Tuesday, April 30, 2013

That time I tried to keep up with a race walker

For reals.

Within the first mile of the Eugene Half Marathon, I found myself passing a race walker. He was drawing many comments from the spectators, "Look at that guy! He's walking - FAST!" "Whoa! Did you see that fast walker? Crazy!"

At this time, I was keeping pace with training partner SL and JustTryingKim. I thought I could keep up, after all my last long run 2 weeks ago went great. And then I realized, things had changed a lot in the short time since then. I dropped back and ended up holding a steady pace that let me breathe comfortably, especially given the warmer temps.
Me & training partner SL who rocked the full course
In addition to keeping pace with the race walker, I was keeping pace with a long-haired barefoot guy who elicited a lot of cheers from the crowds, "Barefoot! WOW!" "Man, you are a badass!" "No shoes guy!"

But let me tell you, a 22-week pregnant lady makes the crowds a bit quiet. "Go race walker! Go barefoot! Go --." silence. Do I make people uncomfortable? Sick? Confused?

Running Eugene was great. It's a scenic, PR-inspiring course that certainly makes you contemplate all the great runners who have cruised the quiet streets and paths of Eugene. There will be many other reports about the course and race organization itself. I loved it but spent much of the time in my own head. I was doing fine though definitely concentrating more than normal on my body up through mile 9.

At that point, the little dude started doing some strange stuff on my right side. I stopped to walk and catch my breath. I ran again. Still feeling strange. Ok, adjust the brace. Ok good, running again. Feet hurt, time to walk. I think I'm good, let's start up again. And so it went between miles 9 through 11. Also during this time, I started playing mind games with myself.

Should I really be running this?
Of course, you trained smart and you're resting when you need to.
Maybe little man is telling me he's not happy with all this?
You just talked to the doc about the race this week, all is fine. 
Maybe he likes this? 
Am I hurting him?
Ok, there is no logical reason why what I'm doing is bad. I'm following all the rules. I'm just psyching myself out.
Am I putting my own ambitions above what is best for baby? 
Not according to recent research, my training, and doctor.
I should just stop.
Maybe I need some fuel? I'll try some of this Gatorade. Ew. No, that was nasty. That's why I don't drink that stuff. Maybe it's the Gatorade that is making him kick like this? All those trashy chemicals in it! 
Silly, that was such a small amount of Gatorade and no, it's NOT toxic. Where did your toxicologist brain go? 
You can do this. Just relax. It's going to be ok. 

And so, back & forth I went in my head as I alternated between walking and jogging.

Finally at mile 11 the kicking in my right side subsided and I resolved to focus on the positive. I needed to appreciate every step of this 13.1 miles because I have no idea when I'll be able to run like this again. Even after I recover physically from child birth, finding the time and energy to start running again will not be easy. Once I start building up my running again, it may still be longer before I can log double-digit runs.

When I heard the Duck band playing as I passed through the Hayward Field gates, I knew I had made it. I was elated. I hurt. I was in disbelief. I had never struggled more. I had never questioned myself more.

As I crossed that finish line, I cried. I don't know if I've ever cried when finishing a race. I was relieved. I was proud. But mostly relieved that I had survived the whole thing.

After receiving my hardest earned medal ever, I spotted Kim and L. We made our way through the finish area, me in a daze and trying not to just blubber all over the place.

For the next couple hours, we watched our friends finish the full marathon. It was a great day for everyone, including a 2-minute PR by Jess and SL finished this 9th marathon with her third best time. I was SO VERY HAPPY to see SL finish strong, after going through those training runs (mostly) together.

Today I am tired. That run took a lot out of me and I'm happy to take a break. For now, a few race-day photos. More Eugene-related fun to come later this week...

Snap shot of Hayward Field mid-run
Co-worker & friend who flew out from Denver to run with me (full marathon)
Co-worker friend & her friend who both rocked their marathons around the 3:30 mark.

