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. 😂💯)🤞 Now to decide between coral and white. 🤔😁 . . . 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.👶 I had to have surgery last May because my intestines (still) pop out just a little above my belly button (like a hernia). 🙈And 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. ❤️🎉 Since you can’t necessarily see my intestines popping out very well in this picture, I just wanted to keep it real. 😂😘 . . . #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! 🙂 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” and 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

Happy 4th of July and a Peachtree date

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So much fun running the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race this morning with this hot guy! 😎 This race never disappoints for heat, crowds, and hills. 😂 But seriously, it’s a really well organized race with over 60,000 runners as the largest 10k in the world. 🌎 Can’t beat that community! ❤️ Finished in 39:55 with a 6:21 pace. Kinda wish I had pushed harder, but can’t be too disappointed. 💦 Definitely gave me the bug to try more short distances! 💨 Happy Fourth of July! 🇺🇲 #gobeyondpace #saucony #milestonepod #runyourworld #runinrabbit #radrabbit #motherrunner #womendrunningcommunity #womenrunning #marathontraining #fourthofjuly #peachtreeroadrace #atlantatrackclub

Happy Fourth of July! My husband and I woke up at 5 am at my parents’ house so we could drive down to Marta and catch a ride to the race start. We were a little tight on time, but arrived just in time to start with our waves at 7:30 am. It was 92% humidity and in the 70s when we started. I think the temps got up to the 90s by the time the race ended for later waves.  I did a little research last year on heat and humidity. It turns out that dew point is the best predictor of performance. Here is a helpful article with a chart for dew point. Today’s dew point was around 73 in Atlanta, which is “very difficult” according to the article.  All part of the sport! 🙂

I’ll write a race report later, but the race went well for me and I PR’d. I don’t feel like I ran as fast as I could have, but I had a hard time pushing to the point of suffering. I kind of just found a comfortably hard pace and tried to stick with it. My overall average pace was 6:21, but it definitely was faster on the initial downhills compared to the uphills at the end! My finishing time was 39:55. I’m happy to break 40, but I’m also a little mad at myself for not leaving it all out on the course. It certainly makes me want to run more shorter distances to have fun with the paces. 🙂

We drove back up to my parents’ house after the race to collect our baby. Before we left, we got in a fun boat ride with a sleepy baby and all ate lunch. Such a wonderful holiday with my wonderful family!

How do you know how much to push during races so that you don’t blow up or run too conservatively?

Race week and muscle tension

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Just got home from a wonderful vacation at the beach! 🏖️ It’s so fun to watch Cadence explore and push her limits.🌊 She definitely inherited her adventurous spirit from her daddy. ❤️ This morning we ran 3 miles to the petting zoo before hitting the road. 🚘 . . . I’ve gotten so much support from this community for still breastfeeding Cadence.👶 It’s been kind of interesting this week–as she pushed her limits more, she also asked to nurse more frequently.🍼 I love to think that the security she feels with us has helped her explore her world more. 🐣 Also, while I’m being transparent, Cadence exclusively nurses from one side. 😬 #lopsidedforlife #toddleropinions #21monthsold #extendedbreastfeeding #breastfeeding #normalizebreastfeeding #hiltonheadisland #seapines #motherrunner #womensrunningcommunity #womenrunning

I am running the Peachtree Road Race 10k on Tuesday, July 4th with my husband, so I’m trying to be careful not to burn my legs out before the race while also marathon training. I’m also trying to run easy enough to protect my shins. Needless to say, I don’t have big expectations for this race, but I’m really looking forward to it! I haven’t run many shorter distances, so I’m not really sure what to expect for pace. I also have felt a bit slower lately (did I really run a sub 3 marathon in January?!), so it will be fun to run fast if I can!

My last two weeks have been a little derailment in training, and I haven’t run my usual intervals. I did a long run on Thursday, which is not the best strategy for a speedy race, but it’s good for my marathon goal. There’s something called muscle tension, and Steve Magness has a good article here explaining muscle tension and how to achieve it. I’ve been cross training and running easy with a stroller this week, but I did get in some strides while we were at the beach. While strides aren’t the top of the list for creating muscle tension, I’m just going to have to hope that it counts enough for a good race!

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Do you try to run any special workouts before fast races? Have you ever had your training fall off the tracks like mine has?!

