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Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

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exercise

I Have A Need for Speed (3/20-4/2)

And yet again I get behind and do a combo post. I guess some weeks I should just be happy I manage to post anything.

Week of March 20

Monday – swim. 1800 meters – still slow. While I don’t look forward to waking up at 4:30 am to join masters swim, I could REALLY use the help on my form.

Tuesday – running snacks. 5 miles @ 8:51/mile. The twins ran a little afterwards, but Miles was cold because he insisted on not wearing a jacket.Sometimes moms ARE right, buddy.

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Wednesday – speed. 4.81 miles @ 8:26/ mile including 6 x 400 intervals. I did this one in the morning and I can’t remember why, but whatever. I wanted a little speed before the 5k but didn’t want to overdo it, so I did 6 intervals with 1 min rest between, ranging from 6:10-6:36. It was a bigger range than I had hoped but I started out more slowly, and had some incline every other interval since I wasn’t on a track.

Thursday running snacks/yoga. 3 miles @ 9:22/mile followed by some stretching so I hopefully don’t make my PSOAS angry.

Friday rest

Saturday long run/race. 8.1 miles including the Turtle 5k race, where I FINALLY hit my long awaited 21:xx. I ran one mile before to warm up and did a long 4 mile cool down.

Sunday ride. 13.23 miles at 17.5 MPH.  I had planned to do an hour but it was a chilly morning and I didn’t put on socks, so I cut it shorter. My toes were going numb.

Week of March 27

Monday – easy run. 6 miles @ 8:37/mile. Trying to both recover from Saturday’s 5k and prep for the upcoming Bridge run, I took it easy. I also took the day off and took the twins to the zoo with my friend Virginia and her daughter, Stella.

Tuesday ride. 16.2 miles @ 18.3 MPH I got a mile from my house on this ride before realizing I had left without my helmet. So I had to turn around and go back. Apparently I left my brain at home too.

Wednesday hills 6 miles @ 8:40 including 4 hills. I wasn’t sure how much prep 4 hills was going to be 3 days before the Bridge Run, but I figured a little couldn’t hurt. The rest of the run was done at an easy pace. Melissa and I were gone longer so we missed the group picture.

Thursday cross. 30 minutes elliptical and 20 minutes weights.

Friday rest

Saturday run 6.24 miles at the Cooper River Bridge Run. Recap coming!

Sunday running snacks/yoga. 2 miles @9:15 pace and yoga for runners.

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Ignore the garage

30 Day Challenge and Training Update

A few weeks ago I posted about my newest 30 day challenge attempt (I’ve only actually completed…well, zero all the way through, but one almost all the way), which I was particularly excited about because it is geared specifically towards runners.

I started on September 1 and fell a bit behind as there have been a few nights I didn’t get home until late, so even though its the 20th I just finished Day 17. The challenge is broken into five sections and each section has its own set of stretches/exercises. The number of sets typically increase each day.

Stage 1; Basic Mobility and Balance Training (Days 1-6)

  • Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Adductor Stretch
  • Hamstring Stretch
  • Single Leg Balance Exercises

This stage felt awkward to me, in that I felt like I looked silly, but the benefit of the stretches and balance made sense so I told Bryan to stop looking at me funny.

Stage 2: Basic Strength and Core Training (Days 7-12)

  • Split Squat
  • Hip Thruster (this is as awkward as is sounds)
  • Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift
  • Mountain Climbers or Standing Core Control

Stage 3: Intermediate Mobility and Plyometric Training (Day 13-18)

  • Modified Pigeon Stretch
  • Lateral Hip Stretch
  • Spiderman Rotations
  • Single and Double Leg Jumps

This is the stage I am on now and this one has been the most difficult for me to get through. I regularly use the pigeon because of my injury but had trouble with the lateral for the first few days and cut a few. The spiderman rotations made me a bit dizzy (I get dizzy easily) so I modified them, and the jumps have caused some soreness in my calf so I didn’t do them today.

