2016 in Review

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again (well, a few days late, but considering how neglectful of this blog I’ve been in the past few months, a few days is nothing!), when we all gaze back on our accomplishments and/or struggles of the previous year. 2016 was certainly an interesting one. Let’s get down to it, shall we?

2015 Goals Recap

A-ha! I had no specific goals for 2016, other than staying healthy and running to enjoy it. Health-wise, well… the start of the year saw me still recovering from a dodgy metatarsal and related bursitis, then I learned that I don’t breathe in the best way possible, which led to a reprise of dodgy ribs, and my knees bothered me off and on. And, while not an injury, I got pregnant a few months into the year and that made running a bit more interesting than usual. On the whole, I think I enjoyed running. For the most part.

In spite of my lack of goals this year, though it took an extra trip around the sun, I did meet 2 of my goals from 2014, namely beating my 5K and 10K PRs (huzzah!). More on that below. I also managed to add one new town to my race map, plus a new country, so that was pretty cool.

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Celebrating a new PR and starting off 2016 happily!

My 2016 in Numbers (Running)

Total miles: 106.84*
*Closest estimate I could get given that I lost my training log from the start of the year and Simon died on me without saving some data

Races completed: 8 (up from 7 in 2015; 3 5Ks, 1 6K, 3 10Ks, 1 half marathon)

States raced in: 3, none new (Massachusetts, Maine, and California; up from 2 in 2015)

MA towns raced in: 3, 1 new (Dedham (new), Lunenburg, and Worcester)

Countries raced in: 2, for the first time! (US and UK)

PRs beaten: 3! 5K, 6K, and 10K

DNSs: none! for the first time!

Firsts and Milestones (Running)

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I unofficially placed first in the Pregnant American division at the QEOP 10K

Firsts and Milestones (Personal)

  • Traveled to my first international conference and visited two new-to-me cities (Dundee and Glasgow)

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    Enjoying a cheeky Clarkies pie in Dundee

  • Sneaked in one last match at White Hart Lane before they started tearing the stadium down (our seats from that match are now a gaping hole in the ground)
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  • Had tea and Turkish Delight at C.S. Lewis’s house
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  • Found out I was going to have a baby… that was a pretty big moment*

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    Already a Spurs fan

  • Attended my second international conference and got to bask in the glory that is Wembley Stadium
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  • Had a mini-reunion with some of my study abroad friends in Colorado, visiting Denver and the new-to-me Fort Collins
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*The whole baby thing continues to be a pretty big moment! Sometimes it still feels completely unreal, despite the Alien situation that’s nearly always happening in my growing bump. And speaking of the growing bump…

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August 16

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August 29

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September 3, post-QEOP 10K, when I realized I had officially outgrown my clothes and had to make an emergency Primark run for a shirt that wouldn’t expose my belly

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October 3

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October 22, bump buddies!

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November 19

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December 23

I look absolutely HUGE in that last picture… I don’t think the angle helps 😉

So, yeah. 2016 had a lot going on. And that’s not even taking into account the state of the world with Brexit, Syria, Standing Rock, the US election, and all the seemingly endless other things that gave this year a general feeling of despair. If I’m honest, I’m finding it hard to be hopeful about 2017 as a whole, and it’s all a bit overwhelming. So in light of that, here are my goals/things to focus on for the year:

  1. Get this baby out safely and make his little world as cozy, safe, and full of love as possible.
  2. As soon as I get the OK from my midwife, jump back on the running wagon. I’ve been missing running like crazy, and the new jogging stroller is all assembled and ready to go!
  3. Related to above, I’m hoping to be fit enough to run the Worcester Firefighters race in June. I’d like to keep that streak going!
  4. Read. Read for fun, read to learn, read fiction, read non-fiction, read newspapers. Try to balance staying informed with staying sane.
  5. Do good, no matter how small, whenever and wherever I can.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, hopeful 2017!

How was your 2016?

What was your favorite thing that happened last year, running-wise or not?

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How I Fell Off the Running Wagon

Hello there! Apologies (yet again) for a lack of posts lately. Same excuses as last time… busy at work, busy with homework, battling ever-present exhaustion, and less mental capacity for the whole blogging thing… both writing and keeping up with reading the blogs I follow, as well as keeping up with social media. I admit that I am a deviant, and I’m sorry.

Now that that’s out of the way, the one blog post that’s been vaguely bouncing around in my brain for the last few months is about how being pregnant has affected my running. I’m going to attempt that post now… it might border on TMI, and will probably be rambly, so feel free to run away now if you’d just rather not!

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Happily(ish) embarking on some preggo running back in September

When I first found out I was pregnant (early June), I was determined to keep running. I had several races on the horizon that I was looking forward to, including a half marathon that I was feeling very unprepared for… as you may remember. I was doing so much better in 2016 in terms of *not* DNSing (2015 was my year of the DNS), and I wanted to keep up that trend, if possible.

I was lucky enough to have a doctor who was also a runner, who gave me lots of advice along with encouragement to keep it up. Since I had recently dove back into a training plan (sort of), she didn’t see a problem with my continuing to run regularly, so long as I stayed hydrated and took it easy. Her number 1 rule was “listen to your body!” and since I tended to err on the side of that anyway, I figured I was good to go.

 

Now, as I type this, I’m teetering on the edge of my third trimester (!!) and I haven’t run at all since the QEOP 10K at the beginning of September. Prior to that race, I hadn’t run once since Beach 2 Beacon, a full month earlier. What happened? How did I fall off my gung-ho running wagon?

