Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review

2011 was good to me. I got some shiny new PRs, some Rave Runs, and many other highlights. Welcome to the Year in Review!

Shiny New PRs 
This was the year of the PR for me!

PR #1: Martian Half-Marathon, 1:55:56, Dearborn, MI
I had SUCH a good time doing this race (read it here). Actually, the whole darn weekend was great. The kiddo and I flew to Detroit to hang out with ODP, Kdot and my nieces, and sneak in this little 13.1. It was borderline cold for spectators, but perfect race weather. The course is pretty flat, with just a few rolling hills. Aside from a snafu in placing the turn-around point, the race was well-organized and went off without a hitch. Plus, I got to meet a bunch of the bloggers I've been following for a while.
Yours truly (w/ niece 2), Jess, Red, and Jessie

PR #2: March of Dimes 5k, 24:13
I entered this race on a whim and had a blast, but I KNOW I can totally smash this PR. It was windy as all get out and was a fairly hilly course (read it here). Plus, I was hardcore in marathon training mode, so not focused at all on running shorter distances. But, I'm glad I did it, and I won an award and everything!

PR #3: Cleveland Marathon, 4:16:07
If you've been reading my blog for long, you know this race (read it here) absorbed a huge part of my brain for much of the year, for reasons good and bad. I trained harder than I ever had, I PRed by over 11 minutes, and I met more awesome bloggers, but I made some key strategic fueling mistakes that cost me. Live and learn! I'll be back with a vengeance post-baby on this PR!

PR #4: Mileage
Ok, so not a PR in the traditional sense, but a PR nonetheless. As of today, I'm at 830.4 miles for 2011, or 100 miles more than last year. I'm especially proud of this because I spent just about half of the year pregnant. Woot!

Rave Runs
This year I also ran in some of the most gorgeous places ever--Southwest Virginia, multiple places in West Virginia, Salt Lake City, and Miami. The image that has stuck with me is, naturally, of the place that has meant the most in my life, Spruce Knob. 

My craziest run of the year was certainly at Snowshoe though, where I accidentally ran waaaaay the heck down the mountain and ended up at the bottom of the ski lift. People were looking at me like I was absolutely crazy as I slowly ran my way back up. 

Products Discovered
The longer I spend loving my life as a runner, the more fabulous running gear I discover. (Sidebar--I've been running for 15 years!! How the crap did that happen?!?) Things I've fallen in love with this year:

Other Highlights (in no particular order)
  • I lost 15 pounds in the first four months of the year. I actually weighed the same this Christmas (at almost 6 months pregnant) as I did last Christmas. This is going to make it so much easier to get back into non-maternity clothes faster after baby comes. 
  • The biggest news of the year, finding out I was expecting! 
  • Getting 3 more rooms of our house painted, getting more settled in, and building our set of local friends. 
  • Becoming a running pusher for my friend Kayla, including getting to sherpa her through her first trip to a real running store. 
  • Many great visits from friends throughout the year.
  • Our beyond fabulous vacation to Virginia/West Virginia in July. As our first vacation in 2 years, it was very needed and much appreciated. The running wasn't bad either. 
  • Volunteering at RnR StL in October. 
Goals for 2012
You know I love goals. Plans. Structure. 
  • First and foremost, a healthy birth for my baby boy sometime late March or early April.
  • To rock the face off a 5k sometime in the fall. 
  • To NOT enter anything longer than a 10k until the new baby turns 1. That's right. I will not be entering any half- or full marathons next year. Does this make me a little sad? Yes. But I also know that it is just too much with a new baby and a more than full-time job. But...I'm already thinking about some late spring 2013 races that just might have my name on them...stay tuned as I fantasize.
  • Lose the baby weight, or at least get under my Christmas 2010 weight before Christmas 2012. 
  • A whole host of personal and professional goals that I won't make you read. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holidays in Love

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! It's hard to believe I've been away from work for almost a week now, because this past week has been a crazy, happy blur. My parents arrived last Wednesday and we quickly set to work on moving my office out of the baby's room and making the room into a nursery, and of course, all the preparations for Christmas!

Project Make-A-Nursery went very well, and while it's not finished, we are well on our way. My parents and husband painted the room a pale yellow, and a few days later my Mom and I spent about 5.5 hours shopping to find fabric, a rug, bins to hold adorable newborn clothes, etc. It was so much fun to browse through the stores and imagine the room coming together. I will definitely post a picture once it's done. And the Christmas prep, well, there was LOTS of baking, and we all know that makes me happy.

Christmas Day itself was a crazy ~60 degrees. This is me after my run on Christmas Day. Sleeveless with arm sleeves, and it was glorious. The shirt is the second maternity running top I got from Runningskirts. It's a little big, but does a great job!

And good news--I ran a little faster than I had previously and had almost NO lower back pain or pinching. I still walked up the hills, which I will probably continue to do. The run felt great, and I was smiling like an idiot all the way through. Glorious day, pain-free run, Christmas, what more could a girl ask for?!?

Next run on deck is tomorrow morning with K. Can't wait! And finally, thank you all so much for the support after my last post. It means so much! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mondays...Tuesdays on Notice: Overwhelmed

It's Tuesday. I know. It's not that I forgot yesterday, or that I absolutely couldn't have found the time to post this. I'm just gonna lay it out there for you: it was that I am completely overwhelmed in virtually all arenas of life and struggled with what to say. I need to ask for a little grace around here. When in doubt, I'll stick to running! That is, after, what this blog's about.