I haven’t looked ahead so I am not sure what awaits me at Stage 4 and 5, but so far, overall, I do feel like this is benefitting my running. Each stage has videos that not only explains the exercises but also why he recommends them (so when you feel silly you at least understand why).

I’m training for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon and ramping up my running a bit so I thought this would be a great time to try this out. Granted, more than one thing has change since  I’ve started. I got my new shoes, started this challenge, and stopped carrying things in my hands while running after reading this article (read it! I promise its interesting!). Since then, I’ve noticed an improvement in my pace and one comparatively closer to that of my pre pregnancy running. I don’t expect to PR this half marathon, but I’m excited to see some faster numbers again.

5 miles at 8:30 and this is without attempting intervals!
5 miles at 8:30 and this is without attempting intervals!

Today I ran 7 miles at an 8:48.

On the minus side, I’m still over pronating. I don’t know that I expected my shoes to fix it, but I’m still seeing the exact same wear pattern on these shoes, perhaps even a bit more so than the others. Also, I got a blister after my 10 miler last week, so it makes me wonder if I might have to try a different pair next time around. Despite that, I haven’t felt any extra butt or hip tightness, so that’s a win!

Stay tuned for the rest of the challenge in (hopefully, if I don’t miss too many more days!) a couple weeks.

Those of you who joined in, how is it going?

To sign up for the 30 day challenge, click here. Its free and you’ll receive daily emails with the exercises, or you can click the link to the dashboard on day one, bookmark it and go back (that’s what I’ve been doing)

 

If At First You Don’t Swim Well…Tri Again (Sprint Tri #2 Recap)

You can read my first race recap here.

When I initially ran the triathlon idea by Bryan I presented the dates as a one or the other type situation. I.e. I’d like to try this, and these are the two dates. His response?

“Don’t lie, you want to do both”.

“No, no” I claimed “I don’t even know if I’m going to like it, I really just want to do one or the other.”

Who was I kidding?

Do I look nervous?  I am.
Do I look nervous? I am. Also, my swim cap is super sexy.

The Swim

Distance: .3 (i.e. eleventy billion) miles

Sprint 1 time: 17:51

I had two goals this time. First, don’t panic. Second, don’t finish last.

I actually did a swim warm up this time, and I’m honestly not sure if it helped. I did figure out over the last couple of weeks that I tend to veer towards the left for whatever reason, so I started all the way to the right of the group, and in the back. I knew I wasn’t going to be fast and I figured it would help me avoid getting kicked. Still, standing in the water waiting for the horn to go off, the buoys seemed REALLY far away. Did they place them further out this time? I think they did.

Either the number of laps that I calculated in the pool as .3 miles is way off, or swimming in open water really is a totally different thing, because I was still slow as molasses. The good news is, I managed to not panic, and kept my eye on the bouys enough that I didn’t veer way off course this time.

And I finished second to last (2 seconds behind third to last), so I considered it a win.

Those buoys look awfully far away
Its really a 80 trillion mile swim

Sprint 2: 17:22

Transition 1:

Sprint 1: 2:01

I would have managed a shorter transition time, except I ended up having issues getting my shirt and number on, so that cost me 10-15 seconds. At least I didn’t have to walk this time.

Sprint 2: 1:58

The Bike

Distance: 12 miles

Sprint 1: 42:28

I pumped a bit of extra air in my tires right beforehand this time. I’m told more air = less friction = faster time. The logic makes sense assuming  you don’t pump so much air that you blow your tires, because that definitely isn’t going to help your time.

I think it also helped that I was familiar with the course this time and expected the sharp turns. I was still passed by about 50 people on fancier bikes (on your left! yeah, you and everyone else!), however, not only did I pass a few mountain/hybrid bikers, I also managed to pass 5 road bikers!

My dopey bike and stupid got messed up shirt
My dopey bike and stupid got messed up shirt

Sprint 2: 40:41

Apparently there is some truth to the tire thing.