Post-race bliss. I love the contrast between our bellies in this pic!
Pre-race, BLOGGY ladies & friends: Giraffy, L, me, Kim, SL, Becca, Jess

Sunday, April 28, 2013

13.1 done


Me and the little 22-week-old incubating inside me ran long today. It wasn't easy but we finished. Actually, to say it wasn't easy is a gross understatement. But it was also great. More to come later.

In the meantime, great weekend with all these strong ladies...

Me, Giraffy, L, Kim, SL, Becca, Jess


Friday, April 26, 2013

Hoping the 3rd time is NOT the charm

It's NYC Marathon lottery time!

I'm banking on all those who deferred their 2012 entry due to Hurricane Sandy and legit qualifiers to fill up most all the spots for 2013. If I can get just one more denial, my third, then I will be an automatic "in" for 2014!

It would be great to time-qualify (1:37 half, 3:25 full) in 2014 as well, but in the words of Billy Crystal, "It'll be a miracle!"


Think: 2014, 2014, 2014...

Please, NOT 2013, 2 months post-baby!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Half marathon (pregnancy) training plan recap

This is it. The final countdown. Not to my first marathon (re)attempt, but to a half marathon instead. This is not my first running rodeo, but this is the first time I've completed an entire training program PREGNANT.

I started out (not knowing I was pregnant for first 2 weeks of program) using the Another Mother Runner "finish it" marathon plan. I followed this plan as prescribed up thru week 6, or gestation week 9. Up until this time, I was conflicted about what to do with my pregnancy and training. On the one hand, I felt great and thought I would be fine continuing with my full marathon training. On the other hand, I didn't want to jeopardize my health or that of the fetus.

A thoughtful email from Kia (Determined to be Fit) and a couple supportive, but questioning, emails from Tall Mom Mel helped me sort out my thoughts and feelings which were then further affirmed after reading a book, Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James Clapp, that Kia recommended. And, fortunately, my doctor supported my decision.

Decision: Switch to the half marathon "finish it" program, eliminate high intensity efforts keeping my relative perceived effort at a moderate level, maintain miles, be extra vigilant about fueling & hydration, and most importantly, listen to my body during and after my runs. Try to keep expectations low regarding performance and likelihood of running the entire half marathon, accepting that I might need to walk-jog or walk my "race" if running just wasn't feeling good.

I surprisingly found that my long runs felt great, they were at a slower pace anyway, but I did get more fatigued by the effort and needed a more relaxed recovery period post long run.

I have held my breath at the beginning of each week wondering what my body would deliver, knowing that any run could be that one that told me to chill way out or even stop. It hasn't happened yet!

At gestation week 17, I started using the Gabrialla medium support belt. This helped me with my lower back weakness, which was a problem for me pre-pregnancy as well. As I grow, I'm sure I'll appreciate the belly support as well. After the Eugene Half, I'm going to give my lower back a break and just stick to shorter runs that are well under 60 minutes. I don't want to risk fatiguing my lower back to the point where I am immobilized. Instead, I'll run short & easy and work on doing some planks and other strength work.

So how did I do on this training round? I narrowed the running down to 3 days/week with the goal of supplementing with at least 2 days of cross-training (mostly biking) per week. I don't have the same nifty chart showing how well I did on the cross-training, though I can tell you I was not as consistent as I was with my running:

Somehow during the copy/paste, my columns got shifted so days/dates are off but the numbers in the end are all fine.  A few low weeks in there due to travel and being busy but overall pretty good given the first trimester SUCKS for energy and the second one is where you actually starting feeling like you are carrying some extra weight.
I'm proud of this even though I feel like it was a fluke. My last pregnancy - - I didn't run at all. It hurt to walk after about 6 months. Every person is so different, and clearly different pregnancies for the same person, can vary quite a bit. I think it's critical to remember that you can't compare yourself to others or your previous pregnancies in this situation, you have to just listen to your body and take it one day at a time. 

That's it folks: My pregnancy training in a nutshell. I didn't know if I could make it this far but I'm so freaking excited that I have. As long as this week goes well, I will be at that starting line on Sunday and will be able to run the whole (half) race! 

As for the full marathon that keeps eluding me...I'm hoping I can recover in time to run my first one in late fall 2014. More on that another day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

#Eugene4Boston

From the Eugene Marathon website...