On Running: I went out Sunday afternoon to get in a weekend run. I think I totally made some dude's day when he passed me, looked over (I get looked at a lot these days when I run!), and I said, "Some day I'll be fast again!" He just laughed like, is she for real?? He was probably about 50 and was only running a 9:30-9:40 pace. Needless to say, my run was not my fastest, which was fine. But what wasn't cool--my tailbone did NOT respond well. It felt ok during the run but hurt afterwards. So, back to run/walk for me for a few more days.

On all other things: I am completely overwhelmed. I have a huge work deadline looming in mid-January and a whole series of smaller (but mandatory) deadlines on separate projects between now and then. And beyond those deadlines, work has been bat shit crazy (and stressful) with some non-project things. On the home front: our house is not ready for Christmas. Cleaning up for this has meant getting everything ready to move out of my office into the guest room so we can turn my office into a nursery. We're not there yet. Christmas itself is complicated by family stuff that I don't understand.

There is some beauty in this mess though. Some of my time recently has been absorbed in finishing not 1, not 2, but three Christmas stockings. They are all different color combos, but generally along these lines:

My little boy makes us smile Here's a glimpse of life with a three-year-old:

And just this past weekend we got to celebrate the marriage of our friends Chris and Kayla. Their wedding was beautiful and the reception was absolutely the most fun I've ever had at a wedding reception. Uhhuh. I brought my own ball. :) And bowled in a floor-length gown (thank you, Kdot!!). 

That's what I've got, peeps. Needless to say, I am waaaaaay behind on reading blogs. There is no break in sight, but I will keep chipping away at the Reader list as I can. I promise! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Milestones and bellies and shirts, oh my!

This morning I went on my first post-fall run. I went with my neighbor and we took it slow just to make sure nothing hurt. I'm happy to report that I think running is back on! In other news:
  1. Another milestone: This morning I officially crossed 800 miles for the year! I'm beyond thrilled about this and can't wait to see where I end up by the end of the year. 
  2. It's time for another picture in the great Belly Watch 2011-2012. 24 weeks, baby! I had an OB appointment today and got to hear the heartbeat again. I cannot wait to meet this little boy!
  3. The picture serves two purposes today--it's also the blog debut of my maternity running shirt (available here). I absolutely love this shirt and would recommend it. I love that it has thumb holes (and, therefore, sufficiently long sleeves). It's technical fabric. It's easily long enough. And I love the color. I am super impressed at the quality of the shirt, and so thankful that it's available, where nothing like this was made during my first pregnancy. I would recommend that you buy up a size, though. I would normally buy a medium, but because so many maternity shirts (from all brands, seemingly) tend to get short in the third trimester, I decided to give myself some extra space. All over, I think the size larger was a good call. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mondays in Love: Ornaments & Signs for Sale!!

I know, it's kind of a crazy announcement. See, a while back The Beastie opened an Etsy shop that mainly sells PhD-themed Christmas ornaments. She's amazing and they are beautiful and if you want to celebrate the attainment of a PhD (or Masters that involved a hooding), be sure to stop by. Well, when I celebrated my 300th blog post I did it the only way I know how--a giveaway of crafty goodness! The 13.1 sign went to Elle and the 26.2 went to Marlene. While talking with Marlene about how to customize her sign, she encouraged me to think big and consider opening a little Etsy shop. Given my already insane schedule, I wasn't so sure. But between Marlene and The Beastie, an idea had been planted.

Then, a few weeks ago I was in a craft store picking up the last supplies to finish The Beastie's Christmas stocking (yes, I am the Official Stocking Knitter of our generation, and I love it!! Every generation needs one. It might as well be me!). While I was there, I decided to pick up a 4-pack of empty glass Christmas ornaments and see what happened. At the very least, I thought, I could make myself one to celebrate my PR in Cleveland. Then things got crazy busy around here (like, unprecedented crazy, more on that in a few weeks) and I kind of decided I wasn't going to get to it. Until today. Today I decided I was reclaiming some ME time. So I sat down during the kiddo's nap and made it happen. For me. And the result isn't bad! (there is text on the back, too)

So here I am with the 3 remaining empty glass ornaments that came in my 4 pack, and nothing to do with them. What's a girl to do? Put it on Etsy!! I know, like I have time, but whatever. You only live once. :) So without further ado, here's my shop! Get yourself over there and order an ornament or running sign before they're gone. Order by Friday (or earlier, please!) to ensure Christmas delivery.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Weekend Update

This just in:

  1. My Mondays....on Notice? post is officially going down as the most controversial thing I've ever posted, which surprised me. In response to a reader inquiry on the etiquette of 26.2 stickers, y'all covered the gamut of possible responses. One felt put off that the runner community might snicker at the sticker rather than celebrate the accomplishment. A few were indignant about questionable 26.2 claims. The majority were in the middle though, feeling like it was a bit questionable, but it didn't detract from your accomplishments, so let it be. I think this is a pretty reasoned response. 
  2. My maternity running top (that I scored a great Cyber Monday deal on--cha-ching!) came. I was super skeptical when I took it out of the package. I was sure they'd sent me a regular top. I should never have doubted. It's wonderful! Also, my new Nathan Handheld came and I got to try it out. Pictures and reviews to come. 
  3. Said review was to come over the weekend, but...that may have to wait. Today started with me falling down basically an entire flight of steps in our house, then spending the next ~3 hours in the pregnant women's version of an ER getting checked out (by doctor's orders). I am fine and the baby is fine, thank goodness (seriously, God is good). But my tailbone does hurt quite a bit and pregnant running already puts more pressure than normal on that spot. So I think I need to let it heal for a few days before I get back outside. On the plus side, my hubby met me for lunch afterward and brought me a donut to cheer me up. Because he's wonderful. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mondays.....on Notice?

