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!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Runniversary 5 Years Strong

I have made it 5 years as a runner! I started running simply to prove my family wrong. My sister was challenging my brothers to run a half marathon, and when I chimed in that we should make it a family affair, my whole family laughed and said there was no way I could ever run a half marathon. Since then I have become a lifetime Half Fanatic by running three half marathons in 50 days, and I finished a marathon while raising money for ALS research in memory of my grandma.

The races aren't even the best part of my running journey. I have had so many amazing runs in amazing places with amazing people. There have been difficult runs that challenged me mentally and physically, and those runs may not have seemed amazing at the time, but those are the runs that have made me a better person. I have met wonderful people in the running community who will be friends for life no matter the distance or time between us. I have found gratitude and strength through running. I have had the opportunity to contemplate deep philosophical and spiritual questions, and I have had the opportunity to just zone out. I have gained so much from running that I never anticipated when I started this journey.

I usually try to do some special run for my runniversary. I run my favorite route or challenge myself at a time goal for my run that day, or I run with a friend to celebrate. This year was different. I didn't run at all. I walked. Not only did I walk, but I went down to the treadmill in my basement still dressed in my pajamas, bathrobe, and flip flops. Yes. That's the truth. That's how I spent my 5 year runniversary. I am 29 weeks pregnant, tired, and relegated to walking. I didn't want to walk that day, but I dragged myself down to the treadmill to walk, slowly. I didn't really feel like it in my current state, but I did it. That's the thing. There have been times in my life when I didn't want to run, and there have been times like now when I couldn't run for various medical reasons, and in the beginning, I used to take winters off just because it was easier. But despite my groggy and tired days on the treadmill, yes sometimes in my bathrobe and flip flops, I am still looking forward to getting back to running.

I have no clue what my postpartum running journey will be. I have no clue how long it will take me to return to running, and I have no clue what I will be able to expect when it comes to distance or races in the immediate future, but I do know that I want to return to running. I am looking forward to the routine that grounds me, challenges me, opens my eyes to gratitude, builds my self-esteem, and helps me manage stress. I am happy that running will also give me the chance to set an example for my son. I will show him how to set goals, put in hard work even when it's difficult, and follow through until my goals are met. Running has done so much for me, and I know that it will be one way to set a good example for my son. I am excited for my future as a runner even though I can't run right now, and I have no idea what that future will look like, but I am excited to see where it takes me.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pregnancy Hormones: Emotional Hill Work

I have had a rough couple weeks since my shirts quit fitting, but it's more about my activity levels that are rough. I guess Mom Guilt can set in early, and I have had some experiences that have left me feeling defeated and some that have been super mood boosters!

I guess Mom Guilt has already set in for me because I feel like a terrible person anytime I leave Lucy at home instead of taking her with me for a walk. That has turned into just walking on the treadmill in the basement so she can stare at me while I walk. This has also led to issues for me when I do end up walking outside because I don't use the incline on the treadmill, so being outside in our hilly neighborhood sometimes sucks once I actually make it out the door. Matt has been helping me take Lucy for walks since I'm not really comfortable taking her alone at this point with her leash issues that have popped up. My stress levels go through the roof when she freaks out at the sight of another dog, and I am afraid of her accidentally hurting me again when she goes crazy jumping to try to get to other dogs. So I have to learn to get outside more on my own, and I will have to check my guilt at the door. Literally.

