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.

Stronger

In honor of the Blue Ridge Relay this weekend, which many of my super crazy awesome friends are doing this weekend, I thought I would regale you with the tale of my “hill work” last Saturday. Super Dad, Super Baby, Super Girl, and I were in the mountains for the holiday, and my only options were run, walk, use a 30 year old recumbent bike, or sit around. While I did choose the latter for two days, I decided to push myself a bit on Saturday.

I haven’t been running much because of my back, but I have been feeling better, so I figured I would go for a run in the beautiful fresh mountain air. When I say I did hill work, that is an understatement. I typically bellyache over having to cover 50 feet of elevation change during a one hour run. I will zig zag up and down the same street 12 times just because it is flat and I cannot drag my butt up another hill. I reason with myself that I can either keep running on flat ground, thereby getting more miles in, or walk up a hill/go home. That said, I know that running hills makes you stronger and faster, and I have gotten a lot better about incorporating it into my workouts because they are simply unavoidable in Raleigh. But that doesn’t mean I like em!

The running I did on Saturday quite possibly induced the most pain I have ever known while exercising. I started at the house where we were staying, then ran to the main road, which was about .6 miles down the mountain. Running that steep downhill (about a 45% grade at points) is not easy. But you do go pretty damn fast. Then I turned around to go back up. Uhhhh, what was I thinking? I ended up sprinting for a minute then completely stopping for 30 seconds, all the way back up that “hill.” Then I did the whole thing again, running for marginally longer stretches on the way back up. My total running time was an average of 6:33/mile.

I’m not going to pretend there’s any way my average would have been any faster than 9:30/mile had I not made it into an interval workout. Just standing looking up the gravel road during my breaks was painful. I could barely catch my breath. Mountain air is thinner right? Ok, I know it wasn’t the Pike’s Peak Marathon, but I am not used to this kinda stuff.

The point is that I know my body has limits, and I wanted to test them without the end result being me lying in the yard of some bearded mountain man with a pack of wild dogs sniffing my lifeless carcass. Plus, when you do hill work, you don’t just run up a giant mountain for 5 minutes straight, unless you are one of those maniacs super dedicated, adventurous people who does the Blue Ridge Relay. Normal people either do short bursts for 10-20 seconds, or longer intervals of 1-2 minutes. I know this workout, however short, made me a better runner.

Today, pushing the kids in the double stroller, I gobbled up the rolling hills in our neighborhood like Miss Pacman taking down cherries. She eats those right? I won’t credit the ease with which I knocked out four double stroller miles to a few measly miles of interval work on a mountain, but the perspective was nice. And the feeling that even though I haven’t been able to run in the last month, the cross training has really kept me stronger than I expected.

So here’s to hills or mountains, pick your poison this weekend. Good luck to all you crazies!

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How to live in the present

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever heard these quotes? Or seen the Wikihow page on 7 steps to “live in the moment”? Gurus and philosophers, therapists and motivational speakers; they are always espousing the idea that you can’t live in the past or the future- you have to live in the present. That’s all well and good, but I can’t live in the present unless I can look toward the future.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, as you may have noticed by my lack of activity here. Not being able to do all the things I like to physically has been emotionally taxing on me. I quickly resigned myself to a life of water aerobics, Instagram, and Words with Friends. But I found a way to live in the moment, by spending more time with my family, watching SuperBaby learn to do awesome new things every day, and helping Super Girl with her new blog .

My back isn’t completely fixed now, but it seems to be getting somewhat better. I have been trying to ease back into things but that never really goes that well for me because I don’t like to lose. Although I am not planning on doing any 50 mile rides or 15 mile runs in the near future, I decided that every day I would just try to figure out what I am feeling up to, and then give it a try (so long as it fit into the family schedule of course). For instance, a quick 18 miles on my bike after work last Friday. On Saturday, I did the same insane circuit/Crossfit-ish/bootcamp class that had all the jump roping last time. I know you all think I am crazy and did not learn my lesson, but I reminded myself that the class is different every week and I can modify. The most recent class had five stations, one minute each. After all five stations, you do one minute of shuttle runs, then go back to the first station. Repeat the whole thing six times.

