Monday, December 13, 2010

Cold Weather Running

Perfect Running Weather

Call me crazy, but when I see a forecast like the one above, what I think is "yipee, awesome running ahead".

Living in Los Angeles the last four years has been tough on my running... because it's always hot! I know, I know, I'm a big whiner for living in one of the sunniest, least humid places in the country. Really, though, my body seriously dislikes running in hot weather; and hot for me is anything over 70 deg.

Having grown up in WI, gone to school in NY and lived several years in MA, I am well used to the running in the cold. No matter how cold it is, you can always put on enough clothes so that you'll be toasty warm while running. There's something so wonderful about running through snow-covered scenery, feeling great and breathing cold air. I've done long runs in zero degree weather (not counting wind chill). Heck, I did a marathon in MA, in February, where it was 15 deg at the start (shout out to Hyannis Marathon!).

Due to a family wedding, and desire to get some help with the little miss baby, I'm visiting my folks in WI for three weeks. Last week (my first week here) yielded some wonderful, snow-filled runs. As evidence of my body's preference for cold weather, all the runs hovered at around a 9 min/mile pace - great improvement on my easy pace as of late. I even extended several of them a mile or more because I was enjoying myself so much I didn't want to go inside. Things are looking good for this week and next also.

In honor of cold weather running, The Boring Runner is hosting a Freeze Your Thorns Off virtual 5k on Jan 8th. Whether or not you'll have cold weather to do it in (I'll be back in CA by then) participate in the spirit of all that is great with winter running =)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where'd My Half Go?

DH and I enjoying the first Pasadena Half Marathon
Well, I enjoyed it, he survived it =) 

Darn it, they're moving the Pasadena Marathon/Half to fall 2011.

2011 is the 3rd year for the Pasadena Marathon. This event has been great fun for us in the past. With a start/finish line only 1/2 mile from our front door, it just couldn't get any easier! This was the first, and only, half marathon my husband has consented to run with me. Each year we sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast and saunter right up to the start line, moments before the race starts.

Originally, the first year in 2008, this was to be a November marathon. The city geared up; streets were closed, water stations assembled and finish line food spread out. Then, 4 am race morning, the event was canceled on account of poor air quality from local wildfires. Bummer, bummer, bummer. Everyone who had trained and tapered was left in the lurch.

The city rebounded with a make-up date in February 2009. Bonus, a 'spring' (late winter?) marathon! This was wonderful, since the LA area running calendar, like most other places, is jam-packed in the fall. For 2010 Pasadena kept the February date, and it was great: perfect weather and well-run to boot!

The race committee just announced that they're trying to move it back to November for 2011. What a shame! Aside from the fact that the fall is packed, I was looking forward to this Pasadena half as my first 'comeback' race. I had my training plan all laid out to hit that starting line in decent (but not PR) condition.

My back-up option is the Surf City Marathon/Half in Huntington Beach two weeks earlier. I ran, and enjoyed, the full marathon there in 2009. It was a failed BQ attempt - but still a PR. Perhaps I can hustle up and try to 'redeem' myself at the half there this time around.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Small Victories

Today I ran 4 miles in 39:50... that's under 10 min/mile! Yes, my marathon pace used to be 8:30... before all of this baby business. However, between third trimester running and postpartum recovery, I haven't had any run break 10 min/mile since July. I'm on my way back!  On another happy note, I hit my training plan for the week spot on. It was only 16 total miles and 4 days running... but I didn't miss one. It's the little victories that count now =)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Base Building & Turkey Trot

The least favorite phase of running, for me, has always been base building. Slowly increasing run frequency, building mileage and finally working on pace (carefully obeying the 10% rule) requires more patience then I can typically muster. One thing I hate more then improving slowly, however, is being injured. So, as I complete my pregnancy 'comeback' I'm going to try and take base building seriously.

