Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who Am I?

So, I told you a while back I am the new running column lady for Ohio Sports and Fitness magazine. I just finished the draft on my first article about excuses. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it. I hope the editors are too! I don't have a whole lot of time right now to do a whole lot more with it.

Although, they have already asked me for something else. A bio. That's no problem, I thought upon reading the e-mail. But, when I went to write something I had no idea what to say. I sort of fell into serious running--it wasn't really my intent. I still feel like an impostor sometimes. I wrote about the beginnings of my "career" a while back. Since then, I've run two more marathons, been pregnant twice, had one baby (so far), quit my job. Man, who am I any more? I can't even define myself as a person these days, let alone why I'm someone qualified to write a column about running.

It's funny this comes up as 2009 comes to a close. Fitting is more like it. I look back on this year and I realize I have felt so lost as I try to redefine myself as a mother. I love being a mother, but motherhood has shaken my sense of self to the core. 2009 has been one big struggle to figure out who is Salty now. Where is she going? What does she want? Sorry for the third person.

Wow. There's a lot more to say about this I suppose. But, peanut is going through a phase and hasn't really napped in days. Today I drove 50 miles around town while he slept an hour and a half. I got a chai and peaced out to the smooth sounds of NPR. It wasn't that bad, but hell if it's what I would have chosen to do if I had a choice. Poor kid. The boobs are changing with the pregnancy and he isn't happy about it. We didn't want to force wean him, but looks like my boobs had other ideas. Too bad that's how he falls asleep. We're struggling to find a new way. We'll get there. I'll get there. It will take time.

Happy new year everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas! There's a lot going on: we heard #2's perfect heartbeat; I ran 26 miles last week including a whopping 7 miler; I had a "talk" with my mom in which she admitted there is a problem; and we have an eastern timber wolf roaming around the orchard! I also have to write a complaint, work on my contracting job, outline my syllabus for my class and hang out with my family--especially my sister while she's in town. Woo! So much going on, so no time for blogging. I'll be back soon though. Once the crazy holidays are over. I need to go wrap the gifts from Santa! I get to be Santa! So exciting!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparing for Birth

I've been thinking a lot about childbirth. Big shock, considering I'm pregnant and all. Last time, my birth didn't quite go as I had hoped, although it was still wonderful even though I was in labor for almost three days, two of those unmedicated and ended up unable to walk for a week! But even though it wasn't quite what we had in mind, the fact that we studied and prepared really made it a wonderful experience and one I am more than happy to repeat even if it's as tough as it was last time (although, I'll take one of those super easy 4 hour labor, 5 minute push dealies too!) I learned so much about myself, my toughness, how strong my relationship is with mrp. It was the best almost three days of my life. It hurt like a mother and was very very frustrating at times, but nevertheless it was fun in a strange way!

Anyway, I wanted to share a few things that made the experience so good (despite being so abnormally challenging).

First, we took a 12 week Bradley Method child birth class. It was definitely a big time commitment, but it was so worth it. Both mrp and I learned everything about labor and delivery. The Bradley Method is particularly great for athletes because it treats labor and delivery as an athletic event with the dad as the coach! Mrp was a little tentative about birth before the class--we always figured he's be an above the waste dad--but after the classes he was more gung-ho and into childbirth than I was and was right in there helping me and the midwife when the time came. He was incredibly supportive and experienced all of the birth right along with me. It was an amazing thing and one we highly recommend. But seriously, I can't tell you how important it is to know as much as you can about what is normal during labor and delivery. There are things you can do to help you avoid a c-section, that you're more likely able to breastfeed, or whatever else is important to you. The more you know, the more empowered you are. Plus, it's just really interesting to learn about this most amazing of human processes.

The next thing we did that made a huge difference is we hired a doula. Our doula just happened to be our Bradley instructor. She was awesome and totally helped us. It was really important to us to try to have a natural childbirth and to avoid a c-section at the very least. I am certain after my crazy labor I would have ended up with a c-section without her. She helped us know when what was happening was normal and when it wasn't. She helped us know when we could negotiate with the doctors and when we couldn't. Plus, she helped mrp help me--it helped him be confident in how to help me and also to know when I was just uncomfortable and yelling or really mad. Heh! It's hard to know sometimes! It was really invaluable to have her. We will definitely be using her again. E-mail if you want a referral!

Finally we made a birth plan. We knew what we wanted. Like I said, we wanted a natural, unmedicated birth if possible. We wanted to breastfeed exclusively if possible. There were other more specific things we wanted too and we wrote them all in a plan. Here is a reproduction of our birth plan with things that didn't go as hoped in the parentheticals:

We are Salty and Mrp and we are very excited to welcome our first baby into the world. Our hope is that we can put our Bradley training to use and experience a natural childbirth. However, the health and safety of both baby and mom are our top priorities and we are open to doing whatever is necessary to preserve both.

Priorities and Preferences

ALWAYS!
(: Healthy and happy mom and baby :)

Labor and Delivery

Prefer vaginal birth and no episiotomy--avoid all cutting if possible (got cut. UGH!)
Prefer to labor without pain meds--please do not offer, we will ask if we want them. (We asked)
Prefer to stay mobile and active throughout labor (HAd to be chained to monitor more of the time than I wanted)
Prefer mother-directed pushing
Prefer heplock to iv for mobility (Was way dehydrated so had an iv).
Prefer periodic external fetal monitoring (cordless if available) and would like to avoid internal monitoring if at all possible (had it for a brief time, after got the epidural)

Post-delivery

Prefer to nurse baby immediately after birth (Nursed about 45 minutes after birth, but had no problems at all).
Prefer for dad to cut cord AFTER it stops pulsing (Mrp couldn't cut the cord because poor peanut was in the care of the NICU peds immediately after birth).
Prefer to donate cord blood to public bank if possible (not possible on Friday afternoon--lame)
Prefer to delay eye ointment and vitamin K for at least an hour after birth
Prefer NO Hep B vaccine be administered to baby at this time
Prefer to room-in with baby and dad.
Prefer our son NOT be circumcised.

Contingency Plans

We understand that procedures we would not prefer may become medically necessary. If the need arises, please allow us time to consider our options and ask questions before performing a non-preferred procedure.

C-Section

Prefer dad be present if possible
Prefer mom is conscious throughout
Prefer to nurse baby immediately after birth


Anyway, I just wanted to share what worked for us. I feel really strongly that we need to educate ourselves and empower ourselves to get the birth experience we want. That doesn't mean we all have to want a natural childbirth or anything like that, but if you have something you prefer out of the experience it's best to understand the process and go into it with your eyes as wide-open as possible. This time I really hope I get a nice, short labor and an unmedicated quick delivery. The odds are that this one will be much easier than the first, which is pretty much the standard for second pregnancies. But, if it isn't easier I'll deal again!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Professional Sweatpants Wearing Baby-Making Machine

I have been trying to stay abreast of current developments in tax law and legal education in general. I came upon an interesting article tipping me off to a movement among law school graduates to warn others about the "law school sham." Apparently, the job market is so bad and there are so many JD's being spewed out every year that many law school grads are left jobless. The problem is, is that law school ain't cheap! Many of these people end up with 6 figure student loan debt and unemployment. SUCK!

Of course, I had a good job. I also have 6 figure student loan debt, after deciding a JD wasn't enough. No, I just really needed that LL.M. from Fancytown U. Who knew I'd leave the professional lawyer job to be a professional sweatpants wearing baby-making machine? I'm lucky that I went to a good school (at least considered so around here) and had excellent grades and all that. But, I can totally relate to the discontent. I feel like I would have been better off settling for a GED rather than the LL.M. I have a couple of little jobs, but those just MIGHT pay my loan payments for the next few months. Woo. The only thing that makes me feel a little better is thinking about the career that surely (right?) awaits me once the kids are in school.

Sure, looking back at life pre-peanut it was so nice to make good money there for a while. I never ever in my whole life was financially comfortable except for the four or so years I worked as an attorney. I rather enjoyed it! I hate worrying about money and it is the one thing really dragging down my enjoyment of my current gig. If we were just a little more financially comfortable then we could... x y and z. I so so so miss the financial independence, but as mrp says we can either have a lot of money or a lot of time. And right now we need the time.

What's kind of weird though, is that now that my teaching gig is fast approaching I am having a hard time mentally thinking of myself as a professional again. I am so used to not showering frequently enough, wearing race t-shirts and not plucking my eyebrows regularly that I am not sure I can be a convincing law prof! Plus, I'll be all rotund and pregnant. Oh well. I'll just have to fake it until I make it.

In running news, I don't feel like running today. I have a very low grade cold. Plus, my only option is the mill and one of my ear plugs blew out and the foo fighters just don't sound very good piped only in my left ear. And besides that I just ate a too many candy cane joe joes. Mmmm.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Trimester Report

This pregnancy is flying by. I feel like I JUST ran a marathon and here I am 12 weeks pregnant! That being said, the first trimester has not been fun. Last time I was pretty nauseous and tired, but it seemed so much worse this time. I can't seem to get enough sleep (last night 9 hours + a 2 hour nap today and I'm still pooped!), and I feel nauseous almost all of the time. I am living on soup and seltzer and even so, I have gained about 12 lbs already! I was doing really good about the weight and then all of a sudden I got huge. Seriously! I've had to pull out the maternity shirts around 3 weeks ago. I couldn't hide this bump if someone paid me. The weird thing is that I can still wear some pretty tiny jeans. Last time I had to use the ol' rubber band trick and was in maternity pants by around 12 weeks, but this time it's all on top, I guess.

