Saturday, September 28, 2013

Peak Week

Every marathon training plan has a peak training week before taper begins and this was my big week to be ready for Columbus marathon (in addition to completing my first month back to work).  The week included a half marathon, a 5K and finished off with a 20 mile run!  I have been diligent with my miles, getting ~40 miles a week, but I have not been doing any speed work and little tempo.  After so many of my long runs on my own and little racing compared to years past, I needed a sense of where I am from a fitness standpoint so I planned to get a check in a half marathon. 
It was a downpour all night long and still when I woke up at 5am to get ready for the race, but right about the time I was getting parked, the rain stopped and the conditions were perfect for running, cloudy and cool.  In years past I would have had pasta before a race, tapered a bit the days before, and gotten plenty of sleep, but times have changed.  We had dinner with friends the night before which was ginger-miso salmon and rice and I got to bed about 11pm, but as it turned out salmon may be a pretty good pre-run meal because my stomach and legs felt great the whole race.  My goal was to run under a 1:40 half (7:30-7:40 pace) after running a 1:41 at the Pig back in May.  When the race started I went out about 7:05 pace, which I knew may be faster then I could hold for the whole race, but I was feeling good and decided to see how long I could hold the pace.  I pretty much held the pace until mile 10 when I was starting to feel my legs, but I knew I only had 5K to go and held on to a 7:20 pace finishing down the runway in 1:34 (7:13 pace), race day magic is amazing!

Thursday afternoon was our semi-annual 5K at work, there is no better way to spend an afternoon then getting outside of the office to run a 5k with your co-workers.  I went out fast to keep up with a girl who usually wins, hung behind her for most of the race but was never able to catch her and finished ~20:40.  A good fast weekday effort and probably still a little tired from the weekend half.

To finish it off, today was my 20 mile run, first in 2 years since Ironman Wisconsin.  There is nothing like the weight of a looming 20 mile run, there is just something about that distance that feels like a weight over my head until I get out and do it.  18 miles no problem, but 20 miles is mentally tough knowing I am going to be out running for nearly 3 hours.  To top it off I've really been struggling to get sleep these past few weeks.  When our daughter was sick I gave into feeding her when she woke up at 4:30am and now she's gotten into the habit of waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep.  So on 5 hours of sleep 20 miles seemed even more daunting.  I set out for my run this morning with my Ipod and knocked out the miles on my own, trying to hold around 8 min/mile, sometimes picking it up and slowing down when needed to keep going.  I broke the run into 6 sections, just telling myself to get through that portion of the run and made it through feeling strong but also worn out when I got home.  Time to taper!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stroller racing and a marathon comeback

The gorgeous August weather continues and I've been feeling full of energy for running.  Thursday night was my turn to push the stroller in a local 5k and was fun to see how fast I could run with a stroller after all these months of training with the stroller.  I was pretty happy to run 21:39 (7:00 pace) but the highlight of the evening was my husband, our daughter and I all getting to dance together to some fun songs at the post race party before heading home for bed time.
Last weekend I felt so good on my 12 mile run with my friend training for NYC marathon that I began considering training for a full again.  I've been using training time and the possibility of having more kids as a barrier to doing a full, but I'm feeling better than ever and really enjoying long runs, plus a challenge and goal especially once I head back to work could be good for me, so after a 15 miler at 8:30 pace yesterday I registered for an October marathon.  I'm a little scared but that's just what I need!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Leaning In vs. Opting Out

With three weeks left before I make my return to work after eight months at home with my daughter, everywhere I turn there is another article or discussion about women Leaning In vs. Opting Out of the workforce!
Sheryl Sandberg's Ted Talk-Summary of Lean In
Atlantic Monthly-Why Women Still Can't Have it All
NY Times-The Opt Out Generation Wants Back In
Hulafrog-Mom's at Work Survey
Atlantic Monthly-Keeping A Family Together is Hard Whether You Opt Out or Not
The conversation is endless on the topic of women, work, and family.....

