Saturday, October 4, 2014

I'm a mommy, not a marathoner (for now.)

Irresistible baby cheeks - good for pinching and kissing.
Allow me to introduce you to the tiny love of my life, Wolfgang Wilhelm...his friends call him Wolf. 

As I type this, he's quietly napping on my lap while we listen to sleepy hipster music from the early 2000s. He seems to like it. And I like this arrangement, too; there is nothing quite like having the weight of your baby on your chest. My life is a whole lot of this lately - the two of us sitting on the couch, getting to know each other while he eats, sleeps, cries and starts the cycle over again. It is a wonderful way to spend my days - and this is all I am cleared to do for three more weeks.

I ended up having a very complicated labor and delivery which resulted in an emergency C-section and a cocktail of drugs that left me loopy for about a week after Wolfie was born. I am genuinely thankful that my six week recovery period is only six weeks, because it could have been much worse. I am being a good girl, not over-doing anything - I don't want any more complications. I'm just giving my body the time it needs to get its shit back together (literally back together.) I am so glad I have the company and entertainment of my little buddy while I heal.
That face. Those eyes.
Tomorrow is Milwaukee's Lakefront Marathon - my favorite race. I have been feeling a little jealous of the people I see posting about it. I really wish I was running (although the forecast does not look ideal.) But there will be other races and I have to remind myself that I am doing something else that's super important and special right now - I'm being a mommy, not a marathoner. I think it is that shift in identity that I haven't fully realized and it feels like a blow to my ego to even type those words: not a marathoner, not a runner, not the thing you're known for being. It probably sounds so selfish - and it is in some capacity - I just haven't completely accepted the degree of change that has happened in my life. I am not the person that could dedicate 60 miles a week to training. I am not the person that had no commitments to anyone but herself. I AM the person that has a tiny, little monkey completely dependent on her and her time is best spent on a couch making goo-goo faces at him.

I can get back to working out in THREE WEEKS - no time at all. My current fitness goal is simply to run Lakefront Marathon in 2015. I won't put a strict time goal on the race, but I want to be in good enough shape to complete the distance in a year's time. I can definitely tell that I have lost a lot of my fitness over the last few months, so I have to give myself time to get back to where I was - lots and lots of time with my baby in his fancy BOB jogger. I can't wait for our quality time to shift from the couch to the roads.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Update - Pregnancy, Fitness and Back to School

Happy Labor Day, people! It is awfully close to another "labor" day for this girl, so I thought I would stop by to do an update - and likely last post - before the little guy makes his appearance. 

I have to say that I woke up feeling really excited and maybe a little relieved that we have finally made it to September. I can take myself back to the exact moment in January when I found out I'd be having a baby in September - and I thought September sounded so far away. But here we are. Time really does fly by - it is scary just how fast. I thought this was an appropriate song for how I feel about today (kind of inappropriate, I suppose.)

So - when is this kid coming? My due date is September 12th. My birthday is September 10th. I am naturally biased toward the month and Virgos in general. I'll be happy to have a little type-A buddy to keep me company, but I don't want to necessarily SHARE a birthday. Most people say things like, "Oh - wouldn't it be fun to have the same birthday?" I always feel like I'd rather he had his own day. We can still celebrate together, but I want him to have his very own birthday. My hope is that he waits until after his due date, but sometimes I feel like he has other plans and I could burst at any moment. Place your bets! The fact of the matter is that I don't know if I am ready to share him with the whole world yet. Right now, we have this special bond that is just ours - and I'm not over that yet. I will miss the little pokes and jabs, so I am trying to enjoy all of those special pregnancy-specific things for the time being.

Are you still working out? If you follow my instagram you have probably been seeing sweaty photos of me, because I am still running. I don't run every day, but most days. I usually last 3-5 miles depending on how I feel. I'm still managing about 9 minute miles, which I am ok with because I don't want to push it. The other day, a jerk in a pick-up truck shouted "IDIOT!" at me as I ran down the street - I assumed because he thought that running while pregnant was dangerous??? I spent the rest of that run being annoyed at the fat, sitting-down guy shouting insults at someone that is actually trying to make good, healthy choices; my pace that run ended up being about 8:30 min/mi. Anger = faster running. On days that I don't run, I am still walking about 3 miles with my pup and I am doing plenty of work around the house and yard to keep active. I am also using a pedometer issued by my job to keep track of my activity - which helps to keep me accountable. 

How do you feel? In general, I feel really fantastic. Being this late in the pregnancy, I am almost afraid to say that to people - especially women who have had a hard time with pregnancy. Aside from being tired in the beginning and having heartburn throughout, I cannot complain at all. My mood hasn't really changed. I'm still getting *enough* sleep. I'm not waddling. I am able-bodied and perfectly capable of 90% of the things I did before. I don't want to jinx anything because I still have labor and parenting to get through - but - pregnancy was relatively easy for me. Thank god. I am truly thankful...but I don't think it is random...I am pretty sure that my lifestyle helped me out quite a bit.