Late to the Party

 

I just received my bib for the Peachtree Road Race 10k in the mail, and I’m in the seeded wave.  This is something new to me.  I’ve always been active, but I didn’t really run races until around 2013 when I finished my first marathon (3:45), and I had to work really hard (3 marathons) to finally BQ for entry into the 2016 Boston.  I ran my first 50k in November of 2014, then ran a 50 miler in January of 2015.  These were not fast races for me, but it was a great introduction to trails and the lovely trail community.  And then I got pregnant, and running took on a whole new meaning as a little human grew in my belly.

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Fast forward to postpartum running, and I was pleasantly surprised to have come back faster.  This wasn’t without effort, as I painstakingly ran through pregnancy and kept up a pretty tight strength routine.  I also think that pregnancy, delivery, and the whole process of keeping a baby alive gives a certain resolve that must be earned.  I can do hard things.  And I don’t take running for granted after what essentially feels like a year of injury as a pregnant runner.

My paces went from about an 8 minute mile to about a 7:30 minute mile. I trained for Boston, and ran a 3:24 at 6 months postpartum, which was a PR of about 5 minutes.  Things were definitely more speedy, but nothing like the speed that I would develop in less than a year after I hired a coach.

I signed up for my first 100 mile race shortly after Cadence was born, and decided to hire a coach since this was totally new territory for me, and as a postpartum momma, I wanted to make sure to do things right for my body.  My coach is a total badass and she has a little girl too.  A big part of my training is interval workouts.  I had never (never) run intervals before hiring Michele.  It turns out that speed work makes you fast.

I hear so many other fast runners who talk about their high school and college experiences running cross country or track with a coach who pushed them. I missed that somewhere along the way, but I’m so thankful to have a coach now who has shown me my potential.

I ran my 100 mile race in September of 2016, and I had an amazing experience and kind of accidentally placed 2nd female.  Then I set a goal for a sub 3 hour marathon in January of 2017 and surprised myself by hitting the goal in 2:58.  I have runs where I feel so slow and can’t believe that I could ever sustain that marathon pace, but then sometimes I get ambitious and want to keep getting faster.

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My next big race is the San Francisco Marathon on July 23rd. I get to start as an elite runner because of my 2:58 marathon time, which just blows my mind. I would never have dreamed that my mid-pack legs would line up with the elites.  It’s been really fun (and a lot of work) to see how fast I can get. As long as I am still enjoying the process and have the support of my sweet husband, I’ll keep chasing goals.  For anyone else who has dreams to get faster, keep pushing!  You never know what your legs can do until you give it a shot.

Have you ever surprised yourself in a race with a faster finish than you expected?

Ultra breastfeeding

I never fully appreciated the affect of hormones until I got pregnant in 2015.  Holy moly.IMG_20150612_210946272 Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows what I’m talking about. Everything. Everything changes. And it happens pretty quickly as that tiny little poppyseed starts dividing cells.

Fast forward to after you’ve given labor and that watermelon is out of your belly. All normal, right? Nope!  If you choose to breastfeed, you are in for a whole new ride of hormonal bliss.  Yeah, bliss because that oxytocin is the real deal for happiness. There are also a lot of other things involved that can make you not so happy, so don’t start counting your chickens just yet.

About a year ago when I started this blog, I wrote about breastfeeding and running.  My experiences today are a bit different than they were when Cadence was a few months old, so I thought I’d add an update.  I’ve really relied on other mommas and their experiences with running, so I hope my story will help someone else figure out this whole breastfeeding and running journey.  As of today, Cadence is 19 months old, and we’re still breastfeeding. Some people call this extended breastfeeding, but the World Health Organization actually recommends that mothers worldwide breastfeed up to two years and beyond if possible.

First, let me say that breastfeeding is a very individual experience, and everyone’s bodies and babies are different.  Some people choose not to breastfeed or have another challenge that keeps them from breastfeeding.  Whatever I say in this post, mommas, don’t take anything personally.  The great thing about having our own babies is that we get to choose how we want to parent. We’re all in this together!

