{State #19} South Dakota

Every race teaches me something about myself.  With each race I learn that I am stronger than I thought I was in new, often unexpected ways.  I learn more about the power the mind holds to keep us moving forward during difficult times.  I learn new coping strategies to push through challenging parts.  Sometimes I consider what makes me love marathoning is not just exploring new places, but exploring more of myself.

The Brookings Marathon had a lot going for it.  First of all, it was FREE!  In honor of the Brookings Marathon’s 50th anniversary the first person from each state to register received a free entry.  I found a surprise refund check in my bag when I explored my race expo bag at my hotel.  Free marathon…yes, please!

The race was a small race which makes the expo, race day parking, navigation and finding where things are much simpler.  The race expo and race were extremely well organized and staffed with volunteers and organizers.  The event was clearly planned by runner(s) with runners in mind as it showed in so many of the details.  You would think this would be obvious at most races, but it is not always the case.  There was a stepped up bag, a quality shirt I actually liked and will wear (I’ve worn it three times already), and a map on the back of the bib.  The race course had tons of volunteers, close water stops, lots of restrooms and awesome signs put out throughout the entire race by organizers.  And did I mention this race was free for me.

Coming into this marathon I was more exhausted physically and emotionally than I can remember being before a race.  I was still getting used to eating normal meals after the nasty bought of food poisoning I had less than two weeks before that caused me to barely eat for days, not drink my morning coffee for NINE days (no coffee at all for FIVE days) and lose five pounds in five days.  Physically I did not feel I had full strength yet.  Emotionally I was so exhausted due to the passing of my son’s friend that week and attending the visitation the night before I left.  Consequently, I went into this race feeling pretty empty.  I guess that put me in the perfect spot to do some struggling…er, learning.

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The morning of the race, I woke up in good spirits framing my mind about what I knew would grow difficult at some point.  The marathon, no matter how many you do, I feel always hits a point or points where things get hard.  You just know it is going to happen.  Mentally preparing for it helps me to stay calm when this hits and know that I can work through this because I have before.

Mile 1-9:12
Mile 2-9:04
Mile 3-9:34
Mile 4-9:15
Mile 5-9:25

This race definitely taught me about my own strength as is was not very scenic.  Like at all.  Small parts went through parks and areas I’m sure the organizers tried to highlight, but alas it just isn’t in that scenic of an area.  Without the mental distraction of beautiful sites, this race was a bit of a slog fest for me.  The course also had lots and lots of turns.  Running tangents is something I think all marathon runners know about, but with some almost 100 turns I read someone say that brings it to a new level.  It was very distracting in a not great way to turn so much.

Mile 6-9:30
Mile 7-9:14
Mile 8-11:01 (Bathroom stop)
Mile 9-9:19
Mile 10-9:13

The roads were also not closed to traffic as it was a small race.  This was kind of new for me.  Even in smaller races I’ve done before, roads were closed or partially blocked off to provide runners space and peace of mind that they could focus on their race and not worry about the person who is not paying attention or looks down at their phone and sideswipes a runner.  This may seem like a small detail, but when my mind had been working on focusing on the task of running a marathon and working through those details, focusing on where I was in relation to traffic on some busy road stretches is NOT what I wanted to be doing.  It was extra tiring.

Mile 11-9:04
Mile 12-9:32
Mile 13-9:30
Mile 14-10:06 (change shirt and moved race bib to tank)
Mile 15-10:01

Despite these challenges, each race reminds me of things I often forget about.  In regular day to day it is easy to forget about the power of physically pushing your limits to exhaustion and the accomplishment this invites.  The power of people to encourage, uplift and inspire.  The power of a comment or phrase at just the right time.  The power of positivity in changing mindset.

Mile 16-9:37
Mile 17-9:35
Mile 18-9:37
Mile 19-9:33
Mile 20-10:14

The friendly people I chatted with on the course saved me.  Two in particular were both working on their 50 state goals also.  I got to meet and run with a woman who quit teaching after ~ten years to open a running store.  She is working on her second round of running 50 marathons in 50 states.  Her first round she completed by age 40.  She also told me about her recent running adventure of running a marathon in Antarctica followed by a week of exploring.  Later in the race when I swore I just didn’t want to talk to anyone came along a friendly mom of teens working on her 50 states goal.  This was state number 30 for her.  She’s was from Ohio, recommended the Flying Pig Marathon and invited me to stay with her when I run Ohio.  She was exactly what I needed to see and talk to at that exact moment in the race.  I was uplifted, encouraged and inspired by these people so much.

Mile 21-10:06
Mile 22-9:49
Mile 23-10:24 (Bathroom stop)
Mile 24-9:31

Since I ran a marathon six weeks prior without maintaining the training I’d hoped to (I know we’ve all heard that story before from me :), I did not have a set time goal in mind.  I needed to simply run and not have any extra pressures that day.  This was a slow marathon for me.  Even though I knew I didn’t have the training or the mental/physical state to push it, it is hard for me to know times I have ran in the past compared to what I’m running during this busy season of life.  I try no to dwell on that too much though.  I also like to remind people we all have our fast, slow and in between paces.  We all know what it feels like to run each of them.  The numbers really don’t matter so much as the sense it brings us in knowing what we are capable of running versus what we actually run.

During the last mile and a half of the race I was just so ready to be done.  At the halfway point of mile 25 I passed a sign that said I can and I will.  This became my motto for the rest of the race.  Every ten steps or so I would say out loud to myself, “I can and I will.”  Over and over again.  It got me to the finish.  It kept my mind on the task at hand.  It kept the negative out.  It kept me running when I wanted to stop.  And in the end, even though I was talking to myself and probably looked slightly crazy, I did it.  I can and I did.

