Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pregnancy and Goal-Setting

I may have an explanation for the totally unexpected bladder issues in my recent 5k: it turns out I'm harboring a stowaway.  Baby 3.0 for our family is due in late May!  I'm excited but also a bit apprehensive due to our recent miscarriage.  I'm trying to set aside the negative thoughts and focus on the positive, though of course, that is easier said than done.

With my previous two pregnancies, I was not a runner at all.  I didn't discover running until my second child was 18 months old, so this whole running-while-pregnant thing is uncharted territory for me.  I have been looking forward to running while pregnant - something about a runner with a baby belly is infinitely badass and admirable.  Thus far, however, I've not been a pregnant runner at all due to pregnancy fatigue.  Coupled with early morning darkness, my brain just laughs at my alarm at 5:00am, then quickly goes back to sleep.

This is exactly how I expect to look as a pregnant runner: dazzling smile, perfect hair, and impeccable form.  A girl can dream, right?

I hope to combat this by sneaking in naptime runs on the treadmill and weekend runs when I can go later in the morning.  My goal while pregnant is just to maintain some level of cardiovascular fitness and a bit of strength in my legs.  I'm not looking to run far or fast.  Ideally, I'll run 2 or 3 days per week but probably only 2-3 miles at a time.

I expect my next finish line to be the delivery room.  If a great 5k opportunity comes up, I may consider it, but I don't plan to run any distance races until next fall.  I would, however, love to set a half marathon goal for next fall.  It would be a great way to motivate myself to get back into shape once the baby arrives, and training will give me some much-needed personal space.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Race Recap: 9/15/12

This past weekend, I ran a local 5k, a race I also did last fall.  Three days after the race, I'm still feeling very conflicted about my race and my reaction to it.

In truth, I've not been in training mode of late.  I've been running without my GPS and from my heart more than from my head.  After the stress of this summer, running has taken on an adjusted role in my life.  I'm not running against the clock or with a specific plan; I'm running for me and for my mental health.

Bearing this in mind, I should not have even considered trying to break last year's time.  But I did.  I know that I'm a stronger, faster, and better runner now than I was 12 months ago, and I wanted my race time as hard-and-fast evidence of it.  Alas, I finished the race 2 seconds slower than last year, proving that I am nothing if not consistent.

I should be elated!  Without really training, I ran the course as well as last year when I did, in fact, train steadily for it.  I finished in the top 40% overall, top 25% of women, and the top 32% of my age group.  I laced up my shoes and traveled from the starting line to the finish line, which is certainly an accomplishment in and of itself.  And seriously, Kate, 2 seconds?  Definitely not worth hemming and hawing about.

But I keep beating myself up over it because I could have run better.  I took a walk break right near the end.  I didn't want to stop, but my brain seemed to have no control over my legs - or my bladder, for that matter.  Holy urinary incontinence, batman!  I've never battled with my bladder so much on a run.  I don't feel like I drank an excessive amount before the race, but something was surely different.

Bladder aside, I know I should hold my head up and be proud of what I accomplished.  I crossed the finish line to the cheering of my sweet kids, and then I got to cross it a second time with my son when he finished the 1-mile kids race.

I need to look at it through my children's eyes.  The whole time I ran with Mr. D, he kept shouting that we were going to win and that "the finish line is so close!  We can do it, Mommy!"  The look of joy on his face when he crossed the line was priceless.  And J-Bug, who proclaimed that her 2.5-year-old legs were not long enough to run that far, ran as much as she could and said she was "doing it just like Mommy!"

They were proud of me, and I should be, too.
Finishing out the fun run with Mr. D, age 4.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10 Running-Related Personal Questions

I have not yet posted about my profound admiration for the ladies of Another Mother Runner, but I promise, that post is still to come.  Yesterday, however, Sarah invited us to answer 10 questions about ourselves, and as a rule follower, I feel the need to oblige.  You can read Sarah's answers on the AMR blog; Dimity's are to air later this week.  As for me:

1.  Best run ever:  A scenic 6-mile run last April near my parents' wooded cabin.  The weather was gorgeous; the newly green trees beautiful; the views around the lakes breathtaking.  Before this particular day, I had not run much at their cabin, so the sights and sounds were all new to me.  At one point, I came out of a wooded passage, and as I rounded the curve, the view of the sun rising over the lake was nothing short of spectacular.  In fact, I was so inspired by the beauty of the scenery that I hardly noticed the killer hills, though my quads definitely felt their effects the next day.

2.  Three words that describe my running:  Always moving forward.

3.  My go-to running outfit is:  Fairly basic: a pair of Champion running shorts from Target, a wicking shirt, and a headband to keep my hair out of my eyes.  If I'm running in daylight (unusual on these dark fall mornings), I'll wear a hat, too.

4.  Quirky habit while running:  I always end my run at a house near the end of my block with a giant flagpole.  I have no idea why this became a ritual, but now the flagpole always signifies my finish line.

