Upgrading from 1 year to 2 years old

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Cadence turned 2 years old on September 29th, and I can still hardly believe that she’s grown so much. It seems like last year I was a newly postpartum momma trying to figure things out. But actually a lot has changed between last year and the year before. Here are the top 10 things that are different between Cadence’s first year and second year.
  1. It gets more fun. I thought that I’d miss my tiny little baby, but I love experiencing every new thing that Cadence learns. We seem to have accelerated as she’s learned to communicate better, and I love every sweet little syllable out of her mouth.
  2. Breastfeeding doesn’t have to stop at one year. In my head I thought we’d be stopping at one year because that’s kind of what society says. But Cadence never got the memo, and she’s kept up nursing like a champ. I stopped pumping at 16 months (I was donating milk to my sister’s adopted son), but Cadence kept up nursing after daycare, before bed, sometimes during the night, and in the morning. It works really well for us, and I love it.
  3. Daycare doesn’t get easier. In fact, I think it gets harder. Back to #1, this phase is more fun than ever, and Cadence is learning so much! It kind of breaks my heart that I am not as big of an influence on her little life as I’d like to be. She comes home singing songs that I don’t know, and she already knows her ABCs and 123s like a star.
  4. Sleep might not happen until Cadence leaves for college. Just kidding. But Cadence still doesn’t sleep through the night most nights. I’m getting waaaaay more sleep than I used to, and I’m really ok with getting up with her. There is nothing better than a sleepy baby in your arms, and she won’t be a baby very much longer. When Cadence was <1 year old, I felt guilty and judged that I couldn’t get my baby to sleep through the night. Now I embrace it and feel really confident in the way that we have chosen to parent.
  5. Training is still possible. So far, Cadence has just rolled with my schedule. She used to play in the pack and play while I ran, but these days, she mostly just sits there and reads. ❤ We sing in the stroller, and she points out all of the puppies. Training definitely looks different with a toddler, but it’s more than possible, and it’s actually a really fun experience (see #1).
  6. Goals can still be big. I chased a few big goals after Cadence turned one year old (sub 3 hour marathon, 100k in Oregon), and it was really good for me to have something outside of mom and office to pursue. It takes support from a wonderful spouse to make these dreams happen with a baby, but that makes it even more rewarding.
  7. Your support system changes. When I had a newborn, I was plugged into a breastfeeding group, and I attended postpartum workout classes. After the first year, there aren’t any types of groups for mommas to plug into, especially for working mommas. I’m so thankful for the support that I had as a new momma because there is surely a lot to learn, but I think it’s kind of interesting that we don’t have more support for mommas of toddlers. Maybe there would be more extended breastfeeding if that were the case?
  8. My friendships are richer now than they were before. Maybe as the support groups have faded away, I’ve started to depend more on my girlfriends, but I have a few key friendships that I depend on daily for support. I hope that every momma has this in their lives.
  9. Discipline is a thing you have to start thinking about. As perfect as Cadence is, she isn’t perfect. Haha. Toddlers start to understand discipline around the age of 18 months. We try to limit our “no” and redirect when possible, but if Cadence blatantly disobeys, we do timeout. This is partly for her protection. We need for her to obey if she’s in a dangerous situation. It’s also a way to set the tone for an easy relationship in our future.
  10. The people in Cadence’s life really matter.  They mattered when she was one, but now she knows them and she interacts with them. She’s a little sponge! I am so thankful that we found a daycare that we love. Cadence’s teachers love on her and teach her so much. Cadence also gets to see her grandparents all the time. It’s so special that she knows them and has a special relationship with them. It’s not lost on me that so many people make an effort to love on our baby, and I am so so thankful!

Anyone else have something they would add? Am I in for even bigger changes in the next year?

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

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?

