Sunday, December 18, 2011

Otter Creek 8 (9) Miler - December 17, 2011

For the brief version, scroll to the bottom!

It was a typical cold December morning and about 300 of us gathered together around a fire, awaiting instructions for the Otter Creek Trail Race. Standing on the outer edge of the group with my buddy Rachel, I struggled to hear the race director but it was difficult with all of the excited chatter that surrounded us. My mind was racing even before my body could begin to—this was my first trail race and I was a special blend of excited and nervous! After completing 24 road races in the last three years, I could tell at this moment that THIS race was going to be different. The people were different, the vibe was different. I wanted to jump up and down because I could FEEL the difference and I loved it.

Fact: if you fuel up 15 minutes before a race, the race will not begin on time. The start time was 8:30 for this race but we didn’t actually start until 8:48. We had a short paved portion to run before reaching the trail and I was so happy to be moving—everything on me was frozen. I intentionally hugged the back of the pack. My goal was to run a conservative race early and get a feel for this trail and how the race is run and if it felt right later, I could pick up the intensity. There was a lot of stop and go early in the race and a lot of people were annoyed by this. I didn’t care at all—I knew I had 8 miles to go and I was in no hurry. It didn’t take long before the field spread and everyone settled into their comfort zone.

We found ourselves running through a beautiful white pine forest and if I hadn’t already loved trail running, I would have fallen for it at this moment.

Despite having such warm and tingly feelings, I was noticing the silence of my Garmin (where WAS that mile alert, anyway?) and I felt like I had run more than a mile so I checked—1.55 miles. I was a little surprised at the time and started to worry that I had gone out too fast, even though I felt alright. I decided to keep plowing ahead at the same speed, knowing that if I needed to walk at any point, I could. Trail runners aren’t as stubborn about that as road runners. We know that power-hiking, especially on steep uphill portions, will get you to the finish just as fast or faster than running—and it gives you a chance to enjoy the scenery a little, as well.

Between miles 2 and 3, I pass a man that I will encounter quite a bit during the race. We chat as I trot by and discover he is running the marathon. He seemed to be in his late 50’s or early 60’s if I had to guess and told me he had turned his ankle too many times on the course already and he wasn’t going to risk injury because he had another marathon to do in Springfield, Illinois the next day! I wished him luck and ran ahead…more on him later.

Soon after mile 3, everyone was well spread out but I could still hear people ahead and behind me. I could tell we were nearing Otter Creek because the trails and surrounding areas were either slick or pooling water in places. I come to one of only two switchbacks that I remember—and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the ones I’m used to running. I look down the trail a bit and I see two cute gals precariously circumnavigating a stretch of trail. I think, “Uh oh, must be pretty dangerous up there” and feel myself tense up, sensing impending danger. When I reach them, I quickly survey and realize it’s just a long muddy patch. I tell them I’m going to go on and pass them and just walk through the mud. As I pass, I hear, “Are you K-dot-Ash?” I turned around, almost stunned! It’s KarenC and M! I was very excited to meet them and they were even nicer than I expected! We run and talk for awhile but I realize it’s time for me to fuel up so I tell them to pass me. As they head on, and I eat my Fig Newmans (which were incredibly cold, by the way), I realize it’s pretty quiet around me. I enjoy the solitude, even while feeling a bit lonely. I also notice that I was starting to feel chilly again—a big signal that it was time to run again.

One thing that I was warned about prior to this race is how easy it is to get lost when trail racing. When you are trail running alone or with a buddy, you are more aware of your surroundings. But in a racing environment, it’s easy to just zone out and follow the person (or people) in your lead. One of my goals for this race was to be very observant and stay aware of the trail markings so as not to get lost. Halfway through mile 3, I made note of a flag and not more than 60 seconds later, I see the group in front of me piling up at the Creek. Before I reach them, I survey the area and attempt to locate the next orange flag but I have no luck. I reach them and some folks behind me appear as well and we all try to find our way back on course. I stop my Garmin during this time and forget to turn it back on after we see the steep climb to get back on course. I don’t notice this, however, until I’ve run more than a third of a mile.

After getting off course, there was a group of 5-7 runners that stayed together, sometimes playing “cat and mouse.” Included in this group was the man I met earlier—the marathoner, “Al.” He apparently does lots of back-to-back races and was a really nice guy. I looked him up after the race and it turns out he either looks a lot younger than he is or I’m a really bad judge of age—he was in his early 70’s!

Besides being a bit tired, I was probably paying more attention to the conversation than my footing and I found myself losing balance and about to stumble—but NO! I caught myself and felt like a superhero in slow motion! I was very proud of my save and happily took my next step to be on my merry way. And then “BAM!” There half my body lay in the mud. I recovered clumsily and fought the urge to look around to see if anyone saw me.

Beyond mile 5, we were told to follow the course to the “Blue Hole,” where there was an aid station. The two runners that had been behind me most of the race went on without taking this part of the course—this peeved me but I was too worried about finding a bathroom to care for long. I passed a runner who was leaving the area to head back to the course and she informed me that there were no bathrooms. Bummer. I ended up leaving a “donation” for Otter Creek. I also filled my bottle with a little HEED and some water, tightened up my laces and went on my way, but not before seeing Rachel, KarenC and M again!

The trail became multi-track here and again, I found myself alone. I felt decent after the break and tried to keep up the pace, but this didn’t last long. The course became littered with many more hills as we approached the Ohio River. Some hills I felt good enough to power up, others I was forced to hike. A little over 6 miles in, I was totally spent and had completely hit the wall, physically and mentally. Still alone, I decided to pop a GU and keep plowing up the looong hill. My heart was beating so hard that I could hear each “thump” pulsing throughout my body. This portion presented a 376 foot elevation gain and despite the exhaustion I felt, I was aware of my beautiful surroundings and felt it necessary to take a few pictures.