I have never been great about following training plans. But, since I like the focus they give me and the sense of accomplishment when I meet them, I almost always have one in place. For my base building phase, I plan to 'loosely' follow this plan from (link):

My Plan

I tweaked their plan a bit. Since none of the 'long' runs are really all that long, I moved them to Tuesdays (from Sundays). I have a much lower chance of skipping a long run if it's not at the end of the week (silly, arbitrary mental block on my part because, after all, what does the calendar day really matter?). I almost always miss at least one planned run. However, I try to make it one of the shorter runs, at least. My cross training will be minor, likely consisting of little more then yoga and walking the dogs =)

Right now, I'm at week 3. I'm going to try and carefully adhere to the 10% rule at least - never increase your weekly mileage or your long run mileage by more then 10% at a time. With 'long' runs starting out so short, the second part of the rule won't really take effect until the end of the base period.

The final challenge for me is observing the step-back weeks, where mileage is decreased to allow for rest and recovery. I'm good at following these during a marathon training cycle, when I really feel worn down, but will likely be skipping these during the build-up. Eh, what can I say? I know I'm impatient =)

Finally, the Turkey Trot portion of today's post:
Run, Walk, Bike, or Trot a 5k while benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (they will receive 100% of the donations!! Visit the website here Then, Tweet, Facebook, or blog that you are participating (easy buttons on the site!) and pick a donation amount. $1, $5, or $10. Everything helps! (donations made securely with paypal)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cat Calls

Cat calls - the kind that come from men driving by in over sized 4x4s, are not my favorite part of running. In fact, most days they down right piss me off. I'm not much of a looker, but with sunglasses, a running skirt and a long, blond pony tail I usually get my fair share of these while out on the road.

It has always puzzled me - what response, exactly, do men expect when they whistle at you from a speeding vehicle? None, I imagine, since even if I would offer my #, they're not slowing down to ask for it. What, then, is the objective? Is it an involuntary response, thanks to watching the movie "10" to noticing a running female? The mystery remains.

The first cat call I received post-delivery actually made me smile. Yes, I look good enough to whistle at again! However, today something very unexpected happened... someone whistled at me while I was out with the jogging stroller?!? Something just feels very wrong at a man degrading a new mama like that. Really, where are the limits?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: BOB Ironman

Ready for a run!

Freedom to run - that is what the BOB Ironman* stroller means to me. Newborn baby schedules are tricky... in that they don't exist. The last few weeks, since I started running again, I've had no idea when I could run on any given day. Having the BOB means I can just go whenever the opportunity presents itself. It has been a sanity/life saver!

Now, for the stroller itself. I spent a lot of time researching (online and in person) running strollers and settled on the BOB brand pretty quickly. I've seen many of these strollers on the road and after learning about their many runner-friendly features, it seemed like a perfect fit for me. I had a harder time deciding between three different BOB strollers: Ironman, Sport Utility Stroller, and Revolution.

After going back and forth a great deal, especially between the Ironman and the SUS, I finally decided on the Ironman. I'm very glad I did... here are my favorite features:

- Fixed front wheel: Unlike the Rev, the Ironman and SUS have fixed (non-rotating) front wheels. Ideal for running... not ideal if you plan to use this as an everyday, around town stroller as well. Since I don't encourage my sporting equipment to be multi-taskers, a hard core running stroller was for me.
- 'Road Bike-like' tires: These make for an incredibly smooth ride on pavement. Since I don't intend to off-road much with this stroller, the 'Mountain-Bike-like' tires of the SUS would have been overkill for me, and would have slowed the ride down some.
- Hand brake: This is another benefit of the fixed front wheel... a bike-style hand brake on the handlebar. Pasadena is a hilly town and I would hate to waste my good down-hill running momentum to prevent a run-away stroller (something which would easily happen, as this thing rides soooo smooth).
- Sturdy Infant Car Seat Holder: This got me out on the road months earlier then if I had to wait for baby girl to have proper head support to ride in the main stroller seat. BOB recommends that you don't jog with the infant seat carrier... I believe this to be a CYOA recommendation, as the car seat adapter is superbly sturdy. It would take the impact of an actual car to knock that car seat loose... no bump in the road could manage it!

Running with the stroller isn't effort free, but it isn't nearly as taxing as I would have imagined. On a downhill, this stroller takes care of itself and on level ground it barely needs a nudge to keep rolling at a good clip. The tracking is superb as well. On uphills I definitely notice the effort of pushing the stroller. It is heavy with the car seat in addition to my little one. However, it still doesn't slow me down too much and I don't mind the extra resistance workout =) Hopefully, baby girl and I will continue to make it out frequently.