Transition 2

Sprint 1: 49 seconds

The girl next to me put her bike on the rack crooked so it took me a little more time to put mine back. Otherwise it was pretty uneventful.

Sprint 2: 48 seconds

The Run

Distance: 3.1 miles

Sprint 1: 25:56

I find it interesting that, even with all my years of running, by the time I get about halfway through the bike I wonder how much energy I’m going to have left to run when I’m done. I pushed myself a bit more with this bike, too, because I had this back and forth thing going with another girl in my age group (on a road bike) and purposely pedaled faster to get in front of her because I was annoyed that we were so close.

Anyway, I knew that I’d psych myself out either way if I paid attention to my pace (either be annoyed I was running slower than I thought or nervous I was starting out too fast if I was going faster) so I only watched the distance on my watch and ran the 5k by feel.

It was a good call, apparently.

Sprint 2: 25:06

We win! (he won first)
We win! (he won first)

Final Standings

Sprint 1: 1:29:01

Sprint 2: 1:25:53

Age Group: 9/14

Overall Female: 55/106

Swim Overall: 99/106 (told you I swim like molasses)

Bike Overall: 62/106 (not bad for a hybrid bike)

Run Overall: 25/106 (hey! this is actually pretty good!)

With some swim lessons and a better bike, I think I could be competitive in my age group next year.

Wait, did I just say next year?

 

 

Going to Tri

Before the twins arrived, I was a runner. That’s not to say I’m not a runner anymore, but previously I basically ran, and ran and ran some more, with very little cross training.

Then I hurt my back, and my chiropractor recommended amping up the cross training. More specifically, swimming and biking. Bryan bought me a hybrid bike for my birthday last year and I’ve enjoyed the occasional ride, but I’m really not much of swimmer.  In fact, prior to about 6 weeks ago I can count the number of times  I swam for exercise on one hand.

Interestingly, I’m finding that I really enjoy more frequent cross training because it helps me avoid burnout. I look forward to my workouts more now that I’m doing different things. In fact, I’ve even started to enjoy swimming and even swam a whole mile (!) last week. I’ve secretly been doing brick workouts (swim/bike, bike/run etc) once a week for the last several weeks.

So of course, you know what this means.

It’s time to try a sprint triathlon. It’s been on my mind for several weeks and I’ve finally decided I’m going to register.

This particular race consists of

  • .3 mile swim (yes, point three)
  • 12 mile bike ride
  • 5k

I know I won’t place, but I know I can finish. If the contact lenses I ordered show up in enough time I’m going to jump in on the race next Sunday, otherwise I’ll race on August 10 (because you know, being able to see for the whole thing would be nice).

Stay tuned.

If it Makes You Happy

Anyone who has read more than a couple of of my blog posts knows that exercise and fitness is very important to me. I run, swim, bike, rollerblade, practice yoga or some combination thereof 5 days a week, with few exceptions. Second only to the my own health and the health of my family, exercise takes priority.  I set my alarm and get up before everyone else. If that doesn’t work, I’ll let Abby and Miles watch 30 minutes of Pocoyo and hop on the elliptical run on the treadmill while they nap. I’ve been known to (and will probably continue to) wake them up a little early, plop them in the jogging stroller with milk and a snack and bring them running with me.

I don’t plan exercise around my life, I plan my life around exercise.

It sounds a little selfish, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing, though. Exercise is a necessity for me, not just physically, but mentally.

I also work away from home 3 days a week. It was something I chose to continue doing after the twins were born. I like my job and I spent 6 years studying my field. It is important to me that I be able to contribute some financially and I feel like I am helping make a difference. I am a nicer, more sane and happier person when I am able to work.

Still, sometimes I catch myself feeling guilty. Sometimes I feel like I should want to stay home and willingly skip my workout so the twins can sleep an extra half hour. Sometimes I feel like a bad mom when I turn on Pocoyo so I can run out some frustration or kiss them goodbye as I leave for work. Even though I feel like these two things make me a better person and mother, particularly after infertility, I sometimes feel guilty.

