Fort Hill Brewery Half… or Not

Way back in November, I had a goal. I heard about an April half marathon in western Mass, a place Drew and I had been talking about going for ages. April seemed like a decent time for a half – not too hot yet, but (hopefully) not too cold. And a half seemed doable, especially that far out with lots of time to train. And having this goal race would give me motivation to get out there and train… right?


Oh, reader. Alas. For the millionth time: if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’d know that reacting to any kind of motivation is not my strong suit. Especially in these post-Bairn days when all roads to anywhere are paved with the best intentions, and yet….

So. What happened this time? I believe I last left you with the vague “my half marathon training is all over the place,” which it was with illnesses, ghost injuries, and suboptimal weather and running conditions. All in all, I only ever got up to 5 miles at any one time during said training. 

If I had an ironclad will I probably could have done it. I have runner friends who run while sick, while injured, and during blizzards. When the sidewalks aren’t clear they run in the road, or chug out the miles on a treadmill. And that’s great! But I think I’ve learned that that’s not me, especially lately. I love coziness, and safety, and lack of injury. 

Running these days is what keeps me sane as the Bairn embraces the madness of toddlerhood, and my sanity can’t afford injury! So when the top of my foot started giving me grief, and when my right hip started protesting, I reeled it in. I iced, I rested. I avoided slippery slush as well as the treadmill that makes my knees unhappy. 

Through it all there was a little voice in the back of my head that said “you ran the Worcester Half, with its hills and heat, while pregnant, having only ran 5ish miles in training. You can do this!” But there was also a louder voice that said “Sure, but had you injured yourself then you would have had months to recover anyway. You need running now. Plus… do you really want to slog through a half if you’re not feeling it?”

I listened to the louder voice. I emailed the race director and asked if I could drop down to the 5k distance. I figured we could still have our Western Mass vacation, and I could still run, but the shorter distance would make for a happier time for all involved… especially when I saw the forecast of upper-20s and freezing rain for race day!


It ended up being the right decision. I ran a faster 5k than I expected, I felt strong, I didn’t get injured, and Drew and the Bairn didn’t need to kill time for 2.5+ hours in gross weather. And we still had a fun weekend!

Race recap and weekend fun post coming soon…

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Post-Bairn Half Training – Week 1

Hi! I’d like to introduce you to someone who’s very excited to be here: a version of me who actually completed a full week of a training plan! Was that your jaw I just heard hitting the floor? It’s okay, mine’s down there too.

I mentioned several posts ago that I had signed up for a spring half marathon so that I could have a goal to work toward. I knew I’d need to finagle some kind of legitimate training in beforehand, otherwise I knew I’d be a hot mess. Plus, the training – and thus getting back into some kind of shape – was really the motivation behind signing up.


…well, that and the chance to check another town off my Massachusetts running map… and the to have an excuse to travel somewhere new with the Bairn.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble. All that to say – I dug out the ol’ Hal Higdon Novice half marathon training plan (which I attempted for my first half… you can read how swell that experiment went in this post), counted the weeks backward from race day, and set my jaw in a determined manner.

Last week was Week 1 of 12. And, reader, I nailed it. More or less. Here’s how the week looked:

Sunday (last day of Week 0)

1 mile run | 1 mile run

The first run in the plan was 3 miles. I hadn’t run much more than 1 mile post-Bairn, and that was in early December. I figured hoped a nice gentle mile would be a good way to ease me in to the plan.

When Sunday turned out to be in the upper 40s, I giddily set out for that gentle mile despite head congestion and a plugged duct (that made squeezing into my sports bra fun…). It wasn’t my best run by a long shot, and I didn’t feel great during or after, but I did feel accomplished at getting it done.

Monday

Rest | Rest

I’m very good at rest days πŸ™‚ If Mondays hadn’t been rest days in the plan, I would have tweaked it a bit to make it so. Mondays are my late days at work, and are usually a bit hellish as it’s the Bairn’s first day back at daycare and his bedtime gets pushed late because I get home late and… just ugh. A good day for a rest day indeed.