Honoring Boston

The outpouring of support for Boston from the running community has been incredible.  If you haven't already, check out our Facebook page and see for yourself (you don't have to be a Facebook user).  Don't miss Twittertoo.  We are proud to be a part of this strong community and plan to honor the victims, runners and the city of Boston during Eugene Marathon weekend. Here are few things you can be a part of:
  • Black Ribbons will be provided to all participants at packet pick-up.
  • Follow #Eugene4Boston and #EugeneMarathon. Join in and use those tags for your posts, tweets and photos. 
  • Sign our huge #Eugene4Boston banner at the expo.  We will send it to BAA after the race.  We've reached out to marathons after ours to do the same. 
  • A moment of silence on race day with 2013 Boston elites Craig Leon (3rd American) and Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce (3rd American).  
  • We encourage all runners to place #Handsoverhearts as the cross the finish line.

I'm really looking forward to be part of these activities to honor the running community and especially those in Boston. 

I know a lot of runs are planned for today, in honor of Boston victims. Doesn't it seem like it's been more than one week? Are you planning on joining any local tribute runs? 

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

And from this past weekend's 40th birthday party on the trails...


Pre-run
I lagged behind to catch my breath take a picture
Three gorgeous laps on a 2-mile loop followed by a luscious family style pub lunch of oyster shooters, steamed clams, spinach salad, and grilled cod sandwich w/ a cilantro aioli sauce. Oh yeah, and carrot cake! Nom nom! 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

You know you're a #runnerd when...

your bestie from college (with whom you ran all the days with) emails you about celebrating her 40th birthday by...

GOING RUNNING! 
(and then eating bad-for-you food at the pub)

So this weekend my friend MB & I will catch a ferry to Bainbridge Island where we will meet up with another college runner friend who is celebrating her 40th, so we three can hit the trails & get muddy. Post-run we'll get cleaned up then satisfy the runger. ("I'll have a virgin vodka & soda with lime please.")

MB has appeared here twice: First in my post-pregnancy re-bound race, the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon walk (along with Kerrie of Mom vs Marathon), and then again more recently we ran a 5k in Tacoma with Santa & Co (why didn't I do a recap? Ok, so only once). Our other runner friend has run Boston and is a published writer so I'm looking forward to asking her if she has expressed her thoughts on the Boston Marathon attack in her local paper or elsewhere. So eloquent she is.

I haven't gone trail running in eons so I'm really excited to get out there, though I'm hoping I don't slow the ladies down too much with my baby belly-induced slog.

Next week I will continue with my too taperish taper (I've totally slacked off due to busy schedule, getting my runs in but cross-training & strength work are failing) and will begin my impatient preparations for EUGENE HALF. Detailed plans coming later.

At 20 weeks pregnant, I'm so grateful that I am still running (and riding my bike to work! - even if infrequent). I really wasn't sure if I would make it this far but it seems to be working out for the most part. However, I decided after this past weekend's long run that Eugene would be my last run over 60 minutes. I feel great while running but after, my lower back is weak and squirrelly and I can tell I'm on the verge of having something down there slip. Not fun.

Post 9+ mile run at 19wks5days. Drained my 1-L water bladder - wasn't expecting it to be so warm! 
After Eugene, I look forward to doing sub-60 minute runs as long as my body allows. My run-commuting has worked out great twice so far, so I think I'll incorporate that into my routine on days that I'm not schlepping the lappy.

Aside from trail running this weekend with my #runnerd girlfriends, I have a very light running week ahead. Just 2 runs pre-half marathon: 3-mi and 2-mi easy. My work week is full of meetings over lunchtime so cardio-strength classes will be out yet again. Lame but 'tis the life of a grown-up.


Have a lovely weekend & good luck to everyone who is racing (KIM & Becca)! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Slacker, and I like it

My running is on target this week but I haven't biked once or done a single strength workout. I'm not even going to push myself to squeeze anything in but for a short bike to meeting this afternoon. Not going to beat myself up about it, nope. It's just one of those weeks.

