I’m quitting quitting

I’m a quitter. I freely admit it. I hope you have your reading glasses on, and don’t quit on me. Because this post is loooooong. What can I say? I have like 9 months to atone for.

It all goes back to my childhood. I quit trying to be an older sibling, so I ended up an only child. When I was a young swimmer, I switched events because my friend started beating me. I figured, if I’m not doing that event anymore, she isn’t really beating me.

Then in college, when I did horribly in Chemistry my first semester, I quit on my dream to become a doctor. Because it was too hard, and because I was no longer the best at schooling. I was used to basically just breathing and getting straight A’s. In college- not so much. So I just switched to a major that I couldn’t fail at. And I ended up in law school. Where all my greatest dreams came true. Ummmmm.

When I took up running, I was finally doing something that I felt I could succeed at again. Because I didn’t excel as a collegiate swimmer or a future doctor or even a future lawyer (though somehow I ended up with a JD and a job). I hadn’t ever run a half marathon before, so my first half was a PR. And then my second, and my third, and so on. Then I picked up marathon running, and that resulted in PR’s. Until one day it didn’t. One day, when I knew I hadn’t put in the work and I went out too fast, I saw a non-PR on the horizon. So I quit. I walked, and I jogged, and I walked, then I came up with some lame excuse. And promised myself I wouldn’t quit again.

Then motherhood came along. And I learned how you can’t quit. You can’t just stop waking up for your baby, you can’t lay down and cry when she is sick and needs you. You can’t stop going to work when it’s too hard, or let your baby stick her finger in an electrical outlet. It just ain’t gonna happen- unless you want someone to call the authorities on you.

I started training for a marathon when SuperGirl was about 7 months old. And guess what? I didn’t quit. I finished within about 5 minutes of my PR, which I considered pretty good for someone who had to pump then strap on two bras in order to go out for a long run. I felt like maybe my luck had changed.

But then I messed up my shoulder and had two surgeries in the first 18 months of SuperGirl’s life, and it all kind of spiraled down from there. I couldn’t get my groove back. Gosh, I so feel for Stella. I dabbled in stuff- bootcamp here, cycle there, running shorter distances. Then I got pregnant and it was like “YES, I have an excuse not to train as hard or an explanation for why I didn’t PR.” Can you believe that crap?

I ran a half when I was pregnant with SuperBoy, and it was so liberating running for a pregnancy PR. I had no real time to beat, so it was such an enjoyable experience. I PR’d a 10k at 28.5 weeks pregnant, because I had never run a 10k (that distance is the WORST bt dubs). I did not really run during my pregnancy with SuperToddler, because I was nursing a back injury and decided to take up Crossfit instead. Huh? That totally makes sense.

Doing Crossfit during that pregnancy was awesome because everything was relatively new. Double unders! Box jumps! Snatches! Thrusters (DEVIL!!!) Being pregnant, kicking ass and taking names- it felt so good. I was on top of the world again. I was THAT woman Crossfitting with a very noticeable baby bump, and everybody noticed my fat ass waddling around the building carrying a sand bag. It felt good to be the best at being pregnant and exercising. HOW DUMB IS THAT???

After having SuperGirl I was convinced I would bounce right back and finally do an unassisted pullup – because seriously, trying to learn how to do an unassisted pullup for the first time ever, when you weigh 20 pounds more than normal, it’s not that easy. I would crush my back squat and deadlift PR’s because those were pregnancy PR’s and everybody knows that you have to hold back when pregnant. Right? Well I let the proverbial cart get ahead of the horse, and injured myself again and again. Have we discussed where I can purchase a nice bubble to reside in? Preferably one made by Lululemon? I’ll even settle for Athleta. Or that Ivy Park crap from Queen Bey.

 

I’ve spent the better part of a year learning how to accept my body’s limitations. I’m not 25 anymore. I am fairly certain that SuperToddler broke my body and she’s very VERY lucky she’s so cute and sleeps 13 hours a night, because otherwise I would be super pissed. My thyroid tanked, I am a good 15 pounds over my normal fighting weight, my other hormonal dealio things are whacked (I blame ‘roids- not the fun make you super ripped kind, but the “I have pneumonia” or “my neck is screwed” kind), and my spine is definitely a wonderland. So where do I go from here?

