2017 Flying Pig 5k Recap and a New Race Distance

I love doing races. It doesn’t matter if I run, walk, or a combo of both – there is something about a race that lifts my spirits and motivates me to continue to stay active.

As I have mentioned before, the Flying Pig Marathon is a HUGE deal in Cincinnati and perhaps the national running community. A large amount of local and visiting runners participate in the event. In addition to the marathon – there are a variety of other races throughout the weekend. Last year I ran the 10k – and had a great time. This year – the weekend fell exactly six weeks after giving birth. My exercise routine consisted of leisurely stroller walks – so I knew  wasn’t going to run anything – but I REALLY wanted to participate in something – so I decided to power walk the 5k with my mom.

I picked up both mine and my mom’s bibs at the expo the night before and that was a poor decision on my part. Because my little baby was only six weeks – I didn’t feel comfortable taking him to the super crowded convention center. So I waited until my husband got home from work so he could watch the baby and I and drove in rush hour traffic in the pouring rain to Downtown Cincinnati by myself. I made it in the nick of time to pick everything up and barely spent anytime in the expo perusing the booths. “Morning of the race” bib pick up was available – and I should have taken advantage of that and saved myself the hassle and the $10 for downtown parking.

Since this was my first race post baby – I had a few extra things to coordinate before I left the house in the morning. I thawed milk the night before and laid out bottles for the baby. I also laid out my clothes and put all my race day essentials in my fanny pack.

I planned to wake up at 6:30 am with the intention to leave the house at 8am – this would allow me the time to get ready, eat breakfast, and nurse. The baby woke up around this time anyway – so I nursed him first, and spent the remainder of the morning getting myself fed and ready. Things ran pretty seamlessly for both me and the baby.

My mom picked me up and it was a quick and easy drive downtown. We parked in a lot a few blocks away from the start line. We also got there SUPER early – which again, was a poor decision. I thought that downtown would be super packed and that we needed a lot of time to park and line up in our corral, but that wasn’t the case. We spent an hour and a half sitting in somewhat chilly weather – watching the 10k finishers (the 10k was held two hours before the 5k start).

Eventually the time came for us to line up in our corrals, or “pig pens” – and shortly we were off. The course goes through downtown Cincinnati and does not cross the bridge into Kentucky like the 10k, half, and full. There were a lot of families and many babies in strollers and even one being worn. My baby was still too young  for this year – but next year, if I do the 5k, I will definitely bring him.

One thing I should have done was bring my own water. I am exclusively breastfeeding and I get really thirsty pretty quickly. Thankfully, there was one water stop halfway through.

Both my mom and I felt we weren’t really “pushing” ourselves with our walking. I did give birth six weeks before – so I didn’t want to over exert myself. We did finish with a time of 50:59 and a pace of 16:24.

At the finish line we got our medals – which I was pumped for since it had been a year since I did a race where they gave you a medal. The post race food was pretty scarce – they only offered you a fruit cup. I wasn’t really disappointed since you don’t burn that many calories – but I always like to stock up on free granola bars.

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The Flying Pig Races are something I really plan on making an annual tradition – there is something for everyone – even kids races! (hello Diaper Dash). After this year’s race weekend there is a short window of time to register for next year’s race at the lowest prices available. I have always wanted to conquer the marathon distance – and the Pig is a great choice for first timers due to the generous pace requirements and amazing course support. And since the price was so reasonable I bit the bullet and did it! I have no time goal – just to finish upright and smiling. Training will be a challenge since I am a nursing mom – but I am going to make it work! I hope by this time next year I will be able to call myself a marathoner!

 

Planning my Return to Fitness – Postpartum

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As I am writing this – my little buddy is napping. He’s a bit nocturnal. Sleeping in the morning/early afternoon and partying throughout the evening. I consider myself fortunate that he sleeps from 1am-7am with a feeding in between – so I get around 5.5-6ish hours of broken up sleep a day. I’ll take it.  The days are long but the weeks are flying by.

Adjusting to being a mother is a challenge. I’m someone who never changed a diaper in their entire life prior to having him. I also have little to no experience being responsible for children. I was a sleep away camp counselor for two years, but my kids were 8 years old. So they knew how to sleep through the night and use the toilet. Despite my lack of experience I think I’m doing a good job. I can be hard on myself though – I need to tell myself that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

Luckily – my body has recovered decently from pregnancy and labor. In my first trimester I lost six pounds so I had a generous cushion when it came to the pregnancy weight gain. I ended up 18 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight – the weight came off in the first week and I’m down a few more pounds from that which can probably be attributed to stress and breastfeeding. I also had an easy healing process after delivery.

Right now, I’m taking it easy when it comes to exercise and have been trying to fit in a quick daily walk with the baby – for my mental health since I’m indoors most of the day.

