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)


  1. Congrats on your first run back! Love the race schedule!

    1. Thanks! :) Here's to hoping that I manage to stick to the schedule!

  2. Aaaah cluster feeding flashbacks!!!! I remember when bf-ing completely consumed my life. It gets easier! Congratulations for surviving the first six weeks and knowing that your sanity (and sleep) is important, too! Happy training!

    1. Gosh, I hope it does get easier! Just feeling so thankful that I don't have to go back to work until mid-May, giving my son and I plenty of time to figure out this breastfeeding thing :)

  3. It's hard keeping up with baby demands. For a few weeks I fed Miranda ALL THE TIME. Seriously. It was crazy. I would email or call friends in tears, but it stopped naturally on its own, we all survived, and now Miranda is an evil genius.