Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mom & Baby: 14 Months

What a month for all of us! 14 months was definitely a whirlwind full of new developments and learning for baby, and unfortunately a bit of stress for mommy and daddy. We had to deal with quite a few sad and frustrating issues this month and I am very glad to move on and put it all behind us. Read on for more details…

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These two boys help me hold it all together!

Baby

Kevin is officially over 25 pounds! He was weighed when we took him to the doctor last week for a double ear infection (his first- poor baby). He is wearing mostly 18 month clothes with a few 12 month thrown in here and there. He also just graduated to size 4 shoes!

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Here are the monthly comparison shots: 1 month to 14 months. For some reason this month he looks like SUCH a toddler and not a baby!

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Kevin is still nursing twice a day most days- morning and night. There were a few days where he didn’t nurse in the morning and didn’t miss it so I contemplated dropping it all together. But then the next day he wanted to again so I let him. I still plan to let him take the lead and decide when he’s ready to stop. I really enjoy our quiet time nursing and it helps me start and end my day on a calm, relaxed note. I’ll be sad when it’s over.

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My big boy eats 3 big meals a day, 2 snacks, and has a total of about 2 cups of whole milk with meals. His favorite foods this month are cheese, avocado (finally started liking it again), pancakes, PB& J sandwiches, mandarin oranges and of course- bananas. Kid cannot get enough!

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He’s still using his signs during mealtime- more, all done, and no. He also started signing milk when he wants to drink or nurse. He always throws food to signal he’s done, which we are trying to stop without much luck yet. He has also learned a trick this month where he hides food down his onesie. Smart little boy!

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He is understanding and communicating more than ever lately. In addition to his signs, he responds when we ask him to give a hug or a kiss, to blow kisses, to tickle us, to wave hi or bye, come here, get down, and give it to me. He *sometimes* understands no… we’re working on it. He can say hi, bye bye (ba ba), mama, dada, yum, milk, and tickle (ticka ticka). He also babbles all day every day. I LOVE hearing his little voice.

Giving kisses to his glow worm :)

Giving kisses to his glow worm 🙂

Our biggest and most exciting development is that Kevin is officially walking unassisted! For the first part of the month he was getting a lot more adventurous in his walking and cruising. He would take up to 8 steps and let go of things to try to walk. He was still very unsure and unsteady though. But on November 2nd, a week before he turned 14 months, we got up on a Saturday morning and everything changed. We put him down in his play area, sat down to eat our breakfast, and all of a sudden he started walking across the entire room on his own. After that he hasn’t stopped. He’s practically running now and barely crawls at all.

He loves walking around with his ball popper!

He loves walking around with his ball popper!

For the most part sleep was okay this month. He got another tooth on the bottom, completing his row of 4 and bringing his grand total to 8. This disrupted his sleep a bit. He also had a pretty bad cold which led to a double ear infection and cough. He would wake up a lot in the middle of the night with coughing spells that seemed to never end. We got him a humidifier which seemed to help, and we are now finally at the end of it. We also took two trips away from home to French Creek and the Outer Banks and that always disrupts his sleep routine. On top of that we had daylight savings time and ‘fell back’ an hour. For the most part he’s been pretty flexible throughout it all, and sleeps from 7:30ish to 6:30ish. He takes a one hour nap in the morning and a 1 to 2.5 hour nap in the afternoon.

A double ear infection is a good reason for a lollipop after our doctor's appointment.

A double ear infection is a good reason for a lollipop after our doctor’s appointment.

Kevin is a boy who knows what he wants, and when he doesn’t get it he will definitely let it be known! He has started throwing epic fits, throwing himself on the ground, kicking his legs, screaming, and causing a scene. Usually I can stop it quickly with some redirection but wow, it is intense. And he’s only 14 months!!! Most of the time he is very happy though!

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His favorite toys this month are his blocks, cars, ball popper, anything that plays music, his hand-me-down turtle riding toy, and anything that involves putting objects into holes. He likes to take all the small blocks out of the bag and put them together into a long tower.

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He LOVES being outside and we try to make sure he gets out at least once a day. We took him to a playground and let him go down the slide by himself- I think it was the best day of his life. He was soooo happy! He loves being outside so much that he cries when it’s time to come back in.

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Two other signs he is growing up too fast: he can now color at restaurants and he is big enough to play in a moon bounce!

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He is also obsessed with balloons. He can spot them from a mile away and will point and make noises until you bring him to it. Once we went to a Mexican restaurant and they gave him one when we left. He could not stop smiling about it! Although it does make me nervous when he squeezes them with all of his might!

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Bath time is still his favorite time of day. He splashes and plays and swims around, and cries when it’s time to get out.

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One of the best parts of this month was celebrating Halloween. It was Kevin’s second Halloween, but the first where we actually took him trick-or-treating. We dressed him up as a train conductor and I could not get over the cuteness. I was shocked that he actually kept his hat and bandana on and blew his little whistle non-stop!

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We walked around with him and by the end of the night, he knew how to walk up to a door and put his hand in the bucket for a treat. It was adorable!

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Body

This month my body went through a lot. After I got my knee pain under control my foot started to hurt. I was worried I had a stress fracture but it seems to be okay now, even after running my marathon. I am now taking a few weeks to rest and recover until I jump back into training for the Myrtle Beach Marathon which is this February.

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I also had a strange thing happen this month. I went to the doctor for a routine thyroid level check and the nurse practitioner listened to my heart and told me I had a murmur. I have never been told that in my 27 years of life so it took me by surprise. She said it’s probably nothing but it’s a good idea to get an echocardiogram just in case. I went ahead and got it done but still haven’t heard about my results. I’m not really worried about it, but just wanted to have peace of mind that my heart is good to go. I have read way too many stories about runners who didn’t know they had underlying heart conditions. I don’t want to take any chances!

