Samantha’s Harvest 5K, 9 June 2019

Hi there! How in the heck is it June already?! I am way behind with race recaps… I’ve run 5 already this year (I’m back, baby!) and have written up exactly 0. Until now. Please excuse the lack of chronological order and maybe someday I’ll get my blogging act back together again.

Let’s press on, shall we?

Samantha’s Harvest 5k

What: 5K

Where: Reading, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Me and the Bairn and a bunch of Shammies

Benefited: Samantha’s Harvest

Time: 32:50 Stroller PR!

Splits*:
-Mile 1: 10:38
-Mile 2: 10:33
-Mile 3: 11:03
-Mile 3.1: 1:08

*I forgot to stop my Garmin until I’d been across for a while, so my Garmin splits don’t add up to my official time

Background

I ran this race last year as my first stroller run ever with the Bairn (you can read the recap here). It was a decent race, supporting a good cause, and it was fun to hang with the Shammies, but I wasn’t planning on running it again this year. It just felt like a once-and-done experience. But, a Shammie who’s a new mom said she might be there with her new wee Shammie, plus the club pays our race fees, and it would be something to do while Drew played soccer that morning… so I thought what the heck and signed up. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get to meet the newest Shammie, but it was still a good time!)

Pre-race

Much like last year, Drew had a soccer game at the same time as the race, so the Bairn and I hopped in the car and drove to Reading. Sam’s Harvest is a relatively small race, so there’s plenty of parking on-site and bib pickup is fast and easy.

In lieu of warming up like I should have, I made the rounds with the Shammies for the obligatory cooing over/getting high fives from the Bairn and “OMG he’s twice the size he was since I last saw him!” comments. I also wrestled the Bairn in and out of his stroller a few times because toddlers gonna toddler.

The Race

The field felt a lot smaller this year… potentially because the race started an hour earlier than in years past and that fact wasn’t heavily advertised. There were a bunch of runners with strollers last year, but I was one of only two this time around.

The Bairn and I started near the back and were on our own, as all the Shammies running this year were speedy and off winning their age groups.

I don’t remember there being so many hills last year – oof! Otherwise the course was wonderfully shady and on pleasant residential back roads. There were two water stops and both had ice-cold water, which was glorious! Every other race I’ve done so far this year had water that was vaguely cool at best, so the icy hydration felt even more amazing on this hot morning.

Another nice thing about the course being on all residential streets is that several families were out on their front lawns cheering on the runners. The best moment of my race was when I ran by a mom sitting on a blanket with her baby, who looked maybe 10 or 11 months old, and the mom excitedly pointed at the Bairn and said to her wee one “there’s a kid like you! Oh wow, they’re running with a stroller!” Then she looked at me and said “That is so awesome! I’m so proud of you!!” This happened between miles 2 and 3 when I was struggling a bit, and her words totally lifted me for the rest of the race. I feel like you hear so much about moms judging each other these days, and I tend to feel self-conscious a lot about what other moms might be thinking, so to hear such sincere praise from another mom meant so much!

The second best part of my race was as I neared the finish. Like last year I was the last Shammie on the course, and as I came down the hill toward the track where the finish line is, a bunch of Shammies were walking toward me as they headed off for a cool-down run. They all started cheering when they saw me and I reached out for a high-five and ended up high-fiving almost all of them. It felt like running a half-gauntlet of awesomeness!

As we turned onto the track and came down the final straightaway, the rest of the Shammies were clustered by the finish line, cheering. I saw one of them with his phone out for pictures and jokingly flexed, and then made a silly excited face, which got caught on camera:

I was also excited because both my Garmin and the ever-nearer finish line clock both said 32:–, which would not only be a solid 6 minutes faster than last year’s time, but also a PR for me in terms of stroller races. I was pumped!

Post-race

After I crossed the finish and the nice timing person ripped off the bottom of my bib and a nice volunteer handed me an icy, full-size bottle of water (seriously, this race does hydration RIGHT), all I wanted to do was lay down in the shade for a few hours. I was hot and red and probably dehydrated, and had pushed myself harder in this race than I planned to, so I was a bit wobbly. I pushed the Bairn over to some shade, ignoring his protests about wanting to come out and walk around, and plopped down gracelessly to chug water.

