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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mile 20 (Week 33)

Holy shitballs; the race has begun:  the 20-mile mark.  Where is that damn finish line already?  My feet feel like they are going to bust out of my sneakers, I'm tired, I'm bitchy (no seriously, stay the hell away), and if I try and stretch my achy legs, everything cramps.  Oh, and one note to all you spectators...what the heyull are you staring at?   I mean, you've obviously seen other marathoners before.  You know, your mom was a marathoner many years ago; how do you think she felt when people stared at her like an alien?  Keep it up, and I might unleash all my GI issues on you...

So, do you know what every pregnant woman's fantasy is?  THANKSGIVING.  Aww yeah, baby.  A day of eating everything in sight, no holds barred, GET. IT. ON.  They should rename the holiday to Thank-a-Preggo.  Seriously.  Having one of us at the table will make you feel so much better about how much you ate because chances are WE JUST HOUSED YOU.  I also discovered on Thanksgiving that I have officially reached "tent" status.  Yep, I put on a maternity dress, thinking I looked all sexy and whatnot, until I saw a picture of myself.  Yeah, no, I looked like a tent.  I always said I would never be the pregnant lady that holds the bottom of her belly all the time, but I get it now.  I plan to not let go for the next 6 or 7 weeks, as it totally reduces the tent-age.  See, look: 

Scary Tent Lady

 Semi-normal Beer Gut Lady

Mmk, so pregnancy stats update:

Spud's Vitals: 
*Chunky boy has now been nicknamed "Bubba" by our doctor.  He is still measuring large-and-in-charge and staying consistent in his growth each week.  May the labor and delivery gods be with me on game day...

Pregnancy Gains: 
* 24 pounds.  I have nothing else to say.  It's like I swallowed the whole, damn turkey and forgot to chew.

* Cholesterol.  252...WTF?  Never have I ever.  The boy has now eaten all my iron and protein, leaving me with nothing but high cholesterol.   The doc says it is normal; I say Spud is expecting a steak dinner once he pops out.

* Wine club of the month membership flyers.  Is this a joke?  I get them in the mail, like, everyday.  If I ever find the person in charge of sending me these, I WILL RIP YOUR HEAD OFF.

* Speaking of ripping things, I bent over the other day, and my pants ripped right up the a$$-crack.  Let me tell ya; you haven't quite lived until you've ripped your pants up the a$$-crack. 

Pregnancy Losses:
* My belly button.  The tent ate it.

* Willpower.  I couldn't decide if I wanted a bowl of cereal, pop tarts, or a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast this morning.  So, I ate all three.  Thank-a-Preggo should really be a week-long celebration anyway.

* Yep, the brain is still nowhere to be found.  When you come home from work, where do you put your keys?  Perhaps on the counter, a rack, or some sort of tray maybe?  Well, I buried mine in a plant in the kitchen.  Cuz, ya know, that's where they belong.

* Sleep.  Picture the scene:  You and your hubby buy a new, albeit decrepit, house.  Your parents come to visit and obviously hate the house, so you decide to walk into town instead.  However, the sidewalks are filled with oil slicks, and you fall, leaving your legs blackened and greasy.  So, you go back to the awful house, where Will Smith is waiting for you to play hide-and-seek, except this is hide-and-seek with lifelines, like those in "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."  You lose the game when you try to "phone a friend" to find Will, and he then feels threatened, pulling out one of his alien guns from "Men in Black"... 

* Unfortunately, running.  I made it to 31 weeks, and there were just too many odd pains that I felt comfortable pushing through.  Spud takes priority.  Looks like it will be prancercizing for me from now on.  Okay, no. 

I just realized something pretty awesome...the next time I write a blog post,
I WILL BE A MOM!  :)  
So, despite all the unknown shitters that lie ahead in this final 10K, I can't wait!

  32 weeks

Friday, October 18, 2013

Half-Marathon (Week 26)

No man's land.  That's what it feels like to be at the half-marathon mark.  You've already put so much behind you, yet there is still so much left to go.  Spectators that were once excited are now looking at you with concern as your face and body start looking distorted.  Your biggest concerns are if all these new ailments (stomach cramps, calf cramps, swollen feet; etc.) are normal, not crapping yourself, and what your first meal is going to be once you cross the finish line.  After all, you've been pretty damn disciplined for months now...  

