Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Where the heck does all the time go? Also, running in the cold rain makes you go faster.

Random update: 

Good news: Rob got a new role at work.
Bad news: Rob's paternity leave ended.  

Okay, although I am sad that his paternity leave ended, just wanted to note that I am a) super thrilled that he even received paternity leave and b) impressed that he managed to get a new position within his company while taking care of a newborn.  Talk about being an excellent multi-tasker!  In any case, to make sure Rob hits the ground running by getting enough sleep at night, I decided that Soren, Yossi and I should stay at my parents' house for the next week or so.  My mom, even though she works during the day, graciously volunteered to help with the nighttime feeds.  She is also doing her best to overfeed me, just like Rob did the past seven weeks, by stocking the pantry and fridge with all sorts of goodies.  Speaking of which, I already miss my husband's cooking.  His plate work was just so cheery:

Man, I am going to miss my Breakfasts Made By Rob.

Where the heck does all the time go?  

We're in a different house, but I have pretty much the same routine.  It's not too bad, but finding time to shower, let alone exercise is tough.  At the end of each day, I find myself asking, "Where the heck does all the time go?"

Well, I decided to look.  Here is yesterday morning's schedule:

2:05 a.m. After going to bed at around midnight the night before, I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep before Soren woke up and I had to bottle feed him my expressed breast milk.
2:30 a.m. Changed Soren's diaper and then got him back to sleep. 
3:00 a.m. Napped for 45 minutes.
3:57 a.m. Pumped milk with my breast pump for 45 minutes.
4:45 a.m. Soren woke up and demanded to be fed and have his diaper changed.  I also had to gently rock him to just enough drowsiness so that he would fall asleep on his own. 
5:30 a.m. Started a fresh load of laundry.  Napped for 1.5 hours.  
7:00 a.m. Pumped for 40 minutes until, you guessed it, Soren woke up and I had to feed him and change his diaper.  
8:30 a.m. Played with Soren while grabbing a bite of breakfast here and there and tossing my laundry into the dryer.  
9:45 a.m. Soren finally passes out from all the fun.  I celebrate by folding my now dry laundry, doing the dishes and breast pumping for Soren's next feed.  
10:48 a.m. And then of course, before I could finish pumping, Soren decided to wake up and I feed him with the milk I had just pumped.
11:30 a.m. Changed his diaper and played with Soren.  By this point, Rob was at work and asked me to send photos of myself as well as Soren.  After some grumbling (I still hadn't showered yet!), this is what I sent:  

Soren and I hanging out on his play mat.  Besides his Mamaroo, this has been the second-best thing for entertaining and/or distracting the little dude.

12:36 p.m. Soren falls asleep and I pump.
1:30 p.m. Soren wakes up and I have him practice breastfeeding.  I still haven't given up on trying.  
2:00 p.m. My mother comes by to give me a break - hallelujah!  I weigh my options.  Should I: 
(a) Take a nap.
(b) Run for 30 minutes and then shower.
(c) Run for 45 minutes and then hope I have time to take a shower. 
(d) Run for an hour and hope that I have time to take a shower at some point later today, but know that I'll probably take at least one nap in my stinky clothes.

I chose Option B.  Based on how my day was already going, I didn't want to take my chances with Options C and D.  Option A was super tempting, but I figured that, all things considered, I got a decent amount of sleep the night before.  Also, I was reallllly itching to go outside even though by the afternoon, the already dreary weather turned into colder, wet, drearier weather.  Before I could change my mind, I threw on a pair of stretchy leggings, a tshirt, and the first fleece I found and went outside while my mom watched Soren.  Thanks mom!

Running in the cold rain makes me go faster  

I would be lying if I said my run was awesome.  First off, as soon as I got outside, I knew I made the wrong outfit choice, because I was freeeeeezing.  There are some runners who can run in shorts and tshirts all-year-round; I am not one of those runners.  In fact, I am the opposite of those runners.  Last year, I did try to become more hardcore about the weather, but that all flew out the window when I became pregnant and stopped being hardcore about anything.  Anyway, I probably should have changed into at least a waterproof jacket, but since I wasn't going to be outside that long and more importantly, my free time was ticking away, I just went with it.  

My original plan was to go relatively slow since my pelvic region felt a little off during my last run, but because I was cold and running faster would keep me warm, I tackled my neighborhood hills with a bit more gusto than anticipated.  What struck me as I ran the uphills, was not how much harder I had to work in this new body of mine, but how much I enjoyed the feeling of physical exhaustion unrelated to being a new mom.  

