Pregnancy Update: 35 weeks?!!

I wrote my last blog at 26 weeks, and suddenly, I’m just about 35 weeks prego.  Where, oh where, has the time gone?!  I cannot believe I’m going to be a mom in just over a month!  These past few weeks have been incredibly busy and a bit stressful.  I’m taking one class this semester, I’ve been working 2-3 days a week (though I had to cut back to 2 over the past few weeks due to my pelvic pain), I started my childbirth classes, I’m in the doctor’s office almost every week, whether it be my OB or my endocrinologist, and my husband and I moved about 2 weeks ago and are still trying to get settled and set up some type of nursery!  On top of all that, I’m really trying to stay in shape, but with this move, it’s been extremely difficult to get in the gym or pool.  The weeks have been flying by, and I’m so ready to be done with this pregnancy, but at the same time not ready at all!

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17 weeks/35 weeks – What a difference!!!

The past few weeks have been extremely difficult for me to get my workouts in.  I’m tired, I’m busy, and my pelvis hurts.  Some weeks are really good where I’ll get 4-5 good workouts in, but this has not been the case over the past month.  With the packing/moving/unpacking, all the squatting and standing has left me utterly exhausted, and I’ve only been able to get in 3, maybe 4 workouts a week.  It’s been more tough on my mental state than anything.  I am really hard on myself when I miss a workout.  I get extremely cranky and feel like I am a complete failure and a terrible excuse for an athlete.  It’s not just about me either.  I’m really striving for a smooth, natural, unmedicated labor, and I feel like I’m letting my baby down by not conditioning my body enough for the big day.  I know this is ridiculous, because I know I’m probably more fit than the majority of pregnant women, but I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I’m slowly learning to take it in stride though, mainly because my pelvic pain is getting worse as my due date approaches, and when I take a day or two off, I convince myself that it’s better to rest. This has been my life over the last 2 months, so I wanted to fill you in on my most common thoughts so far during this last trimester.  It’s been so much fun reading some other runner’s blogs during their pregnancies and to know that I’m not alone, so I thought I’d share some things that some other running mamas can relate to.  So, in no particular order, these have been my most common thoughts: 1. “Ow, my pelvis!” – I don’t have to bore you with all the details (again), you can read about it here.  Unfortunately, this is my most common thought/complaint.  Hanging up my running shoes hasn’t been enough to stop the pain, it gets bad just from walking or standing on my feet for more than a couple hours.  It sucks, it’s annoying, and I pray that it goes away when I start training again.  At 35 weeks, I’ve finally decided to seek treatment from a chiro who specializes in SPD in pregnancy, and I even purchased an SI/pelvic support belt to wear for the next 5 weeks (yay!).  Here’s a link to the belt that I purchased (I’ll let you know if it works in a couple weeks!) 2. “I miss my running body.” – Maybe I’m just being vain, but I really do miss my running body.  I didn’t really realize or fully appreciate how fit I was until now.  Before I got pregnant, I would look in the mirror sometimes and truly think that I was fat (no joke) and would have a little temper tantrum by throwing myself onto the bed and just pout for a few minutes until my husband came in to console me.  <– This is actually more of a common occurrence when I’m injured and unable to run.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really begun to embrace my pregnant body and even feel proud of it, but I’m definitely looking forward to feeling fit again!  Image 3. “I can’t breathe.” – I’ve gotten to the point where the babe is just taking up all the room in my little frame.  She is pushing on my lungs, and I just can’t breathe.  I’ve always been proud of my runner’s lungs, but now I struggle to breathe like a 400 lb man.  Sitting in a car is when it’s at its worst, when everything is just pushed up and cramped, and I start to panic when it gets tough to breathe.  It definitely subsides when I lie on my side. 4. “Did I just say that?” – Pregnancy brain is legit, my friends.  I have no control over what comes out of my mouth.  It’s a lot of gibberish usually followed by a blank stare or look of confusion while I’m thinking.  I can’t think of simple words such as “that” in a conversation.  It’s embarrassing. 