Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Guest Post on Anything For 10: Breathe Deep

I want to do another check in and get some of my current goals and aspirations out in the webisphere, but it is November, and November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. I've written about my personal connection to this cause in the past, but today you are getting another perspective from my oldest friend whom I have also blogged about before. Laura is taking on the Anything For 10 mentality and raising money for Lung Cancer Research. Why does this matter to you? Because anyone who has lungs and breathes can get lung cancer. It's fatality rate in those diagnosed is one of the highest of all cancers. Take on the Anything For 10 mentality with my friend Laura and educate, donate, or find a race for LUNGevity or the American Lung Association that you can participate in yourself, and don't forget to Breathe Deep.

I still remember the view outside the window of my mom’s hospital room in 2001. It’s the day after Christmas and three days before, surgeons removed a large tumor and surrounding tissue from her right lung.

It’s not a great view, in fact it stinks. From my perch in the window well, I can see nothing but the terraced roofs of the other buildings that make up the hospital complex. I’ve spent the better part of the last three days imagining movie chase scenes across those rooftops. Tom Cruise jumping off the edge and catching himself on a windowsill three stories down before falling to his death. Jackie Chan leaping across the five-foot divide between wings like he was stepping over a crack in the sidewalk. Pierce Brosnan being pinned down by enemy fire behind the HVAC unit.

I got lost in those imagined chases for hours. Never did I imagine myself as part of the chase, as someone running for her life and leaping from rooftops. I hated any physical activity. I was a chubby kid with asthma, I found any excuse to get out of the mildest of exertions in gym class.

And yet, 15 years after that Christmas in the hospital, I’ve registered for my first 5K. For the first time in my life, as a slightly less chubby adult with slightly less severe asthma, I’ve been going to the gym and jogging outside. I know I could walk those 3.1 miles, but I feel compelled to push myself, to cross the finish lungs burning and legs pumping. I want to breathe deep because I can and remember my mother.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Confessions of a Mother Runner

Ok, so I wanted to do a 2 month check-in, but...life. I am trying to get back into being active and trying to start running again, but it turns out that it's pretty hard to balance everything. I knew it would be before Hux was born, but there are definitely challenges that I never anticipated before.

First of all, recovery. I am STILL recovering from labor and delivery...still. I have been shocked by how long my recovery is taking. I am still in pain lots of days, and some days aren't so bad, but it's absolutely mind boggling to me that it has been nearly 3 months since my son was born, but I am still in pain. I just keep saying I can't wait to feel better some day, and I am really saying it trying to convince myself that some day I will eventually feel better despite the fact that I am not actually sure that's the truth.

Weekend family runs are one way I get in some miles.
Second of all, I am breastfeeding. This is tricky when it comes to working out. In theory the best time to run would be before Huxley wakes up in the morning. However, he sleeps through the night, and let's be clear; I'm not complaining about that. It poses a problem because if I were to run before he wakes up, then I would need to budget roughly 30 minutes for pumping, plus time to run and take a shower, and all that would have to happen roughly 2 and a half hours before he wakes up in the morning if I were to have enough milk to feed him once he wakes up after pumping in the morning, Huxley wakes up around 6:30. I'm not waking up early enough to budget all the time needed because since I am breastfeeding, I have to limit my caffeine intake. Just not feasible. And if I wait till he's awake, then I have to schedule my running around his eating and sleeping schedule, which doesn't always go as smoothly as I'd like.

Third of all, life has just been getting in the way. I have so much to do around the house, and I am writing my Master's thesis while also taking another class, and there's just not a lot of time.