After the initial I-might-faint feeling, I felt awesome! I was still feeling pumped from both the nice mom and the Shammies high fives, and was totally chuffed about my time. It blows my mind a little that I’m finishing races faster pushing a toddler in a stroller than I was in most of my pre-Bairn races. I think it’s a combination of mom-strength (hefting an ever-growing child is my answer to weight-lifting and core work, I guess!) and ~cheesy alert~ believing in myself. The more I run faster, the more I know I can do it, and the more I push myself to keep it up. If I can be arsed, I may ramble on about these thoughts in another post. Someday. Maybe.

Anyway, back to post-race. The Bairn and I joined the rest of the Shammies, who were gathering by the leftover donuts in the shade by the registration area. We snacked on some donuts and stretched, and the Bairn joined in clapping for the award winners. We took a club photo:

And then everyone sort of trickled to their cars and left. Not a lot of fanfare or post-race partying, which was fine as I wouldn’t have been able to join in much anyway! The Bairn and I drove home, stopped for some iced coffee, and then repeated last year’s recovery: relaxing in the shade of our yard with a water table:

While I assumed Sam’s Harvest was a one-time race, it’s turning out to be a fun start-of-summer tradition. I wonder how many more years I’ll be pushing the Bairn? Maybe he’ll even run with me in a few!

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Samantha’s Harvest 5K, 10 June 2018

What: 5K

Where: Reading, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Me and the Bairn (his first race outside of the womb!) and a ton of Shammies

Benefited: Samantha’s Harvest

Time: 38:09

Splits:
-Mile 1: 11:08
-Mile 2: 12:44
-Mile 3: 13:18
-Mile 3.1: 1:15

Background:

I’d been wanting to run this race for a few years. It’s one that always has a big Shammie representation, it’s in a town I hadn’t run in before (see my race maps which badly need updating!), and it benefits a great charity. Unfortunately, it almost always falls on the same day as the Worcester Firefighters 6K… until 2018, that is! (Dang, this recap is waaayyyy overdue.)

Pre-race:

Drew had a soccer game at the same time as the race, so I didn’t have my usual personal cheering squad. Feeling like part of an especially sporty family, I loaded the Bairn and the jogging stroller into the car and set off for Reading High School. By the time we got there, there was already a sizeable Shammie crowd; I don’t often show up at races alone, so it was nice to be met with so many familiar faces! Bib pickup was super easy, and the Bairn and I milled around and socialized a bit before gun time. (Warmup? What warmup?) After a quick Shammies group photo:

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Shammies representing

all the runners were led off the high school campus to a cul-de-sac, where the race started.

The race:

The Bairn and I brought up the rear as the gun went off, and Shammie E kept us company for the first half-mile or so, until I just couldn’t keep up anymore. (Those of you who’ve read this blog before may remember Shammie E, who kept Fetus Bairn (is that too weird of a name?) and I company at the Beach 2 Beacon 10K!) This was my first time ever pushing the jogging stroller while running, and I wasn’t even really in 5K, non-stroller-pushing shape to begin with, so I was content to run as slowly as I needed and take walk breaks whenever. I didn’t want to hold E back, so we waved goodbye as she sped off.

The road guards for this race were mostly high school students, and they did a great job (for the most part). There was one confusing intersection where the Bairn and I took off up a hill, because one road guard gestured in that direction as his friend was texting someone, and then the friend looked up and yelled at us that we were going the wrong way. Eh, it wasn’t like I was gunning for a PR or anything, right? I was only mildly annoyed because the hill was so frikkin’ steep!

Honestly, I don’t remember too much else about the race, which I guess is unsurprising as it’s now almost 9 months later and I’ve got a bad case of Toddler Brain (like Pregnancy Brain, except it’s accompanied by a ball of energy who throws tantrums at the drop of a hat). I do remember being excited to see the high school track, where the finish line was, and hearing a random Shammie yell “Yay, go Shammie!!” at me.