5. “I’m supposed to pee in that little cup?” – Ok, so this only happens every 2 weeks (every week starting next week!), but it is significant enough to make my list.  Whenever I see the OB, they do a urine test to check for protein in the urine and glucose levels.  A couple of weeks ago marked the last time I was able to make it in the cup successfully.  Now, I dread it like the plague, because the last two times, I have peed all over myself, my clothes, and the floor.  I can’t see what’s going on down there!! 6. “I just want to run.” – This thought enters my mind daily.  I long to feel those endorphins and the pain of that last mile during a 16 mile run.  I crave it.  I need it.  I miss that sound of silence when I can just hear my own footsteps and breath.  I want to be in that zone where I get in a groove and knock off each interval, one by one, each getting faster and faster.  I can’t wait to run again…sigh. 7. “Give me chocolate (or anything with sugar).” – So, I haven’t really had any significant cravings or food aversions during this entire pregnancy, but I definitely started needing sweets more when I hit my 3rd trimester.  We’re talking “need” as in, “I need chocolate now, so don’t stand in my way.”  I have no self-control either, so if I ever buy a bag of Snickers or Kisses, I just inhale like 10 in a row.  It’s gotten to the point where Tad has to hide whatever sweets I bring into the house so he can ration them out. _DSC09798. “I still can’t believe there’s a baby in there.” – Some days, I feel ready to be a mom, but others, I just can’t even imagine how much my life is going to change.  Am I going to be a good mom?  Do I have a motherly instinct?  Am I going to bond with the baby right away?  Will I love her as much as I love my cat?  <– I know that sounds weird, but seriously, if you know me at all, you know that Chai is my pride and joy… Are my friendships going to change?  Will my running goals change, or will I even be the same runner postpartum?  How am I going to manage being a mom while working, training, and going to school?  Having a huge belly is an unbelievable conversation starter, and it’s been really fun talking to total strangers and hearing how much joy their children bring to their lives.  I’m so excited for this time in my life, and it’s something I’ve always dreamed about, but at the same time, I still feel like a kid myself, and there is so much I want to accomplish.  I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful and supportive husband, that I cannot wait to go on this journey into parenthood with.  He is my rock, my best friend, and I feel like we make a great team, so I feel pretty confident that I can be a great mom AND a great runner. 🙂_DSC1008 9. “Natural childbirth?  Bring it on!” – I’m sure some mom’s are laughing at this thought and my naiveté, but I feel really optimistic and excited about my labor.  I’m studying the Bradley Method, which is completely natural, drug-free, husband-coached childbirth, and I’m really looking forward to the experience!  I don’t know if it’s the athlete in me or what, but I am ready and fully embracing the challenge of going completely natural with no interventions, and I really have no fear.  Obviously, I understand that complications can arise, but I’m trusting in the Lord and have 100% faith in my husband and doctor to help me have a smooth labor. 10. “My belly is huge.” – Sorry to state the obvious here, but I must say this about 10 times a day.  I seriously cannot believe how big my belly is.  I’ve just now gotten to the point where things are starting to get really uncomfortable.  Rolling over in bed has become quite the task, and I had to tell my manager that this is my last week at work, because it is a definite struggle getting up off the floor when I’m fitting people into shoes.  I find that I am now starting to underestimate my girth and have a really hard time squeezing in and out of spaces that in my mind, my body is completely capable of.  I totally try to suck it in as I try to fit through a tiny space that I have absolutely no business trying to squeeze through.  Everyone comments, “you’re so tiny!” and I just respond with, “I’m huge.” So that’s that.  I’ve got 5 weeks to go, and I am beyond excited.  Our new house is really starting to come together, and I really want to make the most of this time with my husband, family and friends.  I’ve got so much to do these next couple of weeks and probably won’t get a chance to blog again before the baby arrives, so until then, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers that I have a smooth and safe delivery.  I’m looking forward to sharing my birth story and my comeback with you in the upcoming months!  Thank you all for reading!!  🙂