Mind

After a few really good months mentally and emotionally this was a trying one for us. A few different things happened that hurt my heart and stressed me out. First was our cat Koli. We got him back in June and immediately fell in love. He was the sweetest, most loving cat I had ever met. When we first adopted him he had ear mites and fleas, but we took care of it as soon as we brought him home and he was happy and healthy. We loved him and baby Kevin did too. But then things started to change. We couldn’t give him the time and attention he deserved because we were so busy and never home, and he started  acting a bit aggressive toward us and the baby, scratched our furniture, and just wasn’t working well with our family anymore. With an extremely heavy heart we found him a new owner. I cried about this for a straight week. I loved him and felt like we were abandoning him. I had a lot of guilt about it and still do to a point. But his new owner has another cat and he sends us pictures of them together sometimes. I can tell he is much happier there and so are we.

The night before we gave him to his new owner :(

The night before we gave him to his new owner 😦

Right before his new owner took him we discovered that Koli had fleas again. We had no idea how, since it had been months since he had them before and we had treated him and the entire house. He was an indoor cat too. The only explanation we could think of was that he picked them up when we got him neutered at the vets office, since there were a TON of other animals there at the spay/neuter clinic that day. Before giving him away we got him cleaned up and flea free, and then we had to work on our house. That was a month ago, and we are STILL working on it. It’s a nightmare. Those little bugs are so annoying and they will. not. die. It is frustrating and embarrassing and I can’t stand it. We’ve cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, sprayed and done flea bombs in the whole house, called in professionals, and most recently, spread diatomaceous earth all over our house. It was the diatomaceous earth that finally got them (we think). But we’re still calling the professionals in again to spray one more time and get the stragglers. It has been exhausting. We had to cancel our friends visit one weekend because of it, and when my aunt came this past weekend I had to let her know in case she saw any, which just makes me feel horrible. I just hope that we got them all and that there aren’t any eggs left behind that will cause it to start all over again. It’s a terrible feeling to feel like your home doesn’t belong to you because of things like fleas or other pests invading. The crazy part is that the pest control man that came said our problem is only a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. To me it feels way worse than that! I can’t imagine the kind of flea infestations he has seen!

As if all of this stress wasn’t enough, a couple weeks ago Kevin’s babysitter (my former coworker who decided to quit teaching and run a home daycare to be with her daughter) informed me that they are moving. We’d need to find new childcare by January. I was pretty upset because I am so happy with where he is, and he just started there when she opened in August. I did not want to have to find him someone new who I trusted as much as her in less than 2 months. It has been a challenge to say the least. I’ve been torn between daycare centers and home providers, but I really need something reliable and consistent for Kevin. Most of the centers around us, while they are more reliable than home daycares, aren’t willing to accommodate certain things that are important to us due to policies- like cloth diapers, him needing 2 naps still even though he’d been in a ‘toddler room’ and things like that. They are also a lot more expensive. We’re still looking into our options and it’s very stressful. I still wish I could be the one to be home with him and it’s hard to find someone I trust to care of my baby like I would.

Mama's boy forever <3

Mama’s boy forever ❤

I am hoping month 15 is a little less eventful in terms of stressful situations that we have to deal with. I am really looking forward to the holiday season and seeing Kevin experience it, especially now that he has more of an idea about what is going on this year! We have already had fun with some of our fall traditions, including taking him to the pumpkin patch. Check out these comparison pictures of last year vs. this year!

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Such a big boy! Month 15, here we come!

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11 Ways Running a Marathon is Like Childbirth

While I was pregnant, I always had a feeling that labor and delivery would have many similarities to running a marathon. With 7 marathons under my belt, I felt like I had pretty good mental and physical strength, and an idea of how to handle pain and push through things that felt impossible at times. I hoped my running experiences would help me get through the natural and unmedicated birth that I wanted.

Running at 36 weeks pregnant

Running at 36 weeks pregnant

Once I gave birth I realized that I was right- running a marathon had many things in common with giving birth, at least in my own personal experience. However it wasn’t until last week when I ran my first marathon after baby that I discovered just how similar the two experiences were. Here are 11 ways running a marathon is like childbirth for me.

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1. We prepare and plan as best we can but anything can happen on race day/birth day. To prepare for a natural childbirth Kevin and I took Bradley Method classes for 12 weeks. Marathon training is typically 16-20 weeks long. During that time you are careful to take care of yourself, learn as much as you can, strengthen your body and your mind, and prepare for different possible scenarios. But when it comes down to it, ANYTHING can happen on the big day, and sometimes you need to be flexible and adjust your goals. This has happened to me in many marathons and it happened to me when I was in labor and needed Pitocin to jumpstart things. Flexibility, a positive attitude and an open mind are key.

Trying to get things started after my water broke

Trying to get things started after my water broke

2. Both marathons and childbirth require physical and mental strength. In order to get through my marathons and labor, I needed to use both my physical strength- stamina, endurance, every muscle in my body; and a ton of mental strength- patience, will, determination, and focus. They were both physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. I remember thinking to myself while squatting through the final contractions before Kevin was born, thank goodness for my strong legs and for continuing to run and strength train through my pregnancy. I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through it without being in good shape.

3. Take it one contraction/mile at a time. One of the things that got me through the hard parts of labor was Kevin reminding me to only think about the contraction I was experiencing at that time and focus on getting through it, rather than how much I still had ahead of me. I used this in the OBX Marathon when I started to feel daunted by how many miles I still had to go. I told myself only to work on mile 18. Then mile 19. Then mile 20. Breaking it down into smaller pieces made it so much easier for me to handle mentally in both the marathon and childbirth.

