Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pig Half Marathon Race Report

This May started with my first half marathon since finding out I was pregnant last May.  It was actually by running the half marathon last year that I thought I may be pregnant given I started hitting a wall halfway through and walking around mile 10, just sapped of energy.  This year's Flying Pig would be my 10th straight year to participate in some distance and I was excited to keep that streak alive 4 months after giving birth.
In March I had run a 15k as my first and only race back and built mileage through April with weekly long slow runs, hitting 12 miles a couple of times ahead of the half.  
On race day the goal was to finish feeling good, not sure what the pace would be given training had been about building up the long runs again not speed or a large base mileage (I ran about 20 miles a week in April whereas I used to run 30-60 miles a week for a half marathon).  The day started at 3:45 am to be ready for a 6:30 race start time while getting baby fed before leaving.  I got dressed, ate some oatmeal and then fed baby and pumped before heading out the door at 5:00am.  My parents were watching baby during the race and I had bottles lined up for the 2-3 feedings I would miss.  To have the bottles ready takes a bit of preplanning and pumping the mornings in the days leading up to the race but is freeing to allow me to be gone long enough to run and watch my husband and friends finish the marathon.
The race started after a beautiful sunrise and I started nice and easy just over 8 minute pace.  As I made my way back from KY over the bridge around mile 3 I was feeling good and starting to hit just under 8 minute pace, my husband was pacing the 3:25 marathon group and although I didn't originally think I could go with that pace (7:49 min/miles), I had kept their balloons in site and thought it would be fun to catch them and run with him before the assent into Eden Park.  So as I made my way through downtown, around mile 5, I caught up to the pace group and chatted with them before tucking back to focus on the climb.  I kept a steady pace and felt strong through the hills and then the half marathon breaks off from the full around mile 8 and takes a decline back downtown. I picked up the pace on the decent but at this point there wasn't enough miles left to make up enough time to break 1:40, so I finished a strong 1:41.  This was actually my best time for the 3 times I've run the Pig half course and way better than I expected to finish, while far from my 1:31 half PR, putting me almost back to where I was in 2008 when I started serious and consistent marathon training.
I am looking at post pregancy/baby running like starting over my running in a way, setting new post baby PRs and seeing where I can get back to with the new priorities I have and also where I can become even stronger and faster than before baby given the new focus and dedication required to train around a baby's schedule and just the new reason I have to be joyful, running and living with  purpose and heck the new pain threshold I may have from the birth may allow me to find a new speed barrier, it's an exciting new running journey!

A Runner, 2 Dogs and a Stroller

My first run with the stroller and both dogs may not seem like a big deal or may seem crazy, either way for me this was a big accomplishment that required gradual build up. I started with just the stroller then one dog then both dogs. At our 4 month appointment the pediatrician gave the go ahead to begin stroller running, I wanted to stick to paved smooth surfaces like a trail to keep the bumping and bouncing to a minimum but on our first weekday run I felt venerable with just me and the stroller. So the next run I brought our lab along for protection and to get him out of the house as he has the most cooped up energy, leaving our Blue Heeler behind not sure I could control or manage all 3. I shouldn't care so much about the dogs "feelings" but I hate to leave either one behind, they get so excited when I lace up my shoes.

The most difficult part of this balancing act is the strategic process of getting in and out of the car, but now that I have the routine down: get dogs out, stroller out, baby into the stroller. and make sure I have the keys and lock the car, once we get running the dogs actually do pretty well running alongside. It never fails when I have all 3 at least one person says "Wow you've got your hands full" and I have to smile, this just further adds to the fun that I've mastered getting everyone out of the house for a workout at once. The run may not be the most high quality in terms of speed and with occasional stops but I think the effort to push the stroller and control the dogs makes up for it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Trail Run Stopover

This morning after a night stop over in Asheville on our way to a family beach vacation, my husband and I got to do a trail run together on the Blue Ridge Mountain Trail.  We'd run on this trail last time we were in Asheville and knew the trail head was only a mile or two from our hotel.  As soon as we got onto the trail we were enjoying the run together and glad we chose to run here vs the road as our hometown doesn't have much in the way of good trails for running.  The woods smelled of pine, giving a soft footing and there was fresh morning rain on the trees.  This particular section of trail had the right amount of roots, hills and turns to be challenging and technical but still allowed us to run at a moderate pace.  We did 25 minutes out and turned to head back, agreeing there is no better way to start the day especially before driving and we even made it back in time for some oatmeal and coffee at the hotel breakfast before cleaning up to checkout.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Farmers Market Fun

