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.

18361947_10109650224120425_794003120_o.jpg

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

IMG_2205

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.

 

 

Couch to 5k: What Started It All For Me

c25k
Source

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!

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

71d2lo8lmxl-_sl1200_

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

screenshot_1079.png

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

81hFPKqQoIL._SL1500_.jpg

 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

41rZ2HygSNL.jpg

 

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

screenshot_1080.png

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!

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!!

race_3126_photo_49392126

2016 Flying Pig 10k recap

A few days after we arrived in Cincinnati, OH, I registered for the Flying Pig 10k. Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon is considered by many to be a “must do”. The race weekend consists of a one mile, 5k, 10k, half and full (the half and full are held at the same time – so one must pick either option). While I would have loved to have done the half or the full – the past month has not allowed me to consistently train for running a distance longer than 5 miles – so I felt that the 10k would be the best choice.

I went to the expo the day before the race to pick up my bib and it was super fun – it was similar to a RunDisney expo in size and vendors, but a lot more manageable in terms of crowds. What I love about “the Pig” is the hometown pride – this is truly Cincinnati’s race – and it made me super happy to be a part of the community.

On race morning – I got up early and drove myself downtown. I gave myself a generous amount of time to drive and find parking – I arrived at the start area close to an hour before the start time. It was drizzling a little – but the rain let up by the time the race began.

The corrals AKA “pig pens” were all released at once. The course crossed into Kentucky so this was the first race where I ran through TWO states – pretty cool. There wasn’t any on-course entertainment – but there was a sufficient amount of aid stations. I crossed the finish in 1:18:24 with a pace of 12:38 – not a PR but I’m happy with my time.

screenshot_999.png

I quickly grabbed a bottle of water and some complimentary snacks and hopped in my car and drove home. As I walked to my car it started to rain again, and continued throughout the day – I lucked out! I’m still anticipating a soggy, wet, race in the future – but today was not that day.

This race was a great scenic tour of my new hometown AND a great introduction into Cincinnati’s running community.

Trying to Be “Somewhat” Healthy on a Road Trip

My husband and I recently completed a 10 day cross country road trip from San Francisco, CA to Cincinnati, OH. Below are some of the things that we did to try to make this trip a little healthier:

Try to find hotels with complimentary breakfasts –  I’m a breakfast eater and breakfasts can be a challenging thing to manage on the road – Most road hotels (Hampton Inn, Best Westerns, comfort inn) offer free hot breakfasts – where you can pick and choose what you want in the amount you want. You have the options of eggs, biscuits, waffles, yogurt, hot and cold cereals, fruit, english muffins, and pastries. It made the mornings more enjoyable and we were still able to hit the road on time.

Have snacks on hand – hunger strikes at weird times on the road, and we had healthy options on hand. Cashews, almonds, raisins, dates, peanut butter (in individual cups for those who like to eat it straight up), protein bars, and crackers were our trip staples.

Eat one “sack” meal per day – we usually had one meal in a restaurant (lunch or dinner) per day, the other meal we ate in the car or in our hotel room – which usually was a light sack lunch – some combination of peanut butter sandwich, crackers, nuts, dried fruit.We also occasionally had leftovers from the previous restaurant meals for lunch/dinner. All of our lodgings were equipped with a refrigerator. Having one lighter meal helped balance things out.

Try to fit in exercise – most of the road trip was spent in a sedentary state, but we did try to fit a few runs in if our hotel was located near a safe running route. Most hotels we stayed at also had fitness centers, but we did not take advantage of them (maybe next time). We also took a few nice walks in some of the towns we stopped in.

Have realistic expectations – I’m not someone with the strongest of discipline – while I would love to be someone who could eat clean regardless of the situation they are in, I’m just not. In my home life – we eat out once a week, but on the road, it’s everyday. I also am someone who likes to indulge during special occasions, and being fortunate to explore different regions of our beautiful nation is a special occasion. We definitely had more than a few opportunities to indulge and we took advantage of them.

20160421_100845.jpg
Cupcake Pancakes at IHOP – one of the several meals I treated myself to on the road

Our cross country road trip was an experience that made lifelong memories for us – it was nice to be able to balance the “vices” of traveling with a few healthy choices.

New town – new experiences

Two and a half years ago my husband and I packed up everything – left our family, friends, pretty much everything that was familiar to us and moved out west to San Francisco, CA.

The move was a challenge – but thanks to generous friends or as I’d like to call them: angels – who let us crash at their place for a month – we were able to find an apartment in a great location with convenient amenities – in the city of SF.

Living in one of the most beautiful and progressive cities in the country was a wonderful experience.

I found an amazing job with great people, had the opportunity to see lots of top notch live entertainment, explored new cities and locations in the Bay Area and within the state of CA, learned how to be more of a minimalist, ate lots of delicious food, and thanks to SF’s mild climate and scenic views – became a runner. If it were not for my move here – I might have not picked up what I hope to be a lifelong habit.

However – with time brings change – and many things are calling us back east: primarily opportunities and family.

We are planting our roots in Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived in Columbus, Ohio (about 90 minutes north of Cinci) for close to four years.

Ohio has a special place in my heart – it’s where I met my husband, where I made my closest friends, and where I received my college degree.

I’m not as familiar with Cinci as I am with Columbus – I have visited there many times (my husband grew up there) – however I still consider myself to be unfamiliar with the area.