I am SO EXCITED for BOSTON on Monday though! Maybe I'm saving my energy for that? Going to get up & do some live streaming so I can see how Shalane & Kara do. WOOHOO!

In the meantime, I have some cookies to bake.

**GOOD LUCK to LIZ, the Runner Mum, running a marathon this weekend!**

Have a great weekend everyone! RUN ON!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why I got booted off the gym treadmill

"It's just policy. You have to wear shoes on all the equipment." 

AWR: "Why? What is the concern about running in socks instead of shoes?"

"Safety. It could be slippery. You could fall or something." 

AWR: "Of course I'm biased, but I challenge the idea that running without shoes is slippery or unsafe. Who do I talk to, to learn more about this policy?"

"Talk to the director," hands me a business card.

AWR: "So, if shoes are required, what qualifies as a shoe?"

"Just your official typical, basic athletic shoe," looking at me like I'm an idiot. 

AWR: Smiling, thinking that his policy is not founded on sound reason but instead on just what has been the norm that people probably haven't questioned until recently. Surely I can't be the only one who has had this happen to them at this gym? What would they think if I told them I've been running in my socks on their treadmills for the past 2+ years? HA!

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

The backstory:
A couple weeks ago I jumped on a treadmill in my socks to do my PT-recommended barefoot running as a warm up to lifting some weights. My plan was to just run 10 minutes in my socks then go lift. About 2 minutes in, I was politely but firmly told to cease & desist. I obliged and didn't argue (although all the other folks on the nearby treadmills thought I should have argued) but went ahead with my strength workout, showered, then approached the staff at the front desk on my way out the door instead (see fruitless conversation above).

I decided to first send an email (because I'm long-winded) and then follow up with a phone call:

Dear ###,

I have a question about running in socks on #GYM# treadmills. My physical therapist asked me to run 10-15 minutes, two times per week in socks on a treadmill or outdoors. The rationale is that it will help me to strengthen my feet and improve my foot strike, teaching me how to shorten my stride and land more softly on my mid/fore-foot. Then, I am to run in my regular shoes for the rest of the week while trying to maintain the feeling and style I obtain while running without shoes. I have been doing this for the past 2 years and it has helped me reduce injuries and actually feels really good to my feet. Since the proportion of my barefoot running is small (2-3 mi/week) compared to the rest of my shoed running time (20-25 mi/week), I have resisted spending $100 on "barefoot shoes."

Recently, I was told I could not run in my socks on the #GYM# treadmills. But, there was no clear rationale given other than it was just a policy. Natural or barefoot running is becoming more common and while most of us probably spend more time running outdoors than on treadmills, it's a nice option when running outside is not possible or safe.

I would challenge the idea that shoeless running indoors is unsafe, and question in what way it would be unsafe. Running in clean socks is not slippery or unsafe and in fact, I have a better sense of foot placement and sureness. There is no heavy equipment nearby that could fall and damage my unprotected feet (unlike in the free weight area where I regularly see people wearing Vibram 5-Fingers barefoot shoes).

If indeed "shoes" are required, what qualifies as a shoe? Are Vibram 5-Fingers acceptable? Or the sandal running shoes that are equivalent to a used tire tied onto the foot with webbing? I've recently seen some toe socks with rubber grip on the bottom (like my toddler's socks). Are these forms of shoes acceptable? Our approach to running and concept of running footwear is evolving and would like to see the #GYM# embrace these changes.

I would like to confirm that running shoeless is or is not allowed (even with a doctors note?) and would like to understand the reasoning behind it (other than that it's just unconventional). Also, I would like clear guidance on what forms of "barefoot" style running footwear would be acceptable if socks are not.

Please advise, as I would like to be able to complete all my physical therapy exercises at the ## gym.

Thank you for your time,
AWR


*********************************
Hi AWR,

Thank you for your thorough email. Sounds like you have a plan for recovery, which is wonderful. We indeed as a #GYM# have a policy that a closed toed shoe is required on our fitness floors. You have brought up several valid and interesting points with regards to barefoot shoes, the natural health of running barefoot and other footwear you have seen on the fitness floors. At the #GYM# we do our best to ensure this policy is implemented for the safety and health of our members. With treadmills in particular there have been historical issues across the nation in a number of gyms relating to injury from not having shoes therefore we maintain this policy. 