Diet and Weigh-Gain? I would say that I eat less now than I did before - just because of the heartburn and the lack of room in my belly. And - truth be told - I am not hungry all the time. You always hear about how pregnant women are constantly starving and I definitely have days when I am like, "GIVE ME THE FOOD!" but generally speaking...not that hungry. My diet is NOT perfect by any means. I have been obsessed with Golden Grahams and Honey Combs. I eat a gross amount of fruit everyday. I have ice cream at least twice a week. I have hated peanut butter and jelly my WHOLE LIFE, but I have it every day for the last two weeks. At my 37 week appointment last week, I had gained a total of 16.5 pounds. I am happy with that, because I should be able to keep my total weight gain under 20 pounds. 

How has life changed so far? I barely recognize my life right now. We got a new car this past weekend that is more "family friendly" - an SUV with lots of room for strollers and car seats, unlike my tiny car which now resembles a clown car in comparison. We are finishing the yard and the basement. We got new furniture. We turned our office space into our nursery. The Mister is in grad school and got a new "adult" hair cut. He even said, "I think I need to get respectable pajamas, because I can't have this kid seeing me in over-sized t-shirts and basketball shorts." haha. We are definitely more content staying home than before. Our social life has changed a lot...and I'm not surprised. Of course, we still love all of our friends, but it is nice to stay home working on projects, making dinner together, getting ready for the truly BIG CHANGE coming down the pipe. I think this pregnancy and all of its anticipation have made our relationship a lot stronger - and we were pretty solid before! 

Are you going back to school? We are both teachers and tomorrow is the first day back with students. Since my due date is so close, I am obviously taking things one day at a time...hoping to keep the little dude in there as long as it is safe for us both. I really want to be able to spend some time getting to know my students, so that when I go back to work after maternity leave, the kids will know me, my style, my expectations. It would be extremely challenging to just show up in the middle of the year and expect the kids to conform to my teaching style, rules, etc. I will be taking the full 12 weeks that are allowed - which might not be ideal from a teaching stand-point, but I am willing to be a lot selfish here: baby comes first and nothing is more important than bonding in the beginning. 

What are you looking forward to? I'm just in an excited mindset...I feel like Christmas is coming. I can't wait to finally meet this little boy! I cannot wait to see Mister as a daddy! I can't wait to see Gertie as a "doggy sister." I'm excited for my parents to have another grand-baby to spoil (only their second!) The pumpkin farm. Halloween costumes. Christmas traditions. Easter bunny. Tooth fairy. Kindergarten. Little league. A life time of firsts with our little guy. I am looking forward to it all. And I'm looking forward to doing it all with my best friend, the best partner I could've dreamed up for me, by my side. 

So - I guess that is about it! I don't know how often I will be updating on here (maybe a lot, maybe not at all) once I am home with the little one...but I promise to update on Instagram! Follow me there if you don't already:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Post-Baby Fitness Equipment: Getting Back in Shape

Tomorrow is my baby shower! I am pretty excited about it. I think a lot of people on both sides of our families doubted we'd ever have kids - so there is a fair level of anticipation with this little bundle. 

Of course, I registered for all of the necessary baby gear - the crib, the swing, the boob equipment, the car seat, etc. But I also put one thing on the registry that I feel mostly selfish about: a jogger. I don't feel selfish, because it is unnecessary or over the top - but because I see it as MY ticket back to MY former self. (I still have 7 weeks until my due date and I am already salivating at the thought of getting in a long run.) My relationship with running is weirdly personal and it is something I protect. For that reason, I wanted to be sure that my jogger came from someone that "gets it" - that understands how important running is to my existence and how this piece of equipment is not just a piece of equipment, but a guarantee of a return to my lifestyle. I am definitely romanticizing here, but the jogger seriously represents a promise to myself: I am committed to taking care of me - my sanity, my body, my goals and now, my little family. I was thrilled when my parents said they wanted to get my jogger, because they definitely "get it."

When it came time to decide which jogging stroller I wanted, I did some research and polled my net friends (you guys!) The resounding response was to get a BOB Stroller - although there was some discrepancy in which model everyone preferred. I chose the BOB Ironman (in yellow!) I like that it is built for serious distance, high visibility and style - obviously. I have to wait until our little dude is 8 months before he can join me on the road, but when he does, we are going to run far and wide in our flashy little buggy. :) I will write a review after I actually get to test it out.

So - runner friends - since you have been so helpful in determining which jogger to get, I thought I would ask which other essential items helped you return to running/your active lifestyle? I'm talking anything - sport bras, baby carriers, protein powders, etc. Anything! You guys are experts and I have so much to learn!

I'll do a "Baby Shower" post sometime later this week - it is so much fun to get to share our little adventure with you all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Learning Empathy through Pregnancy

I think it should be a standard rite of passage that every human (boy, girl, both) should experience one full month of being pregnant. Like when you're 25, you have to undergo one full month of not-actual-baby-producing pregnancy that allows you to experience the myriad of feelings, symptoms and side effects that come standard with baby making.

I don't say that to sound like, "Oh my gosh - pregnancy is so hard and all of you non-pregnant people cannot possibly relate." It is actually quite the opposite. I feel like I have learned so much about my abilities, my limitations and other people as a result of this experience - and I think everyone could stand a refresher in empathy.