Spousal Support: how to love your runner

I left Saturday morning for my training run, and the whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking img_20161105_150210about all of the ways that my husband, Jon, loves me through his support of my running. (#2 below is what started this string of thought that lasted me through most of my run.) I know this sounds sappy, and don’t get me wrong, just like every marriage, there are plenty of opportunities for both of us to work on, but when it comes to supporting my passions, Jon has it nailed. And honestly, if you asked whether I would prefer a husband who cooked and cleaned, or a husband who supports my running, I’m going to go with running every day of the week.  (And Jon will argue that he does cook and clean, but I will say that our versions of those responsibilities are a little different. :))

So here is a list of some of the ways that Jon loves me through running.  If you are a spouse to a runner, you may want to take notes.  If you wish that your husband supported you a little more, maybe slip this link into an email (but be prepared to receive a list in return! ;)).

  1. All of my nicest and best running gear is from Jon.  I hate to shop, and Jon and I are both really conservative spenders.  But Jon bought me my first Garmin when I started to show an interest in running in 2013, he researched hydration packs and bought me the best one as a surprise for my first trail ultramarathon in 2014, and all of my nicest brand name running outfits came from him as gifts.
  2. Jon has never expected me to get up early on the weekends to get in my runs so that I can free up our time together.  Now that we have a baby, Jon is especially conscious that I don’t get much sleep during the week, and he watches Cadence on Saturday mornings whenever I finally make it out the door, no complaints. (He wanted to do a spin class this past Saturday morning, but shrugged his shoulders and said, “Why don’t you just get in your run instead.”)
  3. He helps me maximize my time with the baby, despite that fact that I am training all of the time. This is seriously one of biggest gifts that Jon could give me.  He brings Cadence down to our basement gym to say hi when I’m running before work, and he often plays with her during my strength training after work so that we can all hang out together.  I get to take her in the stroller for hours at a time, even though that means that he doesn’t get to hang out with her at home.
  4. He reminds me of my goals and helps me reach them, even if it means more sacrifices for him.  There are so many times that I get discouraged or burned out, and Jon is always there to encourage me to keep training hard, even though that means more time away from him.  I don’t know why this still surprises me, but he truly has my best interest at heart when he gives me advice.
  5. We budget for the expenses of running and racing, and Jon doesn’t complain.  I don’t even want to know how much we spent to allow me to run the Yeti 100 mile race, but I know that the AirbNb alone was over $600.  I have a coach, I get massages when I feel like an injury might be coming on, I replace shoes as soon as I think they are getting weak, I sign up for distant races, we have a fully outfitted home gym, etc.  Always in the budget.
  6. Jon is at the finish line (with a baby) when I need him.  He doesn’t go to the races that I tell him are just for training, but he has spectated in the pouring rain and freezing cold to watch me cross the finish line for goal races. (While getting his MBA, he did a group project from the car while I ran a marathon in Nashville so that he could be there to support me.)  He was critical on my crew for the Yeti 100, even running the last 16 miles with me.
  7. He joins me in my training efforts even when it’s not what he had on his agenda.  The other night we were running through the park with headlamps on so that I could get in my second run for the day, and I was thinking of how thankful I was to have Jon by my side because I would feel uncomfortable running those trails by myself in the dark, and I certainly wouldn’t have brought Cadence along for the run if Jon had not been with me.  His presence is always a great motivator to get out the door, even if I don’t feel like it.  There was one day when I was training for my 100 mile race where I called him from the park and asked for him to bring me a gel and told him that I was really flagging.  Not only did he show up with the gel, but he also came dressed to run so that he could help me finish the workout.
  8. Jon knows the details of my training, splits, goals, and schedule, and he can carry on a really convincing conversation about all things running, even though he doesn’t share the same passion. He helped me map out my race plan for the Yeti 100 with paces, crew stops, and nutrition, and we ended up being spot on with the planning.  He knows me so well!
  9. I gave up wine and I go to bed earlier than he does every night, and he still wants to be married to me.  Ok, so just kidding here, but really, I’m not as much fun anymore now that I am training so hard, breastfeeding, and not sleeping.  With so many demands on my body, I never like staying out late, and I am really careful with what I put into my body (unless it is chocolate, of which Jon buys me Costco quantities).
  10. Jon knows that vacations for me are not vacations without running and working out.  We’ve picked hotels based on the hotel gym, and Jon has run up and down the streets of foreign cities so that I could get in a run.  One of my favorite memories is running all over Berlin with him.  What better way to see a city?!