I am starting to feel better about running. For a while there the most I could stomach was 4 miles, 5 times a week. Doing more than 4 was like pulling teeth and just exhausting. But since around Thanksgiving, I've been feeling a little better and have happily run 5 or 6 a few times and even ran a couple of decent races. And this morning I got out in the morning for a run all by myself, which I haven't done since I found out I was pregnant--I just felt too tired and too awful in the mornings to run. I felt pretty crappy the rest of the day, but I think that would have been the case whether or not I ran. It's just life these days. Hopefully, not for too much longer. If I recall, last time I felt a lot better around 14 weeks and like my old self around 20 weeks. So, 2 more weeks and I should be doing a lot better. I hope!

In other news, peanut is still nursing and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight (maybe that's why I'm so tired?! Hmmm). He's eating great and he has taken very well to whole milk, but he only drinks around 4 oz per day. I don't want to force more on him. He eats yogurt and cheese a plenty. He is only nursing before naps and before bedtime. I'm hoping he'll self-wean when he goes through that independent stage around 15 months I keep hearing about. Anyone have any experience with that? I guess if I have to tandem nurse it won't be the end of the world. I just never saw myself as such a crazy hippy lady! I just don't think I want to force weaning. Fortunately, we're in a position where we don't need to do that, so I guess like with everything else we'll play it by ear.

So that's our end of the first trimester report. Now I need to get to bed so I can try another one of those morning runs tomorrow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mrp's Dirty Little Secret

I'm going to let you in on a secret. It's something you never expected. Mrp has a blog! He's blogging about his vegetable growing enterprise as well as our life in the valley. I haven't shared much about that, but many of you know mrp has a passion for growing vegetables and this past summer we headed to a local farmers' market and sold our wares. We were a hit and sold tons of sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, edamame, broccoli, squash and some other veggies. He has even bigger plans for the coming year, so check out his blog here! And if you're really adventurous, you can blow his mind and leave him a comment or even become a follower. He doesn't think anyone will ever read it!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Treadmill Season

So, treadmill season has officially begun. Today was a crazy weather day--one of those days where we left the house and it was warm and an hour and a half later we left the restaurant where we had lunch with my mom and it had to be 15 degrees cooler and super windy. A few minutes ago it was snowing and now it's sunny. It's crazy. But it's super windy and the temperature is dropping like crazy so I can't take peanut to the park. That left the treadmill today. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be at all. In fact it was quite nice. I put peanut down for his nap, put on a sports bra and shorts and my ipod and hit the mill. 4 miles went by super fast. I could have easily done another one or two except towards the end of the four I was feeling pretty stitchy. I'll blame that on playing around with the incline and dancing around to good tunes! I also had to pee midway and instead of having to break up peanut's zen-like flow and take the BOB into the very pleasant park restroom, I could just pause the hamster wheel and run upstairs. So nice! I think I'll manage to run through the winter!

I am not above taking peanut out in the cold though. We went to the park on Monday and I got in 6 miles around 9:20 pace. It was 33 and snowing. It wasn't sticking for most of the run, so with the weather shield, his coat and fleecy hat and mittens and his blanket he was fine and so was I. In fact, he snoozed the whole way! For me, I love running in the winter. It's so quiet and peaceful. But, the days when I can take peanut out are definitely limited now. We'll just have to savor every one of them!

In other news, peanut is walking like crazy! He's like a little tiny frankenstein. He's doing laps around the living room and stopping in to the kitchen to visit me for a hug, a sip of milk or bite of bagel. It's so cute! He is loving the mobility! He started walking two days before his birthday and now he can't stop. It's amazing!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What's to Come

I have so much on my plate right now, but I can't stop thinking about running and all the fastness I want to get back after #2 is born. I didn't even run today, I was so busy! But, still I dream of what's to come!

I've been really thinking about it and I really enjoyed the short races this last year, much more so than I ever have. I had so much fun running harder on the track. I feel sick of long and slow and marathon pace and fartleks and boring stuff like that. I so long to run FAST. I want to burn up the track and the roads. I want to push a double BOB faster than any mom before! Last time I was pregnant I was burned out from a long couple of years of continuous marathon training. This time, I feel like I was just getting started when I got pregnant again. I feel like I have so much more to do with my running and I am so excited to do it!

I hope to spend about a year or so just focusing on 5k-10k's. I can't imagine I'll have time to do any continuous 20+ milers for a while, but I can probably swing 12-14. I'll probably have to run very early in the morning and rely on help for workouts. We shall see! But I miss it so much and hope that I can have that me time. But yeah! I think I can get under 18:00 for a 5k by my 36th birthday in May of 2011! If I can do that then I can meet my other goal of cracking the top 5 in the Johnnycake jog by going under 30:00. I really think I can do it. I believe if I stuck with the short stuff this past year I would have made some serious dents in my pr's. Stupid marathons! (although in all seriousness I think if I wasn't pregnant I probably would have pr'd at the Towpath Marathon even after the whole Akron thing. Oh well!)

It's kind of good I'm pregnant in the winter or I'd be having a heck of a time restraining myself with all my favorite races going on. There are no local races really until February, so that'll help me. Plus, again, I am crazy busy with my non-running life: contracting job, teaching job, full-time mothering. It's a lot! And I don't have a lot of help. So yeah. Not really going to be very tempted to overdo it with my running now. But just you wait. End of July, beginning of August, I'll be back!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sort of Fast!

What a nice day. I woke up and got about an hour of work done (I got a short term contracting gig that I can do from home!) and then headed into town for a 5k with the girls. On Halloween a bunch of us got together and did a trail run before heading out for pancakes afterwards.



Well, we had so much fun we decided to try to do it somewhat regularly. I noticed that a really great 5k was on the calendar about a month later on the other side of town (only fair for our westsiders!) so it was on! 8 of us met up this morning to run the race and then head out for pancakes afterwards. The real kicker is that 5 of us are pregnant. FIVE! It is so great to have so many pregnant friends. I am so happy for everyone and it's awesome to have so many ladies to share and commiserate with!



Anyway, I am not sure what it was but I felt good! I started out with Evie and MN way in the back of the pack. It's so crazy starting way back. We walked or jogged for quite a while and finally I found some open road and took off. I passed like 500 people over the first mile, I swear! My split was 7:39. At the mile mark, I did a gut check and felt good so picked it up. I saw E-speed coming back in first place! Woohoo! I just saw her coming around the corner and didn't see any other women. That got me excited. Mile 2 was 7:14. I did another gut check and still felt great so I picked it up even more over the last 1.1. I passed lots of people and it felt so good. My stride felt FAST and smooth. I miss that feeling so much! I think I like running fast. I used to think I hated 5k's, but now I think I LOVE them! I love the raw power it takes to run a good one. Exhilerating!

Anyway, my third mile was 6:53 and my last .1 was :42. Woo! I ran a 22:30! That's a huge pregnant pr for me--like over a minute! Much of that has to do with the blistering fast course--minimal turns and the flattest course of any race I have EVER run, ever! It's awesome for a fast 5k. Plus, the weather is always just about perfect--high 20's, very little wind. Just FAST! Love it! But yeah, between the course and the cool weather and maybe because I'm in better shape I had a great race for two ("race for two" is kind of cheesy, isn't it? Oh well!). I ran my nonpregnant pr on this race a couple of years ago too. I think this will be my comeback goal race after #2 gets here. PR? Hope so! Oh and speaking of, E-speed ran a 18 second pr and won! See. Told you this race rules! (What is wrong with me? "This race rules?" Am I a 12 year old boy from 1987?!)

Afterwards, we bombarded a local pancake joint and scarfed up all kinds of crazy pancakes and giant omelets. It was such a fun morning. I came home and mrp and peanut were outside having a great old time. We all ate the left over omelet and some other snacks and then we put peanut and momma down for a nap. Boy did I need that after a fun fantastic morning. I have such great friends and the most wonderful family. I am one lucky girl!

Here are some pics of mrp and peanut playing outside. Couldn't you just eat them up?!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Little Kicker!


#2 is a healthy little kicker measuring 10w4d! (Not twins, thank goodness!!!) Wow. Now it's really sinking in. We are going to need a lot of diapers!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Buffering

So tomorrow is our first ultrasound for this pregnancy. I'm nervous and excited. Mrp has been swamped at work and we thought I would just go, but as the appointment became closer we realized we both needed to be there. Thank goodness! It would have been so hard to do it without him, good or bad. I have no reason to think we will see anything bad, but you just never know. It's just my nature to prepare for the worst I guess.