So what am I going to do? Well, I think I'm going to fall back onto my usual method of forcing myself to start making time for running when I've had a break or start slacking; I've got to spend some money. When I invest money, then I feel more obligated to run. I would love to buy new running shoes as my investment and a bit of a treat for me, but honestly I think it's going to be a race entry this time. I would love to get refitted to check out the changes in my feet and gait from pregnancy, which I can assure you is a very real thing, but I think new running shoes wouldn't be enough to get me to make running a priority because there's no deadline like a race day to force me out the door. I'm not going crazy here. I'm just going to look for a 5k, but even that will feel like a lot for me right now. I do miss running though, and Fall is absolutely my favorite season for running, so I am going to try to come up with a plan to get out the door more frequently.

Taking out Hux and Lucy by myself during the day
has proven to be a bit too much for me right now.

If you want more regular updates on my running, pictures of my cute boy and cute pup, then follow me on Instagram! @mdickersonruns

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Running Buddy's First Run

I was finally cleared to run! I have had a long and painful seven weeks of recovery, and though I had to go through more pain in order to get cleared to run, I am (sort of) cleared to run. My doctor said I could start running once I wasn't in pain anymore, and though I'm still uncomfortable, I'm not exactly in pain...just uncomfortable. I basically followed her directions, so I have started running again! I am slower than slow, but I have gone out for two runs so far. I ran one mile by myself as my first run, and then I took Hux out for his first run as my second! Yay!!
My new runner's feet view!

He will be my motivation because he was happy while  I was
running, and he got fussy because I stopped to take pictures.

Post Run!! Happy campers!!

It's like he actually ran. This kid thought he
needed post-run recovery milk.

My core is definitely in need of some serious work, so I will continue working on the ab separation as I start running. I still have 9 lbs or so to lose. The first 20 disappeared on their own, but I am thinking I will need to change my diet on top of exercise to lose the last 10, and I'm not ready to do that now that I no longer have food aversions beyond my usual picky eating. Through the rest of September, Huxley and I are still working on our Hike it Baby challenge, so that's my main focus for now, and I can focus a little more on my running next month.

I'll be honest, I am so excited to start running again, but at the same time, I'm having trouble setting my goals for the next year. I have had all kinds of goals from training goals to time goals to distance goals float in and out of my head, but I also know as my husband so often likes to point out that I always "have such grandiose plans." I am still going to take time to think about what I want my goals to be for this year. I am using the Believe Journal by Lauren Fleshman as my training journal for the next year, and there is a page for 4 goals, and it has been staring me down. I want to set realistic goals for myself that will be challenging but doable. For right  now, my goal is just to be gracious with myself as I enter back into running with my postpartum body.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ready for a challenge!

I have grown to appreciate Fall so much more with every passing year ever since I became a runner. I always say now that Fall is for runners. I love the absolute beauty of the world as it changes, and the weather is amazing for running. To kick off Fall this year, I am taking a different challenge on with my newest running buddy.

I cannot run YET. I am still waiting till the day when I will be able to run again, and I am SO looking forward to that day, but my postpartum journey has been very difficult thus far in recovering. I have lots of stitches, and unfortunately my body is "having an adverse reaction to the stitches similar to an allergic reaction." But no worries because he assured me "this really hardly ever happens! It's very rare!" His reassurance did not at all make me feel even a little bit better because it's supposedly super rare, but I get the joy of experiencing it. Yay! BUT my son is amazing, so I will get over it, and I keep telling myself that someday I won't be in pain anymore, and maybe I will even get a week where I am not in the doctor's office for one reason or another! I mean...I will heal eventually...right? right? It doesn't feel like it most days, but everyone has assured me that eventually I will heal. Eventually. But this keeps me from running until I have fully healed however long that will be.

So I have decided to join in the Hike it Baby 30 challenge for September with Huxley. Hike it Baby is a nonprofit group aimed at raising children who enjoy being outside, being active, and exploring the world. There are Hike it Baby chapters all over the US and the world. The Hike it Baby 30 challenge is a challenge to walk/hike 30 miles or more or to spend 30 minutes playing outside 3 times a week. Huxley and I have logged our first miles already on a HiB hike, but not all the miles have to be logged on HiB hikes. HiB is a group that is open to moms, dads, and caregivers who want to meet up with other parents/caregivers and their children to explore the outdoors.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Postpartum Journey: Two Week Check In

My baby boy, Huxley, is finally here! He was only two days past his due date, though it seemed like a year passed in those final weeks and days waiting for him. And then labor and delivery seemed like a million years even though it was really only 29 hours.

