Big Plans {revised}

In February I posted about my Big Plans for 2014 and then, 6 weeks later, posted about how running kinda sucks.  I have updates on both fronts…as I’m sure you are on the edge of your seat in anticiptation!

First let’s talk about running.  This is the good news.  It’s getting better…dare I say running seems to be clicking again?  Maybe it’s the weather and more outdoor running?  Maybe I needed to get that first race under my belt?  Maybe, structurally, I’m finally adapting to my new normal?  Whatever it is, I hope it sticks around.  My weekly mileage is still low – 25 to 30 mpw – and I intend to keep it there for at least  another month.  Lower mileage is giving me ample time for pre-hab (hips and glutes) and core work which is vital right now.

My big plan for this Fall was to run a 50 miler – specifically the JFK 50 miler – in November.  Training for an ultra, as opposed to training for a marathon PR, just made sense postpartum.  My body cannot handle the rigors of speed work and fast finish long runs this year.  Instead I crave long, slow miles…the building blocks for a strong 2015.  (Goals for 2015 include a marathon PR and Boston in 2016.)

Registration for JFK opened April 1st and I went back and forth about it.  I so wanted to do it but my gut kept telling me to run a 50K instead.  Since your gut is always right (always), I registered for the Blues Cruise 50K in October.  My primary reason for dropping to the 50K distance?  Motherhood is physically exhausting!  And I don’t mean in a sleep deprived way…I’m talking about hauling around almost 15 lbs (Fiona’s a good eater!) all day while bending, twisting, and kneeling.  By the end of the day, I’m beat up.

The back-to-back long runs needed for a 50 mile race would surely do me in on the weekends and it would require a lot of time away from Fiona (and family time).  I just don’t want that right now.  A 50K is much more manageable in terms of long runs and overall mileage and I already have experience with the distance and training for it.  And the race is an hour from my house and is supposed to be pretty good – a 31 mile loop around a lake that isn’t too technical (but hilly).

I’m excited.  And relieved.  There are lots of new “firsts” right now and I just don’t want training to be one of them.  I also have 3 half marathons scheduled for this year and my goal is to PR at the Philly Half in November.

First things first though – Broad Street on May 4th…

***********************

RTLR Coaching is having a SALE on online coaching services now through April 21st!  Now is the time to start planning for your Fall race.  More details here.  

 

Online Coaching Sale!

RTLR Coaching is having its first ever SALE!

Colored-Sale-Tags-2

Sale on ONLINE coaching services!

Your first MONTH of online coaching is FREE!

Now is the time to think about training for those Fall races.  Marathon, half marathon, 10K, or 5K – let me help you achieve your running goals.

Sale runs from April 7th to April 21st.

Ready to get started?  Complete my coaching questionnaire.

Details: 

  • New clients only
  • Online/virtual coaching only
  • Requires a minimum 4-month commitment.  May 2014 is the free month with June to August 2014 at $80 per month.  After August 2014, price remains at $80 per month.
  • A $80 cancellation fee applies if you discontinue coaching prior to the 4-month commitment.
  • An initial consultation via phone will take place after completion of the coaching questionnaire and signing of a liability waiver and contract.
  • The training plan will be delivered in 3 to 4 week increments so that I can constantly adapt and adjust the plan based on how you are progressing.
  • In addition, there will be weekly check-ins, unlimited access to a coach for questions/advice, and a race day strategy/plan.

The LOVE Run Philly {Race Recap}

Last Sunday I ran Philly’s first ever LOVE Half Marathon.  CGI Racing put together a fantastic half – super organized with wonderful volunteers (who stood outside for hours in a freezing downpour).  If you like the Philly Half in November (my favorite race), then you’ll like the LOVE Run.  I’m so happy that Philly has another distance race in the Spring…something other than Broad Street.

This race was a lot of firsts for me:  first race postpartum, first race in a total downpour, and first race where I didn’t look at my Garmin (not one single time).  The weather was awful – freezing, windy, and nonstop rain.