So, yeah. I'm sort of a pessimist. I am actually very optimistic too, but I always buffer myself for potential bad stuff. I think that's a pretty standard reaction for people who've experienced sudden and tragic loss. I'm not sure what it is--pregnancy hormones, holidays?--but lately I want to work on my relationship with my mother. I haven't talked about her much here, if at all. It's a very complex thing. I don't even know where to start to try to explain it.

My mother had me when she was very young--17. She married my father a month before I was born, during her junior year of high school. Imagine! My dad was just 19, himself. Tip: don't get married that young. Really. Like wait until your 27. At least! Seriously, though. It wasn't the most stable environment for me as a child. The early early years were kind of fun. My mom did cartwheels and taught me ballet in our kitchen. My dad was creative and fun and made crazy snow forts and sand castles with me. On the other hand, my parents fought and these fights were sometimes physical. I distinctly remember getting in between them crying and screaming at them to stop when I was about 3 years old. This was a running theme throughout my childhood--parenting the parents.

Around the time my sister showed up, my father's mental illness appeared. He was a major depressive. Like, to the point of psychotic. My mother was a brick in the face of it all. Stoic. Soldiering forward, taking care of her family. When he finally died--he had tried to commit suicide several times before over the years--my mother seemed relieved more than anything. And who can blame her? Not me.

She really was a pillar of strength and amazing in that way. I don't know that I could be as strong as she was. However, here's where the story changes a bit. My mother's way of coping was to forget about it. Um. I was 11 and my sister was 6. We can't just forget that our dad killed himself. To make matters worse, our entire extended family was more or less on board with this strategy. If we cried or struggled, they told us to stop. At first, the main strategy to get us to forget was to spoil us. Later, my extended family would criticize me for making things hard on my mom. My mom worked full time and I took care of my sister. I was 11, 12, 13. I just lost a parent, suddenly. Violently. My feelings, my very being was wrong they seemed to say.

I somehow persevered, and though I had episodes of depression (I realize in retrospect) I did pretty well throughout my adolescence. But, by the time I was 20 I was a mess. I got off "the path" when I dropped out of college after one best friend (a guy) raped another best friend (who is still my best friend to this day). I couldn't take it. But I moved back with my mom, who had since remarried and moved to a new house. I didn't belong there. I felt like I belonged nowhere. All my friends were in school. I felt like a huge loser. All the denial and suppression over the years created a pressure cooker and the feelings just exploded out. In all my life, this was the only period where I truly felt depressed. My mother would have none of it. She insisted it was my hormones. I know she didn't want to believe I would turn into my dad or something, but still. I went to my doctor and told him what was going on and he quickly concluded I was depressed and needed to talk to a therapist. THANK YOU! My mom was not supportive of this, but I went anyway. The insurance ended up not covering it, but I went anyway.

But yeah. I'm not sure if it started after my dad or if she was always this way, but somewhere along the way my mother became the kind of person who can never admit something is not right. She exclaims, "Everything's great!" so frequently that it's her catchphrase. On peanut's birthday it was 5 minutes until the guests were going to arrive and the appetizers were not even started yet. I was exasperated and annoyed and frantically trying to get them going and she said, "it will be great!" And mrp and I looked at her with the "oh yeah?" look on our faces. And her response was, "what else am I going to say? Everything's going to be a disaster?" In her mind, everything is great or a disaster. Nothing just is.

This might seem harmless, but it causes a lot of problems. My mom fails to see many glaring problems and gets very angry with me for pointing them out. The worst example is her husband's alcoholism. The man is an alcoholic. There is no denying it. I can't remember the last time I saw him without a drink. He keeps a cooler in his truck. He hates going anywhere where he can't drink. And the worst thing is that he drives all over the place. My mother doesn't drive much (she has MS that affects her vision--a whole other issue) so he's driving her all over the place after drinking a lot. I HATE it. And now with peanut and #2 coming, I just can't take it anymore. I don't trust my mother. I do to an extent, but not completely. I know she loves peanut, but her commitment to pretending there are no problems causes her to make really bad decisions sometimes. Like, she drinks herself quite a bit in attempt to make her husband's drinking seem more normal. Or, she tries to act like he's peanut's "Grampa" and force peanut on her husband who really doesn't seem to want much to do with him (and hey, I'd prefer it that way myself!) She often says we are overprotective and things like carseat laws are excessive. She insists on giving peanut foods that are choking hazards even if I point it out because "it's fine!" No raisins, mom. Really!

She gets really excessively indignantly delusionally "Everything's great!" when she seems most unhappy. I so want to help her. I so want to improve my relationship with her and for her to have 100% grandma privileges with peanut, but we're nowhere close to that right now. I don't even know where to start with her. But you know, I didn't think I knew where to start with you and I figured it out.

Excuses, Excuses!

I am working on an article about excuses and I need your help! What are the top excuses or reasons you consider skipping a run or severely alter your training plans for the day? My big one was always bad weather, but I know there are lots of other's out there! So let me hear them.

Oh yeah. I will be writing the running column for Ohio Sports and Fitness in 2010! I am succeeding E-speed who did an amazing job. Hopefully, my columns will be remotely as good as hers!

Ok, now give me those excuses!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A-Turkey-Trottin' We Will Go!

Now that the big birthday bash and Thanksgiving festivities are over I have a second to post something. Phew! It's been kind of crazy around here!

Oh. And in the middle of all that, we had our first midwife appointment on Wednesday. My midwife felt my uterus and thinks instead of the 10 weeks I think I am, that I may be as far along as 13 weeks. Now wouldn't that be interesting? Based on dates, I don't think that's possible. Mrp's convinced it's twins. I'm convinced he's nuts. Tentatively my due date is 6/28 (that's based on my dates). I could be due as early as 6/7. We find out on Wednesday when I go in for an ultrasound! Yeah! We get to see #2!

Back to Thanksgiving and such. Don't think for a second I missed the opportunity to Turkey Trot with all the holiday and first trimester craziness going on! I have to admit I was more worried about waking up before 7:00 than I was about the actual race. I have been insanely exhausted so far this pregnancy and have been having a hard time getting up and going before 4:00 p.m. Seriously. But I think maybe, just maybe, we've turned a corner because I woke up at 5:55 a.m. on Thursday, raced the trot and celebrated the holiday without a wink of a nap! And yesterday mrp, peanut and I hosted a family gathering over here and I cleaned all day and again, survived! I don't even feel too bad today. I took an insurance nap this morning, but now feel bright-eyed and ready to get things done. Who is this chick?! Maybe I am closing in on the end of the first trimester. Hmmm.

Anyway, back to the trot!

My sister is in town and she has been running quite a bit over the last year or so, even venturing to complete her first half marathon (in 2:02! Not bad for a girl who rarely cracked 30:00 for a 5k in high school!) Based on that performance I was confident she could come very close to breaking 8:00 pace for a 4 miler. She thought I was high. Coincidentally, sub-32:00 was about what I thought would be a good goal for me and #2. So, we hit the exurban outlet mall, did almost a 2 mile warm-up plus some strides. That was kind of funny--my strides were my easy pace from September I think! We lined up and breathed in the frosty late fall air and we were off!

I had it in mind I would run with my sister and then "hammer" the last mile or so to help her get a big fat pr. Well, you know how sister's are. I could tell I was irritating her as I kept making sure she was still with me. So, I said tootles and headed on with a pace that felt on the fast side of comfortable. I figured she could still key off of me and I would help her that way. My first mile was 7:59. Not bad, especially since we lined up kind of far back and had to basically shuffle for the first little bit. The 7:50's felt like a marathon paced effort or so, I'd say. It's weird to race pregnant. I want to "race," but I don't want to really race. You know? I don't want to overtax myself, but I want to push myself a wee bit--just enough to feel good and dust off the fast legs a bit. It's really hard to know where the line is, but my philosophy is that if baby's in trouble baby will let mama know! Puking, heart palpitations, dizziness, etc are all things for which I am constantly scanning my physical self. If nausea is at bay, and heart rate feel's ok and my head is clear I proceed.

Anyway, I was trotting along and saw the female leaders after the turnaround--two friends running hard and duking it out. I was only very mildly jealous. To be honest, it's nice to have no pressure and just enjoy the race experience sometimes. I made it to the turnaround myself and saw my sister not too far back. Good girl! We slapped hands and I continued on. My second mile was 7:53. I did a self-check and felt good. So increased the effort a little bit. I expected mile 3 to be around 7:30 but after chugging up some hills it was 7:59. I continued on this pace for about another minute and then I decided I felt good and would really pick it up, so I started to focus on one chick at a time and just started picking off as many as I could. I seemed to have inspired some kid to start sprinting. He's the only person who passed me. It was super fun! I couldn't believe when I hit the shoot and the last mile split was 6:41! Whoa! 30:30. Nice! I definitely felt it, but I was ok. I took my chip off and waited for my sister. She pulled in a little after 32:00. Darn! She was stuck in a mob in the chute and was being all drama queen about needing to puke. Aww. Cute!

Another nice thing about not really racing is that you don't need to wait around afterwards for awards. So, we sisters did a quick warmdown and headed back home to prepare for the remaining holiday festivities knowing we earned our pie!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Big!