Pregnant Lady Favorites: Compression socks, Support belt, Hokas,
Nathan Insulated Hydroflask

I have had some great experiences lately and some that have left me feeling really defeated. I'm going to blame some of it on the hormones that have made me feel that way about everything for the past several months, and I will also blame them for causing me to start crying during a walk through my neighborhood while listening to an interview with Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb who was the first woman to run and finish the Boston Marathon, which she was only able to do because she bandit-ed the race in the first place. It has been rough transitioning from the treadmill to back outside because round ligament pain creeps up way more going up and down hills. On the super bright side, I remembered that I got a belly support belt when I thought I was going to be able to run more, and that has helped me to be more comfortable and excited about getting outdoors some more. The other downer recently was that I felt so great with the support belt and inspired by Bobbi Gibb that I decided to run again, and the sciatica has majorly flared up again. But I have a chiropractor appointment already on the books, so I guess I will ride my high from my tiny one mile run, and then try my hardest to refrain from getting too excited in the future because this sciatica is really not my favorite feeling in the world.
Post Run 27 Weeks
Mommy in Training!
The takeaway from the last couple weeks is that I am both excited and terrified. I have been nervous ever since I got pregnant that I would end up forgetting how much I love running and that I wouldn't make time for it after having a baby. The bright side is that I miss running so much, and I can't wait to be running again even if I am slower than slow. Running really helps me connect with nature, God, and myself. When I run, I am introspective and my heart is filled with gratitude. I like the person I am when I run much better than when I don't. Matt probably does too if we are being honest. The terrifying part is that I have extreme Mom Guilt from going out for a walk and leaving my DOG at home. Lucy is such a big deal in my life, but my son will be an even bigger deal, and how will I learn to check my Mom Guilt at the door when it comes to him? I'm not sure yet, but I will Let you know once I figure it out!

If you have not checked out the new podcast from
Runner's World, then you need to!
They've also got another one coming soon
called Human Race.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Well, SHIRT!

I have reached the point where my shirts no longer fit. It has been a rough week for me no longer having anything to wear but my husband's shirts. I've been wearing maternity pants for a while because I couldn't button my regular pants, and one of my friends wisely suggested that if I was going to buy any pants, I might as well get as much use out of them as possible. I also very graciously received some pants from one of my friends from PA. My friend Anne sent me her old maternity pants that she didn't see a need for herself anymore. I am beyond thankful! I have been able to get by wearing any bigger shirts I own, or shirts that are long that become a normal-ish fit with my belly, and then I also used long tanks to layer to make sure my belly was covered. Now, I have way too much tank top showing at the bottom to look like normal human being.

And then there was the St. Louis Blues Game Debacle of 2016. I had two shirts that fit relatively well up until last week. One was a KC Royals shirt and the other was a St. Louis Blues shirt. We were going to the Blues game with friends last Friday, and I prayed all week that it would still fit on Friday. It didn't. I may have had a little breakdown and a little bit of pregnancy rage fit throwing. This resulted in The Hubs taking me to get a new Blues shirt before we went to the game, and very briefly I felt better because I went from the women's medium shirt that no longer fit to a men's small shirt that did. I went down a size! Kind of... but not to worry...it barely fits already... and it hasn't even been a week since I got that shirt.

Mommy and Baby's first NHL game in person!
He didn't seem to care for all the noise.

I have very graciously had some maternity shirts given to me from a couple different people, but unfortunately they are all a size large. I generally wear a women's small or sometimes medium shirt. I'm not that tiny in real life, but I have very small boobs, so I don't need any extra space to accommodate like many women do, so though the rest of my body is proportionally a medium to large, my chest is an extra small to small, so I usually end up with a small shirt. Because maternity clothes account for the expanding belly and boobs (PS my boobs still fit into my very small bra just fine at this point), I need a small maternity shirt. I have two maternity tanks that helped in wearing normal shirts up to this point, and I recently bought a single maternity t-shirt. The tanks are a small and a medium. I bought the medium first because I felt HUGE at the time, and I feel like I am showing so much faster than most other women I see around the same stage as me. Again, I know every pregnancy and pregnant body is different, but my stomach just sticks out like crazy. Well, the medium tank is too big, and I get the feeling it will always be just a little too big even as I keep growing...unless my boobs decide to catch up suddenly, which probably won't happen, and that's ok!

