. Until…

At 12 days post partum, I woke up with very odd symptoms.  Like, check with Dr. Google odd.  Typically, when you consult Dr. Google, Web MD, Wrongdiagnosis.com, etc, you get about 821 different diagnoses and turn into a hypochondriac, and there’s a 99% chance that you don’t have any of those ailments.  For me, there was pretty much just one possibility. The next day I had the same symptoms so I called my doctor, who, after an ultrasound, confirmed that I had retained part of the placenta.  Gross.  On Super Baby’s 2 week birthday, I had to undergo a procedure under anesthesia to get everything cleared out, lest I bleed to death at home.  It really wasn’t a huge deal, until I lost a ton of blood on the operating table.  Whoops, so that was scary.  Fortunately, I narrowly avoided a transfusion although my doctor threatened me with an overnight stay to monitor my hemoglobin.  No thanks, I have a baby to attend to.

Since then, I took it easy for almost two weeks.  I was left severely anemic, which coupled with newborn sleep deprivation, has made me extra sleepy. I know right- so weird that losing a lot of blood and waking up every 3-5 hours makes me tired.  I have been taking iron and getting in as many naps as possible, and have gone to bed early every night which means I can’t watch Game of Thrones with Super Dad on Sunday nights when it airs.  So no spoilers on facebook people, I need my sleep.

On Monday, I went for my first run.  It lasted 5 minutes.  Later I thought my lady parts would fall out but it was just a side effect of the massive iron consumption (google it… I am not going to overshare that much).  Yesterday I ran for 10 minutes straight ( that was a mile.  Holy moly) and did five one minute “sprint” intervals.  And by sprint I mean running at about a 4 second per faster pace than my 10 minute jog. But I felt good, and I stopped myself before I was utterly cashed.  Plus, it was 90 degrees out.

Reigning it in is hard. I really want to head out tomorrow and run 20 minutes, then 30, then an hour, but I know that I have to be smart about it or I will hurt any number of organs or body parts that would not have been remotely affected by even a 2 hour run in the morning and an evening Crossfit beating in the past. Childbirth puts your body through the ringer, and just like there is pressure for endurance athletes to get back to training after a race, lest they lose the base they had built up after 6 months of heavy training, there is too much pressure on women to not only crush their workouts until hours before giving birth, but to return to “beast mode” before their milk comes in.  Too much? Sorry, not sorry.  It’s true.  I am done procreating, and have the rest of my life to run marathons, do an Ironman, learn how to do a muscle up pull-up, and Rx+ a WOD.  For now it’s all about keeping this tiny human alive, keeping myself from going insane (aka, sleep as much as possible), and being there to have fun with my other Super kids now that summer is here and the pool is open!

I may be contradicting myself in three weeks when I feel awesome and head back to Athletic Lab for some punishment, but for now, I am trying to be smart about my recovery mode.  Beast mode can wait.

 

Here is the gang at the pool this weekend:

pool

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So confused

Since my last post, I officially became a CrossFit convert/junkie. In order to justify the expense, I ditched my YMCA membership (we had a good run there for 7 years, but time to move on), and put my Massage Envy membership on hold. I could lease a small Kia for what CrossFit costs each month, so no room for other luxuries in the budget.

What I am loving about CrossFit is that each day I can’t wait for the next workout. I can’t say I have ever felt this way about running. I know, blasphemy given the title of this blog. But mixing things up is good for both your muscles and your mind. Hey, if something can get me out of bed 3-4 mornings a week, that’s saying a lot. I think I maybe ran one morning a week when I was super motivated. This could die out quickly but for now, I am going with it.

I just finished up three straight days of workouts (yesterday was endurance so think hill work/lots of running outside) so I am going to take a rest day tomorrow. I already feel like I am in better shape, although the more logical explanation could be that I have quickly learned my limitations (pregnancy-related or otherwise) and I am not pushing myself too hard. Seriously people, before you go all loco on me like everyone did about this lady please keep in mind I am scaling a lot – using bands on pull-ups, lifting less than the prescribed weight on anything overhead, nothing inverted, and NO ROPE CLIMBS. Mainly because I can’t, but also because I know there are certain things that just automatically put me at higher risk for falling and thus, injury. I also keep my heart rate in check and pace myself, which I cannot say I was ever good at in the past. Always wanted to go go go and push push push.

