Still marathon recovering…

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I need to take notes from Cadence and try to get more sleep! πŸ’€ Mondays are tough! 5 easy treadmill miles this morning. πŸ™Œ

I haven’t felt very young for this last marathon recovery, but I can’t entirely blame aging as the culprit for my slow recovery. CTS came out with an article recently talking about the four things to do to recover from an endurance event. I’ve pretty much failed at all of them! Haha. Good thing our bodies are resilient!

1. Focus on Fluid Intake Throughout the Days Following Your Event: Unless wine intake counts, I did a pretty poor job here following the race. But traipsing all over wineries in Napa and Sonoma sure was fun!

2. Replenish Energy Levels With Quality Nutrition: When we ate, we ate at fancy restaurants. But we skipped lunch entirely on Monday, and fancy restaurants aren’t known for their huge portions. Between the breakfast buffet, snacks, and restaurants, we certainly ate plenty, but it wasn’t the quality of fruits and vegetables or timing that I typically like in my normal routine.

3. Get More Sleep: Ha! This one is probably the worst. Between the race that started at 5:30 am, the time zone change, and the red eye flight, we got pretty poor sleep, and I haven’t gotten a full 8 hours since. Totally my fault! I need to prioritize sleep better! Cadence still wakes in the night, and as much as I love the baby snuggles, it can be rough.

4. Utilize Compression: I definitely score the most points here. I like to sleep in compression socks as long as it’s cool in the bedroom. My hamstring is feeling a bit tight now as well, so I’ve added rock tape to my arsenal for recovery.Β  πŸ™‚

What’s your favorite recovery tool?

Race Report: The San Francisco Marathon

IMG_20170723_095843I pick a verse for every goal race to focus on throughout the training cycle and race. For the San Francisco Marathon, I came across Proverbs 16:9, and it really got me thinking about where my heart was in this process. Running can easily become such a self-focused sport, and we lose sight of the mighty plans that God has for us.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Training Derailed

I formally started marathon training 7 weeks before race day, and about three weeks in, I started to have shin splints that hurt pretty badly, and more importantly, scared me enough to change up my training entirely. My coach utilizes intensity in practically every run, so I was out of a coach and out of a training plan once I made the decision to focus on health over performance. I’ve never had a stress fracture, and I want to take precautions to never reach that point! So I spent the last month with a lot of time cross training and running on a flat treadmill. I also added a few 20 mile runs that I wouldn’t have run with my previous training schedule.Β  Although it was disheartening to have my training derailed a bit, it was a really good reminder to evaluate my heart and keep my focus on God. Injuries are really good at giving us perspective!

Arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco was not a goal race for me to PR, but rather a race to go enjoy, perform well, and then enjoy our friends and drink lots of good wine out in wine country.Β  Jon and I spent the night at my parents’ house on Friday night so we could be with Cadence one more night before flying out. We did a quick 1.5 mile shakeout run before jetting to the airport for our first trip without Cadence. Since I’m still breastfeeding Cadence, I brought a manual pump to use at night and in the morning.

Jon and I arrived in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon and walked with our friends to the expo. On our way, I just about had a heart attack when I walked all of hills. I had been avoiding hills for the last month because hillwork made my shins hurt worse, and my goal was to make it intact to the race. This race was going to hurt! I picked up my elite bib at the expo, which was a really neat experience since this is the first race as an elite runner!Β  Dinner included lots of good food, great friends, and an early bedtime.

Race Morning

Our hotel was right across the street from the start, so race morning was pretty easy. My alarm was set for 4 am, but I didn’t sleep great and woke wide awake at 3:40 am.Β  I ate some of my mom’s homemade bread and half of a protein bar.Β  Jon and I got dressed and headed downstairs to meet our friends at 5 am. This is probably the first race where I haven’t used the porta potty before a start. It was so convenient to have the hotel so close!! I hopped into the elite corral at the front of the line and did a few warm up strides. I wasn’t nearly as warmed up as I should have been, but the corrals closed at 5:15 am, and I was afraid I’d miss the window if I went off and ran much.

One of the announcers was Dean Karnazes, which was really neat. I admit that I felt totally out of place standing up in the front, but it was still a really fun experience to stand with the elites. Finally, the whistle blew, and we all started running. I started out at about a 6:50 pace, and it felt like an effort. I knew I could hold the pace at that time, but I didn’t think this was a good sign for what was to come as far as pace was concerned. I didn’t have a goal though, so I didn’t worry. I was running beside the 3:00 pacer, and there were a few other guys clumped with him. I like to run with others, so I decided to stick with them as long as I could.