Recently a question of running etiquette was brought to me and I want to turn it over to you. So today's theme is up to you, is it Mondays in Love, or Mondays on Notice? Here's the question:

Dear JoannaRuns,
I know someone who recently participated in a 24-hour walking relay event for charity. After the fact, he realized that he'd walked more than the distance of a marathon, so he bought a 26.2 sticker and put it on his car. 

On one hand, he did cover the distance. On the other, he didn't train, didn't have a distance goal, and took many more hours than a marathon would allow before closing the course. Does this count?
Not a Canadian

I feel like slapping the ol' 26.2 on the car in this situation is a bit of a disrespect for the race. Finishing a marathon is about finishing a marathon, not about finishing some distance that happens to include a marathon. The marathon is about crossing that finish line, usually with a time goal, and a strategy. Or am I being too uptight here?

What's your take? Mondays in Love with the 26.2, or A Not-So-26.2 on Notice?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November recap

Running stats
Miles ran: 46.6 (789 for the year)
# runs: 11 (a little low)
# states: 2, here and Florida
Highlights: The highlight of this month's running was just that I was having an blast a lot of the days I was out doing it. I've had some fast[er] runs this month, have loved the weather, and have just genuinely loved that I'm still able to be active.

Pregnancy Stats:
# weeks in: 22/40
pounds gained: 7-8

Otherwise, in review
November saw me jetting off to Florida

Learning the gender of my bun in the oven (read it here and here) when I was 20 weeks (btw, what a stupid phrase. Who bakes just one bun at a time?)

Then later hitting up Chicago with the fam. And, apparently I wear that shirt a lot. I wore it today, too.

And of course a lot of other fun stuff I didn't post here, like checking out a huge Christmas light display at a local park with my friend Kayla. 

Looking ahead to December, I am SO excited about:
  1. Getting my new maternity running top! The shirt I wore this morning is long enough so that you don't see my belly, but it hangs straight down off the bump, and my pants are at the bottom of the bump, so it's basically an open, huge vent for the ~35 degree air to access. Brrr!!! 
  2. Still running! As long as I'm able to run (and, knock on wood, but there isn't an end in sight yet!!), this month's mileage in the mid-40s is basically the minimum I should expect for a month. I will be passing the 800 mile marker in the next week. Anxious to see where I'll be by years end. 
  3. It's off-topic, but Christmas. Seeing Christmas through a 3-year-old's eyes is magical. We don't usually decorate this early, but we're planning to start this weekend only because he is just so excited about it. He is such a light in our lives. :)
What do you have on the horizon?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gender reveal!

I know, I know, I was a complete tease last week when I told you I'd had an ultrasound but wasn't telling you the gender yet. As promised, we told our families over Thanksgiving and are finally ready to tell the world. Without further ado:
it's a boy!!

Honestly, we were a little surprised. We did not have a preference, but both Mr. Joanna and I, and pretty much everyone who knew much about my first pregnancy and this one, thought it was a girl. It's fun knowing. Now we get to begin the wonderfully sweet process of picking a name, planning for the nursery, and daydreaming about snuggling and raising newbie. 

Here in blogland, holy moly but y'all have been busy posting! I'm still catching up from being gone for Thanksgiving. I'm getting there! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mondays in Love: Thanksgiving Edition

I'm back from Thanksgiving and about ready to get back to the blog world (seriously, I'm really behind. I'm not trying to ignore you, I just haven't been home!). This very American holiday was nothing short of fabulous this year. We don't have any family in Chicago, but decided to meet up there anyway because, well, why the heck not? We got a fancy schmancy name-your-own-price hotel easily within walking distance of Michigan Ave. We made reservations for Thanksgiving dinner out, saw Being Elmo (fabulous! seriously for all ages), went to the Shedd Aquarium, did a little shopping, and fulfilled one of our very few family traditions: the mid-generation pre-Christmas martini night out.

Me (rocking the Shirley Temple), Mr. Joanna, Kdot, and ODP

This tradition started almost a decade ago when my brother and I escaped from our parents' house for some last minute Christmas shopping and from listening to Anderson Cooper at 14 decibels (my mom finally, years later, got hearing aids, thank goodness). We found ourselves at an outdoor mall near noon on a Monday feeling, yeah.... I looked at the predictable Applebee's, looked at ODP, and told him we were going in for a drink. So there, noon on Monday before Christmas, we had martinis. And a tradition was born. I love this tradition.