So what have I become? Am I officially a gym rat? How do I find balance and get back to running? Am I bailing on running because I know I can’t get faster in the next five months, and will have a major uphill battle getting back to my very former running speed after I have Super Baby? Or is this my true calling in life? Was running just something I did for the past 20 years on and off because of my background in a solo endurance sport? Maybe I will just get really swoll and be one of those badass masters at the CrossFit games in 10 years. Yeah, probably not…

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This will be me in 4 months… psych. No one wants to see my big fat pregnant stomach. Also, I can’t lift that much, ever.

To WOD or not?

This post is REALLY LONG.

Ok, I know I have mentioned in the past that I’ve been in a bit of a workout rut since we moved to Raleigh. I haven’t really connected to the Y system here, and some other options are just a bit too pricey or not at all convenient with my schedule.

A lot of my friends have been doing CrossFit for quite a while. See, e.g. “Lisa” P, “Daaron” H, and “Harry” Q. I didn’t know much about it, other than a) it appears to be cult-like, b) it’s expensive, and c) the people who do it are freaking RIPPED. With all the shoulder issues I have had, and generally my fear of change, I have resisted the urge to delve into the world of WODs (workout of the day). Until last week.

Disclaimer: in Athletic Conditioning and another class at the Y in Cary that I have taken sporadically, we did a lot of the classic CrossFit exercises, like dead lifts, snatches, double unders, pull-ups, kettle bell swings, etc. Obviously no crazy heavy lifts, but overall, between my base fitness level and my cursory experience with the core exercises, I got the blessing from my OB to give CrossFit a try, with the ever present reminder to gauge my heart rate and not do anything I was uncomfortable with.

I have a free one week trial at a local gym, which offers CrossFit, Performance endurance classes (think WODs that involve running, obstacles, kettle bells, and endurance based moves rather than mainly strength), weightlifting, and other special skills classes. It’s not your traditional box though it is a CrossFit affiliate.

On Wednesday night, I drove to my first CrossFit workout, scared out of my wits. I had no idea what to expect- would we be doing ropes climbs and pulling sleds? Would I have to do 100 unassisted pull-ups or else I would get laughed out of the gym? Everyone was super friendly as soon as I walked in. The coach walked me through the warmup, which was finding our power clean max. We had 10 minutes to basically do a few sets of five reps. I had the least weight on my bar, but could care less. I wanted to make sure my form was good, and I did not want to overwork my back. The coach helped me with my form for most of the warmup time.

The main WOD was 6 minutes long. I thought “6 minutes? I shower for longer than 6 minutes. This can’t be a workout.” False. During that time, we had to sprint a 400m (which by the way, after doing 10 minutes of power cleans, was not super easy), then do 4 dead lifts and 6 burpees for as many rounds as possible (AMRAP). The 400 was only the “buy in,” so it was just the dead lifts and burpees we were repeating. The recommended weight on the deadlift to Rx the workout was 55kg and I actually lifted that comfortably. I was pleased to complete 6 rounds plus the first four deadlifts of round 7. I can crush some burpees.

The second WOD was called Cindy. Although Cindy is traditionally 20 minutes long, ours was only 10 minutes, I guess because of the other WOD. With Cindy, you are supposed to do as many rounds as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats. Doesn’t sound so bad right? Wrong. After about three rounds, I was jello. I used the squats to sort of catch my breath and check on my heartrate each round. I almost got through 10 rounds, with assistance from pull-up bands for most of the rounds. Almost all the women, except for those doing the Rx+ workout (aka “beast mode”) used bands, and so did some men. One day I hope to be strong enough to do a whole WOD without bands, but for day one, I was happy.

I was exhausted by the end, but totally exhilarated. I signed up for the endurance class at 7am the following morning. Crazy, I know. But the endurance class was more running with a few wall ball (okay, 90) shots and pull-ups along the way. We did mobility work with hurdles which was fun. This class is a lot like what I am used to, and I think I will probably take it twice a week, with one classic CrossFit workout one day a week.