Mile 25-9:44

Mile 26-9:00

Finish Time-4:13

The Brookings Marathon was mentally challenging to my already taxed brain with its extra challenges, focus zappers and negative distractions.  Had my headspace been better prior or had I had some companions, I might have viewed this a bit differently; take my description with a grain of salt.  I was so proud to have finished this race with only half my head and body in the game.  Not easy for me for sure.

No matter how a race goes running wise, I never forget that part of my goal is also to experience a state or city when crossing a state off of my list.  I did know going in that this wouldn’t be possible with every state to the extent I wanted it to be.  South Dakota was one of those states.  Since I had already taken a trip to South Dakota a few years ago to visit the Badlands (see below), Custer, Mt. Rushmore, etc. I was okay with this being a quick trip.  Let me be honest though it was not easy.  A six hour drive Friday, running a marathon, driving home six hours and getting home to put my kids to bed the same day was very tiring.

I did squeeze in some quick hiking in Garretson to visit Devil’s Gulch on Friday, a post-race celebratory brew at Eponymous Brewing Co. and stretched my legs in Sioux Falls at Falls Park on Saturday. The drive home took an extra shot of espresso in my coconut milk latte from Starbucks AND a stop at Caribou along with lots of singing to the radio.  Whatever it takes to accomplish this goal of mine.

As I finish this post two weeks post-marathon I still don’t know what my next running goal is exactly.  I’ve got some ideas, but no plans for sure.  It is both lovely and terrible to not have committed to what’s next, but it is also fitting for life right now.

Sarah

{State #18}-Indiana

You know you are a mother runner when you post and share that you finished your 17th state in your life goal to run a marathon in every state by your 50th birthday and a couple of weeks later you realize it was actually your 18th state.  But who is keeping count?  I’m not on a race to achieve 50 in 50, rather I’m on a journey. Hence the by 50 part of my goal.  50 in 50 by 50.

Indiana made me work for it for sure.  I had heard rave things about the Carmel Marathon including its cute town, the flat and fast course, the awesome support and the great organization.  I picked it because it worked with my timeline, and I was looking for a close spring race to impact my family and finances as little as possible.  While the rain certainly distracted me from the course and I’m sure reduced the fan support, I would say the above are all true about this race.

I headed to Indiana on Friday after taking a personal day from work.  The proposed drive time was longer than expected due to traffic, but when I arrived it was 60 and there was green grass everywhere so I really didn’t care too much.

I headed to explore the Arts District and grab some dinner.  I ended up enjoying a delicious local IPA, perhaps the best sweet potato fries of my life and some March Madness game time.  Eating in peace without someone asking for something, spilling their dinner or saying “I don’t like it” was well, perfect.  I love my kids, but sometimes meal time is not my favorite.

Packet pickup was a breeze.  Since the expo was almost over when I arrived, I grabbed my race bib and shirt and headed back to my hotel for the night.  After laying out my gear for the next day, reviewing the race course and reading a little Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor (awesome book about running and mindset), it was time to get some rest.  I looked forward to a night of sleeping alone in a comfortable bed knowing no children were going to wake me in the night.  I had no problem sleeping.

The next morning I heard rain and thunder as I woke up.  The weather was as forecasted.  Rain and wind.  Chilly.  After getting dressed in my gear, I got a coffee at Starbucks and headed to race parking.  Parking was a breeze and I lingered in my car longer than I normally would to stay warm and psych myself up for what lie ahead.  You’d think with a weather forecast of rain and having been a runner most of my life I would own a proper running rain jacket.  That would be a no actually.  I figured after 26.2 miles nothing would be dry, so I just didn’t worry about it.

By the time I walked the couple blocks to the gear drop and the village of port-o-potties, my shoes were soaked.  With the rain pouring down and the wind whipping, I stood in line for my turn to pee.  I was filled with disbelief.  I was actually going to run in this.  I was trying to get my head right for the weather conditions I would have never done a long training run in.  Just knowing others were out there about to do the same thing reassured me I could do the same thing.

By the start of the race, I was pretty much soaked.  I could not wait to run so I could generate some heat and take my mind off what I had been doing for the past half hour. Standing in the cold, wet and wind.  Once in the corrals the body heat of others warmed me up a bit.  As I looked at a few others with ponchos, I recalled my inner dialogue with myself the week before about whether it was worth it to attempt to run part of the race in a heat and moisture trapping plastic poncho.  I had decided no, but on race day sort of regretted that thought.  The camaraderie of other runners near me in my corral was the perfect distraction.  I chatted with a mom of two-year old twins running her first post-babies half marathon and her brother who was using the race as a training run for Boston.  I met a member of Oiselle’s Volee which kind of inspired me to consider joining in the fun.

With the start of the race came a warm up.  Running took my mind off the precipitation and the rain did lessen for a bit.  I normally feel like I remember my races pretty well and have mental notes about each mile, but I don’t have that for this race.  I’m pretty sure for the hardest miles my head had to really go somewhere that would get me across the finish line, but wouldn’t allow me to remember much else.  I also have no pictures from the marathon except for the one race photo I purchased to document this actually happened.  Below is what I do remember about race day.