When I saw 38:something on the clock as I crossed the finish, I had a teeny pang of disappointment as my competitive-with-myself part of my brain was upset I hadn’t miraculously PR’d. Mostly, though, I was chuffed that I finished in under 40 minutes, considering I was doing my first-ever stroller run on an unfamiliar course when it was kind of hot!

Post-race:

I freed the Bairn from his stroller and let him wander around a little. He mostly wanted to escape the fenced-in track area to explore the open fields, but I was trying to chug water and focus on making my face less red. Several people complimented his “crawl walk run” shirt, which he wore special for race day.

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A partial view of the Bairn’s race day shirt. You can also see his blurry wee hand as he spins the stroller wheel

Post-race activities seemed pretty low-key. Awards were given to overall and age group winners (the Shammies cleaned up nearly every category), then people just kind of dispersed. I may have been so distracted by Bairn wrangling that I didn’t hear any announcements, but that’s just as well. I did notice some Shammies enjoying post-race beverages in the parking lot, which would have been fun to join in if I hadn’t been a) lugging a Bairn and b) driving said Bairn home.

Once home, I did luxuriate for a while in the shady part of our backyard while the Bairn played with his water table:

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It was a cool experience running with the Bairn (even cooler than running with him in-utero, because we got to chat and I could see him sitting up and taking everything in), and something I’d love to do more. I did manage one more stroller run last summer, but it was *such* a crazy hot summer that I opted for slow stroller walks with iced coffee way more often. Here’s hoping the snow and ice melts soon so we can hit the pavement together again!

2018 in Review

Hello strangers, and happy new year!

It’s so cliche, but wow, does time go so much faster the older you get, especially once you have kids. Wasn’t it just, like, 2008?? It is mind blowing to me that it’s 2019 already. My Wee Bairn is almost 2!! Whaaaaaat?!

Now that that’s out of my system, let’s take a look back at my 2018, shall we? It may have been lacking a significant number of blog posts, but life carried on regardless!

2018 Goals Recap:

1) Get the Bairn registered at the gym so he can hang at their daycare while I work out.

I did this! And I brought the Bairn to the gym with me all of… 2 times. Once in January, and once in December. Well… better than 0 times? I need to remember that this is an option during the long winter now, because it worked really well each time; he seemed to have a blast in the play area and I got to get my Expresso Bike on.

2) I’m registered for a half marathon in April; while I ran a half in 2016 without properly training, I’d like to NOT make that a habit. So, I’d like to train for this race. 

Umm, right. Yes. Well, I *started* training for the half. Then the Bairn got sick, and then I got sick, and training plans got derailed. I managed to get up to 5 miles and then my body started hurting. So I dropped down to the 5K and ran that instead, and it was one of the best running decisions I’ve made. You can read all about it here. So, while I didn’t hit my goal exactly, I did end up training for the race I ran, and also didn’t run a race I wasn’t trained for, so I call that a win.

3) Continue reading. Read more books by People of Color and from backgrounds not like mine. Continue reading to the Bairn as often as he’ll let me. 

I read!! A lot! I chugged through 43 books in 2018, which is way more than I anticipated reading. I didn’t even sign up for the Goodreads challenge because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I missed my goal. As for the rest of the goal, only 8 of the 43 were written by PoC, and a handful more were by and about people with backgrounds not like mine. It’s a start, but I could certainly read harder than I did last year. 13 of the 43 books were fiction, and 14 of the 30 nonfiction were parenting-related books, so clearly there was a trend to my reading this year (mostly on the theme of “OMG I have a toddler now, what do I do??”)

As for reading to the Bairn… one of my proudest bits of this parenting gig is that the Bairn *loves* books. We read him 3 every night before bed, and throughout the day he’ll pick random ones up and either ask us to read them to him or he’ll just start leafing through on his own. It’s adorable and awesome, and I hope his love of books continues as he gets older!

4) Actually use the jogging stroller for jogging!

This happened!! Only twice, that I can remember, but it happened! I pushed the Bairn in a race (recap still forthcoming…….) and pushed him around the pond once. I’m hoping to do more of it this year, especially because a new rail trail opened nearby so I’ll have a new cool place to run!

