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Thursday, April 28, 2011

three things

1.  Today is Day 4 of no processed sugar and no gluten.  Days 1 and 2 were hard for me but bearable because I had so much new resolve and determination.  Last night was SO HARD.  I ate so many grapes and clementines in my effort to stave off the urge to devour carbo-loaded sugary things after dinner.  I seriously thought I was going to go crazy and felt like I needed to go watch American Idol up in my bed instead of downstairs near the kitchen to avoid temptation, so that is what I did.  Sugar cravings are strong -- this exercise of resisting them is showing me a lot about myself.  I'm hoping it will get easier with time, because ohmygosh I do not want to feel that way every single day of trying to do this.

2.  I'm racing a 5K this coming Saturday.  It's the first 5K I've run since having baby Gus, who is 12 weeks old now.  I've decided that I'm going to give it my all and put everything I have out on the line for this race.  I don't really love 5Ks compared to other distances - they are harder for me - but that is why they are good for me.  I'm looking at this race as a benchmark for myself.  That is what this year is about for me as I'm coming back from my pregnancy. I'm getting stronger and faster with each week of training and I'm working hard.  I WILL see results in my race times.

3.  My allergies are crazy right now - hello oak pollen everywhere! - and the post nasal drip that goes along with them makes me feel extra nauseous when I'm running.  I am a weirdo about medicine and try to avoid taking it unless absolutely necessary (especially while nursing my baby), but I may have to take something to get me through the month of May without my head exploding.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

training of another sort

Giving up sugar is NOT easy...but it's after 8:00pm on day one for me and so far, so good.  I've had cravings today but haven't caved to them.  After I eat my dinner every night I usually seek out sugar like I have some sort of microchip in my body that can sense where to find it in my house.  I am not thinking or if I do become self-aware in the moment I brush it off and convince myself that I deserve it or it is no big deal, I'll try again tomorrow.  Sometimes it is very easy for me to find the sugar - cupcakes or cookies easily at hand on the counter - or sometimes it is harder and I eat something like graham crackers or the leftover Valentines candy that the kids brought home from school back in February (seriously, they got a LOT of candy from their classmates, ugh!).  Sometimes I treat myself to a handful or two of Enjoy Life! vegan chocolate chips (I love them).  But tonight when the sugar cravings hit I reached for a juicy plump ORANGE.  It was actually really satisfying and while let's face it not as sugary-sweet as a cupcake or a cookie it was worth it because I had NO guilt AT ALL over eating it.

I feel good about my food choices for today.  I'm happy that I can say that, because those are not words I would have said yesterday or the day before that or really in I don't know how long.

At least for today, I found that the best way for me to look at this was as an exercise in training my mind and my body.  I persevered through the hard parts, moments when I felt like putting it off another day, and I kept my focus.  You see, I am a FIRM believer that we can train ourselves to create healthy habits. Whether it is eating better or exercising more or whatever, our minds are powerful and the relationship between our minds and our bodies is not to be doubted or underestimated.  If you are a runner, you KNOW this.  When your mind is telling you to quit, your body WILL listen.  When your mind is telling you to keep going, your body WILL listen.  This does not just pertain to running!

One day at a time, I am going to train my mind until my body gets the message and bad habits become distant memories.  Who knows, maybe I will start craving fresh fruit every night.  That is the idea, anyway.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

weekend miles & setting a goal

Yesterday morning my sister Jodi and I completed an 11 mile run at a 9:37 average pace.  This was a whole minute-per-mile faster than last weekend's long run of 12.75 miles (I averaged around a 10:30 pace for that run).  The route was different - there were definitely more hills last weekend - but still, a whole minute faster?  This leaves me wondering about consistency and how much I should/could push myself on my runs.  Especially my shorter runs during the week.  When I run long I don't worry too much about my pace (especially since having my baby 3 months ago).  I make sure I'm comfortable and steady and just sort of GO.  For my shorter runs though, especially as I am trying to regain my fitness and strength, I think I need to be pushing myself and increasing my speed.  Perhaps it is time for a little speed play?

Today I needed to run...I felt like I had to shake some things off.  I ran 3.5 miles and averaged a 9:19 pace.  It was so nice to sweat it out.

Total mileage for the week was 26.5. Getting closer to my goal of 30 miles per week by June 1st.  Woot!

Speaking of goals...