Nearing mile 7, we were met with breathtaking views of the bend of the Ohio River. I remembered hiking this several years ago, but somehow, I appreciated the view a bit more today.

Here was also where I was passed for the first and only time by a runner who had completed the loop once already. I was surprised that this was the only runner to do so. Moments later, I approached the runners that had “cheated” and skipped the Blue Hole. I thought “Ha! That’s what you get!” I looked at my Garmin, realized I had about a mile left (I thought!) and decided now was the time to run trails the way I like to run trails. I took off, zig zagged and had a blast. I was on auto-pilot. I wasn’t thinking about my next step, I was just landing them and I felt amazing. This was my fastest mile of the race and the fastest mile I’ve run on trails in over a year.

I continued on and saw two women who looked exhausted. As I passed them, they asked if I knew how far we were. I told them about my Garmin mishap but estimated we were a little over 8 miles. I had no idea how much further we’d have to go but I kept powering ahead, knowing the finish had to be near. I caught a view of a tent (another aid station) and the volunteer told me if I was running the 8 that I needed to hang a left to finish. LEFT! It was pavement again and boy, that felt strange. I ran past the parking area and saw what I believed to be my Mom’s car but I hadn’t expected her to show up. I kept running in and saw her standing at the last turn. She told me that they asked her to direct the runners to the finish because the volunteer hadn’t shown up! Approaching the finish, I saw my time was nearing 2:09 and I was so happy! My secret goal was to finish 8 miles in 2:00, and I had done that!

The finish was great! Lots of positivity and excitement, even for a slow runner like myself. I was impressed that I didn’t even have to bend over to get my chip—they removed it for me! I was amazed at how much energy I still had, although my legs were aching. But I wanted to get back to Rachel! I waited a few minutes with Mom, cheered KarenC in and then decided to run back up to the aid station to see if I could see Rachel. I caught a glimpse of her turquoise jacket and saw that she was with M, too! They looked great and we ran into the finish and grabbed some beans and rice and some yummy brownies, courtesy of Rachel!


How I felt about this race:

It freakin’ rocked! All I could think of during the race was “why has it taken me three years to do this,” and “when’s my next trail race?”


I heard several people comment that they didn’t want to get their shoes dirty. Really? It’s a TRAIL RACE!

I only said “shit” once. That’s usually my word choice when I trip or fall.

I didn’t think I’d only get “looped” once. I figured several more runners would pass me.

I didn’t get nearly as dirty as I expected.

Though I am accustomed to running faster in road races than on training runs, I didn’t expect that to hold true for a trail race.

What I learned:

When you are running with 200-300 other people and stay at the back of the pack, you won’t see any wildlife. Not even a squirrel.

All of the rumors were TRUE about trail races. The people kick ass, the vibe is laid back but energetic and it truly was the most fun I’ve ever had racing, hands down.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Challenging Myself to Become Stronger

Since my pregnancy, I've had to come to terms with the changes my body has undergone. But contrary to what you may be thinking, it's not my weight that is my biggest concern. No, as a runner, I have more important things to consider. Loose pelvic ligaments and a weak core are my biggest threats right now and these are things that I'm working hard on improving--not just for my running health, but also for my general well-being.

I've been doing core workouts pretty religiously and have seen some relatively fast improvements, but unfortunately, I'm still not in the shape I was pre-pregnancy. I also began the 100 Push Ups Program again and look forward to reaping the benefits from that. Earlier this week, I found something that piqued my interest. Okay, I didn't find it, per se, another runner shared it with the community at Run the Ville. Anyhow, I'm referring to the 100 Up, 30 Day Challenge. This is a challenge to do the exercise for 30 days in an effort to discover if there is any impact on your running form. At first, I wrote it off as pointless but then I actually started paying attention. One big thing happened to change my mind and helped me decide to actually participate in the challenge--I practiced the exercise as I saw it on the video. After doing it, I FELT it. In my mind, even if it didn't impact my running form at all, the exercise itself was going to help me strengthen my core and hip flexors. Actually, I'm a little afraid of doing the challenge because I have a feeling I'll be quite sore...but a little soreness never stopped me!

The challenge begins on Friday, November 11, 2011--join me! I plan on doing my 100 Ups just before a run as a sort of warmup, or on my scheduled days off, whenever the baby says I can! I'll keep you posted about how it goes for me!

Oh, and just to be safe, here's a link to some common hip flexor stretches and the pigeon pose--this is where I'm feeling tight after doing just a few practice "Up" exercises!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Home Run 10K Race Report

Another beautiful run through Bernheim Forest! This year's Home Run race--which benefits the Home of the Innocents, a local non-profit agency that provides all types of assistance to children and families in need--was even more meaningful than in years past. It feels great to support such a wonderful organization for the last few years (even beyond race day). Additionally, Bernheim holds a very dear place in my heart and makes a beautiful race course, especially during this season. Also, I have always had an appreciation for the participants in general, who are always friendly and a great group of people to run alongside. But this year, all of those wonderful reasons for loving the Home Run race received an addition--this was my first race since having my baby 3 months ago and the first non-pregnant race I've done since this same race last year. It just felt good to be back at it and doing it on my own terms. As much as I loved being pregnant and having a constant "buddy" with me during all of my training runs and races, it felt good to be an independent being again. Today was my postpartum rite of passage!