5) Get out and about with the Bairn more. I was scared to drive with him for quite a while, and also scared to mess with his fragile nap schedule. But Drew and I realized we didn’t do a whole lot with him in his first year. His grandparents got him memberships to the aquarium and Children’s Museum, so putting those to good use will be a start!

I definitely got better with this. I only ventured to the Children’s Museum solo with him once (and we met up with friends there, so it wasn’t totally solo), but we did way more out and about in 2018 than we did in 2017. We went to the mall, grocery shopping, to various libraries and storytimes, to friends’ houses, the zoo, and even to a trial class at the Little Gym. During the summer, nearly every morning I was home with him would feature a stroller walk to Dunkies for a giant iced coffee, and then a walk to one of several parks nearby. I may not have done many stroller runs this year, but I did take some epic stroller walks! Oh, and the Bairn and I spent several days out and about on our own in Berlin… more on this later!

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Animal stare-down at the zoo

 

My 2018 in Numbers (Running)

Total miles: 20.9 (up from 15.84 in 2018… up is up, right?)

Races completed: 3 (up from from 0 in 2018; 2 5Ks and 1 6K)

States raced in: 1 (up from 0 in 2018; good ol’ home sweet home, Massachusetts)

MA towns raced in: 3 (up from 0 in 2018; Easthampton, Reading, and Worcester)

Countries raced in: 1 (up from 0 in 2018; US)

PRs beaten: 1 (6K)

DNSs: 0

Not my best year by far, but I’m totally okay with that. It was an improvement from 2017, and improvements are improvements, no matter how humble!

Firsts and Milestones (Running)

  • New 6K PR: 37:01 (previously 38:14)
  • First time running in the Massachusetts towns of Easthampton and Reading. I need to update my running maps!
  • Ran my first race pushing a jogging stroller (recap still forthcoming…… one of these days!).

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    Shammies at the Samantha’s Harvest 5K

Firsts and Milestones (Personal)

  1.  I started a new job after 12 years at my previous one (I wrote a bit about this a few months ago)
  2. I flew internationally with a toddler for the first time… and lived to tell about it!
  3. Related to above – I went to Germany for the first time! We spent a few days in Berlin, where the Bairn and I did a bit of wandering around while Drew worked. We saw the remnants of the Berlin Wall, explored to the zoo, took in the Festival of Lights, and went to a LOT of playgrounds:
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    Exploring one of Berlin’s many, many playgrounds

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    Part of the Festival of Lights

     

    Goals for 2019


1) Establish some kind of mileage base and try to run as regularly as life will allow. I’ve learned that running makes a significant difference to my mental health, and now that I’m facing a year with a two year old, I’ll need all the help I can get!

2) Run a half marathon. I kind of hate them while I’m running them, but it’s a good goal to train for, and it would allow me to throw my name in the hat for a marathon number if I choose to do so later this year.

3) Continue to make an effort to read harder (see recap of last year’s goals), using Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge if I need a push. Also, read more fiction. I didn’t have enough fiction in my life last year. And keep reading to the Bairn as much as possible.

4) Make coffee at home more and use some of my massive stash of travel mugs. Having the Starbucks app is daaaaaaangerous, folks.

5) Go to the gym more than twice this year. I don’t even want to calculate my cost-per-visit for 2018… those were some dang expensive Expresso Bike rides, and that is not sustainable.

6) A bonus goal for the year – try to be more mindful, especially in the moments when the Bairn can be a bit, well, toddlerish. Breathe more, yell less.

Happy 2019! What was your favorite thing about 2018? What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

Fort Hill Brewery 5K, 15 April 2018

What: 5K

Where: Easthampton, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Just me, with moral support from Drew (and two Shammies running the half)

Benefited: Easthampton High School’s track and cross country programs

Time: 32:39

Splits:
-Mile 1: 10:13
-Mile 2: 10:47
-Mile 3: 10:33
-Mile 3.1: 01:17

Recap:

This was my first race post-Bairn! I originally signed up for the half marathon back in November, but after training went awry, I switched my registration to the 5K and am quite pleased with how it all played out. Especially because we got a fun weekend of travel out of the deal!