I am still a good 10 pounds heavier than I was before I got pregnant last spring and I cannot fit into my pants yet.  I'm getting a little tired of wearing yoga pants all.the.time.  My baby will be 12 weeks old this week and I think it is time to get serious about losing these extra LBs.  I eat a pretty healthy diet and honestly love healthy fruits and veggies.  I have been a vegetarian for a loooong time and have eaten a mostly vegan diet for the past 3 years.  My problem is SUGAR.  And portion sizes (whoa, man can I eat A LOT).  This doesn't usually bother me too much except that I have weight to lose and it is really getting to me.  Summer is around the corner and I want to (A) feel good in my own clothes, possibly a bathing suit! and (B) run faster.  I need to lose this weight.  I think this blog can help me be accountable, so I am going to chart my progress here and tell you how it is going.

Starting RIGHT THIS MINUTE I am going to do the following:

  1. take processed sugars out of my diet.  When I have a sweet tooth, I'm reaching for a piece of fruit (or 10 if that is what it takes!).  
  2. reduce my consumption of gluten. For a long time I have believed that it messes with me - mainly my digestive system and my brain.  I love other grains like rice and quinoa so I think this will not be too hard, especially since a lot of foods with processed sugars also have gluten in them.
  3. watch my portion sizes and think twice before I have a second helping...Am I hungry for more, really? ... I need to be more self aware when I am eating.
  4. make sure to drink at least 8 full glasses of water a day.
I'm going to take it one day at a time, but am setting a goal to be able to stick with this at least through the month of May.  My hope is that with these changes in my diet and my mileage increasing, I'm setting myself up for success.  I owe it to myself to stick with this...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong ~ my first giveaway

I've been reading Mile Markers - The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run by Kristin Armstrong for the past week or so.  It is hands-down absolutely one of the BEST books on running and mothering that I have ever read.  It's one of those books that is making an impact on me with each page I turn.  I want every woman I know to read it, even if they don't run or aren't moms (but especially if they do and are).  I want every man who is married to a woman who runs to read it.  I've read passages out loud to my husband and re-read them over and over for myself.  I have laughed out loud.  I have cried.  Kristin is an incredibly talented writer.  Her craft with words is beautiful.  The book is a compilation of blog entries from Kristin's Mile Markers blog on Runner's World.  I've been reading her blog for a while and when I learned of this book I knew I had to read it.  It came out not long after my baby was born so it took me a while to get started but now I can't put it down.  I already know I will read it more than once and that it will have a permanent place in my nightstand so I can turn to it frequently.


I am passionate about this book and I want to share it with someone who will enjoy it as much as I do, or who will pass it along to someone they believe will benefit from it.

So, with that said...drumroll please...I am hosting my first giveaway!  The prize is a copy of this incredible book.  Here are the details:

To gain entry you have to do the following (the more you do, the more chances you have to win!).  Leave comments for me so I know you entered.
  • become a follower of my blog
  • post about it on your blog
  • post a link to it on your facebook page
As my kindergartener would say - easy peezy, lemon squeezy.  I will announce the winner on Monday, May 2nd.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

three things

1. I have been able to run ever day this week.  Monday evening I pushed Gus in the stroller for a HARD 3 miles at a steady 9 minute pace.  It was hilly and hot but it felt so good.  Tuesday I was feeling depressed from a long day with little sleep the night before...I got outside with the stroller in the evening and ran 2 miles.  I felt like a big giant SLUG.  I was hoping the run would make me feel lighter but it just didn't so I went home after 2 miles.  In retrospect I probably should have just taken that as a rest day but I needed the air and the time alone.  Yesterday morning I ran 4 miles on the treadmill while the baby slept in his swing and the big kids played.  My treadmill is in the play room so we were all hanging together while I ran.  I love when it all comes together like that - sleeping baby, happily playing kids and running momma all in one room together.

2. The kids are on spring break this week.  Funny how this is not much of a "break" for me.  I'm enjoying the lazy mornings but missing the routine.  Must think of strategy for summer!!  School is OUT in a little more than a month.  Yikes.

3.  I signed up for the VA Beach Rock n' Roll Half Marathon on September 4th.  This was my first ever half two years ago and I'm excited to run it again.  This Saturday I plan to run another 10-12 miles for my long run.  Anybody want to join me??