There are times, like in any marriage, when I get frustrated because my expectations are not being met.  But the items on this list always bring me back around to nothing but gratefulness and a full heart.  And it’s also a good reminder to me that I need to support Jon and show him love in the way that it matters to him.  We might have a dirty house and a baby with only one shoe on her foot when we run out the door, but we have learned in the last six+ years of marriage how to love each other.  And I’m so thankful that Cadence will see her father’s love as an example when she starts to understand all of the ways that she is loved.

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Anyone else want to brag on their partner?

Race Day with a Baby

I’ve heard from a lot of pregnant or new moms (mostly over Instagram) who say that they are relieved to see that my training days didn’t end when we had Cadence.  She’s been a great little buddy in the stroller or pack and play while I run.  And she likes to play in our basement while I do weights.

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That’s all great for training, but what do you do about race day?!  I have two races coming up in the next week (Saturday 8.9 mile trail run and Thursday Thanksgiving Half Marathon), so I thought it might be a good time to mention our experiences with race day and childcare.

  • Husband: If my husband isn’t racing, that’s a no brainer, and he watches the little dumpling. We brought Cadence to Boston with us when I was 6 months postpartum,
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    Boston Marathon Finish 2016, 6 months pp

    and Jon hung out with Cadence the whole day from the time that I loaded the buses until I finished my run.  They are the best spectators, my reward!

  • Crew: For the Yeti 100, my parents and husband watched Cadence and brought her to the aid station stops for me to soak up her goodness and get a little motivation.  I pumped at three of my crew stops, and it helped to see the baby and get a little baby love.
  • Daycare/babysitter:  For local races where Jon and I are both running, we use our daycare person to babysit.  Our daycare is an in-home facility down the street from our house, so this is very convenient.  It’s also a lot easier to ask a grown adult to babysit at 6:30 am instead of a teenager. 🙂  We just drop Cadence off on our way to the race, and she’s happy because it is familiar.

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    Yeti 100, mile 53, 1 yr pp

  • Grandparents: My first race postpartum was the Thanksgiving half marathon last year (I’m getting ready to run it again next week).  We had a house full of company, and everyone was getting up and running the race the next day.  Everyone except our 8 week old… So I spent the night with my parents 35 minutes away and got up race morning super early to drive back to my house and meet up with everyone else running the race.  I did not get much sleep at all that night, but that seems to be the trend for all of my races since Cadence was born.  Haha.  It was nice to see my parents briefly for Thanksgiving, and I always love to have my parents watching our baby. My mother in law hasn’t watched Cadence for races yet, but she has been super to come over on Sunday mornings to let Jon and me get in some of our runs together.  A little date on the run!

Those are our examples of our experiences with childcare and races, and here are a few other tips on racing with a baby:

About breastfeeding/pumping: I have run every distance from 5k to 100 miler while breastfeeding.  It goes without saying, pump before the race.  If we are driving to the start, I pump in the car.  For the Boston Marathon, I had to load the buses at 7 am, but my wave didn’t run for several more hours.  In that case, I packed a manual pump and visited the first aid tent to pump before the race.  For my ultra races like the Hot to Trot 8 hour race, I brought my manual pump and stopped to pump along the way.  Typically, I can go about 5 hours without pumping.  Lecithin is a great supplement to help you prevent getting clogged ducts. (I’m now at >1 year of breastfeeding, so I am not worried about supply and will start weaning sometime in the coming months.)