Racing, much like my training runs, requires much more preparation and time management now that I'm a Mother, and especially a nursing Mother. There's no longer any "getting up and going" anywhere, especially a run. So I woke up and did my "running Mother" routine and dressed in my Halloween costume, which I adapted a bit to make it suitable for running. I dressed as the "Sun Drop girl," and I will post a picture from the race as soon as DM gets me a copy! Now, the Sun Drop girl has a very confident, yet silly personality and looks like this (not the Planter's Nut):

I got dressed in the outfit (running tights instead of leggings and blue running shorts instead of denim, of course) and got everything ready to go. Just as I was about to leave, I looked at myself in the mirror and I felt a knot in my stomach. Was I really going to go to the race like this? I felt so ridiculous--"what if nobody there has seen the commercial? What if they don't get it?" I had a talk with myself and decided that I didn't care what anyone thought (lie) and hopped in the car!

The ride there was smooth and quick but once I got off of the expressway, I saw nothing but brake lights and lots of them. Traffic was backed up at the entrance to Bernheim Forest--this is something I have never seen before. In previous years, I assume I arrived at the race much earlier. Today, I was about 20 minutes later than normal and there was a marked difference. But once past the entrance, things went pretty quickly and I was able to park. Taking a step out of my car proved to be a scary experience because, even though I had "pep talked" myself, I was still feeling a bit nervous about my outfit. My boost of confidence came as I was walking past the incoming stream of vehicles and people in the cars were looking at me and laughing--not the kind of laughter that evokes pity, but the kind that a comedian gets when he tells a funny joke. I knew that at least some people would recognize me and get a kick out of it.

After grabbing my bib and surveying the crowd of people for faces I recognized, I had a decision to make. I had 9 minutes until the start and I could either warm up or go to the bathroom. I decided I'd rather have cold muscles than a full bladder. The running gods were on my side (I'm sure it was the Sun Drop outfit) and after I used the bathroom, I made it to the start line where they informed us that there had been a problem and they were going to postpone the race by 5 minutes. So I got a short warmup in after all!

When you are alone at the start, there's not a lot to do but listen to other people talk. And there were some fun conversations this morning ranging from "I don't really feel the need to match when I workout" to "I can't believe she brought her child here." I also tied and re-tied my shoes about 4 times. They just weren't feeling right.

Finally, it was time to go and I started my Garmin as I crossed the start. I made a big decision and one that I've never made before. I decided to conserve energy and not "bob and weave" through the walkers and slower runners (surprisingly, there were quite a few people running slower than me...WTF?). I moved to the left and joined a stream of runners, who fortunately, weren't running all that fast, and I stayed steady and slow. I knew that the worst part of this 10K was the first 5K and I wanted to make it through without losing steam. At the first turn, I saw my Mom standing there waiting! I was surprised to see here there because I thought there was no way she could have made it in time! I "dropped it like it was hot" for her and took the first turn. After soldiering up the first few hills, I was surprised (and a little worried) to see that I had just run my first mile in under 12 minutes. During my test run the week before on the same course, I had run that first mile in over 13 minutes. Yikes.

Near the end of the second mile, I looked ahead and saw a runner of the shorter variety wearing orange--my favorite color. I thought it might have been Lenore but couldn't tell from so far behind. I saw a woman struggling and I told her to not give up. We talked for a several yards and I gave her a few more encouraging words before heading off. As I got closer to the person I thought was Lenore, I began yelling her name and realized she had earbuds in! The lady running beside her tapped her (and probably scared her to death!) to get her attention for me! She was having a shoe lace problem and by that time, I was beginning to notice that I wasn't feeling so chipper anymore. Walk breaks were going to be my friend this race.

As I neared mile 3, I could see my Mom on the big hill waiting for me. I "dropped it" again for her and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big red stroller coming at me. It was my wonderful Husband and my little guy! That absolutely made my DAY! I stopped to give them a kiss and declined a can of Sun Drop that my husband offered and continued on, ready to tackle the mostly uphill portion of the next mile and a half.

During the next 3 miles, Lenore and I played a fun game of "Leapfrogspankdatoosh." Really, without her being there, I'm not sure how I would have performed. I also got excited for her because she told me she didn't have high expectations for her finish time but I knew she was doing better than she thought!

There came a point on this long, mostly uphill road where I thought it would never end. Where the EFF was the turnaround? Had they already packed everything up and gone home? Did someone trip over a tree branch, crash into the cone and knock it down the hill? During my training run the week before, I intentionally went much farther up the road so that I would be prepared mentally and physically for this moment. Turns out, that preparation did no good. The only thing that kept me from giving up and turning back early was the nice volunteer that told me that I didn't have much longer until the turnaround. And she wasn't one of those lousy liar types--you know what I'm talking about. The person that yells, "Hey, you're almost done" when you actually have 23 miles to go. I want to hurt those people!

I see the turnaround, and there's another nice volunteer who gave me encouraging words and finally--time to fly. (Okay, 11:00 minute miles are not flying, but give me a break!) All (or mostly) downhill from there. I was fatigued but I tried to push as good as I could.

As I neared the 6 mile mark, I saw all of the faster runners and 5K'ers in their cars, heading home! I could be one of them soon! I made the last turn and I hear Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell: Drop it Like it's Hot blaring at the finish. My adrenaline shot through the roof--what a coincidence!! Then I heard my name and almost immediately, I see my Husband, Son and my Mom there smiling and cheering. I paused in front of the DJ booth and "dropped it" once more and I got lots of cheers. Last year, people were cheering as I came into the finish but I was saddened to learn that it wasn't for me, but for the mentally challenged youth that was about to pass me. Turns out, if you are in your thirties and a slow-as-molasses runner and you want to get cheers at the finish line of a race, you should dress in a costume and have some awesome family members there to back you up with suitable song requests. Best finish ever!

