Still Alive

Last time I posted something was before our daughter was born, a day before to be precise. It’s been over a year and a half.

I still run. It’s vital for me. I run with a jogging stroller which is a whole new workout on its own and we’re about to upgrade to a double stroller because we’re expecting our second kiddo for October 🙂

Being a Mom and working full-time has left me with little time to blog. I’m also not training for any races other than a few random 5k and therefore don’t feel like I have as much to say. I miss long runs so much. My longest run in the last year and a half, two years(?) was 6 or 7 miles. I look forward to run a half marathon and a marathon again someday.

Nowadays I’m happy to run 2-3 miles twice or thrice a week.

I may or may not blog again here. It’s hard to tell but our family is well, and that’s what matters.

Running, Walking and Relaxin

So running may or may not be over for now. I didn’t run for a week because I was asked not to by my midwife. I wasn’t gaining enough weight and she thought running may not be a good idea because of it.I wasn’t sure that was really the case because I had only run about 4-6 miles/week in the last two weeks prior my appointment which isn’t much for me.

I thought part of the issue was not having enough protein (based on the requirements). So I didn’t run but walked with her approval and increased the protein to meet 70 grams/day. I put on 3 very much needed pounds in a week. As a result I am now allowed to run again. Which is great.

However the relaxin is starting to affect me and I can tell my joints are loosening up. Especially my left hip. So we’ll see. I may attempt a run and see how it goes, or I may just stick to walking until post pregnancy.

13th Asheville Citizen Times Half Marathon: Pregnancy Training

I’m still trying to catch up on my pregnancy updates. Work is crazy busy and so are things at home. Sometimes it’s good to know your priorities…

The Decision to Run

I loved running the Asheville Citizen Times Half Marathon last year. My work covers 50% of the entry fee which is always a big motivator. I missed the first early fees but knew I had to make a decision by June 30th not to pay the full fee. Except that I got pregnant in June. So now what? I was really debating whether or not to run it. Training during summer is hard, but training during summer while pregnant? And during the first trimester? This was a whole new thing for me. Not that I have that much training and running experience yet non the less.

So I talked with my husband about it. Ultimately he is the one who motivated me to sign up. As he said it would be a good motivation to keep on training during pregnancy. I had just finished America’s Toughest Road Marathon and didn’t die from it. Thinking back of last year’s Half I honestly felt great after it. And let’s be honest if I felt that for any reason I should not run anymore or was told not to run by my practitioner I would have stopped. But both my midwife and obgyn said it was fine for me to continue to run. When asked if I could run long distances (I didn’t specify which but said I had just run a marathon) they just told me to listen to my body. Well then…  I signed up.

The Training

Last year I followed a rigorous training, the FIRST Half Marathon training plan. This year, being pregnant, was no year for hard training. I am not an Olympian, I am not paid to run. The life I carry is far more precious than any PR. So instead I looked for a beginners training that would just increase my mileage back to Half Marathon level on time. I ended up choosing the Hal Higdon Novice 2 training program. The one thing is, all my runs were “easy runs” in the sense that I was not aiming for any speedy pace, I just ran at the speed I felt like running.

I alternated trails and roads, I skipped some runs when I didn’t feel up to it. I even missed a whole week (week 11)and a 12 miles run because I somehow miscalculated my timing. I focused more on building my long run’s mileage slowly than anything else.

The Doubt

I’d be lying if I said I was excited about the race all summer long. There was more than one time when I questioned my sanity. There were days when I regretted signing up for the race all together.Why was I doing this to myself? This body needed rest not an 11 mile run! I really doubted myself when I fell during a 10 mile race and felt so tired from it.

But no matter what I am a runner and the though of a DNS or DNF did not appeal to me. I did not dismiss the doubt, but I chose a different approach. It didn’t matter how fast I finished the race, it didn’t even matter if I did not finish. My goal was to run, walk and have fun. I embraced the idea that I would not run the entire time because that’s what I had to do during training and I knew the race would be no different.

The Confidence

Both my 9 and 11 miles run were wonderful runs. Yes I had to stop and pee more than once. Yes my GI track was slower and I had to adapt to it, yes I walked. But I felt good running. Being out in the forest, feeling my feet hit the ground, listening to my breath. This is my meditation, my ME moment. I was enjoying myself. I knew that if I could finish an 11 miles trail/forest road run, I could finish a road Half Marathon while pregnant.

Mezamashii Run Project and Vega Shake Sample

It seems that shoe companies love the internet buzz. Hey why wouldn’t they, right?