4. Just keep moving. This was so important for me in both my running and my labor experiences. One of the keys to a natural birth is to move as much as possible. This allows your body to do the work it needs to do to get the baby down and out. Just sitting in a hospital bed and not moving makes that more difficult. The same is true in marathon running. Even if you have to slow your pace or walk, as long as you just keep moving forward you’ll be closer to your goal, whether it’s a baby or a finish line.

Walking the hospital stairs in early labor

Walking the hospital stairs in early labor

5. It’s important to fuel and hydrate throughout. Obviously this is important while running a marathon, but for me it was also important during birth. Kevin and my doula were constantly refilling my water cup and had me drinking in between every single contraction. I also snacked throughout labor on a Larabar, Honey Stinger Chews and pumpkin muffins. I am positive I would not have made it through laboring all night long without giving myself the energy and fuel that I needed (He was born at 7:49 a.m., almost 24 hours after we had gotten to the hospital).

Drinking water like it's my job!

Drinking water like it’s my job!

 6. Blood, sweat, and tears… and puke. I experienced all of these during childbirth and have also experienced them during marathons. In both cases it was not a pretty sight. I’ll spare you those pictures 🙂

7. There will be a time where I think I can’t do it. For me, the end is always the hardest part. The last few miles are where I usually “hit the wall” in marathons, and the transition stage in birth right before pushing is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Everything hurts. It feels like it will never end and I can’t imagine actually finishing- it feels impossible. The contractions keep coming one after another and in the marathon every step hurts.  Thoughts of quitting go through my head and I doubt myself and my ability to finish what I started.

8. Support is everything. There is no possible way I would have gotten through pregnancy and birth, marathon training and the marathon itself- without the people that supported me. In birth it was Kevin, my doula Marisa, and our awesome birth team of nurses and midwives. It was also our family and friends sending us well wishes and support. In marathons it’s those same people who care about me and want to cheer me on, plus all the volunteers, spectators and fellow runners. It would be even more difficult to run a marathon and give birth completely alone without that support. I couldn’t even imagine that!

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9. I have to “push” hard at the end. Obviously push has a double meaning here. In my experience, the final pushing phase felt good to me in birth. I knew I was almost there and was going to make it. It was almost a relief. In marathons, it’s that last push in the final mile of the race. Seeing the finish line (or in my case during birth, my baby’s head in a mirror) motivates me and I try to finish strong.

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10. The pain is temporary and the reward is sweet. During childbirth and this past marathon, I kept telling myself that the pain I was feeling was temporary and wouldn’t last forever. I focused on the fact that it wasn’t going to last forever and that I would get an amazing reward at the end- whether it’s a baby, a medal, the feeling of pride and accomplishment, or the awesome high and endorphins that you get once you are done.

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11. I am extremely sore afterwards. After giving birth every part of my body hurt. It’s been the same in my marathons. Both childbirth and marathon running take a toll on the body and require rest and patience to recover. The first few days afterwards are the worst, but slowly I start to feel like my old self and begin to think that I might want to do it all again someday 🙂

I know everyone’s labor and delivery is different, but while running this past Sunday it really struck me how similar these two experiences were for me. Both marathon running and childbirth have showed me how strong I am and that I can do anything- nothing is impossible anymore. I am so thankful to have these experiences and wouldn’t trade them for anything. I can’t wait to go through them both again someday!

Marathon #8 – The Outer Banks Marathon

I am so, SO excited to write this post. When I wrote about my goals for the OBX Marathon last week, I was worried about my foot and afraid that my next post would be about a big fat DNF. That was SO not the case, in fact I had one of my best (and second fastest!) marathons ever. It was an amazing experience from start to finish and I can’t wait to share it all. I met every single one of my goals and could not be happier.

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Let’s go back to the beginning. Kevin, Kevin III, Amanda (my training buddy) and I began our road trip to the OBX early on Saturday morning. The weekend got off  to a rough start when the baby caught a bad cold from daycare. He was super congested, sneezing, and coughing a lot. This made our 4 hour drive interesting. I had to sit right next to him in the car with the Boogie Wipes and lots of distracting toys handy. Thankfully he napped most of the way and the ride went by quickly!

Sick baby :(

Sick baby 😦

This was me and Kevin’s first time to the Outer Banks (Amanda goes every summer) and the drive in was beautiful. It got me really excited to run in such a pretty, new place. When we arrived we headed straight to the expo to pick up our bibs.

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The expo was small as we expected, since the OBX Marathon is a relatively small race (about 1,100 marathoners and 2,700 half marathoners.) There were still a decent amount of booths there though, and we spent some time visiting them and hanging out.

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After the expo we went to our hotel to check in. We stayed in Kitty Hawk, close to the race start.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and talking about the race the next day. We checked out the course maps, read recaps, and got pumped up. The OBX Marathon has a point-to-point course which starts in Kitty Hawk and ends in Manteo, as you can see in the map below.

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Once Kevin’s parents arrived at the hotel (they came from South Carolina to support us because they are awesome like that) we all went out to get some dinner. Amanda and I have always eaten pizza the night before our long runs, so we stuck to that and found a pizza place called Dare Devils Pizzeria down the road. Even though I had to skip the cheese (dairy before long runs DOES NOT mix for me- I learned that the hard way many times), it was REALLY good and left us feeling sufficiently carb-loaded and sleepy. I was also feeling pretty congested, thanks to the cold Kevin had most likely passed to me with such great timing!

