Running While Pregnant-Eve of the Iron Horse Half Marathon

I’m about 14 hours from running in my fourth half marathon–the Iron Horse Half Marathon, held in Midway, Ky. Even though this is my fourth, I think I’m the most nervous about this half marathon. Why? Well, a list of reasons…

  1. The biggest–I’m 22 weeks pregnant. I know I’ve been active so far throughout my pregnancy, but I’m just nervous about how much my body has changed and affected my running and recovery.
  2. Fighting a bruised heel. Ever since our anniversary getaway to Land Between the Lakes, I’ve had a bruised heel and haven’t run in two weeks. I’ve done some cardio workouts since then (rower, whatever we do in CrossFit), but it just makes me nervous. The heel is better–I’ve been icing it throughout the day and trying to keep from being on it too much. We’ll see how it holds up to 13 miles.
  3. The weather. All week I’ve been watching the weather like a hawk. It’s gone from 80% chance of storms to 40% chance of rain back to 80% chance of rain, now to 50% chance of rain. I’ve never really run much in the rain, let alone cold rain, so I’m not looking forward to it.

IHHM_2014_poster

 

But I’m going to grit through the race. I have to keep up at least a 14 minute pace (they have a time limit on finishing), but I should be alright. I just can’t wait until I cross that finish line and get that awesome medal. Pics and wrap-up to come!

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21 Weeks Down, 19 Weeks to Go

Last Wednesday marked 20 weeks, which, in a pregnancy, is a big step. Twenty weeks means you’re half-way done with with the pregnancy and half-way to meeting your baby. Twenty weeks also means the big ultrasound, where the gender can be revealed. For us, we just wanted to make sure Baby A&W has all four limbs, every organ that would be developed by now, and healthy. We had the ultrasound technician keep the gender a secret–we haven’t decided if or when we want to know, or if we should just wait until the birth. That part is driving our families CRAZY. And, admittedly, driving me a little crazy as well. How else can you plan for having a boy or a girl if you wait until the baby arrives??

I know I haven’t done any pregnancy updates on here since I announced everything, so I thought I’d just do a quick one:

I’ve been lucky–I haven’t really had any pregnancy symptoms throughout the past 21 weeks (no nausea). I have been physically active just as much as I was pre-pregnancy–but I have been cautious.

  • Sand volleyball–I finished up the summer league with my team and then decided it was probably best to stop playing. I know some woman who played until 30 weeks, but I know myself and know that I can’t just sit back and watch a ball dropped. I knew it’d be hard to stop the instinct to dive for a ball, or go up at the net, so for the baby’s safety, I stopped. (Though I have been continuing to referee games, but that’s not straining.)
  • CrossFit–as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I told my coaches because I wanted to be able to have someone keep an eye on me and make sure I was safe. Turns out, we have another girl at the box due around the same time as me, so Taylor and Brenton have gotten a crash course on how to handle pregnant women and workouts. ūüėČ I started being more aware of my heart rate and didn’t push it on AMRAPs or other workouts. I’ve only now just started doing modifications–20″ box step ups instead of box jumps at week 20, push-ups with my toes on a bench for handstand push-ups at week 14, knee raises for toes to bar around week 14, and ring rows instead of pull-ups at week 21.
  • Running–I am so close to the Iron Horse Half Marathon that I can’t stand it!! I started running one morning during the week 3 miles and keeping with my long training runs with my running group on Saturdays. I slowed my pace from 9-9:30 to 10:30-11, which actually came easily. I’ve run up to 11 miles, and stayed around 8-10 for the past month or so. It’s become a lot harder to recover from the long runs (tired/sore legs, incredibly sore feet, feeling very tired). Also, it’s been hard to stay motivated for the long runs because they are more mental than they ever have been. I have one more long training run this weekend, then the half marathon. After that, I plan to keep with my 3 mile weekday run and a weekend run of no more than 6 miles…maybe. We’ll see how long that lasts.
  • Dog agility–I’ve still be training the dogs and competing in agility trials. I come out of my runs with LaMesa (my younger, faster dog) more breathless than previously, but that’s OK. I’ve been warned to watch my balance with crosses and my feet. I will compete in a trial in October and November, and then be done until after the baby.