First Hill to the Golden Gate Bridge

We reached the first hill around 2.5 miles. I really wanted to see how the other guys handled the hill to get an idea of what I should be doing. We all slowed down to about an 8 minute pace and then flew down the hill. This was fine by me, and I was clicking right along. Things were feeling really comfortable and I was having a lot of fun. It was 57 degrees at the start, which is way cooler than anything I have run in a long time. There was a really dense fog and a headwind, so we were pretty much just running in a bubble.

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At about mile 5, we ran up a hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn’t realize that we were even on the bridge until I looked up and saw the bridge towering overhead. It was so foggy.Β  The bridge is 1.2 miles with entry and exit adding to the distance. This was definitely my most fun part of the race. As we were crossing over, we saw the lead pack coming back over the bridge. And then it was our turn. All of the masses of runners were crossing the bridge as we were exiting. I saw our 3 friends and my husband. This is also where I learned that I was first female. I had so many other runners, especially female, cheering for me as I passed. If ever I felt like a celebrity, this was the moment.Β  I also knew that I should enjoy it while it lasted. πŸ™‚

Running to the Golden Gate Park

We left the bridge around mile 9.5 and ran toward Golden Gate Park. Up until this point, pacesthe race was flying by and I felt really good, albeit tired of hills. Golden Gate Park seemed to last forever. And it wasn’t as flat as I had hoped. A really nice guy was running with me and tried to give me an idea of the landscape for the rest of the race. While it evened out more on paper, to the legs, it still felt really hilly.Β  Two girls passed me around mile 13. I had not really slowed down, but they were flying. I know that it was too early in the race to chase, and I didn’t have it in me to run their paces.

I got to see my husband and friends several times while I was in the park (they ran the half and finished in the park). This was a great boost to my morale. I was hurting a little, but it was more that I was just ready to be done with the hills. It wasn’t so fun anymore. I remember reading a race report by Tia Stone (@arkansasrunnermom on IG) who said that she felt relief at mile 20 because it was downhill. So I just kept looking for mile 20. My legs were tired, but not so tired that I really felt like I needed to slow down. My paces for the whole race were very much dictated by the hills. I had lost the 3 hour pacer guy (Carl) somewhere in the park, and the sun was so bright that I couldn’t really see anything in front of me (it was no longer a cool 57 degrees!)

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Map provided by The San Francisco Marathon http://www.thesfmarathon.com/the-races/full-marathon/

Running Past 20

The last few miles went by pretty slowly for me, but I didn’t want to slow down because I wanted to be finished. I only saw fuel at one stop at mile 8 (apparently I missed the other aid station), but I ate my Honey Stinger Gel and Honey Stinger Chews.Β  I also drank water at every other aid station. The second half of the race was direct sunlight and pretty toasty.

The last two miles of the race were by the bay, so it was flatter, but by then I had started to slow regardless of elevation change. I had not been running tangents very well, and my watch chimed at 26.2 as a sub 3 hour marathon, butΒ I still had 0.34 to run. I knew that I was third female, but I did not know how much of a lead I had. I crossed the finish in 3:01:12 as the overall third place female, and my sweet husband and friends were there to cheer me on.

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Lessons Learned

The race was a challenge for me, but it was an incredible experience. The race director and all of the volunteers did a fantastic job with every detail! My least favorite part was definitely the second half, which was supposed to be the easier half. I am satisfied with my time and place, but I do wish that I had gone into the race with a time goal. I absolutely believe that if I had gone into the race with a time goal of sub 3, I could have hit the mark. By the time that I realized that I could have reached this goal, I didn’t have time to make it up. I believe that I could have shaved off time with a little more mental edge alone. So that’s a great lesson to be mentally sharp going into a race, even if you don’t feel very ambitious at the start. You never know until you try!

Post Race

After the race, we attended the awards ceremony. All of the top finishers were super congenial and energetic. What an honor to get to know them! As a prize, I got a new Fitbit, Jaybird wireless headphones, and some other smaller items. I also got a nice 3rd place plaque. My husband and friends made me feel like a queen, and I am so thankful for their sweet support. We all ate a big brunch together after showering, and then we masochistically walked all around San Francisco on tired legs. What an amazing city!