We got back from Chicago late Saturday night and today we're fully back into the swing of things and I'm back to running. THANK YOU Cyber Monday for letting me buy my coveted maternity running top at $15 off!! Can't wait for it to arrive. In the meantime, give me a day or two to get caught up with blogs! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mondays in Love: It's a.....

Healthy, growing baby!

Yes, as of this morning we know the gender. But you're going to have to wait until after Thanksgiving to find out. :) We are going to tell our families first. I hope you understand. For now all I can tell you is that everything is looking healthy and normal. We are so blessed!

In the meantime, let's see if y'all have reliable instincts on these matters. What variety of baby do you think I'm expecting??

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Odds & ends

Sorry if you saw an early version of this in Reader. Did not mean to hit Publish just yet...

It's been a quiet week around here. The I'm-shy-on-iron situation kept the early part of the week running-free. But, I got updates, yo.
  1. I had a fantastic Wednesday morning run. I think I'm out of the woods on this whole iron situation. Leg cramping frequency is down. BOOYA. 
  2. The Holiday Booty Buster Challenge starts on Saturday. Since my mileage is so far down and I'm clearly not in training mode, I put myself in the "Building" category. I love the way this challenge is set up this year and I'm excited to play along!
  3. I've also signed up for The Boring Runners' 2nd Annual Freeze Your Thorns Off 5k. I'll be just shy of 7 months pregnant on race day, but, why the heck not? I'm hoping to still be running, but if not, even a big pregnant lady can walk!
  4. This is maybe my favorite part of this list. My friend/neighbor is planning to run another half-marathon and has asked for input on a training schedule. I'm so geeked about this. More than she probably realizes actually. I've made several of my own training plans, some with input and some without. I'm so excited to finally have a chance to help someone else make one of their own! Maybe she'll let me tag along for speed workouts and scream Fartlek intervals at her. Just kidding. Sort of.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mondays on Notice: Iron Deficiency

I have struggled from time to time in my adult life with brief periods of iron deficiency. Only once before can I remember it really being a problem. In the summer of 2009 for a while I was bruising like an over-ripe peach, the palms of my hands hurt all the time, and my muscles felt weak. With some focus on my diet, it passed.

Iron deficiency during pregnancy is common, particularly in the second and third trimesters (I'm currently second trimester). You can read all about it here if you're curious. I didn't realize until I traveled how closely I was walking the line on keeping my nutrition in check.

Two days ago while in Florida I noticed an odd bruise on my leg. Then Saturday I saw a similar one on my left arm. Suspicious. Then yesterday my legs felt like they had no strength in them at all. With a few other symptoms happening too, I'm pretty sure the signs add up to borderline iron deficiency. The second night I was in FL I woke up in the night with foot & leg cramps (low on potassium?). It only took 2 days of being away from bananas and iron-rich breakfast cereals for this to happen. Crazy.

The plan was to do about 6 miles yesterday. But I knew almost as soon as I woke up that I needed to take a break. So, I'm taking a break. RW says that all runners, regardless of consistent running volume, need to take a break every now and then. So, this is mine. This past week was very low mileage, and I'll continue to take it easy until I can bring my diet and symptoms into balance. I'm mainlining spinach, Mini-Wheats and bananas to get back in check. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Unsweet tea: revelations of running

I'm back from Florida. Old people are cute. And the running ain't bad either.

From the hotel, it was just a few blocks to the Key of Brickell, which is very small and almost entirely hotels, with a pedestrian-only path around the perimeter. I ran a few laps around the island (key?), joyously soaking up the water views and palm trees. I am really thankful for these chances to see and run in other landscapes from time to time!

A weird thing happened while I was gone. I found myself faced with the choice between sweet and unsweet tea at a restaurant. And I ordered unsweet. This can only mean that I've lived too far north for too long, right? Next thing you know I will be able to pronounce the word "Lysol" like a Yankee and will enunciate the"l" at the end of "school" consistently. Perish the thought! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Off to the Sunshine State, broken hearted

Bright and early tomorrow morning I'll be on a plane headed to Florida for work. I'm hoping to get in a run in the sunshine while I'm there. Thank goodness for smart phones--the GPS keeps me from getting lost and I can use it to take pics to share. Win! AND when I get back I'll get to see some friends who are in town for (what's left of) the weekend. It's gonna be a great few days.

But I'm broken hearted too. Like everyone else, I am horrified, confused, and saddened by the events coming out of my beloved alma mater this week. I want to say two things about it. First, I think this sums things up pretty well and I encourage you to read it (if you don't fb you can read it here too). I realize this is controversial and I ask you to respect that this is my opinion, even if your own is very different.

Second, that we are still, now and forever, Penn State, and we are so much more than this. From Facebook:

‎"Penn State Football doesn't define us. We are so much more than that. We are the number one school in the country among recruiters from leading companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. We are a leading research institution accredited by the National Science Foundation. We are over 94,000 students across campuses, with alumni in every state and 87 foreign countries. We are the creators of the number one student-run philanthropy in the world, raising over $78 million for the Four Diamonds Fund since THON's creation in 1977. Don't forget how incredible this university is, and don't allow irresponsible oversight to destroy our reputation. FOR THE GLORY."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mondays in Love: A Blah Run

There's tension here at JoannaRuns. I had a crappy "long" run this weekend, but it's a beautiful thing anyway.