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Fort Hill Brewery*

Bib pickup happened the day before at a fitness studio in nearby Hadley, and was super easy and quick. I had signed up early enough to get a free shirt, which was a tech shirt with gender-specific sizing – always a plus! There was also bib pickup the morning of, but as we were out and about with the Bairn the day before anyway, it seemed prudent to get it done with.

The race itself was held at and around the Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton, with parking onsite, on a nearby street, and at a community center next door. The brewery looked like an old farmhouse near Mount Tom (which you can see peeking out on the left of the above photo), and felt very picturesque.

We arrived just before the half marathon runners took off at 10am, and we took shelter in the brewery as we waited for the 10:30 start for the 5K. In addition to not feeling trained or physically ready at all for a half marathon, the fact that it was in the low 30s (with wind chill making it feel like the 20s) with freezing rain in the forecast made me even happier I had dropped to the shorter distance! It was awesome having the brewery to shelter in, especially since I had a Bairn in tow.

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Checking out the ambulance with the Bairn, pre-race

A little before 10:30 the runners were summoned down to the starting line. It was frikkin’ freezing, guys. I’ve run in colder temps, but it had been quite a while, and my body was not happy with me for making it hang out in, and warm up in, such conditions. I did some half-hearted warmup jogs and dynamic stretching, then stood shivering with the rest of the 95 runners as we waited for the start.

We got some directional instructions before the start, as well as a reminder to take deep breaths and be in the moment, then the starting gun went off and we were away running. I started near the back of the pack, and had intentions of taking it pretty easy, but I was so cold that I found myself running faster than planned just to try to warm up. Also, my recent training runs have all started out fast, so I think that’s just what my body was used to.

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Before the 5K start*

Maybe halfway through the first mile I checked Simon Mark II and saw I was chugging along at a 9:– something pace. I knew that wasn’t sustainable, but I was feeling okay, so I picked a runner near me who was wearing a sparkly skirt and decided to try to pace her. I managed to stay with her until the water stop just before Mile 2, when I took the opportunity to walk as I drank and she ran out of sight. While I was disappointed to see my pacer disappear into the horizon, I was pretty pleased that I had made it nearly 2 miles without needing a walk break.

The water stop was the last(ish) part of the race that was on roads – until then we had been running mostly residential roads near the brewery. After the water stop we turned onto the Manhan Rail Trail, which was beautifully paved (no potholes or rough patches like on the roads!) and which looked like it would be such a cool trail to have at one’s disposal. Not long after hitting the trail we passed behind an old, run-down mill building and I wanted to stop to take a picture… but I didn’t want to stop, as I had just started running again. So I wrestled with my ArmPocket to get my phone, and took a shot of the creepy-looking water tower attached to the mill:

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It didn’t come out great, but it was cool-looking in person, I promise

I had been leapfrogging the guy in the blue hoodie in that photo, and at the time of the picture I had pretty much given up hope that I’d catch him again. The arm at the very far left of the photo was a lady I ended up chatting briefly with (we commented on the not-so-pleasant smell of some kind of factory or stream we ran past) before awkwardly passing her when I got my second wind.

Since I hadn’t warmed up properly, my first mile in this race was pretty much a warmup… as in I couldn’t feel my legs because they were so cold, and they didn’t warm up until the first mile had ticked by. I struggled a bit for the second mile… likely because I wasn’t hydrated (I am me, after all)… but then after taking that walk/water break, I had a few minutes and then BOOM my second wind appeared. I’ve written before about races where I’ve felt like I turn into a machine at the end, and that happened again in this race. Once I passed that lady, I felt like I couldn’t stop or slow down if I wanted to.

I got to a point on the trail where I recognized the community center that’s next to the brewery, and I knew I was almost done. I had about a half-mile to go, but I ate that half-mile for breakfast. My jets turned on and while I didn’t sprint, I did pick up speed, and I felt strong. I even caught up to and passed Blue Hoodie, and left him in my dust. I picked off a few more people as the trail ended and we turned onto the road that leads to the brewery.