My goal was 1:15 and my Garmin read 1:12:32--chip time was a minute slower and I have no idea how. I'll record my chip time as official but I'm going to go with my Garmin time!

Here are my splits in case you're interested, and even if you aren't:


Obviously, the final 0.2 was a little slow due to the "dropping!"

Great time as always and how amazing it was to finish the race and be able to hug my baby boy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Becoming a Beginner Again: Tips for Safe and Fun Trail Running

Running through Iroquois Park last week, I noticed that the tree-covered view wasn’t as green as it had been the week before. Yellow leaves sprinkle the trees and even the ground, which signals the approach of cooler temperatures. This pleases me greatly. I love Autumn and all that it has to offer. The Autumn sun shines down upon us with a smile, it seems. And it shines right through the crisp, fresh Autumn air. Beyond the special smell of the air, one’s nose might be fortunate enough to pick up the scent of burning wood from a fireplace in the area. And fleece, what a wonderful fabric. Of course there’s hot cocoa, which my Husband loves. But one of my very favorite things to do during the Fall Season is to run trails. There is no better time to take to trails than right now!

Trail running is a great sport at any time of the year but during the Fall, it can be a much more enjoyable experience. In our area, there is generally less rainfall than Spring, the temperatures are much more comfortable than in Summer, and there’s no concern for ice and snow, as in Winter. Plus, there are fewer bugs (ticks are my main reason for avoiding certain trails in the Summer in our area) and it is a beautiful time to enjoy a solid workout in a great environment.

Running and hiking have been passions of mine for a very long time, and trail running is the perfect marriage of the two. If you are a runner who enjoys hiking, the transition into trail running will be easier than if you’ve never hiked. Hikers understand the differences in terrain and navigation and in some cases, weather fluctuations. If you are a road runner and that is all you know, you may find that the following tips will have you better prepared for your first steps off of the concrete and onto the dirt, mud, gravel, bark or grass.


Since this is your first trail run, look for short, non-technical (smooth, flat) trails. Avoid big elevation changes and extremely rocky or rooted trails for now—your lungs and legs might not be ready for such a challenge. If possible, find an easy trail that is 1-2 miles in length (or even a grassy area) and become one with that trail. Notice how different the surface feels. Pay attention to your surroundings and really enjoy the environment. Starting on a short trail will help you make an informed decision about whether or not you ever run trails again.


Make the same apparel choices that you would make for a typical run. Wearing weather-appropriate, breathable clothing that does not restrict movement is the smart choice. As you become more comfortable with trails in general or trails in a specific area, you may find that you will have to make adjustments to your clothing choices. But for now, stick with what you know.

Perhaps most importantly, you will need a good pair of shoes. If this is your first attempt at running trails, it is not necessary to purchase a new pair of trail runners. I think it is important, however, that you wear a sturdy pair of running shoes (that can get dirty!) with good tread. When and if you decide that trail running suits you and that it is something you plan to continue, trail shoes are a wise investment—if not a necessity. In general, trail running shoes are different from road running shoes in that they are made to provide more protection for your foot and better grip for the non-smooth surfaces. If you decide to invest in a pair, look for shoes that are similar to your road running shoes (support shoes if you are a pronator, for example). Also, consider what terrain you will be running. If you expect to run trails that are extremely rocky, you will need a shoe that has tread with more lugs, or less open space.


Remember when you first started running and everyone kept telling you to “start slow?” You are going to have to do that again. Forget any time and performance expectations for now—running trails will almost certainly add seconds—even minutes—to your pace per mile. Because of the surface and possible elevation changes, covering a single mile will not only take longer, but it will probably feel MUCH more difficult. Go slow and take it easy. After all, trail running, even though it seems hardcore, is naturally more laid back.


It is very important to be aware and observant while running roads—after all, there are speeding cars, cyclists late for work, kids running after kick balls, and unleashed, rabid dogs. However, it’s even more important to be aware of your surroundings while running trails. While the obstacles won’t be as big as the ones out in the city (unless you intend to go head to head with a Grizzly), there are far more of them in a smaller area. A single rock can put an end to your trail run in an instant. So pay attention to where you are stepping. Try to scan the area several feet in front of you as you run, while still appreciating the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. And use the environment to your advantage. For example, use embedded tree roots upon a steep hill as a natural staircase to keep you from sliding on slick dirt.

Also, while it’s VERY tempting to hurdle yourself over tree trunks or streams, do NOT do this. Your legs might be more tired than you realize and you could easily take a hard fall by not clearing the obstacle. My advice to beginners is to WALK when you reach these types of obstacles. Once you are more familiar with the trail and more comfortable with your performance, you may be able to blaze through and really have fun speeding over tree trunks—but for now, play it smart.

Pay attention to your running form, as well. Fatigue will set in much earlier on trails but you still need the clarity of mind to focus on pumping your elbows and lifting your legs. If you do not, you will almost certainly trip if you are lucky and fall if you are not.


I advise anyone--especially while running-- to be aware of their surroundings and to be prepared for anything, but in some ways, the primal nature (and mystery, to some) of trail running makes this advice even more important to heed. Sure, watch out for unsavory people, but be cautious about wildlife, getting lost, dehydration and/or getting injured. Your first move should be to let someone know where you will be and the duration of your run. Tell a friend or family member, or the ranger at the visitor center.

Some runners prefer to carry absolutely nothing and for those folks, I suggest that you at least carry your cell phone. Just be aware that you might not have a signal in some areas. For the runners that carry everything, just bring a few essentials. If you are the type of person that gets lost easily (or even if you do not) bring a map of the trail. Depending on the weather, the length of your run and your hydration/energy needs, you may consider bringing water and a small snack. You never know when your 30 minute trail run will turn into a 2 hour adventure! And if you’re injury-prone, you might want to bring a small first aid kit for your car.