So, Spud is still looking chunky.  He was measuring about two or three weeks ahead of schedule at our last doctor visit.  Some may say we simply have a big baby; personally, I think he is just extremely advanced for his age.  Yep, large abdomen (good, strong core for running), large brain (obviously a freaking genius), and a large, um, well, you know.  What can I say, that's my boy!*  Plus, he is obviously a trend setter.  I mean, psssh, measuring on schedule would be, like, sooooo boring.  In any event, we have another doctor visit this week, so we are excited to see his progress, and to just, well, see him!
*  must remember to never let him read this post...  

Here are my current pregnancy stats:

Pregnancy Gains:
* 18 pounds.  Holy shitters.  Let's see, some things that weigh 18 pounds:  an oversized pumpkin, the free weights I use used to use at the gym, and Zoe (my dog).

So, basically, this is attached to my belly (and perhaps a little to my a$$) right now.  Notice she isn't too thrilled.

*  "How do you feel?"  Now, I know this sounds unappreciative of me because people truly care (which really, I am VERY thankful for).  However, imagine yourself being asked this, no joke, 87 times a day.  You cannot answer honestly because you will sound like an angry, irrational freak, but trust me, I soooo want to sometimes.  So, whereas I respond politely with, "I feel great!", here is what I am thinking: "I'm a bloated whale who isn't sure how hairy my legs are anymore because I cannot reach them (sorry, Mike).  I want to take the knife out of my heartburned chest and stab you with it for asking me this question.  Or, maybe I'll just fart blast you out of the room because I picked up that skill a few weeks ago.  Oh, and I cannot run very far, which means I am a BITCH.  So, how do you feel?" 

*  Pumpkin.  Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Pumpkin scones.  Pumpkin pasta sauce.  Pumpkin pancakes.  Pumpkin Pop Tarts.  Pumpkin pound cake.  Have pumpkin, (I) will eat it.  Lucky for Mike, I am practicing this pregnant and barefoot thing in the kitchen very well.  Now I can understand how men gain sympathy weight during pregnancy...

Pregnancy Losses:
*  My brain.  Yep, it is still missing and endangered, so I am thinking of issuing an Amber Alert because sh*t is getting real now.  Ever the math nerd, I used to be able to answer equations in my head like Rain Man (um, that might be a little exaggerated), but now I cannot even add 2+2.  No, seriously, I answered 2+2 on paper last week with a 6.  Like I said, sh*t just got real.

Pregnancy Running:
Yay!  I have been able to waddle run again!  Slow and steady, but hey, slow and steady wins the race, right?  Actually, no, fast and steady wins the race.  Hmm.  Okay, but regardless, being able to run again has been FABULOUS.  I keep it between 3 and 6 miles a few times a week, about a minute to a minute and a half slower than my normal pace, and am sure to stop and rest if my body tells me.  Like all marathons, you just don't know how you are going to feel on any given day, so you just have to stay patient (which I suck at), and waddle on!

Pregnancy Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy:
I feel selfish sometimes because I know pregnancy is this AMAZING part of life that women get to experience, so why do I dwell on the negatives of how I feel and what I cannot do?  Well, simply put, because it is hard.  We have to make so many changes to our lifestyle and our bodies in such a quick progression, and we temporarily lose our sense of self and HOPE that we are able to get it back.  After all, I cannot control the way I feel, so I shouldn't have guilt for it, right?  Yet, I do.  At the end of this marathon, I know my finisher medal is going to be the best, brightest, and, uh, biggest one yet.  After all, the journey of every marathon is a challenge, but the glory at the end can never be beat.

But, really, don't ask me how I feel unless you want a pumpkin smashed in your face, mm k?  k, thanks.

26 weeks!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mile 8 (Week 21)

Ahh yes, good ol' mile eight...just about ready for my first gel.  Apple cinnamon to be exact.  Except at mile eight of this marathon, I am eating cheese with a side of ranch dressing and blow pops, with a side of more cheese.  