1) modified handstand pushup. The handstand pushup is pretty big in Crossfit. I have no upper body muscles and little balance or coordination, so I did the version where your knees are on a box. No back problems there.

2) Russian Kettle Bell Swings with 20 lb kettlebell. I did more of a modified American swing, becasue the Russian version engages your core and glutes more, and I was concerned it would bother my back. However, with the American version, you go all the way overhead, which is not so awesome for my right shoulder, which I had operated on twice in 2011.

3) Burpees

4) Chest press with 20 lbs dumbbells

5) Wall balls with a 15 lbs. ball

By the end of class, my shoulders were toast.

I also got a spin class in on Sunday and a ride indoors on my road bike on Monday. My parents got me an early birthday present, this sweet Cycelops Fluid2 Trainer, plus some training dvd’s and other accessories. I have been eyeing this trainer for a while, but couldn’t throw down the cash to buy it because I spend all my money at lululemon am saving up for a minivan/the kids’ college/Disneyworld. So far, the verdict is that it’s a great trainer, but riding on it is soooooo boring. I didn’t watch the dvd though, so that’s probably part of the problem. The thought of going for three hours on it makes me want to fall asleep as I type.

Even though I have gotten some decent workouts in and have tried some new things, I just feel like I’m kind of in an athletic rut because I’m not really training for anything. It makes me live in the past, where I think about when I could just throw on my shoes and go knock out 8 miles like it was nothing. There’s no way I can do the Pinehurst Tri as I had originally planned for early October, because my back is not well enough for me to do more than 20 miles on the bike without me having complete foot numbness for 24 hours thereafter. I also haven’t run longer than 2 minutes consecutively since July. Finally, we don’t even want to go into the disaster that has been my swimming training, because once I realized I was not going to be able to do Pinehurst, I just completely sacked my pool time. Why smell like chlorine when you don’t have to, right?

I decided that a reasonable goal would be to do the last Rex Wellness Sprint Tri on October 13. It is super short and a good compromise because it gives me a goal I can look forward to, but I won’t have to kill myself to get the end result of another triathlon under my belt. It also gives me an excuse to carb load on October 12. Plus, even though I have not been swimming at all, there still should be no more than a minute difference between myself and the top female swimmer (my sister-in-law). She has been doing masters swimming, which involves yardage that I would only do if you held a gun to my head. So yeah, if you put us head-to-head in a 1500, she would be showered and blow-dried by the time I got out of the pool. But a 250, I can handle that 🙂 It’s also a short enough bike and run that it shouldn’t be too taxing on my back. I say this now, but I’ll potentially be walking with a cane on Turkey Day.

So there you have it- all it took was me realizing that I just kind of flounder without something on the horizon that I can look forward to (vacation, birth of a baby, Christmas, a race). You may say that I’m not living in the moment, but I need the promise of the future to help me live in the now. Is that cheesy? Yes. Massively queso-fied. But it’s true. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to need goals to help us enjoy each minute of every day, to understand what the purpose is of each workout, or realize that one day your child will start kindergarten so you may want to work on him/her giving up the pacifier at some point before age 5 (not my kid). What are your goals? Do you live in the present, past, or future?

Needs versus wants

Ok, I apologize in advance to any new mothers out there who are getting approximately 79 minutes of sleep in any one stretch at night. Maybe you should just skip this post altogether so I don’t annoy you 🙂

I spoke too soon yesterday… I don’t know if I overdid it during the jump rope/thruster/burpee/squat workout or the steroid taper is just affecting me the same way it did last time (feel awesome the first few days), but I had an awful night of pain which led to lack of sleep. My mom thinks it was the jump roping but I beg to differ. My jump riping resembles a toddler trying to just barely avoid stepping on a dead bug on the sidewalk. No double unders here, just doing enough to not trip over the rope. For years I skipped jumping rope all together because I looked A FOOL whenever I tried. I spent more time getting untangled from the rope than getting any sort of aerobic activity in.