After spending several days in The hubs' shorts and shirts lounging around the house without any makeup and barely fixing my hair (I keep it short and have to straighten my otherwise very unruly hair-think Hagrid from Harry Potter),I was feeling pretty gross and unhappy with my current state. Then I realized that I have been spending a lot of time this week just looking at old pictures of myself. Pictures from the last few years leading up to this pregnancy just to check and see what I used to look like. I just wanted to reassure myself that this giant belly that is starting to get in my way hasn't always been there because it's hard to remember what simple tasks were like before. I spent so much time all bloated, and then I suddenly had this giant stomach sticking out, and I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't always there. I can't believe I still have SO FAR to go. Granted, I was asked to fill out the hospital registration for L&D this week at my doctor's appointment, so I'm sure the rest of this pregnancy will begin to really fly by. *Fingers Crossed...sort of.* If it could fly by without my belly expanding any further while the baby continues to grow, then that'd be great, but that most obviously won't happen.
See! Proof!! I used to be able to see my feet
and bend over without having an obstruction.

Oh, and washing the dishes was much easier back then.

But I seriously need to stop looking at these.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Stepping Up

Here's a comparison from the week previous to this post.
No stretch marks yet, but I was scratchy before the picture.
I have slowly been gaining energy over the past few weeks, and with Spring upon us, I get the help of nice weather between rainy days to get out the door instead of grumbling about another day on the treadmill in my basement. I am so thankful for access to a treadmill in my own home. It can be boring, and it is nowhere near as good for the mind as being outside, but I am truly thankful to have the option especially now that I don't get to do whatever I want whenever I want. And I know that it will come in handy with a small baby in the house when I am trying to get back to the old me after pregnancy.

Running is once again not really an option, but I am doing my very best to walk every single day. As I have mentioned before, I have pretty severe sciatica, which is often worsened by running, and I have to see a chiropractor regularly when I'm not pregnant just because running takes a toll on my imbalanced hips. Now that I am pregnant, I am seeing my chiropractor SUPER regularly... twice a week regularly. And still I end up out of alignment when I run, and occasionally even when I don't. My hips are popping all the time, so there are times when I am in pain practically as soon as I walk out the door from the chiropractor's office. Running just isn't happening for me during this pregnancy. I ran a couple times a week and walked the other days at first, but the pain and sleepless nights just aren't worth it right now. I NEED my sleep. So walking it is. When you can run, then run. When you can walk, then walk. That's what I keep telling myself.

The other downside is that I seem to have a really great, high-energy day followed by a tired, low-energy day. The fun part lately has been trying to beat the hubs in steps every week on our Garmin Connect. We both have Vivofits, and I may be pregnant, but he has a desk job, so we both have to put in some actual effort to win. I am getting pretty close to averaging 10,000 steps a day, which would have been nothing at all pre-pregnancy, but after all the time I spent sleeping and throwing up during the first trimester and first month of the second trimester, I am just so thankful to be moving and productive again. Body image is still a major issue for me because I am running out of shirts that fit, I've already been wearing maternity pants for awhile, and I am really starting to gain weight since I didn't really gain much with all the throwing up I did through the first 20 weeks or so. I really am looking forward to the day that I am no longer housing my child inside my body. I am looking forward to holding him and loving him from the outside.
Pre-pregnancy Shoe Shot
Pregnancy Shoe Shot...barely...
Don't mind my surgical scars!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Runner's Rambles: Pregnant Rambles 2.0

So how have things been going this week? Well, I finally shared a full-on picture of my pregnant belly, which has brought an onslaught of body image issues again. I haven't seen my family in a few months, and I'm taking online classes this semester, so there are just a handful of friends who have seen me recently. This has been coupled with feelings of sadness that running for me throughout the rest of this pregnancy is not going to be the running I usually do in the Spring and Summer. There are STILL so many times that I don't really realize that I'm pregnant. It doesn't seem entirely real lots of days except for the limitations that I experience. It has just been such a bizarre experience so far, so let's just explore it a little today.