The most difficult part for me has been my growing belly. It’s been so hard to be excited for the baby because of my body issues. I was getting to a point where I was feeling fit and strong pre-pregnancy, fitting into my “skinny clothes” and feeling confident. Now, I barely fit in anything in my closet, and it’s hard to cover up the belly. For a while I was upset because I just looked fat, not pregnant, and I (foolishly, I’m sure) felt like I was being judged for the sudden weight gain. Now, at 21 weeks, there’s no sucking it in, there’s no forcing into my nice work pants. I’ve purchased my first pair of maternity jeans (which are currently a tad too big, but I’m OK with that) and been passed down some maternity shirts and pants from a friend that I’m thankful I hopefully won’t have to purchase too much. It has been hard with workout clothes, though. My boobs have always been big, but now they’re even bigger, which means even tank tops can’t be an option because I don’t want to flash my box full of guys.

If it wasn't for my running group, these long training runs might not be happening any more. However, it's been hard to find running clothes that don't show my belly (I'm second from the left) or just look fat?

If it wasn’t for my running group, these long training runs might not be happening any more. However, it’s been hard to find running clothes that don’t show my belly (I’m second from the left) or just look fat?

The ultrasounds have been fun. At first I couldn’t see a baby, just a blob, but at our 20 week appointment, we actually saw appendages and the heart beating–that was pretty cool. M did a voice recording of the baby’s heartbeat and sent it to my mom, since they live too far to come to an appointment. That made my family’s day.

So far the tests have all been normal, which is really all that matters.

Baby A&W at 20 weeks--she/he was full of energy and it took the tech a while to pinpoint everything.

Baby A&W at 20 weeks–she/he was full of energy and it took the tech a while to pinpoint everything.

I’ve been reading Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs on my Kindle, Running & Pregnancy, and a book on pregnancy and childbirth that was given to us by our OB/GYN. I’ve had one trip to Buy Buy Baby for a crash course in what to register for and what we probably won’t need, thanks to a great friend who understands all of my feelings.

We’ve finally come to an agreement that we’ll be making M’s office the nursery, and move his desk and office stuff most likely into our bedroom. Yes, it’ll be cramped in our room (though it is decently big and we don’t have much bedroom furniture anyway), and it’ll change things, but we needed to keep the guest bedroom for guests–especially for those first few months.

My feelings are starting to slowly soften and I’m starting to…accept (not sure if that’s that right word)…that in four months life will be completely different, whether planned or not. I don’t know if I’ll ever be totally prepared, but I’m going to do the best I can.

Half Marathon #3: The Bourbon Derby

A couple of weeks ago I finished my third half marathon–the Bourbon Derby. I thought I was crazy signing up for a half marathon in Central Kentucky in the middle of June, but it actually turned out to be a gorgeous Saturday morning. It wasn’t too humid and it wasn’t too hot when the gun went off at 7:30 am.

The course wound around side roads and horse farms around Paris. The start/finish line was at the Bourbon Drive-In, which allowed for parking and room to warm up. There were only a few times that some cars drove through the course, but they were great about driving slow and waiting for runners to move to the side.

Adena Springs = GORGEOUS!

Adena Springs = GORGEOUS!

The race had a four-mile and 10-mile course option along with the half marathon, and each race got to run around at least one horse farm. The half marathon wound around Hillcrest and Adena Springs. If you want to talk about gorgeous scenery, along with some wicked hills, those horse farms had it! The entire course was rolling hills, with one particular hill that I swear if you leaned forward a little too much, you’d smack your nose on the asphalt.

I went into the race not expecting to get a personal record, since I hadn’t been able to train as well as I had. I wanted to stick to around a 10 minute mile. To my surprise, I finished the race with a new PR by two minutes from the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon last year! My official time was 2:06:49!