Monday, April 18, 2011

weekend reflections

Friday night I was hoping to get a 6 mile run in, but Robert got home later than expected so I didn't have time for that many miles.  I had about 30 minutes to run so I set a goal of 3 miles for myself, while pushing Gus in the stroller.  I've been doing my evening stroller runs at around a 10:15-10:30 pace, so I knew I would have to kick it up a notch to get 3 miles in 30 minutes.  I wore my Garmin and this is what happened:


Mile 1: 9:22
Mile 2: 9:30
Mile 3: 9:47


This made me happy because I accomplished my goal and if I had had more time I could have maintained that pace for a few more miles for sure.  It left me thinking about a couple of things:


1) With each mile, my pace slowed.  Annoying.  I would like to be able to either keep a steady pace throughout my run, or increase my speed with each mile.  I know I can do this - I just need to pay better attention and be mindful of this.


2) I think that I am at the point postpartum where I am ready to begin pushing myself.  I know I am capable of pushing the stroller at faster than a 10 minute pace on a regular basis.  


3) The pace I have been running without the stroller is no faster than with!  Silliness.  I believe I can and should be moving faster when I am not pushing the stroller, right!?


Yesterday morning I met my buddies for a 10-12 mile run.  We ran the beautiful trails in my town (Reston) and covered 12.75 miles.  It was a GREAT run.  I held a steady pace averaging about 10:15.  This is a hilly route and some miles were closer to 11 minute pace while others were at a 9 minute pace, but all in all I feel really great about the run.  I was just as strong as all my buddies which made me happy.  
trails of Reston out my back door
Last week my total mileage was 24.75 for the week.  I am going to be gradually increasing this while keeping my weekend long run somewhere between 10-15 miles from now until June 18 when my marathon training program starts.  My goal is to get my weekly mileage up to 30 miles a week as I enter into marathon training mode.  And, of course, to work a bit on my speed.  I want to get back to where I was pre-pregnancy, doing my easy short weekday runs around a 9 minute pace.  I think this is totally possible!


I want to give a special shout out to everyone running Boston as I write this!!!!!  I am sooo happy for all of you, and have had "Boston Fever" for the past week just thinking about the excitement of that race!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

evening runs

This week I fit all my runs in outside.  This is extra-awesome for me because with a new baby I really can't get outside to run unless (A) my husband is willing and able to watch all three kids or (B) it is nice weather and both my big kids are in school or my husband is here to watch the them so I can push baby Gus in the stroller.  An outside run is a cherished thing for me these days, and always.

4 miles on Monday night, 5 miles last night and tonight another 6 miles planned.  I love pushing Gus in the stroller in the evening.  He loves it too -- he either sleeps or if he is awake he is peaceful and happy.  Either way, he is good company.
happy running buddy

sleepy running buddy
I come home from my evening runs feeling energized, renewed and happy.  I find that I'm a different person when I get home from these runs.  I have WAY more patience for the bedtime routine that lies ahead.  Usually I feed my big kids dinner around 5:00 or 5:30 and then head out with the baby around 6:00.  Robert takes the kids for a walk with the dog and lets them play while I'm gone.  When I get home I hop in the shower with the big kids and then put them to bed while Robert makes dinner and hangs out with the baby.  By the time bedtime rolls around in our house I am usually SO VERY READY to get them to bed.  I can be a little (ok sometimes a lot) impatient and they can be a little (ok sometimes a lot) crazy and defiant.  BUT if I have an hour of running done just before the bedtime routine begins, it is so much better for my whole family!  It is like magic.  All of us are happier and more easy-going.  My evening runs give me the chance to unwind from the craziness of the day.  I used to *dread* the idea of running any other time but the morning but things are changing for me.  Now that I have a new baby in the house I know I need to be more flexible and figure out what works best for me and my family.  I'm thankful that Robert can be home early enough for me to head out at night - but even more grateful that when he does come home he is happy to watch the kids so I can do it.  My evening runs are proof positive that a momma who runs is a better momma around here.  She is way more fun, patient and happy after a good sweat.

12 miles scheduled for Sunday.  My first run without pushing the stroller in a week.  As much as I love his company, I am looking forward to a run with the adult companionship of my running buddies.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

a picture says it all

Me crossing the finish line at the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler on Sunday, April 10th:


Wooohoooo!!!  Have I told you how much I love running??

three things: training thoughts and an evening run

1. Last spring I became a certified running coach through the RRCA.  It was a wonderful experience for me and I learned a great deal about how to train and race smart.  I was excited to put my new knowledge into practice for myself as I trained for the MCM, but a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant so I decided to wait for the marathon in 2011.  Fast forward about a year later and here I am, 2 1/2 months postpartum, getting ready to train for MCM.  I am excited.  Even though I have trained for 6 marathons on my own and am an RRCA coach, I really want to be coached.  This is a unique year for me as I am a nursing mom returning to running after having a baby and I also believe that I can PR.  So I have decided to sign up for the =PR= (Potomac River) Running store's Distance Training Program this year.  The program starts on June 18th.  I cannot wait.

