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.

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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Fall is for racing

I am itching to find a half marathon in late November or in December. Are there any out there besides Kiawah that I can do in NC? Heck maybe I will even go up to VA, if SuperDad signs off.

I really need to find a race longer than a 5k because I can knock one of those out in my sleep (how fast it will be, well that’s another story). Only Olympic athletes actually train for a 5k right? If I can nail down a half marathon in next the 4-8 weeks, that should give me enough time to set some goals, amp up my mileage in a safe manner, and force me to do some tempo runs and speed work. I have fallen into yet another of my ruts and with this amazing fall weather, I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t indulge in a longer fall race.

Disclaimer: This is not recommended for beginners! I have been running up to 7 miles at least once a week and 4 miles with the double stroller (that’s 8 non stroller miles, if you don’t know the math) several times a week. I have time to get my long runs up to 10 miles, which I would be comfortable with heading into a race I just plan on running for fun, not to race. Wait did I just say I am doing a “fun run” because I don’t think I ever have before?

Alright people, put on your thinking caps. I am considering the City of Oaks 10k on 11/3 – yes they do have a 10k for lightweights like me but then I want you all to find me a half. Remember, it has to be at least one month from now. Ready, set, go!

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My mom and I at the Dowd Y half marathon in Charlotte in 2010. Gloves, hat, cold weather apparel. That’s what I’m talking about.