Pregnancy has been humbling for me. First of all, it is really amazing what these bodies are capable of doing. It really does feel miraculous in many ways. But the physical toll on my body has been significant, too; not debilitating by any means - but enough to force me to slow down a lot. Simple things, like going up a flight of stairs, are not mindless activities anymore; you are likely to find me resting halfway up to catch my breath. Finding the motivation to take a shower, make a lunch, clean the house all requires specific and directed determination. I set small goals throughout the day and high-five myself for dealing with basic things. All of these things - the mundane, day-to-day activities that fill a life - require planning, time and careful thought.

I have been fortunate that I have not experienced anything in my life until this point that would require such accommodation and change. My pregnancy is temporary and so are the challenges that have come with it. I know it will take some time and plenty of effort, but I fully expect to bounce back to my former shape and abilities - but as I struggled through my run today, I got to thinking about the fact that many people live with circumstances, abilities and afflictions that are not temporary. They aren't counting down the days until their asthma disappears or their weight is healthy or their heart is strong enough for rigorous activity again. It also made me think of all of the people I know that are struggling with one thing or another that they do not allow to get in the way of living a life they want or pursuing the goals they've chosen. I thought about many of my students - and the things that they don't have or the challenges they do have - but they still show up to school every day and try (most of them.) I thought about the times I have hollered at an athlete for quitting a particularly hard workout without really knowing what they're experiencing physically.

Honestly, I found myself feeling a little bit embarrassed when I considered the assumptions and thoughts I have had about other people without knowing their full experience. I would hate for someone to have seen me on my run today and for them to think, "Gosh, she sure runs slow" without knowing the full story, "HEY - I am doing my current best!" I guess this was all a reminder that the only assumption I should be making about anyone at any time is that they are also doing their current best. As a teacher and coach, this is absolutely necessary to keep in mind...and my slow run was totally worth the lesson today.

So, back to my original point: I think everyone should experience pregnancy. Learn the amazing abilities of the human body, learn that making a person is surprisingly hard (maybe it shouldn't be surprising) and learn to empathize with others through understanding your own limitations.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pregnancy Updates!

I thought I would just stop by and give some quick updates on things over here, in pregnant lady land. I'm currently on summer break from school (thank God) and I thought I'd have all sorts of time for blogging, working out, relaxing, snoozing...not so. I think I'm busier now than ever. Good busy, but BUSY.

How far along am I? As of today, I am 31 weeks and 2 days (roughly 75% baked.)

How do I feel? *knocks on wood* Most of the time, I feel exactly like my normal, non-pregnant self. I regularly forget that I am quite obviously pregnant now - and I get surprised when people ask about it. Then I see my reflection and I get, "Who's body is THAT? Not mine!" In general, I feel pretty good. There are definitely times and entire days when I am pretty tired, but nothing that has changed my lifestyle all that much.
31 weeks after building the crib!
Least favorite part of being pregnant? My biggest complaint would still be relentless heartburn - so I've been taking down Gaviscon like its candy.
Turns out I am one of those weird people that likes the taste of antacids. Another least favorite thing: uninvited hands on the belly. I'm going to start grabbing the boobs of women that do this. You've been warned.

Favorite part of being pregnant? There is a lot that I do like. I like the anticipation - its like waiting for Christmas when you're a kid, but waiting for a much longer time. I love to feel the little pokes and jabs from my little dude. I love, love, love thinking about my Mister as a daddy...and I love all the conversations we have about the baby. Our relationship is different and better, which is pretty cool because it was great before. 

What are you looking forward to? My shower is in two weeks! I don't really do "themes" - at least I am not into baby-ish themes. My "shower" is basically a summer picnic, complete with woven baskets and checkered table cloths. It will be really nice to see the family. I'm also having a lot of fun planning out the nursery. Again, we're not into themes. It will be a modern, minimalist room with some mid-century touches; no jungle animals or baseball themes for this kid.
Gertie, sleeping on the job during Shower preparation! Bum.
Biggest concerns about this whole thing? I guess there is the whole "I've gotta keep a human alive ALL THE TIME" thing - which is mildly terrifying, but I hope to be mostly instinctual. I am, however, starting to have minor panic attacks thinking about how short my "maternity leave" will be - I use that term loosely. I feel like this is a real social injustice. How can we raise healthy, well-rounded, loving children when we get to maybe spend a few weeks home with them when they are BRAND NEW PEOPLE and we are BRAND NEW PARENTS? As an educator, I see all sorts of problems with this (bonding, development, consistency, stress.) I think it speaks volumes about what we value as a society. Anyway - I will be plotting and scheming to find a way to stay home until the day I am required to go back to work. There is always a chance. #teampositive (Don't make this political. I am grateful to be employed and to have insurance, etc. But in an ideal world, I would not be leaving my brand new baby with someone else when I am just getting to know them. You cannot argue with that.) 