Tuesday

3 mile run | 2 mile run

This is why I wrote “more or less” up there in the intro. While I completed the week of training, I did make a few small tweaks to take into account my general lack of fitness (see this post). Even after my gentle mile on Sunday, I mentally didn’t feel ready for 3, so I hit the gym for 2 miles of walk/running on the treadmill.

Wednesday

2 mile run or cross train | resistance band work

I figured I could use either some yoga/stretching or strength training during this half training, since my body is destroyed from hefting my growing bairn around all the time. Drew set me up with some resistance bands in our living room and showed me a few routines that would work my arms, chest, and back, and I went to it… in my most stylish cross training outfit ever:

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If you look closely, you’ll see some glow-in-the-dark space otter socks and slippers, plus the sweet goggles that came with the resistance bands.

Anyway, it was a gentle intro workout, as my body was already feeling it after minimal reps and I didn’t want to wreck myself. I’ll work at building it up as the weeks go on.

Thursday

30 mins cross training | Expresso Bike

Remember my good friend the Expresso Bike? I was so excited to hop back in the saddle. I brought the Bairn to the gym, got him registered for on-site childcare, and grabbed a bike. I probably should have started off with an easy lap around the virtual track, but I picked a 1-mile slightly hilly course to make it more interesting.

Yeah… after a half-mile my legs were dead. I hadn’t been on a bike since March 2016, before I got pregnant. And my mostly sedentary lifestyle post-Bairn meant my body was already reeling from 2 runs in a week and some cross training. Plus I was worried about how the Bairn, who is in the throes of some nice separation anxiety, was faring having been deposited in a strange new place. So I finished the course, hopped off the bike, and went down to childcare to pick up the Bairn (who was cheerfully bouncing away in an exersaucer). So it was only 5 mins of CT instead of 30, but it was something, right?

Friday

Rest | Rest

Neither the Bairn nor I felt 100% on Friday, so it was another well-timed rest day.

Saturday

3 mile run | 3 mile run

When Drew and the Bairn settled in to watch the Spurs match, I set off on a 3-miler around the neighborhood, route courtesy of MapMyRun’s Route Genius. It took me down some streets I’d never been down, which is always fun. My first mile was strong, and is now my current post-Bairn best mile time, but the next 2 got slower and slower. Still a decent run, but I need to work on not going out so fast. I think I’m just so pumped to be running again, it’s hard to hold back!

Sunday

4 mile run | 4 mile run

I was curious to see how I’d do with 2 runs in 2 days, and surprised myself by feeling pretty strong. I set off down to the pond, which was iced over and a bit grim-looking despite temps in the upper 40s:

Once again, I set out too fast for my first mile and then got slower as the run went on, but each mile managed to come in under 13:00 per mile, even with multiple walk breaks. I’ll take that!

——

So, Week 1 is complete! Huzzah! Here are some reflections from my first week of training:

Favorite sight while running: a preschool-aged kid dressed as Batman running around his driveway, [I imagine] fighting invisible baddies

Milestone of note: I already have a bruised toenail 😦 I suppose that’s what happens when I dive headlong into a training plan without even a small base settled. Ah well.

Lesson learned: Always have electronics charged and ready to go! Both my Garmin and my iPod were dead when I went to use them this week. The Garmin, meh… at least I have MapMyRun to play GPS for me, but man, treadmill miles are looooong without music.

How was your week?

Any awesome sightings, milestones, or lessons to share?

 

Inconsiderate Running

I’m pretty sure most of us have pet peeves when it comes to running, specifically with other runners. Whether it’s slamming on the brakes out of nowhere during a race, spitting or blowing noses without taking the direction of the wind or proximity of other runners into consideration, or what have you, they run the gamut from mildly irritating to just plain rude.

Here’s one that I was thinking about yesterday – running in hallways or other indoor spaces not intended for running. I hadn’t really thought about this one before, other than reading once about people on running streaks running in airports to make sure they didn’t break their streaks.

Let me set the scene that caused my ponderings: Yesterday I was walking from my office to my car, taking the longer inside route because it was pouring rain. I was approaching a corner when a man kitted out in running gear came flying around that corner and would have crashed into me had I not practically thrown myself into the wall to get out of his way. I glanced over my shoulder at him as he jogged off, and it clearly looked like he was getting his lunchtime run in, inside and away from the rain.

