Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: The Year Running Became an Unfinished Sentence

For the last few years, I manged to really wrap my running year up nicely. It was in a box, with neatly wrapped tissue paper inside around the piles of miles I ran in training. The box was wrapped in artsy paper, and finished with matching ribbon and a pretty big bow of PR's on top. My running year this year? It looks like a 3 year old tried to wrap a basketball with cardboard scraps and tin cans. You know what, it still looks pretty nifty under the tree all lit up at night though.

Coming off my biggest running year ever in 2015 (Sub-3, Sub-1:25, Sub-19, running a great friends first marathon with her as part of Saucony, and a million other running accomplishments along the way), it's a little nutty to look at running this year and think much of it. Some might say I was due for the downtime, which in many cases is true but not because I'm overtrained, injured, or burned out. Simply because I've been working hard, staying healthy and focusing so much on running for a few years- I was due for a shift. Frankly it's nice for it to be on my terms (for the most part), taking a break before it becomes forced.

To say it's been 100% easy to sit back and reflect on my running year though wouldn't be realistic. I'm a very numbers oriented person, and if I were to judge my 2016 running year by the numbers, it would be very tough to call it much of a success. I will not even hit 1500 miles which will by far be the lowest since 2012. I have no new marathon PR's, not even a half PR, nor a 5k. BUT, I also know that all those numbers don't tell the whole story.

The year started off pretty high. A few weeks in, I decided to hand the coaching reins over to James McKirdy. His business was just getting off the ground, but it felt like the right move for me. I quickly realized that I had found a coach I could rely on unlike my previous one that I had ditched back in the fall. We came up with a good plan for training/racing my way through the winter in preparation for Boston. I had kept a good base through the fall after Erie so I was setting myself up nicely come winter and spring.

Finish Line of Lake Effect Half Marathon a sub 1:27 which was run as a workout.
Home stretch en route to a huge 10k PR, race win and Freezeroo series win with a 38:37 on a windy winter Saturday.
A few stats from early in the year:
There was THIS half marathon where every goal went out the window and mental toughness was only thing I could focus on. Though the time was as much of a shit show as the weather was. Unknowingly 3 weeks pregnant as well. 
All of those numbers took place before April 13th(the day everything changed). So, the first 3-4 months of the year by running standards were pretty wildly successful- and something I'm proud of.

A few more numbers from the year...
So as I sit here right now, with a much different shape than I started the year in (quite literally)- I have no regrets about this year. I have no sadness or anger for my running, that simply wasn't. I didn't end the year with a bang, or even an airhorn. THAT'S OKAY! For years I wondered how I would handle this transition I am now in, for years I wondered if it would be harder on me- because running is so important to me. But, I've realized that it isn't.

NO that doesn't mean it's 100% easy to just flip the switch. It's not. Even if you want a kid (I did and do! {rubs belly and says hi to baby}), it doesn't mean all of your other goals and ambitions just disappear. I think it was a little harder for me this spring because I went from the best shape of my life to....not. But, to me this is something that is important to me more than running and something that will be a part of me much longer. So, on those days I wish I got another marathon in and see those people out there chasing PR's instead of families(or whatever)- I let myself feel a twinge of whatever emotion but then I think about all that I am gaining and move on with my day.

I am still a runner, even if I'm choosing not to make running a priority during my pregnancy.

I feel it's important for me to say that I do not look at pregnancy as an injury or a setback in running. In fact, I don't understand the thought process of people who feel that way especially if you're not a professional runner. Sure, the first time around this year derailed my goal marathon and then we had to deal with a loss so nothing to show for the race or the pregnancy. But I don't look at that loss as a setback in my running, I saw it as a setback in my life and what we want obviously- but I don't for one second wish it all never happened so I could have had my race even if I had known how things would have turned out. That doesn't mean running or the race didn't matter, but to me it wasn't even a competition for what mattered more.

When I started to get back into running it was tough, but it made me feel like I was doing something. I set goals, I dreamed of a fall marathon as my last hoorah and big PR attempt. I dreamed of a big training cycle, and long nights of foam rolling tired muscles. I got lost in a trance when certain songs would come on that I could visualize myself flying through a finish chute as if it were a cheesy motivational YouTube video. But those dreams were not the only thing occupying my mind.

