{Hard Days}

With a heavy heart and a discouraged soul, I logged a few miles less than my training plan called for this morning. I walked away from a daughter saying, “I don’t want Mommy to run in the basement” despite not being more than two meters from her at any point during the 14 hours the day before. While I pushed “go” on the treadmill a Gigantosaurus (who is really enormous 🦖) roared his displeasure with me taking a few miles to myself.

Truthfully it’s been a hard week. Perhaps the most frustrating part of my life currently is that despite my Type A tendencies and all my planning and organizing it’s accepting that I actually have little control of my own life. It’s something I fight and tell myself isn’t true, but weeks like this remind me that I am under the control of two tiny people.

Their early wake ups and the winter weather causing my husband to leave even earlier than usual in the morning are making working out in the A.M. impossible. I live a life where if it doesn’t happen in the tiny window of planned time, then it won’t happen because there is no later or move it to here or adjusting.

When the husband also surprised me on my midweek long run night with an unplanned late meeting and daycare calls work to pick up a sick child early, along with all the early, early wake ups (why do they have to wake up between 5:00 and 5:15???) and leave times, I’m not so gently reminded I have no control over these things.

I said I wouldn’t let these things weigh on me or get me down, but I did and I have been. It’s hard to want something, but literally feel like you can’t make it happen. Some days are so challenging, but I know I’m a better mom for making a bit of time for me. I know I have to let things go in this season of life, but some days are just hard. The important thing is I keep moving forward.

Unlike some, getting to the starting line of any marathon for me is filled with missed runs and training plans that didn’t go as planned. I do the best I can with the supports and resources I have. As I reflect and stretch myself to find some learning from this hard week, I acknowledge that perhaps the beauty in the hard days is appreciating the good days more.

The marathon journey isn’t in the 26.2 miles ran on race day. It’s the hours of training, obstacles and focus that come from committing to training and accomplishing that training as best as we can. My training is never as planned, perfect or easy. I’d hate for anyone to think it’s all easy for me. It’s not. Ever.

But it’s worth it.

So I keep going. I shake off a hard week. It doesn’t have to be perfect or as planned. I move forward knowing this because it IS worth it. With fresh eyes I see my kids as the amazing little people they are. Sometimes they just need their mom, and that won’t always be the way it is.

Sarah

{The Ugly Sweater 5k-2016}

   

Last Saturday the husband and I ran one of my favorite races to run.  It has become a holiday tradition for us most years and happened to be my first post-baby race at six weeks postpartum.  Since I have a significant diastasis recti and had been doing mostly run/walking intervals, I knew I wouldn’t be racing this race.  My goal was to run the entire thing at whatever pace needed to stay comfortable and I did just that.

  
Fresh falling snow was beautiful (and slippery) so maintaining a comfortable pace wasn’t too hard because slow going was needed.  It was a date 5k and the first time the husband and I had been kid free since early August. We finally got to have an adult conversation without a toddler or baby interrupting us or demanding our attention.  Two hours away feels like a long time when it’s been 4.5 months since it last really happened.  

  
This report had no mile splits or specific details as I just ran comfortable without a watch and enjoyed my husbands company.  Some of my favorite highlights of this race include the following:

-photos with santa and the Grinch before the race

-the course!  The race starts at Myrick Park and runs on the marsh trails (love this route) to Riverside park

  
-Christmas lights lit the entire route of the 5k

-a finish in Riverside Park in a light tunnel is pretty cool along with the millions of other lights

  
-hot chocolate in a heated tent after

-a drink chip for a free Pearl Street Brewery beer available at several local establishments included in race swag bag

-free hat instead of a shirt

  
My least favorite part: to save time the husband and I parked a vehicle at the start and the finish instead of using the shuttle that took racers back to the start. This was a great plan except…I brought the key to the other car on the run.  Post-run in the freezing cold we had a vehicle with our coats in it, but the key to the car at the start of the race. So wait outside in the cold for the shuttle we did instead of grabbing a post-race date drink.  We laugh about it now! 

  
This is a wonderful, festive and organized race if you live in the La Crosse area.  Plus it gives me a place to sport my Christmas Procompression socks I love so much!  I highly recommend both.

Sarah

{That Childlike Joy}

For the first time since having P I’m not talking about anything to do with him when I say childlike joy.  Wednesday was a trying evening.  All the demands and the to-do list got to me.  I found myself saying, “I just can’t do this.”  I was tired.  It was past my bedtime.  I was, you know, not at my best.

The following morning I was blessed with a two hour delay.  An extra two magnificent hours to get some stuff done.  I took part of that time to go for a run.  Finding time for myself is near impossible, so when I’m given an opportunity to run I take it bad weather or not.