I mean, I get it. It was cold and wet and awful outside yesterday, so I can’t blame him for wanting a nice, dry runch.

However.

For one thing, there are 2 gyms containing many treadmills on campus. Don’t like the treadmill? That’s fine, we also have an indoor track. Maybe he doesn’t like running in circles? Okay, but.

The school currently has a “don’t ride inside” campaign happening, trying to discourage people from riding scooters, skateboards, bicycles, and the like indoors. It happens way more often than what seems normal. I mean, I’ve almost been hit by cyclists in hallways more than once. Bicycles gunning for us lowly pedestrians on the sidewalk is bad enough; can we have no respite indoors either?!

Anyway, I assume campus police are tired of getting complaints from startled people who had near misses with people on wheels, so now they’ve imposed a fine for anyone who gets caught. To me, that seems fair… but I may be biased due to past experiences.

All that to say, using wheels to travel faster through hallways that are generally clogged with people is frowned upon. Should running be as well? The guy who almost collided with me yesterday came around that corner like a ninja [kudos on the proper running form, dude… I hear if you run properly people shouldn’t be able to hear you coming]. What if I had been a elderly professor with arms full of papers or a laptop, who couldn’t get out of the way as fast as I could? Or someone pushing a big heavy cart laden with packages or flat-pack furniture? Running Man could have hurt himself.

To me, running in a hallway – while a great way to avoid inclement weather – seems a bit inconsiderate. The thought to do just what Running Man did has crossed my mind before on gross winter days, but I’ve never really thought it would be a good idea… too many other people around, too many things that could go awry. Especially when there are multiple indoor running facilities right there, just waiting to be used.

What do you think – is running in hallways inconsiderate, or not too bad?

What running pet peeves do you have?

The Road to Orlando is Paved with Good Intentions

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but, reader(s)… I had good intentions, I really did.

Drew and I (and now the Bairn) alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with our families, so every other year we usually have a warm-weather Christmas in California (which I’ve taken advantage of to run a few warmer winter races – see this post and this post).

Plans changed a bit this year, and the family all converged in Florida, where Drew’s folks rented a huge house in a gated vacation community owned by Disney. It was certainly different, and I missed my trips to In n Out, but there were some concessions:

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Like Wawa!!

It was also very nice to be somewhere warm, especially because the northeast was starting to be hit by a polar vortex and snowstorms. Our house had a pool and screened-in patio, and it felt pretty nice to be enjoying alfresco lunches in shorts and a t-shirt while hearing reports of the snow falling back home. (Of course, the frigid temperatures were still present when we got home, which made leaving the 70s-and-sunny weather that much harder!)

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Feeding the Bairn poolside

So, what did I have good intentions about, you might be wondering? You won’t be surprised… I intended to go running! Because of course I did. I packed my running shoes, a bunch of socks, running shorts and tanks, hairbands, the works. I envisioned running outside in the sun, and on a treadmill in the community gym if it was too humid outside. I wanted this. I even packed my LEGEND compression sleeves and my HeartZones Blink 3.0 heart rate monitor, with intentions of posting pictures on social media like a good brand ambassador.

And it all played out like so many of my post-Bairn running adventures, in that it didn’t happen. Traveling and being in a new place surrounded by his noisy cousins made the Bairn a bit contrarian when it came to keeping his nap schedule, and he also didn’t love sleeping in the Pack’n’Play. So most of his naps found me laying on our bed next to him, making sure he didn’t roll off, while Drew spent time with his family. It was relaxing, but it wasn’t what I had planned. (Drew’s family also seemed less excited to babysit than we’d hoped, which meant we had much less Bairn-free time than we’d anticipated.)

We did end up taking two walks around the neighborhood with the Bairn, but other than chasing him around as he crawled through the house and up and down the stairs, my exercise plans came to naught. My running shoes were only useful in taking up space in my suitcase. Oh well.