Everyone’s GPS devices were a little screwy with this race–my Garmin said it was only 12.66 miles long, but the Bourbon Derby course was certified. There has been a lot of discussion about the distance of the race, but I know that not all GPS devices are reliable. There was a thought that maybe a turnaround was misplaced on one of the horse farms, which could make a difference. If that’s the case, then my PR doesn’t hold, which would be a big bummer.

Even so, here are my splits from my Garmin:

Mile 1: 10:03
Mile 2: 9:41
Mile 3: 9:49
Mile 4: 9:50
Mile 5: 10:06
Mile 6: 10:00
Mile 7: 10:14
Mile 8: 10:05
Mile 9: 10:17
Mile 10: 10:08
Mile 11: 10:31 (walked a little)
Mile 12: 10:12
Mile 13 (“0.66 nubbin”): 5:49
    Total: 2:06:52

I pushed through and ran for the first seven miles, feeling strong and comfortable. After some step inclines around the farms, I’d walk at the top to catch my breath, then started running again.

Do I look like I'm running strong?

Do I look like I’m running strong?

For a first-time race, this was very well organized. The announcer/DJ was great–he kept cheering everyone on through the last runner. There were plenty of hydration stops along the routes, and the offerings for after the race were plentiful. I hope I don’t sound petty, but I was bummed about the menial medals, but maybe I’ve just been spoiled with the previous races.

I felt great after the race–I cooled down while cheering on the rest of the finishers. I loved being able to meet up with the Striders, my running group, to cheer on and discuss the race before and after. If you haven’t joined a running group, I totally recommend it.

John's Striders ready to tackle the Bourbon Derby!

John’s Striders ready to tackle the Bourbon Derby!

Will I run this race again next year? I think so! I don’t know if I’ll be so lucky with the weather again like we were this year, but the course was pretty shaded by lots of trees along the way, so that was a big help.

Your turn: Tell me about your most recent race!

Prioritizing Life

I realize I have been rather quiet on here lately, but June has been a crazy-busy month for me! There are some nights a week where I work both job number one (full-time marketing job) and job number two (part-time sand volleyball ref) from 8 am to after midnight. Somewhere in there I have to squeeze in job number three (freelance writer) because I have deadlines. So when it comes to the “side stuff”, blogging on this site and my dog agility training blog kind-of get pushed aside.

I have so much to update you on though: Running in the Bourbon Derby Half Marathon; visiting Charleston, S.C., for the American Horse Publications Seminar; a quick desert recipe; surprising news; etc. So don’t think I’m completely abandoning things!

I finally have a weekend where I’ll be in town (minus some things the first part of the day Saturday), so I plan on getting caught up on my writing, plus getting some deadline work done.

Until then, I’ll leave you with a scene from Charleston to prep you for the weekend:

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Racing Medals…Just for Half & Full Marathons?

I remember that first time I received a metal for a half marathon. It was my very first half marathon and I was so emotional as I neared the finish line because I had actually done it. I couldn’t wait to wear that heavy piece of metal around my neck and I didn’t want to take it off–I drove the whole way from Louisville to Lexington still wearing it around me neck.

For some of us, running in half and full marathons is partly for the bling, not to mention the sense of pride in your accomplishment of training. Tell the truth–Have you ever thought twice about entering a half/full marathon when the medal wasn’t what you expected?

ANYWAY, medals are a big deal. I believe they are your trophy of accomplishment. When I got a medal for finishing my first Warrior Dash, I thought, “OK, cool…this was a pretty big deal, even if it was only 4 miles” Same with Extreme Rampage.

But the only races I feel I earned my medals (and got them) were my half marathons.

Until I ran in the Noblesville Mini Marathon series over Memorial Day weekend. There were four races that day–1 mile “fun run”, 5K, 10K, and the half marathon. I chose to run the 10K, and then ran the 5K course to get training miles in for the half marathon I was training for. When I got an email last week saying my medal from the Noblesville Mini was ready for pick-up (they had run out of medals that day), I was confused, because I hadn’t run in the half marathon. So I replied that I ran in the 10K and she commented that I still received a medal for the 10K, and it’d be in the mail.