So body image issues have resurfaced full force. When I look in the mirror, I keep catching myself thinking, and sometimes saying aloud, "I wish I was skinny still." That is actually comical in itself because before I was pregnant, I have never in my WHOLE LIFE described myself as "skinny." Pre-pregnancy, I would probably describe my body as "not quite chubby." I was always sort of just slightly smaller than being described as a chubby, not fat, but chubby person. Now, I keep feeling like I am slacking off and just letting myself get "fat." I know deep down when I actually stop to really think about it that I am not "fat;"  I'm pregnant. It's just so hard for me to reconcile the reality with the thoughts that run though my head when I see myself. There's also the issue that I feel like I am HUGE for the stage I'm in. I know every body is different during pregnancy, but I just feel like I'm so much bigger than I should be at this stage. And then there's the fear that I will never be ok with my body again after giving birth, but I'm sure that's a journey I will share with you as it unfolds.

I just want to take a second to get out some more feelings about general pregnancy before I transition into my current pregnant running update. I know that I have done quite a bit of complaining about pregnancy. And I know that there are people who are angry with me for expressing my feelings so far. I get it. I do. I know that there are some women who desperately want a child, but cannot have biological children. I am very close with some women in that situation. I know some women have had miscarriages, and I am close with some women who have experienced that tragic loss as well. I am not in their situation, so I haven't felt that deep aching sorrow. At the same time, this is my journey. And I feel like I have a right to express my feelings and experience as well. Here's a big part of the reason for my being very vocal; I didn't really know anything about pregnancy! I thought I did! Turns out that I didn't. There have been some things that I've heard about from friends, family, and movies and whatnot, but there are SO MANY things that nobody ever actually gave a real picture of to me when I learned things about pregnancy over the years. And yes, every pregnancy is different. And YES, I have had it relatively easy when you consider some women are hospitalized for different reasons or put on long-term bed rest, but as I said, though I am thankful that I was able to conceive a child, and I have had relatively few issues so far, I still feel like I should be able to voice my experience, and maybe other women who hear my story will gain a few tidbits that nobody else shared with them, and they will feel better knowing they are not the only one to have that experience.

Last thing on general pregnancy: Why do we as a society feel the need to constantly tell pregnant women that they will "miss it," and "it's all worth it," and other similar phrases? Why isn't it ok to just tell someone, "yeah, that part sucks."And why are there so many men who will never be pregnant and women who have never been pregnant who feel the need to repeat those annoying phrases!? Also, I will let the world know if I change my mind, but I don't believe for one second that I will miss being pregnant. Seriously! Why? I love my child already, and I get that this is what it takes, and it doesn't mean I won't love my child just because I don't like being pregnant. The best analogy I can conjure up right now is that my husband HATES grad school. Will the reward be worth the suffering he is going through now? YES! Will he regret having a Master's degree? No. Will he look back one day and think, "Boy, grad school was so uncomfortable and miserable, and I really miss working nearly 50 hours a week AND going to grad school on top of that." I really don't think I'll ever hear him say that. Again, I get it. Not exactly the same, but isn't it possible that some women just don't enjoy pregnancy even though they love their children? I do believe they are not mutually exclusive.

Also, if one more person asks me about my future reproductive plans while I am STILL pregnant with the first one, then I might just seriously snap. DO NOT EVER EVER EVER ask a woman, man, or couple about their reproductive plans or situation unless you are their healthcare provider or entering into a serious relationship with the person. DON'T DO IT!!!! Why is that so hard for people to understand? Alright, I lied. That was one more thing beyond the last one. But just stop if you are one of those people. You never know what a person is going through, and IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!! If a person wants to talk about their reproductive choices or situation, then they will tell you. If they don't invite you into a conversation about it, then DON'T ASK!