Frequency of breastfeeding with a toddler

At about 16 months, I stopped pumping at work, and we figured out a way to help Cadence sleep better at night (thank you hot husband).  So now I nurse once in the morning, once after daycare, once before bed, and once in the night (4x). I’m not quite ready to drop the night time feed, even though I know how delicious a complete night of sleep would be.  I really think that one of the reasons I have had such a solid supply is because Cadence has been a terrible sleeper, and I’ve nursed her a lot in the night when she wakes up screaming.  Prolactin hormone levels are highest at night for milk production, and our bodies learn to keep up with the demands.

Training as an extended breastfeeding mom

When I first started breastfeeding, I was absolutely affected by the need to pump or nurse a baby. For one, my boobs were full and uncomfortable, and two, baby’s gotta eat! Now that we are a little further on this journey, my cup size has gone way down (I can wear my old sports bras!), and I don’t nurse Cadence during the day, so training really isn’t affected.  I still take nutrition and hydration into account, but without the day time feedings, I feel much more like  normal person.  My volume of training hasn’t changed much. I still do about 50-70 miles a week with 3 nights of strength training. My running intensity is generally very high, and this has not affected my supply.

Racing as an extended breastfeeding mom

I’ve raced a few marathons (here is Boston and here is my sub 3 hour race in January) and ultra marathons (8 hour here, 100 mile here, and 100k here) since having Cadence.  My most notable breastfeeding performance was pumping throughout my first 100 mile race when Cadence had just turned one year old.  I recommend a hand pump for every (lactating) female athlete. It gives so much freedom to train and compete when you aren’t stuck next to a wall with an electric pump. I exclusively pumped with a handheld pump throughout all of my working and training days, and I have a freezer full of breastmilk to show for it.

If you pump during a race and plan to use the milk, be careful of how much caffeine you consume. Some fueling products include caffeine or other supplements that might not be safe for baby. Be aware that you will need to hydrate and fuel to compensate for the nutrition that is being diverted to feed that baby.  Aren’t our bodies incredible?!

I recently tested my first non-pumping ultra in April at Gorge Waterfalls 100k, and everything went fine.  I nursed Cadence the morning of the race, started at 6 am, and didn’t finish until around 7:30 pm.  All fine without pumping.  That evening, I was able to nurse Cadence without any issue. I have never had any problems with not having enough breastmilk to nurse Cadence after an ultra race, although I might not have had my usual oversupply.  For some of the shorter distances, I have actually noticed a bump in supply at times, and I attribute this to endorphins signaling to produce more milk (just like stress can have the opposite effect).  Everybody’s different here, but thankfully, I’ve never had to choose between racing and breastfeeding.

Hormones as an extended breastfeeding mom

They say that as long as you are still breastfeeding, you are considered postpartum.  19 months is a long trip to be postpartum! I had my hormones checked in December, and everything in the panel was returned in the normal range. I got my period at 16 months, so for the most part, my hormones are regulated. In order to breastfeed, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels are depressed,  while oxytocin and prolactin are increased.  Now that my menstrual cycle has returned, my hormone levels are normal enough to signal the cascade of events for a regular cycle.  I’m not sure how this affects my performance since I still have hormones for breastfeeding as well.  I know that I will benefit from regular levels of testosterone and estrogen once I finally wean.

Future Plans with breastfeeding

I really don’t know how long we’ll keep breastfeeding.  I had no intention of going this long, but it’s worked for us, and I love the connection and nutrition that it provides for Cadence. Our approach to parenting has pretty much been “baby led” everything, and baby led weaning is no exception.  I think one of the biggest factors that has helped with motherhood and breastfeeding is that I have a husband who appreciates what we’ve done with breastfeeding and supports me when I need him.  I do think that I’ll perform better with running if I did not breastfeed because nutrition is such a key factor, and the body stores and uses carbohydrate differently according to hormonal signals.  This window to breastfeed is so short in Cadence’s life, and I’m thankful that we’re still on this ultra breastfeeding journey together.

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Anyone else out there have any stories of running and breastfeeding to share?

Selecting a goal race: things to consider

Recently I ran the Warner Robins Aviation Marathon as my goal race for a sub 3 marathon. Aside from wanting a more flat course, there are a lot of other factors that went into my race selection.  I made a list of considerations.  Some of these items may seem obvious, but I really struggled with settling on the Warner Robins race, so this list might end up helping someone trying to decide on their next goal.