The early miles didn’t feel too bad.  I welcomed the warmth and the lighter rain.  Just before mile 4 I got rid of my outer layer at an aid station and made a fast potty stop…less than one minute.  It felt good to get that wet layer off.

mile 1-8:58

mile 2-9:02

mile 3-9:51

mile 4-9:03

mile 5-9:14

A light rain fell during the middle miles of the race.  I don’t remember much about what I saw.  I felt good.  I said I would do whatever I needed to do to accomplish this race.  I even took Jolly Ranchers the kids were handing out and enjoyed my first Green Apple Jolly Rancher in a lot of years.  Whatever I needed to do to distract myself, I was all for.

mile 6-9:08

mile 7-9:00

mile 8-8:40

mile 9-8:59

mile 10-9:32

At mile 11 we got on Hagen-Burke Trail which then met up with the Monon Trail.  I love running bike paths and rail trails, so this gave me an uptick in my moral and the tree cover made me forget about the rain some.  I ran past a sign that said mile 25.  I thought about how I might feel at mile 25.  No matter how a race is going that last mile doesn’t ever really feel good.  It’s a place of pain, excitement, exhaustion and emotion.  It’s complicated to explain until you experience it.

mile 11-9:31

mile 12-9:49

Mile 13 took us by the finish and we got to see the half marathoners split off to finish their race.  It is usually not easy to see the finish and know you are not finished.  It either reminds you that you are half way done or you have half way to go depending on how you are feeling.  On this particular day it was a mix of both.  I felt good, but knowing I had more rain and wind to come made me think at least once how nice it would have been to have been running down the finish chute rather than continuing on.

mile 13-9:10

The race continued on the Monon Trail for a bit longer.  At mile 14 ish I felt some fatigue set in, so I began listening to a podcast for motivation and distraction.  My current favorite is Women in the Woods as I’m really getting intrigued by the idea of some longer hiking adventures.

mile 14-9:28

mile 15-9:18

mile 16-9:14

mile 17-9:05

The rain picked up some.  After a few miles the rain let up a little.  At mile 18 I realized I was colder than I thought when I struggled to open my Huma gel because my fingers were so, so cold.  My hip started to bother me more.

mile 18-10:48

mile 19-9:25

Mile 20 is where the race really becomes a race with yourself.  It is where the fatigue starts to catch up to you.  On race day it was also when it began pouring rain.  The skies just opened up and let it rain down.  I remember feeling so discouraged and frustrated with not feeling like I was enjoying being out there as much as I’d hoped.  Drips of water poured off my hat.  The wind whipped.  That rain and cold and wind was about to catch up with me.

mile 20-9:20

mile 21-10:10

mile 22-8:46

mile 23-9:37

At mile 24 my hip, which had been giving me a sensation for part of the race so far, became much more than just a feeling.  It was painful.  I tried to walk some, but the slower pace just made me colder which made my hip hurt worse.  I tried to stretch and work it out, but nothing was helping.  In my head I knew if I had to continue walking I would not be able to finish without warmer, dryer layers.  I also knew quitting wasn’t a choice.  I had no one to pick me up.  I seriously feared hypothermia if I attempted to walk in the rest of the miles as cold as I was.  I felt tears welling up.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so close to crying in a race.  I almost took my phone out of its fancy waterproof case (i.e. a plastic bag shoved in my sports bra) and called my husband to talk me through the last miles.  I did not call him as I knew he was busy with the kids and likely did not have time to handle my hot mess self.  Not finishing wasn’t an option though.  I didn’t drive this far to not finish.

mile 24-11:31

My choice of shorts came into question a few times during the race, but having run races in colder temps in shorts without issue I didn’t think it would be as big of a problem.  Hindsight: I should have worn capris.

I eventually pushed through what I was feeling.  Between miles 24 and 25 the rain let up some allowing me to warm up also.  This made my hip hurt less.  My favorite fans of all also helped me out.  The elderly residents cheering and smiling in the rain with signs for beer ahead at the finish were so motivating for me.  My other favorite fans were the little kids cheering for their moms and dads with huge smiles and hugs for their favorite runner on the course.  Speaking of smiling.  I know there is research about smiling through challenging tasks such as running that makes the perception of pain and difficulty less.  I made myself smile a bunch of times during this race just to experience this…and it works to some extent.

mile 25-9:34

That last mile I was so eager to be done.  I just wanted to be finished.  I was so cold and numb physically and emotionally.

mile 26-9:18

Crossing the finish line was anticlimactic with no one waiting for me…like at all.  No one stuck around at the finish.  The post-race party was get to your car to warm up and try to get dry.  I was relieved to have a mylar wrap to block some wind, but I was shivering so hard.  Uncontrollably.  I was so cold I didn’t take a picture.  I’m not sure I could.  You know I’m cold when a pictures is not happening.  The temperature had dropped 8 degrees since the start making it in the upper 40’s.

I limped my way to the car as my hip was in super pain making it hard to walk.  I was just so cold.  I blasted the heat and got the congratulations from my husband and kids.  I then headed to Starbucks to get a coffee to warm up.  The barista thought I was insane with my visible shaking and spilling of some of my coconut milk latte as a result.  I could not wait for a hot shower and warm clothes.

After a couple hours of warming up, I was ready to head somewhere dry to explore.  I spent part of the afternoon at Newfield’s before heading to downtown Indy for dinner and some exploring.

Then the snow began as the temperature had continued to drop all day.  Winter apparently just loves to follow me.  A quick stop at a brewery for a celebratory brew and I headed back to my hotel.

While this wasn’t perhaps the most fun I’ve had during a marathon, I am so glad I did this race and experienced racing in the rain.  Never before have I had to push through like I did on this day.  It was a great exercise in mental toughness and perseverance.  So many times during the race I said to myself-head up, wings out.  Every time I saw a bird in the sky I borrowed Oiselle’s slogan that I’ve grown to use as my own.  I reminded myself to just keep flying over and over during this race.  I have a history of getting caught day dreaming with my head up, looking up at the sky and watching the birds, so this is really fitting for me.

I now see myself not dismissing a run outside because it is raining.  I know I can do difficult things and push beyond some of the mental obstacles that I wouldn’t have before.  I feel like my grit IQ increased a few points because of this experience.  The only way to do that for me is to put myself in those challenging places and experiences and struggle through.

The next day I went for a slow stroll on the Monon Trail before making the long trek home. I just love the art and inspiration all around Indianapolis.

I’m now in the market for a new running rain jacket.  I think I earned it.  Please share some of your own recommendations if you have any.