My (not so) little baby boy! 

So, my journey as a mom is just beginning, but so is my postpartum journey in repairing my body to be able to be the active and healthy mom I want to be in order to set a positive example for my son. How did I make out in pregnancy and the two weeks following Huxley's birth?

Well, I woke up on my due date with three small stretch marks. They finally showed up, and when I left for the hospital the next day when I was in labor, I still had the three small stretch marks, and I thought I got off pretty easy. When labor and delivery was over, I was covered in them. Several had popped up on the side where his head was stuck during labor, and I was pretty surprised because it hadn't occurred to me that more would pop up while I was in labor. I have also noticed that the skin around my belly button is sort of loose now, and took about a week for my belly button to go back in.
I do have almost two fingers of abdominal separation, so repairing my core and pelvic floor will be paramount to returning to running. And as far as "baby weight" goes, I gained 30 lbs exactly from pre-pregnancy to delivery. At two weeks postpartum, I have about 10 lbs to lose, but the core work to tighten my abdominal muscles and decrease separation will definitely be the bigger obstacle for me.

40 weeks Pregnant vs 2 weeks Postpartum

The honest truth! Here they are!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Last Pregnancy Update

Happy Global Running Day! I'll be spending it walking on my treadmill on this rainy day, but I hope you get out for a run and thoroughly enjoy it! Besides the obvious reason of being super pregnant, read on to find out why I'm not making a run happen today.

There's a good chance that this will be the last post for a while. I don't see a whole lot changing in my fitness level or routine at this point with what amounts to just weeks to go! This is just an update on the developments recently and a reflection on my journey up to this point.

Because this is my first pregnancy, I just sort of assume that pain is part of pregnancy, and sometimes it is, but there are other times when it's not. I have a low pain tolerance, which paradoxically causes me to often suffer through pain for an extended period of time when I should speak up to a medical professional because I'm afraid that I'm just being a baby. For example, I was in extreme pain for two years before finally having my gall bladder removed when I was only 19 years old. As it turns out, my family has a history of gall bladder disease, and I should have found out what was wrong much sooner.

The thing now is that around a month ago, I was playing fetch with Lucy, so I was squatting over and over to pick up the ball. All of a sudden, I felt an extreme pain that is hard to explain, but I was in pain the rest of the night sitting, walking, standing up, sitting down. The pain basically never went away, and I started researching what could be going on, and the best I could guess was that I was having some kind of pubic bone pain. It progressed over time beyond the pain where the pubic bone connects, to a soreness in my upper inner thighs, which transformed into a searing pain in my upper inner thighs, hips, and front of my pubic bone. It was painful all the time, but especially when I attempt to roll over in bed, get in or out of the car, and going up and down steps. Putting on underwear or pants? Oh man. Putting on pants brings tears to my eyes. Each and every step is painful, but some activities are even worse than other, like putting on pants. It turns out that on top of sciatica, I also have Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). The pubic bone started relaxing early, and it becomes off balance, and it is extremely painful. I'm getting chiropractic care, doing some targeted exercises, and wearing a support belt, but the pain is still there, and hopefully I will be able to rehab it pretty quickly postpartum.