What are you going to call this kid? We have to keep something a secret! We talked about this quite a bit and finding a name was hard...we've changed our minds a few times for various reasons. But I'm 95% sure we have settled on a pretty cool moniker for the this little boy. Since we gave away the gender, we are keeping the name a secret. And honestly, I don't want to hear the comments about how someone doesn't like the name. Too bad, so sad. I will say that it will not be your average name; in fact, it hasn't made the top 1,000 names in the US ever. :) Don't worry. You'll like it. 

How is working out? Going into this, I knew that I would have to learn to be fair to myself. I have pretty high expectations of myself with most things and I can be pretty mean to me when I am disappointed with my performance in anything. ANYTHING. I am one of those  people that will rewrite post-it notes 1000 times if my handwriting doesn't look right. OCD, maybe. So, working out has been an adjustment but I am actually proud of how I've dealt with it. I am still running most days, but it is slow and inconsistent and short - usually about 4 miles at a time. I have decided that any time I go running and I feel the SLIGHTEST amount of discomfort - I can walk. I'm not into taking risks with this kid, so I end up doing a lot of workouts where I run/walk every other block and I am ok with that. I've been able to deal with the change by staying really active in other ways: making projects around the house, cutting the grass, painting things, planting things, walking the dog, riding my bike, preparing the nursery, etc. It turns out that we have endless projects around here, and my time is better spent on them anyway.  
I feel a lot like preggers Charlotte running - cautious!!

Any cravings or weird diet changes? Not really. I go through phases with foods - where I like to have them, but it isn't really a weird craving. I had a phase with Cheerios, baked potatoes, even Egg White Delights from McD's (no Canadian bacon, obviously.) Lately, I want a lot of salads...big crunchy salads with all kinds of veggies for texture. I do prefer cold, uncooked things. I could eat 10 nectarines or a bag of cherries a day if I could get away with it. I do like ice cream once or twice a week - but who doesn't? The fact of the matter is that my stomach can't hold much anymore because this little kicking ninja in my belly takes up a lot of room, so I don't eat meals very often...lots of little things all day. Total, I have gained 12 pounds - which my doctor said is fine. Technically, I'm behind the weight gain curve, but she said it is because I'm active and I was diet-conscious before I got pregnant anyway. As long as the baby keeps putting on weight, its all good. Hopefully, I can get back to fighting weight quicker after the baby is here!

Oiselle - Flock vs Volee: This won't be common knowledge for all of you, but I wanted to address it anyway. My racing team, Oiselle, has broken up into three different racing groups: Haute Volee (elite athletes,) Volee (my current team) and now, the Flock (team members without the same requirements as Haute Volee and Volee.) Volee team members were asked to decide if we wanted to continue on the team for the upcoming year while adhering to certain social media and racing requirements or drop down to the less rigorous Flock - which still gives many perks but you can sort of be your own racer. I really like the idea of being on a sponsored race team as a competitive RACER, but the fact is, I don't know what the next 12 months (or 18 years) looks like for me. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to meet minimum racing requirements (8 races in the year) or if I could stay competitive during that time. I don't like to race for the sake of running; I like to compete. That said - I have decided to join the Flock and to take a step back from Volee. I actually felt a lot of relief once I formally made that decision, because I can still train and run for Oiselle - but at my own pace and around the needs of my new, little family. :)

So - that's a lot to take in. :) 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pregnant Lady Workout Thoughts

Today was a pretty humbling day. The superhero-esque vision I have of myself was crushed in one fell swoop. It was more of a crouch than a swoop, actually.

You see, I have continued to workout regularly throughout the 24 weeks and 5 days of this pregnancy. For the most part, I've been running - shorter and slower - but running all the same. Many of my workouts were completed with my track team. Sprint workouts. Strength. Distance. I was feeling pretty good about it all - pregnancy, schmegnancy. Pffffft. Piece-a-cake.

24 Weeks and all smiles.
I came home from work today and I didn't want to run. Sometimes, I just don't wanna. But I did want to workout. So, I put in my T25 dvd and chose the "Speed 1.0" workout - which is mostly cardio, stretching and stability. The opening jog sequence started and I was like, "Yeah, I got this. This video is sooo easy." Jog. Jog. Jog. Well, within the next two minutes - I realized something awful; I was going to have to do the modified workout.
NOOO! What. The. Eff.

You know what I'm talking about. While the rest of the fit "normal" people in the video are happily, effortlessly jumping around in their tight little bodies and equally tight clothes, there is one slow-poke off to the side offering a pouty "modified" workout. They're usually dressed in sweat pants and kicking a leg around listlessly or fist pumping casually while the others are doing the "real" version. Yeah, I was relegated to THAT workout. (Calm down. I'm not judging you if you actually like the modifications or you have to do them for whatever reason.)

I realized that I couldn't fake my way through the actual video when I attempted to do an "up and over." You know the move: an aerobic-y hop while popping your right leg up and over your left leg, toe touch and back the opposite direction. My belly got in the way! For real. My belly is not even that big! So I was like, "Um....ok. I'll just do it slower." I cannot explain how much slower I had to do it to make it even slightly looked like a weird stationary military march. And with that...I had to start following the Modifier, who suddenly became an enlightened genius offering fair and just treatment of those simply trying to muddle their way through this torturous collection of moves. Who thought of this crap anyway? 