Anyway, I know that no one really cares, but I need my sleep. I am seriously like a 2 year old in that respect. Sleep helps you regenerate your brain cells and recover both mentally and physically from the day. I know I read that somewhere. It has to be science, why else would it be so important for babies to get sleep?

Here’s the thing- Prednisone makes you wired. But not only was I amped up from the Prednisone, I was also in so much pain that I could not sleep. I finally fell asleep around 3am after watching two episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey and eating 4th meal. Don’t judge- I don’t judge you for watching Duck Dynasty or The Bachelorette. I mean really, how is The Bachelorette still on? No one ever finds their “one true love” on that show?! And as for the food, well, I was hungry from burning so many calories writhing in pain. At least it wasn’t Taco Bell.

I couldn’t sleep in, but was really savoring crawling back into bed for a nap with Super Girl. We had the naps synchronized perfectly with Super Baby and this never happens because the kid is a sleep maniac. He still typically takes two naps a day, which means one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Super Girl’s comes sandwiched in the middle. If you have kids that aren’t super close together in age, you have probably encountered this form of house arrest several times. You can’t leave the house from 10am to 5pm. They should have just given Martha Stewart a baby and 3 year old as her punishment. Dated reference? Perhaps. I exaggerate somewhat, but you get my point.

Well, today the stars had aligned, which had me so excited in the hour leading up to what would be their simultaneous nap times. I was smug in fact. And of course, I was first in too much pain to relax and then, once the pain was under control, the Prednisone kept me from going to sleep. So although Super Baby rocked two hours, as per usual, and Super Girl is still asleep, 2.5 hours later, I am wide awake but utterly exhausted. And I don’t even have a 50 mile bike ride in the morning to show for it. Curses!

Sorry for the rant. At least I felt well enough yesterday to get in a killer workout, play with my kids, and take Super Dad to H&M for the first time. Super Baby was unimpressed with the car shirt, as evidenced by the photo below. It was neither a need nor a want.

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I also can’t complain because I felt well enough to have an awesome dinner with my super awesome neighbors. Seriously, it is like we moved to Pleasantville. I have never known so many awesome people in such a concentrated area. Really, they are so awesome that I have used the word awesome five times in this paragraph alone. It is something we have wanted for a long time, and we have finally found it.

So even though I want to be out there biking or running, all I really need is to feel better so I can be a good mom to my kids and wife to Super Dad. And I need my sleep of course. You mothers of newborns out there, if you have read this far without getting super frustrated with me, you will know what I’m talking about when that baby starts sleeping 🙂

PS- if you want to get a glimpse into a day in the life of me, Super Baby, Super Kid, and Super Dad, check out my Instagram handle: willrunforbiscuits (shocker). I typically will post workouts, photos of Super Baby wearing a Rapunzel wig, and the delicious and clean meals Super Dad creates for us during the week. Check it out if you want or need to. Although I honestly can’t think of a single sane, non stalkerish person who would need to follow my Instagram.

Found

I found two things this week!

The first is totally relevant because it involves workout apparel. I found these insane lululemon Speed Shorts that came out last week and sold out online in minutes. I missed them, and also missed them in stores in Raleigh. People were apparently lining up at the door waiting for the store to open so they could buy these shorts. Of course, I saw this as a business opportunity, because I sell lululemon stuff I no longer want on ebay. These lunatics women will pay MORE than what the clothing retailed for originally. For used stuff. So I knew that I had to have these shorts, not only because they are cute, but because they sold out so fast, I would be able to make a killing on them down the road. I am actually at the point where I don’t buy any new lulu unless I have sold a used piece. That’s reasonable right?