Hanging Up My Running Shoes (For Now)…

I think that every runner has a certain degree of an “I will not be defeated,” mentality, “no matter how badly it hurts.”  Being a pregnant runner, it’s difficult to let go of that, even when I know I should take it easy.  This is not to say that I have been pushing myself to the max, because that’s not the case at all.  I’ve been exercising quite comfortably and feeling great, except for the severe pain in my pelvis after my runs that leaves me almost immobile. After a couple months of talking myself into believing that my pelvic pain was just a normal symptom of pregnancy, I realized that I might need to cut back on the running.  After my last post, I actually did end up getting sick after my trip, from the cesspool of germs that we call an airplane, so I took about 8 days off from all exercise completely, to give my body a rest.  After that, I thought I would focus mostly on cross training and maybe run 3 times a week, just a couple miles at a time.  Last night was my first run in a few weeks, and boy am I paying for it today! Image It was the first time I really didn’t think about pace, in fact, I actually forced myself to run no faster than about 9 minute pace for 3 miles just to see if I could get through without the pelvic pain.  It really started to kick in after about a mile, but it didn’t hurt any less to walk, so I opted to keep running.  It was actually quite an enjoyable run, because I usually never get to run with my husband when he can actually carry a conversation.  He gets so quiet and focused when he tries to keep up with me, but last night, we were able to really enjoy each other’s company 🙂  The pain got so bad, and most rational women would have stopped running and started walking, but I just couldn’t do it.  I don’t mind taking little 20 second breaks here and there if I need to, but I just couldn’t force myself to start walking, due to my stubbornness and unwillingness to give into pain. There’s really no need to go into any more detail except for the fact that I can barely walk today and have had to waddle my way around, which has brought me to the conclusion that it’s time to hang up the running shoes for the rest of this pregnancy.  I’ve got what is called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) which is also referred to as Pelvic Girdle Pain or Pelvic Instability, and it effects 1 in 4 pregnant women.  Go figure.  What happens during pregnancy is that our bodies release a hormone called relaxin, that loosens all of your joints and ligaments so your pelvis can expand to make room for the baby.  This can cause instability and misalignment of the pelvis, causing inflammation and severe pain.  Ladies, it hurts something fierce!  The pain is right above that pubic arch, and it hurts most to walk or lift your legs as you would to put on a pair of pants.  I wish I had learned about it a little sooner, because there’s a chance that this could affect me up to a year after the baby is born. After last night’s run, I realized that this isn’t something I want to mess with and have already started taking the proper steps to recovering and making sure this doesn’t become an ongoing issue after my pregnancy, strengthening my core, pelvic floor muscles, and pilates.   It really breaks my heart that I can’t run anymore, because I always thought that I’d be able to run all the way up to delivery, and I really wanted to take pride in doing that.  Over the last couple of weeks, I had come to terms with not running as much as I’d like, but now I have to accept not running at all.  It really hasn’t been too bad though, and I’ve actually really been enjoying my workouts in the pool.  Adding some freestyle swimming has really helped with the monotony of aquajogging, and it’s really kind of a nice change! Image I’m 26 weeks today, and am really starting to get excited!  Tad and I have finally started the preparations (everything I read says that most women have their nurseries done by now!) and making purchases to get ready for Baby Jakes.  We just bought the crib and furniture, everything we need for cloth diapering, and a jogging stroller!  The fact that I’m going to be a mom has really started to sink in, and I am longing for the day when I get to meet and hold my little girl! Besides my SPD, I’ve been feeling really good and haven’t been experiencing any other symptoms of pregnancy.  The only thing I can complain about is that it’s difficult for me to sleep, only because I’m so excited.  My belly has grown so much, and now people don’t hesitate to ask me when I’m due.  I haven’t really gained much weight, which had me a little concerned, but I finally gained 2 lbs over the last couple days, so I think I’m heading in the right direction.  I was 109 when I got pregnant and gained weight really quickly, but I topped out at 122 at about 20 weeks and have been stuck there ever since!  I was 124 this morning, so I feel a little better about it.  My belly feels huge, so I know the baby is growing just fine in there.  She is kicking and moving around incessantly, which kind of freaks me out sometimes, but I love just lying down and watching my belly move around.  It’s so crazy! Pregnancy timelines are so weird.  I feel that 26 weeks has me at a solid 6 months, but I know some might disagree.  I thought this would put me in the third trimester, but apparently that doesn’t happen until 28 weeks.  Weird.  I have really been enjoying being pregnant, even if I can’t do what I love most, and being in the pool 5 days a week is allowing me to get some sweet Vitamin D and a nice glow, so I can’t complain!  I’ve been feeling energized and excited, and I’m constantly dreaming of my new life as a mom and my next race.  I think I’m going to focus on really building my base next year and racing my first half marathon!  The goal is to start racing in April and jumping into as many USARC races as I can.

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Beautiful daisies sent from my beautiful friends back home for my 29th birthday. Yikes, I’m getting old! Did I mention our baby girl’s name is Daisy Allison?

I’d love to hear from some other pregnant running mammas!  Have any of you experienced SPD?  Did it affect you post-delivery?  Any tips or exercises on how to relieve the pain?

Running With a Bump!

What an incredible couple of months it has been!  I feel so guilty for waiting so long to write an update.  I really had high hopes of blogging every week of this pregnancy, not only to preserve my own memories, but to help those other pregnant running mammas out there.  Life got in the way; in a good way!!

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Two of my best friends. 🙂 Steph and I are about 10 weeks apart!

Over the past two months, I went through some intense summer school classes (what was I thinking), I celebrated my first anniversary with my husband, I started a new job(!), I traveled back home to Maryland for two magnificent weeks with my family, and I’ve been busy being pregnant. I’m now sitting on a plane back to San Diego with a coughing, sniffling and sneezing 5 year old kicking my seat behind me, hoping that my hand sanitizer and tough immune system keep me healthy while I reflect on the great memories I’ve made since I’ve last blogged.

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Home ❤

I figure I will start with a pregnancy update:

Pre-Injury weight: 101-102 lb.

Pre-Pregnancy weight: 109 lb.

Weight after first trimester: 115 lb.

Weight at 22 weeks: 122 lb. (Can you say, water weight? Holy moly!)