Since we ate early at 5 p.m. it was only 6:30ish when we got back to the hotel. I asked my in-laws to have the baby sleep in their room since he was sick and I knew he would be up all night. They were super excited about it and I felt better knowing he would be well taken care of and we would get a good night sleep (well,  as good as possible the night before a marathon.) Once the baby was asleep with his grandparents Amanda, Kevin and I settled into our room and we watched the movie The Spirit of the Marathon. I watched this movie before my first marathon and it was so inspiring, so I thought it would be good for Amanda to see. Even though I have seen it many times it doesn’t get old to me. We were all in bed and sleeping by 9:00, feeling super motivated and ready.

My alarm went off the next day at 5:00. I slept pretty restlessly so I practically jumped out of bed. I started my morning routine- coffee, get dressed, more coffee, eat Luna Bar, water, pack shot blocks and honey stingers, more coffee, bathroom, etc. I went through the motions thinking how weird it was that I would be running 26.2 miles later. It was a scary yet familiar feeling.

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Around 6:30 my mother-in-law came to the door with the baby. I gave him some hugs and kisses and then we were out the door and headed to the start!

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Kevin dropped us off and we walked a few minutes to the starting line. I was still feeling pretty congested but it was the perfect temperature outside- 40s/50s- and that seemed to open up my sinuses. I knew I wouldn’t need my throw-away long sleeve shirt for very long. It felt weird to not have my Garmin or my phone with me. In fact all I had was my very old handheld water bottle that I planned to throw away once the water was gone (I am way overdue for a new one anyway). Amanda and I ran into the woods for a last minute bathroom stop since we only had a few minutes before the 7:20 start time. Then we went to get into our separate corrals and I gave her a big hug and we wished each other luck.

I stood in my corral listening to the National Anthem and a prayer by someone from a local church and I couldn’t help but get emotional. I didn’t know at that point what was going to happen over the course of 26.2 miles, but I was just so happy to be there at the starting line. When I was pregnant a part of me wondered if I would ever be able to go back to running marathons like I used to. And then after all the setbacks and injuries I experienced while training I had a lot of doubts. But I made it there and I was ready to run. Knowing that I had no goal except to finish with a smile on my face made me feel so free and relaxed. It was so unlike any other marathon I have eve run before.

We started the race right on time and I immediately threw my long sleeved shirt to the side. I felt comfortable in my shorts, tank top, arm warmers and compression sleeves. The temperature felt perfect and there was just a little bit of wind. The first few miles were through a residential foresty area, and I focused on checking in with my body to see how everything felt. Foot? Perfect. Knee? No pain. Congestion? Gone. Stomach? Ugh- cramping. It continued like this for a few miles and I started to get nervous.  I just tried to keep a steady pace and breathe through it. We passed the 5K mark and although there were mile markers at each mile, there weren’t any race clocks so I had no idea what pace I was running. I took my first half pack of margarita shot blocks like planned and hoped the “cramp-buster” sodium in it would help (my strategy was to fuel every 3 miles).

At mile 4 I was still cramping so I decided to start talking to a guy next to me to see if it would take my mind off it. We ran together for about a mile along the water which was beautiful. I found out his name was Andy and this was his second marathon. He was shooting for under 4 hours and running an 8:30 pace. Wait, I thought, that means I’m also running an 8:30 pace right now? It definitely didn’t feel like it with my cramps. I wished him good luck and let him go ahead. My strategy worked though… the cramps were gone!

Once the cramps were gone I checked in with my body again. I was worried the cramps were maybe masking pain in my foot or knee, but nope- they both felt perfect. I was so happy to be running pain-free! I had taken some Tylenol before the race (something I had never done before even though I never recommend trying anything new on race day), and I figured either it was working or all of the rest the week of the race worked. I had slight cramping again around mile 6. I ate some more shot blocks and started talking to another guy who filled me in on the bridge at mile 23 and the section that went through the woods at mile 10. Once again that helped take my mind off it and the cramps went away. I was blown away by the friendliness of the runners, spectators and volunteers. During this time I ran through the 10K split mat and wondered what my time was- still no race clocks to be found on the course. I was actually happy there wasn’t, but a part of me was still curious! (I found out later that I had passed 10K at 54:25, an 8:46 pace).

At mile 7 I ran out of water in my bottle and threw it to the side. I knew I’d be seeing Kevin and his family soon and they would give me more. This part of the course was cool because it went around the Wright Brothers Memorial. At mile 8 I heard Kevin and his family cheering for me, and I was so excited to see them that I forgot to grab my new water bottle. Kevin had to chase me down to give it to me!

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 About 15 minutes later Amanda came by! Kevin said she was smiling and looking great!

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After seeing Kevin and getting that boost I really got into my zone. I felt strong and the miles ticked by quickly. Before I knew it we were at mile 10 and entering the Nags Head Preserve- also known as the woods. I was a little nervous about this section from miles 10-13 because it was on a dirt trail. I knew I would have to be careful not to tweak my knee or foot. I am very clumsy so it took a lot of concentration to avoid rocks and other things. Even though it took a lot of focus, it really was pretty and peaceful in the woods. The path was mostly well packed dirt with rocks here and there and some small and gentle rolling hills. My legs actually felt good on the hills after running on pancake flat roads for the first 10 miles. The last half mile or so was on a narrower, looser trail that fit maybe two runners side by side. It was much hillier and more difficult to run on but luckily it didn’t last long. The trail ended and suddenly I was running through a parking lot and heading toward the main road that goes through the outer banks. I passed the mile marker for mile 13 and mentally prepared myself for the second half. There was no race clock or split mat for the half marathon point and I still had no clue what my pace was. I was just excited to get back on the road where I was in more of my element.