Running on no sleep: Oh my goodness!  I don’t even remember what a good night of sleep feels like!  I’ve really not ever gotten much sleep before a race, still waking up with Cadence several times in the night, plus waking up early to take care of her before packing up and heading out for a race.  But it’s always been ok.  I’m not advocating that sleep isn’t important, but if you find yourself sleepless the night before a race, don’t panic.  Just drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the run.  🙂

The reward: For all of the new challenges of figuring out logistics with a baby on race morning, it is absolutely worth  every little inconvenience!  You just figure out what works for you.  If you have a good support system, that makes it all the better.  There might be a season of local races, but those can be just as fun for a season.

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Has anyone traveled to a destination and hired a babysitter while at the site?  I have heard that some races and hotels offer referrals for race day childcare if both parents are running.

Race Report: Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run

I hardly even know where to begin with a race report for the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run, as the race started for me way before Friday September 30th.  One thing that I have learned in running 100 miles is that you get to know your strengths and weaknesses pretty intimately through the journey.  You also get to know the people around you pretty closely, and I think that has been the most rewarding of all.  I have been surrounded by so much love and support on this journey, and I am so thankful to the people who helped make this such a rewarding and fun experience.Yeti map.PNGFirst of all, my husband supported my training program 100% from day 1, even with a newborn and a lot of other life demands.  My neighbors cheered me on as I ran up and down our streets with a hydration pack and a headlamp.  My co-workers listened to me talk about this race every day for months, and then they sat by their computers on race day to see the updates. I have so many running friends, both virtual and in my day-to-day life who helped encourage me.  My family was unwavering to keep my spirits high through training and race day.  And last but not least, the Yetis made this race absolutely spectacular.  I have never been surrounded by a group of people so generous with their time and resources, and it has been such a gift to have made so many new trail friends through this race.  Thank you Jason Green, for sharing your beautiful little town with us and helping us reach our goals!

THE DAY BEFORE: My husband, Jon, and I arrived in Abingdon, VA with my parents and Cadence (our ONE year old) on Thursday evening in time to check into our Airbnb and go to the packet pick-up. (Pictured below is our cute little Airbnb house and my mom sitting with Cadence on her one year birthday.)

Packet pick-up was at the Wolf Hills Brewery, which should give you a pretty good idea that the Yetis like to have fun. 🙂

I didn’t sleep great the night before the race, but that has been the story of my life for the last year since Cadence was born.  She didn’t go down until after 10 pm, and she woke up at 2:30 am to nurse.  My alarm went off at 5 am, and Jon and I started getting ready to head to the race.  It was so surreal to be loading up the car for race day!  Jon was going to drop me off at White Top Station for the 7 am start, and then he’d go back to the house to get everything and everyone ready to support me for the rest of the day (my hero!).

WHITE TOP TO ABINGDON, MILES 0-33.4: The race started just as it was getting light outside.  We all slowly started running downhill from White Top Station, and eventually everyone got into their respective pace groups.  I love the beginning of a trail run because generally you run with a pack of friends (old or new) and chat the whole time.  This was no exception as I ran beside friends from the start. Pictured below are my good trail buddies, Sam Terry and Jenny Nichols, who I met at the training run in June.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay with any one group for very long, as my stomach started giving me issues from the start (even before the race started), and I had to dip into the woods to take care of business.  Ultras are notorious for GI issues, but I do not know why I started having problems from the very first miles.  Either way, it was not a fun way to start the race, and I was starting to feel the effects of not having enough nutrition for a strong run.  My legs felt heavy and hard to keep my projected goal pace of 10:30 min/mile with all of my bathroom stops.  I kept thinking, “Really!?  This is not how I wanted my race to end.”  So much disappointment after all of my hard work in training. And so humbling!  But the trail community is great, and everyone commiserated with my sh*tty situation.  Haha. (Pictured below is the Damascus aid station.  We passed this aid station 3x, and it was glorious with two tables full of food and fire pits waiting to lure runners to comfort.)