How quickly our perspectives change.

I finished my workout. I got a little sweaty. But I felt a little defeated, to be honest. I'm pretty tough on myself when it comes to physical things. The thought, "That is too hard for me" rarely (never) enters my mind. I'm a cocky jerk about physical things - truth. Because of that, today was humbling. I called my dad and retold the story of my living room defeat - and he laughed at me. He said, "I can just picture the disgust on your face when you realized it." But telling the story and hearing him laugh about it all made me realize what this whole thing is about: I AM GROWING A PERSON. Sometimes I forget. My dad made me feel so much better about the whole thing and I was able to laugh at how ridiculously childish I was acting about it. 

Give yourself a break, girl! Do that slow-poke workout. Feel good about staying active and healthy and taking care of that little boy in there. He won't care how tough you are.

So, my fitness goals will continue to change as my body changes. I have no interest in becoming one of these "news-worthy" fit pregnant women (i.e. Crossfit lady) but I am also deathly afraid of losing my fitness - it is a huge part of my life and it always has been. I will stay as active as my body agrees to. I learned some of my limits today.

More power to her, but this is not for me. Just no.
In other updates, everything else is going pretty well:
- I am excited to be done with school in a few weeks - for a number of reasons (mostly, see previous post.)
- I am feeling like myself. If I couldn't see my belly, I would never remember that I'm pregnant.
- I am not gaining weight as quickly as I think I'm supposed to. 6 pounds so far. The doctor said she's not concerned so - neither am I, I guess.
- I wouldn't say I am having any weird cravings, but I do have a very real love of ice cream. And Honeynut Cheerios. And apples. And yogurt.
- No real symptoms to report, other than some crazy awful heartburn (aka - throat lava)
- I bought my first maternity maxi dress...because it was on sale and I like deals.
- We still haven't thought of a name. Well, we've thought of a thousand names but none of them are THE name. This makes me nervous.
- I can feel the little boo kick! Now - that is awesome! From what I can tell, he's going to be a nice little baby and a great runner. 


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Riding the Coattails of Mediocrity

I guess this post could be taken as off-topic. Not necessarily running-inspired, but definitely running related in the end.

You see, I've found myself surrounded by a certain level of mediocrity lately. Complacency. Negativity. Self-righteousness. Jealousy. And uglier yet, spite.

I have always specifically avoided conflict and conflicted people. I don't know if that is healthy or not, but I do not like to complicate my life. Many times, the path of least resistance is the one I prefer. Sure, you could call my avoidance some type of social laziness, but the fact is, I don't want to partake in the dirty underbelly of relationships. No thanks. I would prefer to keep the majority of my interactions naively positive, albeit superficial. (Cue: Don't worry, be happy.) 
Despite my best efforts to avoid problems, it seems that some people must cause conflict; as if it is in their DNA to stir the pot. I assume that these people are either wrestling with a tremendous amount of stress, depression or boredom. "Well, if I don't have anything to say, I can always complain." I can't justify negativity and dysfunction any other way. 

Oh my god. Just stop.
Lately, I have been slipping in my diligent efforts to dodge all the yuckiness. My walls came down for a brief moment in time....just long enough for the tentacles of negativity to get a momentary hold on my throat. That shit is more infectious than a yawn or a smile or a virus - certainly more stifling. One of the coaches on our track team reminds the kids every year, "Negativity is cancer to a team; it won't be tolerated." True that, homies.

Thankfully, I have the self-awareness to recognize that other people's insecurities have been affecting me. I have felt a weight on me that was stealing my motivation, clarity and happiness. Barf. No, thank you! I am better than that. Giving in to the attitude around me is mental laziness.

This is where running comes in. I swear, there is a different girl that lives in my mind and she only comes out when I'm running. I have great conversations with her. She's the honest, no-nonsense one that says, "Who cares what these people are doing? They don't matter."  Or "Why are you wasting your energy on this crap? You have important things to do that that don't involve petty BS." That chick is a badass. She reminds me to refocus, to regain the tunnel-vision that has always made my goals attainable. If you are a runner, you probably have your own resident badass that you look to regularly. (What would we do without them? Probably piss and moan.)

So - I had some of those pretty serious conversations (straight-up motivational speeches) with myself during my runs this weekend. I am looking forward to moving beyond the nonsense that I have let get to me lately. The fact is, haters gonna hate. I can't control the people around me, but I can control my own mind and my response. It looks something like this:

But seriously, nose to the grindstone. There are a million things that I am looking forward to, and I can't afford distraction at this point. The truth is, no one can. Whenever something like this gets me off-track, I am reminded that the devil is in distraction.  

Well, Mr. Devil, screw you. 
I have shit to do.
And I'll do it HAPPILY.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014 Recap: Dear "Baby"

Dear Baby,

I thought that I should write you a letter before the details slip my mind. Someday you'll hear this story, and I want to be sure to get it right.

When we found out about you in January 2014, your daddy and I couldn't have been more excited - and scared - but over the moon thinking about your arrival. We sincerely felt so lucky to know that we were going to have a little baby joining our team.