I hope to ramp up my fitness routine after my six week postpartum doctor visit. It’s going to be a challenge balancing baby with a workout schedule – but if I slowly ease into it I think I can make it work.

I’m viewing my return to fitness as somewhat of a clean slate: I built up a great running base pre-pregnancy, took a brief hiatus in my first trimester, and started a manageable regimen beginning second tri through the majority of my third. One thing each phase had in common was that my fitness was solely focused on running and walking. I’d like to start incorporating a few new things into my routine.

  1. Workout Videos / Strength training

I will be home with my baby pretty much all the time. I’m fortunate to have family nearby who are open to babysitting while I go out for a quick run, but in the beginning, I know that I will not be able to take a daily run. No worries, this is a perfect opportunity to bring strength training into my life with some workout videos.

I have a few DVD’S that have been collecting dust, I plan on finally pressing play and doing them.

There are also a variety of videos on YouTube and I might, just might, dabble in some Beachbody videos (I draw the line at Shakeology, though)

While I might not get the runners high, I know I’m building a stronger base to my running routine. Strength training is important! Also my baby is getting bigger and it’s getting harder for me to carry him.

2. Fit4Mom

When my baby’s immune system gets a little stronger – I plan on trying a class at my local Fit4Mom. Fit4Mom is a fitness class designed for moms – and you are able to take your baby with you and incorporate him in the workout. It sounds like a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet mom friends.

3. Running

Of course – running is the foundation of my fitness regimen – and I have a few goals for the rest of the year. There are a few 5ks over the next few months that I plan to walk – including one in a couple of weeks. Sometimes just being a part of a race (even without running) gets me motivated to stay active. As far as legitimate running – I plan on easing back into it and getting serious about training in the summer –  there is a local half marathon in October that I am making my comeback race.

Life has certainly been turned upside down – but my family is slowly falling into a routine – and I am looking forward to introducing exercise back into my life.

 

 

My Fitness in the Final Stretch of Pregnancy

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My last “official run” – 36 weeks and 3 days

Today I proudly put my running shoes in the closet – and they probably won’t see the light of day for the next two months (at least). As I am writing this, I am 38 weeks pregnant. I’ve written in the past about my hiatus from running during the first trimester and how I slowly started incorporating it back in and was able to complete a 10k at 24 weeks.

Since then, I was able to maintain a consistent routine. I aimed to complete four 3 mile run/walks per week. Since it’s winter in Ohio, it can get cold out there, I’m lucky to belong to a gym with an indoor track where I can get the miles done. On those unseasonably warm days I was able to head outside for a run.

One thing that I had to tweak the most is my time on treadmill. For some reason – the bouncing on the ‘mill brought me pain in my baby belly area. To minimize this I had to really space out my running intervals – I kept them short and frequent instead of running for long stretches of time.

A few days after I hit 36 weeks – something changed. I started to become a lot more tired during and after a workout – and sometimes I would feel tired the entire day. My mom and I went on a relatively easy 3 mile walk, and that knocked me out. The days after that, I still was feeling fatigue, so I made the decision to conclude working out until well after the baby is born. I plan to hopefully go for a few short, easy walks – but am definitely not planning on anything more intense than that.

I know when I’m ready, running will be there to welcome me back.

Couch to 5k: What Started It All For Me

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Since I’m taking some time off of training for long distance races – I felt like reflecting on what helped me develop the habit of running.

The Couch to 5k program has been around for a while. I think in the last 6 years I had started and quit it many, many times. Why? Well, sometimes lacing up your shoes and getting out the door can be the hardest thing.

In November of 2013 I had recently moved to San Francisco. At the time I was unemployed and had a lot of free time. I also lived in a walkable neighborhood that was hilly, but not too hilly. Between my time, location, and the mild SF weather – I decided to give the Couch to 5k antoher try. I downloaded the free c25k app, and got to it.

The program is built upon running and walking intervals which week by week slowly transitions into being able to run for 30 minutes straight. The app gives you audio cues for when to walk and run, so you don’t have to keep looking at a stopwatch.

A big milestone in the program is Week Five – Workout 3 – which is the first time you run continuously for 20 minutes. After I completed that workout I felt super accomplished and excited.

9 weeks later (January of 2014) – I completed the program. March of that year I signed up for my first half marathon and the rest is history!

I strongly recommend the couch to 5k program for anyone who wants to start running. Even if it takes a few attempts to be faithful to the program – when followed through it can change your life!

New Thoughts on RunDisney Races

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RunDisney is what got me into running races. The 2014 Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon was my first race, followed by the 2015 Dumbo Double Dare, and the 2016 Princess 5k.

I was all set and registered to run the 2016 Inaugural Lumiere’s Challenge – however the presence of Zika in the state of Florida/my pregnancy made me back out (Disney was kind enough to offer a one-time refund due to the circumstances of both things (Zika+pregnancy)).