It turns out running in the rain isn’t so bad after all.

Sarah

Next up:  South Dakota-Brookings Marathon in May

 

{Post-Partum Fitness Plans for Baby #2}

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Today being my due date with baby number two has me thinking about returning to regular running and losing those extra pounds.  Of course baby snuggles and soaking up the moments is most important, but this post isn’t about that.

Last time around losing the weight was important to me for several reasons.  Those reasons remain the same this time around.  While I do believe there are far more important things in life than worrying about weight and working out post-baby, the reality is sometimes these small things are the big things.

For obvious reasons, I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe.  I like having options to wear and it feels good to put on those skinny jeans again and have them actually fit.   This is only part of the reason though.  If I’m being honest, I’m just much happier and more confident when I like the way I look.  Feeling like yourself gives you a confidence and positivity to your life and attitude that is hard to get from another source.

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Turkey Trot with my little guy at 7 months old.

Beyond fitting into my old clothes, returning to working out is essential to my well-being and mental health.  I become very anxious and irrational if I go very long without moving my body.  For the sake of my family and those around me, everyone involved wants me to exercise as soon as possible.  Being outdoors and running through all four seasons does something for my soul and peace of mind that I’ve never found anywhere else.  The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I get from my running is unique and necessary for me to feel like a good version of myself.

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Finally, since becoming a mom I struggle to find or make time for myself.  As a mom someone always needs you.  Something always needs to be done.  Mom guilt is overwhelming.  I have extreme mom guilt if I ever leave my son even if it is to get groceries or run an errand that is benefitting him or our family.  I need to make time for myself a priority here or there for my own sanity and to be sure I’m not dividing my attention when I’m with him (and soon baby girl, too).  Exercise gives me that break and time to myself.

As for when my next big race is exactly, I’ve decided to leave that a bit unknown or undecided. However unlike me as this sounds, I’ve got some ideas about when and where I might like to cross off my next state, but I learned the hard way last time around that if there is one guarantee post-baby it is that your best intentions and plans can go out the window in a hurry.

Balancing motherhood with work responsibilities and training was so, so much more complex and challenging than I could have anticipated.  Rather than shell out hundreds of dollars in advance to up the ante so-to-speak in helping me remain committed to my goal, I’ve decided to save some cash up front and be real.  This might mean paying a higher registration price to wait a bit longer to register for a race to be sure I can actually commit to the race and travel.  Despite not committing financially to any races as of yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t have post-baby workout /fitness plans.  I do!   If that sort of thing interests you, keep reading.  If not, maybe skip this post.

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Running with baby #1!

During my last pregnancy I had no real post-baby workout plans established.  I had no idea how weak my abs and pelvic muscles would be.  Seriously no idea.  I had done no kegels or pelvic work during my pregnancy, but I thought I had maintained a moderately active lifestyle running a few days a week until 27 weeks and then walking and hiking up to my due date.  When I look back at my workouts though, I really didn’t maintain my fitness like I had planned or hoped to.  Life got busy, and I made some excuses, too.

Post-partum after baby #1 I felt amazing.  I couldn’t believe that I had just had a baby and felt so good.  I had felt worse after some of the marathons I’d ran.  Walking was a breeze.   The first couple of runs felt great.  Once the initial excitement of I’m-running-and-I-haven’t-done-this-in-months wore off though, I realized how weak I was and what a work in progress I was.  My determination was there, but my abs just were not.  I remember sitting in my living room, laying flat on my back (that felt weird), and trying to do something as simple as lift my feet and legs off the floor a few inches.  I could not do this.  No matter how hard I tried, it was just not possible.

My actual running felt great aside from this lower ab and pelvic issue/pain I had after most runs.  I was able to return to running pretty quick, but I was constantly worried about doing more damage than good.  You almost can’t stop a runner though.

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I spent a lot of time reading and researching about how to correct mild abductus rectis and regain ab and pelvic floor strength.  I was so frustrated and felt confused as to why no one told me about this.  Why are stabilizing and strengthening exercises not taught to post-partum moms right away?  Why are we not told to avoid certain ab exercises like crunches that can make it worse?  I spent so much time pre-labor and delivery worrying and researching how to cope with labor pains and the end status of my lady parts I hadn’t even known or thought to consider this.  What’s even more is I can’t imagine that many women actually walk away from delivery with strong abs and pelvic muscles.  All women could benefit from this being a part of post-natal care.

Some of the resources I used the last time are linked below.  Of course, I’m not a doctor so listen to your own body and talk to yours before trying any of these!  I will definitely be using these again this time around.  I also already asked my midwife about post-partum PT.  She said she will make the referral and that they refer people all of the time.  After having two children 18 months apart I know that my pelvic floor will be able to use some extra attention, and I want to make sure I’m prepared.

Six Exercises to Rebuild Your Core After Pregnancy

Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise App

You Don’t Know Squat

5 Alternatives to Kegel Exercises

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I also plan to do as much walking as I can immediately post-baby, but I know this will be really hard this time around since I live in Wisconsin and baby is due in October. I doubt we will be walking 100 miles together by the time she is five weeks old like I did with her big brother, but I guess I can hope for a warm, late fall.  I do have a treadmill that I didn’t have with big brother, so hopefully she can sleep next to me while I get some walk time in and enjoy some intelligent TV or Hallmark Christmas movies.  I’m such a sucker for these feel good movies.  Add in post-baby hormones and I will probably be a mess.

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After having my son, 21 Day Fix really helped me make healthy food choices and get in a great workout in 3o minutes last time around.  I plan to use this again after baby #2.  Going to yoga and barre classes once a week also helped me get out of the house and get stronger, too.  I’d love to include this in my post-partum return plan, but the reality is with my husband working full time (since it won’t be summer like last time) this may be difficult to impossible.