Can you believe our little peanut is going to be one in just three days? It really does go as fast as they say it does. The little guy is stoked for his birthday. Can you tell?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

High Hopes

10 hopes about pregnancy and baby #2

1. I hope #2 is a better sleeper than peanut was (pretty much since I've been pregnant he's a champ sleeper--but before that UGH!)

2. I hope I don't gain as much weight this time. Last time I gained ~ 50 lbs.

3. I hope I am able to run more this time. Last time I was able to maintain around 25 - 35 mpw from 13 - 34 weeks. This time I'd like to be closer to 40. Of course, if this happens it will be in a few weeks. Right now I am happy to be running at all!

4. I hope #2's delivery is much easier than peanut's. Labor for less than 2.5 days would be a good start.

5. I hope I can get back up and running as quickly as I did with peanut. It will be summer and I will be itching to get out there! Last time I matched my 5k pr by 7 months (and I was disappointed with that race. Um. Riiiiiight. Seems a little silly in retrospect!) This time, do you think it's possible by 5.5? I hope so!

6. I hope mrp and I make it out for a couple of date nights before baby #2 comes. We haven't been out to dinner alone since before peanut was born. Somehow the magic is still alive. We're resilient that way, I guess.

7. I hope I feel as good as I did last time through weeks 20-34. I loved being pregnant during those weeks last time. I hope I feel the same way this time because these last few weeks have been ROUGH.

8. I hope I get out and run with friends often this winter. I so enjoyed running with lots of new people and making lots of new running friends last time I was pregnant. If you're local and want to hook up for some slow sloggy miles, let me know!

9. I hope I can muster enough winter running clothes that fit so I can run outside all winter.

10. I hope baby #2 is as happy and healthy and wonderful as peanut. Seriously. It's hard to imagine another person being as amazing as my peanut or loving another as much.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Pudding

Now that I'm pregnant I am having a terrible time getting out to run. I only feel up to it in the late afternoon so I have a very short window to squeeze one in. I ran a whopping 20 miles last week and only 12 so far this week. Four miles feels short but at the same time I just don't feel like doing more. The weird thing is that I actually feel good when I'm running, but otherwise I feel horrible. The morning sickness is possibly worse this time than last time. If I can get in at least one nap, I'm ok and even better if I can get two!

After peanut, I swore that if I got pregnant again I would get out and run much more than I did when I was pregnant with him. Now I'm not so sure that's going to happen. I didn't run from weeks 5 - 7 last time, so I'm already doing better this time. However, I honestly can't imagine wanting to run more than 30 mpw right now. Well, check that. I can't imagine wanting to do that pushing a jogging stroller in the cold on the same stretch of bike path day in and day out while pregnant. If I could get out on the trails alone I think I could put in a solid 35-40 mpw. Oh well.

In other news, I am already sporting a rotund middle. Seriously. My mom was over today and laughed at my belly as I lay on the couch in all my nauseated glory. Thanks, mom! I went from tight toned marathoner, to paunchy ambiguously pregnant chick in a week. Crazy!

In other other news, I could really use a job. The teaching gig doesn't pay much and what it does pay won't come until the end of the semester (LAME!) The good news is that I am attending a bunch of seminars this month that I need to keep my law license current so hopefully a little networking will go a long way to scoring some part-time contracting work. I had hoped I'd have an easier time finding something. Worst case scenario it'll just be a year of me not working. Once baby number 2 is 6 months I can probably go back full-time. Ideally, I'd like to hang my own shingle at that time, but the financial situation will do more to dictate what I end up doing. Money stinks. More specifically, crazy student loan debt stinks.

So, I'm off to enjoy some pudding (the only dessert I can stand at the moment) and curl up with a book and my cat while mrp snoozes in the easy chair. Another rockin' Friday night here in mrpandsaltyland!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Maybe Marathons Aren't for Me

I've been mulling this idea over since Akron: maybe I'm not cut out for the marathon. I think physically I could be a good marathoner, but I think my temperament might not be able to handle 3ish hours of racing. I think too much. I really do. I analyze and overanalyze and allow my mind to throw a wrench in my running. My best marathons were my first when I didn't know enough to over-think it and my last when I just didn't care all that much about the final time--I was focused on finishing and closing out the season. When I cared A LOT about the outcome, the times were decent but I was miserable through most of the race. What's the point of that?

In my last marathon I really made a lot of progress towards letting go and enjoying the ride. I wasn't perfectly relaxed or carefree, don't get me wrong! But, for me I did a pretty good job of not worrying too much and living in the moment. For much of the race I had a smile on my face. That's definitely a new development for me!

Besides my temperament, my life just may not be conducive to marathon training anymore. When I wasn't working and was taking care of just one baby running 80+ miles per week was a bit much but doable. But in a couple of months I start my teaching gig and then in June I'll be having another baby. Although, I scored a double BOB at a super price off Craigslist already, I just don't see high mileage in my near future.

Oh but yes, pregnant again! (In fact, I was pregnant during the marathon--I think my slowish times makes a heck of a lot more sense now that I know this.) It's pretty early still,--just about 7 weeks. Like last time, I considered keeping it to myself, but that's not in my nature. I feel like poop, I totally look pregnant already and it's pretty much all that's on my mind. Plus, I would want to share our story if something goes awry. I don't go to see the midwives until the week before Thanksgiving--they're making me wait until 10ish weeks! It's kind of driving me crazy, but kind of not because there's not a whole lot they could do before then anyway. Maybe now we can hear the heartbeat at the first appointment. That would be nice!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Next Best Thing

The next best thing to running my own pr is tracking three friends to huge pr's of their own. I just wish I could be there to celebrate!

Congrats E (3:05!), CV (3:12!) and DD (3:27!)

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Big First

Proof I was relaxed and happy! Well, at least relative to how I usually am in a race. But not bad for mile 15. I didn't look quite so happy at the finish, of course. But hey, this is a good start!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Daydreams

I was laying in bed with peanut conked out on top of me and I couldn't really move. My mind was wandering and I started reflecting on the marathon and suddenly it all made sense.

+ 2:30 because my long runs were not long enough. My splits slowed way down the last 5-6 miles and I was running in the 7:50's and I felt like I had picked it up!--means to me that I was running out of fuel.

+ 1:10 for the pitstop--48 seconds for the actual stop and then 6 seconds for getting back up to speed (not easy at all after stopping at mile 17.75) and 8 seconds each for the 2 miles before hand when I was trying not to go in my shorts!

+ :20 for the numb feet at the start. My first couple of miles were pretty slow. They should have been somewhat slow, but maybe not quite as slow as they actually were with my stumpy frozen feet.

+ 2:00 for the course--I actually think it was slow because of the terrain--it sucks the life out of your legs--but also because it is BORING as hell especially later in the race when it's easy to lose focus anyway. Although, the softness makes recovery quick! I feel so so so good now!

+ :30 for a hairpin turn at mile 20.25. Seriously. It's bad enough to start from a stop at mile 17.75 but try it after mile 20.25. Not cool!

+ 2:00 because of my crazy taper/Akron DNF/life stress, etc.

So that gets me to 3:05:45 which is about what I thought I could do on a good day before Akron. Add 3:00-4:00 for my ego and we get a more reasonable 3:09ish.

Yeah, I know this sounds like a bunch of excuses. I like to think if it as an explanation for the result I am content with. The difference being I am in no way trying to take credit for a result I didn't earn, I am just trying to understand the result I got.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Calling All Archaeologists

It's two days later and I don't feel at all like I ran a marathon. I feel totally fine. Certainly better than I did post-Akron and probably better than I felt before Akron! My butt was nagging me for weeks and feels fine now. Go figure.

So the mystery is why couldn't I cash in on my training and run a marathon equivalent to my short race times? If anything I was in better shape than I was two years ago, yet I wasn't even close to matching my marathon performance from then and that itself was also an underperformance. Why was I able to comfortably run 13.1 miles at 6:59 pace on the towpath 5 weeks ago and barely holding 7:30's on the towpath two days ago? What the heck happened to me?

If you have some time and feel like doing an archeological dig into my training here's a link to my log.

Some ideas mrp and I have bandied about:

- crappy taper

- not long enough long runs

- life stress

- still nursing

Otherwise, we have no idea. I really want to know what happened. Any ideas or insight would be greatly appreciated!

PS This is not a bitter I should have run faster post! I did my best and I am happy with it. I am just trying to figure out why my best was much slower than all indicators seemed to suggest (at least what the suggested before Akron).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Leaves and Zebra Stripes

After my DNF at Akron I swore off running marathons--for all of 6 hours. By that evening mrp and I were discussing plan B over dinner. We did not think travel for a marathon made any sense so the only real alternative was the Towpath Marathon two weeks and one day after Akron. So, I decided to see how things went for a week or so and then decide whether a fall marathon was worth another shot. I still felt crappy all week, but even so I felt like I needed to close the chapter on this season of marathon training and the only real way to do it was to run one. Mrp agreed and he also agreed to enter it and run it with me as long as he could--it would be a family effort.

My legs felt good enough early last week and mentally I wrapped my head around the idea that a pr was a long shot after a stressful few weeks and questionable training and taper (for another post). And I was really ok about it. Yes, disappointed to an extent, but overall accepting. So, on Wednesday, mrp signed us up.