Like people have commented on other posts where I’ve lamented running plans gone awry, running will always be there when I can get to it. The Bairn is only a baby once, and he’ll only ever have one first vacation, so I don’t mind that I spent it all with him and didn’t do a whole lot else. Someday… someday I’ll make good on my good intentions!

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Proof that we went somewhere warm, and even went outside once!

Friday Rambles: End of September Edition

Okay, but how is it almost October already?! Has this year gone faster than usual? I know people say having kids makes the years speed by, but it’s not just me experiencing this hyper-time, right?

This was the week I was going to dive in to my pre-potential-marathon training plan. … Yep. Angry sinuses + sick and teething baby + suddenly feeling first-trimester exhausted again = nope. Maybe tonight??

I am in the middle of far too many books right now. My Goodreads “currently reading” list can be viewed down on the right-hand sidebar of my blog’s homepage. There are 6 right now. 3 I’m actively reading, 3 are ones I pick up and pick at when I can. But with hardly any time for reading these days, even 3 active books is overwhelming. 


For my above problem, I blame Banned Books Week (in a loving, supportive way!) I mark BBW every year by trying to read as many of the top 10 banned books as I can, or by reading at least one book that has been banned/challenged. Using my Kindle has been the only way I’ve finished any books since the Bairn arrived (he naps on me a lot, and the Kindle can be wrangled with one hand) and all the top 10 ebooks were checked out from my library. I grabbed an older one, and then of course a bunch of holds came in at once. Cue a book flood so overwhelming that apparently I can’t stop writing about it πŸ€“

We’re finally having some fall weather! Last week was mid-80s and muggy and gross. I love warm weather, but I’m done with mugginess. Plus I want to dress the Bairn in his adorable flannel-shirt-and-overalls outfit and plop him in among some pumpkins for a photo op, and the weather hasn’t been cooperating. So I’m excited for that!

The Bairn woke up inconsolable on Monday, after a miserable weekend of snot and coughing on top of teething, so Drew and I stayed home with him. We set out into the heat and humidity to give our stir-crazy wee one a change of scenery, and despite the mugginess it was lovely. 



How’s the weather where you are? Autumnal yet?

Do you have fun plans for the weekend? Or for October?

Do you have a favorite banned book?

Sick Day Rambles

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Hello there and happy Monday! I feel like I got steamrolled in the face (specifically the nose) by a sudden cold last night. Holy mackerel. My nose hasn’t stopped running for hours, I got minimal sleep last night, and my head/sinuses are pounding. Perfect time to write a rambling blog post, yeah?

-I’ve had so many potential posts bouncing around in my brain. So many. Reviews of my Legend calf sleeves and HeartZones monitor, reflections on pregnancy and baby things, and all sorts of other things. I just can’t seem to put proverbial pen to paper (fingers to keys?) and flesh them out into anything worthwhile. Hopefully one of these days.

-I ran for the first time in a few weeks yesterday! It was hot and humid and sweaty and too short, but also felt so good to be out there again.

-Confession: I put my name in the hat for my run club’s marathon drawing.

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My run club gets 4 numbers for Boston every year, and if you run a half and volunteer at club events, you can submit your name for the lottery. Last year I volunteered my heart out and got 5 entries, but knew I’d only be a few months postpartum on Marathon Monday and opted not to go for it. This year I only have 1 entry so chances are very slim, but I keep thinking of Prim Everdeen and it gets me biting my nails like SpongeBob up there. Running Boston would be awesome and it’s on my bucket list for sure, but am I anywhere near ready?? Pretty sure the answer is nope.

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So what’s my game plan, given that I barely made it 1.25 miles yesterday? I found a 20-week marathon-for-beginners training plan that looks doable. I have a few weeks til the drawing, so I’m going to jump into my Couch to 5 Miler plan from yore, so that if I pull a Prim and my name gets pulled, I won’t be starting from total scratch. And, if my name doesn’t get pulled, then I’ll be back in the game and will hopefully have a base back. And in the meantime, having a training plan will – in theory – motivate me to get running more than once a month. Because I do miss it, and it would be nice to run with my Sunday Morning Shammies again and actually be able to keep up!