Watch out for poison ivy or other plants that could cause skin irritation. Try to avoid overgrown trails if possible. Also, insect repellent is a must, especially in the summer.


It is totally acceptable to pretend that you are an early human running through the wilderness after your family’s dinner, a wild boar. You could also pretend that you are living right inside of a Bob Ross painting. Or perhaps you would rather imagine you are the focal point of one of the “Rave Run” photographs from Runners World. Just have fun.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Running Prepared Me for the Biggest Marathon of My Life

Since my first run at age 17, I have progressed greatly as a runner, of course, but more importantly, I have faced and overcome many challenges that have greatly improved the quality of my character. Running has given me more confidence and revealed within me a previously undiscovered inner strength. However, when I took those first steps in 1997, I never could have imagined that it would prepare me for the most important "marathon" of my life--natural labor and childbirth.

Although this marathon involved absolutely no running, running actually helped prepare me for this most spectacular event, which shares many similarities to the 26.2 mile footrace. Sure, there was no planned start time, no finish line, and no other competitive participants, but just as in running, a laboring woman must have endurance, focus and discipline to be successful.

Training: This is one of the most important aspects of any race, but especially the marathon distance. Most marathons require a fair amount of training--at least a few months. I "trained" for almost 9 months, making sure I took care of my body and ate nutritiously, just like a runner should!
I made the decision to ATTEMPT a natural birth during my sixth month of pregnancy, so I only had about 3 months of training in that area!

Packing the Bag: No Body Glide or GU in my hospital bag, but I did pack a Runnersworld Magazine and LOTS of other stuff--99% of which I didn't even end up using during the labor process.
I opened my eyes three times after my hospital arrival. I was too busy breathing through each contraction to even think about my fully loaded iPod, my aromatherapy lotion or the next Sudoku puzzle.

Race Day: Sure, I had no idea when this marathon would begin, but it had to start sometime. Start the clock!
I was in labor for about 16 hours--4 of which were at the hospital--and that's about how long it would probably take me to actually run a marathon. LOL

Hitting the Wall: It happens to the best of us. You reach a point where you think you just can't go anymore. During labor, it was at this point that I asked for an epidural. However, just like in running, you have to keep pushing through the discomfort...and that's what I managed to do--without the epidural.

Lack of Confidence: This is the mental aspect of hitting the wall. I think most runners reach a point during their race where they not only question their training, but themselves. (Will I reach my time goal? Am I going to have to stop and walk? Is that nagging injury starting to bother me? Why am I doing this to myself?)
When I reached 6-7cm dilation, my confidence wavered and I felt like I was not going to be able to continue laboring naturally. Not only was I in pain, but I had no idea how much longer labor would last and I desperately wanted to have strength and energy at the end to do the pushing.

Crowd Support: This is EXTREMELY important during any point of the race, but ESPECIALLY when you've hit the wall. Fortunately, I had a great nursing staff and an even more fantastic Husband and Mother to provide all of the mental, emotional and physical support that I could have ever needed to make it through the most difficult part of this event.
When I lacked confidence, my charge nurse was there to give me advice and positive reinforcement. My Husband provided non-stop support and gave me the courage to keep going!

Nearing the Finish: Something happens to a runner when she knows the finish is near. She has a feeling of pride that she has made it so far, and of course, she feels euphoria because it's almost over. Somehow, a runner nearing the finish usually finds that extra "kick" to speed up and look good (read: not dead) while crossing the finish. When the nurse told me I was 9 1/2 cm dilated, I knew that I had actually made it and luckily, didn't have far to go.
When the nurse told me I was almost fully dilated, I happily said, "Oh sh*t!" I was so excited--but the real turning point was at one point, I actually opened my eyes to look around and the population of a small village entered my room. It was then that I realized that I truly was nearing the finish and that alone gave me a little extra strength to make it.

Crossing the Finish: The first thing a runner does when he crosses the finish line is check the time! And no matter how long it took or how the race went, he feels great pride, as he should!
After only a few pushes, my little boy had entered the world and was lying on my chest. And of course, I was proud of myself, and happy to have him in my arms--but I wanted to know what time it was!

Race Swag: When you finish a race, there's usually some really good food and drink, and probably a finisher's medal! My finisher's medal was my healthy, precious son--no medal can top that!
The rest of my stay in the hospital allowed me some pretty good food, too. I think my favorite was the Hot Brown--not too shabby! Take a hint, race organizers!

Recovery: This, along with training, is the most important aspect of any race. It's important to take the time to rest your body from the stress of training and racing. A little rest does wonders for your mind, too. After pregnancy, recovery is super important and it takes a very long time.
Nobody warns pregnant women about the difficulties she will face during her recovery period. If every waking moment (and there are a LOT of waking moments) is devoted to this dependent baby, when will she have time to take care of herself? She must. I did the best that I could to follow all of my doctor's orders whenever I had time--and if I didn't have time, I tried to create time because it's just THAT important!

When I learned I was pregnant, I was fearful of the unknowns. In many ways, it was like my first race as a runner. I had a lot of doubts but with all of my research, planning and preparation, I learned that I could do it. Even if it wasn't fast, I most definitely could do it. Thanks to challenges like that, and realizing that I had been able to overcome most, if not all of them, I was able to have much more confidence that I could be strong and overcome in labor, too.

Now, the only thing that is left is to actually RUN a marathon. During my pregnancy, I determined that if I could successfully have a natural childbirth, I could run a marathon. And you know what, I KNOW that's true. But I still have to prove it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Walk, run, or waddle--who cares!