For one, running while pregnant is hard, man. Heck, walking – or even putting on my socks, some days! – leaves me out of breath and with a pounding heart.

(Although, I do have to admit, finding out I was pregnant made me feel a lot better about the runs I did in May that felt so incredibly hard, yet were so incredibly slow. After PRing in both 5K and 10K races earlier in the year, I found these runs and my lack of fitness/speed to be particularly frustrating… just when it looked like I was improving, suddenly I was slowing down and tiring so easily and I couldn’t figure it out. Seeing the positive pregnancy test was an a-ha moment!)

At least in early June I had immediate goals to work toward – the Worcester Firefighters 6K and the Worcester Half Marathon. The half especially, and my lack of training leading up to it, kept me motivated to keep running in the early days. Somehow I managed to pull off a PR in the 6K, and, despite a hot day, lots of hills, and my purposely taking it easy during the half, I somehow came within a few minutes of my PR. You’d think those feats would have motivated me to keep going, right?

Another problem? This summer was hot. Like, in-the-top-10-hottest-on record-in-Boston hot. I don’t do well running in the heat when I’m 100%, let alone when I’m building another human, so I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to pound the baking asphalt. I went to a few speed workouts with the Shammies, but those didn’t go so well; I either ran like crap and got frustrated, or I had to put the brakes on when my body started protesting, either from the heat or from fun things like round ligament pain.

Speaking of pain, there’s reason #3 I fell off the running wagon. My fellow-runner doctor urged me to stop anytime I felt any kind of pain, which I was experiencing with more frequency as the weeks ticked by. Partly due to the aforementioned round ligament pain, partly due to some cysty business, it would hit me more often than I would have liked while running, causing me to stop a lot. I’d be sitting in the grass, watching the Shammies run sprints and do other things I wanted to do, and it just got frustrating. Sometimes I’d go to workouts and walk, but it was hard not running when I really wanted to. So I just sort of stopped going.

Related to pain, reason #4 is general discomfort. I look back at my Worcester races in June and sigh wistfully about how good I had it back then. Sure, I tired more easily, but that was pretty much it. By the time Beach 2 Beacon rolled around, I had gained 10 pounds and certain parts of my anatomy were more, um, jiggly than they had been before (see below). Plus, there was the whole bladder situation that wasted about 10 minutes of my race and made the whole thing pretty uncomfortable.

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Left: June 19; Right: August 6. Same singlet, a bit more stretched out on the right. (Please ignore the bird I’m flipping on the right… it was accidental!)

By the time I was running the QEOP 10K in London a month later, I had graduated to my singlet that’s two sizes larger than the one pictured above, and cursing myself for not having bought a new sports bra that a) fit better, and b) supported things better. By that race, not only was I still dealing with round ligament pain and an almost constant urge to duck into a portaloo, but I was also dealing with bits that had gotten even more jiggly to the point of being painful. If I hadn’t been holding my phone and a bag of gummy fuel, I probably would have been holding myself as I went.

Right, so, where does that bring us on the list of my excuses for why I’m not so much running anymore?

  1. I tire more easily/get out of breath quicker
  2. It was too hot (hot damn!)
  3. It hurt
  4. It was uncomfortable

Number 5 is a combination of lack of time and general exhaustion. I know I mentioned tiredness in my first excuse, but that was more of a getting-tired-more-quickly-while-running situation. This is just straight-up tired. All. The. Time. During my first trimester, I felt levels of tiredness that I didn’t even know a human could experience (and I haven’t even reached the sleep-deprived newborn stage yet!). I’d be so tired, I’d literally crawl under my desk at work and curl up on the thinly carpeted cement floor and fall asleep.

By the time I’d get home from work, it was all I could do to put dinner in my face before dozing on the couch before then slinking off to bed at 8pm. The thought of running (or blogging!) after work went right out the door, as did thoughts of getting up early to beat the heat on the weekends. I really wanted to try a prenatal yoga class, but the most convenient one to me was at 9am on Saturdays and even that was too early.

Although I got slightly less tired during my second trimester (allegedly the “honeymoon stage” of pregnancy when you’re supposed to have all kinds of energy – ha!), I was still exhausted all the time, and somehow my life got super busy. Drew and I were either traveling every weekend or running around like mad to do errands, visit family, and do other things we couldn’t do while traveling. Then I had the brilliant idea to sign up for a graduate-level history class, which has eaten up most of my free time since early September, and which goes until right before Christmas. I should be doing homework now, actually, but alas.

So there we have it. Those five things have conspired to derail my running-through-pregnancy plans. Could I have beaten them all with an ironclad will? Sure. But anyone who’s read this blog knows that’s not really my style. I know women who have run through their entire pregnancies, and I think that’s awesome. Part of me wishes I had muddled through and done the same. The other part of me lays on the couch with a cup of tea and my feet up thinking “I’m listening to my body!” The more things change, the more they stay the same 🙂

In the meantime, I’ve taken advantage of Old Navy and Primark clearance sales and bought myself some maternity-size workout clothes, and I still have good intentions. I try to go for a walk every day at work during my lunch break, and one of these days I’ll join Drew at the gym instead of doing homework. I signed up for a prenatal yoga class that happens in the evening. I’ve researched and registered for a jogging stroller. I’ll climb back on that running wagon… someday.

Have you ever fallen off the running wagon for any reason? How did you climb back on?

Any running moms out there – did you run through pregnancy? How did it go?