Now let's talk about running briefly since I went on a pregnancy rant. But hey, I'm pregnant, so it happens. I made the mistake of continuing to take Lucy with me. She just gets so sad when she sees me getting ready and can tell I'm not getting her ready to go too. I feel so bad. I know that I need to start taking her out for just a regular walk and then do my "run" separately, but it is so hard to fit everything in some days. It is so frustrating as it continues to become more Spring-like, to go out to run and to end up having to do a lot of walking. And I am only going out for a mile at a time most days. In the past, I have actually felt uncomfortable calling myself a runner even though I've been running for a few years, I have a blog, I'm a lifetime member of Half Fanatics, I've completed a marathon, and I worked in a running store. I'm normally slow. I'm a back of the packer, so even though I talk about running all the time, I still never REALLY felt comfortable calling myself a runner. And even though running has been an integral part of my life for a few years now, I didn't really realize how much until I found myself in a place where it has become increasingly difficult to continue doing what I love. If I hadn't been so miserably sick during the first and part of the second trimester, then I think I would be in a different situation now, but it is what it is, and I think in the near future I will need to resign myself to being ok with walking. For now, I will just try to be thankful for what I can do even if it is EXTRA slow and filled with walk breaks.

That was a long one! Sorry!! 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Choosing a Running Partner

We both love the Spring weather!
Ok, so I know my posts have been a little bit of a downer in regards to my fitness levels and overall disposition when it comes to pregnancy. And while pregnancy is still not my favorite thing, I think that the winter weather and my yearly bought of SAD has had a little bit to do with my annoyance and grumbling. Obviously all the things about pregnancy that were awful, like 17 weeks of "morning" sickness and random but frequent nose bleeds, still remain unfortunate symptoms of pregnancy that I will NEVER look back on with fondness. However, we have had several days in a row of spring and almost summer-like weather, and it has been glorious for my mood and my activity levels!

I have been wondering when my energy would come back because I've heard that your energy gets back to a more normal level in the second trimester. Well, for me that is apparently at 19 weeks because I have been waking up before my alarm, getting quite a bit done around the house each day, going for either a run or a walk every day, and meeting or exceeding my step goal on my Vivofit! Yay!! I am loving it! I still go to bed early, and sometimes take a short nap in the afternoon, but I don't feel like a zombie all day long.

So, with all the running and walking that I have been getting in, what are the new things that I am experiencing? Round ligament pain shows up in full force now and again. When I tried to run on the trail with Lucy the other day, we ended up just going for a nice long and slow walk because round ligament pain kicked in as soon as I tried to run. When I am able to run, I have a new mental barrier to overcome! I constantly feel like I need to pee so bad when I run. It doesn't matter that I just made a pit stop in the bathroom and tried to squeeze out the tiniest bit of urine while also trying to keep Lucy from sneaking under the stall door and exploring the ladies room! As soon as I take those first "running" steps (let's be honest-- I am slower than slow these days) I feel like I need to pee again. I taped up my little belly with KT tape today before my run, and I'm not sure if it was a coincidence or not, but I didn't have any round ligament pain. Lucy and I were able to do a run-walk that was more running than walking!
My running partners!

The down side is that I know pit stops to the bathroom will be more frequent, and Lucy made it very clear today that she isn't going to cooperate in the bathroom stalls. On top of that, she did cut across in front of me to look at something that caught her eye, and though she doesn't do it often, I would hate to trip over her and get hurt, so it appears at least on days when I am going to be trying to really run and not just walking, I will need to stick to just one running partner in the near future. Sorry, Lucy Goose! I can't leave my other running partner at home yet, but if I could, then you'd be on the trail with me all the time because you might trip me up a little every now and then, but at least you don't push on my bladder the whole time!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Runner's Rambles: Pregnancy and Winter Woes

I was pretty excited going into my second trimester even though I still had bouts of sickness up until 17 weeks. I was doing run-walk on the treadmill on a pretty regular basis, but then at around 14 weeks, I was hit with a new symptom like a ton of bricks. Really, it felt like a ton of bricks was on my chest at all times. The shortness of breath that I've been experiencing is just crazy. I had no idea there were so many symptoms that go along with pregnancy! There are so many things that nobody talks about.