After reading every book and article on the topic I can get my hands on, I feel confident that I am doing the right thing to give going back to work a shot.  I have the good fortune and blessing of working for a company that has allowed me to take an unpaid childcare leave of absence following my six weeks of paid maternity as well as a husband supportive of me staying home with our daughter for these months to focus on bonding, nursing and enjoying these precious months with her.
In these eight short months, I have gone through many phases on this amazing personal journey of motherhood.  At first when my daughter arrived I had no idea how I would ever be able to be ready to go back to work, after 6 weeks I was in survival mode and cringed at the idea that some mom's do have to go back to work at 6 weeks, by 12 weeks I thought it would be possible if financially necessary to go back to work but by no means did I feel ready, by 6 months I felt that I could handle some work in addition to my mom responsibilities but knowing I only had a couple months left at home I dove into learning about baby food and enjoying amazing summer weather and now by 7.5 months I look forward to returning to my previous work world (some time out of the house) and seeing how well I can balance it with my new mom world.
Don't get me wrong, EVERY moment with my daughter is precious but in this time at home I've already begun to experience many of the conundrums discussed in the articles for stay at home moms.  For example, along with taking care of your child/children comes the responsibility of taking care of the never ending household chores.  What was a 50/50 sharing of the chores when both people were working becomes mostly the stay at home mom's responsibility.  I've learned what I do enjoy (buying and cooking healthy meals at home) and what I do not (I can't wait to hire out cleaning toilets and dusting).  One article summarized the sentiment well:
"Carrie started to feel that the unstated bargain the couple had struck — her husband earning the money, Carrie keeping their home — was problematic. She had no issue doing full-time child care; that was a labor of love. But housekeeping? That was another matter. She resented that the couple’s mutual mess was now seen as her concern.  “I had the sense of being in an unequal marriage,” she told me. “If I had any angst about being an overeducated stay-at-home mom, it was not about raising the kids, but it was about sweeping.”" 
But it goes beyond chores, there is the need for financial security.  Currently I have nearly equal earning potential as my husband (similar college degree and position at work where we met) and we don't like to think about these possibilities but if my husband gets laid off, hurt, sick or the unthinkable if our marriage ends, do I want to be left without the ability to support my family?  That is what makes the choice to Opt Out so serious and difficult to make even though on a day to day basis if we pinched pennies we could probably "get by" without me working.
In the end, the majority of moms seem to want a balance between family and work, not a super demanding 80 hour a week job at the same time as raising young children, but rather an interesting job that uses their educated brains to keep their foot in the door, make some income and lets not forget interaction with other adults  (65% would ideally like part time work while only 25% have it according to the Hulafrog Mom survey), because the children will grow up and create their own lives someday (hopefully) and its important to keep cultivating career skills to be ready for that phase of life.  The big question is do those jobs with the desired flexibility yet career growth potential really exist?
My husband is encouraging of me trying the working mom "thing" out.  I am going back to work 4 days a week to start and see how the balance feels, my biggest fear is that I don't get to see the happy moments of my daughter's day or miss teaching her important life lessons.  But with Mommy Daughter Fridays, breakfast together in the mornings, dinner in the evenings, weekends, and family vacations, I hope that we share plenty of quality time together and that she grows and learns from her interactions with other children at Daycare as well.  We will assess how we feel and adjust, there is definitely not an easy solution or answer and I will always treasure these amazing months at home to be dedicated entirely to my daughter, literally stopping to smell the roses and learn a lot about myself.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Favorite Time of Day

I've always been a morning person with more energy early in the day and not able to stay up late nights, but even more so with my daughter now, I really love the mornings with her.  We wake up, I nurse her, we play, she is smiley and laughs, now we eat breakfast together at the table and then I read her a story before she goes to sleep peacefully for her morning nap.  I love the sun coming in through the window in the morning or the occasional calmness of a rainy morning at home with coffee.  My plan for going back to work is that I will still have this time with her in the morning before we head off for the day, it won't be as relaxed but will be an important way to spend precious quality time with her.
I also love running in the mornings, the start of a fresh day and full of energy.  Yesterday was an incredible weather day for July, there was actually a cool crispness like fall in the air even as I headed out for my long run at 9am after she went to sleep for her nap.  The weather gave me a shot of energy which combated the extreme tiredness from our nights of sleep training over the weekend.  I ran solo with my Ipod and I was smiling as I ran just so happy to be out on a cool sunny morning for a run.  I ran 10 miles at ~8minute pace, feeling pretty much back to my old running self. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sleep Training