At that time, it was the middle of one of the worst winters in Wisconsin's history: cold, snowy and endless. It was also supposed to be the middle of my training for the 118th Boston Marathon. My training didn't go quite as I planned between the awful winter, feeling very tired (you were working hard to become a little person,) and feeling a little bit nauseated for a couple months. Needless to say, I would rather sit on the couch with a hot chocolate and your daddy while I read about what to expect when having your first baby! My priorities shifted pretty quickly, and running had to take a backseat to learning all about you.

Over the next few months, I "trained" when I could and when I wanted to. I didn't stick to a plan, and I wasn't worried about it either. I knew I would be able to go to the race in April and run the marathon - it just wouldn't be fast. 

The weekend of the marathon arrived. Your dad and I were so excited to get back to Boston. We packed our bags and got to the airport at 4AM. The weather was beautiful in Boston that weekend - 50s/60s and sunny. The day before the race was Easter Sunday, so we went to a church service at the Old South Church right at the finish line of the marathon. We had to wait in line for two hours to get into the mass. The church was beautiful - and filled with local Bostonians and others in their blue and yellow Boston Marathon gear. At the end of the service, they did a very emotional athlete's blessing - asking God to protect all the runners and spectators the following day. I couldn't keep myself from crying. They also gave all the runners scarves that had been made by volunteers from around the country. My scarf was bright yellow with a blue peace ribbon, made by members of a church in Macfarland, Wisconsin. That made me feel like it had been made just for me and it put my mind at ease.
Easter morning at the marathon finish line.
The night before the race, we got back to our hotel early so that I could get ready. I had one important thing to take care of before I could get to sleep: I had to decorate my running tank top to let everyone know that I wouldn't be running the race alone; I was running with you. I bought some silver duct tape and borrowed scissors from the front desk so I could spell out "BABY" across my chest with a little arrow pointing to my small-but-growing belly. No one would miss you - I made sure of that!

The morning of the race, the local newspaper ran a very nice article about the people from Racine that would be running. The article talked about how we all planned to run the race to feel close to the running community and recovery of Boston after last year's tragedy - but for us, it also served as a surprise announcement to anyone in town that didn't already know about YOU. (You're not even here yet, and you are already making it into the papers!)

Your dad and I walked to the buses that would take us to the start of the race. It was a sunny and chilly morning, but I was so excited that it didn't matter. Your daddy gave us a good luck kiss and a long hug before we jumped on the bus to Hopkinton. They only let the runners get on the buses, so I got pretty sad as I had to wave goodbye to him.

Before the race started, I sat around the Athlete's Village sipping water and eating the worst bagel of my life. I was feeling a little nervous, so it was hard to get any food down, but I knew I would need the energy to get through the 26.2 miles that were waiting for us. I sat on the grass with other runners and waited patiently. They finally made the announcement for runners in Wave 2, Corrals 1-3 to proceed toward the start. I donated my extra clothes and started walking. For the first time, people were able to see my tank that read "BABY" in big, bold, proud letters and the reactions started right away. One lady couldn't even help herself as she put her hands on my belly and said, "Oh my God! A baby!" I just smiled - it made me feel really happy to know that you were completely welcome there.

As I waited in the corral, I went over my race strategy. It was never a "race" for me; it was always a fun run that we would do carefully together. My plan was to go very slowly for the whole race, so that I could take in the scenery, interact with the crowd and let the crowd interact with you. I also wanted to leave myself the freedom to stop for water, fuel, and rest as needed - so I put absolutely zero time expectations on myself. It was more important to make memories and to be careful (it was your first marathon, after all) than to take the risk of going out aggressively.

The race started - and I was surrounded by a really fast group of people. They were clearly well-trained and had goals of competing. I drifted off to the side of the course and found a much slower pace that was comfortable and easy to maintain. The number of spectators lining the course was just incredible. They estimated that there were about a million people watching the race that day, and it certainly felt like it. Whenever I would approach a group of people, their faces would light up when they read my tank. They had some pretty amazing reactions, but here are some of the common ones and some favorites:
  • Go Baby!
  • Aww, she's got a baby!
  • Take care of that baby!
  • Go momma! 
  • You're pregnant? That is so badass!
  • You go, girl!
  • Baby's first Boston!
  • OH. MY. GOD.
  • Congratulations, mommy!
  • I'm not pregnant and I can't run this!
  • How did that baby get in there? (haha)
I loved, loved, loved all the great responses. The women were especially responsive, because they could probably relate a little more. Surprisingly, a lot of the men laughed when they read my tank - almost in disbelief. The best part - I only heard one person say "That is not safe." Don't worry, baby. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't safe.

I chugged slowly along as the day got warmer and the sun got higher. There was very little shade along the route, so I actually got too warm. I didn't want to overheat, so I got water whenever it was available and started to build in cool-down walk breaks towards the second half of the race. I called your dad at mile 15 to see where he was, because he was going to meet us. I was very excited to hear that he was just one mile down the road at mile 16.
Mile 16: Our family of three, still smiling.
I was so happy to see him. I gave him a huge hug and we snapped a few photos. It would've been easy to stop there and just watch the race with him. I did have the goal to finish the race, so we made plans to find each other at the finish line and said a quick goodbye.