The first six or seven miles went off just as they should...right in that comfort zone.  I was still smiling at spectators, appreciating their "you look great!" comments, and hydrating often even though I didn't quite feel like I needed it yet.  Currently, things are getting a little tougher as I forge forward.  As I approach the half-marathon mark, I fully anticipate wanting to chuck my open ranch dressing and water at anyone that even tries to give me a compliment.  That normally doesn't happen until mile 20 or so, but hey, again, every marathon is different.

So, our baby is fat.  Completely healthy, but fat.  Yep, at our last appointment, the doctor looked at me and laughed, giving us the news.  Apparently, little Spud is on his (yes, I said his!) way to being an Olympic weightlifter instead of an Olympic runner.  I mean, he will obviously be in the Olympics, duh, but we'll just have to have a heart-to-heart soon after birth to figure out his sport of choice.  Shot put could work.

So, here are my pregnancy stats to date:

Pregnancy Gains:
* 12 pounds.  Whoa now.  If you would like to give me a consolation gift, I will gladly accept cheetos.  Not cheese puffs.  Cheetos.  Major difference.  Get it right.

* New friends.  And by friends I mean random strangers coming up to me in random places rubbing my belly.  I mean, just call me "Genie" or "Zoltar", and your wish will be granted.

* New wardrobe.  Heck yeah.  I'm rockin' these maternity threads.  Except some of my shoes no longer fit.  Not rockin' that so much.  So, maybe buy me the cheetos made with 2% milk instead of whole milk.  k, thanks.

Pregnancy Losses:
* My brain.  I drove to work a couple of weeks ago thinking all red lights were stop signs.  You do the math.  Good thing I have a short commute.

* My abs.  It's like a mean game of hide and seek.  I knew I never liked that game.

Pregnancy Scares:
* One hospital visit.  Apparently, three days of non-stop cramping is completely normal.  I mean, duh, why wouldn't it be!?  When Spud lays down horizontally, he puts pressure on my ligaments, resulting in pain.  No worries though, I figured out the solution.  Cheese dip.  Yep, if I eat cheese dip, particularly with soft pretzels, the boy sits up vertically waiting to get some.  Like mother, like son.

Pregnancy Awesomeness:
* Spud's first kicks.  Two nights ago, he was apparently contemplating the Olympic gymnastics team because he landed some incredible vaults.  Mike and I were laying in bed watching my belly go up and down underneath the sheets.  Very cool.  He obviously scored a perfect 10.

Pregnancy Running:
*Big sigh of relief coming out here*  Expectation...gone.  As I started the second trimester, I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I was going to run four days a week, with at least one of those runs being 7+ miles.  If I have confirmed anything about marathons during this one, it is that every mile really can feel different.  Strong.  Tired.  Badass.  Loo-hoo-hoo-serrrrr.  Sometimes, you just cannot plan for what the next one will bring.  So, rather than get frustrated and risk any additional stress, I let go.  After three consecutive runs of feeling like a pitiful, hurting, hot mess whose shirts no longer covered her belly, I got into my car, drove to the Quick Snack convenience store, bought a bag of cheese doritos, and ate the entire thing while staring at the gas pump contemplating how expensive gas really has become.  It was time to give my mind, body, and of course, Spud, a break.  New "plan":  run when I feel able and when I know it will be an enjoyable experience.  This means no 2014 Boston Marathon for me, but this break will only make me hungrier (if it is possible to be any hungrier than I am right now?!) to come back gangbusters.  

And on that note, Spud must currently be giving Olympic diving a thought.  We'll have to work on his smoothness into the water, but for now, he scores a perfect 10 for effort...

Spud's fave.

My chunky boy!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


This past Sunday, I proudly stood on the start line of my sixth marathon.    It wasn't pretty; I had bags under my eyes, pimples on my face, and I'd gained five pounds recently, which meant my normal spandex had been traded in for a baggier pair of "fat" running shorts if you will.  I knew it was just due to the previous 13 weeks of training, which this time around, left me more fatigued and ravenously hungry than ever before.  In addition, my headaches had recently heightened, most likely from the summer heat and dehydration, and the only way to fully cure them was by actually eating more.  I also began putting a lot of pressure on myself; the more "lack of control" I felt over my body, the higher my expectations grew to overcome it, which often brought me to tears.  Plus, for the first time ever, rather than looking forward to the adrenaline rush of the final miles and .2, I began fearing them in recent weeks, the pain of the pushing actually making me queasy...