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We ran along one lane of the highway with drivers cheering for us out of their windows and honking on one side and beautiful sand dunes on the other side. It was pretty windy at this point with no trees around us to block it. I ran along thinking mile 14 was taking forever to come, and I finally asked a guy with a watch what distance he had. He told me he had just hit 15! I hadn’t realized that the miles were printed on the ground since there had been flags marking them before. I quickly ate my stingers since it was time, and then we hung a right into a residential area off the highway. I appreciated that the course diverted off the highway, because running in a straight line on one road for a long time is mentally draining to me.

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Mile 16 and 17 passed quickly and then I started to give myself little pep talks. I was still feeling good physically but It was very sunny and getting warmer. I threw away my now empty water bottle and my arm warmers that were rolled down to my wrists. Carrying extra stuff started to bother me. For a brief second I got a little daunted thinking about how I still had 9 miles left to run, but I quickly tried to change that mentality. Instead I just focused on the mile I was in and nothing more than that. At mile 18 I ate more stingers and shortly after that we were back on the highway. I was starting to feel it in my hips and the bottoms of my feet at this point. I told myself that I could walk at mile 20 if I wanted to and that got me through a couple more miles. I passed the second timing mat at the random distance of 19.3 miles. There were still no clocks, but I saw later that I passed this point in 2:56:53, an overall average pace of 9:09.

As I approached mile 20 I felt like I needed more fuel, so I decided to start eating my chews every 2 miles rather than 3. This also helped me break down the remaining distance in my head. I took my chews, mile 20 came and went and I didn’t walk. I kept telling myself I could walk at 21, 22, 23 if I needed to, but I didn’t. At this point we had been running on the highway for a while and I knew the dreaded bridge was coming. I ate more chews at mile 22 to prepare. I tried to keep my mind off of it by thinking about Amanda and how she was doing. I also focused on how relatively good I felt compared to past marathons and how thankful I was that my foot and knee and the rest of my body was cooperating.  Finally, after the 22 mile marker I saw the bridge ahead. I told myself I was strong and I WOULD get up it without walking.

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The bridge was so much worse than it looks in this picture. The bridge is TALL. It is 1.05 mi long with a 650 foot climb to the top at a 4% grade. Running this at mile 23 after many, many flat miles was SO. HARD. It was super windy up there too. I just kept telling myself that I would see Kevin soon and he was waiting for me at the bottom of the bridge.

Finally at the top! Of course they put a photographer there.

Finally at the top! Of course they put a photographer there.

Once I got to the top of the bridge I let gravity take over to bring me back down. Shortly after that I saw Kevin on the side of the road and I was SO happy. We ran together for a few minutes and when the 24 mile marker came into sight I told him I wanted to walk for a minute once I reached it. He told me I was doing awesome and I asked him not to tell me what my overall time was. I didn’t want to know until I saw the finish line. I stopped at mile 24 and walked for the first time, for about a minute. I picked a point ahead and started running again once I got there.

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I was so thankful to have Kevin with me. He talked to me and kept my mind off of the last 2 miles of the race. In the past these miles are where I really struggle mentally but I didn’t feel that on this day. I think it was because I had no expectations and there was no pressure whatsoever on my time. I was just happy to be there and having a good race. Kevin kept hinting to me that I was doing way better than I expected but I couldn’t even guess what my time was at this point. I stopped to walk again about two more times between then and the finish line. I am not sure if I 100% NEEDED to walk, but I really didn’t feel the need to push myself to the limit at this race. I wanted to finish smiling and feeling good, not like I was going to die like in some of my previous marathons.

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Kevin took this picture right at mile 26!

I rounded the final bend that brought me into the town of Manteo and saw the finish line. I found it in myself to pick up the pace a bit and ran down the finishers’ chute with tears in my eyes.

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I felt emotional for a lot of reasons. For running a smart race. For listening to my body instead of a watch on my wrist for once. For my pain-free foot and knee. For my husband running next to me. For my baby and my in-laws waiting at the finish line. For coming back after pregnancy stronger than before after all of my doubts. I was just so proud and happy!

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Once I got close enough to see the clock I was shocked that it said 4:07. After checking my results my official time was 4:06:22, an overall pace of 9:24. How had I just ran a 4:06 marathon, my second fastest ever, without even realizing it? I couldn’t believe it!

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After finishing I was on cloud 9. I have never finished a marathon feeling so good and so proud without any regrets. I loved everything about this race. I got my medal and we went to find the baby and Kevin’s parents who were by the finish line. As I hugged the baby I thought about how this time last year I was just getting back into running after having the baby. Now a year later it feels like I have come full circle.

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Kevin took a quick break and then ran back out on the course to find Amanda. He was going to meet her at mile 24 like he had met me. After stretching, drinking some water and eating a banana, I went over to the finish line to wait for them. I stood next to a woman who was waiting for her son who was about to finish his 100th marathon! WOW!

At 5:01:31 Amanda finished her first marathon with Kevin by her side. When I saw her coming I started crying again. That was the third time that day if you are counting. Such a crybaby! But I was just so happy and proud of her. I ran with Amanda as she ran her first 15K two years ago, then again at her first half last year, and then we trained together for her first full. She has come so far and she is so strong!

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We reunited and recapped each of our races for each other. We had similar races in many ways- we both had a difficult time in the woods, we both ran all the way up the bridge, we both walked for the first time at mile 24, and we both loved the entire race from start to finish. Amanda was even talking about her next one minutes after crossing the finish line.