I discovered, from an inside source (friend who is a manager at lululemon) that the store in Charlotte got the shorts late Wednesday night, so I implored my buddy- we will call her Lisa- to go to the store as soon as it opened Thursday and buy them for me. She agreed, not realizing that she was signing herself up for texts from me every 5 minutes beginning at 9am Thursday. I am surprised that a restraining order was not taken out. The shorts were secured, and delivered to another friend, “Harry,” who then transported them in an armored car to Asheville, where we were for a bachelorette party. Funds were exchanged via Paypal, and all was right in the world. And now Super Dad knows how deep my addiction runs. It’s a disease really.

Ok, so on to the second thing I found: my endorphins! I started my second round of oral steroids to treat the herniated disc in my back, and fingers crossed- I think it’s working this time. Assuming I continue to get better, I won’t need an epidural steroid injection or surgery. My friend “Richard Simmons” asked me if I had ever seen an epidural needle before. Ummm, I have given birth twice and I was induced both times, so yes, I have most definitely seen an epidural needle before.

Anyway, because I am feeling better, I naturally went full steam ahead and did a class at the Y this morning. Really, I felt this was a responsible decision because I still can’t really run and think that I am not ready to sit on a bike for a couple hours. The class used to be called Intensity, but then the Y started to offer the Insanity classes that a lot of lunatics people have been doing, so Y-goers got confused. Thus, the Y changed the name of the Intensity class to Muscle Madness. It’s basically like a Bootcamp and CrossFit all rolled into one. I hated liked the workout so much that I wanted to share it.

WOD 1:
1:50 of jump rope, then 10 seconds of thrusters (I used 15 lb dumb bells)
1:40 jump rope, 20 seconds thrusters

… And so on, until you get down to only 10 seconds of jump rope and 1:50 of thrusters.

It ends up being 11 rounds = 22 minutes of activity with NO REST. Holy shoulder death.

WOD 2:
1:50 air squats, then 10 seconds of box jump burpees
–> –> –>
10 seconds air squats, 1:50 box jump burpees

Again, 11 rounds = 22 minutes of exercise.

I had to modify the box jump so that I stepped down instead of jumped down. And the burpees were of course full chest to ground burpees, as my friend “Nelly” always made us do in Athletic Conditioning in Charlotte. It’s NOT a burpee unless your chest touches the ground people! Check out her blog blog here!

This workout is perfect for a big group exercise class because you can just use a step with risers if you don’t have a box, and you only need a jump rope and one set of weights. Plus you can have partners take turns deciding whether to start with 1:50 of the thrusters or the jump rope if you are pressed for steps/boxes. Also, modifications can be made like changing the box jump burpee to a burpee with a jump squat, or burpee with a switch lunge jump. There’s something for everyone 🙂

This workout nade my shoulders and legs burn, and I think this kind of hurt is directly proportional to the endorphins created. So I am a very very happy girl today, because as you know, my endorphins were lost for the last week or so.

Did you find/buy/try anything new this week? Is there anything I should try next week, besides abridging my blog posts?

ISO Endorphins

If you follow me on Instagram – my handle may be really hard to remember: it’s willrunforbiscuits – then you may have noticed 1) no photos related to exercise and 2) everything seems really awesome in my world.  If you don’t follow me but you follow social medial in general, you probably know that most people seem to paint a picture that everything in there life is sunshine and puppies, PR’s in every race, babies that sleep 15 hours at night at 4 weeks old, pay raises, surprise giant bouquets of exotic flowers from significant others, and selfies.  I find it highly improbable that life is that perfect all the time.  People just want everyone else to think everything is hunky dory because really, who wants to be depressed by your screaming kid that just smeared bodily fluids on the wall?  Or maybe there is something missing any putting cute and happy pictures into the universe makes life better for the time being.