*Note: I have not been asked by BOB to review this product... nor received any incentive for this review.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Postnatal Running: First Impressions

This is going to be rough. I have come back from time off before, but this time I feel out of shape in an entirely new way. While I did run until 38 weeks pregnant, the last few weeks amounted to little more than a few fast walks. Then, I took a solid 4 weeks off - the 2 before delivery and the 2 after.

My first run was 1.5 miles 2 weeks after delivery. I deliberately kept it easy and short. The first thing I noticed, stepping out the door, was how light I felt. Having lost almost 20 lbs since the last time I ran, I felt awkwardly light on my feet. That sensation only lasted about a half mile, but it was quite interesting!

Since then I've done a handful of 3-4 mile runs. I plan to try and bump that up a bit this weekend, when I'll be 6 weeks postpartum. Part of me wanted to wait until my 6-week checkup before increasing the pace or distance.

My last four runs have been with the baby girl in our new BOB Ironman stroller. I'll do a detailed review soon, but suffice it to say that I love this thing. It's best feature is the freedom it brings. I don't have to try and run early in the morning before my husband leaves for work or in the late afternoon, during the baby's fussy period. It's a sanity saver!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pregnant Running: Recap

Now, four weeks after delivering my daughter, I'm ready to really start running again. As I stretch my (out of shape) running legs (another post to come on that!) I am reflecting a bit on my pregnant running experience.

First, I am so glad that I was able to run relatively comfortably throughout my pregnancy and that I didn't have any complications or risk factors that prevented me from running. This is not always the case!

Summary of my running during pregnancy:
First trimester: I kept my distance the same (about 12-15 mile long runs) but reduced my pace and removed any speed work (which I rarely did anyway). My husband and I ran a half marathon when I was 13 weeks pregnant.
Second trimester: My weekly distance and long runs started to come down (7-8 mile long runs). Month 5 was pretty much a wash with vacations, etc, but months 4 and 6 were still consistent. While I was doing much shorter runs, I actually ran more frequently.
Third trimester: Weekly long runs came down to 5 miles and, in month 8, I started to only run 2 or 3 times a week. Distances continued to come down until I was just doing 2 and 3 mile runs. I finally stopped enjoying running, and decided to break until after the birth, in week 38. During this trimester, I introduced more cross training, including swimming and yoga.

Things I loved about running while pregnant:
- Funny looks and/or words of encouragement from other runners/walkers I came across. I heard everything from "Good for you!" to "Look at that pregnant chick!". The vast majority of comments I received or overheard from strangers were very supportive.
- New running gear - from larger shirts, to pregnancy running skirts, to support belts, I had a brand new excuse to get more running gear!
- I was able to maintain "some" level of fitness. My post pregnancy runs, so far, have been difficult but not nearly as bad as I imagined they could be.
- I avoided many of the common pregnancy discomforts. This may or may not be related to running, of course. By the steady, not too fast weight gain helped me to avoid stretch marks. I also had very little swelling, little back ache and moderate total weight gain.
- My stress levels were kept under control, helping me to stay relaxed and prepare for the baby.
- While fitness and ease of labor aren't necessarily correlated (even Kara Goucher had a difficult labor! Link) I am convinced that I was able to make it through my long back labor (58 hours) and pushing time (2.5 hours) thanks to the endurance that comes from running. With a posterior position and compound presentation (one arm was across the baby's body, with a hand up by her face) avoiding a c-section was a minor miracle.
- I learned a lot about myself as a runner, and why running is important to me. Unable to focus on improving my speed or mileage during the pregnancy, I found that I enjoyed running just the same. Keeping up with running friends, getting my endorphin fix, and getting some quiet thinking time to myself were wonderful running benefits I enjoyed no matter how fast I went.

There isn't much I would do differently, looking back on my exercise routine during pregnancy. Next time I think I'll introduce more cross training earlier and try to maintain mileage a little longer. Overall, I had a very positive experience running during my pregnancy and would recommend it to anyone who is cleared by their Dr. to do so!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finding my inner OM

Life with a newborn is wonderful, fascinating and stressful. Life with out exercise is just stressful. I made it 11 days.