It's funny, the first time I ran the hills by my house was over a decade ago and I still remember the day so very clearly.  (And when I say "ran," it was really a "little train that could" shuffle.)  I recall feeling so inordinately proud of the fact that I didn't walk a single step.  If someone had told me that one day I was going to zipadeedodah up and down those hills, I would have laughed.  If someone had told me that I was going to be doing repeats less than eight weeks postpartum on those same hills in the freezing rain in preparation for some 100 mile race in Vermont, I would have said that they were crazy and that Future Jackie was crazy.  

Eh, I probably would have been right.

Things I learned from yesterday's run:

(1) Need to really look at the weather report before I go outside.
(2) Must have an outfit prepared.  Since it *is* technically winter, make sure the outfit is super warm.  I must remember that it's always easier to remove a layer than to go back inside the warm, comfy house to find another article of clothing.
(3) Drink more water.
(4) Definitely need to incorporate more hill training.
(5) And most definitely need to work on strength training again.  

Two and a half weeks before my first half marathon.  This is going to be interesting.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's on like Donkey Kong: My first post-partum run, breastfeeding woes, and my super tentative race schedule!

Great news, I got the green light to start training (albeit slowly) from my physician!  It has been six weeks since Soren was born and 80+ days since I broke my toe after tripping on some luggage.  Before I ran, I promised myself that I would stop as soon as anything felt "off." A little tiredness would be fine, but if I felt any sharp pains or anything beyond the ordinary I-haven't-done-this-in-awhile-so-things-might-be-creaky, then I would walk, plain and simple.  I have yet to experience a running-related injury in my (admittedly relatively short) ultrarunning career, and now that I have to take care of a newborn, I want to make sure that I keep it that way.

Quick Long recap of my breastfeeding experience so far:

(If you have no interest in breastfeeding, just skip this because most of it will be gobbledygook.  Or if you experienced breastfeeding issues and don't want flashbacks, you really should skip this section!)

Time for full disclosure here - things have been really hard the past six weeks.  While I have been able to get in a walk here and there and have been super lucky to have family visit so that I am not totally isolated, my life has been pretty dominated by baby Soren and my breastfeeding woes.  My experience has been far from unique, but still . . . it sucked.  Thankfully, I have a husband, friends and family who have been incredibly supportive - I don't think I would gotten this far otherwise!

I am not going to get into the nitty gritty details of my labor/delivery, but thanks to a horrific case of PUPPP during my 39th week and getting only a couple of hours of sleep per night due to the terrible itching, we decided to induce Soren.  Nearly 48 hours later, the induction was declared a failure (Soren was stubbornly staying asynclitic and more importantly, I was running a fever and not making sense) and our son was delivered via c-section at 1:55 p.m. on January 1, 2016.  (We weren't even close to having the first New Year's baby, hah.)  Because I had so much fluid pumped into my system, my milk didn't come in until ten days later and to this day, my supply isn't all that great.  

And yes, for you breastfeeding nazis, I am pretty much doing everything I can in the hopes that my supply will increase.  I make Soren latch for hours, pump, pump, pump all the time, drink tons of water, eat oatmeal, and take about a million herbal galactagogues (fenugreek pills, fenugreek tea, moringa, shatavari, and motherlove more milk special blend concentrate).  While my analytical side is horrified with the complete lack of any scientific method in determining what will make my body produce more milk, the emotional mom side is me is totally fine with the "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" method because it seems to be working.  The other day, I finally pumped nearly enough for a full day's worth of milk for Soren - and that didn't include what Soren managed to drink from my breast.  

Oh, I forgot to mention: I was blessed with a child who latches (thanks to a tongue tie revision - before that, my nipples were bloody and raw, awesome!), but just eats . . . so . . . slowly.  Like, drinking half an ounce in half an hour slowly.  At that rate, it would take him hours to finish a feed, which just isn't feasible.  So, my lactation consultants recommended I do what is called the triple feed which goes something like this:

(1) Weigh Soren.  Breastfeed Soren for 30 minutes.  If I think the feeding is going well, I'll let him eat for an hour.  Weigh Soren again to determine how much he has drank.  Sigh inwardly because it's usually a dismal amount.
(2) Feed Soren with my expressed breast milk.  If necessary, feed Soren with additional formula.  Burp Soren.  Get him to settle down so I can use my breast pump.  The Mamaroo has been super helpful in this regard.
(3) Pump for at least 30 minutes.