I love to cook (and eat) as much as I love running and the process of finding healthy new foods and recipes is somewhat of a hobby.  I've always wanted to share some of my food creations, so when I make something yummy I'll share it here.  After a delicious brunch on Mother's Day, we headed to one of the first outdoor Farmer's Markets of the season.  We were going to see what was in early season and decided to buy some local grass fed beef ribs, asparagus, and homemade cilantro lime pasta. With these ingredients ($18 in total) we crafted a meal.  Having never made ribs before, we turned to our favorite cooking guru Alton Brown for help:
With ingredients on hand we made a rub (brown sugar, chili powder, black pepper, onion powder, paprika and salt) and sauce (tomato paste, vinegar, lime juice, ginger, garlic, honey, cloves, and a beer). The sauce called for Worcestershire sauce but I like to avoid the corn syrup in commercial made Worcestershire, so we used other ingredients above in the sauce to improvise. After rubbing, refrigerating, adding the sauce and braising the ribs for 2 hours in the oven we had ourselves some delicious ribs.  We served with the cooked pasta tossed with sautéed asparagus, onion, shallot, yellow cherry tomatoes, and pesto. 
I love the experience of creating a meal around what is fresh and local, of course it's healthy, supports local farmers and its also fun to be inspired and creative with what to eat.

Spring in My Step

There is nothing like the first run in a new pair of running shoes. Fresh new colors and the renewed cushioning just puts a spring in your step.  I planned to write about how great my run was in my new running shoes, teal and pink Asics Nimbus I was particularly excited about especially because this was my first pair of new running shoes since September given my low mileage pre and post baby, however my workout went different than planned.  My husband watched our daughter on a Saturday afternoon while I set out for the track a couple miles from our house to do my first legitimate interval workout since baby on a quest to find some speed in my running again.  I could feel the spring of the new shoes and felt incredible.  However when I arrived at the track there was a 50 something man sitting in the infield with some football equipment, I was pleasant and said hello while I did some stretching before starting on my 400 repeats. As I made my way through my first 400 I became aware how deserted the rest of the track was and only one gate open as a way out, running a 6:45 pace, fastest in a while I came back to the start, he asked me if I was in my 20s or 30s and I proceeded to spring right on out of the track to the busiest street as fast as possible.  He may just have been friendly but I was not about to find out. So I did my quarter mile pickups on the street instead, looking over my shoulder every now and then.  Post Baby running has been mostly solitary, it's tough to schedule workouts with friends both because my speed has changed and because my schedule is so dependent on baby and having someone to watch her and run between feedings, but in the interest of safety it's time to get back to the buddy system next time I head to the track, one of my favorite places to run.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy 1st Mothers Day!

My mom with me, her first born, in the hospital 1980

Me with my daughter, my first born, in the hospital Jan 2013
My first Mothers Day seems like a fitting time to start blogging about (not just fantasizing of writing about) my experiences as a mom.  Only through having my daughter this past January have I truly understood the love that my Mother has for me.  Through the months of feeding my daughter every 3 hours, responding to her cries no matter the hour and just staring at her in sheer amazement and love, I've often reflected on the fact that my Mom did all these things for me and loves me this much!
Through the days and nights when my Mom generously came to stay with us in the early weeks with our new baby, she showed me through her example how to bathe and care for a newborn because how can you really learn those things when they fly through the demonstration hours after you've just given birth?  Our daughter surprised us and arrived 3 weeks early so I hadn't even gotten around to reading all the books on "How to Care for a Baby" and I am thankful for that because instead I got to learn in action by doing which is a much better way to learn.  My Mom quickly showed me how to talk to and love a baby and it has been amazing to see her as a Grandmother with her first grandchild.  My daughter is a very lucky girl to be her first grandchild and give my Mom a new reason to shop, one of our favorite activities, her dresser is happily stocked with cute clothes and accessories.
So thank you to my Mom for your example as a selfless and generous mom.
Since having my first baby I've said any mom can finish an Ironman if she wanted, caring for a newborn day and night over months is much harder than any Ironman, there are no rest days for moms (just the occasional long nap which is how I was able to start this blog).
Happy Mothers Day to all moms, you deserve this day for all you do EVERY day (and someday your children will grow to truly appreciate all that you do)!