So, needless to say, I stood on that start line very proud, having persevered through this trying training cycle.  Looking around at my loved ones there supporting me, I felt a sense of comfort and relief.  In addition, I accepted the fact that this would be my slowest marathon to date.  This one would be all about the journey, each mile having new meaning.  It would be so slow in fact, that I won't reach mile 1 until this Sunday, when I will be 14 weeks pregnant with 25 miles, err, 25 weeks, left to go...


If I keep going at this pace, my projected finish time is January 26.

As you can imagine, Mike and I are very excited.   And scared sh*tless.  But hey, marathons are unpredictable and not supposed to be easy, so bring it on.

So, here are our biggest baby concerns as of late:
*  What do we buy him/her first:  running shoes or a bike? 
Answer:  running shoes
*  What do we buy ourselves first:  a jogging stroller or a baby bike trailer?
Answer:  a jogging stroller

No worries, Mike is totally on board with these answers.  Or at least he will be when I tell him.

Here are the things I like about pregnancy so far:
* I am hungry 24/7 and might eat your face off if you get too close to me.
* I have boobs.

And here are the things I dislike about pregnancy so far:
* I am hungry 24/7 and might eat your face off if you get too close to me.
* I have boobs.

Here are some things we already know about him/her:
*  He/she will be short with a big nose.
* He/she loves cheeseburgers.

I am looking forward to all the unknowns and new experiences.  Will we have a son or a daughter?  What new tricks will my body play on me tomorrow (the highlight today was when my brain stopped functioning; I couldn't decipher the door from the window at the bank.  Yeah, don't ask.)?  I am also enjoying the new perspective on life this is giving me.  What matters most right now is what is inside my tummy, and I will do whatever it takes to protect that.

So, let's talk about running.  Ready, set, go get me a steak to comfort me because that sh*t is hard right now!  With so many unwanted suggestions from others to stop running for fear I was doing harm, they got into my head (damn it), and I took a very safe approach over the last 13 weeks.  On average, I ran about 4-6 miles every other day, with walk breaks whenever it felt too warm or my body climbed too high on what I now call the "preggo wall".  I can't explain it, but I immediately started running about a minute to a minute and a half slower per mile, not on purpose, even if I could still chew gum, talk, do some cartwheels, and run at the same time.  My doctor is actually encouraging me to run more, albeit with less intensity, so my plan is to gradually pick up more miles in this second trimester, when the baby has passed all of his/her crucial developmental stages, and the "preggo wall" apparently starts breaking down.

 Post baby running goals?  Well, when I tell people I am signing up for Boston, which is less than three months after my due date, they think I am crazy, so I might need to rethink that.  I am also hoping the whole "women get faster after having babies" thing is actually true, so I am gonna bank on that, like, hard core. 

In the meantime, I plan to share my experiences as I reach each mile of this marathon on my blog.  In the end, it might not be my fastest marathon, but I have a good feeling that it just might be my favorite one to date...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shamrock Marathon: Gone with the Wind

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...In my next life, I am going to be a weather forecaster.  It is one of the only jobs in which you can be WRONG 75+%  of the time and still have a job.  The Shamrock forecast during the week was 46 degrees and 9-mph winds.  For a coastal race, those winds are manageable.  However, race morning, as I walked from our hotel to the start line, I dropped my first of many f-bombs for the day.  The winds were closer to 20-mph sustained and gusting even faster.  Lucky for me though, once the gun went off,  I was mentally ready to kick anything's a$$.  Nothing was going to stop me from my 3:05 goal...

During the final weeks of training, I felt great.  I ran the Yasso 800's at a 2:54 average, and on my final long-ish run of 12 miles, the first nine were at goal race pace before comfortably dropping the final three at 6:27 pace.  Physically, I was ready.  I was starting to get nervous but kept myself in check.  At work one day, a customer asked me when I ran my 3:06 PR, and when I said 2009, she replied, "Oh.  Well that was a long time ago now."  ...just the comment I needed to get mentally fired up as well.  Bring it, Shamrock!