Note that the above doesn't include diaper changes, skin-to-skin bonding/tummy time, and general mayhem (fussiness, an especially explosive diaper, super spit up that needs to be cleaned out of Soren's hair, etc.), so on average, each cycle takes about 1.5 - 2 hours.  And then Soren is hungry an hour or so later.  If you've followed me this far (I'm amazed if you have, because this is a running blog and not a pregnancy/breastfeeding blog), you're probably wondering when I managed to get sleep.  Well, I pretty much didn't unless Rob helped with the feeding and the diaper changes, which my amazing and awesome husband definitely did.  However, Rob had about a million things that he also needed to take care of, so he couldn't help with every feeding.  From all the combined naps I took during the day, I got about 4 hours of sleep.  A few weeks of the above was turning Rob and me into zombies.  

In any event, we met with another lactation consultant and she gently suggested that perhaps I needed more sleep to produce more milk.  We tweaked the schedule a bit and while I still pump at least five hours a day, I do it mostly during the waking hours so I can sleep while Rob does Soren's night feed.  So, for the past few nights, I've had at least *five* hours of pretty much interrupted sleep, making me feel pretty invincible.  This invincibility inspired me to re-start my blog and gave me the energy to run again as well!

Oops, sorry for all that.  Now back to my run:

My first opportunity to run was this past Saturday.  Although I had been up since 4:30 a.m., I felt awesome when 9:00 a.m. rolled around and my husband was able to watch Soren.  I practically bounded out the door, I was so excited.  I decided that this momentous run would happen . . . on a treadmill in my building's gym.  I didn't want to run outside because a) Too many times in my life, I have lost track of time and distance while running and then had issues coming back; b) I wanted to be close in case Soren needed me; and c) It was really, really, really cold outside.  

Okay, I'll be honest, the last reason was probably the main reason.  Also, unlike most people, I actually like running on a treadmill.  At least, in the past few years, it's been really easy for me to reach this blissful, zen-like state, especially when I'm banging out a speed workout or doing longer interval workouts.  

Besides being excited to run in general, I was also stoked to try on my new sneakers!  This is my first year of being an Altra Ambassador and the lovely people there had sent me a free pair of Olympus 2.0s.  Since I had good experiences with previous iterations of the Olympus, I was curious to see what the differences were.  Granted, the Olympus is a trail shoe and I was going to run on a treadmill, but I could at least figure out whether I liked the fit.

My new Olympus 2.0s - aren't they pretty?  Baby Soren for scale.

My goal was to run/walk a 5K without feeling any tiredness or pain.  I knew that based on my previous post-partum jaunts that I could at least briskly walk a 5K without any issue, so my goal was properly modest.  I set an easy pace on the treadmill and took a drink break every half mile or so.  Normally, I drink every other mile, but from all my research, it seems that the main killer of breast milk supply is either dehydration or fatigue.  So I drank up.

During my run, I played some cheesy music (think 80s and 90s pop) and boom, seven or eight songs later, I was finished with my 5K.  I definitely could have gone for longer, but I wanted my first run to be a completely happy one.  And it was!  My legs felt relatively fresh and core pain was nonexistent.  The only issue I seemed to have was being slightly out of breath any time I tried to up my pace, but I think that has to do with my lingering additional pregnancy weight, which hopefully should be a non-issue in the next six months or so.  Not that I am weighing myself every day, but it seems that the old wives' tale is true regarding breastfeeding and post-partum weight loss.  I haven't been doing anything special to lose weight, but it's coming off slowly.  

Check it out, yo.  This 5K time would certainly not win any age-group awards, but at least I wouldn't come in last place!

Now that my first run has been successful and I do not perceive any major biomechanical or structural issues, I feel okay about posting my race schedule for 2016.  So here is my tentative schedule for the next few months, let me know if you will be running any of these races.  

Time to get training!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016
Umstead 100 - 50 Mile Option

Sunday, April 17, 2016
MORE/Shape Women's Half Marathon (Pacing the 2:30 group)

Saturday, May 21, 2016
AirBNB Brooklyn Half Marathon (Pacing the 2:30 group)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016
New York City Marathon (Pacing)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Starting Fresh . . . Sort Of. And a tentative list of goals.

Alrighty gang, it has been well over two years since my last post, which is terrible, terrible, terrible thing since lots of wonderful, wonderful, wonderful things happened.  However, instead of scrapping my old blog and starting anew, I decided to revive this one.  True, I am not running as much as before, but I still feel like a joyful ultrarunner.  So what if I took a little break from ultrarunning due to my pesky c-section recovery?  It's all good!  After all, my last 100 miler took place literally two weeks before I got pregnant and my next ultramarathon (Umstead!) is scheduled in a few months.  I am totally registered and everything - we even have a hotel booked!  In case you couldn't tell, I have relatively big plans for 2016 and I want to make sure I do everything I can to keep myself accountable.  