I know, I need the rest. I also, however, need at least a little exercise. A mom going through endorphin withdrawal is not a happy mom.

So on Wednesday, the newborn safely deposited with the grandparents, I made my way to the post-natal yoga class. Let me just say, pure bliss. It was exactly what I needed to work out some lingering stiffness. The instructor was very attentive to me, knowing I was only ~2 weeks post delivery, and helped me modify a few of the poses to make them easier. An hour and a half away from my adorable yet extremely dependent baby didn't hurt either. I returned a much happier, healthier mommy =)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Post "Race" Recovery

My baby girl finally arrived!

Noelle Marie
11:03 am, September 18, 2010
8 pounds, 8 ounces

Meeting Mom

Marathons are tough. For those of us non-elites, usually two weeks of complete (or near complete) rest is recommended to recover from a marathon effort. Is there any parallel to labor recovery?

Our labor certainly was a marathon... 2 1/2 days of back labor. Thankfully, we avoided a c-section which, at one point, seemed inevitable. With a marathon, however, you exit the event in peak physical form, ready for a well deserved break. Most new mothers probably have the same reaction I did after seeing their apparently still 6-month pregnant post-delivery belly... when can I exercise again and get rid of this?!?

I had an average pregnancy weight gain of 30 lbs, with 14 lbs lost in delivery. So 16 lbs and an unmeasurable amount of lost muscle tone are my new enemies =) Realistically, of course, I will be taking the considerable time needed to recover before picking up running again. Will it be two weeks... six weeks... who knows? Right now, I'm relaxing, taking walks and enjoying my baby girl.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cross Training

Around 38 weeks I reached the point where running finally became unappealing. Jogging started to consistently bring on Braxton Hicks contractions, so, I was in a perpetual run/walk cycle anyway. Instead of jogging, I've been trying to do a little more of some usually neglected cross training activities.

Yoga: Specifically, prenatal yoga. I've tried yoga several times over the last 10 years and never really taken to it. First, flexibility has never been a strength of mine. So, even the 'easy' beginner poses were awkward and uncomfortable. Second, beginner classes usually didn't have a strong strength element. Thus I never felt like I was really getting a work-out and I became frustrated with 'wasting' my time. However, in my third trimester I started getting the usual suite of pregnancy body aches and found the gentle prenatal yoga classes to be very helpful in relieving sore hips, back, etc. Now that I've been going regularly (2-3 times per week) I've come to appreciate the general relaxation that comes with yoga as well. Perhaps it's something I will continue post pregnancy also.

Walking: With two 70 lbs dogs in a 800 square-foot apartment, walking is a normal part of my routine. I never considered it as actual exercise, though. However, at this point, I'll take what I can get and count my few daily miles with the dogs as, at least, time I don't just spend on the couch.

Swimming: Swimming is an activity I've had a love-hate relationship with. Every few years, I take it up in earnest and get to the point where I can do some decent lap work-outs. This usually happens when recovering from some minor running injury. Then, once running again, I stop swimming regularly and lose the endurance I've built up. It surprises me every time I start again just how good of a workout swimming is. Swimming with my current whale-like proportions is much more tame. I'll do a handful of laps, then just bop around the pool in the free-swim area... enjoying the buoyancy and not feeling huge for a change =)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Full Term: Taper Time

Running Clothes = Excited Dogs

Today we're officially full term, 37 weeks. With only three (I hope) weeks to go, I feel as though I've entered a sort of 'pregnancy taper' period. While the entire pregnancy has been one long taper of sorts, gradually dropping mileage, I'm really feeling the slow down now. The primary exception being, of course, I'm slowing down pace and not just mileage. Still, I'm aiming to get out there a few times a week for a couple of miles. The purpose now, though, is more mood management then exercise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chemical Spill

How often do you get to say that your run was thwarted by a chemical spill?

My usual run these days (when I make it out the door, which isn't all that frequent anymore) is the 1.5 mile loop around Caltech's campus. Usually I'll do two loops, sometimes only one and, rarely, three.