Cate Pane recently posted a link to a page on The Science of Raising Happy Kids. It contains a lot of good, interesting information, but one fact in particular stood out to me.

Your (moms) happiness matters.

It says that a moms satisfaction with her life is more important to a young child’s social and emotional skills than her education, her income, whether she has a job and the amount of time the kid spends in childcare.

Last week I read a post in Favorite Run Community that left a bad taste in my mouth. The woman posted about how she sees all of this support to moms who run, even waking their kids to take them along. She disagreed with this mentality and said that if she can’t get someone to watch her kids, she just doesn’t run. Family first. I get up early and sometimes take them with me with the hopes they pick up the same habit (of course, if they are ill or truly need me, I will stay home). The post left a bad taste in my mouth because I thought that doing something to keep myself sane and demonstrating a healthy habit was setting a positive example. I thought doing things to ensure my own happiness WAS, at least in some ways, putting my family first.

You know the saying, and apparently its more true than we realize – if mom isn’t happy, no one is happy.

Or at least if mom is happy, her kids will be happier.

Take care of yourselves, moms.

 

 

 

Life With Twins – Week 27

I know I’ve been publishing many guest posts lately and then just these updates. Something original to come soon, promise. I do these updates more for myself than anyone else because I’m quickly learning how fleeting the time is and I know one day I’ll be glad I took the time to write about and capture a few memories from each week. I can actually see myself holed up in my bedroom in 15 years when one of my teenaged twins asks what I’m looking at. I’ll probably say nothing and quickly close the laptop (or like super magic projectile watch or something because you just never know what the technology will be then), albeit a bit teary eyed.

Anyway, I do a lot of digressing.

We had our 6 month checkup this week. Remember their two week doc picture when the table appeared to be 10 sizes too big?

We are tiny
We are tiny

It was a bit different this time around

We are giants. Unhappy giants.
We are giants. Unhappy giants.

Good grief. At this appointment Miles is 27″ long and weighs 17lb 10oz. He is a mere 3 inches away from growing out of his car seat already. It puts him in the 75th percentile for height and 50th for weight (at 4 months, it was the other way around). Abby is still a little bit and is 25.5 inches long and 13lb 15oz (for all intents and purposes though, she’s 14lbs) and is in the 25th percentile for both height and weight. Compared to 4 months, they took their shots like champs.

We started adding a “third meal” as far as solids go. I attempted to drop from 5 to 4 nursing sessions and they made it VERY clear that they are NOT ready for that yet. Ok, ok, I get it. I’m starting to get more comfortable making some of their food (not sure if I mentioned this before) and so far have pureed squash, banana, sweet potato and peas. Abby continues to be the “big” eater around here. Miles started getting this rash around his face that I feared at first was a food allergy. It would figure that normally I’m a hard and fast rule follower but totally didn’t follow the one food at a time for 3-5 day rule. As it turns out, its a heat/irritation rash because he constantly has his hands in his mouth and is drooling more often than not. Still no sign of teeth and that is a-ok with me. Miles is spending more time propped up on his arms while on his belly and Abby, as usual, is moving her legs around in what appears to be an attempt to crawl. Oh boy. She is still barfing like a fiend, and now it comes out in pretty colors. They are both totally fascinated by my hair, and Abby is babbling like crazy lately. (dadadadadadadahhhhhhhhh!!!)

Picture time!

  • Mom gets tired of toys taking over the entire living room and so tries to send them to the corner
Sending toys (and babies) to the corner
Sending toys (and babies) to the corner
  • Miles sports a new accessory – his “glocks” (sock gloves used to help keep the face rash at bay)
Do my glocks match my outfit?
Do my glocks match my outfit?
  • Daddy gets lots of baby snuggles
Baby boy cuddles
Baby boy cuddles
Sleepy boy cuddles
Sleepy boy cuddles
  • Babies and I go for a run and discover that a little bit of fall does in fact exist in South Carolina
Pretty
Pretty

On my end I have been back running in full force the last few weeks averaging about 25 miles per week and 3 long runs so far at 10, 12 and 10 miles. AND, my midweek runs are (generally) getting faster! I’m very excited to get my speed back and looking forward what will hopefully be an injury free half marathon on the 14th.