For the two or three people who are not immediate friends and family reading this page and do not know all this already, here is a quick recap of my life since my last post:

Life highlights:

(1) Rob and I adopted Yossarian, a floofy miniature golden doodle who can outrun us any day of the week and has the awards to prove it.

As I type this caption, Yossi is curled up at my feet.  Such a good dog.

(2) Rob and I got married.

Best day of my life until January 1, 2016.  (See No. 4.)

(3) Rob and I decided that we liked our current city so much that we bought our first home together.

Hooray for marital debt! ;)

(4) Rob and I welcomed our first son, Soren on January 1, 2016.  Although technically Soren was due on that date, it still boggles my mind that we have a January 1st baby.  And no, we weren't even close to being the first baby born in the year :).

Many people have said that one day I will pay for this photo.  Guess what?  I've paid for this photo and then some in all the hours of sleep I've missed since this little dude was born.

And now for some running highlights:

(1) Did not complete the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning in 2013, alas.  But I swear, as Cthulhu
 as my witness, I *will* complete it one day.  

(2) Ran six 100 mile races in 2014 and 2015: Rocky Raccoon 100 (2014 and 2015), Umstead 100 (2014 and 2015), TGNY100 (2014), and Vermont 100 (2014).

Pre-race photo at VT100 2014.

(3) Rob and I ran two races during our honeymoon in New Zealand and Hawaii, the Kepler 60K Challenge and the Honolulu Marathon.  The Kepler Challenge was Rob's first ultramarathon trail and he rocked it.  And the Honolulu Marathon was his first back-to-back weekend marathon!

My first ultramarathon was nine relatively flat loops in Central Park.  His involved climbing up and down a mountain.

(4) Ran my first sub-23 hour finish at the 2015 Umstead 100.

(5) Paced a bunch of races including the NYC Marathon and the NJ Marathon.

(6) Was selected to be an Altra Ambassador.  

Altra sneakers are the *best*.  And I'm not just saying that because they're giving me free and discounted sneakers for 2016.  I probably would have given up running if not for these amazing sneakers.

The absolutely silly thing is, I wrote about many of the above events, but didn't choose to hit the "publish" button because I get so incredibly self-conscious about my writing.  Well, I decided to change all that.  Not the feeling self-conscious part - I know that I will always feel that way.  But I decided to start publishing my posts again.  As I mentioned before, I have some major running goals for 2016 and I believe making them public will make them more likely to happen.  

So what are these goals?

As most runners know, we have goals and then we have goals.  In every race, I have a Goal A, Goal B, Goal C, and a Super Secret Goal Z.  Goal A is usually something pretty basic; Goal B is something a little less attainable; Goal C is juuuuuust out of my reach; Goal Z is a goal that most people would laugh at me for even considering.  For example, during my last Umstead 100, Goal A was to finish happy and healthy; Goal B was to finish in under 24 hours; and Goal C was to finish in under 23 hours.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you what my Super Secret Goal Z was, otherwise it wouldn't be Super Secret.

So here are my tentative goals for 2016:

Goal A: Recover well from pregnancy.  C-section healing is no joke and I cannot stress enough how serious I am about making sure that I do not impede my overall progress by being too impatient with getting back into full-on running mode.
Goal B: Get back into my 2015 pre-pregnancy running shape by June.
Goal C: Finish a Western States qualifier (Hopefully Vermont 100!)
Goal D: Finish a Western States qualifier in less than 24 hours.
Goal Z: I'll let you know if it happens.

When does my post-partum training start?

A lot of the above depends on how well my six-week check up goes with my doctor tomorrow.  That said, I am feeling pretty optimistic that she is going to give me the all-clear.  Therefore, my hope is that my official training will begin tomorrow!  And I can't wait!  Although my core muscles are still incredibly weak (hardly unsurprising since I had major abdominal surgery), my legs, despite running zero miles since Thanksgiving (This was not entirely pregnancy-related; I happened to break my toe while tripping over luggage), feel pretty awesome.  I discovered that because my body has gotten so used to carrying additional weight, I have become an excellent speed walker.  I am hoping that my newfound leg strength for walking will translate to faster running as well.

And that's it for now.  Wish me luck for tomorrow!  Cannot wait to get back to real training again!