My original plan was to make this a fun run, especially since postpartum running has been very blah lately.  Standing at the start, freezing and wet, all I kept thinking was the faster you run, the faster you get done.  Screw the fun run, I didn’t want to spend another minute in these conditions if I didn’t have to.

That’s when the strategy changed to let’s run HM effort and not look at the Garmin.  I love running by effort (although I rarely do it) – there’s no magic pace to hit, no pace charts to follow, just you and your breath.  And not looking at my Garmin was WAY easier than I thought…partially because it was under my windbreaker and I couldn’t see it anyway.

M1 – 8:51
M2 – 8:19
M3 – 8:51
M4 – 8:14
M5 – 8:20
M6 – 8:43
M7 – 8:19
M8 – 8:08
M9 – 8:52
M10 – 8:48
M11 – 8:41
M12 – 8:45
M13 – 8:36

Official time:  1:53:07 (8:38 pace)

Not the most consistent pacing and the wheels came off a bit towards the end but that’s to be expected after a year plus of not racing.  I was in total shock when I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch.  I was hoping for a (barely) sub-2:00 finish time.  If I were eyeing my Garmin I would have freaked out about my pace during the middle miles (what are you doing?  You have no business running that fast!).  Not looking at my Garmin was the best thing I did that day.  And also having absolutely no expectations helps tremendously.

Thanks to Oiselle teammate Danielle for keeping me company for a few miles.  It definitely took my mind off the misery of the weather.

Race photos: me, my sister, and sister-in-law pre-race (and rain) and post-race awkward selfie.

love run

 

 

 

postpartum running: the real deal

During my long run on Saturday I thought about everything my body has gone through in the past year.   A 30-lb weight gain, a gait that changed (and back that ached) because of said weight gain, a wider pelvis, a squished sciatic nerve, feet that grew both in length and width, labor and delivery, and then weight loss.

So why am I surprised that running kinda sucks some days and I often feel like I’m running in someone else’s body?  During pregnancy I had these visions of effortless runs where I was flying.  I mean, I ran throughout my pregnancy – don’t I just hop right back in the saddle?!   Not exactly.

IMG_2529how we spend most days

Structural Fitness
Cardiovascularly, I feel good.  While marathon pace may feel like half marathon pace, I know that in time my speed will come back.  I’m not overly concerned about that.  My structural fitness (muscles, bones, tendons, etc.) has taken a hit.  Again, I’m not sure why I am so surprised.  My last substantial long run in 2013 was the Philly RnR Half in September.  I was 6 months pregnant and knew my days of double digit runs were numbered.  I ran 12 miles this Saturday and, structurally, it felt like 20.  This system takes longer to adapt than the cardiovascular system so I just need to give it time.  

Sleep 
Sleep just ain’t what it used to be.  While I shouldn’t complain – Fiona sleeps very well – I could definitely use more (couldn’t we all?) or more deep sleep (checking the monitor excessively doesn’t lend itself to sound sleeping).  Less sleep = less repair.

Hormones
This surely has something to do with it, right?

IMG_2460one more because i couldn’t resist…

Taking all of this into consideration, I need to give myself a bit of a break.  Maybe I’ll feel back to my old self in 6 months?  Or maybe I’ll adapt to my new normal?

Just like it has in the past, consistency and hard work will pay off.  I just have to be patient.

Any moms out there feel the same way about running postpartum?  

 

 

 

how running has changed

Last week was the first time where I feel like I returned to real training.  Some substantial weekly mileage (22 – yes, that is substantial right now) and a 6 mile “long” run.  I feel confident about the Philly LOVE Run (half marathon) at the end of March.  Confident I can finish without keeling over, that is.

Fitting in runs and how I go about them has certainly changed since Fiona was born.  Honestly, it hasn’t been too bad.  Of course, she’s not mobile and sleeps all day.  I imagine that I’ll have to get a bit more creative when she’s older (4AM runs?!).  Back in the day, I was very creative about fitting in my long runs around my social schedule (and by social I mean drinking).  Guess I’ll have to tap into that creativity again.