5.  Morning, midday, evening:  Morning is always my first choice.  I love the quiet stillness of the world when most of its occupants are sleeping.  But sometimes life gets in the way, and I sneak in midday treadmill runs while my kids nap or an evening run after my husband gets home from work.  But morning is always best.

6.  I won't run outside when it's: icy.  I'm cool with rain, snow, heat, and humidity, but I refuse to deal with ice, especially since I have a treadmill for those too-icy-to-hit-the-road days.

7.  Worst injury - and how I got over it:  I've only been running for a little over a year, so to date, I've not had to deal much with injury [have I just jinxed myself by saying that aloud?].  When I increased my mileage last spring, however, I found that my calves were extremely tight all the time.  I added in additional post-run stretches - and forced myself to do them after each run - and my muscle pain quickly dissipated.

8.  I felt most like a badass mother runner when:  I completed my first 10-mile run.  I wanted to log a double-digit run before my one year running anniversary, and I did it two weeks ahead of the deadline. One year previously, I could barely run 60 second intervals.  That lovely June day, I rocked 10 miles and felt like a BAMR.

9.  Next race is:  This Saturday (9/15) - a local 5k in the neighborhood in which I grew up.  A hilly course, but I love running those familiar roads.

10.  Potential running goal for 2013:  I hope to toe the line for a half marathon, most likely in the fall.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Morning in the Life

5:07AM = go time
A snapshot of my morning, just another day in the life of this mother runner:

5:07am - Alarm chirps, and I'm able to silence it before its second beep because I'm already awake.
5:13am - Awake, but still not out of bed.  A mental fight with myself to put that first foot on the floor.
5:31am - Dressed and ready to head out the door for a dark but beautiful morning run.
6:07am - In the shower after 3 peaceful and refreshing miles and minimal post-run stretching.
6:23am - Dress, apply mascara, and pack my bag for work.
6:29am - Assemble dinner in the crockpot: chicken parmesan.
6:49am - Morning snuggle time with my wonderfully silly children.
6:55am - Breakfast for the kids while I make coffee (nectar of the gods!) and unload the dishwasher.
7:23am - Dress the kids, brush hair and teeth, find shoes that meet my fashionista 2-year-old's high standards.
7:43am - Kids head off to school while I run to grab the train to work.
8:23am - Realize I never refueled after my run.  Inhale my refrigerator oatmeal while checking e-mail and voicemail at my desk.
8:31am - Refueled and sipping coffee, I'm prepared to face the day ahead.

Busy as it was, this sort of morning fuels my fire.  A morning run makes me infinitely more productive during the day, and counterintuitively, it gives me more energy than if I had spent that extra 40 minutes in bed.  Had I not gotten up for my run, I never would have gotten dinner in the crockpot before work, and I would have faced my usual what-in-the-world-can-we-eat-tonight dilemma at 5:00.

The hardest step of this whole day was putting that first foot on the floor at 5:13am.  After that hurdle was cleared, it was all easy :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Best Time to Blog

When I'm out for a run, I compose the most eloquent and insightful blog posts.  They are witty and entertaining, not to mention poignant and thought-provoking.  Then somehow, when the run is complete, my brain draws a sudden blank.  Not only do I forget my clever phrases, but I can't even recall the basic subject matter on which they were based.

I blame Mommy brain.  After a run, I'm quickly thrown into the three ring circus that is my life, so all leisurely moments for independent thought evaporate faster than the sweat in my sports bra.  (Much faster in fact.  Probably time to invest in sports bras that weren't made in the 1990s...)

I love snarky ecards ;)

So I do my best to put some inspiring words in print here, but know that my best work probably stays in the recesses of my brain only to be released while out on the road.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Looming Large

I'm planning to run a local 5k in about 10 days, a race during which I made my 5k debut last year.  Which in fact, is still the only race I've actually run.  But that's an entirely separate post.

This race traces through the neighborhood in which I grew up, and I love running along those streets that I've tread since I was very small.  There's one part of the course, however, that is a treacherous and seemingly endless hill.  It starts right around mile 2, and for me, that is always the hardest part of a 5k.  I've run far enough to feel fatigued but the end is still nowhere in sight.  Add that mental low to a serious hill and it makes for a tough race.

The hills are all in my head.  I know my legs are strong; it's my brain that needs to catch up.

I haven't run this part of the course in months, so I revisited it last week, and as I remembered, it felt very difficult.  The trouble is that the hill seems to go on forever.  You can't see the entire hill from the bottom as a curve obstructs the view.  When I reach the point that initially looked like the top, I follow the curve and realize I've only finished half of the hill.  Even though I've run this hill many times, it still looms large in my head.

This weekend, I knew I had to nip my worries about this hill in the bud.  We visited my parents' cabin, which is set in a heavily wooded and highly hilly area.  The hills near their cabin put all inclines near my house to shame, so as I ran up and down them on Saturday, my legs learned the true meaning of the word hill.  I conquered some big ones this weekend - longer, steeper, and scarier than the one in the upcoming 5k - and it felt great.