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Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Sole of the City 10K

This was my first race of the year and my second race since starting running again after baby!

I have to admit, I was skeptical of this race. Back in January, I decided to buy an entry after it showed up as a Livingsocial deal. At the time, I hadn't been running much because I was just coming off of weeks of illness and holidays and cold weather. It looked like it might be a nice course, so I went ahead and bought the deal and registered for the race. The crappy part of the deal was that I had to register in person, but the good part of that was that it got me a really good coupon to Charm City Run ($20 off a $50 purchase!) and so I got a new bra for cheap out of the deal also.

I started training when I bought the deal in January, and I was faced with 20 degree and below temperatures daily, and snow, ice, sleet, snow, ice, and more snow. I wasn't able to run outside for basically all of my training runs. The only runs for this race that I completed outside were the last 2 long runs and the last few weekly runs. Incidentally, right as the weather warmed up, work commenced on our basement again, blocking off our treadmill, so now I have the opposite problem - I have to run outside.

I wasn't sure how my training was going, but two weeks ago I had a pretty nice 6.5 mile run out on the NCR trail (in the rain), so I was feeling slightly optimistic about this race, I guess.

Race day yesterday was beautiful. 50-ish degrees at the start, sunny and warm and beautiful. Probably a little warm for me, but I didn't really feel too hot for most of the race. The start of the race was off of Fort Avenue in Locust Point. I was running with my friend Kristen, who was planning to walk the race. When I showed her walk/run, though, she was impressed. I was doing 1:1s and that was perfect for her. She ended up sticking with me until mile 5.

The course took us from Locust Point around Key Highway and down Pratt Street - way down into what I think was the Canton area (Honestly, I get confused about what part of the city I'm in), and then took us back on the waterfront. We passed marinas and fancy restaurants. Right around mile 4, which is where my conversation tends to turn to food, we were passing RA Sushi, Talara, Pabu, Lebanese Taverna... Yum yum yum.

Then, we headed past Pier 6 and across bridges between the piers - past more restaurants (Chipotle, Hard Rock Cafe) and the aquarium, right through the inner harbor. We went under the World Trade Center and in front of the Pratt Street and Light Street Pavilions, past the USS Constellation, and around to the Maryland Science Center. The course photographers were in front of the Light Street Pavilion, so race photos will have the backdrop of the inner harbor. We then went back on the street to head up Federal Hill (the only hills on the course) to end back where we started at McHenry Row.

It was THE BEST course I've ever run in the city. Hands down.

I really liked this race. I wasn't super fast, even by current standards. I could have gone faster, but I took it easy since 6.2 miles is actually a daunting distance for me right now. I finished strong and felt great at the finish.

There was beer at the end, if that interests you, but I wasn't all that interested in drinking and I was in a rush to get back to my little boy, who was home with daddy.

The swag was pretty great for this race - a half zip long sleeve Under Armour top that was embroidered with the Sole of the City logo. It was a great race all around, and I had a great time. I am glad I did it!!

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Friday, March 21, 2014


Todd read my blog yesterday and pointed out that I last posted "I'm sick of running" and then disappeared. Well, I haven't disappeared because I've stopped running! I actually haven't posted much because I feel like I don't have a lot to say that doesn't have to do with what is going into or coming out of my little boy. I also lost my BlogHer advertising, so the pressure is off to post regularly enough to not lose the advertising (I lost the advertising for not posting regularly).

So, I've been running, although entirely indoors. I'm training for the Sole of the City 10K, and the snow and cold has been so terrible that all but one of my training runs has been on the treadmill. I think I can finally get outside this weekend, and that's good because I think work is going to resume on our basement (which yes, is still under construction 1 year after we started) and the treadmill will be out of commission.

I am still contemplating whether or not I will try and run a half marathon in the fall. I would love to, but I don't know if it is going to be possible to get my training runs in. I'd hate to sign up for the Galloway program only to not be able to keep up with it. My runs have been sporadic, but I have been doing them. So, we'll see. I'm still thinking on it. I'm getting so close to weaning Owen, so that will be a big help in allowing me to have time to run.

In the meantime, I've included a cute picture of my little family at my cousin's wedding last weekend.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Confession Time

Here's a confession, and one that I haven't said aloud to anyone. Not Todd, not any friend, nobody. It's time for me to be completely honest.

I don't really want to run anymore.

I feel terrible about this, and I've been lying to myself about it for a few months. I finally started really thinking about why it's been so hard for me to get my runs in. It's not just that I lack the motivation to run, but also that running has gotten less fun and more difficult.