You run when you can
The luxury of running in the early morning no longer exists (for now, at least)!  Instead, I hop on the treadmill whenever I can predict that Fiona will sleep for a decent amount of time (+1 for the white noise of the treadmill).  Pre-baby, the thought of running in the afternoon – or worse, at night – was unthinkable.  Now I relish any run…no matter what time of day it is.

IMG_2360what fiona does while I’m on the treadmill

Running clothes are my wardrobe
Since I never know when I can run I must be prepared at all times!  I change into running clothes shortly after I get up (and brush my teeth, if it’s my lucky day).  Thankfully my running wardrobe is far superior to all my other clothes (err, sweatpants).

Being proactive
Since I have big running plans this year and I know my body has changed with pregnancy I have myself on a strict “pre-hab” regimen of hip, glute, and core strengthening.  These are all areas that have weakened for me during pregnancy.  I don’t want pre-hab to turn into re-hab and derail any of my plans.

All runs are fast finish
Keep in mind fast is a relative term these days.  Fiona will generally sleep for a good amount of time but I’m constantly checking for signs of her waking up.  Once I see her stirring, up goes the speed on the treadmill.  Might as well end the run on a good note!

Completely unrelated but Matt took this picture a few days ago of Hawk and Fiona.  It’s too cute not to share!

IMG_2361

 *****

Running Broad Street and looking for group runs, a training plan, and the guidance of a running coach?  Join my BSR training program today!   

 

Big Plans

2013 was a good year in running.  A year ago I was running 20 milers for fun (it’s my favorite distance), then got pregnant, and was fortunate enough to run throughout my pregnancy.  I truly loved running while pregnant and didn’t miss racing or the pressure of PRing.  It was just the break my body and mind needed so that I could enter 2014 fresh, eager, and determined.

I’m a little over 3 weeks postpartum and I’m dying to get back to training.  I’m dying to run 20 miles again.  I’m dying to have goals again and races on my calendar.  But I’m realistic and cautious.  I know I’m not running in the same pre-pregnancy body (reminds me of the saying contents may have shifted during flight – the same is true of my pelvis).

I started walking on the treadmill 2 weeks after Fiona was born.  After a few days I ran a mile – very slowly – and felt really good.  I have slowly worked my way up to 3 miles.  Technically, I’m not cleared for exercise yet so I’m going to stick with 3 miles for awhile since it feels good and it’s feasible (Fiona will tolerate her bouncer and nap).

So what are my big plans for 2014?  On my calendar right now is the Philly LOVE Run – a half marathon on March 30.  This is a new race for Philly and the course looks great.  I have NO plans to race.  This will purely be a fun run.  I want to cover the distance and enjoy myself.

Next up (assuming I get into the lottery) is Broad Street on May 4.  I WILL be racing this one.  I figure it’ll give me a good idea of where my speed is (or isn’t).  Also – this is a shameless plug – RTLR Coaching has a Broad Street training program!  Our first training run will be 2/22 (after the lottery is announced).  This program is great for first time Broad Street Runners or anyone that would like to train for BSR under the guidance of a running coach.  All the details are on my website – check it out!

After that is the ODDyssey Half Marathon on June 8.  I ran this for the first time last year (10 weeks pregnant) and fell in love with this race.  It’s a small field, great course, and feels more like an ultra because it’s so laid back.

So that brings us to Fall and my big plan – a 50-miler!  My second ultra but first “real” ultra.  I have been wanting to train for and run this distance for awhile now.  And postpartum seems to be the perfect “fit” for an ultra (in my opinion).  If I truly am being realistic about my return to training I don’t want the pressure of PRing in a marathon and the harsh training that comes with it.  I don’t want myself getting into a too much, too soon scenario and ending up injured (remember…contents may have shifted during flight).   Not that training for a 50-mile race is a walk in the park – not at all.  But it will allow for a slow, gradual increase in mileage without the punishing workouts.  That’s exactly what I need right now.