I also hope this time of year (late fall/winter) gives me a chance to put less pressure on myself to run long runs right away and really take the time to do the pelvic floor work that needs to be done.  I’d like to complete more strength training too, so I can build a strong foundation to really return to running in the spring with longer runs.  The pressure we put on ourselves though is hard to stop.

 After having my son, I also spent a lot of (unnecessary) time obsessing about how I would lose the weight.  Not so much during the first three months.  I was totally devoted to my little man and caught up in those new mom emotions and challenges.  After three months though I had expected breastfeeding and the running and walking I was doing to have taken care of those extra pounds.  I lost 22 pounds that first month and thought I was going to have no problem losing the rest.

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The reality was I had a long way to go.  The worst part was I was eating right (dairy-free for baby meant a pretty clean diet) and exercising along with breastfeeding, and I just was not seeing the results I’d expected.  These three things were I’m sure helpful in maintaining a steady weight loss, but the one thing that seemed to be required for my body to lose the weight was the one thing I didn’t have patience for-TIME!

Knowing all of these things from before will, I hope, better prepare me for the after the second time around and make other frustrated mommies realize they are not alone.  I wouldn’t say the after was a hard transition the first time, but I was caught off guard by the extent of my weakness and the time it took to lose the weight. Often we hear that breastfeeding is the key.  The reality is that it may not be the only thing necessary.

Every person is unique.  Everyone’s journey their own.  No comparison needed; just support and knowing that for most people a combination of healthy eating, exercise and time is what is needed to lose baby weight.  No luck.  No fancy gimmicks.  No easy tricks. Sorry!  Just hard work, commitment, determination and, again, TIME!

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Six months post-baby I was back at my pre-baby weight.  Nine months after I was down an extra couple of pounds and would very soon be pregnant again.

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After running a half marathon at 16 weeks.

This pregnancy I worked out a lot more as I really wanted a more fit pregnancy than the first time around.  I also ate better in part to limit the pounds I gained, but also largely due to my gestational diabetes diagnosis.  I’m very curious how running more and until 35 weeks will play into my overall fitness and return to running.  I know running more and longer into this pregnancy has played a big part in me gaining about ten pounds less this time around.  At my recent 39 week appointment I had gained 26 pounds.  I’m sure I have a bit to gain yet, but don’t think it’s possible to gain 11 pounds before she gets here.  Let’s hope not!


It should be added that this plan is all pending a delivery similar to the last one. I am very aware that if I have a more difficult delivery or a c-section for some reason that my plans will have to be adjusted.  A combination of eating healthy, exercising and taking care of myself will make my return to the fitness I love possible and the baby weight come off with time.  I hated hearing this last time around, but it really seemed to be true for me.

My biggest tip to new mama’s-to-be when it comes to returning to working out is to have a plan that includes a healthy diet and exercise you enjoy, but know that that plan might have to be adjusted.  So much of having a baby is out of your control. Be flexible with yourself.  Workout when you can and try not to stress when you can’t.  Think about what you put in your mouth.  Above all, enjoy those new little baby moments.  They grow sooo fast!

Now if I just follow my own advice.

What tips do you have for new moms?

Sarah

{No 26.2 miles or bourbon for me today}

  
Today I was going to run the Kentucky Derby Marathon.  I signed up in February after starting a training plan and successfully running three long runs on weekends in a row.  I finished 13 miles mid-February and felt amazing.  I registered and booked my flight and hotel.  I pinterest planned my weekend…hot air balloons Friday night, race Saturday, Opening Night at the Kentucky Derby and mint juleps Saturday night.  Maybe check out Louisville Slugger or a bourbon sampling.  

  
Later in February I started not feeling great.  I was so tired all the time.  I was feeling nauseous off and on throughout the day.  I was gagging on green vegetables.  Alcohol hadn’t sounded good in a while.  In early March my milk supply started dropping.  What was going on?  

I said I swear I felt pregnant several times, but that couldn’t be.  I knew there was a chance I could be since we were on the not trying, but not not trying plan.  EXCEPT I had taken two pregnancy tests the month before and both were negative and I had my period.  It wasn’t until this happened that I registered for 26.2.

Except…I was pregnant.  The tests taken slightly early for my long cycle.  The period actually a hemorrhage that showed up in an ultrasound in mid-March after two positive tests the week before.  Everything is ok now!

I could have never said a word about my plan to run 26.2 today, but I was following my dream and still getting after my goals. Even though I have not been frequent in blogging or instagraming as of late, I’m still working hard on my dream to run a marathon in every state.  I am just once again experiencing a delay.  

  
I’m not upset about the delay at all.  How can you be when it means another bundle of joy.  I’m sure this will temporarily make my goal and dream a little more put off and for sure even more of a challenge, but babies are only little for a while.  Having one has taught me that the first year goes by so fast.  There will be challenges, but it is only for a blink of an eye in a lifetime that these unique challenges exist.  

 

My favorite running shirt already!

 
I’m working hard to balance being a full time working, pregnant mom of a one-year-old who is also a baseball coaches wife.  Fitting in runs and workouts now is near impossible with the husband gone so much.   Caring for my son, home and everything else some days feels like a workout by itself.  

  
I’m still planning on some spring and summer races depending on how things are going. I already feel so much better running this time around.  So much less pressure and discomfort.  Time will tell.  I’m sure I will again be documenting the journey to a family of four.  Sometimes I still can’t believe it!

Currently I’m recovering from a nasty cold and my first experience with pink eye.  Wash those hands people!  

Stay tuned!!

Sarah

{IMM Training-Week #7}

Monday-7.25 miles (counted as last weeks miles)

Week #7 Workouts-

Tuesday-4.75 mile walk with friend, 30 minute upper fix

Wednesday-3 mile run/walk (ran 2 miles, then P decided he would not remain in his car seat in the jogger.  Carried P and pushed stroller home), 30 minute lower fix

Thursday-2.5 mile run, 30 minute Pilates Fix

Friday-off

Saturday-5.5 mile run, 4.5 mile walk with daddy and P.