Full disclosure: for a very long time, I looked at run/walking as a lame activity. It was something a person did when they didn't feel like pushing themselves. Or maybe they were trying to be something they weren't yet. (I said "yet!") And yeah, I've run/walked many times (even before pregnancy) and I still had the same thoughts about it. In an earlier post from December 28, 2010, I discuss my feelings on walking during a "run:"
I've been following that advice for a little over two weeks now and it's amazing how much more PHYSICALLY enjoyable my workouts have been. Yes, I'm still facing many MENTAL hurdles out there. I find myself wanting to scream to other runners and walkers that pass me, "I'm PREGNANT! That's why I have water in 17 degree temps and that's why I'm so sloooooow!" It's hard for me to get used to this whole having-to-stop-and-walk-when-I-get-short-of-breath thing. I'm so accustomed to pushing past the discomfort and making myself better and faster. Hills? No problem. I would race up them as fast as I could so that I would get stronger. Not anymore. Hills? No problem. Walk it, girl!

Do I still feel that way? Maybe a little bit--but it's the runner in me. I have a hard time letting go of the notion that runner's run, period. End of story. The ironic thing is that there are runner's out there that look at my fastest running pace and would probably laugh. Honestly, there are walkers out there that could outpace me. And I think they rock. But I'm hard on myself--and that's not a bad thing. It's what keeps me progressing.

At the beginning of this post, I warned you that I was going to be honest, so please try not to fault me for my silly little thoughts. Besides, I've matured. Perhaps this will help--having been forced into run/walking during the last several months, I've discovered the strength in it. Strength to not care (as much) what people think of me when I'm out there. Strength to care more for the growing baby boy inside of me than for myself. Strength to continue tough workouts by sprinkling in a balanced, solid activity like walking. How can that be lame? Walking has increased the duration of my running "life" during pregnancy, just as it can increase the health, strength and duration of actual life. So now, instead of feeling like walking during my run is weakness, I am thankful to have walking as an option. And I'm just as proud of myself!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Keeping Moving!

It's been quite a (hot) summer for me so far and the bigger I get, the more difficult it is to run! Fortunately, my last day of work was Friday so I've been working out first thing in the morning! With temperatures in the high 60's to 70's and high humidity, it's still a little uncomfortable but bearable and just what I need to continue to get out and do this for me and Baby!

Today, I took my Chassis, my dog, for a hike at Bernheim Forest to celebrate her birthday! She loves trails (like me!) and we had a blast! Nowadays, a simple hike can leave me feeling pretty sore and lately, running has been a chore. I do what I can, when I can. And more importantly, I try not to feel guilty. After all, as good as exercise is for me, listening to my body and doing only as much as I can is even better for me--and for him! :)

So for now, the goal is lots of long walks and run/walks--just to stay strong and have endurance for the big day...and it's approaching! 41 days and counting!

Happy Waddling, everyone!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Too hot to run outside!

It's been HOT! Now, if you're into 95 degrees and humid, this is for you. But if you're like me, this is 20 degrees too much. Running NEVER sounds like fun to me in this heat but even less so now that I'm pg. It's just too hard on the body. I'm trying to be creative, though, by finding other activities that keep me comfortable. I ran on a treadmill for the first time in years just a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't as bad as I remembered, but I would get sick of it quickly. Yesterday, I ran in the pool. That was a lot of fun! And just last weekend, DH and I were on our "Babymoon (a trip, similar to a Honeymoon, that couples take before the birth of their baby)" and our hotel's fitness center had a Natural Runner.

This was a cool machine, but it was beastly. It boasts of a "biomechanically correct stride pattern to minimize joint and muscle strain." The two ramps you see above both have "skates," so as you move your legs, you simulate running, but without the impact.

I thought this would be fun but it wasn't at all. It hurt. I last all of 1:xx my first attempt and I wanted to call a fireman to put out the flames in my quads. I eventually conquered a full 5 minutes on this thing, and while I was extremely wobbly afterwards, I lived to tell about it. Now I want one! I know I said I hated it but really, what better way to stay or get in shape than to do something that hands your ass to you? :)

Happy Running, guys and gals!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Run Throo the Zoo 5K Race Report

Today was another great Throo the Zoo 5K! This is my fourth time doing this event and it's always a fun, no pressure time, but this year, the changes on the course made the race much more pleasurable. Sure, there was still a lot of weaving in and out between strollers and walkers at the start BUT there was room to do so! In the last few years, the congestion has been unbearable, and just when you feel like you found an opening, you were headed right back into a narrow path that forced people into a slow walk. That's all changed and the new course that includes Poplar Level was great!

Some of the highlights of today's race:

The smells! I'm running into the back portion of the zoo and the strong smell of grilled food hits my nose! I think, "Mmmm, that smells fantastic!" And before I could even finish the thought, the smell of animal poo also hits my nose! What a let down! On a positive note, I smelled lots of refreshing honeysuckle along the way!

A mother taunting her son (he was about 7 or 8 years old). "You're not going to let a GIRL beat you, are you? And your MOM? You're going to have to go tell all of your friends that your MOM beat you today!" Needless to say, after he saw me laughing, he took off running again! LOL

Seeing my own mom at a couple of places along the course! She came out to support me and take pregnant running pictures!

The little guy that was really having a tough time but kept plugging away. I tried to talk him through it and he really had a strong determination. I hope he did well and finished strong. I know he had it in him!

I finished under 45 minutes, which was really all I wanted. Clock time was 42:48, but technically, I was probably sub-42:00. I'm surprised I was even THAT fast because my heart rate monitor felt like it was beeping incessantly on this hilly course!