2. In addition to my running program, I have been thinking about other ways I need to strengthen my body.  I am doing regular Pilates workouts at my sister Jodi's studio Reston Pilates about twice a week and also do the exercises on my own at home.  My gym also offers a strength training program called TNT and I am going to start that in early May, once baby Gus is old enough to go to the gym.  This will be two 45-minute sessions a week focusing on weight training in the gym.

3. It is a beautiful day here today.  The sun is shining, the skies are blue and the air is crisp.  The high is going to be around 70 degrees.  Pretty much my ideal weather.  My husband biked to work today and tonight he will meet me and the kids at the baseball field for Abby's 6pm tee ball practice.  I am going to put the running stroller in the car and take Gus for a run during the practice.  I can't wait.  The evening bed time routine around here is always SO much more pleasant when momma gets a run in beforehand.

Happy Thursday, everyone.  The weekend is almost here!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me & GW Parkway Classic 10 Mile Race

I did it!!  I ran 10 glorious, happy miles on Sunday in the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler (thanks to Congress, it was not canceled!).  I ran all 10 miles less than 10 weeks after giving birth and at under a 10 minute pace per mile.  I am entering my 36th year feeling happy, grateful and hopeful.  Feeling strong and blessed.

This race was about proving something to myself.  When Gus was 4 1/2 weeks old my doctor told me that I could return to running.  It was not easy and I found myself feeling scared.  My hips, my pelvis, my tailbone...they all ached and hurt during and after every run (even runs that were only a few minutes long at a very slow pace).  The muscles in my pelvic floor were stretched out and weakened from my big baby and fast delivery.  I was so worried that I would not regain my fitness or my strength.  Running is my outlet - where I let off steam and let things go and it is also my "in-let" - where I am able to look inwards and find peace and clarity.  I wasn't sure if the pain I was feeling was "normal" or if it was causing damage to my body.  If it was making me stronger, or injuring me.  I decided to be cautious with my running, holding an easy pace and building my mileage conservatively.  I went to a chiropractor for several weeks so the issues could be addressed.  I worked on the reformer and the mat doing Pilates exercises at the studio twice a week.  My strength was coming back and my pain was going away.  Hard work pays off.  I made it to the start line yesterday feeling strong.  Feeling ready for 10 miles.  I did not push myself - I held a comfortable pace - and I felt like I could have kept running for hours after I crossed that finish line.
me and my sister Jodi after the finish!
I felt exactly how I wanted to feel.  BLISSFUL.

***

The GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler is a great race.  And I'm not just saying that because it was fun for me.  It was a great race and I will do it again.  The course is a beautiful 10 miles of rolling hills along the Potomac River.  The weather was perfect, cool and cloudy.  The logistics were simple enough.  We parked our car in Old Town Alexandria just a few blocks from the finish and took a shuttle from there to the start at Mt. Vernon.  It was easy peasy.

my silly sister Megan posing with my birthday sign
I set my alarm for 4:00AM and got dressed in the clothes I had laid out the night before.  My 14 year old niece Ellie snuck up to my room the night before and pinned a sign she made to the back of my tank.  It said "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!" in bright colorful letters.  That was a fun surprise to find on my birthday morning!  I'm not really one to wear signs on myself during a race, but this was pretty cute and I love that my niece made it for me.  After having my breakfast and coffee I woke my baby up at 5:00 to nurse him before leaving at 5:30.  I went with my favorite running buddies - Jodi, Megan, Paul and Rebecca.  When we got to Old Town we parked the car and I had to pump before we hopped on the shuttle.  As a nursing mom whose baby could not be at the start of the race, the pump was essential.  I kept my pace steady for each mile of the race, hovering between a 9:45-10:15 pace.  There was a smile on my face the whole way.  The sign on my back was a huge hit - I have never been told "Happy Birthday!" by so many people I don't know!  It was a fantastic way to start my birthday.
me and baby Gus after our nap, so happy to get birthday snuggles with him
When I got home I was so very happy to see my family.  I was greeted with hugs and smiles and warm kisses.  After lunch I took a nap with Abby and Gus.  I was only gone for a few hours for the race, but I missed my family.  While running I thought about how blessed I am to have these loves in my life.  To be married to this amazing man and to be the mother of my sweet beautiful children.  Life is GOOD and full of blessings!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