Today, I did exactly 2/3 of one loop. A half mile into the run I encounter a massive road block... the road, both sides of the sidewalk and a good section of the campus was sectioned off by police tape and emergency personnel. Hmmm... interesting. I stopped, inquired, and gained no information other then that there had been a chemical spill. While I was slightly inconvenienced, you'd think the Caltech scientists beginning to congregate in the 'green zone' had just been told their childhood dog died. No lab work today?!? What will we doooooooo?!?

So, bemused and slightly sympathetic for the police officer left to explain the situation to the growing mob of scientists (I doubt they'll take the answer of 'chemical spill' and leave it at that) I turned back towards home. Strike 1.

Just as I was considering which direction to go once I was back in the green zone, my ab muscles pointed out that I forgot to put on my support belt this morning. Strike 2. Strike 3 came when I decided to stop kidding myself about how dang hot it was. Not yet 8am and already 80 degrees. You're out. Oh well, 10 minutes of running followed by 20 minutes of stretching is not a complete loss.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

700 miles!?!

Ooops. I committed one of the cardinal sins of running. I let my running shoes travel way beyond their ~500 mile design life. It occurred to me this weekend that I hadn't purchased new running shoes since I became pregnant. A quick tally of my training log confirmed it, I'd traveled over 700 miles since my last shoe replacement!

In retrospect, endangering my knees w/ faulty shoe support happened easily enough. Usually, my cue to buy new shoes comes from a combination of an obsession with my daily miles logged and knee pain popping up on my long runs. Since becoming pregnant, I have neither been running obsessively or long. In fact, my last 'long' run was a half mary at the end of my first trimester.

So, this morning the new Mizunos and I made our debut on the streets for an easy 1.5 miles. Yes, it wasn't far or glamorous... but we're still getting to know each other. The quick trip around the block was enough for the dogs and, at 35 weeks preggo, enough for me =)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Running Naked

My Garmin Forerunner 305

No, not that kind of naked... running naked as in without a GPS device or (gasp) even a common wristwatch.

Back in olden times (aka, oh, the '90s) road running was simple and pure. Maybe I wore a stopwatch, maybe I didn't. If I wanted to know how long a run was, I drove it in my car. It was the good-old Encyclopedia Britanica version of distance running.

Then I started to get serious, in a layman sense. Running with a stopwatch was non-negotiable and every route was pre-mapped for distance via online mapping programs. It was the day of Encyclopedia Britanica CD version. I completed three marthons training this way and didn't know any better until...

My Garmin Forerunner 305 entered the scene. Hellllloooooo GOOGLE. Running would never be the same. Instant pace per mile, instant distance completed, splits, virtual partners... all only as far away as my wrist. Obsession with numbers took on a whole new meaning. I couldn't run half a mile without checking to make sure I was on pace. My Garmin battery died once during a half marathon... I almost had a heart attack. I know runners who have named their Garmins.

Imagine my dismay as, over the last  few months, those little numbers on my Garmin slowly climbed in the wrong direction. I know I'm not supposed to be going fast or far. Yet, seeing pace per mile numbers climb consistently into the double digits (and I don't just mean 10) stressed me out. The final straw was when I had to take walking breaks and realized I was concerned about the impact on my final pace/mile.

So, I returned to the days of Atari, climbing trees and looking up information in books. I completed my last two runs without a Garmin or any other timing device. You know what? It was NICE. Since my left wrist isn't nearly as captivating as the Garmin, I spent a lot of time actually looking around my neighborhood (when did that building get there?). Flowers were open, birds were signing and, most importantly, I wasn't stressing about how fast I was going. I even took a few walking breaks without stress. I'm sure I'll still use the Garmin frequently (I couldn't even go a full day without GOOGLE) but it's nice to be back to reading books some too.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lazy Week

I started out this week with the best of intentions: get enough rest and get my 15 miles (yes, low bar) in. Well, I didn't set the bar low enough.

Tuesday's 5 miler was wonderful. Check! However, when the alarm went off at 5am Thursday morning I managed to wake up just long enough to text my running partner that I wasn't coming. It seemed like a good decision at the time, I was actually still sleeping well at 5am for a change. Yet, when I actually crawled out of bed 1 1/2 hours later, I was already regretting that I yielded to the siren song of my warm covers.