So the Mezamashii Run Project. Mizuno shoes. Ok, I’ve tried them in the store once but went for Saucony instead. So I really don’t know if it’s a shoe I like but I do appreciate that they offer narrow versions of most of their shoes because that’s what my tiny feet love.

Let’s be honest, running shoes are expensive and I will never turn my back on a shoe giveaway. That’s exactly what Mizuno is offering: weekly sweepstakes via a system of invitations for a chance to get the pair of Mizuno of your choice. Yes you hear me, you get to pick whichever one you want. Not only that but if you win, you receive an invitation and get to pick someone else to get a free pair of shoes. If that’s not spreading runner’s love!

I love that they have several shots of trail running. I’d be curious to see what their trail running shoes are like.

So if you want your chance to win a pair of shoes, please go here and sign up for an invite. If you want to know more about the Mezamashii Run Project then go to their news page.

On the brilliant run matter. I can’t say I’ve had a run that felt brilliant recently. My body has been sluggish and acting up with the summer heat. But I still have in mind some brilliant trail runs I did with my husband and I look forward to get that feeling back.

Do you own Mizuno shoes? What do you think about it?

And on getting free stuff…

I get a newsletter from MamboSprouts (coupons for mostly healthy stuff) and they had a link to get a free sample of Vega products. I’ve heard of it as being a healthy more natural option so I thought I would share in case any of you want a sample too. It’s for their Vega One Nutritional Shake: Click here (while supplies last). You just have to sign up for their newsletter.

Keeping The Water Handy

When I started running I knew nothing about fueling or hydrating. All I knew was from hiking: I like to have water handy. As I started my running journey I did not like being without water. Even 2 miles required me to drink. I kind of smile at the thought of it now. I’ve gone a long way. I’ve learned a lot about what my body can and can’t do. I also still have a lot to learn.

The Fanny Pack

When my husband realized I was taking running seriously (aka I signed up for a 5k). He got me a camelback hydration fanny pack.

Yes I know it’s not called  a fanny pack on their website but that’s pretty much what it is isn’t it? When I think about myself training to run for a 5k with this around my waist in the park I just want to give myself a hug.  I must have looked ridiculous. I even ran my next 5k with it. I was thankful for the water it provided but let me tell you: this is not made to run.

It’s bulky, I constantly had to adjust the straps, it would move around on my waist. After a few months I gave up. I decided that it was a great water option for day hikes (and it is) but not a running accessory.

The Hydration Belt

It was already working a lot better. Less water but also less bulkiness and movement. I loved that it still had a little pouch in which I could store keys, cell phone, running directions, etc. The two bottle options (and more can be added) allows to have water on one side and an energy drink in the other.

But… it still wasn’t doing it for me. My two main issues were that first the fuel belt still slides around my midsection. I don’t know if it’s designed for men and not women or maybe it needs some sort of sticky fabric but I don’t like having to slide it back to how I want it all the time. The second thing is that for the bottle to hold they have to clip it. I almost lost one during my first 12k and ended up holding it in my hand for the rest of the race because it was wet and I feared it wouldn’t hold. I also dropped them several time during training run because I wasn’t putting it back in right. So that was a bit frustrating.

The Handheld Bottle

After speaking with my brother-in-law (who happens to run marathons and sweat more than anyone I know) I decided to give a try to handheld water bottle. I got an Ultimate Direction bottle because it was on sale at my local outdoor gear store and I’ve just used it since. I love that it’s easily accessible. During the marathon it was also fairly easy to unscrew and refill at the aid stations. It does get smelly but I can throw the hand held attachment in the wash and hand wash the bottle itself. My phone barely fits in there but as long as it does and that I can put my keys there too I’m ok with it.

The only issue with the bottle I have is that it’s not insulated. As a result I can’t put too cold a water in there or my hand feel frozen. Any water does warm up faster due to my hand being in contact with it. However they are coming up more and more with insulated bottles or even a neoprene cover that fits all around the bottle to insulate it from the hand.

It can get heavy on your hand. Personally I switch hands from time to time and see it as an additional arm workout.

During a race with aid stations my hand-held water bottle is enough. During my long training runs (16 miles and above) I combined the hydration belt and the hand-held bottle to be self-sufficient. I was able to put iced water that way in the belt and have cooler water longer.

I yet have to try the hydration packs that go on your back. But I think that will wait until I put my legs into ultra running.

What are your favorite hydration devices. Pro and cons?