For the past month, I have really been struggling with staying active. Winter is always a struggle for me because of the short daylight hours and the cold. Plus,the cold makes me want comfort food all the time to warm up. I am not a big fan of treadmills, but I am thankful that my in-laws gave us their old treadmill so that I have access to one if I need it. I am ok with running outside in the winter, but I don't feel safe running or walking through my neighborhood while pregnant during the winter. I am doing my best to get into a good routine with the treadmill anyway while I wait for Spring weather to arrive. Some days are a struggle, but hopefully Spring will be here for good soon because my basement is getting pretty boring!

The body image issues are still very very strong for me at this stage, but I'm not sure that I will ever be ok with my pregnant body. I know that it's not something you're supposed to admit, but I do not enjoy being pregnant. When I do voice my feelings about it, I pretty much always get the same responses about how I should be thankful, and you'll immediately want to do it again after giving birth, and children are worth it all, and you're really going to miss it! Sometimes those things are said by women who have their own children, and sometimes they are people who have never been pregnant. Either way, I only feel more annoyed when people tell me those things. This is going to sound like a strange analogy, but I have similar feelings when it comes to alcohol and pregnancy. I have never been a drinker really. I may have a drink here or there, but being drunk and not being in control of my own body is not something that I have ever really thought seemed like a fun thing. Now I have entered into a 40 week journey of not being in control of my own body. There is nothing I can do about the changes my body is going through, I am tired ALL the time, and there are dietary restrictions along with pregnancy. Then on top of it all, there are so many hormonal changes that cause crazy emotional swings and lots of irritability. None of this is my idea of fun. I know there are women out there who absolutely love pregnancy, and that's great for them, but I am not one of those women. Pregnancy is just a far different experience than I had ever in my wildest dreams anticipated it would be. It's tough, but I am sure parenthood is going to be just as tough, so I guess this is my unfortunate prep work.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Runner's Rambles: Pregnancy and Body Image-- This is real life.

Oh boy. This is one of those things that is rough to share with others. I'm sidelined from running again temporarily due to severe sciatica. Walking, sitting, laying, anything and everything hurts right now, so I've had some time to just think, or overthink rather. Many people, if not all, struggle with body image at least at some point in their lives. I am one of those people. So, let's start from the top.

When I was a teenager, I remember the taunting about being fat. I believed those words because after all, I wore a size 7, and I weighed in at 130 lbs and 5' 5" tall. Um, so that may be hard to picture, but I wasn't fat, I just didn't know that I wasn't fat. I have a small chest, and I'm ok with that, but I was teased about that too. I also have big hips, but I didn't get a whole lot of teasing about that. That is however the feature that I believe people are referring to when they constantly tell me, "but you don't look like a runner." As an adult, I usually weigh in somewhere around 150 lbs, but for the most part, I am generally concerned with the way my body PERFORMS and of course, let's be real, I do still care how I look. I don't put AS MUCH stock in how much I weigh. Usually.

Now I'm pregnant. This is ROUGH. I am fully aware that I am growing a human being, and while I think that part is pretty awesome, it's hard to deal for me personally. I actually lost weight at first because I was sick. Many people know that the first phase is bloating. I have been and still am super bloated. Sooo bloated, and I wasn't a big fan of that stage. It was hard because I felt huge all the time, but I knew that I had lost weight despite the fact that I looked like I had gained weight. It was hard. I am still in that phase where I look chubby instead of pregnant. I'm in that stage where my regular pants don't fit, but I don't need maternity pants because I don't have a "bump." It's a weird place physically and mentally for me. Gaining weight has never been a goal of mine. Losing or maintaining. That's where I'm used to being, and gaining weight is not something I have ever been comfortable with.