Stuff I Want My Kids to Know #2: Strong is the New Skinny

I suppose this one is a bit more geared toward baby girl. (spoiler: name announcement  post coming soon!)

Body image issues and I have a history. And strangely, though I remember WHEN they started, I can’t really remember WHY.I’ve always been an active person starting at a young age: I took gymnastics classes, played softball and soccer and spent many hours running around outside. And I ate horribly. I chuckle as I recall some lunches in late middle and early high school – cheese fries, a HUGE chocolate chocolate chip muffin and a can of Frutopia (anyone remember Frutopia? Oh so good but absolutely nothing but sugar). I once calculated that the muffin itself had nearly 600 calories and the can of Fruitopia nearly 200. That doesn’t even include the cheese fries and that was only for lunch! Now don’t get me wrong, I love junk just as much as any of us but the thought of consuming that and calling it a meal now makes me shudder.

Great, now I’m craving cheese fries.

Don’t even get me started on the whole model thing – why they use women who look like they’ll break in half if they trip down the runway to showcase latest fashion I’ll never understand. I’d rather see women with some freaking muscle tone telling life stories of their involvement of sports stomp down the runway with their soccer balls and running shoes any day. And we wonder why women have body image issues.

Anyway, somewhere around my Junior year of high school, weighing in at a whopping, like 112 pounds – I was fat.

What? Hindsight is 20/20.

At that point my days of cheese fries, muffins and sugary drinks were over. I started packing my lunches, trying hard to avoid eating any fat. A previous color guard instructor told me I once refused to put dressing on my salad, and though I have no recollection of this, I can’t say I’d be surprised. Later on it became less about fat and more about calories. I become obsessed with calorie counting. This lasted through high school, through college and into my first marriage (which I am sure did not help matters much as it eventually ended).  I could tell you the calorie count of practically anything, and I’d walk around campus mentally calculating calories consumed vs calories burned. I based what I was “allowed” to eat on how much I had worked out that day. It never got so out of control as to call myself anorexic, but I definitely had an disordered eating habits for many years. It was mentally distressing for me to figure out I had eaten more than I planned or didn’t burn as much as planned.

It was tiring.

The lowest weight I remember hitting was 117 once after I had the stomach flu and was excited to learn I had lost 3 lbs. I was obsessive about it but somehow kept myself from falling so far in that I reached unhealthy weights. I was always in a healthy weight range, and that frustrated me to no end at the time. In the end it isn’t about the weight, though, its about what was going on in my brain – telling myself I weighed too much, feeling like I had to count calories consumed vs. calories burned. Although my working out was healthy, I wasn’t doing it for healthy reasons. At my lowest point I remember looking at a girl who was clearly sickly anorexic and feeling slightly jealous. She couldn’t have weighed more then 80lbs.

All through college and into my first marriage I probably weighed in the low 120’s.

At some point around my late 20’s  something clicked and I finally had enough. I was tired worrying so much about it. I was tired of counting calories. I started eating more, and more of what I wanted. I think this was about the time I started getting more into running races – maybe that had something to do with it. In order to have the energy to run long distances, you have to eat. It just won’t work any other way. I was finally able to let go, and you wouldn’t believe how freeing that was. Prior to our IVF cycle when I was running regularly and particularly while training for half or full marathons I was in the best shape of my life. I had muscle tone. I had abs. I had definition. I wasn’t super skinny, but I was strong.  Most importantly, able to live without obsessing. For the first time I loved my body. I was proud of it. I felt confident. I’m tooting my own horn a bit here but I looked good!