For starters, I have been channeling my inner competitor at Flywheel since last spring. There is this Torqboard that is fantastic/horrible for maniacs like myself. You can see how you stack up to your competition, or you can elect not to participate in the board, in which case you are only competing against yourself. That’s cool I guess, but I would rather see your name in lights (unless you are beating me). SuperDad is concerned that this is only further fueling the fire that is my competitive psychosis, but I disagree, sorta. Yeah, I get very wrapped up in my score. But I also try to learn new ways to improve. I listen to my body, and when it’s sore, I just do what I can. I figure out different ways to engage my abs, my hamstrings, my BOOTY, and even my feet! It has made me so much stronger in so many ways. There are SO many times I have wanted to quit, and I’ve only followed through with quitting like 20% 40% of the time. That’s better than 100%, right? Throw me a bone here.

Although the status of my neck is still up in the air (read: I may need another surgery. I know, I don’t want to talk about it), I have decided to give myself an attainable goal to work toward. I am going to Vancouver to run the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon  this August. I will get to meet some amazing ladies that have helped me get through the past year. Seriously, some of the kindest, funniest, most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure of “meeting” in the way we 21st century earthlings meet. I can’t wait to snuggle them and braid their hair and spend alllll the monies on French pastries (do they have those in Vancouver? Because they should) and poutine and special edition Lulu goodies that we will camp out for. Because we are legit crazy.

And that is what is going to keep me from quitting. This is I want to experience so badly. Meeting people who I have laughed and cried with, running, partying, doing the yoga thang, shopping, and seeing THIS (that’s Vancouver right? Cuz I googled Vancouver and this image appeared)!

Van

Will I get a PR? Probably not. Will I quit? Nope. I’m done quitting. Which I guess makes me a quitter still.

 

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

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.

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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Oops

So, I thought that running 100 miles this month would be too easy, so I thought 100 miles pushing the double stroller would be a better goal. Wow, definitely overshot that one. Not necessarily because running 100 miles with a stroller is so physically challenging, but coordinating my runs with a time when both kids would be awake and willing to sit in the stroller would take an act of Congress!

Sure, on the weekends it isn’t that difficult to pick some random time to run with the stroller. But for week day runs, I like to head out at 6am occasionally. There is no chance I am rousing my kids from their coma-like sleep just to put then in the stroller. I like running to be quiet, and if I jolted them out of bed, they would both scream the whole way, waking the neighborhood like the two largest, most annoying roosters to ever exist.

If I don’t leave work until after 6, the run takes place while Super Toddler is ready to CRUSH his dinner. A few squeeze applesauces and crackers ain’t gonna get the job done.

All this leads me to my giving up on the 100 double stroller mile goal. Many doubted me from the get go and I don’t think they are haters or hold my ability to stick to goals in low esteem. Rather, I think they considered all the contingencies (noted above) which I hadn’t factored in beforehand.

I have decided to stick with 100 miles in October but even this is hard because there are other things, like group exercise classes, I want to do besides run. And I don’t want to work out for 2 hours a day. How on earth did I do this during my very brief period of triathlon training? How did I run 5 miles, then go do a 3 hour swim practice in high school? How did I lift weights three mornings a week in college then in the afternoon swim 3 hours? Just figuring out how to log a mere 25 miles a week is tiring.

Ok enough whining. Just thought I’d share last night’s workout, which is how I got back on track with my monthly mileage. On the treadmill, I started with a half mile warmup (about 8:45 pace), then did 6 miles with the pacing progressing significantly every two miles. Miles 1-2 at goal marathon pace (8:15). Miles 3-4 at current half marathon pace (7:50). Miles 5-6 at goal half marathon pace (7:20). Cool down with another 1/2 mile. So yeah, that hurt.

I will be super proud if I can get to 100 this month. I really just need to toss in a double digit run this weekend and that should set me up nicely. Also, I need a new goal race. Something in Charlotte or Raleigh in November or December. Anyone have any good suggestions? Nothing longer than a half marathon for now.

How is your 100 in October going?

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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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.

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. 

Temporary insanity

I haven’t run in a week. The downside: it’s making me a little crazy and unmotivated to blog because I don’t get the same satisfaction from just riding my bike. The upside: I am spending more time on my bike, which is clearly my weakest of the triathlon disciplines.