Running is less fun for me now. I miss my running group, and I run alone the vast majority of the time. I cannot run on the weeknights from my running store anymore because doing so would get me home at 7:45 at the earliest, and Owen's bedtime is 7:30. I need to be home by 6:30 in order to start the going to bed process (his last meal is at 6:30). I'm tired of running alone. I'm tired of always having to run in my neighborhood, which is the hilliest area that I ever run. I'm bored with the hills, I'm bored with running in the same place all the time. But, running elsewhere is too much trouble. Plus, since I've been away from running, I have lost a lot of my stamina and strength. I ran 7 miles in early November and it was miserable and knocked me out for most of the day. Ugh. I know if I run more, I'll get it back, but in the meantime, I'm hating it.

For various reasons, I had to miss both of my potential goal races this year - I had two different 10Ks I was thinking about, and I ran neither. Now, I have nothing that I am training for, and no reason to really push myself. No fun.

Running is more difficult. It's more difficult because, like I said, it's harder because I've lost so much of my stamina. It's also logistically difficult. Running in the morning during the week is nearly impossible because Owen's day starts at 6:30am and I am not getting enough sleep at night to get up earlier than him. Todd leaves fairly early in the morning, so I have to watch Owen in the morning. It's been too cold to take Owen out in the jog stroller, and my neighborhood is so hilly that I don't like the idea of pushing a stroller there while I run. Running in the evening? Well, like I said, I need to be home by 6:30. In order to both be home to run and be home to feed Owen, I would need to leave my office before 5pm... And I'm already taking 1 to 1 1/2 hours away from work a day to pump. I can't spare any more time away from work, so the best time to run during the week is after 7:30pm, when Owen has gone to bed, getting me done at 8:30, meaning that I don't get to eat dinner until after 9pm, most likely. And I go to bed around 10pm.

How about running on the weekends? Well, I need to devote my first part of the day to Owen, and most of my running venues are a minimum of 30 minutes away. Plus, then I'm away from Owen for a minimum of 1 hour, but more likely 2-3 hours depending on how far I run. I have to find people to meet me later in the morning, since my old time of 7-7:30am just doesn't work for me anymore. And, I'm way slower than most of my previous running partners. Not to mention my lack of sleep, which has meant that I just plain don't have the energy to run lately.

Plus, did I mention that I have been sick for three weeks? And I was sick for a week two weeks before that? And I had a stomach virus in between those two illnesses? That hasn't made me particularly excited about racing or running, and it's also the reason that I missed the two races I'd been thinking about.

Honestly, I went to a half marathon with Todd last weekend. He was running, I was just watching, and for the first time, I went to a race and had no feeling like I was wishing that I was the one running.

I've been seriously considering giving up running indefinitely and going back to step aerobics. Step is so much easier to do at home, and so much more fun to do alone. I don't have to worry about weather, and I really enjoy it. That doesn't mean I'll never run again, but if I want to get exercise in, I'm wondering if running just isn't my best choice. This entire year has been a giant bust. I haven't run since Thanksgiving.

Feeling sad about the whole thing...

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Blog Almost Never Now and THIS is what I Choose to Write About?

I like to dress Owen up in matching outfits. My friend Michelle told me I would be addicted to gymboree, and I said "No way!" But she was right. I'm addicted to Gymboree. So, this morning I had him all dressed up in a cute little matching outfit. Then, I picked him up and brought him into the bathroom to show Todd, who was showering.

Me: Whoops!!
Todd: What?
Me: Did you hear that? That was the sound of your kid's head hitting the door as I walked into the room.
Todd: What??? Is he Okay?
Me: Yeah, he's fine. Look, he's not even crying! And look at his outfit!
Todd: Seriously. Are you serious? You hit his head?
Me: Yes, but he's fine!!! Look at his outfit!!!
Todd: Be more careful!
Me: The outfit!
Todd: Yeah, it's cute.

I've been sick with RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) for two weeks. It is miserable. I also am barely sleeping. Prior to the RSV, I had some other cold and a stomach virus. I've had 5 colds since May. Running isn't going so great, as I have decided not to run again until I am 100%. Boo.

Anyway, here's a picture of me and my kid in the snow:

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I'm Thankful For This Year

Five years ago this month, my former boss passed away. His passing helped me to learn that sometimes you lose people when you just aren't expecting it, and so you should cherish every single day.