I need to just talk about weight for a minute.  When you’re a 100 lb. runner, putting on 20 lbs. is not easy to accept.  I’m trying to embrace it, and I knew that because I was underweight going in, I’d probably put on more than the average woman, but it doesn’t mean that I love what I see.  I like what I see in the mirror, but when I see pictures of myself, I honestly see a whale.  I am not doing anything different with my

Imagediet, in fact, I’m probably eating much less than I did when I was running 70 miles a week, but my body is just hanging on to everything I take in!  It seems like we are supposed to just love our bodies at this time, because pregnancy is such a beautiful thing, but I just really want my abs and flat stomach back!  Ha!  Don’t get me wrong, I do love my belly, but my thighs and butt have gotten HUGE, and I have cellulite now that I didn’t have before, so it’s challenging to love my new body at times.  I do have faith that my body knows what it’s doing, that I am in good shape and am just retaining a lot of water, and that I will have my old body back in no time. 🙂

First Trimester:

I really wish I had kept up with my running log during this time.  I was able to start running after recovering from my achilles injury shortly after I found out about Baby Jakes.  I came back extremely slowly in order to make sure that it was completely healed.  I started out literally running 10 minutes every other day for the first week, and then about 15 minutes every day the week after.  I was running about 9 minute pace (brutal), but it was fine, because I was so afraid of overdoing it and harming the wee babe.  After those first couple weeks, I was able to run about 6 miles at around 7:30 pace or so, but I very, very quickly slowed down from the morning sickness and breathlessness and had to drop to 8:00-8:30 pace.  Looking back on it now, I feel pretty fortunate to have not actually thrown up, but at the time, I felt perpetually horrible and always on the verge of having to run to the bathroom to puke.  I was EXTREMELY tired and would come home from class and take a 4 hour nap.  It took every ounce of will power to get out the door for my runs, and I was only able to run 4-5 days a week.  I was just too tired to do anything more.

Symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue and nausea
  • Lots and lots of pee (I had to get up about 3 times a night to go)
  • Whoa, constipation!  I went from going 2 or more times a day to celebrating a poo once every 3 days!
  • Feeling breathless all the time:  Seriously, folks…I would get out of breath just flossing my teeth.
  • Shortness of breath and rapid heart rate on my runs:  I used to be able to do mile repeats in 5:25 pace at 160-170 BPM, now I hit that on easy runs at 8:00 pace.
  • Chafing! – Wow, my new thighs show no mercy!  Thank you, Carol, for introducing me to BodyGlide!
  • Big boobs – I feel like I wo-man! <–Shania reference, anyone?
  • Really low self-esteem (13 lb is a lot of weight to put on a small frame!)
  • Food Aversions: I had a hard time getting raw spinach and bell peppers down.  I had to switch to romaine lettuce.  I also couldn’t eat my go-to snack, Picky Bars!
  • Cravings:  Nothing really.  I did have a week where I was just feeling really drained and was in the mood for some fast food and pizza.  It was the first gluten I had had in a long time, but it was worth it!
  • Mood swings:  Not sure if I can blame this on pregnancy or not….

Second Trimester:

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21 weeks

Believe what they say.  It’s totally true that this is the golden trimester.  As soon as I entered my 12-13th week, the nausea went away, and I definitely had more energy.  My runs were getting better, but heartburn, gas, bloating, and any other form of indigestion you can think of, began to plague me.  These things started getting better around week 17, and I was really able to pick up the pace and mileage.  The past few weeks of running have been amazing!  I’m averaging just about 7:30 pace on every run (about 6 miles).  The pace is a little deceiving, because it takes me a lot longer to warmup.  I start almost all of my runs at 8:15 pace for the first 2 miles, and I have been finishing my last couple miles in 6:50-7 minute pace.  Unfortunately these fantastic runs may be coming to a halt.  Though I’ve been feeling great during the runs, I’ve been experiencing severe pelvic pain in my joints and bones afterwards, so bad that it’s almost too painful to walk.  It’s now become a constant pain that makes it almost impossible to even lift my legs off the ground while trying to change in and out of my pants.  It really is as bad as it sounds, and it’s enough to make me realize I may not be able to run the way I had planned during this pregnancy.  It’s not worth risking a pelvic stress fracture that can sideline me after the baby comes.  This week will be the start of a new phase where I really focus on strengthening my muscles in the weight room and cross training in the pool and on the bike.  My goal is to keep running 3-4 days a week, but I might have to shorten my runs to 3-4 miles at a time.

Symptoms:

  • Heartburn/Indigestion/gas/bloating/younameit
  • Round ligament pain: Yowza!  These hurt, but thankfully they only last a few excruciating seconds.
  • Migraines and headaches:  There were a few weeks where I had a minor headache that persisted for days.  I had 2 migraines (which I had never experienced before), that were so bad and lasted so long, that I almost went to the ER.  I finally wised up and took 2 extra strength Tylenol with a couple sips of coffee that helped them go away.
  • Pelvic pressure/pubic bone pain:  The relaxin hormone causes your entire pelvis to loosen/expand, which means lots of pain.  It’s probably only going to get worse.  Oy.
  • Baby bump:  Yay!  I finally started to really show at 17 weeks, and now I see everyone’s eyes drop down to my stomach when I walk by.
  • Baby movement:  I would sit still in a quiet room for 30 minutes trying to feel the baby, but I didn’t feel it move until 19 weeks.  I didn’t really feel the flutters that everyone talks about, but I felt little pokes that felt somewhat like a muscle spasm.  Baby is now moving and kicking all over to the point where we can actually see my belly move.  It likes Hershey kisses!
  • My belly button popped already!
  • Boobs are still huge.
  • No stretch marks yet.  I have armed myself with coconut oil.