It must be noted here that my wonderful mrp has not been running much this year. He has other fish to fry these days and his training has been left on the back burner. On a good week he's run 12 miles. On a bad week, maybe 4. Yeah, not the best marathon training! Even to run with me. So, it was extra special of him to do this for me. Awwww!

Anyway, so after another hectic week--this time spent hustling to rent my house. We were successful on Saturday--finally!!!--Sunday came and it was time to go. My mother came over to watch the nut and mrp and I snuck out by cover of darkness. It was cold! But the forecast was more or less perfect for a marathon. We made our way down the highway to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. As we descended down the hills to the river valley the mist rose from the river silhouetted by the sunrise. Once where we needed to be we found MN who kindly picked up our packets and hit the porta-potties (which were about a 1/4 mile away from the parking lot--the hell?) Then we ran back to our cars in the frigid morning air and got ready. My feet were FROZEN. They were numb, y'all. Nothing a warm-up wouldn't cure, I thought. I suited up with the zebra-striped arm warmers I borrowed from E, my race team singlet, favorite black shorts, favorite Mizuno Elixirs, throw-away purple stretch gloves and some bodyglide to boot. I looked like a clown, but felt ready to roll.

The starting line was about a half mile from the porta-potties. That just seems dumb for such a small race. It worked out for me. I used the distance to do a mile warm-up with a few pick-ups. One thing several people mentioned to me post-Akron was that I should try a warm-up. So I did. Unfortunately I arrived at the starting line with numb feet. I found mrp. I told him it felt like my socks were bunched up between my toes. I took of a shoe to check and they weren't. My feet felt like stumps. Ugh. Oh well. They'd warm-up. I hoped!

The bell finally sounded and we were off. Mrp and me in a big swarm of running humanity. Oh. I didn't wear a watch. Well, I did, but I covered the face with blue tape so I couldn't see it. Yesterday I ran completely by feel and I did not sweat any of the splits, well at least I didn't sweat most of them. Mrp had his watch, but he was under strict orders to keep the data to himself. I was nervous about letting go like this, but it was great not knowing. Really!

Anyway, as the runners made there way down the road for about .75 miles and then hit the autumn leaf decorated trail, I was the fourth woman. The race was so small I could see pretty much everyone in front as we made the turn. By mile 2 I was third. By mile 5 I was second and by mile 6 I passed my friend TG who happened to be using the race to motivate her along her training run. So, I was now first (both officially and unofficially). Also by 6 my feet FINALLY thawed out enough that I could feel them. By 7 my toe hurt really bad. But after the turn-around at 8 it felt fine. Go figure.

The first turn-around was a great point in the race. As the first woman all the runners still headed out were very excited to see me and cheer for me. It was exhilarating. I'm sure all the smiles they gave me added up to something. By mile 11, I had reached the end of the running spectators and it was back to mrp and me. Well, and a guy in orange who decided he'd tell me my split was 7:10. I told him I didn't want to know. Also around this time I felt like I had to poop. (Sorry. I am just going to put it out there. We're all [well, mostly] runners here so why tip-toe around it.) I told mrp and he said, "no you don't." And I have to say that actually helped! For a while.

Then we hit mile 12 and the orange dude came up on us and said, "7:20!" I yelled at him this time. "Dude! I said I don't want to know!" He had headphones on. Ugh. He got huffy and said, "Fine!" and ran on ahead. Mrp was really pissed at the guy. I have to say I really didn't want to know I had slowed down.

We hit the half-marathon point and I felt pretty good. I knew my friends would be at the next aid station and that they'd be excited to see me in first. They were and it really meant a lot! I needed their support!

After my friends my next checkpoint was going by the finish at mile 15. We made it and I still felt pretty good, but once we passed it the poopy feeling came back. Around mile 16 we caught back up to orange guy and tried to pass him but he said, "Oh good. I was getting lonely. I'll pace off of you guys." Mrp had gotten a little ahead of me trying to pull me a long and prevent me from slowing more. I was stuck with orange guy who kept trying to chit-chat while I just wanted to poop! I finally broke away and got close enough to mrp to tell him I was going to make a pit stop. I saw a sign for a porta-potty before the next aid station. I can make! I can make it! I repeated to myself! We came to the aid station and there was no porta-potty in sight. Crap! Literally!!! We kept going and I thought I might poop my pants. But just ahead was a little offshoot of the trail and by some miracle someone had left a cloth there for me! Haha. Sorry everyone! So I scooted off the trail and did what I had to do. Mrp timed me. What a sweetheart. 48 seconds to poop. Not bad! I thought another woman might pass me. There were a few of them fairly close at the 8 mile turn-around. None did. Orange guy of course got back ahead, but so what.

I felt a lot better, but the stop made it difficult for both of us to get back down to pace. I was pretty sure we slowed a bit, but it didn't feel too bad. I had NO idea what pace we were on. When I needed a boost I could pretend I was on pace for a pr. I wasn't, but I never had to mull that over in my head and feel disappointed. Seriously. It was great! I might never wear a watch in a race again!

Now the focus was on the next turn around somewhere after mile 20. Mrp was ahead of me. I thought maybe he felt good and was just going to break away and finish strong. No. I maintained contact. I just needed to get to 20 now. Finally, 20 came and went. Now I needed to get to the turnaround. Finally, the turnaround. Only it was a hairpin. Just what any marathoner needs at mile 20.25--a hairpin turn! Mrp went first and had to stop to get around it. So did I. Yuck. But now I was back with him. And then I saw three other women breathing down my neck. They were closing in. It was hard again to get back to pace after the stop. But I felt like I was ready to push. At 21 mrp said, "Ok. Now is the time to remember why you're here. Go get the orange guy!" And with that I took off. It only took me about a mile to catch orange guy. And then I passed every other guy in sight except one who had picked it up more than I had. I took the tape off my watch and saw the split going past 8:00. Wha?! Thankfully the next split was 6:58. I felt like I was hammering, but I think the 8:00 was long and the 6:58 short--in retrospect.

But yeah. I felt like I was hammering. By 24 I started to worry I couldn't make it. My legs were leaden. I felt woosy. I took a gel at 22, but I'm not sure it helped. My next target was a road I needed to cross around 24.5. This half mile took forever. I saw Bob the mailman. He cheered for me in his dry style. And I loved it. Then I saw my old friend M from work. And then the road. I passed the road and knew it was less than 2 to go. Go go go!! I bulldozed all thoughts and just ran. I needed to go forward. I disregarded my watch. Left foot. Right foot. They're coming for you. Go. Win!

I came to mile 25. Still over a mile. Go. Go. Go. Left. Right. Left. Right. Ow. Shut up. Run.

I knew I was close, but I couldn't see the finish and my mind was afraid to admit I was close without the finish in sight. There was a little bump of a hill and over it was the last road to cross and the finish was right after that. I knew that. But I could not see the finish over the bump. Someone told me the finish was over the bump. But I still could not let myself admit I was almost done because if it wasn't close, I would not make it.

I crested the bump. I saw the street. I crossed the street. I saw matted grass next to a barn with an arrow pointed in that direction. I followed it and bumped along the grass and then onto some dirt and across the mats and into the arms of a race official who held me upright. I won! My time was 3:16:45.

I was not disappointed by that. It's not what I had hoped, but I know I did my best. Yesterday was a real victory for me.

I stumbled around waiting for mrp. I saw the next woman finish about 45 seconds after me and then the next one a few seconds later. But still no mrp.

E found me. "Tell me you ate something blue," she said. "Your lips are blue!" She dressed me in her fleece, scarf and hat. I looked (and smelled for that matter) homeless, she said. I got a banana. But it was cold. It made me colder. I felt light headed. Not right. Finally mrp came in. 3:28 and change. Just 40 minutes off his pr! Training is a good thing, he said.

I was still blue. No mylar. My bag was in the car about 1/2 a mile away--a world away. We ran into another friend B who gave me another sweatshirt and her and E took me in the bathroom and made me stand in front of the hand dryer. It helped a bit. But then it was just time to go. I wasn't going to get warm with all the wet stuff on me and peanut needed us home. I gathered my prize (a beautiful photo of the Cuyahoga Valley in the fall plus a fleece vest) and E walked mrp and me to the car. I was almost instantly better once there and I took off my wet clothes. But this is the second time I was hypothermic after a marathon! Oh the stories we will tell peanut.

Mrp and I drove home and we rehashed and speculated and had a grand time of it. We called home and heard peanut joyfully babbling in the background, so we stopped for a burrito on the way home. Blue tape, autumn leaves, zebra stripes, poop breaks, blue lips, true friends and beautiful companions. It really was a perfect day.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

(a very diluted version of a) Phoenix (like 3 parts water to one part phoenix)

Peanut's waking up, so this will be short.

I am running another marathon on Sunday ... and mrp is running with me! Fun times sure to abound! It's a very small local marathon run on a limestone path. Some say this will ensure a slow time. I used to do almost all my long runs on that path before peanut and I always really liked it. It's funny that I USED to do all my long runs on that path before and now that I'm running a marathon on it I've hardly run on the path at all this past year! Oh well. After a dnf and a haphazard 4 week taper, I honestly just want to finish a marathon with a smile on my face and close the chapter on this year of training. That's the goal.