The snow was fresh.  A blank canvas just waiting for my footprints.  I love winter running days like this.  Fresh snow on trees.  Covered sidewalks means probably not slippery.  Snow bank jumping.  Being the first person to make their footprints in a path.  A hard, but rewarding workout is almost guaranteed.


During my last half mile a favorite song that I wouldn’t normally run to came on, big fat snowflakes started falling and I felt the unfamiliar-these-days running high.  When I turned on my street I felt an intense desire to make snow angels. 

I immediately headed to the backyard and made a snow angel.  I took in the peaceful silence that only winter brings.  If you’ve spent time outside on a snowy day without wind you know what I mean. As I snow angeled away, I closed my eyes and felt the snowflakes hit my face.  Big.  Fat.  Snowflakes.  I felt like a child again.  My heart was bursting with childlike joy that makes keeping a smile off your face impossible.  My stresses melted away.  The to do list gone from my mind.


And people wonder why runners run-especially in the winter.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

I hope you find some childlike joy this weekend.

Sarah

{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

{Turkey Trot errr…NOT}

Today I got up ate a pre-run breakfast, dressed in the warm layers I’d laid out the night before for my Turkey Trot race, packed hydration, made a new mini-playlist, and headed to the race.  I was excited to wear my new Reebok Cold Weather Compression tights that I got a super good deal on at the new Dick’s Sporting Goods that just opened near me.  Things were going smoothly.  Except halfway through my 45 minute drive to packet pickup and the race I heard the local radio station talking about turkey trotters running past their window and how cold they looked.  Say WHAT??!!

I promptly asked Siri what time the Turkey Trot started only to find that it started at 8:00 a.m. not 9:00 a.m. like this past weekends trot.  I had it in my pregnant brain that both trots started at 9:00.  After triple checking my error, I turned the car around full of disappointment.  I might have even cried a few tears.  I know… no use crying over my first missed race by mistake except this was more than just a race for me.  It was likely my last race before a long winter of mostly indoor runs and not racing.  It may have been my last race pre-baby.

While I’m super excited to have this little one here, they are not going to be here for a while.  And that is a long while to not race.  I miss having a race on the calendar to look forward to.  I miss anticipating the miles of the race ahead and the sights of the course.  I miss having a training plan to follow.  I miss running FAST!!  Not that I would have been going fast today, but it would have been a race regardless.  In Wisconsin there are very few races between December and March and the few that take place may be too snowy and slippery for me to do so I can’t really count on those.

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So I let the tears come and went on my own turkey trot around my neighborhood.  It was a slow trot as it was snowy on the roads.  I’ll admit I worry about people’s judgements about pregnant woman running outside in the winter, but I also know I’ve run in the winter outside for the past 14 years and I know a thing or two about winter running.  I also would never run outside if I didn’t feel it was safe or that I’d be risking anything.  A few miles later and I felt so much happier, calmer and ready to be thankful for everything I have and for this little one on the way. So grateful to be having a healthy pregancy and baby thus far.

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Tomorrow we are halfway to their arrival. I know that halfway will feel long in terms of running and racing, but it seems so exciting and terrifying that in 20 weeks I will have a child. Crazy! I know all the runs inside and the fewer miles will be so worth the blessing on the way. Running always brings me perspective and calms the thoughts in my head.

Hopefully your Turkey Trots went as you planned and you were given the chance to find some perspective and gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah

{Motivation Monday-More Bang For Your Buck}

Tight on time this week, but want to get in a quality workout? Looking to burn a set number of calories in less time? Running short on time for that last mile on your training plan. Whenever I run on the treadmill I always set the incline to at least 1% to better simulate the uneven ground I’d be running on if I were completing the same distance outdoors. I never thought about the workout also burning more calories until I came across this chart. By increasing the incline on the treadmill you challenge your body to work harder and burn more calories.

Check out the chart below to see how you can up the challenge and calorie burn on our next indoor run. Adding in a variety of inclines throughout the workout will make your muscles work in new ways and better simulate outdoor running. Changing up the incline on your run will also help cut down on boredom and the feeling of wanting to throw your iPhone at the wall on yet another treadmill run this winter.

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Happy Monday!

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 8}

Another week of training is over.
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Tuesday-4 miles (Ryan), I rested the foot

Wednesday-7 miles, Ryan lifted

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The weather was glorious. I seriously felt some warmth radiating off the ground and smelled that warm smell that comes with spring. I soaked up as much of this bliss as I could in preparation for the impending rain, sleet, and snow that was coming Thursday and Friday.