So that’s that.  I have a few more weeks left in my 2nd trimester, and I pray that I can continue to stay as fit as possible and that I can ease this pelvic pain with some cross training.  I don’t know how Kara Goucher did it, I really don’t!

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Who says you can’t get a little messy when eating crabs for hours?

As far as the rest of my life is concerned, I started a new job at Road Runner Sports as a “Fit Expert,” aka, I fit you into the proper running shoe.  This has been the plan for a while now, the typical “cliche” career choice of a professional runner is to work in a shoe store, but I LOVE it!  I am in my element, and helping people with their aches and pains and listening to them discuss their training goals brings me such joy!  I love the people I am working with, and they were even gracious enough to allow me to take a 2 week vacation after only working there for a month.  I went home for a week, and Tad flew out to join me for the second week.  It was so relaxing and soothing to my soul to be home for so long.  The weather was perfect, the grass was beautifully green, I spent so much time with my family and friends, my mom surprised me with a beautiful baby shower, and I ate more crabs than I have in years.  It was perfect and probably the best trip I’ve ever taken.  I feel rejuvenated both mentally and physically and now feel ready for the months ahead.

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My amazing Mom and me on her birthday!

While I was home, I also had the honor of speaking to my high school Alma Mater’s cross country team.  Coach Stough and I have been in contact through facebook, and we thought it was about time to have a reunion after 12 years.  He had told me about some young promising athletes, and I jumped at the opportunity to speak to them.  It was such an amazing experience, standing in front of a room with about 70 or so kids in 7-12 grade, eyes glued to mine as I told them my running story.  I hope I was able to inspire them as much as they inspire me!  I even ran my old cross country course with two of the girls, and I answered their questions about training, post-college running, and chatted about some of the same teachers that we shared.  It was such an awesome experience for me, and it felt so good to be home and see my old coaches and where my love for running began.  I can’t believe how far I’ve come and how many wonderful people are supporting me and my dreams.  I am more inspired than ever and can’t wait to continue on this path with my family, friends, and my new little girl. 🙂

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Love.

Time Off, Rehab, Recovery, and…..BABIES?!

It’s been too long.  I’ve missed my blog.  But I haven’t neglected you all this long without good reason.  I’ve been waiting… Three months have passed since I’ve written last, and I was going through a rough time.  I was running the best I ever had and was looking forward to having a breakthrough season…until my achilles stopped me.  I was in a boot for 3 weeks, I didn’t run a step for 2 months, and I did 6 weeks of physical therapy.  I can finally say that things are looking up!  I’ve been running about 30 miles a week, and besides a few aches and pains, I’m feeling pretty good! Oh…..and I’m 3 months pregnant!!!!

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This is what we wore underneath our shirts to surprise our parents. 🙂

I still really can’t believe it myself, but I am so so happy!  Two years ago, having babies was the last thing on my mind.  Before Tad and I got married, I insisted that we HAD to wait until after 2016 (dream big, or go home, right?).  It takes years and years to build a base to be a successful runner.  Some say that you need at least 6-8 years to develop that base.  Many Olympians have 15+ years under their belts.  My running age is 3.5 years, so you can imagine why it was hard for me to see a baby in my near future. Within the past year, I started getting the baby fever.  Everyone around me was just popping them out left and right!  I am crazy-head-over-heels in love with my niece and nephew (3 and 1 y/o), so whenever I would see them, I’d really start to think how much I wanted to be a mom.  Then Lauren Fleshman, one of my running role models, decided to put her career on hold to have a baby, and it really inspired me.  If she was willing to do it, then so was I.  I also found out that my best friend was pregnant, and that was the cherry on top for me.  But the thing that really tugged on my heart was the fact that Tad wanted to be a father so badly, I’ll never forget the look of happiness on his face when I finally said, “alright, let’s do it.” 🙂

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I had to force my dad to pause the Masters, so I could “take a picture” and reveal my shirt. His reaction was priceless. Utter shock!