The thing I am desperately in love with is, in fact, the same thing that totally FUBARed my "long" run yesterday: the growing baby in my belly. Allegedly the kid is going through a growth spurt right now. No freaking kidding!! This weekend was an epic saga of eat-sleep-repeat (read: conserve energy) while cramming in as much work/family/cleaning the house time as possible. The run just was not going to happen on Saturday. And when it did happen yesterday, it was slow, tired, and not a lot of fun.

No runner likes to see a run go awry. But, I am so helplessly in love with this tiny person I don't know yet. I want to shout this from the rooftop: I felt the first kicks last Thursday, and it's beyond magical. Right now while I type this I can feel my baby squirming around, just a little. I can't wait to get to know this baby. The next ultrasound--and gender reveal--is in two weeks. I feel like a little kid at Christmas, just almost incapacitated by the desire for the big day to be here already. I so badly want a peek!

This weekend was the first real reminder that sometimes I'm going to have to let things go when it comes to running while pregnant. While I can and will continue to run long into the pregnancy (maybe even up until delivery, if I'm lucky--my doctor and I are both hoping for this), there will be times that I need to cut myself some slack in even the reduced mileage/speed that I've been doing the last few months. I have to remember that the bar is different now, and that my finish line is the healthy delivery of my child (God willing) and not a PR under a huge digital clock. (Although, incidentally, a "labor PR" would be welcomed. Seriously. I was in labor for over 22 hours last time. And the image of a huge digital clock over a hospital bed is hilarious.)

Those of you who know me well know that I totally suck at letting things go. But, I've been through this once before, I get it. And I'm just so, so thankful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hoarders, Running Data Edition

Let me start by saying that I am absolutely not a hoarder. If anything, I'm a little trigger happy on disposing of things. Over-crammed closets, cabinets, and rooms stress me out. So imagine my surprise when I realized that I have become a hoarder of running data. It all started so innocently.

At first I kept data only intermittently or not at all. Then I kept it on, then on Garmin Desktop Training Center. Then, well, things got out of hand. 

See, because I work around the clock and my employer prefers to keep it that way, my laptop belongs to my employer. Last week they updated it, and in doing so backed up everything except my Garmin Training Center data. *%^&!! I lost my data, at least in Garmin-ese anyway.  

My response may have been overkill. I decided to start backing up to Garmin Connect. And...I've decided to start using dailymile (find me! I have like 4 friends on there right now. It's kinda sad and I feel like a noob), although that one was just for fun.

That means I'm now storing running data on Garmin desktop and online, runningahead, and dailymile. That's right, in FOUR places. Not counting the record keeping for HBBC and POTM (see badge to the right). 

Am I alone here in my insanity? How many sites/places do you store your data? Have you ever lost massive quantities of it? This is out of control.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Only a runner

Pregnant woman tend to remember more of their dreams and have more vivid dreams than the rest of the population. I knew this was true for me, but didn't realize how common it was until I got an article from You can read all about it here (and probably learn more than you want to know about the approximate size and composition of buns in the oven at 17 weeks). The short version goes, we wake up to pee frequently, thus interrupting REM sleep and allowing us to remember more of our dreams.

The other night I had a dream where I had amnesia (true story: I just had to ask my husband what the word is for when you can't remember anything). In this dream, I could not for the life of me remember who I was. It wasn't like it was on the tip of my tongue and I just couldn't spit it out, it was like the information genuinely was not stored in my brain any more. In the dream, I solved this problem by happening upon a picture of me taken during a race, then used the bib number in the picture to look up the race results and figure out what my name was. 

The weirdest part? The Redhead was helping me look up the bib number. We've met in real life on multiple occasions. Had this been real, she could have just told me who I was. But I think we've established that this is the ludicrous production of a pregnant runner's brain. 

No one other than a runner would have this dream. Ever. This makes me cherish it. And laugh at myself. Do you ever have crazy runner dreams? What's the craziest of them?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mondays in Love: Rocktober

Ok ok, yes, I kind of hate mashed up words. Teddy bears that say "I love you beary much" make me throw up in my mouth a little. But seriously, October rocked. I said it weeks ago--I love all things about October + Running. This year did not disappoint.

First I caught you up on the ins & outs of first trimester running

Then I salivated over spectated from afar the Chicago and Detroit Marathons and thought back with love on spectating Chicago '07.

Then I celebrated my 300th blog post with a giveaway and met a handful of you through that (signs are finished and will be in tomorrow's mail!). Then I volunteered at Rock & Roll St. Louis and had a blast. 

Then last week I surpassed my 2010 total mileage. And after all that, there was still some awesome October running to go. FIRST, last Friday I had my fastest run since I found out I was pregnant (4.03 miles at 9:18/mile, if you must know--not any Earth-shattering record, but I'll take it as a "pregnant pace run"!). SECOND, last week I had my highest mileage week since, unbelievably, the Cleveland Marathon (seriously, I triple checked the training log). THIRD, with today's run, October became my highest mileage month since May. Crazy, huh?

And today is Halloween! Which means I get to go Trick or Treating with my little boy, who will be the awesomest Batman you've ever seen. I'm honestly not sure which of us is more excited about it. 

I love October running. I'm sad to see it go, but looking forward to seeing what kind of mileage I can post before the end of the year and what hijinks y'all are going to get into!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Faster in the dark?