My gluts and calves started to flare over the final two weeks of training, but I kept telling myself that I am accustomed to handling these "problem" areas now.  I went for an extra deep tissue massage to loosen up my tight a$$, took an ice bath (awful), and told Mike to slap me every time I allowed these aches to get into my head.  Okay, Mike didn't really slap me.  Really, that was a joke.  Don't call the cops.

Good times

Oh yeah, and I also learned something new.  Actually, no, I didn't learn something new; I simply did something really stupid.  After developing calluses on both feet, I thought it would be, um, smart to buy medicated callus removers.  So, five days before the race, I put four of them on for 24 hours, and bam!  When I took them off, here was the result:

Medicated callus removers = Worst.  Purchase.  Ever.  I quickly drained the blisters, neosporined (that is totally a verb) the crappers out of them, and tried to stop staring at what looked like four UFOs crash landing on my feet.  I officially had the funkiest-looking feet in the world. 

Mmk,  Friday morning.  Decided to weigh myself.  Dumb.  I was a few pounds light.  See now, I think I am odd.  Whereas most women would be like, "WOOHOO!  I lost weight!", I was like, "CRAP!  I lost strength!"  Mike and I planned to leave for Virginia Beach that day around 3pm, but our new post-weigh-in plan was to stop in Durham along the way at a brewery.  Yep, two nights before the marathon, and I was eating a cheeseburger and quesadillas.  What better way to regain strength than with a big ol' protein-y burger.  Hey, at least I refrained from the wine...

On Saturday, we watched the 8K right below our oceanfront balcony window, and I got those excited jitters in my tummy.  After grabbing my number at the expo, we were off to an Italian dinner with Mike's parents, who trekked down from Philly to watch me run.  We had just gotten our check when I decided I was still hungry; therefore, I ordered pasta meal number two.  Yep, I am pretty sure my weight and strength were back in full force.  Nom nom!  Or perhaps, oink oink.

Race morning.  I body-glided my UFOs for about six hours, foam-rolled my a$$ for another four hours, peed 34 times, and was ready to run.  I decided to race in compression sleeves for the first time too.  No, I did not wear them because "OMG!  Look at how my pink socks match my pink and blue polka-dotted shirt!"  They helped keep my calves in check during training, so if they would help today, I was all for it.

Man, was it windy.  I made my way to the start area, which felt like a wind tunnel.  The highlight of my morning?  I was the FIRST person to use one of the porta-potties.  Yep, there was nothing in the toilet, and the TP was still wrapped in paper.  I felt so honored that I even forgot about the wind for a little while.  When I got back in line to pee for the 87th time, a fellow runner asked me why I was so excited.  When I told her, she stared at my face for a few seconds and then stopped talking to me. 

I navigated my way to the start line and chatted with the 3:05 pacers, Danny and Tom.  They said they went for a warmup into the headwinds, concluding that the effort was going to be about 15-20 seconds harder today.  Therefore, if we were running 7:00 pace into the wind, it would feel like we were running 6:40-6:45 pace.  Well, crappers!  We would hit a 10-mile stretch into the wind beginning at mile six, so their goal was to bank time in the first few miles and start at 6:45 pace.  Yikes.  Hearing that and looking around at all the in-shape men I was lined up with started to intimidate me, but then I reminded myself how well my training had gone, and I knew I belonged there.  F-yeah, I belonged there!  There was a guy from DC lined up next to me saying he was going for a 3:05, but his previous PR was a 3:24.  My gut reaction was, "Holy Moses, now that's a goal!" to which he also stopped talking to me.  WTF?  Perhaps he was really religious?  Whatever it was, I certainly wasn't making any friends today.  Right as the national anthem concluded, I wished him luck anyway and asked him his name, to which he responded, "Moses".  Ahhh.  Got it. 


The gun went off, and I let Danny and Tom go as I settled into my own, comfortable rhythm.  Mile one = 6:53.  I looked up, and Danny and Tom were right there, so from this point forward, I latched onto the group.  We had about 10-15 men and two women, myself included, which in the later miles would become much smaller.  Miles two through four averaged 6:58, and I was feeling extremely easy.  The five-mile marker was waaaaay off, and Danny and Tom were actually pretty annoyed, asking officials along the route what the deal was.  It was a full tenth of a mile long according to both their GPS watches (and since we were running in a straight line at that point, the tangents did not come into play).  Therefore, moving forward (no pun intended), I decided to run by feel and not check my watch.  At mile six, we hit the first turn-around, and WHOOSH!  Hi, wind.  This is where being a shawty like me helps.  I started playing connect the dots, with Danny and Tom being the dots, and me following in erratic lines to stay right behind them. 