It was right around February when we decided that we would see how my season went and we’d try for a wee one after track season was over.  But God had a different plan!  The beginning of March was when my achilles finally broke down, and when I got word from the doctors that my season was over, I knew it was time!  I was so depressed from not running and watching my body slowly change.  I gained about 7lbs in a month!  It was perfect!  I felt that my injury was a blessing in disguise, and it allowed me to gain the weight that I needed to have a baby.  We got pregnant that month, and I am so thankful and excited for this new chapter in my life!  It was such a blessing to turn something so heartbreaking as a season-ending injury into something so positive!! So that’s how it all went down.  It has definitely been a time of transition for me.  It’s really weird not training.  I’m running about 5 days a week right now and am trying to increase my mileage and start running everyday now that I’m in my second trimester.  My first trimester was pretty rough.  I was super duper tired, and I had pretty bad morning sickness, so running was the last thing I wanted to do.  I was also really scared about losing the baby, because I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which increases my chances of miscarriage, so I was terrified to do anything.  I was running 4 miles, 5 days a week, which was really a good thing since I was coming back from a bad injury.  Being pregnant was actually a great way to make sure I didn’t overdo it and risk hurting myself again. Now that I am in my second trimester, I’m definitely feeling a lot better, both physically and emotionally.  It is finally starting to sink in that I’m going to be a mom!!!  I can’t wait to start a family!  Though my number one priority will be to be a mother and wife, this in no way changes my goals and dreams of competing professionally.  I know it’s hard for some people to understand the fiery passion that burns in a runner, but it will always be there, and my desire to compete is stronger than ever.  Baby Jakes is due December 20, and I plan to jump right back into training which gives me a full 2.5 years before the Olympic Trials in 2016.  It’s not going to be an easy road, but I’m ready for this journey! It feels so good to get this news out in the open!  Now I have some relief knowing that if anyone sees me out for a run, he/she’ll know that I’m prego and that I didn’t just get fat.  I’ve been running with a shirt on, because I am so self-conscious of my new midsection, but it’s getting so hot, that I have to take my shirt off.  My belly is at the point where if I relax it, I actually look pregnant and not just fat, so whenever I run by someone, I really let it go, so they don’t just think I have a beer gut!  Yay, for babies!!!!  I am really looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you!  Stay tuned for my next blog in a couple of days where I talk about all the deets about my first trimester including running, slowing down, weight gain, lots of pee, and big boobs!  Meet the girls…

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The picture on the left was taken a year ago. Notice the dress was so big that my ridiculously padded bra didn’t even fill it out! The picture on the right = busting!

The Bad and the Ugly of a Driven Distance Runner

I guess there is no time like the present to write a new post.  Although, be warned that this may be one with a more pessimistic tune. I’m injured, I’m sad, and I’m getting fat.  That’s right folks. This is what happens when you take running 70 miles a week away from a girl.  Cranky pants. It all started back in December with some aches and pains and a really shot pair of shoes.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT keep running in shoes that feel like they’re past their prime.  It was the first time I had ever felt pain in my achilles.  It seemed manageable, just an annoying little ache that would warm up after a couple miles, and I thought nothing of it.  I iced it after my runs and it wouldn’t bother me for a week until it flared up again.  It seemed to get sore after track workouts, and even got to the point where a nodule formed on the back of my achilles.  It hurt just to put my shoes on and walk, so I started getting Graston treatments and calf massages, and the Chiro advised me to cut back my mileage by 20% for the next 3 weeks.  Why is it so hard to listen?  I dropped my mileage the first week until I realized that it was friction from my shoes that was causing the pain, so I cut out the backs of all my shoes and continued running my usual mileage. Things were going so well, as you might have read in my previous post.  I had a new training partner, I was running workouts that I didn’t even think we’re possible, and I felt like I was in the best shape of my life.  I had just finished my last tough week of training before the US 15k Championships’ Gate River Run in Jacksonville, FL, one of the most prestigious road races in the country, and couldn’t wait to test my fitness.

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My view from the hotel in Jacksonville

It was the Monday before the race, and I had put on my shoes to go to school, but there was a strange soreness in my achilles that I hadn’t felt before.  The more I walked around, the worse it felt, so I took the day off to see if it was just a little freak thing that would go away.  It felt a little better the next day for my last tune-up workout on the track, but after the adrenaline wore off in the last interval or two, it got so sore, I couldn’t even finish a mile cool down. I saw the Chiro again the next day (the same night that i was supposed to head to LA for my trip to Jax), who said that it was really inflamed but thought I would be fine to race on Saturday.  I tried to go for an easy 8 that evening, and couldn’t even get past 2.5 miles. I broke down and started crying, I was so broken and frustrated!  I slowly jogged/limped/walked back to my car. The 15k Champs were going to be the first opportunity to race nationally with my Nike RunLA team.  I really didn’t want to let them down, so I did everything I could to race.  I stayed off my feet, iced every hour, massaged my calf, and just took it easy for two days leading up to race day.  Nike RunLA, has been so supportive and is the reason I am am able to travel all over the country and compete.  They believe in my ability, and I am forever grateful for all the gear that I receive and all the financial support they have given me.  They were so understanding about my injury and left it up to me to race or not. image_3

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Craig Virgin and me!!

I really, REALLY wanted to run this race.  The atmosphere was incredible, the very best runners in the country were racing, the race director, hotel, and everyone involved really pampered us and treated us like celebrities, and for the first time, I had a bib with my name on it!  It wasn’t until Friday afternoon, when I tried to run an easy 4, that I decided it wasn’t going to happen.  Every step was a painful burning sensation that felt like the tendon was just going to give at any moment.  A bummer indeed.  On a positive note, I met and chatted with one of the best American runners of all time, Craig Virgin, the night before the race, and the incredible race director, Richard Fannin, let me ride on the press truck to watch the race!