When I passed through the Damascus aid station (mile 18), one of the kindest volunteers gave me some Immodium, and I quickly adopted a fueling strategy largely around a combination of Immodium and Pepto Bismal.  Luckily, I don’t think that my stomach issues were causing me to lose too many nutrients, and I soon was able to eat and drink more.  I continued to run down the trail with mile 33 as my goal, where I would see my crew for the first time. I knew that if I could get to them, they would at least share the burden of knowing that I was struggling so much. (Pictured below is my greeting committee at the Abingdon aid station.)

I made it to Abingdon (mile 33) to see my crew about 15 minutes later than my projected pace.  What joy to see my family!  My parents came to help crew so that they could watch Cadence while Jon took care of me.  I got to the aid station, changed socks, pumped, hugged the baby, popped a few pepto bismal pills, and felt like a new woman. They say that you shouldn’t have your parents crew for ultras because it is so hard for them to see you suffer.  I’ve got to say, my mom gave me a pep talk that turned my race around. Katie (my pacer for later in the race) and her family also arrived just in time to see me off to the next leg of the race.

ABINGDON TO WHITE TOP, MILES 33.4 TO 66.8: After I left the aid station at Abingdon, it was like a whole new race.  I was still working through stomach issues, but things were getting better, and I had a renewed energy and speed.  THIS is what I was waiting for.  I started clipping away at an 8-9 min/mile pace, which felt terrific.  For once, my legs felt like they didn’t have to put forth much effort, and I was watching the miles click away. Running fast in an ultra is typically a poor race plan because you can burn yourself out way too soon, but I felt like I was moving more economically at a faster pace, and economy saves energy.  I was able to enjoy the beautiful trails around me, and I felt happy and strong.  I always want to enjoy my races, and that is part of my motivation in training.  I was having a blast, and I felt like myself again.  Fellow runners who had seen me struggling during the first 33 miles were so encouraging as I ran along the course. (Pictured below is the trail and the famous Watauga Trestle bridge.  My new friend, Allen, is in front of me.  Allen ran a lot of ultras in the 80s, then took a break and returned to racing only recently.)

I ran through the Alvarado aid station (mile 42)  (thank you John Davenport for your ceaseless support!), and picked up new supplies at the Damascus aid station where we had our drop bags (mile 48).  As I was running away from Damascus, Sean Blanton (aka Run Bum, RD of my first ultra race) drove by and honked and yelled my name.  Something about having people know you and genuinely care about your success is so powerful.  I love the trail running community!  I was having a blast! (In the video below, I am running with my new friend, Tom.  Tom’s longest race before this was a 10k.  He ended up finishing 9th overall, which is incredible.)

My next stop was Straight Branch at mile 53, where I had planned to meet my crew again.  I had to pump through the race, so my designated meeting times were largely around pumping times.  I resupplied, pumped, and got to soak up love from my family and baby at these stops, and they were the treasures that kept me motivated and moving on.  I think that being a mom helps put everything into a new perspective, and it also makes you appreciate luxuries like running on the trails all day so much more.  I could not have experienced the fullness of it all without the support of my crew!

The next time that I would see my crew would be the top of White Top Station at mile 66, where I would pick up my new friend and pacer, Katie.  I had been looking forward to running with Katie since she signed on to pace me in August, and it made the miles between 53 and 66 seem to breeze by.  I ran through Taylor’s Valley, which is absolutely beautiful (as is every other part of this course), and up the steeper incline of Green Cove.  It started getting darker and cooler as I ascended to White Top.  I was slowing down in pace, but I was still feeling really strong and my nutrition was solid. (Pictured below are some of the scenes near Taylor Valley, including the red caboose aid station in the bottom left corner.)

I reached White Top Station just as it was getting dark.  My crew (Dad, Jon, and Katie) met me and went through the routine of resupplying my food and asking me the pertinent questions about my well-being.  I was really encouraged that my nutrition seemed to be spot on, even with breastfeeding, and my stomach issues seemed to finally be resolved after mile 66. I pumped for the last time and changed into warmer clothes.  Then Katie and I strapped on our headlamps and headed out for our run.  They had all seen a bear on the drive up to our stop, so we were sent off with lots of prayers and just a little bit more worry from my dad.