Lately I've needed to move my morning runs up about 30 minutes and it's been staying dark later. Together, this has meant that I've found myself running pre-dawn. A funny thing has happened. At first I thought it was just a freak thing and would pass, but it didn't. It feels like I'm flying and I'm not. I'm keeping about the same pace I always do.

I wondered if this was normal. As it turns out, at least one guy with a PhD in Psychology has written on this subject and why it happens (read it here). The weird thing is that most people (who left comments on his post, anyway) remember this phenomenon from childhood and notice it much less or not at all as an adult. So, am I the weirdo? Wait, don't answer that.

Maybe it's because I'm pregnant. Or a lefty. Or unaccustomed to running in the dark. Or on a path toward world domination.


As it turns out, I love this running-before-dawn business. I can easily adjust my route to run along the street, in the street lights, until it starts to lighten. Logistics: check. And I'd forgotten how much I absolutely love greeting the day and seeing the sky lighten with the sun. And it's just pretty in the park--getting to see the street lights still lit against a vaguely dark sky. Life is good.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another big milestone!

I am thrilled to report that yesterday I surpassed my 2010 total mileage! Last year was my highest mileage year to date (read the 2010 recap here), and this year is bigger already with 2+ months to go, and I've spent almost 4 of these months pregnant.

Last year I covered 730 miles. I'm sure I can reasonably hit 800-825 this year. Go me! I'm really proud of this!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mondays in Love: Arm Sleeves

*Don't forget to leave a comment on this post to enter my giveaway!! Handmade runner goodness!

I mentioned in my Rock & Roll St. Louis post that I'd picked up some arm sleeves/warmers and a new headband while volunteering at the race expo on Saturday. With temps in the mid-50s this morning, it was a perfect chance to try out the arm warmers. And guess what--I am in love.

As you can tell from the picture, my baby belly is starting to round out a bit. Because of this, my running shorts/pants move themselves to the bottom of my bump, making virtually all of my shirts too short. I have one short-sleeved shirt (the one shown here) and a tank top that are longer, but too skimpy for cool weather. Until the arm sleeves happened.

The deets:
They are Purple Plaid Arm Sleeves from Running Skirts (available here). At $39 a pair, they are not particularly cheap, but they are letting me delay the purchase of a maternity top and get more wear out of summer tops.

The good
  • Purple.Plaid. 
  • I got the small size, and they stay put. 
  • Thumb holes! 
  • Pockets on the backs of both hands and at the top of one.
  • I didn't realize that I minded the bulkiness of long sleeved tech shirts until I wore these. I've heard other runners say this, but didn't really get it until now. 
I really don't have much negative to say about them. They do leave an imprint on the crease of your arm. If they are tight enough to stay up, apparently they are tight enough to leave imprints along their folds. But this is not a big deal. My only real critique would be that I wouldn't have hated another half inch in length, BUT, I'm 5'8". I have a bit of a bigger wingspan than your average runner chick. So I can't really fault them for this either. 

If you're considering some new fall/early winter running gear, I definitely recommend checking out some arm sleeves. They are freeing, fun, and make your running gear much more versatile. If anyone has recommendations of other brands/types to check out, please pass them along! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rock & Roll St. Louis Recap

**Quick reminder to see my LAST POST to enter the giveaway!!** It's for handmade running goodness!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming:

I have always loved that I got to be part of the Inaugural Rock & Roll Chicago event. It was the first Chicago RnR and I've never had more fun running a half (read it here). I've also wanted to volunteer for a race for quite a while. So when the Rock & Roll series bought my beloved Lewis & Clark Marathon (recap here) this past year, then I got pregnant, I knew it was the perfect time for me to step up.

I volunteered Saturday from 8-1 at the expo handing out race shirts. The expo started strong right at 9 and we had a constant flow of runners come through all. Honestly, I was having an absolute blast. Joking with the runners, dancing, singing, carrying on like schoolgirls with another volunteer at my table (hooray for a new running friend!). I wanted to capture the morning somehow and loved her idea of how.
You know you've always wanted to nestle yourself in a huge bin of size L unisex tech shirts. Oh yeah.

Once our shift was over, we headed to the rest of the expo for a little shopping. I picked up some arm warmers and a new (sparkly!) non-slip head band (reviews of both to come). I'm particularly excited about the arm warmers/sleeves--purple plaid!

Sunday morning rolled around early. I was up by 5, out of the house by 5:30, and to the start area by 6. The folks at RnR had warm drinks and pastries for us while we waited for job assignments (thank you!). I was placed in the "secure area" (aka, finishers area) for the morning. This was the scene when we arrived.

We quickly got to work opening boxes of bananas, bagels, and oranges. We dumped the bananas out onto the first three tables on both sides until the piles were so high they toppled over, then started cutting oranges into quarters. I know most of you have seen finisher's areas, but the sheer volume of food purchased and in some cases handled is really incredible when you see it all at once. I was moved to a tent to hand out energy bars. It took a team of 5 of us well over an hour to get the bars unpacked and ready to hand out, but we were ready to go with time for a break before the first finishers crossed the line. During our break I got to sneak up to the finish line and check out the huge pile o' medals. The marathon medals were the same design in red.