Why haven’t I run in a week? Because for the past several weeks, my left calf and foot have been getting that weird numb and tingly feeling that you get right before or after your leg falls asleep. And my foot has felt swollen to the point where if I wear a shoe that’s at all constricting, it really hurts. I thought that it was just an issue with how I was lacing my shoes, as the weird sensation would kind of go away after an hour or so. But over time, I have noticed that I have that numb and tingly sensation all the time. I asked a friend, who is the world’s greatest orthopedic physician’s assistant, about my symptoms via facebook. He immediately pointed me to this article on the interwebs about chronic exertional compartment syndrome. The symptoms fit me pretty much to a tee, which is not atypical when I google physical ailments. But since I did not initiate the googling in this case, I think I have legitimate reason for concern.

My PA friend suggested I take one two weeks off of running. I thought I could slide by with one but he called me out on it on facebook. That’s what you get when you overshare about your exercise habits. This feels like an eternity. I really felt like I was starting to make some headway improving my speed and stamina, but I’d rather lose a bit of ground that have my calf cut open. Or pay the surgical and anesthesia fees associated with said calf cutting. So far, I have not had any abatement of my symptoms.

I decided to push my international distance triathlon to October 5. It will be in Pinehurst, which is much hillier than White Lake, which I had originally intended. I want to give myself plenty of time to recover from whatever is going on with my left leg and foot, plus with all the hill training here in the Triangle, I should have an advantage over any flatlanders who come from Wilmington. Right? Right?

Instead of running, I have decided to concentrate on my cycling, and have done a 34 mile outdoor ride. It was my first ride over 25 miles so I feel a little better about doing 30 miles during my next tri. I think our average was 18.5 mph including stops for traffic lights, and I was not at all tired afterward, so I can’t complain. I am really just trying to figure out what gear I am most comfortable in while on the flats, and how hard I can push myself for 20 miles, 30, 40, etc. I finally had a professional fit me on my bike, had aerobars put on, and got new carbon pedals which I am in LOVE with. A tri bike is not in my immediate future unless someone would like to generously sponsor me, so I am doing the best with what I have. At least it’s not a mountain bike!

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Last night I did Insanity at the Cary YMCA. That workout seriously is very appropriately named. What kind of lunatic would/could do this every day? I seriously wanted to quit after warmup. No weights involved other than your body weight, but very little rest. I had such a massive puddle of sweat beneath me, I almost slipped and busted my face open on the gym floor. It was really attractive. This morning I could barely get out of bed I was so sore. I think it will be a nice little cross training activity that I will try to do every other week, after I have tapered for like 3 days. I just need to make sure I bring lots of towels next time. An an oxygen tank.

Tonight I have a swim/spin brick on tap. I have not been in the pool at all since the Triangle Tri, unless you include holding Super Baby in our community pool and trying to keep him from submerging himself underwater repeatedly. The kid thinks he is either David Blaine or Michael Phelps. I am not sure. For my heart’s sake, I hope he is the latter. I am giving myself the excuse that most people who do tris are just barely able to stay afloat, so I have that natural advantage. But when it comes down to it, 1500 meters two months from now are really going to suck if I don’t buckle down. Plus, the women who are beating me in my age group are super hardcore and are legit in the water. I am hoping they train at least five days a week, so that once I start swimming more than twice a month, I will start destroying them. Ha.

Getting back to my temporary insanity (Insanity workout unrelated), I am really just trying to listen to my body because if I am going to complete almost 3 hours of activity in October, then I need to be close to 100%. Granted, I have run for over 3 hours in my marathons in the past, but this is a whole new ballgame. Being unable to run, even if it is only temporary, takes away my security blanket since running is something I know how to do, and I can do it pretty much anywhere, regardless of what is going on with the weather. So I need to know what you triathletes do when you can’t run? What are your favorite cross-training activities? And how much strength training do you do? I feel like I am really dropping the ball in that area and don’t know if I should be just going to the gym and lifting or if doing a class with high reps/low weights is enough.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I am planning to ride FIFTY miles on Sunday, just for fun, so I will let you know if I survive!