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Cresting the last hill

The very last bit of the race was a cruel uphill to the finish line, but I ate that hill for second breakfast. Maybe I was just so excited to be done, or maybe I had energy stores galore from the breakfast sandwich and tasty coffee I’d had before the race (ordinarily I don’t eat that much or drink coffee before races), but I tore up that hill, waved excitedly at Drew and the Bairn who were waiting for me near the finish, and crossed the line with a much faster time than I had expected.

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Done!*

As a bonus, a race volunteer placed a medal around my neck after I crossed the finish line (according to all the race info, only half finishers were going to get medals, so bonus bling was awesome!), I grabbed a banana, and wobbled off to find Drew and the Bairn. I was well chuffed with my race, especially the last third or so, and also very glad that I didn’t have 10 more miles to run! The 5K was the right choice for me this time for sure.

We hung out in the brewery for a bit so I could warm up and guzzle some water, then we opted to leave early and skip the post-race party. The brewery was going to be serving beer, a local pizza place was already handing out slices to the runners (I think I’ve written before that I have a hard time with “real” food right after a race, especially things like pizza), and a DJ was ready to spin some tracks, but bad planning on my part meant we had no Airbnb to return to and a long ride home with a tired Bairn, so we bolted. The party pics on Facebook make it look like it was a fun time though!

Even though it wasn’t the half marathon I had planned on running, I’m glad I dropped down to the shorter distance. My training runs had gotten up to 5 miles so I knew I could grind out 3.1, and knowing my family wasn’t killing a long time in the cold eased me of guilt. I ended up feeling strong and finishing faster than expected, so I’d say it was a pretty successful return to the world of road races!

And I’m already putting feelers out for my next race…

*Photos with asterisks by Donna Gulow*

 

A Western Mass Weekend

Hello there! If you read my last post, or have been following along with my ill-fated half marathon training, you’ll know that I recently traveled out to western Mass for the Fort Hill Brewery half marathon/5k.

Western Mass is a place I haven’t spent much time in, considering I’ve lived my whole life in Massachusetts. I grew up in central Mass, and now live a bit outside Boston. Western Mass has always unfortunately been the driving equivalent of flyover country for me – it’s the two-lane bit of the Mass Pike that always feels endless on the way home from somewhere else. I’ve known there are cool things to do and see, but other than a childhood visit to the Yankee Candle Factory, I’ve never gone to see for myself.

Enter the Fort Hill Brewery race. In addition to being motivation to train (ha!!) it would allow me to check another town off my Massachusetts running map, and would give us an excuse to explore someplace new. I found a toddler-friendly airbnb close to the race, which was in Easthampton, and away we went.


Our neighborhood for the weekend was within walking distance of the center of town, and within gazing distance of Mount Tom (as seen above). We spent the first evening taking advantage of the 70-degree temps and exploring the shops and sights of the town center.

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Easthampton seemed to me to be a town that had seen some hard days when its mills closed, but that has done a lot to reinvent itself. It felt like a mix of blue-collar and artsy hipster, with a dash of college town vibe. Several microbreweries have sprung up, and at least one of the giant old mills has had new life breathed into it by new businesses and an indoor park. There are also some non-revitalized mills still around (see below), which I’ve always been fascinated by… maybe because I lived near many such mills when I was growing up.

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One thing that really struck me about western Mass was how nice everyone was… people smiled and said hello, and cars stopped to let us cross while the drivers smiled. Maybe it was because we were pushing a stroller, but I also saw people being nice to other people who weren’t pushing adorable bairns around. It was slightly unsettling, but not in a bad way! Maybe it’s a sign that I need to get out of Boston and its environs more often…


My favorite places we visited while in town:

  • Tandem Bagel Company – an old train station turned into a cool cafe serving a huge variety of bagels and yummy coffees. I loved their special maple latte! This place was hopping each morning we visited, and made me wish we had something similar in my city.
  • New City Brewery – tucked in the back of the old revitalized mill I mentioned earlier, specializing in alcoholic ginger beer but offering other brews as well. They have a nice outdoor patio with river views. I highly recommend the New City Mule!
  • Easthampton Diner – old school, no-frills place serving breakfast all day and big portions for reasonable prices. They make good waffles and grilled cheese!
  • Manhan Rail Trail – well kept paved bike/multi-use path that runs along the Manhan River. A good chunk of the Fort Hill Brewery race was along the path, and it was great! It looked like the path runs from Northampton to New Haven, which would make for an epic run.