Its 3:23 AM and after 7 months of only getting blocks of 3, 4, maybe an occasional 5 hours of sleep at a time, it's time to get serious about sleep!  So we have a social baby, she is a great morning napper, a joy as a lunch date, the best in a stroller, and even good at falling asleep consistently when she gets fussy in the evening at 7pm BUT she wakes up frequently (~3 times) pretty much every night and we've used nursing and pacifier to get her back to sleep.  After 200+ nights of hoping and wondering if she's too young, too hungry, teething or the like its time to believe she is ready to sleep.
In June, at 5 months, we tried a few nights of the Ferber method (basically going into the room at regular intervals of increasing time until baby goes to sleep) and got her from 1am wake ups (after her regular 10pm wakeup and feeding) to 3am wakeups, but after a busy July the wakeups have started to revert not improve.  With going back to work on the horizon, getting a consistently good nights sleep is necessary for the whole family, including the dogs, who by the way have their own issues demanding to be fed at insane hours like 5am.  
So here we are on night one of Ferber take 2 at 3:30am up since 2am wakeup, getting started on a Friday night now Saturday morning given my husband is doing a large part of the checkins since my going into the room and not feeding can be more disturbing than calming, yes an exciting way to spend our weekend, but at this point we really are willing to do what it takes for sleep.  Tonight it's going into the room after 3 minutes, 5 minutes, then every 10 minutes there after and giving a calming pat (no talking, soothing or feeding) until she can go back to sleep.  There are times it seems the going in can upset her more, but we are following the method and now she is laying in the crib babbling while we lay awake in bed with a timer and I contemplate if I actually will be able to remember how to sleep 8 hours if this is successful...will report back.
For summary of the method and interval times by night:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hooray for Poop and Getting Back to Regular

After last week packed with events including a trip to the zoo, shots, anniversary night out, 4th of July, multiple cookouts, a couple races and finished off by traveling over the weekend to NYC (daughter's first flight was a success!), this week is all about getting back to the normal routine.  I welcome and thrive on routine, as do babies. 
Over the course of travel, hot weather and solid food our daughter hadn't pooped in a week, so after trying as many remedies as I could read about (rectal thermometer, prune juice, eliminating constipating foods, frequent breast feeding, and water) I spent my day yesterday waiting for the doctor to call with advice and texting my husband with poop status updates.  Since it had been so long we resorted to using a glycerin suppository which got things moving quickly.  Now I'm educating myself on all the ways to avoid this in the future and learning that starting solid food is like breast feeding in that both baby and mom have a lot to learn together!  I'd imagined I would have a baby who was just going to love and eat gobs of veggies right off the bat, but the facial expressions so far tell me we have some time to getting to that point.
This website I found is SUPER helpful for info on feeding babies and making your own baby food (I had great success today with steaming and pureeing pears):
Today I was determined to get to morning stroller class before the weather heated up, baby fell asleep at 8:30 and was still napping at 9:20 when it was time to head out, not wanting to wake her I debated what to do, about 15 minutes later the dogs barked and woke her up and I decided we could still make a good part of the class, so I changed her, buckled her in and headed to class.  She got an hour nap, I got to class 15 minutes late, still got a couple miles in including stairs, toning with a resistance band and abs/stretching.  It was a great decision, I needed to get out of the house for a workout, she got tummy time at the end of class in the park and again I was reminded about being okay with better late than never and making the most of the day.
2 Baked sweet potatoes:  a portion fort the fridge and individual servings for the freezer

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Being Okay with Good Enough

Every year my sister and I head home to run our hometown 5K with my dad in celebration of 4th of July and their birthdays.  This year she couldn't make it, there was prediction of rain and the start time had been moved up to 7:30am, all making keeping family traditions with a baby in the mix a little more challenging.  We hadn't signed up in advance and yesterday realized to get there on time we'd need to wake up by 5am, not very appealing on a holiday for this already tired mom, but I knew the post race feeling, family time and some delicious food awaited so we decided we would plan to go but make a final decision in the morning.  After a 3am feeding I set my alarm for 5:30am for maximum sleep.  At 5:30 the radar looked clear so we got up and decided we would do our best to get there as early as we could, made coffee, skipped breakfast, packed a post race bag, fed the dogs, and lastly I got our daughter up to feed her, grabbed her a 4th of July outfit, double checked the diaper bag and put her in the car seat, we pulled out of the drive at 6:20, not bad, but cutting it very close for getting to the race.  Road closures for the race further delayed us and by the time we parked it was 10 minutes till race time, we jogged with the stroller to the start, hitting a portajon on the way and ran up to the start just as the national anthem got under way.  There were no warm up miles or strides, we didn't even have time to signup for the race, a quick stretch, passed the stroller onto my mom and we were off.  A mile into the race my shoe came untied which never happens to me and I just kept going hoping I didn't trip.  But even with all that it was fun, we got ourselves out the door before the rain, I ran a decent time, we cheered on my dad and our niece as she finished her first 5K.  So for this perfectionist, today was a lesson in doing "good enough" and enjoying the less than perfect because we were out there together and that's better than missing out.  Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Run to Clear my Head