I was so unbelievably sore for two days after my 24 hour CrossFit indoctrination. I wavered between “this is crazy” and “I want to do more” over the past 48 hours. Also, “how do I pay for this addiction?” Much like the thought process someone on the show Intervention may experience.

I have had friends point out there are a lot of pros and cons to CrossFit. Ok, one friend whose name rhymes with Hameron Womens who pointed me to this article which scared the crap out of me. We all know the benefits are the community, the overall workout you get, and an incentive to push yourself harder. But pushing yourself harder can lead to injury, which is very prolific in the sport. I am very pretty injury prone, and obviously, being pregnant, I don’t want to sustain any injuries. First and foremost, I don’t want anything to happen to the baby. Secondarily, if I get injured and can’t workout at all, I will get reall REALLY round and really ornery.

So what I want to know is, do you CrossFit? If so, how do you prevent injury? If you used to CrossFit, why don’t you Crossfit anymore? Any runners who use a moderate amount of CrossFit for your strength needs? Is it possible to just do a moderate amount of CrossFit? I just have so many questions before I decide to dive in.

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Blecht

***originally written on 9/23***

Remember in the last post how I talked about how great I was feeling? Well, that was 10 days ago. Since I last mused on pregnancy, I became so horribly infested with morning sickness that all my energy is reserved for figuring out how to avoid rushing to the bathroom every 6 minutes at work, then willing myself not to yack on my keyboard. I even waited five days to upgrade to iOS 7 because the thought of adjusting to new icons made me nauseous.

I cannot even begin to adequately describe how all consuming the morning sickness is this time around. It was pretty rough with Super Girl but partially, I think I was just like “oh women get morning sickness when they are pregnant, and I am all about pregnancy, so I guess I have it too.” I can’t remember. It lasted til right around my second trimester. But I didn’t have any other kids to raise so laying on the couch eating pretzels every day was no big thing.

With super toddler, I think I had some queasiness but not quite on the level with Super Girl. That’s how I knew it was a boy. I kept running a lot and that’s what reminds me I couldn’t have been that nauseous, because working up a good sweat/lactic acid doesn’t go very well with morning sickness.

The reason I know this is because for the past week, I have either hovered near death (the toilet bowl) or have attempted, in vain, to work out hard. In the fleeting moments where I feel halfway ok, I pretend like nothing is wrong with me making me sick and I have gone to a very intense group exercise class at my favorite very expensive gym downtown. All three times have resulted in disaster. I know I have said before that it’s not a good workout unless cookies are tossed, but that did not apply this week. I was too queasy to really even get to a good workout in. I was focusing too hard on unsuccessfully warding off trips to the bathroom.

On Sunday, I accompanied my sister in law to her first ever class at this studio. I could tell, morning sickness notwithstanding, that it was probably the hardest class I have ever taken at this studio. She looked at me like “what the heck is wrong with you? Normal people don’t do this to themselves.” She works out HARD almost every day of the week, and she is most certainly not with child, so I knew it was a good one. Unfortunately, this meant I was done within 5 minutes. I kept looking at my watch thinking there must be some mistake, that surely more than 9- 12- 14 minutes had elapsed. I finally called it quits at 30 minutes. It was pointless, I was having to stop so often to visit the little girls’ room. Sorry, TMI.

I know you all are thinking that I was crazy for even trying to work out when 95% of my waking hours over the last week have been spent barfing, thinking about barfing, or trying not to think about barfing. I figured that if I already felt sick, it wouldn’t make much difference if I did an activity which would keep me in shape but also make me want to wretch. Oh how wrong I was. I have learned my lesson, and will be limiting my workouts during this very dark period to speed walks around the neighborhood.