I have my eyes on JFK but I’m open to other 50-milers (please recommend one!) as long as they are somewhat local to Philly and later in the year (Oct/Nov).  I’ll probably run a marathon as a training run for the 50-miler.  I’m thinking maybe Steamtown – I was signed up to run it in 2013 – but I’m pretty open on that as well.

I do have plans to PR in the marathon and run Boston again but that’s for 2015.  Right now I need to be patient and take baby steps.

What are your big running plans for 2014?

Can you recommend a good 50-miler besides JFK?

 

 

 

Finally Here!

The last time I posted I was 37ish (?) weeks pregnant.  Little did I know that I would go to 41 weeks and 1 day before giving birth.  The wait was agonizing and there were frequent bouts of hysteria.  In the end, just like everyone said, it was well worth the wait.  

Fiona Catherine was born on 1/9/14 at 5:50AM.  An early riser, just like her mom and dad.

IMG_2044

She’s 12 days old today and I’m finally getting the chance to sit down, gather my thoughts, and write a post about it.  It’s hard for me to adequately convey in words how life changing labor and delivery was (I seriously cannot stop thinking about it) and how blissfully happy I am getting pooped, peed, and spit up on.  I have discovered there is nothing in the world better than baby snuggles, the smell of her head, and how her tiny hand grasps my finger.  Matt and I are both smitten.

IMG_2096

I feel obligated to share some of the birth story.  But since this is a running blog, I’ll spare you the gory details and instead give you the cliff notes version.

Since I was late and my OB didn’t want me going too much past 41 weeks, I was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday night (1/7).  The plan was to begin Cervidil overnight and then start Pitocin on Wednesday.  I wasn’t thrilled with the plan but I knew Fiona was not coming out on her own.  My big concern throughout pregnancy was the possibility of being induced, not progressing, and ending up with a C-section.  I know a C-section is always a possibility even if you go into labor on your own, but I’ve seen far too many friends go down the induction-not-progressing-C-section road.  I was terrified.

I was actually surprised to learn I was having “contractions” when I went to the hospital on Tuesday night.  I say “contractions” because I felt no pain whatsoever.  I remember the nurse saying she didn’t consider them contractions if I didn’t feel any pain.  I agreed with her although the doctor felt differently (note:  this OB was NOT from my practice).  The OB felt that since my “contractions” were 1-2 minutes apart, Cervidil would send me into abrupt labor and put the baby in distress.  It was best just to monitor me overnight and maybe I would progress on my own and we could start Pitocin on Wednesday morning.  I was still not dilated at all but Matt and I were hopeful with this news.  Even though my gut was telling me otherwise.

On Wednesday morning I met with an OB from my practice.  She was on call for the next 24 hours, thank god.  After hearing that my cervix was still thick, hard, and uninducible (her words), I pretty much lost it.  This was the exact opposite of what the doctor told me on Tuesday night.  She also said Cervidil would not be effective enough for me and suggested we start Cytotec instead.  Matt and I knew a little bit about Cytotec and had reservations – it’s a nasty drug – but talked with the doctor and decided we really had no other choice.  My cervix needed to be prepped for Pitocin and my OB felt that Cytotec would do the job.  I was still not dilated.

The next 12 hours were pretty much uneventful.  I was still having “contractions” but felt no pain and was still not dilated.  I was beginning to think the baby would never come out without a C-section.  In fact, around 6PM on Wednesday night, my OB came in to check on me and I was all prepared with an argument for a C-section.  I didn’t want another dose of Cytotec.  I had been at the hospital for 12 hours at this point and was still at square one.  During the check I had dilated to 1/2 a centimeter and my OB went ahead and broke my water.  There was no mention of breaking my water, she just went ahead and did it.  She also told me to give her 12 hours and she would have the baby out.  I never got my chance to argue for the C-section.