Well, I received the medal on Friday. It’s a beautiful medal, surprisingly for a first-time race. But I have mixed feelings about it.

 

The Noblesville Mini Marathon for the half marathon, 10K, and 5K

The Noblesville Mini Marathon for the half marathon, 10K, and 5K

Sure enough, if you finished the 5K or 10K, you received the same medal the half marathoners earned.

Now I know there are quite a few races that are starting to do that because they know that draws in the entries. And maybe for some runners who may never be able to run a half or full marathon, for whatever reason, that’s a pretty big deal to them. But to me, it feels like a medal is a right of passage, that you’ve spent 3-4-5 months training for that one day, to push your body passed the point of exhaustion and pain for a few miles of triumph and a lifetime of memories.

I will forever love these three half marathon medals I've earned (and hopefully earn a few more along the way).

I will forever love these three half marathon medals I’ve earned (and hopefully earn a few more along the way).

I ran in a few 5Ks before I attempted my first half marathon. To me, my badge of honor was my race t-shirt. I didn’t expect a medal–I looked up to those runners who had medals hanging on their walls because I knew the dedication they had to train for that wearable piece of art.

Is it because of the growing mentality in our country that everyone deserves an award? Nowadays it seems like every kid gets a trophy for participating in a sport, whether they won a single game or not. Growing up I showed horses, and we maybe would get participation ribbons in Mini 4-H, but we still earned placements of first, second, third, fourth, etc. I knew the importance of working hard and practicing my craft/sport because I wanted to win, I wanted to be recognized. Had I gotten trophies for every class I showed just because I walked through the entry gate, would I have worked as hard? Maybe not. So is that what we’re teaching our children now? Don’t worry about practice and hard work, we’ll reward you anyway?

I grew up understanding that if I worked hard and practiced, I would hopefully be rewarded. It wasn't expected, but I still tried. If I hadn't, would I have been awarded this World Championship belt buckle 10 years ago? Who knows...

I grew up understanding that if I worked hard and practiced, I would hopefully be rewarded. It wasn’t expected, but I still tried. If I hadn’t, would I have been awarded this World Championship belt buckle 10 years ago? Who knows…

I know I just went totally out of left field comparing running medals to children in sports, etc., but I think it’s all connected. And I really want to know what you think.

Your turn: Is it OK to have medals for races less than half and full marathons? How do you feel about the reward for just participation? 

10 Hard-Fought Miles in a Busy Schedule

I’m going into the last couple of weeks before my mid-June half marathon. These are the hardest because my schedule is ramping up even more (yes…it really can get busier…). I had a dog agility trial this weekend, but I knew I still needed to find a way to get in 10 training miles. My running group was planning to meet to run on the Bourdon Derby route, but that was an hour away from my house. Add in the two hours for the run and another hour back–I wouldn’t be able to make it to Louisville for my agility runs on time.

Luckily a couple of people from the same running group decided to meet downtown an hour earlier (6) for 10 miles–PERFECT! I set the alarm for a 5 am wake up and set out to tackle double digit miles for the first time in more than a year.

The morning wasn’t too humid, yet. We had to do a few different loops because we were picking people up at 6:30 and dropping off someone at 7. So we ran 3 different loops–3 miles, 2 miles, and then 5 miles. It wasn’t easy, but it got done.

Mile 1 — 10:02
Mile 2 — 9:47
Mile 3 — 9:44
Mile 4 — 9:29
Mile 5 — 9:05

The funny thing is, we talked about having a 10-10:30 mile pace, which made me happy because I needed to really work on my pacing and keeping things easy (instead of just my 9:45-10 par I usually have). However we had a couple of runners who like to run a fast pace…so there went my slow training run.

Mile 6 — 9:36
Mile 7 — 9:42
Mile 8 — 9:57
Mile 9 — 9:49
Mile 10 — 10:22 (had to walk a little)
10.29 miles in 1 hour 40 minutes 33 seconds

It was nice to have the loops because I could run back to my car and get a couple of drinks of water to keep me hydrated. However I felt like that made the running tougher because it allowed my legs to tighten up during the short breaks (though I did do stretching, etc.).