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The press truck. 🙂

My last real run was the morning of that last workout on March 5.  Since then, I’ve been aqua jogging, biking, and using the elliptical every day.  I’ve gone to PT and the Chiro twice a week and have scoured the internet for answers and tried every exercise in the book.  I’ve tried to run twice since then but couldn’t get past 400 meters without that burning sensation coming back.  It really hasn’t improved much at all, so I went to see a Sports Doctor who finally told me to just shut it down for 3 weeks and wear a boot every step of the way.  Crap. It’s a pretty anti-climactic story, but one that many runners go through and hopefully one that people can learn from; listen to your body and your doctors!!  There are so many things I could have done differently.  I should not have kept running in those old shoes.  I should have taken it easy back in December when this whole thing started.  I should have listened to the doc when he told me to cut back by 20% for those three weeks, and I probably wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s been an emotional roller coaster.  I cannot tell you how much I despise the pool, and no matter how many different little workouts I come up with, I am bored to death and can’t bring myself to get in there again.  It’s been so long since I’ve gotten the endorphins that I get from running which has caused me to sink into a bit of a depression.  I feel tired, lethargic, and I’m taking more naps than I did when I was at the peak of my training.  I can’t stop eating (I will also always have a runner’s appetite) and have turned to chocolate and sweets to fill the void.  I haven’t stepped on a scale in over 3 weeks.  I know I’m burning calories in my cross training workouts, but I can feel myself putting on the pounds.  I would do anything to feel that exhaustion after a solid 15 miler or hard track workout again!!

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Just me, my boot and Chai.

As much as I hate to admit this, one of the hardest things for me during an injury is to see others’ successes.  Isn’t that awful!?  I just know where I should be, and when I see other people running huge PR’s, I can’t help but feel envious.  I have this huge well of potential, and I have yet to tap into it.  In the 3.5 years I’ve been running, I have never had a healthy season, each year has been plagued by something different; thyroid trouble, anemia, celiac, last year’s tendinitis in my knee, and now this.  Some other stories of professionals coming off of injuries are so inspirational and encouraging, like Amy Yoder-Begley coming back to win the 2009 US Championships in the 10k.  The difference and fear that I feel is that these runners have such a bigger base under their belts, I worry I won’t be able to come back the way they did. This past month has been so difficult already, taking 3 weeks to completely rest is going to be torture.  The last time I took this much time off was for my wedding and honeymoon last July.  It took me about 2 months to come back and feel like myself again.  It’s such a scary thing, not knowing how or when I’m finally going to heal.  What if it comes back when I finally start running again?  What if I’m never able to run again?  I feel like the only thing I can do is trust that the Lord has a solid plan for me.  It really sucks right now, but I’m sure I’ll be back in no time.  Until then, I want to take part in other runner’s successes and enjoy this sport as a spectator.  It will just fuel my desire to come back better and stronger and completely healed!  I’d love to hear your comments and stories of injuries that you’ve had and how you’ve overcome them!

I Love Being a Runner.

There’s nothing harder than being a long distance runner and training on your own.  When running all those miles by yourself, you can have the highest highs and just as easily have even lower lows.  I’ve experienced quite a bit of highs and lows over the past couple months, ranging from the euphoria of a great run, the addition of a new training partner, injuries, the disappointment of a bad race, and just the loneliness of a distance runner.  But it’s these triumphs and tribulations that make every step of the way worth all the effort.

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photo by Mike Scott

My last race was in St. Louis a couple weeks ago, for the US Cross Country Championships, and though I wanted to write a post with the race still fresh in my mind, I had a lot of emotions to process before putting the words on paper (or a screen).  There is no better way to put it; I had a terrible day.  It shouldn’t have come as a big surprise.  Leading up to the race, I just wasn’t really prepared, and I had pretty much talked myself out of the race before the gun even went off.  In the weeks prior, I was checking the status of entries and counting each of the girls who I knew I couldn’t beat.  It’s not exactly motivating going into a race telling yourself that you CAN’T beat 30 people (at the very least).  On top of my neuroses, I was having trouble with my stomach, which I’m pretty sure had to do with the unintentional ingestion of gluten (grrr!!).  I knew my head wasn’t really in it when I was trying to talk my intestines into holding on a bit longer, and my main concern was the announcer and hearing what was going on in the lead pack!  Needless to say, it was an incredible experience, and what my dad said was a sort of “rite of passage.”  It was my first really big national race, and I placed 42nd out of the very best women in the country, so I can’t beat myself up too much about it, and I should actually be pretty happy considering the circumstances.