After that my “contractions” were no longer painless.  My pain level was about a 5 but I could still walk around and talk with Matt.  The contractions were still 1-2 minutes apart.  Around 9PM they started the Pitocin.  I was terrified of the impending pain since my contractions were so close, I hardly got a break from the pain.  Let’s just say that Pitocin is no joke.  Before I knew it, my pain level was a 10 and I was shaking and nauseous.  I have never experienced any pain like this before.  I would oscillate between sitting on a medicine ball and standing.  All I could do was look forward to the brief, pain-free moments between contractions.

I immediately asked for the epidural.  I was only 1 cm dilated at this point (typically too soon for an epidural) but my OB agreed to it since my contractions were so close and my pain level was so high.  Ahh, the epidural!  How can I convey in words how wonderful it was?!  I was a completely different person afterward and it allowed us to get some sleep and let the Pitocin do its job.

Around 3AM I started to get nauseous, shake, and vomit.  I repeated a cycle of shake-vomit-sleep about 6 times.  I think it was due to the epidural but the nurse said it was due to pain (even though I felt no pain).  But the good news was I was progressing fast and furious!  I was about 8 cm dilated.  This was the best news I could have ever heard.

Around 4:40AM I began pushing.  This is the part that was life changing.  It was like an out of body experience – like the last 6.2 miles of a marathon.  Your mind is sharp but your body is tired.  I was exhausted and kept falling asleep between pushes.  I felt no pain, just some pressure.  I kept thinking give 110% every time you push and it’ll go faster.  Kinda like the faster you run, the faster you get done.  Even though Matt and the nurse were right there with me, encouraging me every step, I felt like it was just me in that room…on a mission.

One hour and 10 minutes later, I pushed 4 last times and the baby came out with a small cry.  The feeling of her exiting my body is something I will never forget.  I heard my OB say it’s a girl which confirmed what Matt and I instinctively knew for the past 10 months.  And my OB made good on her promise – Fiona was born just shy of 12 hours after my water was broken.  She was perfect – 10 fingers and 10 toes – and all ours…finally!

IMG_2145

IMG_2127

 

IMG_2152

PS – To answer a burning question that I was always curious about:  which is more painful – racing a marathon or labor?  Labor, hands down.  No comparison there!

 

I hit the pregnancy wall…

Everything was going well.  I felt OK, all things considered, and was still able to manage a few short runs per week.  Then, at 36 weeks, I hit the pregnancy wall…hard.

My last run was Monday, December 2nd.  I had no idea it would be my last run.  If I did I would have savored it a bit more.  I ran 5 miles with my friend Abby and it went well.  I felt fine afterwards too.  I woke up Tuesday with pain on my right side (lower back/upper glute area).  Walking was difficult.  It was so sudden and out of the ordinary I panicked and thought all the running had caused a pelvic stress fracture.  After some frantic online searching, I calmed down and decided it had to be sciatica, which is very common in late pregnancy (and presents itself on 1 side – my left side is completely normal).  A call to my OB confirmed it along with the bad news that nothing can really be done.  The baby is pressing on my sciatic nerve and the pain won’t go away until I deliver.

It’s been 2 weeks since the pain started and it sucks, to put it nicely.  Bearing weight on my right leg is painful and I have to be cautious that it won’t give out on me.  I’m also sporting a nice limp when I walk.  Thankfully it also resembles the I’m-so-done-with-this waddle, so I don’t think I get too many strange looks.

I’m 38 weeks today and praying that I go sooner rather than later.  I’m dying to meet this little one and I’m dying to get rid of this pain.  Or at least swap sciatic pain with labor pain :)  At least with labor pain there’s a nice present at the finish line.

IMG_1877

looking so not ready to go anytime soon…

I am seeing a chiropractor – a husband and wife team.  He specializes in runners and she in pregnancy, so I appear to be in good hands.  It has provided some relief although not as much as I was hoping for.

Since I’m stubborn and refuse to do no form of exercise, I grunt through 2-mile walks on the treadmill a few times a week.  The fastest I can go is 20:00 min/mile (that’s not a typo) and I waddle and curse the entire time.  But at least it’s something.