I wish I were a Kardashian…

Now I know you’re thinking “where could she possibly be going with this?” because presumably, the Kardashians have nothing to do with either running or biscuits, because they pay thousands of dollars a month for private pilates reformer lessons and thousands of dollars a week (day?) for a personal chef to make them delicious meals that are less than 1200 calories per day. Then again, I feel like the booties would be a little smaller if no biscuits were being consumed? I digress. The reason I somewhat envy the Kardashians is because I am pretty sure that most of them, except Rob- because he seems useless- have personal assistants that force them to stick to these strict schedules. I really need one of those. Because my flexibility, in areas of my life other than yoga of course, is getting a little out of control.

I used to be one of those people that was very regimented with my schedule. This is most likely because I had only 24 hours in a day to get in two swim practices, go to high school or college 6-8 hours a day, eat, and hibernate. This carried over into my adulthood, to the point where I would not go to a happy hour if I had a long run planned (LOSER) or I would get serious anxiety if I someone bailed on our plans and I had to come up with some other way to entertain myself. Or, if someone suggested doing a race together in 11.4 weeks, I would say “no, that is 4 days too short for me to complete a full 12 week training cycle.”

When Super Girl entered this universe, I continued this military precision scheduling, as many new mothers do. We were I was going to get this tiny human sleeping through the night by 19 days old if it killed me. That is slight hyperbole. Oh, you’re hungry 6 minutes before this sleep training book says you’re permitted to eat again? Sorry, hope you can get some milk out of that pacifier because the milk factory is off limits for 6… 5 1/2 more minutes. Someone wants us to meet them for a quick brunch? Not gonna happen, it may overlap with naptime by 15 seconds. I was so wed/chained to the schedule that I drove EVERYONE crazy. Including myself. Granted, I ended up with a champion sleeper, but that’s genetics there.

The second time around, I decided that I would be a lot more flexible with Super Baby’s feeding, sleeping, etc. I would head to the gym and Super Dad would say “What time does Super Baby need to eat next?” My response: “uh, whenever. anytime between 2 and 4 hours from now.” Ok I wasn’t quite that lackadaisical, but you get my point. Super Dad looked at me like I had grown a second head and was speaking in Mandarin. He was certainly not expecting anything other than “90 to 91 minutes from now. No earlier, no later. And don’t rock him to sleep, that’s a sleep prop. And no white noise, that’s a sleep prop too. So is loving him too much” (just kidding!)

I liked my newfound flexibility as well. It was very liberating at first, but then it sort of morphed into this hippie meets ADD-ish attitude. What should we have for dinner? Oh, whatever (I became that girl). Should we go out of town next weekend? Yeah, I guess. Or we could not. We could just “play it by ear.” Should I run a marathon? Sounds good, maybe…

But here is where my flexibility really got to me, as an athlete and now, as a member of this family. I have run precisely three races since Super Baby was born 13 months ago- an 8k, 5k, and 10k. This is because I could not commit to the schedule required to train for a half marathon or full marathon. I don’t know if it’s because I was scared to start really getting into the training, only to run the race and be disappointed in myself as I have so many times before. Or maybe it’s because I just wasn’t willing to sacrifice spontaneous trips to the park, or ice cream after work, or going with my tried and true calorie scorcher (and social hour) at the YMCA in Charlotte. It’s most likely a combination of all of these things. Ultimately, it resulted in me achieving basically zero of my goals for the first year after Super Baby was born, besides fit back into pants that have zippers.

Since we have moved to Raleigh, scheduling really has to be a necessity in our lives. We don’t live as close to daycare or work as we did in Charlotte. Granted, we could walk to daycare and work (but didn’t, because we’re the world’s worst commuters like that), and the Y was just over a mile away. Here, we spend significantly more time in our cars than we used to. Again, this is a very small fraction of time compared to what the average American has to spend getting to and from their place of work. Point being, the amount of time we are sitting in the car is time that I used to spend just kind of farting around after work or actually spending at the gym or running. Getting to the Y now by 6pm takes an act of Congress. We also don’t want to take the kids to the Y as much because overall, we are spending probably 30 fewer minutes per day with them so we want to be at home with them when we can. This poses quite a quandary for my triathlon, and eventually marathon (!) training.

