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 so 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’m 29. Ok, not really, but the point is that I am no longer a nubile young 25-year-old. 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.

 

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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.

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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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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