We finished up the trip with wine tastings in Sonoma and Napa on Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s some cool data from my Milestone Pod. The main thing that I notice is that my foot strike changed for the uphills and the downhills. My stride length and ground contact were also better for this marathon than on my training runs. The faster I run, the more efficiently I run. Isn’t God good!?

If you want to order a Milestone Pod, use code PodTeamMeridith30 for 30% off until the end of July!

Race week prep

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I’m in denial that we are leaving this little chickadee for our California excursion. 😭 But she’s going to have way more fun with her grandparents than she would sitting around at wine tastings all day. 🍷Today is an off day for me, so we rolled and had an easy walk with Maggie. 🐢 I still have a little cold and a tiny bit of calf/shin/ankle discomfort, but I feel like I’ll be good to go for race day! πŸ™Œ Anyone else running the San Francisco marathon this weekend?!?! πŸŒ‰ #marathontraining #taperweek #motherrunner #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #sanfranciscomarathon #allthewine #orwhineafterirunthosehills #womenrunning #womensrunningcommunity

It really is true that the more races you run, the easier it gets. Since so much is mental with running, it helps to have experienced different scenarios and to know that in the end, it all works out. What if it rains? I’ve ran an entire marathon in the pouring rain and it was ok (maybe put on extra body glide next time?). What if I forget something? The expo is full of items that you can purchase, and if you can’t find what you need, there are typically stores all around. What if my stomach is upset? Been there and lived through it. Now I carry pepto bismal to races as prevention, and it works like a charm.
There are always unknowns with a race, but the more you can control, the better. During race week, I typically start to visualize myself running the race (although this process can’t start too early). I plan out what I am going to wear, order any fuel that I need (I just placed an order for HoneyStinger last week and it will get delivered just in time), order anything else like RockTape, etc. and review the course map and elevation profile. Check the weather, and prepare to bring throwaway clothes for road racing (not acceptable at trail races, haha).Β  Get a massage. Most of this stuff is not critical, but it makes race day much easier. If traveling, figure out where to go on race day before race day.
We spend the night with my parents tonight, andΒ leave for California tomorrow morning!Β  I’m going to miss that little baby!
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Do you have a race prep ritual?

Ab separation and rockin the crop top

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Ok, so I know that you aren’t supposed to try anything new for race day, but I just got my new @runinrabbit crop hop in the mail. 😍🐰 I did a short test run this morning, and I think it’s comfortable enough to risk for my marathon on Sunday. (I mean, I’ve chafed for longer than that. πŸ˜‚πŸ’―)🀞 Now to decide between coral and white. πŸ€”πŸ˜ . . . And more for all of the mommas out there. Cadence sat really high in my belly when I was pregnant, and I still have a lot of ab separation from my pregnancy.πŸ‘Ά I had to have surgery last May because my intestines (still) pop out just a little above my belly button (like a hernia). πŸ™ˆAnd then there’s always the skin that doesn’t have quite the same elasticity that it used to…😊 All that to say, our bodies are incredible and continue to support us as we grow human beings, breastfeed, and then go out and run our hearts out. β€οΈπŸŽ‰ Since you can’t necessarily see my intestines popping out very well in this picture, I just wanted to keep it real. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜˜ . . . #motherrunner #marathontraining #taperweek #radrabbit #loveourgoldengirl #milestonepod #gobeyondpace #saucony #runyourworld #runningthroughpregnancy #postpartumrunning #extendedbreastfeeding #womenrunning #womensrunningcommunity #hshive

I think I’m set on wearing the crop top for my Sunday race, I just need to pick out a color! πŸ™‚ I wrote in my IG caption about my ab separation and pseudo hernia, so I thought I’d elaborate here in case any mommas are in the same boat.

I have a series of blog posts where I discovered the “hernia” andΒ got a diagnosis, had surgery, and then learned that I just had ab separation and weak fascia, but no actual hole in my fascia for a hernia. I elected to have surgery last May after noticing a nickel sized little bulge about midway up from my belly button. I was afraid that it would just get worse with my activity level, and the surgeon agreed that it was better to fix it while it was small instead of waiting until it got worse and required a larger repair.

After the surgery, I noticed that I still had the little bump, and returned to the surgeon. That’s when they told me that my fascia had just been weak, but there was no hernia to repair (yay! surgery for nothing!). My intestines press against the weaker fascia where I have ab separation (or diastasis recti) and create a little bump. I can push it back in, but inevitably, any effort causes it to poke out again. Doctors have told me that it will only get worse with a second baby, and that a tummy tuck is the only thing that would fix it. It’s a good thing babies are so cute!