Today my run was more for mental health than physical.  After playing with my daughter, breakfast together (she is now starting to eat solid foods), dishes, getting her down for a nap, unburying the pile of mail, and getting plans in order for the upcoming holiday and weekend events, I decided to get myself, the baby and dogs out of the house rather than moving onto putting away the baskets full of laundry waiting on the bed.  We all piled into the car and headed out for a run.  Within the first mile I could feel my stress and clouded head fade away.  All the "to-do's" although none a big deal had all started to add up, and there is the reoccurring worry of how I am ever going to keep up with all these things when I go back to work.  We did a few miles then headed back home recharged to tackle cooking the carrots for some homemade baby food and maybe get to putting away that laundry.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Health Consciousness-10 changes I am making

Becoming a mom and being on maternity leave have both given me a renewed focus to be as healthy as possible.  For the past years I've increasingly eaten less processed foods and foods with added sugar especially those with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners and I've bought organic fruits, veggies, dairy and meat when possible.  With more time to cook from scratch and more time to read, I've been learning about new ways I can improve further in the quest for health, however I've also learned that you can totally stress out to try to get it all right and there is a lot of conflicting info on every single detail of what is "healthy" or "safe."  So I've decided I'm going to feel great about focusing on a set of healthy changes, these are the 10 I am currently working on:
1.  Buying in season fruits and veggies and local meat from the Farmers Market and supplementing the rest of what we need at the grocery.  These were 2 dinners from our trip last Sunday: 
Lamb Chops, Polenta, and Turnips/Squash/Spring Onion saute

Pork Chops, Rosemary Potatoes, and Pea/Turnip/Spring Onion Saute
2.  Adding healthy fats from Chia seed in daily.  Can drink mixed in water or add to smoothies and baking.
"They're [Chia] the absolute best source of omega three fats on the market, hands down, when you consider the ratio of omega three to omega six.": 
I made this smoothie this week with a Tablespoon of Chia and Hemp:
3.  Reading ingredient labels, buying products that have fewer preservatives and artificial colors in addition to added sugars
4.  Making dressings and sauces such as barbeque from scratch.  These are super easy to make in a food processor with simple ingredients like oil, vinegar, garlic, spices and lemon.
5.  Making baby food from scratch in a food processor as well.  Saves money and allows baby to eat what we eat.
6.  Choosing nitrate free lunch meat.
7.  Aware of food packaging.  Using more glass (vs. plastic) for at home storage.  Buying less canned food unless I know its BPA free, such as beans in bags and some soups come in a carton now.
8.  Buying Plain yogurt vs. sweetened yogurt.  In addition to less sugar it's also more versatile because you can also use as sour cream, to make tuna salad and in baking so it's more cost effective to buy a large amount rather than individual containers.
9.  Baking with honey and maple syrup rather than white sugar when possible.  I'm also trying Virgin Coconut Oil rather than Vegetable and Canola Oil in baking.
10.  More aware what is in products beyond food, such as sunscreen:

What are some of the health choices you are focusing on?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stroller Workout

Another gorgeous morning for a stroller workout in the park, I love it when I start my day working out outside.  I've been going to these stroller classes since my daughter was 5 weeks, we go 1-2x each week and what I really love about the workout is it's different than the straight running that I normally do; we get cardio by jogging with the strollers, running stairs, running up hills, and strength mixed in by using weights, resistance bands, or even a bench and we finish up the workout on the mat with abs and stretching.  Not only is it a fun workout but I enjoy meeting and chatting with other moms, discussing baby eating and sleep patterns, family vacation destinations, recipes etc. Now my daughter is starting to enjoy watching the other kids ranging in ages especially when we get them out on the mats with us at the end of class.  There are so many creative ways to get a workout in with a baby, why not in your favorite park?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hill Repeats-Making Progress