I just hope it ends soon, because my mental health depends on a) my ability to contribute around the house and b) how good of a sweat I can get going in the gym or on the road. Super Dad has majorly stepped up, as per usual, and taken care of the kids during the many many times I have been laying on the couch/bed/floor of the bathroom. We both know that Super Baby is the last one, but this experience is 19929% sealing the deal. Super Dad has effectively been rendered a single parent, and a mighty good one at that. Man, I am going to owe him so big- once I am done cashing in my bearing the cross of morning sickness for several months, having back pain, giving birth, getting up to feed the baby in the middle of the night (hopefully not for more than 3 months), and making up for a year of sleep deprivation.

Maybe next time I can write about running, or anything other than barfing. Here’s to hope.

Race Recap

Remember a couple weeks ago when I asked someone to help me identify a half to do in the coming months? Well, I haven’t found one yet, but I succumbed to peer pressure and on a lark, registered for a 10k that was part of a local race which also included a marathon and half marathon.

The City of Oaks Marathon and 1/2 Marathon took place here in Raleigh on November 3. I obviously cannot comment from firsthand experience about these but can say that according to the race organizers, the course was changed this year to make it faster. From looking at the elevation map, generally knowing Raleigh’s topography, running part of the course, and speaking to friends who did both the full and half, I can unequivocally say that the past years’ course must have been hell on earth.

The 10k course was also not so easy, but running isn’t supposed to be easy, right? Mile one, as I could gather from the elevation map, was almost all downhill, with a short steep uphill at about .75. Sweeeeet. Now as a brief aside, let me advise that none of you actually try to “race” anything other than a trip to the hospital with a) only 13-15 miles of mileage under your belt for several weeks or b) no warmup on a 37 degree morning- in shorts.

Anyway, mile 2 was fairly flat with one or two climbs. Still feeling pretty good, I clocked in at 14:25 for the first two miles. Just before mile three was a pretty long, nasty hill. At this point, my lack of training and warmup led to cramping in both hamstrings within about 5 minutes of one another. Can I also blame pregnancy on this? Surely the blood flow to areas other than my reproductive organs has to be limited right?

The last half of the race was an exercise in futility. I felt pretty well aerobicaly, which is nothing short of a miracle given my complete lack of conditioning. However, my muscles were shot from the cramping. Mile 4.9-6.4 (per my Garmin) was pretty much a death march straight uphill. I dragged my almost lifeless body across the finish line in 49:06. While this is a pregnancy PR, the last time I ran a 10k pregnant, I was 28 weeks along and MASSIVE.

With respect to the race, other than the crappy hills which should come as no surprise, in light of the fact that Raleigh is freaking hilly, I thought it was extremely well run. There were 750 volunteers throughout the course. The crowd support was wonderful. There were a lot of porta potties. There were jugs of hand sanitizer right outside the potties. Running through downtown Raleigh was a blast. The post race “party” was located about 1/2 mile from the 10k finish and about a block from the marathon and half marathon finish.

Oh right, so I forgot about what I would perceive as hell on Earth if I were running one of the longer races. The 10k started 30 minutes after the full and half. At close to our 2 mile marker, the 10k converged with the rest of the field. I filtered into the 2:15 half marathon pace group. I can imagine that group was frantic about getting passed by hoards of people, then annoyed because we were “only” running 6.2 miles.

Our finish was on the left side, after the 1.6 mile climb previously mentioned. The longer distances continued on the right. So not only did the longer races have to watch us finish, they continued to slog up that hill, which appeared to last another 1/4 mile. It was at around mile 8 of their race. It would have been so demoralizing to watch all these people finish as I was slowly jogging towards my death. Trust me, I have experienced it before in marathons, watching the half-ers cheerily split off to the post-race festivities.

At City of Oaks, the post-race festivities included free pizza, donuts, soup, bread, fruit, and BEER. Which I of course had none of, because pregnant woman can’t drink in public. There was a bounce house for the kids, and the post-race area was not so close to the finish line as to congest the spectating or finishers. I also liked how easy it was to get to and from parking, which was available in many different directions from the race start and finishes.

Overall, I give this race and it’s organizers a B+. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I think it would be a great, scenic, energetic race if you don’t mind a few hills. A friend of mine unexpectedly PR’d, but she is a freak of nature and is from this area (and most likely doesn’t repeatedly run in a 1600m loop in order to avoid hills, the way I do).

