A long trail ahead

Remember when this blog used to be about running? Turns out there’s not much to write about when you’re not running. At all. I’ve been justifying my extra time on the couch with tentative plans to begin marathon training after the baby is born.

But, truth be told, I’ve been a little worried about this plan. It takes a lot of motivation to train for a marathon. Even more when you have a breastfeeding infant. And I wasn’t sure I had that motivation. I guess I still don’t know. But I’m feeling more optimistic. It helps that I’m back to reading blogs. I’m definitely jealous of all the shenanigans folks like the (not so) Average Athlete are up to.

Then last weekend I went for a 3-ish mile walk. And I was sore for the next two days. It was hilly, alright?? Still, I’ve run this exact 3-ish miles before, followed by another even hillier 6-ish miles and not been sore. Yes, I do realize I’m 6 months pregnant. I’m not expecting to break any records here. But I also can’t expect that I’ll be able to do much more after giving birth. I have a long road ahead of me. Quite literally.

Anyway, that walk was sort of the kick in the pants I needed. And not just because it made me realize how out of shape I am. The sun was shining and the typically brown hills were green. Somewhere amongst the grazing cows I spotted my motivation. I unearthed my next phase in running right there on the trails.

Benicia-Hills-Dry-Brown

The problem with a goal like running a marathon is, well, I’ve done it before. Of course it’s no small feat, especially after having a baby (OH MY GOD, SERIOUSLY). But the novelty is gone. I need a new challenge. Trail running feels perfect because it’s new and it most certainly is a challenge. Not only that, it’s a challenge I can tackle slowly. 

I’ve run enough and experimented enough with different training methods to know that my body responds better to distance than speed. Especially when recovering from an injury or building back up from ground zero. Taking it easy will be a lot easier without the pressure of beating a marathon time hanging over my head.

I still plan on training for a road marathon*. Mostly because a trail marathon feels like a bit much to take on straight away. But I want to train a fair amount on the trails and throw in some shorter trail races. So far I’ve found about 10 – 12 million I’d like to check out. So, you know, that should keep me busy.

*I’m looking pretty seriously at the Big Sur International Marathon. In the event that I don’t win the lottery, what spring marathon do you recommend?

Photo Credit: Benicia. by Kirk Strauser is licensed under CC BY 2.0

4 Posts in 1: It’s a pregnant, decorative, musical new year!

I’m a little behind on posts so I thought we could play catch up. Instead of doing the smart thing and turning this into four easily digestible posts, I decided to write one that is way too long.

BLOG POST 1: Here we go again!

I’m pregnant. Due 5/28.

I feel pretty good. I was a bit nauseous during the first trimester, but I don’t think it was too bad relative to what some women go through. I had absolutely NO nausea with Ruby, but I also had all those stressful complications. This is WAY BETTER.

We’re going to wait (until birth, in case that’s not just implied here) to find out the sex. We would both slightly prefer a girl, but a boy would be cool too.

BLOG POST 2: Decorating the nursery… for Ruby

We have a 3 bedroom house: our room, the baby/office storage room and the guest room. There is a crib in the baby room and a full-sized bed in the guest room. And they’re both staying there.

The baby room will remain the same. The closet will still be used for non-baby storage and the book shelves will still hold Chemical Engineering textbooks and Star Wars toys. Baby won’t mind.

Ruby has moved into the guest room. We’re sort of redecorating there and I’m really excited about it! I have plans for one decorative DIY project. I’m a lot better at planning than execution and it’s evolving into something rather elaborate. So we’ll see if this actually happens. If it does, I fully plan on shamelessly pinning it to Pinterest.

I’ll post before and after pictures of the room when it’s all done. Only I won’t post any before pictures because we didn’t take any.

BLOG POST 3: All the musical things I’m doing

Remember that post I wrote about wanting to write/perform music… cringe… 8 months ago? (It’s actually the last post I wrote, which means I also haven’t… cringe… blogged in 8 months.) Well, I thought I’d give you an update. In the form of a metaphor.

I once read something about the 5 stages of running. They went something like:

1. Thinking about thinking about running.
2. Thinking about running.
3. Preparing to run.
4. Running.
5. Running again.

Musically speaking, I’m somewhere between stages 2 and 3. I’m still sort of tinkering around without much to show for it. But don’t give up on me yet!

By Tuesday my old crappy piano will be gone and a new digital piano will take its place. So I’ll be able to play while babies and toddlers sleep and record to my computer via USB. Santa brought me a mic I can use to record vocals, and I have plans to replace my laptop sometime this year.

As you’ve probably gathered, I also want to take a stab at recording. For a few reasons:

1. So I can hear what it really sounds like.
2. So I can share with you folks.
3. So I can try and find someone to collaborate with. (I have actually replied to a few Craigslist ads and have yet to receive a response. I think this is because I have no sound bites to share and, therefore, no way to prove I don’t totally suck.)

BLOG POST 4: This year I’m pretending I will…

Oh the resolutions. I’m not quite sure what to do with them. On one hand, I feel like they should be measureable. On the other hand, who needs more pressure? Maybe I’ll just spell out both options.