WHITE TOP TO ABINGDON, MILES 66.8 – 100.2: Running with Katie was so much fun, even at the 66+ mile mark when my legs were starting to feel tired.  She made the comment that she doesn’t get long uninterrupted blocks of time to just run anymore, as she is also a new mom.  Just like me, she squeezes in her training runs in the wee hours of the morning, or later at night. We both have super supportive husbands who help us pursue our hobbies, but there is something liberating about two girlfriends strapping on headlamps and running for hours through the dark on the trails.  We turned off our headlamps to look at the stars dancing in the dark sky, and I saw two shooting stars. Running with Katie helped break up the race monotony and gave me something to look forward to all day.  We ran from White Top to Damascus together, where we met up with Jon.  The miles didn’t fly by, but we exceeded our projected pace, taking walk breaks as my legs demanded.

We made it to Damascus around 11:45 pm to meet Jon and my dad.  Jon was ready to bring me on home!  It was beyond fulfilling to share the last 16 miles of this race with Jon.  He helped me get to this point for months of training and a full day of crewing, and now my husband, my champion, was there to help my tired legs push to the end. By this time, the fog had settled and visibility with the headlamp was only a few feet.

We stopped briefly at the Damascus aid station because it had at least three fires and tons of pie and other goodies.  Ultra aid stations and the volunteers are fantastic!  Then we were on our way!  I was on a run-walk pattern for the rest of the race with Jon.  I had projected a 14 minute pace for the last leg of the race, and we were able to exceed it throughout the run.  We passed a girl around the Alvarado aid station, and I later learned that she had been in 2nd place.  We also passed a few guys in the last 10 miles of the race.  Jon steadily led me to the finish, running about a foot in front of me and to the side so that it felt like he was pulling me along.  My foot started to hurt around mile 90, and my run was reduced to a shuffle, but my legs still felt like they had some power in them.  We ran a few 10 minute mile paces to put some distance between us and the runners we had passed, but the last two miles of the race were mostly comprised of hiking.

What bliss to finish!  Jon and I ran across the finish together at 3:44 am, with a finishing time of 20:44, and 2nd female, 7th overall runner. My dad was there to celebrate the moment with me, and my mom was a phone call away waiting with the baby.

I learned so much in running this race, and I had such a good time along the way.  As with any goal, the more you work toward it and the more people you have surrounding you, the more fun and rewarding it will be.  Thank you again to all of the fabulous and loving volunteers who made this race possible. Also thank you to all of my fellow runners who encouraged me along the trails. I am truly blessed, and I praise our Creator for giving me the ability to enjoy His creation.

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Does this make you want to sign up for a 100 mile race?  😉

Ready or not, here comes race day: preparing for the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run

I’m just about as ready as I can be for Race Day, and I feel strong as Friday approaches.  The reduced volume of training this week has given me extra time to make race day plans and go shopping for supplies.  This is my first 100 mile race, so I am sure that I will learn a lot about what I need and don’t need on the run.  I ran 33 miles of the Creeper Trail course in June on a training run, so that really helps as far as anticipating the terrain and elevation.  I know that I will learn a lot about limits on this course, as I push further than I’ve gone before, but thankfully, I will have family and friends (both in body and spirit) there with me to help!

I always pick a verse for my goal races instead of thinking of a mantra, and that helps me refocus and remember that God is in control, and as my Creator, He designed me to run for His glory.  I chose Isaiah 40:26 for this race because it is a reminder that out of all of humanity, God knows each one of us.  He created me to run and He knows my passions.  He also created my sweet little baby, not one of them is missing, and He loves her individually.

Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.