The rest of Thursday and Friday proceeded as busy as planned. So, it wasn't until Saturday morning that I made it out to run again. As I've noted before, three days between runs (at this point, at least) = recipe for disaster. Saturday morning's 5 miler morphed quickly into a 3 mile run/walk as I worked through some serious calf pain (those calves weren't just angry, they were pissed off).

Ah well, worse things have happened. This morning's 3 miles were easy-peasy by comparison. I was feeling tired at the end, though, so I cut the run a bit short. I only managed 11 miles this week, but at least I'm still getting out there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Support System

So far, my weight gain has averaged 0.9 lbs per week since the 1st trimester, putting me nicely on track for a little over 25 lbs wight gain (19 lbs so far).

While that extra weight is all well and good for baby, this week my abdomen muscles seemed to start objecting to the extra weight their holding up. On my Tue/Wed/Fri runs I had what I'd normally describe as side stitches, only that the poor muscles having them are now several inches displaced from my side where they used to be.

Since I'd never consider running without a sports bra, it occurred to me that a support belt for my belly may help. So, over lunch on Friday I hopped over to a nearby maternity store to pick one up. Easy, right?

Little did I know that, like most other pregnancy/baby related purchases, the vast array of options and price ranges made even this seemingly innocuous purchase complicated. Completely unprepared, I was faced with a wall of options with everything from this $80 contraption (can you imagine running in that?) to the more reasonable $20 variety.

Eventually, I ended up with this basic number from Motherhood Maternity*. The hubby was nice enough to accompany me this afternoon on a test run and, so far, the results are favorable. Right now, any run discomfort free is a good run.

*Note: I have not been asked to review this product.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Veterans Parkway

This week got away from me a bit. Between early morning meetings and high afternoon temperatures it was difficult to get some decent runs in. So, recognizing that I wasn't going to be hitting my usual (pregnancy) target of 15 miles per week, I decided to focus on enjoying today's run and headed down south to Veterans Parkway in Manhattan Beach.

I work near Manhattan Beach and, consequently, do a lot of my mid-week morning runs here. Veterans Parkway is a lovely, 3.75 mile long stretch of old railway bed converted into a wood chip running/walking path. In LA, any routes that get me away from traffic are exceptional, and this easy-on-the-legs wood chip path has the added benefit of ample water fountains and close proximity to the beach. Often, running buddies and I will run out on the chips and return on the beach. All-in-all, it's a wonderful running combo.

This morning, only feeling up to 3 miles or so, I brought the dogs down with me to give them a little change of scenery as well. My running partners were gracious enough to do 3 slow miles with us before continuing on to finish their usual 9 miles. Now back in the oven that is Pasadena in the summer, I am very glad to have had such a refreshing start to my day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Familiar Trails

31 weeks and still running! I have been more comfortable on my runs the last few weeks as well. It seems that my rough routine of every-other-day running is working well. 'Angry calves' only made an appearance once last week and I haven't found myself exhausted recently. Instead, I've felt great and extra motivated to get out the door, even if it's only for a few slow miles here and there.

Last weekend I visited my family in the Midwest. It was a wonderful change of pace to cover some old, familiar ground. The temperatures were high, though, so even an early morning run had to be kept a little short. This was my last trip until baby girl comes along. So, I'll have to get a little creative to keep my running routes at least moderately interesting.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Since living in Pasadena, one of my favorite runs has been a round-trip to the Rose Bowl. I travel 3.5 miles through some decent neighborhoods and, once there, the 5k loop around the Rose Bowl offers frequent access to water fountains, restrooms and motivation from all the other runners/walkers out enjoying the day. All in all, it's the perfect long run scenario.

The last few months, I've been a little nervous to make the trip... even the shortest 7 mile there-and-back version. Facing a whole 3.5 miles with out a restroom and the two formidable hills I'd have to tackle has kept me closer to home.