It was a first for me to be at the finish when the winners came through. The first place female finished in 1:20 to lots of cheers. The elite runners came through slowly at first, then slowly the stream of finishers picked up and didn't let up for hours. That's when we went to work handing out the energy bars.

The good
  • Most people are incredibly gracious toward volunteers. I smiled a lot while handing out energy bars. 
  • The people who are crying in joy. By FAR the most touching moment of my day was when I saw a guy crying and asked if he was ok. He said he was, but he couldn't help it, because 18 months ago he'd weighed 300 pounds. Six months ago he'd run his first 5k. And today he'd crossed that marathon finish line for the first time. Incredible. 
  • The other volunteers were great! I told them that all the bending and constant turning at the expo had eventually been too much for the baby belly, and they wouldn't let me lift the boxes of energy bars to restock the table. And when I did anyway, they fussed at me to stop. Seriously wonderful people. 
The bad
  • Some people are jerks. This can't be helped. You say "limit 2 bars, please" and people look at you, grab 4 (or more) and walk away. Or grab 2, walk 5 steps, turn around and come back and take 2 more. Or take 2, take 2 more "for my friend I ran with" then walk to the side of the finishers' area and hand them to someone who clearly spectated and did not participate. Don't do this. There really are not enough to go around when you do this. 
  • The RnR staff was great about making sure we stayed properly hydrated, but no one told us where or when lunch was. So we were all basically starved by the time we figured it out. 
  • Thankfully we had great weather, so it was nice being out, but it is a long day on your feet. Unless you sit on the ground, there really isn't anywhere to sit down.
I got to see one of my co-workers finish, and saw my friend from the expo finish (with minutes to spare before her goal!). Around 1:45 my assigned job had come to a close and there wasn't a clear reassignment, so I decided to head out. As I left I snatched a shot of the approach to the finish. Great siting for this! Right toward the Arch (which you can barely see in this pic)--love it! I really don't ever get tired of seeing the Arch, and I see it almost every day. 

All told, I would definitely volunteer for a race again. For those of us who participate in endurance events regularly, it's only fair that we pitch in every now and then. I loved getting to see the race from this perspective, and getting to be a happy part of the day for so many runners. And if you get the chance to do a Rock & Roll event, I do recommend! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mondays in Love: Checking Off Another State

Last week I was traveling for work. While work travel can be exhausting, I love that it lets me see people I only see a time or two a year, explore places I would likely not otherwise check out, and rack up more states I can say I've run in. When I returned from this trip I decided to make a map to officially start keeping track, because, why not? (14, for those of you wondering--13 shown and Alaska, which I left off the map for simplicity's sake) And, I've run 7 of these 14 in the past year. Someday this whole map will be purple. <3

The run in Utah was beautiful and kind of humbling. Before I headed out, one of my colleagues told me the route he'd run the day before, so I decided to try it. He said it was uphill the whole way, but I imagined hills like I run here. You know, rolling? Hahaha--yeah, not quite! I covered over 750 feet gain in under a mile. And, Salt Lake City sits at about 4300 feet to begin with. I was huffing and puffing and even walked a little bit of it. I decided to turn around and run back down into the valley and finish my run on the city streets. Before turning around I ran past the state capital and got a panoramic view of the city below. 

Back in the city I ran back through the gate (not sure what else to call it) and back into the main part of the city.

I wound around to Pioneer Park, which is about a city block in size. This was to be my turn-around point before heading back to the hotel. It took me a minute to figure out if people were living in the park (a local had told me this happens) or whether it was an organized protest. The tent village turned out to be part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that's going on. Later that day I saw them out marching.

All told the run was a little over 4.5 miles and covered about 1800 feet in elevation gain, and I was feeling it even this morning. I'm always happy for a run that pushes me in ways I'm not used to. And, of course, lets me check off another state!

What states are you dying to run? Is hitting them all on your bucket list?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Irresponsible or Inspiring?

It's been a huge relief letting people at work know about my impending bundle of joy. My colleagues are ready with wonderful comments about hoping I feel ok,complimenting my maternity clothes (which I'm starting to wear more often), letting it slide when I eat fro-yo for lunch, and not pointing and laughing when I show up in whatever it was that seemed reasonable that morning. 

However, letting people in on my secret has also meant opening the door to the social norms held for pregnant women. Of course, this has been huge in the news this week, after a woman completed the Chicago Marathon in 6:25:50 and gave birth 7 hours later to a healthy baby (in case you somehow haven't seen this, read it here). The response to her decision hash been all over the board, some calling the decision irresponsible and others calling it an inspiration. 

Considering that very pregnant woman clearly do finish endurance events and continue to have healthy babies made me hopeful that my much more constrained running wouldn't be shocking to people. I'm not planning to "race" anything over a 10k while pregnant, after all. And yet, what I'm getting is a lot of surprised responses when people discover that yes, in fact, I am still running. 

I didn't realize how culturally rooted our perception of reasonable pregnant behavior was until I was enceinte with my son. At the time I worked in a very culturally diverse setting. One of my office mates was amazed that I continued to use my cell phone while pregnant. Others were horrified that in the United States a normal, natural birth (even one with drugs) merits only a 2-day hospital stay, and a c-section 4 days. In some countries you stay for a week or longer for a natural birth, and stay in bed for 2 weeks or longer. 