We also spent an afternoon in nearby Florence, visiting Look Park. It cost $9 to drive in, but the park boasts lots of grassy space for Bairns to run around, trails to hike/ride bikes on, several playgrounds, a small zoo, a picnic area with grills, a cafe, a theater, and even a train you can ride around in. On a lovely spring day like we had on Saturday, it’s well worth the $9!

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Riding the train in Look Park

Have you been to Western Mass? What are your favorite things to do/see there?

Hey, I Put Some New Shoes On…

…and suddenly everything’s right. At least according to Paolo Nutini.

One of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to doing for ages is get some new running shoes. My most current ones, Saucony Guide 8s in a snazzy blue color (see photo below), still have miles in them, but they don’t really fit anymore and have been known to give me a bit of grief every now and then during runs.


(One of the fun pregnancy side effects I experienced was growing feet. Thanks – I’m assuming – to the relaxin that flooded my body a while ago, spreading the bones in my feet, I’m left with feet that are a half-size to full-size bigger, depending on which foot you’re looking at. Which is another cool thing – one foot grew more than the other. Yay!)

Since I started experiencing knee pain last week, and with a half marathon and the lead-up training looming on the horizon, I thought it was high time I bit the bullet. So Drew and I grabbed the Bairn and headed to our nearest Marathon Sports this afternoon so I could get re-fit and have my gait reanalyzed for some new kicks.

The Bairn enjoyed the big doggy in the window display

It was during the fitting that I learned my formerly size 8.5 feet are now size 9 (left) and slightly bigger than size 9 (right). That makes things fun. Also, it seems that whereas my forefoot has spread out a bit, my ankle area is the same as before, so bigger shoes feel looser at the back now. That’s also fun, and makes it very easy to find shoes that work.

Luckily I got a super awesome salesman who knew what he was talking about, and he grabbed a bunch of different shoes for me to try. I gave my Saucony Guides a go again, only to find the new ISO model feels like it’s squishing my feet from the top. The new model of my Adidas shoes felt way too loose at the heel, as did the Brooks  I tried.

There were only two shoes that matched my flat feet/over-pronation/gait that also felt snug enough at the heel – Mizunos (maybe Wave Inspires? I don’t remember) and Nike Zoom Structures. I ran around the store in one of each for a while, and it ended up being the Nikes all the way.


I’m so pumped to take these for a proper run, but I’m a little nervous as well. I’ve been wearing Saucony Guides for almost the entire time I’ve been running, except for the time I branched out to Adidas and ended up with a messed-up knee. It was probably a coincidence, but there’s something of a superstitious comfort in knowing you’ve got a shoe that works for you, and the Guides were my ol’ faithfuls.

My fingers (and beleaguered toes!) are crossed that these Nikes do the trick!

What shoes are your ol’ faithfuls?

Have you ever had to switch shoe brands after being with one for a long time? How did it go?

Post-Bairn Half Training – Week 2

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Alternate title for this post: “Well, that deescalated quickly.”

Sigh no more, readers, sigh no more
My training plan hopes were deceivers ever…

Okay, enough melodrama. TL;dr my plan got derailed pretty severely after my glorious first week. Is anyone surprised? Training plans and I are star-crossed, it seems. Let’s recap:

Monday
Rest | Rest

Like I said last week, I’m awesome at rest days. This one was perfectly timed too, since the Bairn woke up with a fever and we both stayed home and laid low.

Tuesday
3m run | 3m run

The Bairn was still home on Tuesday, and after being in the house with him for two days I was a little stir crazy. (We usually run errands or get out of the house somehow, but I didn’t want to drag a feverish wee one with a snot-fountain for a nose out where he could infect others.) Drew was working from home, and during a break in his meetings I booked it to the gym for a welcome break and a treadmill run.

Good things about this run:

  1. I remembered my ipod and had a bumpin’ soundtrack to get me going.
  2. The gym was practically empty. It was glorious.