About the course:  You can see more about the course here.  In summary, this is an out and back, out again course, so I will run the same 33ish miles three times.  The trail is an old railroad bed, so it is mostly smooth and wide.  The elevation profile is like a tipped bowl, where most of the first 33 miles will be descending from White Top Station to Abingdon, then I’ll run back up and then down again.  The risk is that it is easy to go out fast downhill for the first 33 miles and bust your quads for the last 66+ miles. There are 5 aid stations that runners will pass multiple times due to the out and back nature of the course.  It is anticipated to be in the mid to upper 60s during the day and in the low 40s at night. I am told that White Top Station can feel downright cold and layers are necessary.

My crew and pacers: My husband is my number one support in every way, and he will be critical in helping me on race day, as he knows me better than anyone.  My parents are joining to help watch Cadence and crew during the day.  Finally, I have an awesome new speedy friend, Katie, who will be coming out with her husband and baby as well.  I met Katie through Instagram (@katyhaytay) when she was traveling to Atlanta.  She’s from Memphis, so this is no small commitment from her.  We went for a run together, bonded over running, babies, and Jesus, and the rest is history.  Actually, it’s not quite history yet, but it will be after she paces me through the night with a headlamp blazing the trail!

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Virtual friends who ended up real life friends!

How I expect for the day to go: For people unfamiliar with trail running or ultra marathons, there are a few things that are very different from road racing.  Endurance running most often involves a mix of running and fast hiking.  I won’t be running the whole time, but I would like to keep moving forward as quickly as reasonable.  I’ll carry my food and water with me in my hydration vest and restock at aid stations and when I meet with my crew (parents, Jon, and Katie).  The fuel that I plan to carry includes gels, shot blocs, pouches, and bars.  Plus, I have a variety of foods to eat when I meet with my crew and at the aid stations.  I plan to run a conservative pace in the beginning in the hopes of saving some juice in my legs to finish strong. There is a 30 hour cut-off, but it would be fun to finish earlier than that.

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Practicing runs with the hydration vest. I will miss her on the trail!

The plan is to see Cadence at least twice during the race, thanks to my parents who will be helping out. I will either need to feed her or pump.  Most likely, I’ll be pumping. I’ll meet with Katie at mile 66 to have her pace me for half of the remaining leg, and then I’ll pick up Jon to finish out the race.  I am so thankful for the team helping me run this race, and I am just about as excited to share it with them as I am to run my first 100. :)))

There will be race tracking about every quarter of the way that can be found here, and I’ll hopefully we’ll have enough cell signal for Jon to post a few updates to my Instagram account, @runningwithcadence.

Prep: This being my longest distance yet, I have spent a little extra time trying to map out what I’ll need each hour and mile of the course. I have planned out my fueling strategy, and I am aware that the digestive system works really differently when it is forced to operate on the run for this long of a duration. I purchased supplies over the weekend, including tape, etc just in case I have foot problems or anything else. On Monday I saw my fabulous medical massage person, and she did a final easy massage to keep things loose.  Most of my supplies are packed up in little baggies so that I can grab what I need quickly on the run when I meet my crew.

Any concerns:  I followed a training plan developed by my coach, and I feel strong going into this race.  I have one little place on my ankle that every once in a while gives me a little pain, but when it does hurt, it seems to go away once I start moving. 100 miles will be the real test!  Also, I had surgery in May, and I am always aware of the incision spot above my belly button

My biggest concern is that I am still breastfeeding, so my nutrients and hydration will be diverted to feed a baby.  Cadence turns one year old on Thursday, and I didn’t want for this race to dictate when I weaned.  She’s been waking up a lot in the night to eat lately, so my supply is not as diminished as I would have hoped by now.  Either way, she’s my number one priority, and breastfeeding is worth whatever happens on race day as a result. I also hope that she will let me get a little more sleep on Thursday night, as this past week has not been her best sleeping record.

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Travel: We will leave on Thursday late morning to go to our AirBNB house in Abingdon, VA.  There is a mandatory race meeting on Thursday at 7 pm, and the race starts at 7 am on Friday morning.  We’ll stay through Sunday morning before hitting the road again.

Ready or not, here comes race day!

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What is the longest race you have ever run?  Any tips for race day prep?