Earlier in 2016 – RunDisney stopped their deferment option for races – so if one is not able to attend their planned race, he/she will lose out on their money and will not be able to transfer their funds to another race. RunDisney’s new policy is not uncommon. Most races are non-refundable, however most races (especially half marathons and marathons) are not over $150. Add in a challenge and you are talking about a $300+ expense.

In addition to no deferments, RunDisney has now moved up their registration dates. Registration for the 2017 Wine and Dine Half Marathon, which takes place in November, is going on sale this week. It is common for races to sell out within hours, one would have to decide close to 11 months in advance if they are in for these events.

Of course there are other options besides registering directly though RunDisney, so you might be able to postpone your registration date- you could run with a charity, which would require you to raise a certain amount of money to participate. Running for charity seems like it would be a fulfilling way to participate – however fundraising can be challenging. It’s difficult to ask friends and family for donations. I do know many people who hold events like giveaways which gives an incentive for someone to donate.

Another option is to book a race package through a travel agent. Travel agents have access to race registrations and you can sometimes wait a little longer before you purchase them. Most of the time, a room reservation and theme park admission is required for you to purchase as well. Most of the time, this would make sense since you need a hotel room to stay in and most people do plan in spending some time in the theme parks. This option might not be good for someone who lives locally and/or someone who would prefer to choose their own hotel. Some travel agents offer trip insurance which can protect you if you are not able to make your trip.

Back in my young, wild, and free days (about a year ago) I could register for a race around 8 months in advance and be able to attend. With a baby on the way, life is going to get more unpredictable. I would LOVE to participate in a RunDisney event this year, however I just don’t think it’s likely.

When I do decide to jump back in the RunDisney game – I think I am planning to book through a travel agent – since I am an out-of-stater, a hotel room is necessary. I also know I will be visiting the theme parks.

Until then…I will suffer the major FOMO and live vicariously through the numerous RunDisney fanatics who I follow on social media.

How do you register for a RunDisney Race? Do you register through RunDisney, a charity, or do you book through a travel agent?

My Running Gear Essentials

I have been running for a little over three years and while it is a pretty simple sport – there are a few items I have discovered along my journey that I consider “essentials”. If you are in the market for some new gear or just curious as to what other people use, below is what I consider are “must-haves”.

  1. HB Tune Phone Case

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I do most of my training runs and races alone – so listening to music or a podcast is a MUST. I have a short attention span when it comes to listening to music – I frequently change my songs mid-play, or it takes a couple of tries to get the perfect song on my shuffle. Because of that I like to have my phone in my hand, but simply holding on to my phone isn’t comfortable and I risk dropping or breaking it.

Enter HB Tune – a smartphone case that straps to your hand. It comes in three sizes and the website gives phone models as examples as to what size you would need. The phone also comes with an arm strap, so you can utilize it as an armband as well – but honestly – I think I lost my strap and I don’t miss it because I love holding my phone in my hand.

The case also has a pocket in the back for cash, credit cards, and ID. I am also able to fit my house key in here, if I don’t overload the pocket too much. I have been using the same HB Tune for 2.5 years and I can’t see myself ever not using it.

2. Clif Shot Bloks

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When it comes to nutrition during my long runs and races these are my one and only choice. They taste like less sweet gummy bears AND they are gelatin free. My top flavors and Black Cherry (contains caffeine) and Margarita (contains sodium).

3. Nathan Hydration Belt

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 I always carry hydration on runs longer than 6 miles. Since I already have one hand occupied with my HBTune, I prefer to use a hydration belt rather than a handheld bottle. There is also a pouch where I carry my shot bloks. Yes – the belt can weigh me down in the beginning – however I kind of like that – because when I race – I don’t wear the belt, so I usually have a faster time due to feeling a tiny bit lighter.

4. Spibelt

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While I don’t wear a hydration belt when racing – I do wear a Spibelt. Spibelt’s are great for me to hold my shot bloks, tissues, and any other necessities. The belt is so lightweight I sometimes forget I’m wearing it. I don’t put anything too valuable in there (ID’s, money,keys) – as my husband lost his ID once when he was grabbing something else out of his belt. I keep all my important stuff in my HB tune.

5. Bondi Bands

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After I ran the 2016 San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15k I saw a picture of myself post-race and couldn’t help but notice how many fly aways I had in my hair. From that moment on I knew I had to always wear something on my head to manage my hair – if I’m not wearing a hat or visor: I wear a Bondi Band. I love how they come in so many colors and designs – so I can match them to what I am wearing. I also love how they make my hair feel not so sweaty, so if I have an easier run – I don’t need to wash my hair  – just dry shampoo and go!