Thursday-4 miles at the gym
As hinted at above, the weather conditions were anything but stellar. When the sleet is instantly freezing into ice when it hits the ground it is time to go inside. I’m so glad we did. We had an easy four on the treadmill, and I was able to up the pace a bit since we were running on a flat and even surface. I was surprised how easy the pace felt as I started to increase the speed a mile into my run. To ease boredom and preserve mental energy for future winter runs outside this weekend, I ran my first mile at warmup speed, then at 1 mile I increased the speed every tenth of a mile by .1 miles per hour. At two miles I ran at 8 mph for a mile, then lowered the pace to 7.5 mph, and started my decent downward, lowering the speed .1 mph every tenth of a mile until I got to 7 mph. We finished our four miles in 33 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this felt. Great to know those outdoor winter miles are paying off.

The best part of going to the gym was seeing a friend who inspired me to run my first marathon. She had a baby six weeks ago and worked out her entire pregnancy. The night before she delivered her beautiful baby girl she was at the gym working out on the elliptical bump and all.  This Thursday she was working out on the elliptical again, this time baby girl was strapped to her in a front carrier. She was rocking out a nice and easy workout while baby girl was instantly lulled to sleep by the soothing motion of the elliptical. Way to go fit mama! Such a wonderful and inspiring person!

Friday-7 miles (Ryan on treadmill)
Ryan had a strong run on the treadmill. His miles have increased by a fair amount, but his body is adapting to the work load well. He felt a bit stiff going into Saturday’s long run, but nothing major.

Saturday-13 miles (Ryan) and 9 miles (Sarah)
Where do I begin with this run.  We knew it was going to be cold and slippery and snowy on our long run today, but we were optimistic because the sun was shining.  Steps into our run we encountered slippery roads and we both almost fell.  As we approached the lake we were met with snow drifts and wind gusts from across the lake.  Our path is below.
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We pushed onward still determined to get this run done. We were slip sliding every few blocks, but most the time this induced laughter as we made fun of each other.  Miles 1, 2, 3 ticked by.  Soon we were hitting miles 4 and 5.  The run actually was going pretty well. We found a bike path that was bare in few rare spots or snow-covered in others so we were able to get some traction with our shoes. However, they say all good things must come to an end.
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As we headed into mile six and turned directions, the direction of this run took a dramatic shift. We ran the next four miles into head on winds. The wind had also made this part of the bike path very slippery. Some parts were all ice, which was making our hips sore. We were freezing cold. By mile eight my legs, arms, and face felt numb. I likened the experience to what the tin man must have felt without oil. My mind was telling my legs and arms to go, but they just didn’t want to.
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When we got back to the house to get a drink, I was done. I was frozen to the bone. Near tears. It just wasn’t fun. Running shouldn’t be that unbearable; it just wasn’t worth the extra few miles I was supposed to run. I knew I could run those miles if I had to, but today I didn’t. I checked the weather forecast and found out why it felt so damn cold. It might say 20, but it felt all of 6. The wind was terrible.

The wind was relentless.

The wind was relentless.


Ryan being in his first marathon training mode, headed back outside to finish four more miles. I don’t know how he did it. He came back talking in explicatives and unkind words about running. I had taken a warm shower and was sitting in a cozy blanket by the fireplace reading an issue of Trail Runner magazine. I think we all know who made the smarter choice here.

Sunday-5 miles (Sarah), Ryan lifted
Ryan had a rest day since he actually followed the training plan this week, unlike me. He felt a bit sore today, but totally earned it with the mileage he put in this week. I’ve heard almost no complaining of muscle soreness, aches, pains, etc. from him which must mean he feels pretty good. I feel great muscle wise, and my foot feels better with each passing day.

Ryan’s Tip of the Week-Don’t let weather by your excuse for missing workouts. Have a gym membership or pay a daily fee when the weather gets too cold or slippery. Having the option available helps you stay committed to your training plan no matter what the weather is like.

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Listen to your body. With first time marathon training sometimes it is hard to decide whether the aches and pains you feel are really an injury or your body just getting used to higher mileage. My rule of thumb has always been if the pain feels sharp, intense, or worsens with continued activity it is time to rest, ice, compress, elevate, and get it looked at if it lasts more than a few days without improvement. If the pain is more of an ache or muscle soreness, then I try to run through it and make sure to stretch or get it massaged by a certain training partner. I’m no doctor that’s for sure, but this is what has worked for me. Please listen to YOUR body and do what YOU feel is best.

My foot still hurts a bit today, but is feeling much better than it did all week. I sat out a couple of runs this week to give my foot some rest time. I also lucked out with dress up days at school and was able to incorporate running shoes into three days of dress up (blaze orange day, twin day, and favorite occupation-Olympic Runner.) Wearing supportive shoes gave my foot the rest it needed to heal faster. Pushing through the pain might have left me sitting out for weeks at a time. Better to miss a few runs than miss a few weeks of running. Plus, Ryan said he’d be ticked at me if I really hurt myself and couldn’t run the marathon.

Ryan’s Total Miles-35 miles

Sarah’s Total Miles-25 miles

Happy Training!