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.

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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!

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.

Parenting and Running aren’t easy

Disclaimer: This is more of a parenting/baby gear post than a running post.  Also, it is not meant to publicly shame people. Read on if you like.

I remember when SuperGirl was a baby, and I was so excited to be one of those moms who runs miles and miles while pushing her baby in a jogging stroller.  I wasn’t excited enough to fork over $400 for such a stroller though.  I found a floor model BOB Sport Utility stroller at a nearby baby boutique for $200, so I jumped at the chance to have one of these luxury running machines.  Once I started using this BOB, I envied the other moms with their BOB Revolution strollers with the swivel wheel.  This must be why the Sport Utility was so cheap- the damn front wheel doesn’t swivel.  It’s impossible to navigate a stroller with a fixed wheel!  If I had a swivel wheel my life would be so much easier.  Maybe it would be easier, but it wouldn’t be safer.

What I quickly learned is that the swivel wheel isn’t there to make running a breeze.  It’s there to make negotiating the aisles of the grocery store or the mall more feasible.  It’s there so that you can have your jogging stroller and everyday stroller all tied up in one nice little bow.  I had a sedan with a not-so-large trunk, so keeping a BOB in there full time was not an option.  Plus, it doesn’t really fold up that easily.  I had a separate stroller for everyday use, so my jogging stroller was just used for jogging/running, and it was stored in our dining room because we had no garage.  Now we have a garage, so it’s basically a stroller grave yard.

The thing is, I have seen lots of people running with the swivel wheel unlocked.  I have also seen people jogging with strollers that aren’t mean for any type of jogging whatsoever.  I won’t even get into that here.  People, this is NOT SAFE.  Do you want to know why? Because if you run “over even a small pebble with a swivel wheel at running speeds could send the stroller quickly veering in an unplanned direction.” See Runner’s World’s Guide to Jogging Strollers.  Also, even if you have a swivel wheel that can be fixed, there is “always some jiggle in the wheel one way or the other.”  If you look at the BOB Revolution owner’s manual, it specifically says not to run with the front wheel in swivel mode.  I am not a huge stickler for rules like obeying the speed limit or not turning on a red light.  But if the stroller manufacturer is telling me not to run with a swivel wheel, and most “serious” jogging strollers are only made with a fixed wheel, then I am not going to take that chance.

I have seen people comment on message boards that it would be “too hard” to push their kids with the front wheel fixed.  Here’s the thing: pushing your kid(s) in a jogging stroller is not supposed to be easy.  It’s hard work.  It makes you a bad ass, because you can watch your kids and exercise at the same time. It doesn’t make you as badass as this guy, but you are still way more awesome than someone who thinks that having kids and exercise don’t go hand in hand. Parenting is hard work.  There are some things that would make parenting easier, like putting your kid in her carseat without taking the 15 seconds to fasten the 5-point harness.  Or leaving your kids at home asleep with no baby sitter for a few hours because they sleep like rocks anyway. Or not installing a baby gate because you would have to find your drill, or making sure your wine isn’t on the coffee table because little Timmy might drink the whole thing (we all know you pour more than 6 oz). But easy doesn’t mean safe.  

Over the years I sold the BOB and acquired a double stroller that had a swivel option.  I only ran with it in the locked position, but I found it was not as sturdy and I worried that at any moment it could become unlocked.  Also, I didn’t like how small the wheels were.  I ended up with the Baby Jogger Twinner which is one of the best things to ever happen to me, besides my family and Amazon.  You can’t put an infant under 6 months in it but this isn’t a problem for me.  I talked about Big Red in a previous post so I won’t bore you again, but a big wheel and lightweight frame are crucial if you want to make pushing a jogging stroller easier AND safer 🙂

 

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Big Red

Last week I went for my first longish run in over 6 weeks. I couldn’t make it to spin class in time, and wanted some more quality time with Super Girl and Super Baby, so I decided we should reunite with our friend Big Red – aka, the double stroller.

Big Red is sort of a beast. She cannot fold down with the quick pop of a button or tug of a rip cord. Big Red was probably manufactured by Baby Jogger in 2003. That’s a rough estimate- maybe 2006. Either way, I was still in law school high school. I originally had a single Bob Sport Utility Stroller when Super Girl was just a wee lass. See:

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That Bob was pretty great. It was durable, I could throw an infant seat in there, and it had good storage. But it was a nightmare to maneuver due to the fixed wheel. Or so I thought…

When Super Baby came around, I knew that spending $500 on another Bob was not an option. So I waited until Super Baby was almost 6 months old, then I got a Kelty Speedster Swivel Deuce. Good looking stroller I must admit:

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The Kelty had an option to swivel the wheel, which made it easier to maneuver if I was just strolling around smooth terrain or even wanted to run to Whole Foods with the wheel fixed, then unlock the wheel to walk around the store. Although side note: Whole Foods isn’t really meant for double jogging strollers. It’s meant for Moby Wraps and other forms of child transportation that only involve wearing your child.

The downside of the Kelty is that it is really really difficult to fold and unfold. And the yellow plastic pieces that have to snap down to ensure the stroller doesn’t just pop up and send your kids flying down the road, well, I broke into a sweat every time I had to do the snapping.

So the Kelty’s life came to an end very quickly, as I didn’t want Super Girl to associate curse words with a) me or b) the act of running.

I had heard great things on runner’s message boards about the old school Baby Jogger strollers. You have seen them around- usually red, turquoise, Kelly green, or purple. They are like a long sling with either no hood (because the hood truly is a POS) or a short flat hood. They have either 16″ or 20″ wheels. Apparently, “serious” runners only do a large fixed wheel of at least 16″. Frills like infant seat adapters, cup holders, iPod docs, reclining seats, etc, need not apply.

I found Big Red on eBay. I had searched on craigslist for weeks with no success. Of course now, as I post this, there are three doubles comparable to mine that are going for about $50. Lovely. I didn’t pay that much more (I don’t think).

Big Red needed a new tire and a little bit of tuning up but otherwise, she was good to go. I have taken the kids on many a run with Big Red and she is soooo light and so fast. She turns on a dime. I always assumed it is impossible to turn a fixed-wheel stroller easily but that simply is not the case. You just need a light stroller apparently! Downhill, we practically fly. It’s a good thing I have a leash so the stroller doesn’t get away form me. Another sidebar: if you run with your kids, make sure you use the strap. Once that stroller gets away from you, only Usain Bolt would be able to catch it.

I haven’t been running much and Big Red has been collecting dust over the past two months. We had a blast last Thursday, just like old times. Knocked out about 4 miles in 35 minutes on a rolling route. Another 4 miles in 34 minutes the next day, and again today. There are times it is so so painful, but isn’t that what being a parent is? Taking the good with the bad?

I won’t be able to schlep these kids around in Big Red for much longer, because Super Baby’s weight doubles approximately every three months. But for now, I shall cherish her as Super Girl cherishes watching PBS kids on my iPhone and inhales snacks while she sits in the stroller. Do whatever it takes to keep a stroller-restrained kid happy!

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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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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.