My weight? 128lbs – my highest weight ever. All those years fretting and worrying and I found myself feeling the most confident and strong weighing the most. That confidence is what attracts people – not how skinny you are or the number on the scale.

Clearly a twin pregnancy has taken away muscle tone and my ability to be involved in intense exercise. Its added 25lbs (and counting!) and  made the number on my scale higher than I’ve ever seen it. But that is ok because even though my body probably won’t be the same, I will get my strong back. At this point at least I am able to try to guide these babies into strong adults and hopefully avoid learning the hard way.

Eat healthy, splurge sometimes, exercise regularly, but not obsessively. Find the middle ground – moderation. Be strong.

strong

Image Credit

Adventures in Gym Rattery

With the exception of race training, I’ve been a gym rat for years. I’ve been a member of college gyms, military base gyms and local gyms. In the fall we canceled our gym membership in an effort to save money, and because neither of us were going – I had started training for my 2nd marathon and was mainly running, and Bryan, well, he just wasn’t going.

In an effort to keep my exercising more low impact, we recently began talking about joining again. I came home after work a few weeks ago to Bryan’s announcement that he had signed a contract for the 2 of us at the brand new gym up the street. I was pis.sed at first because I knew that it was going to be more expensive, and because part of the reason I go to the gym is to take group classes, and new gyms are usually lacking in that front.

After a completely pointless and useless argument about the above and about how I totally don’t get the point of 24 hour gyms (seriously, who goes to the gym at 2am?), I acquiesced, traded in my running shoes for my gym shoes, and re-started my adventures in gym rattery.

I had forgotten one of the advantages of running is that I can get up, put on my shoes, run, come home, shower and go. Taking into account travel time, I realized I had to start getting up at the not-even-close-to-the-crack-of-dawn-time of 530am.

530 am is not my friend. I don’t like to get up before it’s light outside. The way I see it, if the sun is still sleeping, *I* should still be sleeping. Not only that, but it appears that the employees of the gym agree, because it isn’t staffed until 8am. Little did I know that even as I was arguing about the uselessness of a 24 hour gym, I would be consistently using it during its un-staffed period. That’s a first. You’d be surprised at the number of crazies who line up to take spin at 530 am. (that is, if it was available). They do apparently have an early morning Boot Camp class….that you have to pay extra for. Now, why on earth would I want to do that?

The facility itself is nice enough. I have to admit I like all the nice new, mostly non sweaty equipment except for the lack of stair machines and 3 tiny 20 inch televisions that there is no way you could see unless you were standing right under them. Why bother? Even my freakishly early morning experiences have been quite pleasant, as there are very few people crazy enough to go to the gym at the-not-even-close-to-the-crack-of dawn.

Until yesterday.

I’m minding my own business, walking on an incline on the treadmill while reading my e-book on the Left Behind series. I’m calmly increasing my heart rate while reading about the end of the world when I hear: “UUUUUUGGGGHHHH!!”

WTF?

Thinking that perhaps someone dropped a weight on their foot and might need medical assistance, I reluctantly stop reading about the end of the world and turn to figure out what happened.

I see nothing.

Weird.

I continue.

UUUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!

Perplexed, and now somewhat annoyed, I turn again. There are like, 4 other people there so this issue shouldn’t be hard to find. All I see to my left is a guy lifting weights…..and suddenly it dawns on me.

The man is doing his bicep curl, and uttering “UUUUUUGGGGHHH!”

Why? Why is that necessary? Do you need to feel super macho? Are you lifting a weight that is too heavy? I’ve done some weights. I get that sometimes when you’re holding your breath and exhale suddenly you might voice a little, but really is THAT necessary? Is there something about it that I don’t get?

Luckily, I brought my Ipod.

Yesterday morning I went and was relieved to find a list asking for votes on exercise classes. I requested a night/weekend  power yoga class and step class. Upon telling Bryan of this, he announced that at his next visit he was going to request “the one with all the se.x positions…?”

“The Kama Sutra?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s it!”

I shook my head.

It’s definitely going to be an adventure.

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