Saturday, March 19, 2016

My "Mom Series": Sharing my path through motherhood

While I was preparing to embark on my current path of being a new mom while in law school and with a goal of getting back into racing, I knew it was possible, surely other people have done this before. I watched mothers on active duty in the Army with me balance 12 hour days, day care, and pumping, and thought, "Doing all that during law school will be easier!"

What I've come to embrace is the fact that every mother has her own path, her own challenges, and her own perspective, and has to make the best choices for her family and her baby. I've gained so much knowledge and wisdom from all the blogs and posts and forums I've read, trying to reassure myself that I'm doing everything right, and now I think I'm ready to share my path. Now that I'm "over the hump" of the first year, I'd like to try to share what I have learned, what I've done, and how much farther I have to go. So, be on the lookout (I am still in school full time) and let me know what you want me to write about next!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon 2016: Race recap

This past Saturday was the Rock n Roll DC marathon in downtown Washington, DC. This is the second time I've run this half (I ran the full in 2014), and probably the last year for a while, since I'll be moving at the end of this year. I was marginally prepared for this race, made a few mistakes, and ended up with a less-than-great time.

Expo and packet pickup

The expo was back at the Armory this year, but the parking was a hot mess. I'm still not entirely sure where expo parking was, since the parking lot that is usually used was being set up as the new finish line. I drove in on Thursday, it wasn't crowded at all, and pickup was a breeze. We walked through the expo to get some swag (I got another Team Geico t shirt!), convinced one of my buddies to sign up for the full next year (he got a free t shirt!), and then we went out for dinner.

As I was laying my things out the night before (I wore my SOAS Sunset Cliffs tights and matching run tank, Asics DS trainers, and my Team SOAS hat), I briefly mourned the fact that my ipod was broken. It just up and died at some point this past weekend, and after my husband tried to "fix" it, by Friday it looked like this:
This ipod was a 21st birthday gift from my husband, and has been with me literally every race I've done since. While I'm glad it lasted this long, it does leave me in a lurch since 1) I wouldn't have music for the race and 2) I would have to track down 7 years' worth of computers to recompile my playlists.

Race day

My original plan was to drive down, park near the start line (in downtown DC), hand off the baby to a friend who was spectating, and then run with my husband. He, however, was sick overnight, so that combined with a recent twisted ankle was enough to make him stay home with Lilly while I ran the race myself.

Parking: I could have pre-purchased parking on parking panda anywhere downtown, or paid $20(!!) for parking at the finish line, but I decided to just risk it and park at the Reagan building. While there was plenty of parking there, getting there took much longer than anticipated because of road closures. I finally parked (note: if you park here, it is a federal building, and they do car inspections before you enter the garage) and made it to bag drop with just enough time to turn in my bag and run to the corral.

Bag check: Usually I don't check a bag, but I figured, why not. They have UPS trucks that transport bags from the start to the finish line, and there's enough that there usually isn't much of a wait at the end. I packed my metro card, keys, flip flops, a clean t shirt, an extra bottle of water, and ended up throwing my phone in there as well.

I lined up with my corral, 9, which started about 10 minutes off the clock. I started out at about a 9:30 pace, a little slower than my goal but it seemed reasonable. As I ran, I kind of remembered the two previous times I had run this course, and how much I've grown since then. I then decided that, since I didn't have music to keep me amused for the next two hours, I ought to play the alphabet game. It took me until MILE 8 to finish the entire alphabet, and that was with the easy rules! I was stuck on Q for quite a bit, until I saw Q Nails in adams-morgan. I decided to try to get through the whole alphabet again, and this time made it before mile 11, when I saw a New York Pizza next to an Exxon gas station. (WXYZ, FTW!)

Right around mile 8, I also got a sudden cramp in my left knee and foot, at the same time. This forced me to walk for a little bit, flex my foot out, and then keep running, but I could feel my MCL start to get more painful as the miles went on. My pace went from a 9:20 to about a 10:30, which seriously killed my time. Out the window went my goal of a 2 hour half, and I was just hoping to beat my Disney Princess time of 2:30. I did, with a final time of 2:19.