The fact that I am bothered by this is bad for two reasons. First, I know that I'm pregnant, and I should just accept the fact that my body is changing because even if other people don't know that I am pregnant, it doesn't change the fact that I am. Also, I know that I am going to get bigger. Much, MUCH bigger. I haven't even started really showing yet, and I am going to get bigger, and I will have to deal with that. There is also a chance that my body will change in ways that I can't even imagine yet. What I am freaking out about, and I know I can't do anything about it, is the way my stomach will stretch. Not just stretch marks that I know so many mothers are proud of, but also the fact that I have surgical scars on my stomach already. I'm not sure what will happen to those scars as my stomach stretches out. I am pretty freaked out about the whole scar thing. I mean, I'm just being real here.

I've already been told by some people that just because I didn't cherish every second of first trimester puking my guts out, that I obviously don't love my child, and that I probably don't deserve to be a mother compared to many other women out there. No joke, Go read a pregnancy forum somewhere on the internet. You will see some crazy stuff. I mean, the thing about social media is that people put up perfect snapshots of their lives, and basically all you see on social media is that pregnancy is amazing and wonderful and every second is beautiful, and that women should love every aspect of their changing body in order to be a good person, a good mother, and a good woman. Well, I guess I'm not any of those things because this has been a rough journey so far that is far from over. And my body will be changed forever, so it truly is far from over. Mostly I worry that I will never get back to running long distances like I'd like to. I know that not just my body will be changing, but so will my whole life. I know that it is possible, and I want to be that person. I am so afraid that I won't be that person though. I'm not sure why, but I feel scared that I won't find a way to make the time. I am a much better person when I run, so I hope that I have the resolve to meet the long terms goals I have for myself of  making my mental and physical health a priority while also being there for my child, but only time will tell if I can balance it all.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pregnant Lady Running...kind of: First Trimester Recap

I ran a little bit just short runs here and there after the KC half this fall, but then I found out I was pregnant. That in and of itself did not stop me from running. I ran a handful of times with Lucy between finding out and hitting 6ish weeks. I was very tired, so running just wasn't the priority for my free time. Then I got siiiiiiiiiiiiiick. Getting out of bed was hard, and I was puking... a lot. A lot.

So between 6 weeks and 10 weeks, I walked about two to three times a week, but running was off the table completely for me during that time. And when I walked, I could only make it about half a mile before I felt like I wanted to throw up or die. It sucked. I was miserable, and sad, and I didn't feel at all like myself. I also felt like a bit of a failure already. I told a few family and friends during this time, and I got some comments about me not running. Let me tell you, it's easy to judge someone else when you aren't the one throwing up in any sink, toilet, or trashcan you can find. And it made me feel like even more of a failure.

I've never been fast or some amazing runner. I have never claimed to be either. But I do love running, and I will talk about it with almost anyone who will listen. I have a running tattoo. Many people who know me are still shocked that I even got a tattoo in the first place, but I have a visible running tattoo. That tattoo led to an interesting comment from my OB at my first appointment. She told me not to run. Now, she did not say I was high risk, and she did not say there were any worries with the baby, and she didn't ask if I had just run a half marathon less than a month, and only about 10 days before the time period that was likely the conception of this child. She did however tell me not to run because I shouldn't break a sweat because it would, "boil the baby," Her words... seriously. I didn't change doctors after that because her other advice seems fine, but I am just ignoring her don't "boil the baby" remark. I am making sure to regulate my body temperature while I am running though, which is important.

At around 10 weeks I started running again, but very slowly. I am running exclusively on the treadmill for now because I don't want to drive to the trails to run in the cold and snow, and my neighborhood isn't the safest place for running the streets right now. If it were just me, then sure, but it's not now. There are no sidewalks, there are plenty of hills and curves, and people FLY through our neighborhood as if the speed limit isn't 15... which it is. So for now, I have made the choice to stick to the treadmill. I started with run-walk one day when I was feeling ok, and each day I run a little more and walk a little less, but I will take walk breaks whenever I feel like I need to, and I won't be ashamed one bit! I am excited to attend a Running Through Pregnancy Clinic at the end of January at a local running store. For now, I am taking it easy, but I am trying to run-walk at least once a week, but more often when I can and feel up to it. I know there are women who run marathons during pregnancy, and good for them, but that's not going to be me. Not even close, and I am becoming ok with where I am right now with running and not running during pregnancy.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Racing Recap: Wadell and Reed Kansas City Marathon (Shhhh! They have a half marathon too.)