Yesterday I had planned with my husband to do a family run after work but it was so hot in the evening, ~90  degrees, that we decided to bail on that plan and let him get a little Daddy daughter time.  I headed out for a solo run and given a decent amount of track workouts lately and the heat, I wanted to change it up so I ran for a neighborhood hill.  1.5 miles easy to the hill and when I got there decided to try to make it through 6 repeats, the hill about a quarter mile, to get me to ~5miles total workout.  I charged up the hill on a street with beautiful homes, driving my legs forward motivated by the big race I've been working toward at the end of June.  I could feel my legs tiring, getting stronger and once I crested the hill I jogged back down easy.  After the last repeat I went over the back side of the hill to jog easy home.

I was interested to look back at when I had done a workout on this same hill in April to see if I had improved and by how much.  When I got home I looked at my Garmin workouts to find the last workout, only 4 repeats over a minute/mile slower pace, I am making progress!!

Looks like summer weather is here which means finding a way to get out early or later but mid day runs will be getting a little steamy for stroller runs.  Even more reason to get my daughters sleep schedule more regular, that's another topic...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rainy Day Run

Today was one of those days I wasn't sure if a run would happen, it was storming in the morning and we had evening dinner plans.  After the morning storms rolled through and morning nap time was over we headed out to the park before the next round of rain. The rain had cooled the temperature off about 20 degrees from past days and the skies were grey and gloomy but we've had plenty of sunshine lately so it was a nice change of pace.  The park had more birds than people and was more peaceful than usual as the playground was empty.  We got sprinkled on a bit, but no thunder so we just enjoyed it.  As I got going I felt so good we did an extra 2 miles and I may have kept going if I had not brought our dog.  So today I ended up doing 6 easy miles, my longest stroller run to date.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Memories

One of my favorite summer memories is going strawberry picking with my mom and making homemade jam and pies with her. I don't remember how old I was or how much help I actually gave but I sure remember how delicious the strawberries were and how amazed I was that we could make our own jam and pie.  So when I saw strawberry picking season was wrapping up and some gorgeous cool sunny weather this week I decided it was time to get picking.  Together with my sister n laws and their kids we picked about 10 pounds each of beautiful strawberries.  Picking lived up to the memory and was fun to see my 7 nieces and nephews have so much fun, we may have a new family tradition.
Back at home I got to work on strawberry pie and the next night made an appetizer recipe both are below, the rest will go for cereal, snacking with yogurt and also some for the freezer.

Strawberry Glace Pie From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
1 baked pastry shell
8 cups medium strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
Fresh Whipped Cream
1.  Remove stems from strawberries and cut any large strawberries in half.
2.  For glaze, in a food processor combine 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup of water.  Cover and process until smooth.  In a medium saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in blended berry mixture.  Cook and stir over medium heat till mixture is thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Cool for 10 minutes without stirring.
3.  Spread 1/4 glaze over bottom and sides of Baked Pastry Shell.  Arrange half of the remaining strawberries in the pastry shell.  Spoon half of the glaze over fruit covering each piece.  Arrange remaining fruit over first layer.  Spoon remaining glaze over fruit.  Chill for 1-2 hours and garnish with fresh whipped cream.

Cool Balsamic and Strawberries with Warm Mozzarella Flatbread From Everyday Dining with Wine
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
2T balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Six pita or flatbread rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella                                            
5 fresh basil leaves
1.        Preheat oven to 400F or grill.  Combine strawberries, vinegar & few grinds of pepper in mixing bowl and stand @ room temp for 10-30 minutes
2.       Brush flatbread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt on both sides.  Place on baking sheet and heat in oven or place directly on grill for 2 minutes to toast lightly.  Remove, cut in quarters and return to baking sheet.
3.       Slice mozzarella into ½ inch thick slices. Place on pita and return to oven or grill until cheese is puffy ~2 minutes.
4.       Add finely chopped basil to strawberries.
5.       Remove pit from grill and spoon strawberry mixture over cheese and serve immediately.
6.       Pairs with Dry Rose or Rioja Reserva