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We didn’t stick around for too long because we were hot, sunburned and tired (it had warmed up to almost 70 degrees!). We went to where Kevin had parked which was super close (I love small races) and made the drive back to Kitty Hawk. On our way home we passed a lot of other runners who were still out on the course. So much respect for them and their strength!!

When we got back to the hotel we inhaled leftover pizza, took showers, and passed out for a couple hours. My wonderful mother-in-law took the baby and Kevin and his dad went to watch football at a sports bar. It felt amazing to relax after the race and not have to worry about taking care of the baby- I had no energy to whatsoever!

After some rest Amanda, Kevin and I went out to eat dinner at the Outer Banks Brewing Station. I had a delicious black bean burger with fries and a beer. It tasted so amazing, I can’t even explain how good the post-marathon meal is. Kevin had his well-earned meal as well. He ran at least 9 miles that day going back and forth between the finish line and running us both in!

The Outer Banks Brewing Station

The Outer Banks Brewing Station

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After eating we were ready for bed once again. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

Next up- marathon #9 in Myrtle Beach… February 2014!

OBX Marathon Goals

Well, after 20 weeks of training I can finally say that I’ll be running my 8th marathon in 3 days! Even though I have done this 7 times before, in a way it feels like my first one all over again. So much has changed since having baby Kevin and my last marathon feels like it was a lifetime ago, not a little over two years.

After the Air Force Marathon, September 2011

After the Air Force Marathon, September 2011

As Sunday, November 10th gets closer I have a lot of mixed feelings. I feel mainly excited to take on this challenge again and to be there as Amanda runs her first marathon. But I’m also anxious and nervous. I actually only ran once this week because I am still having pain in my left foot that worries me. This training cycle has been full of amazing ups and depressing downs. My biggest setback was my fall that happened in August and the knee pain that wouldn’t go away afterwards. Then once that finally healed up my foot started to hurt. It’s tender and sore and almost feels bruised on the top. I don’t think it’s a stress fracture but it’s definitely something. Tapering combined with this injury combined with a visit from my monthly friend have left me a little emotional this week and questioning whether I should even run on Sunday.

After a lot of thought and discussion with Kevin, I am going ahead with the race. I’ve trained for 20 weeks and I am too stubborn not to. Besides, my foot pain isn’t debilitating and doesn’t really hurt while I’m running, it’s mostly afterwards.  It comes and goes. I had already decided a few weeks ago that I was going to run this race without my Garmin and not set any time goals, so the pressure is already off in that area. Here are my goals for this race!

  1. Smile and enjoy myself! There is so much to celebrate this weekend. The culmination of my hard work and training, my first marathon after baby, my friend’s first marathon ever, and also our second wedding anniversary (on 11/11!). Plus, we will be in the beautiful Outer Banks and right by the beach. How can I not enjoy that?
  2. Listen to my body and run a smart race. Since I am not wearing a Garmin I won’t be able to let that dictate my pace. Instead I want to run by feel and be in tune with my body, like I was when I ran my last 5K without a watch. It was amazing and so freeing!
  3. Fuel and hydrate well to set myself up for success as best as I can. I may not be able to control certain things during the race, like how my foot feels, but I can control my fueling and hydration. I have practiced my fueling strategy (Margarita Clif Shot Bloks the first hour and Honey Stingers after that), every 25 minutes during the race and plenty of water. I hope to stick to this the best I can.
  4. Keep a positive attitude no matter what happens. This one is hard for me. In the past I have let little things (and big things) and the hard parts of a race ruin my attitude and take me to a negative place. I refuse to let that happen this weekend. Luckily I’ll have a good support system with my husband, in-laws and baby spectating along the course and Kevin plans to jump in with me around mile 23 (where I usually struggle).
  5. Really and truly, don’t care about time! I’ve said in the past that I didn’t care about my time but in the back of my mind I always secretly did. This time I REALLY need to try not to care or think about it. I don’t even really want to look at the time clocks at the mile markers so that I can avoid doing any mental math. I will need to a little bit though, because I have practiced taking my fuel every 25 minutes. But I refuse to let myself get caught up in it.
  6. Just finish. I just want to get to that finish line. Let’s hope my foot will let me!

The weather is also looking great!

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After the race if my foot is still giving me problems I’m going to see a doctor ASAP and take a break from running to rest it.

Is running on Sunday a smart decision? I don’t know. But I’ve trained for so long that I can’t imagine not giving it a try at least. Please send positive thoughts to me and my foot!

OBX Marathon Training: Week 19

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As I write this we are ONE WEEK away from 26.2! I cannot believe it! I had a mini panic attack this week when I had some strange foot pain that had me googling “stress fracture,” but it feels better after I cut back and skipped a run to rest it a bit. More details below!

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Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 3 miles in 29:06 (9:42 pace). I did an easy 3 miles on this morning. I don’t know if it’s the taper making me crazy or what but the top of my left foot started hurting after my long run on Sunday. It felt tender when I touched it and was sore to walk on. It also hurt to wiggle my toes. I tried to stay calm and not do too much googling because everything I read said metatarsal stress fracture. Not good! And of course it’s right after my knee stopped hurting. It’s always something!

Wednesday: Rest. I switched today’s run with Thursdays rest day because I was worried about my foot.

Thursday: 4 miles in 37:32 (9:22 pace). My foot felt okay during this 4 mile run, but it did hurt afterwards. This was supposed to a tempo run, but I was afraid to put too much stress on my foot. Besides, I feel like my long run last weekend and the one I will do this weekend are both tempo runs since I am supposed to run them at marathon pace. I really don’t see the need to do two days of speedwork this close to the race.