Last week, I had actually been pondering the anniversary of my boss's death a few hours before I got the call that my cousin, Paul passed away very suddenly and very unexpectedly. His funeral was on Tuesday, and I spent the day surrounded by my family, passing Owen around as a way to add a little bit of happiness into what was a ridiculously terrible day. As I sat there, I looked around at my cousins, aunts and uncles and thought about how happy I was to have them. Paul's death was preventable, and I know that in a heartbeat any of those people would have stopped it if they had known that they could have. I know I certainly would have.

I am going to miss Paul like you would not believe, but his death has made me stop and think about my family and how incredibly happy I am to be a part of it. There are people out there who hate their families, and I cannot understand this. Mine rocks.

So, this thanksgiving is for you, my cousins, my grandmother, my aunts and my uncles. I love you guys, and I'm there for you, if you find that you need me. Please don't forget it.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Why I Used a Doula

If you've never heard the word "doula" before, you're not alone. I hadn't heard of it until a friend of mine used one several years ago. The organization for doulas, DONA International, defines a doula as a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. The use of a doula seems to be mostly kept to what I like to call crunchy/granola types,which I sometimes identify with.

Services for using a doula can be prohibitively expensive, though. The doula that I used for the birth of my baby was $900. Not cheap. Would I use her again, though? Absofrickinlutely.

I had never seen myself as a person who would use a doula or a birth coach until my father was terminally ill in the hospital in mid-2012. He was in the ICU, and our situation was complicated due to the fact that my dad had remarried and had become close with his wife's children, but his own children had not shared that closeness. In fact, during July 2012, the two families spent more time together than ever before in the 18 years that my dad and his wife had been married. I hadn't even seen some of his children in about 15 years. So, the two families had differing opinions about the approach we should be taking for my father's care. Since he hadn't created a living will or advance directive or anything, we were kind of all shooting in the dark.

To make matters worse, the ICU doctors were rotating, and in the 3 weeks that dad was in the hospital, I never spoke to the same doctor twice. They probably felt the same about us - we were all in and out at various times due to work schedules and they never spoke to any of us twice, either. Each of us was getting different information from different doctors, and each doctor was practicing a different specialty. Most of them seemed to think that he was beyond hope and was going to die. They did their best to guide us, but we were in uncharted territory and didn't have enough of an understanding of the situation and of medicine to make an informed decision. I can't say with any certainty that we made the right decisions about his care, and it will linger with all of us forever about what might have been different if other choices had been made.

What we really needed, I decided, was someone who did have an understanding of end of life care and who was familiar with the doctors, the hospital and the ICU. When a doctor asked us a question and wanted us to do something, we needed someone there to explain to us what the risks of each of the options were, and why we may or may not want to choose each option. That person wouldn't be there to convince us to make one decision or another, they just needed to inform us about what the decision meant. That person should also be with us through the entire thing - from the moment my dad entered the hospital until his body was released - so that they had a full picture of the entire situation. The doctors never had a full picture, they just glanced over his chart, talked to us, maybe ordered a test or something, and moved on to the next patient.

This, what I just explained, is what a doula does for you when you are in labor. She (I am using she  because most doulas are women) meets with you before your birth and discusses your birth preferences. I didn't feel like I had any particular birth preferences early in my pregnancy, except that I didn't want a C-Section, but as time went on and I learned more about birth, I learned that I had very specific birth preferences. The thing is, that you don't know that you have a birth preference until you understand birth. Just like with my dad, when we didn't know the right answer for him because we didn't understand the question.

So, there's a second part to this also - the best birth patients are those who are informed about the birth process. It always floors me when I hear women saying they're just going to "wing it" and go to the hospital without taking any classes. The argument is that women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, so it will come naturally. That works, except that for a very long time, women have had help while giving birth, in the form of midwives or doulas, and birth these days tends to be less on the natural side of things - a hospital isn't particularly "natural." What happens when the doctor comes in and says you're not progressing fast enough and something needs to be done? What often happens is that doctors tell you what they are going to do, when they are really ok with you saying no. So, if they say that they want to give you pitocin, you can actually say "can we try this other thing instead and see if it works to speed things along?" Quite often, doctors will say sure.

Doulas can help with such issues. They can help you make the choices that you need to make in order to have a safe and healthy birth. Safe and healthy are the most important words here - not drug-free. I was willing to try a drug-free birth, and through my childbirth classes, I learned coping methods to try and get through birth without an epidural. In the end, I chose to have one. My doula, contrary to what you might think, was completely supportive in my desire to get an epidural and walked me through it. My informed childbirth class was invaluable in helping me to know what to expect when it was time for the drugs.