After running through what felt like a maze (Camp Pendleton), we went back over a bridge and hit the boardwalk for almost two miles, where the wind was just dumb.  I have no other word for it.  Dumb.  A few more f-bombs went through my head, but in the, "you ain't got nuttin' on me, wind!" kind of way.  I did not look at the ocean because I knew if I did, I would see the waves and let the wind get the best of me, so I just did my best to keep connecting the dots.  Down the boardwalk, I saw Mike, Ginny, and Charlie and gave them a fist-pump.  I was feeling relaxed and STRONG.

Fist pumpin' as we leave the boardwalk at mile 12

We passed the half-marathon mark in 1:32:02.  My gluts and calves were doing okay, but I was forming new blisters on top of my old blisters, but again, I didn't care; I could deal with that.  Even though we were still running into headwinds, we picked up the pace.  In looking back at splits post-race, we had a four-mile stretch here that averaged 6:38 pace.  I'm not sure if we were actually running THIS fast or if this was where the course made up for the earlier mile that was long, but regardless, it was definitely a faster pace.  At mile 16, I could feel some fatigue setting in, most likely due to the increased pace and having run so long into the wind.  Danny and Tom decided to scale the pace back since we got ahead of ourselves, and this is where I decided to go.   I was in a groove; I didn't want to suddenly pull back.  Miles 16-19 had a tailwind, which was nice, but I kept wondering if I was going too fast too soon.  I made sure to take my tangents along Shore Drive and dropped two sub-6:50's in a row, but when I made the turn at mile-19, I was right back into the wind.  Sh*t got hard here, ha!  I took my final gu, and within a mile, I knew I had my PR; I was tired but still strong.  When a blood blister popped at mile 22, I about tripped over myself, but meh...four miles with a little blood never hurt a marathon runner!  At mile 23, I was out of the winds, but by mile 24, my quads were pretty tired.  Two miles to go...whatever, quads.

Mile 22 foot carnage, five days post-race

Note to self:  If windy, wear braids!

Once I rounded the turn back onto the boardwalk, I could see the finish line.  My second half passed in 1:30:57, a negative split, and I reached home in 3:02:59.  I started getting choked up as I walked my way out to find Mike.  I think the emotions of the past year started settling in.  Then I realized what a goober I must look like, so I wiped my nasty face on the not-so-nasty finisher blanket they gave us.  Nice touch!  ...the blankets; not my snot.

I finished as eighth woman overall, and having only been seven minutes off the second Ethiopian and 1:19 off the money (top five), I was pretty stoked (albeit a little frustrated to have been that close!).  Top-10 was in the back of my head before the race, and I ended up winning my age group, which I was happy with too.  Also adding to the weekend awesomeness were my Streakers.  Of the 26 racing at Shamrock or other races that day, 25 had PR's.  Simply amazing.  With the out-and-back layout of the Shamrock course, it was awesome being able to see and cheer for those doing the marathon.

By 3pm, I was eating a burrito and taking a shot of Bailey's.  By 5pm, I was drinking wine and eating M&M's.   By 7pm, I got my burger and a frozen margarita because, well, that was quenching my thirst better than wine.  By 9pm, I was back in the hotel drinking wine again with Ginny and Holly, my friend and coworker that had run a PR in the half-marathon that day.  Yep, all the proper post-race recovery techniques were in-tact.

This race gave me the confidence boost I need to go sub-3.  Given how easy the first half felt, I keep wondering if I could have done it here, but I could be wrong.  No looking back regardless; I am happy with my race but extremely curious with how good I felt.    Marathoning is so much about balance.  Am I going out too slow?  Am I going out too fast?  There will be more marathons to test it out.

Thanks for the fun and PR, Virginia Beach!  Not sure what my next adventure will be, but for now, I'm just gonna keep putting one foot in front of the other.  
Happy Running!