I did a long recovery walk with my Super Family, including our 3 mutts, later in the afternoon. Monday I was sorer than Pamela Anderson after the NYC Marathon, but on Tuesday I was re energized to tackle some hill work. If I’m gonna live in this city, I may as well give in to its topography and stop being a wuss about the elevation changes. It’s not like it Asheville or Boulder!

Random first trimester musings

Hopefully I have just finished running my first 10k since June.  And hopefully I didn’t run slower than I have been on my training runs.  Either way, I am just glad to be racing again!  Here is another look into my earlier pregnancy days…

*originally written on 9/13*

We have our first ultrasound in 12 days, and let me tell you three things I am thinking right now:

1) Why didn’t anybody tell me how humongous you get so quickly the third time around?

2) I REALLY hope there are not two or three babies in there, because I think I look like I am 16 weeks pregnant with triplets!

3) I already feel like I have been knocked up for four months. Why couldn’t I have been one of those women on “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” that has a perfectly healthy baby on the toilet at 38 weeks?

In other news, I am still feeling well (knock on wood). I was pretty nauseous at this point with both Super Girl and Super Toddler. Maybe my brain knows I don’t have time to be sick, so it’s telling my stomach to suck it up? That said, I am SUPER exhausted. I would much rather take a nap than go run at the end of the day, so I have been trying to work out in the morning since I am sleeping like crap anyway. I don’t remember being this tired before, maybe it’s because I have never had to be pregnant while raising two other kids? Although Super Dad does basically everything way more than most dads.

Will Run for Pickles

***Originally written on August 31***

When I first started this blog, I really wanted to have a post about running during pregnancy. I ran a good amount when I was pregnant with Super Girl, and even did 5 miles the day before she was born. With SuperToddler, I ran a half marathon (1:54) when I was about 15 weeks, then a 5k (24:50) at 24 weeks, and a 10k (53-ish) at 28 weeks. It was definitely harder the second time around, but I was smarter about my workouts. After reading every not so great book about running while pregnant (there were precisely two at the time), I was confident that the baby would not get overheated or, worse yet, fall out if I ran more than 1 mile.

This time around, I plan to keep running but I will incorporate more cycling and swimming yoga, strength training. That’s right, Super Baby part 3 is on the way! I just found out yesterday, right before Labor Day weekend. Awesome- guess who won’t be downing margaritas at the pool on Labor Day? I knew I shouldn’t have tested so early. But I also kind of had a feeling something was “off” so if I had indulged in a lot if adult beverages, raw sushi, and cold cuts over the weekend, I would not have been happy with myself.

Super Baby 3 was not planned because of the ongoing back problems I have been having. We decided to wait on expanding our family until I knew whether I would need injections or surgery. Well, the Big Guy upstairs had other plans. Thanks goodness that I have had almost no issues with my back or leg all week. I think it may be because I have not been on any 4 hour bike rides in that time.

I plan on documenting my activities throughout this pregnancy and my research on running/exercising while pregnant. I am not going to be doing any pregnant triathlons because a) I am deathly afraid of falling off the bike to begin with and b) who really wants to see a pregnant woman in a bathing suit?

That said, I would love to do a few road races, if my body permits, in the next several months. No, I won’t be running a marathon the morning I give birth, like that crazy lady that did the Chicago marathon a couple years ago. Do you have any clue how many potty breaks that lady would have needed to take? Maybe she just wore adult diapers? And just what is the point of running that far when you are 39 weeks pregnant? You are about to endure the torture of labor and sleepless nights- why do that to your bladder and legs? To each her own, I suppose.

I have a 5 mile race on tap for October 20 and half marathon I am tentatively planning for Late fall or early December when I will be well into my second trimester. Maybe a few more short races until the third trimester- then laying on the couch eating curly fries for a good 10 weeks. My goal is to run 2-3 times, ride my bike on my trainer 1-2 times, and do one strength session a week. If my back tells me to stop, then I will do more yoga and swimming sleeping.

For those of you hoping for posts about hardcore triathlon training- sorry. This has officially turned into a pregnant running blog, at least until next spring.