At a minimum, if you choose not to have a doula or birth coach, do go to an informed childbirth class. I recommend going to one that is not taught at a hospital. I attended classes with Emily Pelton of Baltimore Family Beginnings and was awesome. While a hospital class will focus on the medical interventions and give more of a doctor-centered instruction on birth, classes like Emily's will focus on understanding the natural process of birth and the medical interventions. Emily considered epidurals and other medical interventions (even c-section) to be tools that are necessary and useful at times. For example, epidurals, when used well into labor, can help mom to relax so that she can dilate more easily. That is exactly what happened when I had my epidural - after 8 or 9 hours of labor, I had only dilated to 6 centimeters, but after the epidural, I was at 10 centimeters in under an hour.

During the labor, Bobbie (my doula), helped me so very much. She allowed Todd to have a break during labor, and certainly made him more comfortable. I knew she was there to help me make decisions and help me through things. Most of all, she was there with me at my house at 6am, working on turning the baby so that he was facing the correct way, and helping me deal with the pain. She followed us to the hospital, and she stayed by my side to help me change while I was having crushing contractions. She was there to help talk me through the epidural, and was by my side while I was resting after I go the epidural. During the pushing phase, she held my leg (Todd had the other) and gave me the pep talk that I needed to get the job done right at the end. I cannot express how much she helped me. Money well spent.

Of course, the hospital where I gave birth was important also. I gave birth at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, which was very open to working with patients that had doulas and birth plans. This is VERY important - the hospital matters. In Baltimore, GBMC is known as a hospital that does not tolerate patient requests during birth and is very doctor-centric. Not surprisingly, it also has a very high c-section rate. It's a very nice hospital, but I would never give birth there.

So, if you are pregnant, do educate yourself on informed childbirth. Do consider getting a doula. Consider the hospital that you choose and the doctor or midwife that you choose to make sure that they will work with you on what is best for you during your birth. Most of all, enjoy this time :)

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Monday, October 14, 2013

10 Second Book Reviews

Keeping Faith: I bought this one because it was on sale for Kindle and I have liked other Jodi Picoult books that I have read. This one is about a little girl who, in the midst of a family crisis, begins speaking to God. Or, does she? It's an interesting story, and it is very much like most of the other Jodi Picoult books that are out there. She's an easy author to read. Of the three I've read, this would probably be my second favorite, after My Sister's Keeper.

The Dog Stars: I've been reading quite a bit of dystopian fiction. In this one, it's post-apocalypse, and the apocalypse was caused by a disease of some sort. The main character lives on an airport with another (slightly crazy) man. We basically follow his life as he deals with the death of his wife, and basically, the death of basically everyone. The writing is a little strange, but you get used to it. I very much enjoyed it.

The Light Between Oceans: This one was a page turner. A lighthouse keeper lives on a remote island off of Australia with his wife. The two of them suffer a series of miscarriages when a boat washes ashore with a baby in it. Their prayers are answered, and they decide to keep the baby. The story goes from there - what happens to them as they raise this child that isn't theirs. It's a bit of a tragedy, but very very good.

Spinning Forward: Ugh. I bought this one for my Kindle because it was a free book and I wanted to have a few free books on my Kindle in case I ever needed to start a book without having access to buy a new one. I decided to give it a try, and it was just awful. The writing was terrible, the characters were annoying, the story line was predicable and boring. I slugged through it and finished it, but please don't bother reading it yourself.

The Secret Keeper: I loved this one. For whatever reason, over the last year or two I've been reading a lot of books that take place during WWII. This one does as well, and tells the story of a young girl searching for information about her mother's past. It's hard to say a lot about the story without giving away some spoilers. I will say that this is a love story, this is an exciting story about the war, and it's also a bit of a mystery. I didn't see the ending coming, even though I"m sure many people did.

11/22/63: Stephen King is one of those authors that I rarely read, but when I do, I really love his books. This one was recommended to me by a running friend, so I thought I'd give it a try (she also recommended Under the Dome, so that one is on my to read list). Basically, a man finds a portal that allows him to travel back in time to 1958. He decides (for many reasons) to use this portal to go back and try and stop the assassination of JFK. It sounds weird and far-fetched, but I found it incredibly interesting. King obviously did a ton of research on the Kennedy assassination and on Lee Harvey Oswald. This book is super-long, but it was well worth the read.

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