I know this isn’t really related to running, or triathlon training, but I’m going to connect the dots soon.  For the last week, I have not been able to work out.  No running (that makes three weeks now), no cycling, no swimming, no lifting, nothing.  Remember that leg thing that has been nagging me for a while that I self-diagnosed as compartment syndrome?  Wrong, it isn’t compartment syndrome.  I jacked up my back somehow.  I really have no clue how I did it.  I didn’t slip, trip, or fall.  I didn’t lift anything heavy other than one of my giant children or 50 pound dogs.  It just sort of happened over the last several weeks.  Really, since before my triathlon in July.  But I thought it was due to tight shoes or something.  In retrospect, I should have known it was my back, because when you herniate a disc at a certain point in your low back, it pretty much ONLY causes leg and foot symptoms. That’s it.  No back pain.  

I mentioned what was going on when I talked to my former boss last week (we’ll call her Jim).  It’s interesting because we joke that she is either future me or I am pre-millenium Jim.  When Jim was my age, she had two small kids.  Then she herniated a disc in her back and ended up having surgery.  Now she has two awesome teenageers and we have a lot more in common which i won’t get into, because I only overshare about myself, Super Dad, and the Super Kids.  Jim wanted to know how I was doing because she noticed that over the weekend I posted a lot of awesome, super happy photos on instagram from a bachelorette party I went to.  Then when I got back I posted a bunch of happy photos of Super Baby and Super Kid.  No Facebook updates to the effect of “Wow, my leg hurts. Still not running.  Really getting depressed.” I think Jim knew that something was still up, so she just wanted to check in on me, which I so appreciate.  Because it’s time I really check in on myself.

Running, exercising, pick your poison, has got to be one of the best anti-depressants out there.  I think most people involved in some form of fitness know that exercise makes you happy.  It’s science.  You’re probably familiar with the term “runner’s high,” which refers to the euphoric feeling one sometimes gets when exercising. Researchers have found that  heavy weights or training that incorporates sprinting or other anaerobic exertion produce endorphins. This is because when your body crosses over from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state, it’s suddenly operating without enough oxygen to satisfy the muscles and cells screaming out for it. This is when the “runner’s high” occurs.  This explains why I always feel best when I run so hard that I want to vomit. 

Since I have not been able to tap into any natural endorpins, my mental state has been less than awesome.  Not just because my body doesn’t feel right, but because I really felt like I was getting on the right track with my tri training.  I was proud of my cycling, my newfound commitment to the pool, and just being able to get some sort of schedule worked out that accommodated our family.  Now, I know it’s only been a week, but I naturally go to this place of “what if I need surgery?” and “what if I’m not supposed to bike anymore, or run?” or “what is nothing helps the numbness and burning in my leg and foot go away?” 

I entered what I consider the four stages of grieving: 1) ignorance- pretend you will be running again in a matter of days. 2) drinking and eating a lot of processed foods to deal with fact that ignorance isn’t working. 3) purging processed foods from house because stage 2 has made me feel totally gross. 4) being a bad friend.

I’m a bad friend because I don’t want to know how fast you are running, what upcoming triathlon you are sure to crush, how many miles you swam after working 9 hours and making homemade baby food, how ripped you are now that you can work out three hours a day and don’t eat any sugar or dairy or carbs, or how it’s soooo crazy that you never get hurt despite running 60 miles a week.  I should be supportive but right now, I don’t have enough endorphins to get me through the day without despairing that my hard work has been for nought.  That I am on my way to becoming a decrepit, unathletic middle-aged woman who will be limited to water aerobics and tai chi.  Not that those things aren’t cool.  But I want to SWEAT.  I want to compete.  I don’t want to be in this place, and so if I’m not commenting on Instagram or Facebook about what a badass runner you are and how you inspire me (because you really do), please don’t be angry with me.  I need more endorphins.  And I need my leg back.