If I may suggest with a physician's note your physical therapist would probably be very helpful in allowing you to use one of their treadmills during that small mileage portion you were referencing.

Thank you again for the email and let me know how it is going!

###

*****************************************
So in a nutshell, I can't use the gym treadmills for any barefoot work unless I wear barefoot shoe$. It's annoying and I don't understand the hazards, but whatever. I can suck it up and when I need to, take TWO pairs of shoes with me to the gym if I'm going to do a full run (one for barefoot time, one for the rest of my running time). OR, just do my sock-footed running at home. (Outside downtown is a pretty nasty, hazardous option considering all the human and seagull biological wastes (urine, crap), debris, oil/grease, etc. on the sidewalks & roads.)

Has this happened to any of you barefoot runners?
How would you respond in this situation? 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Final 20 mile (assist) before Eugene

Training partner, SL, had her last 20 miler on the books this weekend and I was more than happy to keep her company for a portion of those miles. We've been having cool weather and rain but got lucky Saturday morning with some cloud clearing and no rain but a bit of wind (it started to rain MINUTES after SL finished her full distance & got back to her car!).

SL started at Seattle's Madison Park, heading south along Lake Washington where I met up with her under the I-90 floating bridge (~mile 3.5).
The elevation profile is a bit wacky but you get the idea (courtesy of USATF.ORG)
As you can see, we traveled a rolling hilly loop around the wooded island. I typically like the hills and enjoy running here but in my current state, I was having a hard time and had to walk a couple of the steeper inclines. Poor SL! Her last 20-miler and I suggest this crazy route = 1,278 feet of total climb! But, we decided this will just make her extra bad-ass at Eugene, where she will turn mountains into molehills.

I was so nervous I wasn't going to be able to make the whole 13.9-mile portion I selected to run with her. I feared I would be dropping off and taking a bus home, abandoning SL, but I pulled it off. With the help of the back/belly brace, my 18.7-week old baby belly and I pulled through. Such a relief. With the exception of the steeper hills and my uneasy mental state, I actually felt pretty good.

While I didn't run a full 20+ miler, I had such a great sense of accomplishment when I was done! 13.9 miles and almost 19 weeks pregnant! BOOYA!

Training earlier in the week went great as far as biking is concerned, but was weak on the strength. I had planned 2 days of biking, 2 days of strength, 1 possible yoga day, 1-2 barefoot runs (15 min), and 2 mid-distance runs (1x7 mi, 1x4 mi).

The reality was I biked THREE days this week (nice weather!), did ONE strength workout, NO yoga, NO barefoot running (still need to update on getting kicked off the treadmill at the gym), and running felt rough. These tough midweek runs messed with my head going into that long run. My 7 mile run became a 5.5-miler and my 4 mile run became a 2.8-mile run commute to work.

YES! Aside from the biking, my run commute was a highlight this week. I really wanted to get my run in at the end of the week but was tired (recurring theme) and wanted to sleep in. But, with this thing called work that I have to do, sleeping in AND running were not an option.

SOLUTION = RUN COMMUTE. I slept in a little bit, packed light clothes in a backpack along with my wallet, planner, phone, and 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast, and was OFF. Like a herd of turtles! I took it slow & easy and made it to the gym to shower, change, and get to work. The distance is only 2.8 miles and I thought about hitting the treadmill to finish the full 4 miles scheduled, but the treadmill just wasn't tempting enough. Off to work I went.

I'm thinking I will try this run commute more often on non-laptop-schlepping days as the weather improves and my mileage decreases with increasing belly circumference. 

COMING UP = TAPER WEEK 1

  • 3 runs: 1x4 mi, 1x3 mi, 1x8 mi
  • 2 cross-training workouts (biking/strength)
  • 1 yoga?
  • 1-2 barefoot sessions (10-15 min each)

Almost ready for the countdown to EUGENE!