From that point on, I REALLY took my time. Since I was so hot, my feet were sweating more than normal and I could feel my feet start to blister. I could also feel some chafing under my arms. I found a medic on the course and had him give me some Vaseline and about 100 bandaids for my feet. When I took my shoes off, I found a bloody mess - it looked like both of my arches had exploded. (They kind of did, I guess.) Once I was bandaged up, I was good as new and I was back on my way.

Around mile 21, I ran into my friend from Milwaukee (Sheila aka She-She of Oiselle and OlallieMKE fame.) She is a rockstar runner - running two marathons in one week! We ran together for a few miles and the company was more than welcome. She helped to push me through some of my aches and pains, but ultimately, I just wanted to slow she ran on to finish while I kept up my "baby on board" pace. 

Before I knew it, I was passed the Citgo sign and into the last mile. The crowd was deafening! They were all so energetic and excited. I made sure to record some of the crowd on Boylston, so I would always remember what it is like to finish the race. I crossed the line with my hands in the air and a smile on my face. We did it! It took 4 hours and 19 minutes - almost a full hour longer than last year, but I think one extra hour is the perfect amount of time to make sure we were both safe and happy the whole time. :)

After the race, I had some chocolate milk, a pear and found your daddy. He gave me the biggest hug in the world and congratulated us on a successful run. We walked (hobbled) to Boston Common where we sat on the grass and watched the people for about an hour. It was an absolutely beautiful day. I couldn't have asked for it to go any better and I couldn't have asked for better company. 

I just want you to know that I ran this race to set an example for you, baby. Your daddy and I are tough, hard-working people. We love life. We love challenges. We love fun. We love each other more than anything in the whole world. We can't wait for you to join us in all of our many get ready.

And who knows - maybe we can really run the marathon together one day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Marathon: One Year Later

I know the news and the internet are overwhelmed with remembrances today, so I'll be brief. I just want to say that it still feels very surreal and I think about that day quite often. More than anything, I am looking forward to the closure we all get to experience on Monday. Let a gigantic, triumphant celebration of life ensue! 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Boston 2014 Plans & Race Strategy

I finally sat down today and did some planning for next weekend in Boston! I feel relieved that I worked out some of the details, because I had been procrastinating.

First of all, let's talk about this forecast! Since Wisconsin has been way below average so far this "Spring," I am pretty pleased with the temperatures. High 40s and low 50s make for good running conditions - and I prefer some cloud coverage, too. Last year was quite sunny and I ended up with really ugly, red sunburn. Now, let's just hope the rain stays away.

When I registered for Boston, I couldn't believe that the race was the day after Easter. I love holidays with family, so it made me a little sad to think about missing out on the festivities. I still feel weird about it - but I am trying to find "Eastery" things to do while we're in Boston. There are some Easter-themed brunch cruises, which could be fun...although I get seasick. I'm not sure what we'll end up doing, but I feel like some sort of celebration is in order. Anyone have any suggestions?

*Tangent: Speaking of Easter, I was on a run the other day and I saw a bunny stuck in a chain-link fence. His backside was too fat, so he couldn't pass through. Poor guy died like that. Being a vegetarian and a hormonal pregnant chick, I started to cry. I felt like I should get him out of the fence or something, but then I thought, "No, that's gross." I hope it wasn't the Easter Bunny. *

Anyway, we plan to explore the city when we have time. Our hotel is in a great location - close to Boston Common, Faneuil Hall and the North End. But Boston is easy to navigate as long as you figure out the subway system. (That would be my number one piece of advice to anyone who hasn't been to Boston before.) The marathon has several "events" planned, so those will also take up some time: the Expo, the Pre-Race Dinner, the Open House at Fenway, the After-Party at House of Blues and of course - the RACE! :) So much to do! 

Race Strategy: Version Running for 2.0 
I have been hemming and hawing for the last few months about how I wanted to handle the race. It was never a question about whether or not I would still run it - of course, I would. My cousin, Sarah, said something to me last week as a reminder:

"Pregnancy is not a disability."  

She is 100% correct. With that in mind, I intend to run and complete the race. As I said in my last post, I will be mindful of my body and how I am feeling. If I need to walk, I will. If I have to stop, I will. But my intention is to run well on Monday and to complete the race with results I can be proud of as a 4.5 month preggie runner. I do intend to run at a less competitive pace: shooting for around a 4 hour marathon. That puts my pace at 9+ min/mile. I feel like that is totally reasonable, and honestly, I am afraid of going too fast naturally or unknowingly (adrenaline, race mode, competitive person, moving with the crowd, etc.) I am not going to wear a watch. I am going to run entirely on feel. And I am not committed in any way to a 4 hour time goal; if it isn't in the cards on Monday, so be it. I'm just happy to be going back...I can't believe its been a year already.

*Tangent #2: I am wishing I had thought ahead and had a shirt made that says, "Don't get beat by a pregnant girl" on the back. I think that would've been funny.