He just loves to look around.  If he can see, he is happy.  I see I missed some toe jams.  🙂

Sunday-7.3 mile run, 30 minute Yoga Fix (Lots of thoughts and emotions on the run today.  It gets lengthy below.) 

It was a perfect day for a run…except I really wasn’t feeling like going.  P got up 5 times during the night.  I was exhausted.  I had things to do around the house and back to school is near.  Not one to make a ton of excuses or back out on a goal, I set out for my Sunday long run (12 miles) that was scheduled on my training plan.

Along the way I felt the familiar tweak of a muscle that gets painfully sore from time to time since training for my first marathon nearly eight years ago.  Earlier this week I wasn’t sure I’d make it more than a mile into one of my runs.  Some stretching and easy running and it nearly went away.

I’m loving running and working out, but am feeling the challenges of being on someone else’s schedule and balancing all the new mommy tasks. I can’t just run when I feel like it or move a run the way I could in the past if something comes up.  I’m feeling the exhaustion of a baby who has been getting up 3-5 times a night for the past three weeks after getting used to only one feeding a night for the previous five weeks.  To make matters more difficult, when P stopped getting up only once per night, he has also stopped taking a bottle so well.  Day time bottles from dad are usually ok, night-time bottles he refuses.  Last night I got frustrated with P for being awake AGAIN and not letting his dad give him a bottle.  In my head I kept thinking I had a long run planned for the morning and he was making it so hard to get up and run.

And then I thought, who gets mad at their baby because they have a long run the next day?  I immediately felt guilty for thinking it, but the fact that I had remained.

According to the Wonder Weeks app he has been “storming” all month (love this app by the way) and will be for another 11 days.  I counted. He is definitely going through some major development as almost everyday he wakes up doing something new.  One morning he found his feet.  Another day he began sticking out his tongue.  He loves doing pull ups with his hanging toys.  He adores knocking toys off his exersaucer that before he just stared at.   He hates riding in his car seat if he can’t see the world around him.

As I got a few more miles in the familiar tired/weak feeling returned.  It seems to show up near mile five in a run in the morning.  I just can’t figure out my fueling with breastfeeding.  I headed out on a longer route so I couldn’t cheat any miles.  As I turned down a country road that would take me past one of my favorite trees, I started to ask myself why I was out there.  If I’m not loving what I’m doing, then why the push?  As my favorite tree came within sight, I stopped to stretch and think about why I was so eager to get back to marathoning.  When I was pregnant I promised myself not to put pressure on myself to return to running or run to a point that I was overwhelmed and feeling unbalanced after baby.  I have not been holding true to this. I’ve been putting lots of pressure on myself.

As I neared my favorite tree I thought about the logistical problems that recently arose with running this marathon in Indiana.  I registered before our school calendar was out.  We have inservice on Friday, so we are not allowed to take a personal day.  I would have to take an unpaid day in order to get to the Saturday race.  I’m ok with taking an unpaid day if it means a weekend of family fun.  P is, however, not riding or sitting in his infant seat well as of the last two weeks.  A two-hour ride took forever last weekend.  There is no way he can make the 7 hour drive there AND back in two days.  After putting him through a road trip to Boston, we don’t feel it is in his best interest to even attempt this drive, so I will have to run this marathon alone.

This presents another problem.  I fall asleep really easy when I drive and I’m tired.  There is no way I can drive myself 6-7 hours Friday, run a marathon Saturday and then drive the same distance back.  I know myself.  I will fall asleep.  My goal of running 50 marathons in 50 states was always about exploring a state while visiting for a marathon, which I guess wouldn’t happen either.  More importantly, I don’t want to be without my boys for that long.

My favorite tree…one of them.

I hate when people back out of commitments.  I never make goals and not follow through with them.  I’ve never signed up for a marathon and not ran it.  I was feeling so guilty at even entertaining the idea of not running this race.  I waffled back and forth for another mile beating myself up with my own thoughts.

As I made the turn towards town and home, I thought about how lately my heart, mind and body have not been so into this training.  The song changed on my iPhone to the Zac Brown Band-Loving You Easy.  I instantly smiled a big, dorky mom smile. I dance with Pierce to this song in the kitchen while I sing the words to him often and he smiles this biggest, heart melting smile each time I sing the chorus to him.  Running along I was flooded with emotion and tears glistened in my eyes.  I missed my baby.  I could feel his soft skin.  His little hand when it curls around my fingers when he nurses.  The delicious smell of his sweet baby smell.  His gummy grin.  The way his whole body smiles when I walk over to him, limbs waving with excitement.  All of this talk in my head on this run was not important.

The decision I’m waffling on is not worth the memories I might miss or the stress I’m putting on myself.  I want to run what I feel like on that particular day based on how many times I was up the night before, how Pierce’s day is going, or around other family time.  I just finished the 21 Day Fix today, and I really enjoyed doing the workouts, but combined with my training it is a lot.  I want to make time for parts of both, not do both.  A run here, a 30 minute fix there.  Balance.  I’m also loving my weekly yoga class that I missed twice since picking up training.

I always believe in honesty and hate how social media often makes life look so perfect and cookie cutter.  Life is messy.  My cookies never roll out perfect each time.  This is just another example of that.  So, I’m 95% I won’t be on the starting line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon like I planned and thought I wanted to be.  Instead I will aim for the Houston Marathon in January as my first marathon after baby.  I have my sights on a fall half marathon or two since this distance is much more manageable for me right now.