The Running Widower

Two runners on a hike

I’m not the only runner in our house. My husband is one too. In  fact, he used to run more than I do. Well that has changed. We still run together, but for some workouts I “leave him in the dust” as he states himself. Last month there were some times when I ran as much in a day as he does in a month. So yes, I’m in better shape when it comes to running.

Some men could be resentful about their wife being faster. I feel very thankful that my husband is not. No, instead he is proud. He brags about me and my running. He jokes about me being faster than he is, tells his friends about my race results and how long I went running for. He is also very supportive of the time I dedicate to running and the money I put into getting the gear I need. I couldn’t do it without him.

One thing about being a foreigner is that I always learn new expressions. Tonight my husband told me he is a Running Widower. He got some blank eyes in response to that one.  He had to explain and I had to thank him for giving me a good blog post title. Hopefully he doesn’t feel too abandoned and cheated on by trails. I did tell him that if he ever wants to start a blog or a tweeter account that it would make a great name.

Does your other half runs? Do you run together?

A Case of Post Marathon Blues?

I’m totally doing some self diagnosis here. But I think I’m getting a case of post-marathon blues. I told this to my husband and he laughed, he said “it’s B.S”. (trust a guy who works with kids to use a “proper” version of a swear word). Hey I don’t think it is. Why else would there be 11400 results on google?

So yes, I’ve been feeling a little down the last few days. Not as motivated. I’m sure the lack of running is not helping. Nor is the (almost) unexplained knee pain that had me decided to take a few days off running. But I can’t blame it all on allergies or car problems now, can I?

I think that going from the rigid marathon training for four months, followed by the runner’s high, followed by well, almost nothing, is mentally hard. Where do I go from there? While I would love to sign up for another marathon, I know it’s not in the books for this year. Bad timing for us. And let’s be honest with myself. While I would love to cross another 26.2 finish line, I’m not sure I want to put myself through the rigorous training so soon. I’d like to enjoy running for running. I want to feel the joy of the trails. I want to run more often and spend time running with my husband. Running for a marathon is a big time commitment. You think, breathe, eat marathon.

I’m hoping my knee feels better by next week. I’m ready to train for a fun 15k. I’m ready to shrug off the marathon blues and just feel the joy of the run.

How do you deal with post race blues?

Blue Ridge Marathon: My First 26.2 (Part 1)

I woke up early Saturday, unable to go back to sleep. I was far too excited at the thought of the race. Almond butter, banana and bagel made a 5am breakfast. At 6:40 we left the hotel and headed to the start line. We met runners in the elevators who were the first of many to give me a look when I said it would be my first marathon.

I was lucky to make it to the porta-potties before the rush, although they were numerous so I don’t the lines were bad at any point. A little before the start I briefly got to shake hands with Lauren, easily recognizable in her Tough Chick outfit. I then went close to the start line to see the double marathoners finishing their first loop. Yes, a handful of runners didn’t feel that 26.2 miles was enough so they timed a night run of the course to be back on time for the official start.

Bill Rodgers commented a little before the start, hinting that he may come back for a relay next year. My husband stuck around until the beginning of the race and snapped a few pictures for me. Right around 7:30 they blew the horn and off we went. There were many of us since the marathon, half-marathon and marathon relay all started at once. I knew I would have to watch my pace because some people around me were only going to run half the distance.

The first mile was fairly flat. We crossed downtown heading towards the Star which we could see up high on Mill Mountain. I averaged a 9:05 pace which was good. I didn’t want to start too fast. Then we hit the first uphill. A girl was holding a sign addressed to one of the runners, it said “It’s all uphill from here”. Err thanks lady! This is also where I first met Colleen. This salt and pepper hair lady had one of the most wonderful shirts I saw during the race:

Boston Marathon: 26.2 Miles of “Been there… done that”
Blue Ridge MarathonL 26.2 Miles of Serious Hills “Now that’s what I’m talking about”
Under that is an elevation course of the Blue Ridge vs. Boston.

She asked where I was from, I told her and shared that this was my first marathon. She did a double take at that point and asked why I had picked THIS one. I explained I won an entry… I would see her on and off later in the course but she started going faster than I was on that hill.

Miles 1-2 were a fairly gentle uphill heading towards Mill Mountain. We passed the first of many aid stations. At mile 3 the course split, the half marathoner went up to the Star while we continued and entered the Blue Ridge Parkway or really the Mill Mountain Parkway since it’s technically an offspring of the Parkway. What a difference in numbers! It turns out there was about 300 marathoner vs. 515 half-marathoner, not counting the relay teams. I took a sip of Gu Brew at the aid station, then joked to an other runners that this was the limit for “crazies only” since big orange cones marked the entrance of the marathon only course.

mm1 9:05:56
mm2 9:30:12
mm4 18:56:63 @9:28

I loved the next 3 miles. It was a mix of gentle downhill and uphill in the quiet of the parkway. There were a few spectators, but it was mostly the beauty of the mountains. At one point I spotted a photographer and realized he was there for a reason. I turned to my left and was caught off guard by the beauty of the view. Below was the valley still caught in the morning fog. I couldn’t help but smile.