Do you have ab separation from your pregnanc(ies)? Any other faux hernias out there? Haha

Race prep: visualization

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But seriously?! 😊 It doesn’t get any better than this! πŸ‘Ά I bet everyone would run of they had a tiny little personal cheerleader with them too. ❀️❀️❀️ I dread having to pull the shade over her sweet little head when we run in the sun. β˜€οΈ But I think I found a good alternative. 😁 We got in just under 6 miles this morning as part of the taper. I think I’ll take one more complete day off to make sure that my legs are fully recovered. πŸ™Œ #taperweek #strollerrunning #thuleurbanglide #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #motherrunner #womensrunningcommunity #womenrunning #marathontraining

Unfortunately, I won’t have my beautiful baby in my vision for the upcoming San Francisco marathon, but I can help prepare for a good run through visualization (and maybe pretend that she is with me?!). Visualization is actually something that I’ve been doing for a couple of races now after seeing one of my friends utilize visualization for a really competitive job interview that she nailed.

I really like the approach that Tina Muir suggests for visualization here (scroll down a little or sign up for the download), and she really takes it to another level with detail and focus on specific aspects.Β  A few examples are visualize: waking up with a smile on your face, going to the bathroom the morning of (in my case, not too much, haha), arriving at the start, a few key places in the race, and what Tina says is most important, visualizing the finish.Β  While I’ve pictured myself running a race, I have never visualized quite to this detail. I’m not as familiar with the course, but there are certainly ways that I can visualize better. With so much of running being a mental field, I truly think that this is a powerful tool! I have a couple of days to really get those details nailed down! πŸ™‚

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Do you practice visualization for races (or anything else)? Has it helped?

 

Running with a cold, race week

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My heart grows every day with this little baby. ❀️ How is that even possible?! It blows my mind to think that our Heavenly Father loves us this much, and he brought Heaven to earth when he made me a mom. πŸ‘Ά I’m staying conservative with my race coming up on Sunday, so I only rode 45 minutes on the bike today. πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ Maybe some strength work tonight? #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #perfection #motherrunner #spinbike #homegym #crosstraining #taperweek #marathontraining #womenrunning #womensrunningcommunity

I think it’s pretty normal that taper week brings out the worst in us in just about every way. I actually really like taper week and the excitement of the race, but inevitably, I feel a niggle or catch something. In this case, I caught the cold that Cadence brought home from daycare. (Breastfeeding and antibodies here.)

Other than easing up on training in order to be fresh for the race, how much should you alter your training if you have a cold? Runner’s Connect has an article here that says to listen to your body, but in general it’s ok to run as long as the symptoms are all congestion related. Focus more on effort than pace, and err on the side of caution.Β  So I just rode the bike today and let my legs and stuffy head have one more day of a break. πŸ™‚

Do you run when you have a cold?

Prehab with a little baby ART

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I have the best chiropractor in the world. ❀️ She is not only a badass ultra runner and mom of two kids, but she lets me bring Cadence to my sessions and keeps her entertained. 😍 I do daycare drop off and pick up, which means if I’m not sitting at a desk, I have a baby with me (fine by me!). πŸ‘Ά Today is a recovery day, and I took advantage of a little ART and adjustment to my ankle in preparation for my race on Sunday. πŸ™Œ I’d much rather invest in maintenance than injury recovery! πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ #recoveryday #marathontraining #taperweek #maintenance #chiropractor #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #motherrunner #womenrunning #womensrunningcommunity

I spend a lot of time (and money) pre-habing, but this approach has kept me relatively injury free for a while now. It’s hard to know when a niggle will just go away on it’s own versus turning into something bigger and more tragic. I asked my PT last week if she thought I was needing to see her too much, and she assured me that I am one of her less frequent patients and that given my level of running, maintenance is expected. So… I don’t feel too guilty that I had a chiro appointment today to work on my shins, calves, and ankle.

My chiropractor primarily applied the active release technique (ART) to my leg(s) and helped loosen up my ankle. It’s got to be effective because it sure does hurt! It feels like a really deep massage to the tissues, but there is no way that I could achieve that kind of deep tissue movement by just rolling. I am so thankful to have a chiropractor who understands runners and who I trust to keep me healthy.Β  A good explanation of ART can be found at the bottom of this site. It’s crazy that these practitioners are skilled enough to know what’s going on under the surface just by feel!

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What’s your favorite method of pre-hab?