I don’t regret setting this lofty marathon goal only to change my mind.  It’s not a failure.  For the $50 I paid back in December I got my butt moving after having a baby.  I walked a lot so I’d be able to start easy running sooner so I could then start training for this race.  I credit this goal with getting me back out on the pavement and to yoga sooner than I would have without a goal. This helped me remember to give myself some time each day and got me outside with baby early on.

My marathon goal also helped me gain some much needed perspective.  I want to do it all.  I want to be a good mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, runner, teacher, …and on and on.  But, we can’t be perfect at all of them all the time.  Focusing on what is important led me to realize that my goal to arrive at the starting line of my next marathon with balance in my life just isn’t possible right now as a new mommy.

Balance right now means not training for a marathon that will happen in just over two months.  Balance right now means not following an exact training plan and giving myself some flexibility with accountability. Balance right now means a run one day, yoga another, and coffee and serenading my sweet baby everyday.  Loving him is easy.  Making this decision wasn’t at first, but in the end I know I will enjoy this time even more without the pressure I’m putting on myself.  I will be a better mom to P.  A nicer wife.  And that’s what really matters…along with singing and dancing in your kitchen, which is exactly what we did as soon as I got home from my run.   

Cue the chorus!

Look to see a post each week as I continue running, 21 day fixing and working on balance with this whole new mom thing.

Sarah

And, in case you wondered…

     Weekly Miles Ran-17.3 miles not counting     Monday’s 7 miles

21 Day Fix Recipe(s) I Loved This Week aka Yummy, Healthy Eats!

This was so good.  I was skeptical since the flat-out is so thin, but it was delicious.  Minus the vegan cheese-Think Kraft     singles, but so, so much worse.

Flat-Out Pizza 

{Better Late Than Never-2014 Review}

Some say better late than never. I suppose this is true for looking back on last year. I almost didn’t write a review as I felt like I had little running wise to share. Then I remembered I ran my butt off the first half of the year running a half marathon, three marathons and a 50k in a two and a half month time period. After finishing the year running 2 5k’s, 2 10k’s, 1 half marathon, 3 marathons and my first ultra marathon (50k), I’d say I ran plenty. Here’s a look back at a few running highlights from 2014 in top ten style!

#10-Running another Color Run
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Always fun and a great way to take the seriousness out of your training and racing.

#9-Running solid miles all winter

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Last winter was brutal for training in Wisconsin. We had school cancelled in my district four days because of the cold (windchills of -30 to -50 below). I still managed to run 100 miles during each of the coldest months of the year as I trained for my busy spring and summer racing schedule.

#8-Running a 10k at 15 weeks pregnant
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Running pregnant has been a whole new world of unexpectedness. I’m embracing it as best I can, and I am super proud of this hilly 10k I ran at 15 weeks while still experiencing all day sickness, pressure on the bladder and tiredness.

#7-The Big Ten 10k
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This was such a fun weekend and race for the husband and I to combine two of our loves-running and Wisco sports.

#6-Signing up and completing my first obstacle course 5k
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Sometimes I’m scared to try new things, but this is one thing I’m so glad I followed through on. It was a blast and I can’t wait to run another.

#5-Running the Med City Half Marathon with friends
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It’s not often I get to run with a group of people. Especially those who made this race so much fun. I hope someday they would like to run another half together or perhaps a Ragnar Relay.

#4-Cross Training and Overall Cardio
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While I didn’t come close to meeting my running mileage goal for the year, I’m going to chalk that up to getting pregnant. Despite missing out on some miles on foot, I still managed to cardio my way to almost 1000 miles. I biked more this year than any other year. I hiked well over a hundred miles this year. I went to yoga more times than any other year before. I’m proud of my cross training efforts and nearly reaching 1000 cardio miles.

#3-Completing two more states in my journey to run a marathon in all 50 states.
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Going West on a road trip was the perfect opportunity to complete two more states. Add to it that the races were nine days apart and you have an extra challenge. Even more crazy was I ran my first ultra marathon just a month before the first of my go west marathons.

#2-Completing my first ultra marathon (50k)
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This was one of the scariest things I’ve done and never before have I doubted myself more. In the end it made the finish that much more rewarding. Having run a marathon and a half marathon the month before only made me stronger. Not sure when the next ultra will be, but I’m guessing it will happen.

#1-Running with my husband as he completed his first marathon.
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As it would turn out, my favorite running memory of 2014 has little to do with my own races. Training and running 26.2 miles with the husband in his quest to complete his first marathon was more rewarding than I could have thought possible. I was so proud of him and excited for his accomplishment that it trumped any I could achieve. I still look back on this race with pride as he really didn’t ever want to run a marathon except to do it for me. Now he says he done forever, but the pride of finishing your first lasts FOREVER!

What 2015 holds exactly is a bit of a mystery. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, miles and missed runs, and new firsts abound. 2014 was a great running year, but I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.

Happy 2015 everyone!

Sarah

{State #16-Montana} Missoula Marathon

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After signing up for a marathon in state #15 (Portland, Oregon), I immediately signed up for state #16, Montana, since I had started planning our Go West Road Trip around the races I would be running. I had never run two marathons only nine days apart, but had run a half marathon and a marathon the following day. I also had hopes of completing a 50k (Chester Woods 50k) in the spring, so I felt I would be prepared for two marathons close together. I knew that it would probably be warm making the miles more challenging, but when you have a goal and a limited budget compromises have to be made.

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For the first time in a very long time we arrived to the city I would be racing not late the night before, not even the morning before, but an entire two nights before. It felt great to not be stressing about race morning with little sleep, picking up my packet the morning of the race and not knowing where to go until it was time to go. That relaxed feeling set the tone for our weekend.

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Carb loading Friday night before the Sunday race.

Saturday was packet pick up and the outdoor expo took place in downtown Missoula. Runners were out in full force and I was not feeling the crowds, so we quickly got my packet and headed somewhere less crowded for lunch. I was not feeling well the day before and was really nervous about running another marathon the next day. Looking at the weather forecast only added to my fears. I knew it would be a tough race regardless, but with highs of 97 forecasted for the following day I was terrified for the painful sweatfest to come.