Some really basic things to consider:

  1. Terrain: Do you want for this to be a trail race or a road race?
  2. Distance: Are you looking for speed or distance? Any PRs that you want to chase?  How long do you have to train? What shape are you in, and how soon do you need to be recovered?
  3. Type of run: Is this a goal race, or is this just a fun training run?  If it’s just a fun run, many of these considerations won’t make too much of a difference. But for goal races, it will be nice to focus on what will best help you succeed.

Getting more into the specifics:

  1. Destination: How far are you willing to travel for the race?  Will a long car ride or plane ride affect how you perform?  Will the stress of a new city add to your race jitters or make you feel more motivated?  Is it in your budget to travel, and will you need doggy/childcare if you leave town?  My next race will be a destination race, and my husband and I are really excited about the opportunity to travel. But we decided that my sub-3 marathon attempt was best run closer to home.
  2. Weather: What will the weather be like for the race?  Will you be able to train in conditions similar to race day?  One other element of weather to consider is humidity. Georgia, where I live, typically has really humid weather, but we can typically let that slide in the winter.  This is a really good website when thinking about humidity (and dew point).
  3. Running crowd: Do you like big races or small races?  Big races are great for feeding off of the energy of other runners and using the talent of other runners to push you to run harder. However, the larger the crowds, the more likely that you may have to weave around runners to maintain your pace. I love running Atlanta races, but they are always really crowded. For this reason, I intentionally selected the Warner Robins race so that no one could interfere with my paces.
  4. Fan support: is the race very accessible to spectators and how important is this to you?  Trail races very rarely have many locations for fans to gather.  Out and back races are more likely to have fan support because you get to see the same fans twice.  I did not realize how much I like some fan support when I’m road racing until the Warner Robins Aviation Marathon where there was only one place along the race at mile 13 for fans to stand.  I was fine, but it definitely would have helped to have a few more cheers.  The Boston Marathon is by far the best fan support I have ever experienced!
  5. Elevation change: If you are going for speed, are you willing to sacrifice some of the effort toward climbing hills?  For the right race, it’s always worth the sacrifice!  I really like hills (and the more the merrier on the trails), but for my sub-3 hour marathon attempt, I really wanted to limit the hills that I needed to climb.

It’s always fun to fill out the calendar.  I like to switch between trail races and road races. My next goal race will be on the trails, and I’m really excited to get back out there in my training and focus more on hilly distance over flatter speed.

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Ready to run at the ATC Thanksgiving Half

What races do you have coming up?

Goals for the next (marathon) training cycle

img_20161015_172000My husband and I took a road trip this past weekend for a fun weekend of hiking and hanging out with friends.  On the way, I asked him what upcoming goals he has for the future.  (Sidenote: they say the best marriages are those where the couple talks about the future together.) My husband’s response was like any normal person related to his hobbies and his career; mine however, are all running related. Haha.  (No, but really, there are always goals about being a good mom and wife, finally making it to work on time, and organizing my house.)

First, my big goal for this next training cycle is to run a sub 3 hour road marathon.  It gives me a knot in my stomach to even write that, but my coach believes in me, and I’ve gotten faster by running through pregnancy and now running post-partum, especially after training with my coach for my 100 mile race.  So, now I’ve put it in writing, and I can start chipping away at my big goal!

I’ve got my big goal, but in order to give myself the best chance of a successful training cycle, here are my three sub goals:

  1. Nutrition: reduce the processed food that I eat and reduce the sugar in my diet.  I am a chocolate bar-oholic.  I do pretty good throughout the day, but at night I eat a lot of candy.  Sugars increase inflammation, and I am already stressing my body enough with all of my running and strength training.  I’m kicking off this goal with the 7 day challenge to eat real food proposed by mskatieblaze here.
  2. Sleep: I have said this for a year now, but really, this time I mean it. My (one year old) baby is still waking up several times in the night. That means that I really need to get to bed earlier to get a semblance of good rest.  It’s a shame to not give my body time to repair and get stronger after all of my strength work and running.
  3. Stretching/foam rolling: This should be a no-brainer, but I know that I’m not alone in this struggle. We’d all rather get in just one more mile than cut the run short to do some foam rolling and stretching.  I just signed up for a program that sends me a new range of motion activity every day.  I’m excited to see how much it helps my performance and recovery.

What are your upcoming goals?