Maybe we didn't get our storybook ending the first time around, but it did certainly tell me that I was ready for it and deep down I wanted that more than anything. I didn't pour myself into my training and return to running the way I normally would. I drank more beer than normal (I'm gonna file that under grief category), I didn't get OMG excited for workouts, I wasn't focusing on the little things I knew I needed to-and I didn't notice or seem to care. I wanted all the PR's and glory without doing what I knew it would take to get there- and that isn't me. That isn't how I do things.

So when we found out we were pregnant again, hindsight was clear as day and I realized that what I wanted was more than any training cycle or PR could give me (right now). So when I say that pregnancy is not an injury or some setback to your training- I mean that. No I haven't dealt with the post-pregnancy body things yet, and know that the return will be tough- but I'll have something wonderful to show for that.  There's nothing wrong with looking forward to running fast again and yogging without a bouncing belly but if you're so focused on what you're losing or NOT doing when you're pregnant you're not really seeing everything you're gaining (quite literally). Pregnancy, running pregnant, managing the shift in mindset (such as from chasing PR's to chasing gingerale and crackers), is tough I will not deny that; but I feel like if you're so negative about it during pregnancy how on earth are you going to handle it for the next 18 years or more after the kid is born?

{Steps off soap box}

Anyways, all that is meant to say is that I am still happy with my year of running. 2016 had a lot of negativity surrounding it in general in the world and I refuse to add to that if I can help it especially for something like my running. I'm also aware that my running in 2017 will most likely be pretty similar to 2016, with 22ish weeks of pregnancy to go followed by life with a newborn. So at the very least my running is taking a step-back for 2 years. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that much and running will be there well after.

Cheers to 2016, the year I finally broke my age old 10k PR and the year running gave me more perspective in the most unexpected of ways. A lot of things got left unfinished, but doesn't mean I cannot return to those down the road.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

1st Trimester

As I said in my last post, this blog isn't going to turn into 100% pregnancy writing- but it will be a common theme for a while. Seeing as, I'm cooking a kiddo for a few more months and it naturally will have a big effect on my daily life, not just my running.

Pregnancy has not been all sunshine and roses, even if you wanted/planned this it doesn't mean it still won't be hard. I think that is a common misconception I have seen before. A woman who gets pregnant and was trying and really wants a kid, gets shamed if she says anything other than she is just SO excited. Let me get this out there now that I don't agree with that at all. Moving on though, I wanted to wrap up my first trimester (we're 15 weeks today so already chugging along in the second). I tried to cover most bases, being open but also honest.


Nausea, fatigue- the common stuff. While many runners compare pregnancy to marathon training (there really are a lot of parallels) I have to say that the fatigue of pregnancy (for ME) is tougher because you cannot catch up on it. If I have a few bad nights of sleep during training + all the work, I know that if I get a few solid weekend nights I'm as good as new for the most part. These days, it doesn't matter if I get 5 or 10 hours of sleep a night, by the time bedtime (or couch time) rolls around the next day I'm toast. That isn't even including the multiple times I actually almost fell asleep in my lunch at work.

Besides that, some random symptoms have popped up; pregnancy induced bleeding gums (it's a thing, it's dumb and apparently nothing I can do about it), newly developed Gastric reflux (it's gross but manageable), nothing too crazy though. The vivid dreams have been CRAZY and most mornings I wake up wondering what was real and what wasn't. It's amazing to me what hormones do to your body.

Should probably add in baby brain/pregnancy brain/momnesia started to kick in early. Some days I feel straight up dumb and forgetful! This makes my nerdy compulsion for spreadsheets, to-do lists, and post-it notes even more important. We've laughed at it for the most part though!

Weight Gain

The first 8 weeks I didn't gain anything. Between 8-10 weeks I gained 4 pounds though, and held that through the end of the trimester. I outgrew a lot of my normal pants pretty quick, which I expected. When a lot of your clothes were bought during marathon training a small change in waistline will be felt quicker! I don't know why people put off wearing maternity clothes though, they're pretty dang comfortable.