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Saturday: Rest. My foot didn’t hurt at all this day so I could tell the rest was working. I was curious to see how it would hold up for my long run the next day.

Sunday: 10 miles in 1:30:48 (9:04 pace). My last long run is in the books. I ran 10 miles and really focused on enjoying myself. It helped that I didn’t have any foot pain! While running I thought back through my training- the difficult hot summer long runs, the early mornings and 4 a.m. wake up calls, the fall and the knee injury that came as a result, the great runs with Amanda, my amazing supportive husband, the fact that this time last year I was just getting back into running after having my baby. I have come a long way and been through so much, and now it is time to CELEBRATE it all! I will also be celebrating running on a flat course… ready to get away from all these hills! (see below picture- it didn’t come out very well but it was a HUGE hill!)

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Week 19 Total:

  • Run: 17 miles
  • X-Train & Strength Training: None. Excited to get back into it after my marathon though!

Even though I didn’t have any foot pain during my long run, it slowly came back over the course of the day. It’s not as bad as it was but it’s definitely still there. I iced it and am going to take it very easy this week just to be on the safe side. I don’t know what it is but since it comes and goes and was fine DURING my long run, I don’t think it’s a stress fracture. From what I’ve read the pain gets worse with activity if it is a stress fracture. However, I don’t know how it would feel to run another 16.2 miles on it. It is also not swollen or bruised. I’m a little worried but keep reminding myself that my goal for this marathon is to enjoy it and not worry about time. Only one week to go!

Thought for the week…

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Kevin’s Guest Post: Hash Running

Recently Kevin (my husband) tried something called Hash Running. He had such a great time with this very interesting, unique running group so I asked him if he would write a guest post about it. Here is what he had to say about his crazy experience!

Rewind back to July. I was sitting outside with baby Kevin waiting on Katie (or as you would know her, Runinspired) to get finished with a late evening run. I walked towards the mailboxes towards the end of the court to see if she was coming up the hill and all I can hear is “thump thump thump thump thump” coming from the top of the hill of our street. I knew it wasn’t Katie because she wasn’t coming from that direction that day and I look over to the right and see 30-50 people sprinting down our street! Now our street is nowhere near any place that would be hosting a race so immediately I was puzzled. About the same time they were headed down the hill I saw Katie coming up. They all were screaming to her “you’re going the wrong way!” Katie, just as puzzled as I was, responded with “I just finished 7 miles!” So as she was finishing, a couple of people in the back of the group were walking, and I just had to ask them what this was all about. One of them told us that it was called “hashing” and for us to look up DC Hashing on Google and we should be able to find them. Sure enough we looked it up and found the group that was running that night. This website explains what Hash Running (sometimes just called hashing) is and what it’s all about. Here is a quick summary from the website:

“A hash is a game of wits where one or more hares set a trail for the pack of hounds to follow. The hares use loops, backtracks, checks, and a clever trail to try to outwit the pack. Smart use of water obstacles, heavy shrubbery, unexpected changes of direction, etc., will make it very unlikely that the pack will catch them or gain an advantage by short cutting. A good hash will typically include a combination of water crossings, mud, hills, dense wooded game trails, poison ivy, wooden fences, ditches, culverts, storm drains, open fields, fallen trees, parks, etc. The trail is not intended to be a boring paved road race. At the end of the trail, hashers are rewarded for their efforts with the hash beverage of choice, that golden nectar of the gods—BEER!”

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Katie had signed up to be in their group to receive e-mails of when the future runs were happening. She would tell me occasionally that they were running and it just never seemed to fit my schedule until this past Wednesday.

So I told Katie I would give it a shot and see what its all about this past Wednesday and see if it’s something we would like. I was nervous going by myself at first, but I got myself ready and headed out around 6:30. I got to the meet-up spot around 6:45 and there were about 20 or so people already there preparing for the run. And by preparing…by drinking BEER. I knew right from there that I would fit in as I love beer. I walked up to the sign up table and told them I was a “virgin” as they call first time hashers (thanks to a little research before I went!). They asked my name and I paid $5. As were standing around waiting for more people to arrive and get started, I started to mingle with some people. Come to find out, all “hashers” have nicknames that they have been given by the group with funny stories behind them. So before we ran, I got to meet “Maximum Assposure”, “Dumbass”, and “Tboss”. “Maximum Assposure” was an older guy that was one of the “hares” of the run. The hare is the lead person that leaves about 12-15 minutes before the rest of the group goes out and leaves trail markings (flour, chalk, or toilet paper) for you to follow to find the finish line and of course… BEER. He pulled me aside prior to him leaving to show me what the markings mean and what to do. After that, the hares went off to do their marking and the group behind began to warm up. We warmed up with a song that went with body movements to get your blood flowing (arm swings, leg swings, etc). I can’t remember the song but all the songs that they attempt to sing are common ones that people know, just with a R rated twist. We finished up the warming up and he told us it’s time to start.