I’ll conclude this whiny pregnancy post on a positive note.  I am happy I was able to run for 9 months.  I thoroughly enjoyed it – Garmin-free, taking in the scenery, and not worrying about pace.  And I will be back at it again soon.

Anyone else battle sciatica during pregnancy?

New Year, New Look!

Welcome to Run The Long Road COACHING!

I am so thrilled to unveil my new website, just a few weeks shy of my 3-year blogiversary!  I also can’t believe I’ve been blogging for that long…just about running?!

My intention 3 years ago was to have the blog promote my coaching business.  I consistently blogged 5 times a week and, over time, I acquired new clients.  The more clients I had, the less time I had to blog.

Now that I want to grow my business even more I knew I had to shift the focus of my website to more coaching-centric and less blog-centric.  And it definitely needed a makeover to look more professional.  It was important for me to keep the blog.  I think prospective clients like to read about my training, my PRs, and my failed attempts at PRs.  I have always maintained the blog as an honest look at my training – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and I intend on keeping it that way.  Speaking of bad and ugly – tomorrow’s post will explain why I haven’t run since December 2nd.

I now have more coaching options, including more options for runners in the Philly area.  Just in time for those New Year’s resolutions!  Please spread the word if you or anyone you know would like to tackle their first race, make the jump to the marathon, or PR/BQ.  As crazy as it sounds I am accepting new clients even with the impending birth of baby RTLR!

You may need to update Feedly, etc. with my new site – runthelongroadcoaching.com – so you continue to receive blog updates.  My old site will also automatically redirect you to the new site.

I owe a HUGE thanks to Rita at Blog Genie.  This was my second time working with her (the first was when I made the jump to self-hosted).  She is amazingly talented and incredibly patient!  She literally had the new site up and running in a week!  I was terrified I was going to have the baby mid-design (ha ha ha, so naive of me) so I’m grateful to Rita for working quickly.  It looks so professional, clean, and simply amazing!

 

 

 

 

Gobble Wobble 5K Recap

One month until D-day!  Of course I have visions of going early and everything going seamlessly.  Or…I’ll still be waddling along after the New Year.  I have to think positive, right?

On Thanksgiving I ran my first Turkey Trot ever.  Usually I use Thanksgiving as a rest day, sleep in “late”, and refuel with mashed potatoes.   Since my mileage is scarce these days (see below), I figured it was worth trotting 3.1 miles before the mashed potato refuel.  And who can turn down a race called the Gobble Wobble at 9 months pregnant?!

This 5K is extremely popular (I believe it was the 30th anniversary this year?) and well organized.  It’s also a 5K you don’t want to race (see below).  You are better off doing it as a fun run with family…which seemed to be what most folks were doing (at least in the back of the pack anyway).

I cringe over my finish time – 34:16 (11:00 average pace) – when, just 2 short weeks ago, I ran an 8K at 10:30 average pace.  Maybe I missed my running buddy Sara?  Or maybe it was this -

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 12.39.17 PM

There was no way I was running up that hill.  It was a gradual climb that never ended.  I sucked it up and walked.  Ouch…my pride hurt more than my shins did during that mile.

Imagephotographic proof of my wobbling (check out my shadow!)

IMG_184935 weeks

My mileage continues to dwindle the bigger I get.  Right now I’m averaging anywhere from 15-22 miles per week.  And that includes 2 days of walking.  I can only run 3 times a week and no more than 6 miles.  My shins can’t handle the extra weight…and the last thing I want to do is risk a stress fracture.  I space my runs out to allow ample rest time in between.  For now, that works.  In the wise words of Lauren Fleshman (whose pregnancy posts I love), “since I decided to opt out of any kind of heroic pregnancy training plan, it doesn’t bother me to only run 4-5 days a week, and take walk breaks now and then. Except for those times when it really bothers me.”  I could not agree more with the last part.