In other news, the law school I went to hired me as an adjunct professor! It's just for one semester and I only get to do it if at least 8 people sign up for my class, but it's a start!

I am looking for another part-time gig of some sort: permanent, contract, whatever! We could really use some dough rolling in and I need the intellectual stimulation and adult-like structure to my life. Running clothes, infrequent showers and mussy ponytails be gettin' old, people.

Here's what my two weeks post Akron-DNF training looks like:

Su - Off to recover mentally and physically

Mo - 4 easy

Tu - 6 easy

We - 6 easy

Th - 7 with 1 at "MP*" (6:52)

F - off (massage!)

Sa - 10 with 2 at "MP" (6:56, 6:55)

Su - 7 easy

Total: 40

Mo - 4 easy (started to feel good!)

Tu - 7 woth 6 x 1:30/1:00 @ 5k (felt great--was :30-:40 faster for the .6 miles out of the valley from my house than usual!)

We - 3 easy (felt a little crusty)

Th - Planning 6 easy

Fr - Planning 4 easy

Sa - Planning 2 easy

Su - Race day!

Total: 26 + Marathon

* I said, "Legs, run marathon pace" and this is what they did. Pretty much every time I did that over the season they ran 7:15-6:50. I am committed to not being disappointed if that is not what happens on Sunday. Again, the point is a smile at the finish (for once)!



Sunday, September 27, 2009

F8

I really don't feel like writing up a report for a race that wasn't.

I had a great number (F8) and was feeling super excited. However, the long and short of it is that I got to the starting line and my legs were tree trunks and would not go. 3 weeks ago I ran 1:31:50 for 13.125 miles by myself and yesterday I struggled to run 1:34:30 for my first half. I ran 7:05; 14:30; 14:40; 7:24; 7:30 and then the 3:10 group caught up to me so I picked it up and went with them. Got back down to 7:01 for that mile and then hovered between 6:58 and 7:18. Right before mile 11 there was a huge downhill and the pacer decided to make up over 20 seconds on it. Stupid in my opinion. I had to catch back up to him on the flats. I knew if I let the group go I was done so I hung with them, but when we passed the halfway mark I knew something was just not right and I should not be feeling so bad to be going that pace. Around 14 we hit a boardwalk and my legs felt like they were on fire and I knew right then and there I needed to make it to 15.25 where my mom would be to drop. As luck would have it mrp just appeared right around mile 15 and he ran with me until I saw my mom holding peanut. I stopped running, tears streaming down and hugged my baby, but needed to give it one more shot just to make sure. Mrp came with me and I slowly eased back into a non-embarrassing pace. Mrp said I sounded great--feet were light and my breathing was good. However, my legs would not go, at least not without serious pain. By 17 he knew and I knew it was pointless. I don't need to just finish a marathon at this point, especially it means not walking normally for days to do it. It's pr (or at least close) or bust. Plus, seriously, something WAS NOT RIGHT.

I dropped and mrp hugged me as we started the walk back to peanut and my mom. I cried. Mrp hugged me tighter. We laughed. I cheered for friends. I cried some more. More hugs. Some jokes. We made it back and I had fun holding peanut while he cheered very enthusiastically for the runners and saw their happiness as a result. My cousin came by and I got to cheer for her too. It was nice. I hitched a ride back to the finish to get my gear bag. When I saw the stadium I cried some more. I found a very kind volunteer who helped me fight the crowds and bypass security to get to my stuff. I saw a few friends in the invited runner finish area and chatted with them while I waited for a massage. Got the massage and again fought the crowds, stopped and chatted with my buddies who of course made me feel tons better and found mrp and peanut, finally.

We headed over to a restaurant for some much needed food and E happened to be there too! She joined us for a while and the three adults hashed out what the hell happened to me. There were a few small things I can do differently next time, but the one big thing that seems to be the issue is my taper.

Ok. Here's where I need to back up.

A couple of months ago I was laying in bed tossing and turning trying to hash out my training schedule when I freaked out and e-mailed my old coach and asked him to coach me for the last 8 weeks before the marathon. Of course he agreed and it was a huge weight off my shoulders to not have to write workouts up and obsess about my training. I could just do what I was told. Perfect, I thought!

Things went along fine. He had me do some weird workouts, but honestly I felt like I just needed to run the miles, do some structured quality and I was good to go. I was running almost dead-on to my pr's in races (or even setting new ones like my 1:05:21 10 miler), so being fast enough to break 3:10 did not seem to be something I needed to worry about.

3 weeks ago my coach asked me to do 5 x 3 miles at MP with 2:00 walk breaks. I thought this was weird and not a beneficial workout for me, especially since I was doing mostly fartleks for the previous 5 weeks. I needed a long solid block of MP miles. I asked him to explain why the 5 x 3 miles was better via e-mail and his response was an e-mail back to just do 13 at MP in the middle of a 20 mile run. So that's what I did and it went super well so I was very very confident I could go into Akron and break 3:10 with time to spare.

Fast forward back to yesterday and 7:00 pace HURT! I ran 15 miles averaging 7:14 pace and I am pretty sore today. I ran 17 miles averaging 7:17 pace (with the 13.125 at MP) 3 weeks ago and was totally utterly fine. So what happened during those three weeks?!

5 weeks out I ran 83 miles
4 weeks out I ran 75.5 miles
3 weeks out I ran 71 miles
2 weeks out I ran 51.5 miles
1 week out I 22 (in 5 days) before the marathon.

I did not taper enough.

It's like my legs were just hunkering down and focusing on recovery yesterday when I asked them to quit it and refocus on running hard. I would have been better off not tapering at all I think! Mrp made a good analogy. He said tapering is like sleeping after a long bout of sleep deprivation. When you're chronically sleep deprived not getting sleep is no big deal, but once you start sleeping again you feel like crap because your body suddenly knows what it's missing and goes into recovery mode, trying to get you back to rested. Same thing. I ran just 8 miles in the three days before the marathon. It was like much needed sleep to my so tired leg muscles. Then on Saturday when I said, "hey go out and party all night," they were all like, "F You!" in response!

So. Yeah. I had no choice. It was like when I got the epidural after 2 solid days in labor. What are you going to do? But hopefully, I will recover from the 17 miles quickly and possibly just maybe jump into another race in 2 weeks. We shall see what F8 holds for me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Marathon Eve Eve

I'm running a marathon in a day and a half!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nine

I accidentally ran 9 miles on 9/9/09. I took peanut to the park in the a.m. I wasn't sure what he'd be up for so hoped for 8 but would settle for 4-6 and just run more in the p.m. At two miles he conked so thought for sure 8 miles was in the bag, until right as we passed the parking lot at mile 6 he woke up. 6 it is!

Then later in the evening I put peanut down for the night while mrp headed out for his own 4. After peanut seemed settled I headed to the basement for 4 miles. I was ambling along watching Big Love. I was about .75 miles into the run and mrp came downstairs to inform me peanut was upstairs wailing. Ugh. So I went upstairs and we both assessed the cry level and decided to wait 10 more minutes to see what happens. So I went back downstairs and ramped the mill back up and trotted along and sure enough at 10 minutes mrp came back downstairs. Cry level rose a few notches. So I came back upstairs and he was SCREAMING. So, I headed upstairs and it smelled really bad and got worse as I approached peanut. The poor little guy pooped! He was not going to go down with poopy pants! So, we got him out and mrp and I tagged teamed a very calm and quiet diaper change and I put him back down. I ran downstairs to try to eek in my last 1.85 miles but at .85 my episode of Big Love was over and I said forget it and went upstairs and made dinner.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Half a Marathon

I am one of those people that gets stressed out and tense very easily. I don't even know it's happening most of the time. Unfortunately, it really screws up my running and in retrospect I am sure it screwed up my last two marathons (I'll have to link to posts about them later). So, in preparation for my next marathon I am working on relaxing. The funny thing is when I tell myself to relax, I get more tense. This is a tougher problem than one might think!

I have been working on running in the moment and focusing on the here and now and not how fast this next mile needs to be or how much that last split sucked. That's all well and good, but I still struggle. Cue mrp. He is really the best. Saturday night we discussed this over dinner.

"So what do you think I need to do to not run like a tense freak?"

"You think too much. Quit thinking and run."

"But..."

"No buts. Just run. You have the physical capabilities to reach your goals. So get out there, quit thinking and run. Left foot. Right foot."

He's right. On Sunday I woke up early and headed to a towpath at the local National Park to do my big marathon paced long run all by myself. It was me against me. I warmed up: 8:03, 7:58, 7:48, 7:46 and then I started my very own half marathon at marathon pace/effort. I still don't have a real goal. I ran what felt like marathon pace: 7:10, 7:07, 7:00, 6:58, 6:57, 7:11 (chocolate gu = bad); 6:59; 6:58; 7:00; 6:57; 6:59; 6:52; 6:48 (and then .12 more for good measure). Half a marathon in 1:31:50. I then gimped along for 3.4 more miles and finished 20.5 miles averaging 7:22 pace.