Course Map

Course Map

My goal was to complete the race and not walk. I would have loved to run under four hours, but wasn’t sure if that would have been possible without the heat. I had it in my head that under four and a half hours would be great with the heat. Remember, I am not a hot weather runner. Nothing sends my run in a downward spiral faster than heat.

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The night before the race we ate a yummy dinner at a local restaurant, I laid out my gear, and I actually got to bed a bit earlier than the typical for me. Not before getting sucked into a movie on TV though. Damn you Sandra Bullock and your scary space travel in Gravity. George Clooney might have had something to do with it, too. And, who is really ready for bed at 9:00 anyway?

The 4:15 alarm woke me up and I did not want to get up, but I told myself how lucky I was to get to be accomplishing my goal. Since I knew I was in for some pain and discomfort that morning, I decided to approach the race with a borrowed mantra from Brooks-Run Happy! I couldn’t change the weather or how my legs felts, but I could change my attitude. I made it a goal to focus on running happy whenever I felt tired, my legs got sore, I got hot or frustrated, or I wanted to quit. I was going to enjoy running in Montana. Take in the sights, sounds and feel joyful to be completing state #16 in my goal to race all 50 states.

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The husband took me to the shuttle that all marathoners were required to take to the start of the marathon. Everything was so organized. We arrived at the start, and I got in line for the port-o-potties where I waited in line for the shortest time perhaps ever. There was lively music with reminders of the time every five minutes. After the national anthem we headed to our starting spots. I lined up with the four-hour marathon pace group and a few minutes later we were off. As we crossed the starting line fireworks were shot off for at least five minutes while runners began their 26.2 mile journey. I was jazzed up!

As mile one and two went by my calves let me know they were not excited. They were so tight and I got panicked thoughts that I might need all seven hours the course was open in order to complete the race. I was super worried and I had to pee. I held it hoping it would go away. That does usually work, however at mile three I still had to go, and at mile four and at mile five. I decided I did need to make the stop at the mile five port-o-potty. I wasn’t going to run the rest of the race with a full bladder.

mile 1-8:44

mile 2-9:02

mile 3-8:59

mile 4-8:59

mile 5-10:05

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During the next miles I watched as more and more people passed me and my pace slowed. I had to remind myself not to compare myself to others. I was running my own race for myself in an effort to achieve my own goal. It didn’t matter what I ran as long as I ran for myself. Run happy!

mile 6-8:55

mile 7-9:16

mile 8-9:03

This race the headphones and music were going much earlier than state #15.  Luke Bryan, Avicii, Drake and the Great Gatsby soundtrack really kept me going.

mile 9-9:51

mile 10-9:02

mile 11-8:53

Around mile 14 runners started climbing a hill that would go on for over a mile. This was hard for me and I had to draw on some mental energy.  It was the only time I walked the entire race.  The downhills were awesome though and this area was mostly shaded.

mile 12-9:22

mile 13-8:59

mile 14-10:46

mile 15-8:53

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Around mile 16 we began entering town. There were friendly people outside their homes and tons of them, I mean tons, had so generously set up sprinklers and hoses for runners going by their houses. This was AMAZING! During these last miles the temperatures had really started to climb, yet I hardly had a chance to overheat too much with cold water to run through every quarter to a half mile for the remainder of the course. Awesome fans!

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mile 16-9:09

mile 17-8:54

mile 18-9:06

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As I neared mile 19 I was feeling pretty good. I knew that I was going to do this and actually was feeling better than the early miles now that my legs had warmed up and the one long uphill was over. I was running really strong in the heat on tired legs. Run happy!

mile 19-9:45

mile 20-9:17

mile 21-9:18

mile 22-9:39

Around mile 23 I decided I was feeling good enough to pick up the pace for a bit. It ended up being the last four miles. I was warmed up and had gotten used to the feeling of running on tired legs which made it easier. Oddly enough I felt adjusted to the heat.

mile 23-8:59

mile 24-8:57

As I closed in on the final miles and the home stretch I gave it all I had. I thought I had a chance at running under four, but knew I had to give it my all with my bathroom break at mile five.

mile 25-8:44

mile 26-8:47

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I saw the husband cheering and snapping photos in the final .2 and felt a surge of happiness and pride. I could have never done this without his support. I also had visions of water dancing in my head.

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I also have to admit I teared up happy tears as I closed in on that finish line.  I was so proud of how I overcame the heat, repeated and followed my mantra (well, Brooks, but that is a technicality) and finished state number 16 nine days after running state number 15.  I actually felt better during the last six miles of this race than I did on my fourth of July marathon. I was strong through all the discomfort.  With temperatures in the eighties when I finished, I was so pumped with my performance.  I would have loved to have shaved that minute and 25 seconds off to be under four hours, but I ran much better than I had anticipated.

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After finishing my race the husband commented he couldn’t believe how well I ran with tired legs and the heat. He might have heard me whine a bit about heat before. Plus based on my midway pace he expected me to come in fifteen to twenty minutes later. He was so proud and made me feel even prouder.

My husband deserves a lot of credit for the support he gives me on my journey in racing all 50 states. Without him I would never be able to accomplish this goal. He does so with a smile and a joking demeanor which I love him for. The race director deserves a lot of credit, too. The course was great and I’m so appreciative for the shaded parts during the second half of the marathon-well planned! Everything from start to finish was so organized. One of the top races I’ve run. On top of that the shirts were great, the medals fab and personalized race bibs topped it off.

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Missoula Marathon
Time: 4:01:26 (Damn, that bathroom break) 🙂
Pace: 9:13
Overall: 377/1168
Gender: 130/562
Age Group: 32/86