But I also admit, the whole getting bigger and changing clothes thing hasn't affected me as much mentally as I thought it would. I'm sure that will change at some point, but for now I'm fascinated and excited about the expanding belly and am thoroughly comfortable in stretchy waist pants and ruched tops. I have an awesome sister who gave me a TON of maternity clothes so I feel like I have an entire new wardrobe which I won't complain about. I also bought a few more basics to get me started; Old Navy & Target have been awesome for those. So has this Belly Band combined with the rubber band trick.
I think this was 12 weeks. Most of that happened overnight!
As for running, since my gear is obviously mostly spandex things still fit for the most part. I have found the best running clothes right now are those with wider waistbands, it's simply more comfortable. (Pinnacle ShortsScoot Capri have been my go-to's). My go to sports bra has been the Rock-It Bra Top because it's not a set band/cup size (they size them S,M, L instead of 34B etc.) so there is a bit more wiggle room as I uhhhh grow.


I went through spurts with what I wanted to eat. For a few weeks it was anything processed, and by processed I mean...processed AF. Chef Boyardee, Easy Mac, anything quick and high in calories sounded amazing to me.

Then I went into the current stage which has been fruits(berries, oranges and grapefruit specifically), veggies/ranch, certain salads, and cereal. ALL THE CEREAL. I don't currently have any aversions, other than the smell of tuna. But if something doesn't sound good to me I don't want it. I normally love tacos and Mexican and had no appetite for that for a while now.


In general, I didn't do much. On average once a week. Quite frankly I was fine with it. Part of it was nerves, part of it was the fatigue....and part of it was...I've been going so hard with training for 4+ years right now that the break feels so refreshing. I know activity is good, and that it will help labor- but I'm also not going to push myself. I wrote out my 1st Trimester training log over on Salty Running.

It is worth noting that I did run a half marathon about a week after we found out about the baby. We were in North Carolina visiting family (during Hurricane Matthew) and I decided to still run the Volition America Half Marathon. It was disgusting wind and rain but could have been worse. (I really won't complain about this much....people lost their homes and lives- can we stop bitching about race weather all the time? Bad weather affects far more important things than your race).

Weather + being pregnant took the pressure off and I just ran by feel and  raced for place and to have fun. I chatted with some other runners, met some new people and generally enjoyed most of the race- I did kind of just want to be done the last few miles though. Me and baby(6 weeks) walked away with the win and a 1:29 half marathon, It wasn't effortless by any means but I was happy with it and finished with soaking wet hugs from Brian and his Aunt/Uncle who stood out there cheering for us.

The Anxiety of Pregnancy After Loss

I can and will write an entire post on this all together. This is tough. It's scary. It takes away some of the excitement. It consumes you. BUT, its manageable.

I am incredibly lucky to have a doctor who understood that and agreed we would keep a very close eye for baby sake, and my peace of mind. I went for ultrasounds at 5, 7 ,9 and 12 weeks with regular OB checkups at 8 and 10 weeks. Overkill, maybe? But when you have a maxed out deductible and a very anxious pregnant woman- you just do it.

I also made a point to have some regular contact with my therapist. I have no issues talking about that, she is someone I have seen on and off for years and has helped me through some of the most trying times. Most of our sessions didn't even end up being the OMG emotional ones- if anything it was simply nice to have an unbiased person to talk to about everything in life and not just growing a baby.

Beside professionals- I made sure to be in touch with close friends and family that understand where I'm at. It's not something you really get unless you've been through it. Brian and I also had to find our own ways to cope in the first few weeks- not everyone processes things the same. But at the end of the day we had each other, want the same thing and have the same fears and worries. We have amazing friends and family, and everyone has been so supportive and I cannot begin to express how that makes me feel.

