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. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mondays in Love: Saturday!

Before I get to my Monday in Love, I want to give a huge shout out to my friend Kayla for finishing her first 13.1 and doing it in an awesome time!! And, just like I was a running pusher for her, I'm super proud of her for becoming a pusher with her friend she ran with. She convinced her friend of the need for some new gear that ended up making race day much more comfortable. YAY!

This Monday, I'm totally in Love with my Saturday "long" run. It was the absolute triple threat of things I love:
  1. More miles!
  2. Urban chickens!
  3. Fall weather!
1. More Miles
As I said, I now have the all-clear to add on miles to my daily runs, and I couldn't be happier about it! I decided to take it slow and added one mile to my now-standard Saturday 4-miler, making it 5.1. It felt easy, let me expand the terrain I'm covering, and left me feeling confident about building up mileage a bit. 

2. Urban chickens
I kid you not, there was a loose chicken in the park. You may remember my love of the urban chicken. I can't make this stuff up.

3. Fall weather
The park hasn't started changing colors yet, so for my newly added 5th mile I headed into a neighborhood where I knew I've seen some changing leaves. Bring it on! I love all things about October and running. Race season! Gorgeous mornings! Crazy costumes at 5ks! I love it all.

Happy Monday y'all!! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September Recap

Miles ran: 44.6. Not what I wanted, but I'm happy with it anyway. More on this coming in another post soon.

# runs: 11

Highest mileage week: 16.2

Long runs: 0 (but I now have the go-ahead to tack on miles! YAY!)

Pace workouts: 5 (I just deleted the tempo/interval line from the recaps, since they won't reappear for quite some time)

XT days:  surprisingly none. Oops.

Favorite run: All my runs have been 4 milers for a while with the pace varying somewhat from day to day. My run on 9/13 was my favorite because it was the first time in a long time that my pace approached what I'm used to (still ~20 seconds/mile slower, but that's a huge improvement) and it felt easy. Put a huge smile on my face! This pic is something I pass on every run and it always makes me smile, so I thought I would include it here too. 

Current goal: Find running clothes to accommodate this without spending a fortune. I am beyond thrilled to discover that there are options now, where 4 years ago with my son I just ran in cotton in January. Huge, HUGE thumbs up to the running world for this!

Current obsession: The same things I've been obsessed with for about 3 months and just haven't been able to tell you about until recently. :)

Current need: See Current Goal  

Current excitement: Telling the world about THIS, obviously!! 

Current bane of my existence: Food. It's still really hard for me to eat a lot of the time. Or to be around other people eating. Or, when I do eat, to eat real food.  

Current wish list: See Current Need and Current Goal. Also, some more Halloween decorations! I bought a few things last weekend and am pretty excited that it's finally October.   

Current indulgence: We went to see the Addams Family (musical) here the other night and I bought this bib for the new kid. I wish all baby clothes were this sardonic. Just kidding. Sort of. I really have had a life-long love for humor like Chas Addams and Edward Gorey. I just love it. 

Otherwise, buying myself a few new fall clothes items. While I hate spending money on clothes I'm going to wear for one season, it is fun to have a good excuse to do it. And I am picking up a few things that will last longer, like some fabulous flat boots. How did I live without these?!?