Some other little lows along the way have come from some nagging injuries here and there, a little sciatica and achilles tendonitis that won’t seem to go away.  Call me paranoid, neurotic, or a hypochondriac, I am not a happy camper when something holds me back or keeps me from running.  I feel so bad for my husband when I’m worried about some ache, pain, or twinge, because he has to endure the wrath of “injured Suzanne,” which is like “premenstrual Suzanne” on steroids.  It’s times like those that I really have to take a step back and realize what’s really important in life.  Running is so much more to me than a hobby or a sport, it’s who I am, but sometimes I have to remind myself that it isn’t everything.  I feel that getting injured is God’s way of helping me put things into perspective.  Once I let running grow into something too great, He puts me in my place. 🙂

Enough about the bad, let’s talk about the good.  Running is such beautiful sport.  It comes with great friendships and wonderful experiences.  I, of course, have been lacking in the former.  Since completing my eligibility at CSUSM, I’ve been training on my own, which happens to be one of the main themes of my blog.  It sucks.  Plain and simple.  The hardest days are the easy days when I’m just putting in mileage, and it is just so hard getting out the door.  Sometimes I drive to wherever I’m running that day, and I’ll sit in my car for 10 minutes while trying to talk myself up for the run.  It’s brutal.  Painful even.  Who likes running 15 miles by themselves?  Well, I do enjoy it sometimes…but the point is that I have been desperate to find some training partners.  I’ve talked with my coaches about it, and they agreed that finding a group or partner was the most important ingredient to taking my running to the next level.  There are only a few training groups in the country (why San Diego doesn’t have one is beyond me), but they’re located in random places that I just can’t see Tad and me moving to, Michigan, Minnesota, Flagstaff, Austin, etc.  So what on earth am I supposed to do?

My mom has always said, “The Lord works in mysterious ways!,” and that He did.  A couple weeks before my race in St. Louis, I had just about had enough.  I knew that I needed to find someone to run with and it had to happen soon.  I thought it would be nice to watch and cheer on a couple friends at the Carlsbad half/marathon.  I wanted to see my old friend from the NAIA, Lauren Jimison, and my new teammate, Lauren Kleppin, finish their races.  After Lauren’s race, she asked me to join her on her cooldown, which is where I met Brooks’ athlete, Natasha Labeaud, from San Diego.  Hallelujah, another elite athlete in San Diego!  Natasha is as sweet as can be and a beast on the track.  We’ve run a couple workouts together since meeting that day, and having a training buddy has renewed my love for running.  It’s amazing what I’ve been missing!  It is a world of difference just having someone there with you.  We ran a great workout on Thursday, one that I would not have been able to do on my own, and when we finished, it was one of the biggest highs I’ve had in a long time.  I felt so accomplished, proud, and grateful to be a runner.  I drove home and couldn’t stop thinking, “man, I freaking love being a runner.”

The next stop for me is Jacksonville, FL on March 9, for the USA 15k Championships “Gate River Run.”  For the second time, I will actually be traveling with Nike Team Run LA and competing as a team!  The depth of the field is even greater than it was in St. Louis, but I am excited this time!  I will not only have my teammates, but some of my friends to run with as well, including Lauren and Natasha.  The race is less than two weeks away, and I finally feel ready and confident in my ability.  Whatever the outcome, it will be an experience to learn from and remember, with incredible people who share my greatest passion.

Just run.

    When I tell people that I’m a runner, the number one question I am asked is, “so you do marathons?”  I have to laugh every time I hear this, because every single time I give my answer, their look of interest turns into disappointment, because I’m not as “legit” as they once thought.  A classmate asked me If I was running the San Diego Marathon a couple of months ago, and when I told him that I specialize in the 5k and 10k, his response was, “Oh!  I thought you were, like, a REAL runner!”  The sad part was that he was totally serious!  

    This is my first year as a professional runner, and though I don’t do marathons (yet!), I still work really hard and am faced with the same obstacles.  Every day, week, month, I ask myself what can I do to get better?  How long will it take to reach my full potential?  What kind of training philosophy should I follow?  How many miles a week should I run?  Will living at altitude be beneficial?  Neutral or stability?  Speed or strength work?  This past month or so, I’ve been asking myself these questions.  I truly believe in my ability, and I want to do whatever it takes for me to achieve my goals.  There are so many gifted runners out there, but the ones who are most successful are the ones who give it everything, they don’t just go halfway.

    I’ve been trying to figure these things out, and I have quite a few big decisions to make (stay tuned!), but in the mean time, I’m going to keep doing what I love, and just run.  When I started running three years ago, I was immediately hooked (obsessed) with the sport, but I had so many thoughts in my head and would always overanalyze my training, races, and progression.  I realized one day that I just needed to go out and run.  No worries, no fears, just run.  I even got a tattoo on my foot as a reminder that reads, “run.”  Period.  I experienced that euphoria on my run this morning where I wasn’t worried about my pace, I wasn’t thinking about next weekend’s race, and I ignored the agonizing pain on my achilles and the bloodied blister from the dirt on my wet sock.  Suddenly all of my stresses about the future left me, and it was just the road, the rain, and me in that present moment.  What a beautiful feeling.