Hash Markings

Hash Markings

Runners started out going left and walkers started out going right. As a runner, you can expect a 30-50 minute run or 3-5 miles. For walkers, it’s 25-45 minutes or 2-3 miles. We started out in a parking lot and immediately we hit a field of 4 foot grass. This goes on for about a half mile and we head down into the woods. About every 15-20 yards you can see flour or toilet paper marking on where you have to go. If you come to a spot that has 3 markings in a triangle, it means intersection. We found our first intersection right in the middle of the woods, and immediately began looking for more markings left, forward, and right. We found the next set of markings and moved on. Before you know it, we hit a creek and see the next marking is across the creek! Some people were looking for ways to get around the creek while some just jumped right in to get across. I followed suit and decided to jump right in. At first it was ankle deep and out of nowhere I was in waist deep getting across this creek! It was cold at first, but at this point I was already a mile or 2 in and was warmed up so it wasn’t too bad. I got across, headed through some more woods, and ended up at a “shotcheck”. A shot check involved some type of mixed liquor drink inside a cooler that everyone stopped by and got a quick shot before moving on. We got our shot in and back in the woods we went. After running into a few more intersections and creeks, we caught up to the “beercheck” where a truck was sitting on a dirt road with a cooler in the back of it full of beer. At this point, we were about 4 miles in and I had no clue how people are downing beers knowing there is a mile or so left. But, I joined in with no reluctance and downed my beer! We headed to the trail and this part was mainly paved roads and dirt roads. This was much easier but somehow we managed to run about 2 more miles to get to the finish. So the total was around 6 miles which is something that I haven’t ran in about 9 months! At the finish there were the hares waiting on us with 4 coolers full of… MORE BEER! At that point I was ready to join in on the festivities and have another beer.

Once everyone finished, they called us into the “circle,” where we crowded around as one guy was making some announcements. First, they called in all virgins (only me), and my initiation was downing a beer! Everyone clapped and my name for now is “just Kevin.” They had a few more drinking games and then announced that there will be an e-mail sent out for next week. After the circle was over, some people hung around and mingled while some others were leaving. I stuck around for a few minutes and then realized that it was getting late so I headed home. Needless to say, I will be doing many more “hash” runs and hopefully can get Katie to join me!

How crazy is that? Kevin came home that night 2 and a half hours after he left and was all wet, muddy and a little bloody too. He couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was and is already looking forward to next Wednesday. The whole thing sounds pretty intimidating to me, but who knows? Maybe I’ll give it a try too… after my marathon of course!

My Favorite Running Gear Lately

It has been over two years since I shared some of my favorite running gear. I thought it was time for me to do an updated post on that topic, because things have changed a bit since then. Here are some of my favorite running things lately, with a bonus personal item at the end 🙂

Margarita Shot Bloks. I am a Honey Stinger lover all the way, but I tried these Margarita Shot Bloks with extra sodium to help with my summer long runs. I am a very sweaty runner, and I noticed these shot bloks helped a ton with cramping and keeping my electrolytes balanced. Even though it’s not as hot as it was in the summer, I still take these in the beginning of my long runs, a half pack at the 30 minute mark and the other half at the 1 hour mark. I feel like it really helps my body to frontload with the salt and electrolytes. Then I switch back to Honey Stingers for the rest of the run. This has worked very well for me and I plan to do the same at my marathon next week (eeek!).

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Zensah Compression Sleeves. I can’t remember when I got these sleeves, but they are a staple for me when it comes to long runs. I have always worn recovery socks after a long run, and then I started wearing the sleeves as well during the run. I feel like they keep my blood flowing which helps my legs stay fresh and not get as fatigued. I love them!

Amanda with her pink sleeves and me with my black ones!

Amanda with her pink sleeves and me with my black ones!

Experia Socks. I love these socks. They are pricey, but luckily my local running store has a buy 3 get 1 free deal. They are cushiony without being too heavy, and they always stay in place and never slip down (a huge pet peeve of mine). They also come in super cute colors (of course I’m wearing boring black in the picture…).

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Brooks Adrenalines for Long Runs. I love wearing my Brooks Adrenalines for long runs. After getting my running gait re-analyzed, I discovered that I don’t necessarily need such supportive shoes for my shorter, weekday running since I am not over-pronating as much. However, on my long runs I found out that I do still need the support for when I start getting tired and my form isn’t as strong.

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Asics GT2000 for Short Runs. These are the shoes I wear for my shorter runs during the week. I really like them because I feel like they fit me like a glove, and since they are less of a ‘support’ shoe they really allow me to run the way I am naturally meant to.

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My New Running Jacket. My aunt sent me this jacket for my birthday and I LOVE it. The brand is MPG, which I hadn’t heard of before she sent it to me. She actually got it at T.J. Maxx. It reminds me of Lululemon, very well made, cute colors, and nice features like a zip pocket in the back for gels/chews/a key, thumb holes, and even a hood! It’s very lightweight and perfect for fall long runs. I love it!

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My Massage Stick. I have had a traditional foam roller for a while, but have been wanting one that could get deeper into my muscles and was more portable. I had heard of “The Stick” and tried it at my chiropractor’s office. I went to my local running store and got myself a Range Roller, which functions the same way as the Stick. I really love it and it works great at getting out those tough spots that can be tough to target with a foam roller.

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Run Pace Calculator App. This is just a simple app that is fun to play around with. I will use it to figure out how long it might take me to do a long run or a race at a certain pace. It also allows me to dream of goal times that I want to run sometime in my life, and the paces that I would have to run to get there.

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Running Blogs. There are 3 running blogs that I am loving lately: Hungry Runner Girl, Mile Posts, and Run Eat Repeat. When new posts from them pop up in my Feedly I always read them before other blogs. Janae, Dorothy, and Monica are super motivating and inspiring, entertaining, and REAL.

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BONUS (Non-Running) ITEM: My Amazing Erin Condren Life Planner! Okay, so I am totally and completely Type A. I love planning, lists, and organization. Filling out my planner makes me overly excited. So when I discovered Erin Condren and her amazing life planners, I could hardly contain myself. They are not cheap (starting @ $50) but it was a birthday present from Kevin and for me, it’s worth it. It’s something I really enjoy and makes me happy 🙂

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What new running gear (or personal items) are you loving lately? I am always looking for new things to get addicted to 🙂