I fueled mid-way with some Gatorade chews–I can’t handle the gels very well, and I wasn’t able to get to the running store to pick up my Sport Beans, but I liked these just as much. Afterwards I rehydrated with a pack of Nuun. It was my first time trying it, and it was on sale at Kroger. It wasn’t too bad, and I’m looking forward to having more throughout the summer to help stay hydrated.

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During our run some were talking about the route of the Bourbon Derby, and let’s just say I’m now even more concerned. It’s a pretty hilly course, which I’m used to training for Run the Bluegrass and around in my neighborhood, but they say there are no flat parts. I know I haven’t trained the best for this race, due to lack of time and illness. So I’ve already been mentally preparing myself that I don’t need to go all-out for this run. I might plan to do some run-walk intervals to keep myself moving forward. My goal might not to PR the race, but I want to finish it and I want to finish it strong.

Your turn: How would you deal with going into a race not feeling very prepared?

Runner who CrossFits, or CrossFitter who Runs?

A year ago, I would have answered this question easily: I’m a runner who does CrossFit for my cross training. I started doing CrossFit in April 2013 as a means of cross-training to overcome my injuries from training for a half marathon. I knew I needed to do more cross-training than running to prevent the repetitive use injuries, and I was always intrigued by CrossFit thanks to reading Lindsay and Tina’s blogs.

A year later and I have more miles under my wrist wraps than I have in my running shoes I think.

I basically stopped running last summer, but the urge to race never died. I got back into running in the early Fall and hit the Race for the Cue for my big 5K personal record.

But now I’m trying to get back to running, but I still want to stay active in my CrossFit box. I know there are CrossFitters who still run half, and full, marathons–they’re just diligent about their nutrition, rest days, and athletic scheduling. So I need to be the same.

For right now I’m sticking with hitting Man O’War CrossFit four times a week, making Friday a complete rest day (minus a long dog walk for the pups). Tuesday evenings, when I can, I’m going to continue running with the West 6th Brewing Running Club (3-4 miles), and then Saturday mornings I’ll get in my long training runs with the Striders. Sundays will be recovery days.

I have been really lax on my nutrition lately, which is frustrating and unfortunate. Because of that, I’ve gained five pounds in the last couple of months, so I’d really like to get back down to my manageable weight. I know they say you don’t go through half marathon training to lost weight, but I would have to beg to differ because I know that if I weigh less, that’s less stress on my joints/knees when I’m pounding the pavement.

Your turn: Are you a CrossFitter who runs? Or a runner who CrossFits? If you have any advice, or nutritional programs you like to follow, I’m all ears!

Lacing Up the Running Shoes Again

I’ve been home from the National Agility Championship for a week now, but I’m still suffering the effects–a nasty viral thing that’s left me feeling like poo (sore throat, cough, bleh). But I’m still flying high from my best friend and her Cardigan Corgi winning the national championship in the 4″ Preferred division! It was awesome to watch, and she so ¬†deserves it.

Merinda and PNAC Porter!

Merinda and PNAC Porter!

Getting back to normal life, I’m getting back into running. I missed a few races due to scheduling and finances–why are half marathons so darn expensive?? But when a local racing company announced a new race series that includes a 5K, 10-miler and a half marathon. It’s going to run through horse country (I’m seriously lucky to have such beautiful running views), including a Thoroughbred horse farm. The one kicker is it’s in mid-June, which can be a very hot time in Kentucky. But, I bit the bullet last week and registered before the price went up. I figure I’ll train my best for it and see what I can do, and don’t expect a PR from this race.

So now that I’ve finally registered for my third half marathon, it’s time to get serious about training. I’ve been doing some longish runs with friends while they prepare for their races this Spring, running up to 8 miles, but nothing too serious. But now I really have to start being serious. I don’t want to overtrain like I have in the past, which has caused some injuries that have curtailed my running. So I’m planning on sticking with my CrossFit WODs at Man O’War CrossFit, long training run on the weekend, and one or two shorter runs during the week. There will be some weekends where I won’t be able to run, but that’s OK.