Looking Back at 2016 Goals and Forward at 2017 Goals

My one goal for 2016 was to run 1000 miles and by July I was on the right track until I got pregnant and had to take close to three months off of running due to round the clock nausea. By the end of October I started to get back into my running (more like walk/run) routine and it looks like I will be finishing the year at a hair under 650 miles. Which is more than I ran last year – so yay!!

Now for 2017 – in a few months my life will be changing in ways I cannot even begin to fathom. It is difficult for me to pick any goal pertaining to speed, distance, or racing. My only goal/wish/dream is to continue my running routine in the healthiest and sanest way possible. Of course I have future races dancing around in my head that I would like to accomplish – but I’m changing my perspective to focus on my new addition – who I will be meeting very soon.

A healthy mom is a happy mom – and I know lifelong fitness is important to maintain. I’m grateful to enjoy running and I hope to keep it up in the coming year.

 

2016 Go Santa Go 5k Recap

My mom moved up to Cincinnati recently, and she got bit by the racing bug when we did the 2016 Princess 5k together this past year. She really wanted to do another race with me, so I did a quick search for local 5k’s in the area and came across the Go Santa Go 5k, which was being held at Summit Park – a great new park down the street from where I live. Proceeds from the race went to the Cancer Survivors Community.

Packet pick up was the day before at my local running store – but there was also race day pickup and registration available. Included in registration was a Santa *or* Elf shirt and hat (you had to pick one). We picked Elves. The shirt and hats were intended to be worn at the race.

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My mom and I arrived about 35 minutes before the race and stayed in the car to keep warm. The temperatures that morning were in the high 30’s.

Around 5 minutes before the start we lined up at the starting line. This was probably one of the smallest races I have participated in. I believe there were about 117 participants.

When I race with my mom we stick to power walking. The course went through and around the park. During the race my mom and I pretty much chatted and people watched. Our official time was 47:47, with a pace of 15:24 per mile.

Hot chocolate and cookies were available post race and an awards ceremony was held for people who placed in their age group. Since my mother and I were certain we did not place, we left and went back to my house.

Like the Thanksgiving Day Race, this is another race I’d like to make an annual tradition. I definitely plan to bring the stroller and my little buddy next year!

2016 Thanksgiving Day Race Recap

At the end of October I got back into my running routine after two months off. Due to my “condition” I was slower and would occasionally get round ligament pain. I managed a few runs and then took another 1.5 week break due to feeling depressed about the election and a TERRIBLE migraine.

My husband had been getting excited about Cincinnati’s Thanksgiving Day Race – an over century long annual Cincinnati tradition. Around 13,000 people run/walk the race each year and it takes place in downtown Cincinnati.

On the evening he was registering, at the last minute, I asked him to sign me up. Until then the longest I had run had been 4 miles, but 1/3 of the race was walkers, so I figured I could take my time completing the 10k distance.

The weekend after he registered I did a 5 mile indoor track run and felt confident that I would finish upright and smiling.

The morning of the race was chilly and wet – once we arrived at the starting area – the rain started to let up. The husband and I got into our respective pace groups and we were on our way.

I kept 15:30 intervals – because I wanted to take it easy and try to minimize any pain. I really enjoyed the course. Like the Flying Pig 10k it went through downtown Cincinnati and Kentucky.

There were a few serious hills and I simply walked the uphills – at this point in my state of fitness and my other current state – I really did not want to over exert myself.

What I really loved about the race was the large attendance and family vibe. There were lots of families running and walking together, and there were a lot of strollers on the course and it got me excited that one day we could make this an annual family tradition.

I finished in 1:35, with a 15:25 pace. My slowest race thus far, but I’m darn proud I’m able to complete a 10k at 6 months pregnant.

We will definitely do this race again – I think a Thanksgiving Day run is such a fun way to get pumped for the holiday – looking forward to next year!!

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Hiatus explained AND 2016 Hyde Park Blast

Well it has been AWHILE since I last posted something. Life has changed ALOT in the past few months and it’s only going to change more.

I currently have a bun in the oven and the first five months of baking were ROUGH! I had suffered from nonstop nausea and fatigue and pretty much stopped exercising for two months.

Back in June I ran the Hyde Park Blast, and what I did not know at that time was that my little bun was along for the ride. It was a four mile race through Cincinnati’s Hyde Park district and I achieved one of my best times: a 47:28 finish with an 11:52 pace. A few weeks later I found out about my new partner in crime – and was able to run throughout July and early August until the nausea hit hard and I pretty much went out of commission.

Once I started to feel better, I set out to slowly get back into a running routine, or at least a run/walk routine. At five months, the bump was starting to show and I realized if I jostled myself too much I would get round ligament pain in my uterus – so 15:30 run/walk intervals seemed to be my golden ratio. Pretty much a power walk, but it felt great to get my body moving again.

By mid-November I felt like I had a solid enough foundation to register for the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race, an annual 10k through downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky – I was a little nervous…

to be continued