Every time I started to think I pictured a bulldozer clearing my head and I replaced the space with "You're doing great. Execute the plan." I was allowed to have thoughts about things I was sensing: smells, sights, etc. and I was allowed to positively visualize the marathon, but otherwise nothing about running other than my little mantra there. It really helped a lot. It was kind of a lot of work to keep battling the thought creep, but I did it. I am more proud of that than the actual workout!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

Here are three workouts:

1. Marathon Paced Intervals: 20 with 2 miles easy w/u + 5 x 3 miles @ MP with 2:00 full rests followed by 1 mile with 10 x :15 HARD + 2 miles easy c/d

or

2. 1/3's Progression: 20 with 1 mile w/u + 6 @ MP+1:00; 6 @ MP+:30; 6 @ MP + 1 mile c/d

or

3. Long Continuous Marathon Paced Run: 20 miles with 4 miles easy + 13 @ MP + 3 miles easy

I'm curious what others think of these workouts. When would each be appropriate in a marathon training cycle if at all? What would be the benefits of each? Which would you do if given the choice? I'll kick off the discussion in the comments. Hopefully I won't be talking to myself :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Round of Applause

Out of the blue two days ago, peanut started to clap! I had worked with him a couple of months ago to get him to do it, but the best he would do was help mrp and me clap when we clapped, but he'd never do it himself. So, when he put his two little hands together all by himself I just about melted. What a cutie!

But even better, I think he did it because he was getting ready to celebrate: he slept 10 hours straight last night! I won't tell you how he woke up tons the night before and it turns out it wasn't because he's a whiney parent manipulator but rather because he was cold. Do I need to tell you I felt like a huge ass? But! Warmer jammies a night later and we have our best night ever! Woo!

In other news I just finished up my peak week of training before slowly descending downward to the marathon in 3 weeks and 4 days! (I won't really taper until two weeks out but I'll be back down in the 70's this week and probably next). I ran 83 miles. Many of those did not feel so hot. For the first time this season my legs felt the miles hard core. They felt heavy and pinchy on almost all my easy runs. My hard runs, however, were fantastic. Guess that means something's going right!

M 8 easy with peanut (he was fussy so had to stop half-way to play a little)

T AM 6 with peanut; PM 4 with peanut (his first double!)

W 14 including 6 x 7:30 at half-marathon effort with 2:30 rests + 6 x :30 @ 3k effort with 1:00 rests all on hilly trails. Did this on an out and back and ended way past where I started so that made me happy.

Th AM 4 on the TM (9ish pace and that felt hard!); PM 8 with Evie and peanut

F 10 easy from home in a thunderstorm (no lightening thank goodness!)

Sa 8 easy from the in-laws on the wonderful rolling country roads

Su 21 with FD averaging 7:30 pace (FD is a local masters runner who is a bit faster than me, so worked out great!): alternating 2 easy/1 MP (8:01; 7:52; 6:56; 7:35; 6:58; 7:42; 7:39; 7:00; 7:41; 7:34; 6:41; 7:36; 7:50; 6:49; 8:29 (Mt. Everest); 7:52; 6:48; 7:58; 7:53; 6:30; 8:09)

Total: 83

Monday, August 24, 2009

No Witty Title, Just a Summary of Recent Training

My training the last couple weeks continues to go well. I had a slight down week of 65 miles the week of the 10 mile race, but this past week I ramped right back up to 79. Sometimes the ramp up after a down week can be tough but I felt great this week. I recovered fairly quickly from the race and had lots of company for my runs this week which helped. Hopefully I can do the same this week! If you're local and want to get a run in, just let me know!

Yesterday I had a great long run with E. I finally made it down to the big group she often runs with on Sundays. Since peanut is doing better with his sleep and he and mrp have their little date on Sunday mornings I figured it would be good for me. We did an easy 5 mile loop with some other folks and then hit a 15 mile loop to close out the run. E had to do a standard 20 miles + 5 mile MP push. I had something a little more complicated on tap: 20 with a fartlek of 10 x 2:00 at ~6:30 with 3:00 easy in between. I needed to start this at 13.

E and I kept up a brisk, yet comfortable pace. We were averaging high 7:40's and feeling good. She warned me the course would get hilly just as I started my fartlek, but I didn't sweat it knowing it would be good for me. We tried to figure out who would finish her run first. I had a feeling it would be her with her steady and moderate 5 miles over my 7 miles of hard/easy intervals. I was right!

My first 2:00 was totally fine and felt good. I was at 6:17 pace and it felt surprisingly comfortable. As I finished it up I saw the big hill E had told me about. I knew the next one would be slow. It was. I ran 6:57 and had to fight hard for that! The recovery was still way up hill and I was still huffing and puffing. I grabbed some water E stashed for us and cheated a tad on this break--probably 3:45 instead of 3:00, but was quickly on my way. The next one was still headed uphill and was 6:40. After that I thought I was done with the hills. I managed 6:24 and 6:19 for the next two and was feeling fine. The 6th one started up yet another hill and it wasn't too bad, but at this point I was feeling any little incline. 6:34. Number 7 was back to flat at 6:17. And then number 8 was just evil. Straight uphill for the entire 2:00. At this point my legs were TOAST! 6:49, but it felt even slower. I thought I'd be lucky to crack 8:00 on this one! The last two were flat, but man I was pooped. My garmin randomly changed screens and I didn't have the pace anymore, which I thought was saving me from the misery of knowing. Turns out I was fine: 6:24 and 6:33.

Man did this workout kick my butt! I think it was really good for me though because it's teaching me to mentally and physically breakthrough that long run fatigue. I think if the run wasn't hilly it would not have been nearly as hard. But I'm glad it was.

Here are the last two weeks of training:

8/10-8/16

M 8 with peanut (no watch)

T 12 on trails and xc course: 45 min w/u + 8 x 2:00 @ 10k with 1:00 easy paced rest + 20:00 c/d

W: 8 with peanut (no watch)

Th: 11.5 mix of roads and trails: moderate run for an hour and then 8 x :30 @ 5k before heading home.

F: 7 with peanut (no watch)

Sa: 4 very easy alone (no watch)

Su: 15 including 10 mile race in 1:05:21

Total: 65.5

8/17-8/23

M 6 easy with peanut and (no watch)

T am 4 on the tm (8:40) and 8 pm with peanut and Evie (no watch)

W 6 easy with peanut and (no watch); 4 pm on tm (8:25)

Th 13: 20 min w/u + 4 x 12:00/3:00 at MP (6:50-7:04 from the random 1/2 mile snippets I timed) + 4 x 1:00/1:00 @ 5k effort + 20 min c/d

F 10 hilly miles easy with JP from home (8:20's)

Sa 8 easy on trails with E (probably around 8:45)

Su 20: 13 with E (and others from time to time) then did 10 x 2:00/3:00 (avg 7:41)

Total: 79

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When the Dust Settles

So now that the dust has settled and I've had some time to think about it I realized that a 1:05:21 10 miler is actually my best long race performance ever. I ran a 1:28:39 half in very similar conditions 7 weeks out from my last marathon, while the 10 mile result from Sunday is equivalent to roughly 1:26:45 (according to the Mcmillan calculator).

Even better still, this translates to about a 3:03 marathon. I am running Akron, so I'll take the prediction with a grain of salt (the course is on the tougher side). Since it's about 5 weeks out now, I have been thinking a lot about marathon strategy and I don't think mine is going to involve a time goal as much as it will involve a plan of attack more within my control. The key ingredient for me to have a successful marathon is to relax and trust myself. I hope to relax and handle the race as it comes. I haven't really mapped out my plan in any concrete way yet. But I am pretty sure I will not be focused on a particular finishing time. Although, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I really really really want a pr!

In other news, I am night-weaning peanut. I thought it was going to be hellacious, but he has been totally fine about it. And even better is he is almost sleeping through the night. Just last week he was waking up 7-8 times and demanding to be nursed to go back to sleep. The first night he woke up a lot, but mrp was on duty the first half of the night and got him back to sleep each time until 1 am. Then by the time I was on duty I think his will was broken and he only woke up twice and was pretty easy to get down both times. Then the second night he slept from 7:45-2:30 and then woke up again around 4, but both times he went down easily. Last night he just woke up at 2:30 and mrp handled it. I am so excited for all of us to start catching up on our sleep!

Speaking of sleep, peanut is napping now so I better get something done while I can (i.e. clean my filthy kitchen!) I'll come back soon and post my training for the last couple of weeks. Bye!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friends, Competitors, Countrymen

I said this last post: it's hard to compete against friends. It's hard to stay objective and detached, especially when under pressure in a race. We all work very hard to compete at our highest level and every race means a lot when we're at the peak of training. The races are our one opportunity to capitalize on all our hard work. It's easy to take these races too seriously.

Someone commented on my last post and said once racing isn't fun it's work. This is a little over-simplified: it's fun and it's work. But I think the crux of his point is helpful here. At the sub-sub-sub elite level (tm JPW) us runners take our running very seriously. We have to to be here. But at the same time, when we race our livelihood isn't at stake. If we stink up a race our kids still eat. We don't lose an endorsement. We get a smaller trophy. So what? Running is a hobby. It's a source of personal satisfaction, but it's not the be all end all. Things like friendships are more important than race results. Trite, yes. But true.