making lemonade and my first virtual race

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler, the race I am running on Sunday.  It stated that in the unlikely event that Congress would still be out on the budget, our race would have to be postponed to May 1st.  Honestly, I read it and didn't think twice about it.  In my mind there was NO way it would come to that - that would be ridiculous!! - so why let it irk me?  All week this week I have heard that it looks like the budget will not be passed by the end of the night tonight and that most likely there will be a shutdown of non-essential personnel, hence my race will be canceled.  I have been in denial.  I can't get over the ineptitude of our Congress.  It baffles me.  There are people who depend on their paychecks who will not be getting paid, for goodness' sake!  This is a blog about running though, not politics, so I will not bore you with my opinions on the matter.

The point is that my race is most likely not being held on Sunday.  When I accepted this, I was initially pretty bummed.  But then I decided that I would of course run the 10 miles anyway.  It is my 35th birthday and I am celebrating with the longest run since having my baby two months ago, gosh darnit!!  I have worked HARD to get ready for this.  My running buddies are in and we are going to make it our own 10 mile race right here in Reston.  My amazing friend Dorothy suggested that I make it a virtual race and have Abby make us finishers' medals.  Abby could not be more proud or excited to do this.  So, now I have gone from feeling totally annoyed and disappointed to being very excited about the change of plans!!

When you've got lemons, make lemonade.

I have never done a "virtual race" before, much less so last minute.  I'm going to have my route meander along my favorite trails in Reston, and the start and finish will be right by my house so my family can see us off and cheer for us at the finish.  I also want to come up with a name for the race.  I'm feeling inspired by the idea of taking negatives and turning them into positives - working with what you've got to make a disappointment into a celebration.  So, right now I'm thinking of calling it the "Lemonade Run."  Since I am operating on very little sleep with my newborn and my brain is made of mush, that is the best I can come up with right now so I will go with it!

Were you planning to run the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler this weekend, or another race that is possibly being postponed or canceled because of the federal government?  Do you have a long run planned this weekend and want to jazz it up a little, give it a little more meaning?  Have you found yourself feeling down and pessimistic lately?  If so, I would love to invite you to be a part of my first ever Lemonade Run.  Sunday morning get out there and make the most of it.  Have fun.  Put your shoes on and move.  Even if the race does not get canceled, I am going to make it a Lemonade Run.  I am going to focus on turning the bad to good, the loss to gain, the without to the with.  I am going to turn the negatives into positives for myself and encourage you to do the same.

I have spent the last several weeks trying so hard to regain my strength and fitness after having a baby.  It has been tough and I am still working at it, but I made it to the start line ready to complete 10 miles.  I am not going to let a canceled race ruin my plans to celebrate.  Don't let disappointments get you down - make the most of it and you may find that the result is even better than the thing you were hoping for in the first place.  Go for a Lemonade Run!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ready

A week from tomorrow I will run my first race since my baby was born exactly 2 months ago.  It is the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler and race day also happens to be my 35th birthday.  Last weekend I ran 7 miles at a 10 minute pace and felt really strong minus some stomach issues.  This week I did a few easy-paced treadmill runs (less than 3 miles each) and worked on the reformer at the Pilates studio twice.  Tomorrow morning I'm planning to run 8.5 miles with some of my favorite running buddies.

Baby G is already 2 months old!
I feel happy.  My journey back to fitness after having a baby has been full of ups and downs, both  emotional and physical.  I am learning to know, love, respect and appreciate my body in a whole new way.

Sometimes I simply can't believe it.  That this is my life.

One year ago as I was getting ready to turn 34 I had no idea what this year would hold for me.  No clue that I would be celebrating my 35th birthday with a new baby in my arms.  I think I hoped for things - mainly growth and peace - but I never dreamed this would be my life.  That I would be given the gift of this child, this beautiful new soul, to nurture and to love.  Wow.

I can't wait for next week's race.  Not because of a PR (I'm not even planning to "race" - I just want to run) but because I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than with running.  I will run with a heart full of thanks for all the gifts in my life.

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