Like our move to SF – I’m looking forward to finding a place to call home.

I’m also really looking forward to running in Cinci – a challenge for me will be the hot summers and cold winters (fall and spring are the sweet spots for running outdoors). I’ve been doing a lot of research on races in the Cincinnati area and throughout the tri-state area (Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky) and it seems to be that I’m arriving at the start of racing season. I already have a list of races I’d like to register for – I might have a busy summer ahead.

First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon 2016 Recap

After not running my planned half marathon this past month due to a bad chest cold – I was antsy to run the earliest half I could get my hands on.

I had a trip out to Florida in March to spend time with family, and the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon fell during the time I was there, and was conveniently located.

This race conveniently (please note sarcasm) fell on the first day of daylight savings time – so the 6:45 am start would feel like a 5:45 am start, and the 4:30 am wake up would feel like a 3:30 am wake up.

Nevertheless, I slept very well for a pre-race night, and woke up to my alarm. I had my usual oatmeal and almonds – and since my body felt it was the middle of the night – it was really tough to get down.

My mom dropped me off at the start area at 5:45 am, and I picked up my packet, checked my participant tee with gear check, and lined up at the start, placing myself between the 2:45 and 3:00 pacers. I had no PR in mind due to it being my first half marathon in the Florida heat and humidity. I believe it was 75 degrees at the time of the start.

There were no time-released corrals at the start, everyone started at once. I started out at a slow jog until the crowd thinned and eased into my 30:30 intervals.

There were a lot of Galloway runners in this group. I played leapfrog with with a few people who must have been running the same intervals as me. There was one major “hill” which was a causeway bridge that we ascended before mile 1 – and we would return to that bridge  again a little after mile 4. I crossed the first 5k at 40 minutes in, which was consistent with the pace I wanted. When I came back to that bridge, I changed my intervals to 15:30 as I climbed – my goal was not to wear myself out – especially as the heat rose.  Once the bridge was out of the way – I switched back to 30:30.

Miles 7-9 seemed to take FOREVER – at that point the course went through residential areas, pretty but didn’t captivate my attention enough.

At mile 11 I started to get a pain in the back of my knee that forced me to switch to 15:30 intervals and alternate which foot I pushed off of. The pain started to go away halfway through mile 12 and once I saw the finish line I pushed through.

screenshot_985.png

My time was 2:54:53 with a pace of 13:20 per mile. Not near my faster times – but I’m happy.

The post race food was a catered brunch from First Watch – but I was not hungry at all – bummer, because it did look delicious.

After the race, I grabbed my bag from gear check – took a medal selfie and waited for my mom to pick me up (just like middle school).

This race was my first out-of-state half marathon, and it gave me confidence to know I could run the distance in high humidity and heat.

The race was organized and provided enough on-course support. Definitely a great experience.

2016 Disney Princess 5k Recap Part 2

Part 1 here

After the expo, we chilled out at the hotel for the remainder of the day – the red eye flight from the night before started to take it’s toll on me and I was fast asleep by 8pm.

Which brings me to 1:30 am the following morning – both my mom and I were up around this time and after laying around for a half hour we started to get ready. Since we were walking a 5k – I decided to primp myself up a little bit more than I would if I were “running” – i.e – I wore makeup and “styled” my hair. By styled I mean I wore my hair down in pigtails and we had matching Ariel headband/tiara thingies that we got from Party City.

We also wore matching Disney tops – which we bought at Macy’s on clearance back in September (I told you we’ve been preparing for this race)

We hopped on the first bus which left the hotel at 3:45 am – we were at the start area by 4am.

One thing I loved about Disney World RunDisney was that they sold concessions at the start area. Our hotel wasn’t selling any food or drinks that early (FYI – Disney host resorts do sell breakfast items before the 10ks and above) – but the start area for the 5k did have coffee, granola bars, breakfast sandwiches, and a few other things. Thank GOODNESS – I need coffee in the morning.

We had about two hours to kill before lining up for the corrals – there was a DJ playing typical pop/party music – so my mom and I killed time and warmed up by dancing and people watching.

Soon enough – we lined up in our corrals – waited another 25 minutes – and we were off.

My mom’s goal was to finish as fast as she could walk – she did not want to stop for any reason – no water, character photos, or even a selfie.

The first mile was in the parking lot/backstage of Epcot, and the remaining 2.1 were in the park.

Once inside the park, the course felt very familiar, as it is essentially a walk around World Showcase and Future World – because we have done this path so many times before – it went by very quickly – however it was so much fun!

Based on looking at the clock when we started and finished – it took us about 56 minutes to walk the 5k – a pace of around 18 per mile.

My mom finished strong – and felt great. I was SO proud of her. She really caught the RunDisney bug and wants to do a 10k next! She feels with training she could get her pace to under 16 minutes – and I plan to help her get there.

Z

We spent the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom – and proudly wore our 5k medals.

This race was so much fun! I thought I would feel like I was “missing out” because I wasn’t participating in the longer races – but I didn’t feel it that much. In fact, it felt pretty good to wake up early only once and relax the rest of the weekend.

Sure, a 5k might be the shortest “long distance” race out there – but it was memorable – 1.) because the majority of it was in the parks  and 2.) because it was my mom’s first RunDisney race