Recently, Super Dad bought a white board so that we could map out our family schedule each week. The board still has not been mounted on our mud room wall, so I just pretend that I don’t actually have to commit to anything until it is officially on the wall. Most weeks I spend quite a bit of time trying to decide what days I will ride, what days I will run and what workouts I will do, and which days I will swim (almost never) or do strength work. Then, I spend even more time not sticking to that plan. I have been applauding myself for my ability to be flexible and continue to get what I presume is an adequate amount of training in despite my having to change up the plan at the last minute. If I have planned a morning run and I decide to sleep in, which is 95% of the time, I don’t beat myself up because I have already given myself a backup plan of two other times during the day to run.

The problem with this flexibility is that it is all inside my head. So while I am patting myself on the back for getting my workout in when in the old days (post sleep training breakdown, pre-newfound dedication to training) I would have just called the day a wash and decided I would just do “extra” the next day, I am messing up someone else’s plans. Yesterday, I was going to get up at 6am to do a tempo run. Story of my life, I just gave my iphone alarm the old “get real” and slept in another hour-ish. I then worked through lunch, planning to leave work early to get my run done on the treadmill before picking up the kids. Of course, things didn’t work out quite so perfectly, so I headed home and set out for a run just after 5pm in the sunny, 90 degree weather.

I was so angry with myself for not being able willing to stick with my original planned morning running. It was hot, humid, sunny, and I was just annoyed. I knew I would likely be slower because of these conditions, so I set 8:15 as my goal pace. Mile one went by in 7:37 I think. Ohhh, this isn’t so bad. At 1.4 miles, I heard a lot of thunder and noticed the skies were getting a bit dark. At 1.5 miles, it started pouring. Like, horizontal rain sheets attacking my face. I just kept trucking, knocked out a 7:24. Then mile 3 was all uphill, heavy shoes, wind, and frustration that my headphones broke from all the rain. 7:50. Back on the flats the rest of the way- 7:34, 7:36, 7:34 I think. I stopped at 6 miles because Super Dad was bringing the kids home and he had a prior engagement, which had been scheduled well in advance of 5pm that day, and I needed to make sure I was there when I said I would be home.

I was feeling pretty smug about my ability to get in a really solid workout despite sleeping in and presumably heading out to run in the worst conditions ever. I was expecting heat exhaustion but I got a nice brisk run in, and bonus- people couldn’t tell if I was soaked in sweat or acid rain! I told Super Dad that I planned to go to a strength and conditioning class at the Y tonight so I could work on getting my upper body muscles back. Although I lamented my gigantic lats in my youth, I now wish I had at least half of a bicep or maybe even a quarter of a pec. And abs, well a 2 pack would suffice. We agreed this would work with our family’s commitments for today.

Then around 3:30 this afternoon, I find out that my favorite gym in Raleigh, which is a bit too steep for my budget, had a free class at 5:30 tonight. Score!!! Sign me up. Problem: I talked to Super Dad soon thereafter and learned that this time probably wasn’t going to work for the family because I would need to pick up the kids from daycare. Problem solved: call Super Mother-in-Law and then I can still go to the 5:30 class. Psych! Although this allowed me to get my workout in, I was selfish and put someone else out, all because of my classic spur of the moment “I do what I want” attitude. Hmmm, and I wonder why Super Girl does this

Anyway, although no kids were neglected, no puppies went without dinner, and no world peace pacts went unsigned because of my not sticking to the previously agreed upon schedule (it wasn’t in writing though, so it’s not really legally binding right? oh wait, I should know the answer to that one) I still messed up. It’s really not that difficult to wake up at 5:30 to run a couple times a week. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go to a free gym class immediately after work, when I can go to an equally free class two hours later when Super Dad is available to watch the Super Kids. And it’s probably a pretty good idea, if I have actual goals I want to achieve, that I stick to some sort of training plan, or those goals will just end up as more registration fees that have vanished into PayPal cyberspace.

So my commitment for next week is to be both a Kardashian and a Kardashian assistant. I will force myself to stick with my training plan, including the actual start times for my workouts. Not just getting them done within 24 hours of when I had planned, but doing a morning run if that’s what the schedule calls for, etc. If someone gets sick or work runs late or a neighbor needs us (to drink wine with them on the porch), that’s understandable. Life happens. But it’s time this not so Super Mommy started making her Super Family’s life a priority rather than her sweat life. I think the result will be happier kids, happier man chef hubby, and ironically enough, happier me. My, how we have come full circle grasshopper.

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