Things We Did For Baby During 1st Trimester

  • I went on my first Black Friday adventure ever, and came away with an amazing crib for $99. It's still in the box and hasn't been touched since we picked it up, but at least we have it.
  • Started registries (because of timing with Holiday it was just easier to do it sooner rather than later).
  • Spreadsheet making. I'm a nerd, this will shock no one. But this has helped me wrap my head around everything we need, and where we are getting it. We're really lucky to both have sisters who are passing a lot of things down to us from their kiddos!
  • We shared the news! This took a little longer this time around, as we really wanted to make sure. It's such fun and exciting news and we loved being able to be open and talk and be excited with others about it. This kid is already so loved!
  • We checked up on baby, I bought an at home Fetal Heart Monitor. Honestly this was a no-brainer investment and really helped keep me at ease during the first trimester. Not to mention, it has been fun to check in and listen to little one. I would recommend this for any pregnant woman!
  • I've been really good about taking my Prenatal Vitamins every day- I know it's a simple thing but so important. I tried a few different ones before settling on these as the ones that I feel work best for me. I take it every night before bed with a small snack, it seems to settle better that way.
  • I've never been good at hydrating even during marathon training. It's so important right now though, so I've been really trying! Nuun All Day has been an easy way to get me to drink more but also get some extra electrolytes to make up for what I may be missing. 
  • I rested, and relaxed A LOT. The Fire TV Stick made this way easier, and binge watched all seasons of Revenge and got through about 4 seasons of Parenthood as well. I wanted to read more but it didn't happen, I did re-read Me Before You while we traveled to Charlotte in October. I bought a bunch more kindle books to hold me over for the winter, which will definitely get me motivated to start reading more again.

So that is essentially how things went for the first trimester! I feel like it flew by most of the time, and can't believe we are already 1/3 of the way there! We cannot wait to meet our little one, but know we have a lot to do in the mean time. Thank goodness my second trimester started with some fresh energy to help!

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Few Steps Back and 14 Weeks Forward.

This has been a year of constantly changing plans, more so than I can remember in any other year. While I've definitely changed my mind, thrown wrenches into the mix, and been subject to the uncontrollable aspects of life many times before- this time was just, different.

For the first few months of the year things were pretty well laid out in running and life. Training for Boston, planning on home improvements, steady one job work schedule, nothing nutty. Before we knew it, we were preparing for a baby, throwing race plans out the window, picking up second job (kids are expensive), and planning the year around a happy December due date. A few months later and we were back at square one, completely defeated and unsure of what the next steps should be. A few steps forward, a million steps back is about how it felt.

As time went on, I started running again and more importantly we started coming out of the fog and looking towards the happy future ahead. The goals got shuffled around, a goal marathon got added to the list and we planned on next year being the year for lots of big life stuff so this fall would be the last hoorah before taking time to focus on other priorities.

Funny as it all works out, a few weeks later we decided (or someone else decided for us) that our plan should be different yet again. As soon as I took those pretty sweet looking marathon shoes off the shelf, I was gladly hanging them back up.

When I posted about deciding not to run Philly everything I said was 100% true. I've been going so hard with training for years on end and mentally and physically I honestly didn't realize how ready for a break I was. After everything that happened in the spring, my head never really got back into running space the way I'm used to it being. I assumed it was just still grief, and general running motivation struggle (it happens). Looking back though, it's pretty obvious where my head and heart were even if I couldn't see it then. We hadn't realized how much we wanted that step (at this time) until it was taken from us.

So when we were all of a sudden facing a positive pregnancy test again, everything made so much more sense. In some ways it put me at ease, in that it explained why I was feeling the way that I was. In other ways it rocked me to my core with fear and personal trust issues. For today though, we are going to focus on the positives.

Here we are into the second trimester, and the excitement grows by the day. Sure there are moments we struggle and the fear creeps in, but we get through it. We've found ways to feel like we can keep a better eye (or ear) on whats going on, and we aren't letting things hold us back from being hopeful.

My days are still the same working two jobs, the evenings are a little more relaxing with some extra time in the recliner with Netflix and Fire TV. Our spare time is getting the house ready to sell, thinking about baby things, and the usual preparations for the busy holiday season as well.

So maybe this year didn't turn out the way we expected by any means. I may not have a marathon PR, or a baby due date in a few weeks. But we have a whole lot of perspective, and a few more months to prepare for a wonderful bundle of joy (and sleepless nights) come late spring.


{Note for future posts- Everything will not be pregnancy related, but clearly it's going to be a big part of my life for a while. I have some planned posts about how things are going, some running related and will probably update a few times over the next 26 weeks as well. I do also plan on doing a few separate posts on pregnancy after loss and some other related things- I feel it's something that isn't talked about enough and have had some wonderful(but tough) conversations and people reach out since we shared our experience, and the current news as well}
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