This morning, however, felt like the day. Whether it was last night's fireworks at the Rose Bowl, the perfect 60 degree & overcast weather or sheer bliss from having the day off of work, I headed out with the Rose Bowl as my destination. While not my fastest trip ever, the 7 mile loop really was enjoyable this morning. It was refreshing to be a little further from home and other runners offered encouraging smiles as I huffed along. I found myself doing an impression of the Little Engine Who Could (I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can) up the steepest hill (felt those extra 16 lbs then!). Other then that, is was smooth sailing and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, in fact, I could.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Running Partners

When I first looked into adopting retired racing greyhounds, part of my motivation was to gain some good running partners. Further into my research, I discovered that greys don't actually make the best joggers... they're sprinters at heart and don't have the hearty endurance of other similar-sized breeds. All other characteristics of this breed, however, made them the perfect dog for us. So, the two lovely dogs you see above joined our household and my running routine, if only for the slower, short recovery runs.

An unexpected, wonderful side effect of my altered running routine is that the dogs can join me for more and more of my 'runs'. While sometimes irritating, their frequent pee/sniff breaks are good also, since they force me to take it easy. Even better, as they get used to going with me, they want to go more and more... helping to keep me motivated! I, on the other hand, still have not been able to join them for their 5min, 40mph sprints around the local baseball field.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Angry Calves

Another way pregnancy has affected my running is something I can only describe as "Angry Calves". About once a week for the last month, I've experienced this constant, lactic acid type burning in the calf muscles for the duration of a run.

I have not found a definitive cause (in my 5 minutes of google searching) but, I have noted other pregnant runners speculate that it's from reduced circulation to the legs from belly pressure. True or not, when it happens, it hurts!

So, while the rest of my body was up for a hearty run this evening (lungs - check, belly - can hardly tell you're there) my legs declared a no-go. After rounding out my first 2-mile loop, I decided to call it good and try again tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Last night I fell asleep at 7:30 pm. I woke up at 6:30 am this morning.

Note to self: Apparently, I need more rest.

The one effect pregnancy has had on my running that I wasn't expecting is the need for addition recovery time, even after easy/moderate workouts. Other preggo impacts on running (first trimester exhaustion, minor abdominal strain/soreness, constant need to go to the restroom, slowed pace, etc) pretty much happened on cue.

Coping with these other symptoms has been pretty straight forward. In the first trimester, running helped provide the energy boost needed to make it through my hectic work days. Modifying my pace and running routes/distances was easy enough. As the second trimester progressed, I found that I only noticed abdominal strain if I took too many days off in between runs. As long as my runs were only a day or two apart, my body didn't take notice of the small weight/size differential.

This new post-run sluggishness is a surprise. Wednesday afternoon, the combined effect of my early morning Tuesday & Wednesday runs knocked me flat, literally. It seems that from now on I'll be walking a fine line between running too frequently and not frequently enough. Hopefully, I'll find the balance to keeping my energy level up and my discomfort level down.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Honest Beginning

I will have nothing original to say about running. Consider expectations leveled. I’m just your average, unexceptional, recreational runner.

Why, then, start a running blog? Accountability and motivation.

At the beginning, I joined a running club as a way to stay in shape and meet people in a new city. The support offered by more seasoned runners was heartwarming. Having never run more than 3 miles at a time, the sense of pride and accomplishment that came with new pace/distance milestones pleasantly surprised me. I was hooked.

Over the following years, work/school/life interfered with running to various degrees, but running remained my center of health, balance and sanity. While often further apart then I would have liked, my marathon and half marathon times showed consistent improvement and I made wonderful friends with running partners along the way. This was all the motivation I needed.

So, what changed?

I’m 6 months (28 weeks) pregnant.

Thrilled to be pregnant (it’s a girl!)… not so thrilled with the changes to my fitness routine.

My spring marathon turned into an easy, non-PR half-marathon and my fall marathon (I’m due in September) is, well, delayed. Runs through beautiful scenery are replaced with 2 mile loops around my neighborhood, for reliable bathroom access. The endorphin-induced euphoria of the weekly long-run to exhaustion has morphed into just another ho-hum 3-5 mile slog at what used to be my recovery pace. As my girth expands and mileage and pace drop, I’m finding it hard to maintain motivation.

Enter… the blog.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope any readers out there get something from looking at this blog too. Runners at all stages of fitness benefit from shared experience… I know I’ve benefited from others’ in the past. In truth, however, this blog is for me, to help keep me focused on the primary reason I run… health and sanity. New PRs will come in their own good time.