Music
Super High-Achiever Goal: Write, record and perform 1 song.
Totally Good Enough Goal: Do something musical.

Running
Super High Achiever Goal 1: Run 100 miles before the baby is born.
Totally Good Running Goal 1: Go for the occasional run before the baby is born. If I feel like it.

Super High-Achiever Goal 2: Participate in the Las Vegas Team Challenge season with Stacey.
Absolute GOD-like Goal 2: Convince Elsha to do it to.
Totally Good Enough Goal 2: You know, whatever.

Super High-Achiever Goal 3: Pick out and start training for a Spring 2016 full marathon.
Totally Good Enough Goal 3: Maybe just focus on Goal 2.

Super High-Achiever Goal 4: Do something with that run coaching certification.
Totally Good Enough Goal 4: Continue doing nothing.

Other Fitness
Super High-Achiever Goal 1: Try out another type of more local yoga and get back into a regular yoga practice after the baby is born.
Totally Good Enough Goal 1: Try out another type of more local yoga ONE TIME.

Super High-Achiever Goal 2: Lose all but 5 lbs of the pregnancy weight.
Totally Good Enough Goal 2: Lose like 6 – 8 lbs of the pregnancy weight. You know, whatever the baby weighs.

Personal Growth
Super High-Achiever Goal: When upset/angry/offended/frustrated etc. recognize when it’s mostly just my ego or pride that’s been injured.
Totally Good Enough Goal: Carry on.

California International Monsoon

At some point early in training, I imagined myself writing this race report. I imagined myself writing about everything I had overcome since my first baby was born, about how the marathon was some kind of metaphor for my experience with new motherhood and how I had conquered it all. I suppose I hoped to find confidence on the other side of the finish line.

CIM-Welcome

Friends, this is not what happened.

When it comes to parenting, I am still very much insecure. I still have ANXIETY. I still get at least one plugged duct every few weeks.

But when it comes to running, I feel pretty freaking proud of myself. Let’s recap. I ran a full marathon – my first for all intents and purposes – nine months after giving birth.

A friend of mine complimented me the other day about running while still breastfeeding. I found myself saying something like, “Oh, it’s no big deal. Her feedings are spread out far enough now that I can pretty much do whatever I need to do. Really, the hard part was training for the marathon when she was younger and still nursing frequently… I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.”

Because, you guys, the logistics alone were sort of ridiculous. Imagine fitting 16 – 20 mile long runs in between nursing every 2 hours. (Hint: I couldn’t.) Nursing a baby that would only nap with a nipple in her mouth, I might add. Let’s just say Ruby never wanted for (ahem, dried) electrolytes.

So it’s no surprise that the time my sentiments most closely resembled those described in the first paragraph was when I was lined up behind the start line.

The sky was grey, the sun still rising. There was a bit of wind. And a torrential downpour. Of the 9300 registered marathoners, 6511 finished. And I’m going to bet that most of the other 2789 didn’t bother to start. Can you really blame them? This is what the road to the expo looked like the day before.

Yet I still made it. I pumped the bottles. I woke multiple times during the night to feed the baby and still rolled out of bed at 4:00 am with my alarm on more than one occasion. I completed the training. I showed up.

The determination among the crowd was palpable. Only the truly dedicated runners were willing to tackle the storm. And I was one of them. It was in those moments, the few moments squeezed in between the disposal of my Walmart sweats and the gun that I felt the most accomplished. I almost cried. And then we were off.

I have far less to say about the race itself. The weather wasn’t as bad as it was supposed to be. I mean, it was. My shoes were soaked through before I even started running. I ran with a trash bag over my rain jacket until mile 20. But it didn’t impact my race as much as I feared it would. The wind wasn’t horrible. And the temperature was actually pretty perfect.

My nutrition and hydration, on the other hand, were less than ideal. I had to pee way too early in the race, and cut back on my fluid intake in order to minimize the risk of a potty stop. That was stupid. I knew it was stupid at the time.

I was running at least a minute/mile faster than my training pace and knew I was feeling too tired too soon by about mile 16. But I kept pushing. And telling myself that I just had to make it to mile 20. Then it would only be a few more miles, and then I would be done.

Well, I made it to mile 20. And bonked. Sort of. Honestly, my splits hurt a lot less than I felt. I may have cried a little around mile 22 or 23. From pain. Not from anything poetic or meaningful.

I’m still not sure why I fell apart. Was it a mental block after focusing so much on the 20 mile goal? My pace? Poor hydration? The classic 20 mile wall? Who knows? Probably all of the above.

CIM-finishCan you spot me running into the finish? I promise I was there.

It doesn’t really matter anyway. I fell back on the one thing that gets me through every tough run, “Just keeping moving. Put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving.” Hey, maybe it was a metaphor for life and parenting after all. Not an especially romantic metaphor, but a metaphor none the less. So let’s go with it…

Just like life, the race was far from perfect. It was wet, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I worked really hard and reached my goal. In fact, I met all of them. So when people ask me how it went, I answer genuinely with, “Really well.”

Finish Time: 4:29:49
Place: 108/425 AG, 1073/3278 Overall