Fuel: Instead of having Gu on the course, RnR has a new partnership with Glukos, which provided "gel" and blocks at mile 8.5. The gel was more of a liquid, similar to Gatorade pre-game fuel, which hits much quicker than regular gels. The blocks were much harder to chew than most chews I've like, like Clif shot blocks, but the flavor was pretty good. I did bring a Gu with me, which I took at mile 5.

Finish: The finish line was moved from one of the lower parking lots being RFK stadium to the parking lot right next to the armory. This means there is a tiny bit of an uphill, rather than a downhill, coming into the finale. I think it was much easier for spectators to get to, though. The finishing chute was very crowded, and it was hard to find where everything was, but I did get several water bottles, a chocolate milk, and a protein bar. Just outside of the chute were the UPS trucks, so I was able to grab my flip flops right away, and wrap myself in a heat sheet, since it was a cloudy 55 degrees.

At the finish area there were also tents for changing, and the finish party, with a live band playing, several food trucks, and the usual vendors with RnR merchandise, medal engraving, and the tent to pick up marathon finishers jackets.

Since I had parked downtown, I took the metro from the Armory back, grabbed some Starbucks with a friend, and headed home.


As soon as I got home I took a warm shower and threw on some compression socks, as well as my post-race uniform of race t shirt and sweatpants. I stretched out that night, and did some serious foamrolling the next morning. My glutes, lower calves, and hamstrings were a little sore but not too bad. My knee was also tender, but a little ice helped. I wasn't particularly proud of my time, and didn't indulge of my usual March post-race Shamrock shake, but I am still a little surprised that my body is still fine with the distance, despite not training more than 6 miles at a time since my last race. Hopefully in the next 29 days until my next race (Star Wars: The Dark Side at WDW!) I can add some more distance, some more speed, and break that 2:00 mark again! (unlikely, I've been on a quest for Leia Minnie and will wait in line for two hours to get a pic with her)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Five: Building Fitness

It's time for another Friday Five linkup with CynthiaCourtney and Mar - and this week's topic is, fitness. Here's five things I'm doing right now to build my fitness:

1. Races

I love to race. It's just different from running 13 miles on your own. I love the planning and logistics, picking up a race packet, freezing at the start line, and high fiving random people along the way. Some of my upcoming races include: Rock n Roll DC, for the third time; runDisney Star Wars The Dark Side half marathon, and the Rock n Roll San Diego marathon. I'd like to get in an early spring triathlon, but that's still in the works. 

2. March challenge: pull ups

I used to be really good at pull ups, and prided myself on doing them well into high school. The strength is easily lost, though, and after not making time to keep up with pull ups in college, I lost the art of the pull up. I have officially reinstalled my home pull up bar, though, and am slowly building up the back strength to get back at it. 

3. Pre-hab

This is just as painful as rehab, but without the actual injury. For me, this includes proper warm ups and cool downs, foam rolling, exercises like side steps with bands and jane fondas, and, this morning, I even went to a pilates class. When I was younger (like, 19 and playing field hockey) I didn't have time for this, I could just run and stretch and go. Now, though, every little thing that I do identifies a new weakness, and every run I feel better because I know I'm getting stronger. 

4. Nutrition

Not usually my strong point, but I have been working on incorporating a lot more nutrient-dense foods into my diet. I'm all about multi-tasking, so vegetables with calcium and a high water content? Count me in. 

5. Sleep

For some reason, every evening that I am totally exhausted and just want to go to bed early, Lilly wants to stay up late. And those mornings I have an early workout plan, she wakes up even earlier, making me too exhausted to get out the door by the time my alarm should have gone off. I still try to make sleep and rest a priority, though, because I know that's when some key recovery happens. I never had a problem with naps, and now I love them even more.

What's your favorite ways to build your fitness?