Not so good things about this run:

  1. My right knee.

Oh boy. This knee has been the bane of my existence more than once on this blog, and I was not happy to feel familiar twinges. I should have stopped my run once I felt it, or walked the remaining distance to 3 miles, but I was stupidly stubborn (I completed Week 1, and I will complete Week 2, knees be damned!!). I finished the run, stretched, and headed home to rejoin my ailing Bairn, with my knee mostly feeling better. Ish.

Wednesday
2m run or CT | rest and ice

Wednesday the Bairn was feeling better and back at school, so I was back at work. A day of constantly moving from sitting to standing, going up and down stairs every few minutes, and lifting boxes and pushing carts didn’t help my knee any. I had originally planned to do some of my PT/gait retraining exercises to help bolster my knee but decided putting them up and popping some ice on them would probably be the best bet.

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Thursday
30 mins CT | rest

After the previous night’s icing, I thought my CT would either be a gentle bike ride at the gym or the PT exercises I had planned to do the night before. Then I woke up having inherited the Bairn’s snot-fountain of a nose. I didn’t feel right dropping the still-not-100% Bairn at the gym daycare, nor did I want to drip snot all over the gym equipment (nor did I really want to use the gym equipment with the way I was feeling) so the bike was right out.

As the day wore on, I felt worse and worse and really didn’t want to do any kind of physical activity beyond chasing the Bairn around the house. I decided to swap Friday’s rest day for Thursday’s CT and called it a night.

Friday
Rest | Rest

Then Friday happened. I well and truly had caught whatever the Bairn had at the beginning of the week, and Friday was my day to have a fever. My mom, bless her most wonderful soul, braved the germs and came over to help wrangle the Bairn while I sat on the couch, shivering under a blanket.

There’s really no point in finishing the week in this posting fashion, because as you’ve probably already guessed, I didn’t run at all at the weekend. Between dealing with the fever’s alternating chills and overheating sessions Friday night, and taking a mega-Sudafed as a last resort on Saturday night and being kept awake all night as a result, not to mention the Bairn’s coughing and night wakings, I didn’t get much sleep all weekend. Even if I had been feeling up to running, the lack of sleep probably would have kept me from getting the miles in.

So, sad trombone noises for Week 2.

—–

Now the question is, how do I handle this training plan going forward?

In all honesty, I was setting myself up for badness from the start. I really should have been running/training more before diving right into a plan that asked for 3 miles right off the bat. I knew this deep down. I had intentions of doing just that. As is wont to happen in my distracted #mombrain these days, I lost track of time and all of a sudden had just enough time to squeeze in a 12-week plan, with no room beforehand to build up properly. Knowing my body, that’s just asking for an injury.

Before whatever plague this was hit me, I figured I’d sacrifice one run per week to focus on PT exercises for my knees, and to make sure I do the cross-training that’s called for, rather than just 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I wanted to do it right… or as “right” as I could at this point.

And then the plague. If this tale of woe sounds vaguely familiar, an eerily similar situation happened a few years back – almost to the day! – when I was taking a Couch to 5-Miler class at work and was making strides (ha!) and feeling great about myself. In fact, looking back on that post, the intro I wrote rings quite a few bells:

“My first week of training was going so well, readers. So well. As I ran my prescribed miles on the treadmill, I was eagerly looking forward to writing a wrap-up post on this blog that showed just how well I had stuck to my training plan (lame, I know), and I couldn’t wait to show up at my second running class with my head held high, having actually completed the “homework” of sticking to the plan. … And then I got the flu.”

More sad trombones.

So what’s the best course of action now? Do I…

  1. Start the training plan over/repeat Week 2 when I’m feeling better?
  2. Jump back in at Week 3, but with some tweaks?
  3. Scrap the training plan and start a 5K training plan, then start this one once that’s done, and then just run the half as best I can? (Having run a half with minimal training I know it’s possible, it’s just not ideal)
  4. Scrap everything, give my race registration to a friend who’s on the wait-list, and just enjoy a weekend in Western Mass without running?
  5. Your suggestion here?