18 week bump and my fur baby, Gertie

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Blogger's Apology - and Updates!

I have officially been a terrible blogger. A non-existent blogger. How inconsiderate to disappear for a REALLY LONG TIME without any explanation! I do apologize. And really, I feel like I can explain myself - but I'm still not very pleased with my performance (in most things) as of late.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses:
After the marathon in October, I was taking it easy as far as training goes. I was frustrated with some Plantar Fasciitis issues that had been bothering me for a long time. I took a break from real training and focused on enjoying my fitness - rather than feeling obligated to stick to a regimented schedule. 
Then came January and I wasn' quite like myself. I put my detective skills to work and realized that my symptoms all pointed to one very specific thing: PREGNANT! Ahhhhhhhh! Holy shit. I mean that in the best way I can - like - "oh my God - that's amazing, but oh my god, there is a baby alien in me. WHAT?!!!!!! Who allowed this? Check again. Does eating garlic or too many gummy bears cause a false positive???"

In all honesty, we were both extremely excited right from the beginning. We didn't tell anyone though - and that started the beginning of my silence on the internet. I think my mind was so consumed with the news that I just could not focus on the other things in my life that usually get my attention. 

You're Tired As Hell? You Have NO Idea: 
One thing they do not tell you as a young girl is that when you are growing your own human person, you will be tired in a way that a normal non-pregnant person cannot relate to. Those little people are LIFE SUCKERS for the first trimester. Literally. Sucking every ounce of energy - but I get it - they are busy growing arms, legs, and brains. Hard work! But oh. my. god. 

I pride myself on being a really energetic, motivated and busy person. I always have a million things going on and I usually achieve them with relative ease - work, coaching, training, cooking, gardening, blogging, PaperMichelle and still maintaining a totally normal social life. I simply could not do those things for the first 12 weeks or so. I would sleep like ten hours a night, if not more - and SIT ON THE COUCH the second I got home from work - completely zapped of anything resembling motivation. It was torture. I was not in a great place mentally - crabby and annoyed with myself for being so lazy, but too tired to do a thing about it. I did workout when I could get the energy to put on a dvd and some sweatpants - but it was ugly. Frumpy, heavy and slow. I felt like I was turning into a lethargic monster, doomed to a life of zombie-like sluggishness and naps.

I also had no interest in talking to anyone that was able to train, to blog, to make healthy food and live the awesome, active life that I was used to. Look at you and your perky self in your tiny little workout gear - looking so refreshed and happy? PUKE. It just made me more depressed and so, I avoided everything on the internet (blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all of it.) I didn't even want to read RW! *gasp* I am fairly confident in saying that I didn't do laundry for that entire time - and lived in a Milwaukee sweatshirt, running shorts and knee-high wool socks. So sexy.

What other fun symptoms did I have? Nausea and one vomit-y morning. Food aversions. The smell of beer was the worst thing I could think of for a while - blasphemy! Headaches. Did I mention being tired and crabby? Oh, the rage.

This Too Shall Pass:
As they say, all things come to an end - and so did that first trimester! Good riddance, dude. You suck. And from what I hear, I had a really easy time compared to what others go through. (I hope I haven't offended any mommas out there that had an actual hard time. I'm just whining. I can't imagine puking that whole time, too! I would only have one kid. Seriously.) 
But that first trimester is long gone (I'm 17 weeks!) and I feel really great. I don't hate people anymore (thank God.) I have been working out every day. I sleep like a normal person. Aside from this tiny, itty-bitty, barely-there bump - I would forget that I have a tiny person hanging out in my belly. I'm like a normal person...a sober and normal person. Yay!

17 weeks, 1 day - little bump!
Training and Boston:
The short version is that, yes, I am still running Boston in two weeks! Am I prepared for it? Not really. I am prepared enough to complete the distance without injuring myself, but my training was nowhere near where it should have been for apparent reasons. And you know what? I don't really care. I am going to run slowly, carefully - and if anything feels weird AT ALL, I will stop. My doc says that it isn't an issue to run the race, because I am a trained runner and I can do whatever my body is used to. So, this is one of those times when common sense will be my guide. I can't believe the race is so soon, though. With all the distractions lately, I feel like it snuck up on me. I am really excited to go back to Boston and see how everyone rallies. I am expecting an epic celebration...and we wouldn't miss it.


After I return from Boston, my plan is to keep running until I can't anymore. I'm hoping to make it well into the summer - it will be slow and sweaty, but who cares? So far, I have only gained one pound and I'd like to stay as "in shape" as is healthy for both me and the kid. 

Blogging From Now On:
My intentions are to return to the blogging world now that I am feeling better. I can't guarantee that it will always be super regular, because like everyone, I've got a lot going on - but I will do my best. I miss blogging and all of you that I only "know" through our connections on the 'net. I also like having an outlet to share my little weekly updates (belly bump, fit mama recipes, cute baby things I found, training updates, etc.) I am truly excited about all of the changes coming my way, and I love getting to share it! :) 

Any advice from you 'been there, done that' fit mamas? I know nothing.