At 27 1/2 weeks pregnant, this was Little One's fifth official race! He's been quite active today and I feel like recovery will be easy enough. I'm sore but it's nothing a little stretching and rest can't cure!

It was nice to see some friends at the end of the race, too! I just felt bad that I had to leave them so abruptly to utilize the facilities--but what can you expect from an overly-hydrated pregnant runner? LOL

Happy Running everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'm still running! I get out anytime I feel good enough to do so, and now, if a mile sounds like the most I can manage, I do a mile and I don't feel guilty about it! Most of my runs, however, are in the 2-4 mile range.

On Thursday, DH and I went to Swag's (my favorite LRS) and visited the Brooks Run Happy Tour. The Arcade of Oddities was twisted and fun, featuring concept shoes like my favorite, the running dress shoe!

This morning's run was in the rain and it was a feel-good run! I'm not feeling too uncomfortable as far as bouncing or stability is concerned, but I do get round ligament pain around halfway into the run. It's manageable but uncomfortable. The good thing is that it does go away relatively quickly after I stretch out and rest.

My pregnant running goal is still to keep this thing going as long as possible. I'm running conservatively to make sure that I CAN continue. I sure hope the Little Boy enjoys it! :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boobs, Bump and Gear...

First, whenever I look at the picture I have on this page, I think "wow, I don't look like that now!" LOL I can't wait to get a little bigger and post a picture of me running with my big prego belly! I'm thinking about planning a photo shoot--I want LOTS of pregnant belly running pictures!!

Despite feeling a little tired and having some round ligament discomfort all day at work, I decided to get out and get moving a little after work. I knew I didn't have a lot to give so I told myself, "Go out and do 20 minutes, girl! You can do that!" And I did a little more than 20 minutes. But it was rough out there. It was the warmest day this year by far--not sure of the exact temp but it had to be in the lower to mid 80's. I ended up doing a lot more walking than normal just to feel comfortable but even when I walked, I pushed it hard. My butt could feel it!

So some things have changed now that I'm a little further along in the pregnancy--tomorrow I will be at 20 weeks! It's amazing and I'm so very excited! But it's hard to get used to all of the changes that my body has gone through. First of all, my breasts are HEAVY. I have NEVER had this problem in my life. I've always been on the smaller side up that way and to have these --things--up there that I've never had before is a new and dreadful experience. They bounce more, they hang more, they just ARE more. Weird.

The belly bump--it's like I'm carrying a fanny pack with a 5 pound weight in there or something. I find myself wanting to hold it from the bottom while I run. And at this stage in my pregnancy, I think I still look like I had *too many donuts and beer* and it's all just settling in up front. Perhaps by six months, I may look truly pregnant. But then I'll just feel like I have a bigger dumbbell hanging out in my fanny pack. I really need to look into buying a support belt for my workouts.

And for the most recent change with which I've been dealing--my running wardrobe is failing me. I've always had just enough of the right kinds of running clothes, and I've been happy with that fact. Now, though, I can't quite enjoy much of what I own. First of all, the things that DO fit just aren't flattering anymore! But the truth is, some of it just doesn't fit well enough to wear anymore. I've been shopping online for maternity running gear and I've discovered two things about it. One--if it's reasonably priced, it's cotton. COME ON! Two--if it's not cotton, it's not reasonably priced. What is the deal, people? Why is there not a line of reasonably priced, decent looking running gear made out of a wicking fabric for PREGNANT WOMEN?

I'm getting irritable and it's NOT because I'm pregnant! I had my run today, so I'm good!

Happy Running, folks!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tough 2 Miler

Today was the first day I've run since last Saturday--and while it was nice to get out, it was a pretty horrendous 2 miler. I don't know what the issue was but I do know that everyone has bad days, pregnancy causes more bad running days for me, and I've gained almost 5 pounds in 7 days. So I guess it all makes sense now. LOL

I'm glad I got out there today even though it was a rough one--but I wanted to share even these experiences. As amazing as pregnancy is, and as good as I've been feeling lately, there are still tough days! We're only human!

Happy Running!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Annoyed Pregnant Lady Rant

Guess what? I am pregnant and I still run.


Are you going to call the police on me because my running is "putting the baby at risk for shaken baby syndrome?"

Do you think I'm a terrible mother because I'm out there running and being healthy instead of eating Twinkies and Doritos? I bet you think I should stay home because of my "delicate condition."

Is my running "obsessive exercise behavior" that I should avoid and perhaps see a psychologist about?

These are all things I've recently read and angrily re-read. Are you serious? Many people who know that I'm a runner and recently found out that I'm pregnant have asked me one important question, "Are you still running?" And everytime I answer, I do so with an emphatic "Yes, of course!" And about 60% of those people look at me with shock and disapproval. I'm sure they are thinking all of the things that I've read about us crazy, mean, selfish running expectant mothers.

Here's the deal. I am pregnant, not disabled. I run safely, not with risk. I hydrate more than ever before. My diet has become even more healthy and I eat plenty, just not too much. I'm a healthy woman who happens to be pregnant and so far, I have a low risk pregnancy. My doctors have told me to keep doing what I have always done--and that includes running. I've decreased my intensity and listen to my body before I even go out to run, and even more when I'm out running. My body knows how to run because it has for almost 14 years (even more if you count my childhood!) and my body knows how to grow a baby because it's a natural, amazing and normal thing. So guess what? My body knows how to run with a growing baby inside.

And my baby will not have shaken baby syndrome because I run. Ever heard of implantation and amniotic fluid? Look them up.

Lots of women run for multiple reasons--not just to lose weight. Some of us run to maintain a healthy weight, keep our hearts strong and healthy, and for overall mental well-being. Running doesn't mean I'm a weight-obsessed, selfish, bad person. It means I want to continue to live a healthy life for myself and my baby.