At mile 5.4 I was surprised to see a crowd and a clock. I thought well, that’s nice to get an idea of where we’re at. But then I saw a bunch of runners with bib numbers. Why were they waiting? Had they already gotten back down from Roanoke Mountain? Were they waiting for us to get downhill? I was confused. It took me a few minutes to realize it was in fact the first relay station.My official time there was 48:39.

Shortly after that we took a sharp turn up Roanoke Mountain Rd. This is where things started getting serious. This is also were a lot of people around me started walking. I was feeling fine so I ran all the way. It wasn’t so bad to be honest as steep incline were followed by more leveled one. We had a nice view at a first overlook and another uphill before reaching the top of Roanoke Mountain a little after mile 7 were tons of volunteers cheered us. This was the last time I sipped Gu Brew. I just decided it was too much trouble after spilling some on myself and just stuck to the gels instead. This fun lady, whom I would meet later, stopped at the top for a great picture. The view was pretty amazing.

mm5 8:47:87
mm6 10:37:94
mm7 10:28:06

I knew the uphill would be steep, I didn’t expect it to be that steep however. I took a conservative approach knowing we weren’t even half way through the course. My goal wasn’t to kill myself but finish. Several people went flying down around me, I just ran around an 8:00 pace and was ok with it. There is one thing I learned however, downhill isn’t just hard on the legs. It’s also tough on the GI tract. Before the end of the downhill I knew I needed a porta potty. Thankfully every single station on the course had some, pretty decent ones too since they were all equipped with hand sanitizer. I couldn’t help but chuckle while in there as I heard a volunteer say “Those porta-potties are really popular”. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who felt the downhill. I probably “lost” between 2-3 minute on my pit stop but frankly I wouldn’t have done it any different. I would have lost a lot more time had I pushed through.

mm8 8:38:38
mm9 8:10:46
mm10 8:30:07

We back back toward Mill Mountain. Hitting the relay station again which gave me 1:33:22 at 9.8mi. This section was again a delight. Quiet, closed to traffic; I found it relaxing to be honest. I was at peace. A little after Mile 12 we left the Parkway to head up to the Star. The second hill of the day. This is where I met Pam after hearing her speak with awesome shirt Colleen. Turns out Pam ran Boston Monday and since that wasn’t enough did the Blue Ridge Marathon a few days later. I was impressed. As I passed her I told her: “You are an inspiration” and I meant it. She smiled and said I was. Ok, so an inspiration, sweet and humble on top of it. I love meeting and talking with runners on the course. Colleen passed us as well and I did not see her again until the end.

A little later we hit the Mill Mountain Star. The one I could see from our hotel room. It was our half way point.

mm11 9:14:23
mm12 9:59:61
mm13 9:41:19

to be continued…

Marathon Goals

I can’t go to a race and not have goals. That’s just no who I am. While I understand there is a lot of unknown in a marathon race, especially the first one, I still need to visualize what I aim for.

Now based on my 22 miles run, the McMillan Running Calculator tells me I could finish in 4:16 at a 9:47 pace. That sounds amazing, but I know that while I had some good hills, I didn’t have as much elevation during my training run as there will be during the race. So I’m being a little more conservative, especially since I have no idea how my body will do from mil 22 to 26.2.

My A goal would be to finish under 4:30.

I think it’s doable, I’d have to keep a steady pace and walk only a little. But if I can maintain what I did during training I can do this.

My B goal is to finish under 5 hours.

I see this goal as being the option if it’s a lot tougher than what I prepared myself for. If I need to walk for long periods of time and recover.

My C goal is to finish.

This is after all my firth marathon and I don’t care if I finish it by crawling but I want to finish it.

My race outfit is picked, the car tires rotated, the tank full of gas and I have a bunch of snacks and goodies to take with me. I’m excited and a little stressed but I mostly look forward to tackle my first marathon. I think it’s also pretty fitting for a mountain girl who loves the outdoors and lives by the Blue Ridge Parkway to run a first marathon: in the Blue Ridge, going on the parkway, in the mountains and on Earth Day.