I always hoped that when my husband and I eventually decided to have kids, that I would be able to run throughout pregnancy. I met many women who did when I worked in a running store, and I hoped I would be one of those women. It was hard once we started telling family and close friends because I was spending literally all day throwing up anything and everything, so running just wasn't an option, but many people would ask if I was still running. I even had a person or two, who have never been pregnant mind you, tell me to just go run. Do it anyway. You'll feel better. They had no idea what they were talking about. I eventually got medication and stopped throwing up, but I was knocked out all the time. Once I was able to stay awake and not throw up, I eased back into running slowly for short distances. Then my sciatica really flared up, and running had to be pulled back again. I learned VERY slowly over time that it's ok to adjust my hopes and goals for running during pregnancy because it's more important to pay attention to what my body is going through right now and listen to what it says I can and can't do right now. I'm more concerned with a healthy and happy baby in the end. I will say that I officially ran in all three trimesters, but the run I got in during the third trimester was probably a very bad idea just because of the SPD. The run itself felt similar to the pain levels of walking, but I was in excruciating pain that night and for several days afterward. I loved the feeling of running while I was doing it, and I am happy to say I ran during all three trimesters even if the third trimester was only one run just one mile long, but I know that walking when I can handle it with the SPD will be all I do from this point on.

Wow! I am getting BIG! Are you done growing yet, Baby?

Now it's time for me to focus on the last weeks of growing this human and recovering after he arrives. When I feel up to it, I will begin blogging my postpartum journey.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

March of the Pregnant Lady...similar to a penguin, but much less adorable.

I can remember, though likely not quite as strongly as I'd actually like to, what it felt like at mile 25 of a marathon. The two miles I walked, or waddled rather, around my neighborhood today felt akin to those last 2.2 miles of a marathon. I remember the pain in my quads and hips and entire core. And I may have answered my phone at mile 25 to talk to my brother who was calling to find out if I'd finished yet, and I even told him during that exact phone call that if mile 25 of a marathon felt that bad, there was no way I'd ever be able to have kids. He assured me that he has two kids, and it would be fine. My brother thinks he's pretty clever. Let me tell you, the pain was shifted to slightly different places because being a giant pregnant lady changes how the weight is distributed, but my hips and low back were both still aching, so that was the same. Oh joy! It absolutely baffles me how much pregnancy has changed my body and my ability to do things that should be so simple. It can be frustrating at times, but I am in the homestretch, and I am excited to have my baby on the outside for walking and hopefully running in the not too distant future.

So much shadow for one person...good thing
I'm technically two people.

I am still being surprised at how much earlier different symptoms have set in, even though at this point, you'd think I'd have realized that I don't know anything about being pregnant. I have thought I was huge pretty much ever since the first trimester bloating set in, but every single day I hit a new level of, "holy crap....I'm HUGE." I should have accepted it at this point, but I'm still struggling through it. I just can't imagine how I am going to keep getting bigger. It just doesn't seem physically possible, but then I wake up the next day, and there it is...an even bigger version of myself. At 30 weeks I had officially gained 20 lbs, but my doctor has told me over and over ever since the first appointment that she thinks I will probably end up somewhere around a 35 lbs weight gain. The weight gain seems to be slowing a little. It was almost nonexistent during the first trimester and I actually lost a couple pounds at first, and then it exploded during the second, but it seems a little slower, yet still steady during the third. Baby's gotta pack on that fat, and I'd prefer he does so on his bony, sharp little elbows and knees first because these jabs are quite painful at this point!! I keep expecting to find bruising after prolonged concentrated jabs!

I didn't expect my hips to become so uncomfortable this early. I just sort of figured it wouldn't be until the last few weeks that my hips would start feeling like they were ripping away from my body, but it seems that is as well a process that starts much earlier than I had anticipated. I mean, I've had pretty bad sciatica pretty much the entire time, and I have had issues with sciatica pre-pregnancy, but this is a whole new level of being uncomfortable. The low back pain is something I'm pretty used to with the sciatica and all, but the new pains in my legs from my hips and pretty much everything else on my body shifting is not my idea of fun. I know that things will only get worse...much much worse if you count labor and delivery, before they get better, but I am counting down the weeks!!

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram for more frequent updates and lots of pictures of my four-legged running partner, Lucy!