I kicked off my training with a fun group run back with the John’s Striders, a group I trained with a lot last year. On Saturday we met up for a quick 2.5 mile “warm-up” run before we had a wedding-themed 5K for a couple getting married later that day. We ran around the Chevy Chase area, stopping at different places that were special. The end of the race we stopped at the church they were going to be tying the knot a few hours later and the leader of our group pronounced them “Running Partners for Life.” It was real sweet! (Not the 7 miles I was planning, but it still worked.)

Steven and Ryan, "Running Partners for Life"!

Steven and Ryan, “Running Partners for Life”!

For now it’s time for me to figure out my training and re-figure my nutrition. It’s time to get serious about eating healthy again. Any advice will be appreciated!

Your turn: Have you ever participated in a themed training run?

We All Have Rough Runs, Right?

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that I’m not doing as much running as I used to. I’ve been trying to do more cross training and less running in hopes of preventing the usual overuse injuries I suffered the past two years when I was training for half marathons.

And while I’m not specifically training for a half marathon right now (though I need to start figuring out my training schedule), I have been running long runs with a couple of friends who are training for half marathons later this month. I gradually built up my mileage on the weekend runs, starting at 4, then 5, 7, 8, 6, ‚Ķ and every run has felt great the whole time. There were some tough moments, but I was able to push through them and not stop running.

That is until my run this past weekend. Normally we do our training runs early in the morning, but Kaitlin had to work until 3, so my schedule was flip flopped. I was able to wake up whenever (but I still woke up at 7), eat a leisurely breakfast, and do some laundry. I had training for agility with my dogs plus a couple others, so I packed up the dogs, their equipment, and my running stuff and headed for 2.5 hours of training. Then I loaded them back up in the truck and we headed to the Legacy Trail to meet Joy and Kaitlin for our run. I changed shoes in the truck, made sure the pups were comfy (windows  open, water bowl) and we hit the trail.

I already knew my legs were going to be tired–dog agility is a lot of sprinting, stopping, turning, and while it only lasts 40-60 seconds, it’s intense. I warned the girls I was only going to do 6 miles to their 8, which was fine with me and with them.

Unfortunately Kaitlin learned quickly you can’t train for a half marathon hungover‚Ķwhomp whomp. Her run wasn’t going well, but we encouraged her through it. After I hit 30 minutes, I turned back and cheered the girls on to finish their run. I had hoped that I would do negative splits for the last half of my run, but my legs had other thoughts. My hips started tightening up and my old friend the IT band started to flare up. (I had bad IT band problems when I was training for my first half in 2012, but I was able to rectify that last year.) I was forced to walk a little bit every mile, nothing that I was proud of.

I wasn’t even this sore during our 8-mile run a couple of weeks ago. But I pushed through, especially when I knew I had just one mile left. And when I made it back to the truck, I stretched, got the dogs out, and walked them for two miles while I waited for Joy and Kaitlin to return from their run. The walk helped loosen up my hips some, but I was already starting to get stiff.

The pups didn't mind the extra exercise. In fact they loved the new surroundings of the Legacy Trail.

The pups didn’t mind the extra exercise. In fact they loved the new surroundings of the Legacy Trail.

This is when I realized I had done too much. I would hope that had we switched the order of the day, my run would have been better. Running mid-afternoon meant my nutrition was off (I was starving by the time we ran, but hadn’t eaten much because I was afraid of an upset stomach) and I had already tired my legs with the pounding during agility. I’m usually a little more aware of my energy levels when we train agility.

We all have rough runs‚Ķ We all have to know our limits‚Ķ If I want to stay injury-free, I have to remember that I don’t need to push myself. We don’t always have to set PRs, but just to finish the run is the accomplishment.

So here’s to better runs. Some foam rolling, stretching, and rest has remedied my IT band, but I know it won’t take much to get it to rear its ugly head again.

Here’s to better runs!

Your turn: Have you had one of those “gut-check” runs that reminded you of your limits? How did you deal with that mentally?