-So, that was a bit of a bomb to drop eh? Random marathon intentions. Seems pretty far fetched as I recline here next to my box of tissues, but hey, we’ll see!

-To make this post more rambly, I’m reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of WingsΒ right now, for my Shammies Book Club. It’s really good so far, which is just what I needed – a book I actually want to read! It’s hard to find time to read with the Bairn and all, but I’ve found having the Kindle handy for his naps has proved a good trick.

What are you reading right now? Read anything good lately that you’d recommend?

Am I crazy to throw my name into the marathon hat??

Tell me something random!

Lesson 4: Knowing When (and That it’s Okay) to Stop

Well hello again, and welcome to the fourth installment of lessons I’ve learned as I navigate post-baby running! If you’re keeping score at home, my previous lessons are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. Be prepared
  3. Be willing to compromise

This week’s lesson is all about knowing when to quit, and knowing that it’s really okay to do so.

Let’s set the scene. It’s yet another Sunday morning and Drew is encouraging me to get out and run with the Shammies. However, it’s Beach 2 Beacon weekend, and most SMSers are up in Maine.

[Brief aside: in my post about B2B last year I said I wanted to run it every year. It’s a fab race. I actually won a spot in this year’s race via the lottery, but ended up transferring my bib to a Shammie who didn’t get in. By the time I found out I got a spot, all the good hotels and airbnbs were booked, and logistics with a baby were too much for my brain to deal with. There’s always next year! #loweringmyexpectations #rollingwithit]

Drew took the Bairn out to get breakfast, and I set out for a run around the neighborhood. Last time it went really well, so I had some hopes of repeating that. Some things had stacked up against me, however, and it was not to be.

For one, my shoes are starting to hurt. I had heeded Lesson 2 and had my shoes all untied and ready to go, but they felt squeezy and uncomfortable. Sometimes pregnancy can change your feet a bit and make them bigger, and I’ve been wanting to get my feet/gait checked at Marathon Sports to make sure I’m wearing proper kicks. But that requires time, which I don’t have a lot of these days, plus I couldn’t justify spending money on new shoes when my current pair are still in decent shape. Alas.

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The shoes in question

For another, my knees are a little dodgy lately from all the bouncing I’ve been doing on our exercise ball to help get the Bairn to sleep. (Sometimes, even though They say not to, you just need to fall back on your sleep crutches so that YOU can get some sleep. Still in survival mode over here. And hoping that someday he’ll realize that he can, in fact, fall asleep on his own.)

And third, after wondering if my great run last time was at all due to my new Legend compression calf sleeves (review coming soon), I decided to go sleeve-less this time around.

So, yeah. After a brief warmup walk, I set off down the hill and right away my feet hurt. Not badly, but enough to throw me off my game. Then I could feel my knees… they didn’t hurt, per se, but they felt like they were about to start hurting at any moment. And then my shins, ow the splints. So splinty. Turns out the calf sleeves really make a difference.

I had barely gone 25 yards and my body was protesting. I wanted to stop, but I felt like it was way too early to declare my run a failure. I told myself just to make it to the end of the street, to take it easy, to focus on keeping my knees from doing anything stupid.

And I barely made it. I was practically limping, and my feet were doing weird things in my shoes to try to escape the squeezing. I turned around at the end of the street and walked, mentally assessing my body. I felt like if I tried to go any further, I’d be risking injuring something, and I really don’t want that right now, right as I’m making my semi-glorious return.


So I walked home. I traveled 1.03 miles in 16:30, and less than half of that was spent running/hobbling.

And that’s okay. As short and bad as it was, I got out for a run. That little bit was better than nothing, and better a short, bad run than a longer one that ends in injury.

It’s hard sometimes to quiet my inner voice that says dumb things like “no pain no gain” or compares my current running attempts to my halcyon days when I was in shape and uninjured and getting faster all the time.

But that voice needs to shut it. I’m not in the shape I was once in, my body is still a little wonky and I’m still getting used to it, and someday I’ll be better. But right now I just need to get out there smartly, so that I can get better. I’d rather quit a run and potentially stave off a return of my dodgy knees than explore the alternative!

What exciting lesson will I learn next? Stay tuned to find out!