Within the running community not one of you has given me a raised eyebrow. Neither has my doctor. Or anyone on board with the idea that I was a healthy runner before I was pregnant, and it's healthy for me to continue. But a lot of other people have given me flack about it. So last Thursday when I read Jodi's Thumbs Up Thursday tribute to the Marathon and saw this, I knew I had to put it on my office door. Not surprisingly, I've gotten a lot of comments about it already. 

There will come a day sometime next spring where I will have to take a break from running. But today is not that day. Today is a day to stay fit and sane for myself and my unborn child. And represent just a lil' bit in the hopes that it will encourage others and maybe change some perceptions. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mondays in Love: Chicago Marathon Weekend

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love everything about October + Running. I love it all, and Chicago Marathon Weekend is no exception. Over 40,000 participants and an estimated 100,000 spectators, it is something to behold. It also holds a special place in my heart. <3

I started endurance running with Team in Training in the spring of 2007. Our group was almost entirely training for either the Chicago Distance Classic (now Rock & Roll) or the Chicago Marathon. Meg and I did the CDC and planned to go back to Chicago to cheer for our teammates running the 26.2. When the weekend rolled around,Meg, Mr. Joanna and I headed north prepared with our glittery signs and ready to cheer our hearts out.

We went up on Saturday. Meg spent the day with her best friend (who happens to live there) and Mr. Joanna and I spent the day seeing the city. It was an incredibly sweet time for me, because we had the most wonderful secret in the world: I was pregnant with my son. I so happily spent the day wandering through crowds seeing the Field Museum, taking a ferry boat ride, visiting the Navy Pier, and eating yummy food, knowing that no one around us knew. Something about being in a city and a weekend away made that feeling memorable. 

 Of course, race day 2007 turned out to be a huge moment in American running, for being cancelled part way through for heat. I actually saw the "race canceled" signs. I'd been sitting in the shade sweating as we spectated, and had seen the fire trucks spraying water on runners, but still did not really understand the severity of the situation until later, when I heard it from my Teammates and read about it in Runners World.

We saw all our Teammates and one of our coaches, and all our people made it safely through the day.

This year, being pregnant again and spectating (albeit from a distance), I couldn't help but reminisce on Chicago 2007. I can't wait to read the race recaps from my bloggy peeps who were there this weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Did you mean pregnant chicken?

Since I couldn't tell you I was running with a baby on board for almost my entire first trimester, I decided to do a My First Tri{mester} wrap-up post to bring you up to speed on what pregnant running has been like. Mostly it's been lovely. But life has changed, some days more dramatically than others.

On the Reduction in Miles
My bloggy friend Jess said she was suspicious because I'd been blogging less about actual running, and she was onto something. The biggest change has been my reduction in miles, and that's been caused by a handful of things.

1. Inability to eat
Like my first pregnancy, I lost weight through the first trimester. When I'm not consuming enough calories to sustain my own body it's not only hard but probably just not smart to burn another 500 or 600 calories by running. And when I have eaten, it's been a lot of weird crap. About two weeks ago I texted my neighbor at 10:15pm on a Friday to go get fried chicken with me. And Mr. Joanna totally caught me doing this.
Yes, I've owned that shirt since 1994. No, I do not wear it outside my house.Yes, that's ice cream. Hey, at least I was putting in a bowl before eating it. 

2. On the other hand
Inexplicably, running seemed to be the only thing that settled my stomach and allowed me to eat. After a morning run, I had about a 20 minute window where I could eat half a bowl of cereal, and the benefits seemed to go throughout the day. Yay running! So there was really a balancing act. But not of this variety.

3. Fatigue
Even this past weekend I fell asleep at 9:15 on Saturday night. I've fallen asleep while upright, working at my desk (ok, this only happened once, but still!). Fatigue has made it especially difficult to get up mornings before work to get that run in.

4. Distance
If you try to do your own web-MDing, you'll quickly find all sort of guidelines about what pregnant women should do. As I've said though, thankfully my doctor has cleared me for longer runs, and I am off and going!*

On the Logistics
1. Clothes
Right. So, I thought it was all so-far-so-good on this front, until I got home from my Monday morning run and realized that my pants had moved to the bottom of my bump leaving less than half an inch between the bottom of my shirt and the top of my pants when I was standing still. THANK GOODNESS for maternity running shirts. This is a huge blessing and recent revolution in running.

2. Hydration
Hydration is essential these days. This has meant drinking up before I head out and stopping about every mile for water along the way. Mr. Joanna is considering installing a revolving door on the bathroom for me, so I think I'm doing just fine on the hydration front.
Jerry Jacobs Design contemporary bathroom
(btw, seriously??)

3. Pace
My pace has been a bit slower than usual. Largely this was an effort to keep my heart rate down, and sometimes some pregnancy-related aches and pains and every now and then some very heavy legs. Pace seems to be getting easier as I move into the second trimester. I'm not gonna lie--it's a blast to chick people while pregnant. BTW, if you Google Image search "pregnant chicking" you'll find some super bizarre crap ("did you mean pregnant chicken?"). The, um, most creative of which has to be this. You've been warned.

Do you have questions I haven't covered? Anything you're just dying to know? 

* again, do NOT take this blog as medical advice. What I can do is specific to my personal medical history and fitness.