So with that, I'd like to say E-speed, I owe you a beer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Bittersweet Victory*

I had my last pre-marathon tune up race on Sunday. It was a 10-miler. I had been looking forward to it for a while. I've been feeling really good in my training and ready for a mini-breakthrough. After much thought and discussion with mrp I decided that my A goal time was sub 1:05:00 (6:30 pace) and B goal time was sub 1:06:40 (6:40 pace). I knew on a good day I could go under 1:05, especially because E would be racing with me. We are right at the same fitness level these days and have been pushing each other to race well. It's weird being great friends competing against each other. We always finish close, but we have never really raced-raced each other to really really push it to the finish. I was hoping we'd have the guts to work with each other to push each other to a break through performance at the 10-miler!

But it didn't quite turn out that way. It was hot and humid--low 70's and 70% humidity. At the starting line, E's friend was there and there was chatter about E pacing off of him. I had about 5 seconds to react and decided that if E should pace off of him, so should I! So, I did. We ran in a pack with 2-3 other women and about 4 dudes. Two of the other women were sort of playing games with each other ahead of us, but E and I kept our cool and let them wear themselves out. I was kind of disoriented because I had planned to run my own race, but at the same time it was nice to run with my buddy and it felt like we were finally working together in a race. At mile 4 I was in the middle of the pack and when we hit the water stop I got shut out of water. I said a bad word, but I rolled with it. What was I to do? Around this time we lost one of the women from our pack, so it was down to three of us: E, me and the "other woman," one who used to always just beat me!

Around mile 5 I got an itch to break away from the pack, but I knew at mile 6 the course starts to veer back downhill and my plan had me picking it up at 6, so I decided not to go. I should have gone.

Then around 5.5 I started taking a gu that mrp insisted I needed. It was a new flavor and I haven't been using gu in training and I have to say it didn't sit well. Just before the 6 mile mark, E's friend peeled off. Wha?! I realized he had just jumped in to pace E. Hmmm. Oh well, seems like a bunch of us used him so no biggee. I hit the water stop at 6 and needed a few seconds to let it settle before picking it up. However, E and the other woman started to inch away from me. Then the other woman started to gap E. "E, get up there!" I yelled. I really wanted me or E to win over the other woman. One of my goals this year has been to beat that other woman and if I couldn't do it I wanted E too! At that point I was still confident I was going to catch them, but just in case if E stuck with her it was a little insurance. (PS I like the other woman. This is race talk).

E did get up there and they got a good gap on me by 7, but I started the claw back. Every race lately, I come from behind and have to ungap myself. So, there has been a time in every race where I have to ask myself how bad I want it. Is it worth the effort it will take to close the gap and make the pass? It takes me a couple of minutes to resolve this inner conflict most races.

Just as I was going through this thought process I saw ahead that pacer friend jumped back in with E. Wha?! Great! I thought. There I was struggling with that inner dialogue and she had a friend to fill her head with positivity. And then pacer friend looked back. He looked back to see where I was! At that moment I felt like he was there just so E could finally beat me once and for all (I had come in ahead of her in every race to this point). Normally when I race someone and come from behind I watch them for cues that they are tired and then I use that mentally to go after them. This time I just saw the pacer friend--I was so distracted by that. I did not expect him to jump back in the race. If I would have known I could have decided to stay with E so I could use him too.

I know having someone setting the pace is very helpful late in the race and what is even more helpful is someone giving you encouragement the whole way. Mrp ran with me in a race once and he kept me so calm and encouraged me while hardly saying a word. Just having that kind of support helps tremendously. But here we were, three of us battling for first place and one of us had a clear advantage.

I made another mistake. In arbitrating my inner dialogue I said, "You know what, if she's going to have help what's the point. Screw it. She can have it." I take responsibility for this. I used the pacer friend as an excuse to back off. But. BUT! Would I have backed off if he wasn't there? Would we finally have raced each other to push each other to that big break through? We will never know.

Shortly after pacer friend jumped back in, he and E passed the other woman. Some time later up a small hill I passed the other woman too, who had seemed to have given up. I was just cruising at this point. Sort of numb by what was transpiring. Just when I had resigned myself to a second place disappointment, with about 1 mile to go a woman came blowing by me! It was my friend LM. Where'd she come from?! I let her go for a few seconds before gathering my wits back and then I fought to catch back up. I did with about 600 to go. At that point I was reengaged in the race and suddenly realized that I had bent over and given away a win that should have been hard fought. I saw E's coach and I felt him smirk to see E ahead of me (at least that's how it seemed at the time in my race-induced paranoid brain). I saw the owner of the shop I race for and I felt like I let him down. I suddenly felt the RACE bug bite me, but it was much too late. I saw pacer friend peel away. Then I saw E make the final turn alone. I pushed to the finish but E had already beaten me there by 13 seconds. I came in second with a 1:05:21.

It's really hard to compete against a very close friend. It's even harder when something like this happens. It's such a gray area. I wanted to be happy for her and feel like she beat me fair and square--I've been the first to say I'd be happy for her to beat me for a long time now! But, this victory left a bad taste in my mouth. Right after the race I still hadn't processed it or made sense of it. E joked she should be DQ'd and I said that's silly. I wasn't overjoyed for her like I wanted to be and I definitely felt very disappointed in my own race.

It really didn't start making sense until later in the day. I started to wonder what would have happened if pacer friend wasn't there. Would E have run as well as she did? Would I have given up the fight? Would we have both run faster? Would the other woman have run better too? Who knows. But I longed for the race between all of us girls. The way it should have been. The 4 top women were within 45 seconds of each other without one man in between us. That's very unusual. We were all very close. Was it a coincidence that the woman who came out on top had help while the rest of us didn't?

In the end I take the blame for not reaching my A goal or getting the win myself. I let myself off the hook and I was weak. I made a few tactical errors and let something bother me that I should have been strong enough to ignore.

Late last night while I was waiting out peanut's crying spell I wrote E and explained how I felt. I felt like we lost out on a chance to race fair and square and that the race was plagued with an asterisk. I wrote how I felt that she had an advantage, even if it was minor and it bugged me. She's my friend first and I didn't want to resent this.

Ultimately she chose to DQ herself. I really didn't want her to do that. That was not the point for telling her how I felt, but she felt that was the right thing to do for a variety of reasons and not solely because of me (not even mainly, it seems--I hope!) and I respect her decision and I love her for being the kind of friend that I can talk to about this kind of stuff and who I can look forward to beating the pants of me in many races in the future, but doing so with only her own talent and skill to rely on.

So, yes. The question of having a personal pacer. What do you think about that? Is it a DQ-worthy offense or perfectly acceptable? Am I just a whiner who took it too personally? Please, don't hold back!

To read E's take on this, go here.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fartlekin'

Another nice week on the books. I have been feeling really really good lately. I've switched to doing fartleks on the trails over timed track workouts and tempo runs. I'm pushing myself in my workouts for sure and ran my 5 consecutive week in the 70+ mile range. Last week I clocked my pace for some harder stretches of my long run and I was rolling out high 6:50's no problem and mid 7:20's in between harder stretches and felt good. This week I clocked three miles towards the end of my long run at 19:50! So for the little bit of pacing I have been monitoring, my training seems to be going really well. Even better I have found myself beaming with positivity lately. I am so grateful to be able to run on these beautiful summer days and so grateful I have friends and family who support me to make my training happen. And of course I have the most delicious little peanut to run home to, so yeah things are going swell!

I still need to find some source of income. I have a lunch date on Thursday to discuss working as a contract attorney for my county's family courts. I hope I find something to bring home some bacon soon, because my piggy is getting really really skinny!

In peanut news, the kid is a physical machine. Last week he started crawling and standing up and this week he's cruising (walking while holding on to stuff). He also cut his 7th tooth and started eating fingers foods that he picks up, puts in his mouth and chews. This is all within a 7 day span! The down side is that his sleeping has been atrocious. He practices crawling and standing up in his crib and gets stuck in a corner or stuck standing up (he's still working on figuring out how to sit down from standing) and then cries for a rescue. He is almost 9 months and has not once slept through the night. I don't think I've had more than 4 straight hours of sleep since he was born! Surprisingly I feel ok. Sure, the half-asleep me mutters my way up the stairs in the dark at 2 am, but overall I don't feel too sleep-deprived.

I could go on and on. Lots going on, but it's a beautiful day and the nap is almost over so I leave you with the past week's training. Enjoy!

M 8 easy with peanut

T 90 minute fartlek: 45 min easy then 20 x 1:00/1:00 @8k; 5 minutes easy

W 8 easy at the park alone!

R am 90 min fartlek: 35 min easy then 6 x 5:00/2:00 @ HMP; 15 minutes easy; pm 7 easy with peanut and Evie

F 6 easy with peanut

Sa 18 with 20 (from 1:40-2:00) at MP with new friend *N*

Su 8 easy in the hot hot heat alone

Total: 78.5!