While I understand that running is definitely not an activity that everyone enjoys, it is something that I enjoy. And I have enjoyed running for many, many years. If that's what my body knows, my body can handle it now that I'm pregnant because my body handled it well before I was pregnant. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, do not let negative, uninformed and ill-informed people have any effect on you and your doctor's decision. Only you and your doctor will know what's best for you and your baby, and that should be your only concern. Be confident in your decisions and be in touch with your baby and your body.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Polar Bear Grand Prix Recap

Today was last leg of the Polar Bear Grand Prix racing series--the Snowman Shuffle 4 Miler. Prior to that, there was the Reindeer Romp 4K (which had to be rescheduled twice due to weather conditions) and the Frostbite 5K. These are always a fun series of short distance races, and they always help keep me motivated through the coldest months to keep running!

As a reminder, I wasn't aware that I was pregnant when I registered for the series, but I couldn't have asked for a better racing series to have signed up for--the distances have been quite manageable for me during the early part of my pregnancy. I cringe when I think that I could have registered for the Triple Crown and/or the KDF Mini-Marathon without knowing I was pregnant! Luckily, I was in the perfect running shape prior to becoming pregnant to complete the Polar Bear Grand Prix!

Each of the three races were very similar in our execution--my wonderful Husband ran all three with me to keep me company and keep my speed in check, though I did have my HR monitor during all three races. The series is a lot of fun and to add to the enjoyment, I will be able to tell our child that it ran and won at least the last two races--my belly popped quite a bit for those and we're assuming the baby crossed the finish line first!

Though these are absolutely nothing to brag about, here are my very slow and pregnant finish times, with average pace included in parentheses:

Frostbite 5K - 42:51 (14:17/mile)
Reindeer Romp 4K - 33:59 (13:40/mile)
Snowman Shuffle 4 Miler - 53:55 (13:28/mile)

As you can see, I did set some PR's--PR's for slowest race times!

On a positive note, though, there are two good things to come out of those races. First, I got out there and did something healthy and fun for me, Hubby and baby and second, if you look at my average pace for each race, I got progressively faster. That means I'm learning how to be a better pregnant runner, huh?

Happy Running everyone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Trail Run as a Prego!

Since being pregnant, running has become a totally different sport for me. No more care and concern for times, no competitive racing, no worries about increasing distance. This more laid back approach, which is what my body is telling me it needs right now (and also what the doctor ordered), has been difficult to get used to. Quite frankly, it's been a little boring. But I keep getting out there because I know how important this is to me and my growing baby.

To switch things up, though, I decided to go for a trail run today. This is the first time I've hit the trails since being pregnant--I was honestly a little apprehensive about hitting the trails because of the uneven footing and hilly terrain on some of my favorite trails. I figured, though, that I needed a change of scenery, literally and figuratively.

I ended up at Jefferson Memorial Forest, which is one of my favorite places to trail run. There are trails of varying distances and terrain which really make it more exciting. And with the opening of the semi-new Yost Ridge Trail, they really opened up the possibilities for increased distance and adventure, if you desire. And that's where I started. The trail begins with a gradual incline that doesn't let up for several hundred feet or more--it's always a good place to warmup before your workout. About 1 mile in (I may be off on the distance a little) there's a fork in the trail where you can either go left to the Paul Yost area of the Forest or right toward the Horine reservation area. However, each of the times I've been on this trail in the past, the trail to Yost was not complete and therefore not open. This morning it was! So I excitedly ran the trail to the Yost area and met a huge friend--a beastly Pyrenees! She was very interested in me and decided that I needed a running buddy. She stayed with me for about 2 miles, even as I ran over to the Mitchell Hill Lake trail at the Horine side. She made me feel very guilty for not bringing my own dog out, but I was also grateful that I had not because I don't know how these two would have gotten along!

All in all, I had a great, safe and fun run. But trail running is SO MUCH harder now. Talk about having to take walking breaks--and lots of them--to keep my heart rate in the appropriate range. But it was definitely worth it. It was just great to get out and get into something different--I bet the LO was bouncing around a lot and probably wonders WTF I was doing!

Happy Running, folks!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

First Race as an (almost) Family!

Today was the second leg of the Polar Bear Grand Prix winter racing series, the Frostbite 5K. The first leg was postponed and then cancelled due to snow and icy conditions on the race course, so it was good to finally get out there with everybody! And while it wasn't the first race since I found out the good news, it was the first race where I actually KNEW about the little plum/lime within--and DH ran with us!

The race went a lot better than I expected--I wasn't feeling well at all before the start. We made it in and parked, got our bib and waited in a short line for the THREE port-o-pots! I quipped that maybe they could have used the money that they aren't refunding us from the first race to spring for more port-o-pots. That, at least, would have been nice.

After a half-mile warm up (that's about all I had in me this morning), me and DH lined up and the race started right on time. Smooth start but I forgot about the seemingly never-ending hill that greets you at the start of the race. Almost instantly, my HR alert was beeping so I had to walk up the entire hill.

The first mile went well, despite what I thought was a tough start on the hill--14:00. The second mile was also pretty fast for my recent times as a Prego--13:40. By the end of the 5K, we rolled in at 42:30 by my Garmin. I felt GREAT. I wasn't even breathing hard!! LOL It's the first race I've EVER run where I crossed the finish and didn't feel like I had even been running.

Obviously, this was my slowest 5K ever, but it was one of the most fun. I had my DH at my side, and we just took it easy breezy! And it WAS breezy!!!!

Hope everybody had a great Saturday morning! Happy Running!