Better late than never? Maybe not, but I'm going to go ahead and write this review anyway. Let me just start by letting you know that I hate this race, and I plan to never run it again. I have run the half marathon twice since I started running. This was the half marathon that I signed up for that catapulted me into running when I had yet to take a single step at the time of my registration. So you'd think it would hold a fond place in my heart. It doesn't. The first time, I didn't know much better, but still there were some things I didn't like then, and I still don't like them now. Plus, there were things I had forgotten, and now I remember, and this race sucks.

One of my first and biggest pet peeves is the shirt. I HATE when races don't have a separate shirt for the half and marathon participants. I know that there are plenty of races that don't, but there are also plenty that do. I didn't like it the very first time I ran this race, and after finishing a marathon myself, I really don't like it. I don't want people thinking I ran a marathon that I did not run. I know the work that goes into a marathon and unfortunately the pain when the work doesn't go in ahead of time. Here's the thing that puts me over the edge about the Wadell and Reed Marathon shirt; it doesn't even MENTION the half marathon. IT JUST SAYS MARATHON!!! I DIDN'T RUN THAT MARATHON, and now I have not one, but TWO FREAKING MARATHON SHIRTS!!! Can you tell it drives me absolutely crazy?!!! At least mention the half on the stupid shirt if you're only going to have one. They have a 5k as well... do those people get a shirt that says marathon on it? Seriously, the majority of your participants who are paying money to run this race are running the half. Get with the freaking program!!!!

Ok.... give me a minute to calm down.... and I will move on.

I'll give props for a few things now to try to not make this a total crap fest of a review. First, this is a small race in a relatively small city. So the lines at the porta-potties aren't terribly long either pre-race or during. That's always nice. Secondly, the medal the first year I ran it is the worst medal I own. I have received nicer medals at 10k's. I don't want or expect them at a 10k, but I have received one or two before. Medals have admittedly gone a little crazy lately, but I still enjoy a nice medal. I display them in my home, and they help motivate me at times when I don't feel like I am capable. Being able to have that physical reminder is something I personally enjoy. The medal for the 2015 race was EXTREMELY nice. It had color, a nice ribbon, was weighty, and looks nice all round. Kudos on that much. Lastly, the best view during the whole race in my opinion is Liberty Memorial, which most runners end up passing right around sunrise.

The course sucks. I forgot how much the course sucks. It's much hillier than I remember, and there are few spectators in the grand scheme of things. I enjoy races that aren't full of spectators, don't get me wrong, but I want some good scenery if that's the case. The Delaware Marathon Festival for example isn't packed full of spectators. They are few and far between, but the course is still gorgeous despite its MANY hills. Don't get me wrong. I love Kansas City. It is the city I consider my city, and running past all the World Series Champions signs and the blue fountains was something I will cherish, but my beloved Royals will not win the World Series every year.

Post race is ok. I hear they have BBQ now. I didn't actually see any, but I did see an extremely long line of people whom I presume were waiting for the BBQ. Their slogan is something like, "Come for the race. Stay for the BBQ." Let me tell you, when you're freezing cold after running, the heat sheet they give you is not enough to make me wait around for a little sandwich. I don't care how good the BBQ is.

When it's all said and done, I would likely do this race again even though I don't like much about it at all IF it were at least convenient for me. It's not. I live outside St. Louis. I can have a pick of half marathons in my area without having to drive all the way across the state of Missouri. This is not a destination race, my friends. If it's close by, and you really want to do it, then by all means. But I will also say that there are other choices for half marathons in the KC area in both the Fall and Spring.