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Monday, August 25, 2014

Annapolis Ten Mile Run 2014

I was so very nervous about this race. Sure, I've run it 6 times in the past, but this race is notoriously difficult - hot, humid, hilly and an expectation of a fast time. In previous years, the rules clearly stated that there was a 12 minute per mile pace expected by mile 8 or else you'd be swept. However, the other day I was going back over the website, and I noticed that this year the expected per mile pace is 15 minutes per mile. I don't know when they changed it - it could have been several years ago for all I know, but I think that's a good change. After all, they never were actually sweeping people anyway.

This is the third race that I've run since having a baby, and the longest. I was trained for it, but I'm so much slower than I was when I last ran it in 2012. I tried to set a modest goal, but I didn't want to make this race the worst A-10 I've ever done, either. So, I looked at my last time, which was 2012, when I ran a 2:03, and my best time, which was 2010 - 2:00. And, I looked at my worst time - 2:12, 2007. I decided to set a goal for 2:10, a 13-minute per mile pace (which would match the pace that I kept for the 10K that I ran in April). My "true" goal, though, was to beat my 2007 time and make this race "not my worst."

Todd and I arrived in Annapolis in the afternoon on Saturday. We had planned to quickly pick up our packets and then walk with Owen around the city dock, but rain spoiled those plans. We are Ingress players, and there were tons of playing opportunities downtown, so we did drive around for a bit playing the game. It was not as fun as it would have been on foot with the stroller on a non-rainy day. Owen was fussy, so we went ahead over to the stadium and got our packets.

They gave us an orange hat with our race numbers. I don't get it - why an orange hat? It doesn't match anything else that we've ever gotten for this race. Maybe it matches some overall apparel set that the Annapolis Striders have going on? Who knows. Anyway, I also purchased a belt to hold my phone because I'd forgotten mine at home.

After packet pickup, we headed to my mom's house so she could enjoy some time with Owen. My mom and her SO were going to watch Owen during the race and Todd and I were VERY VERY nervous about this. So, we wanted to give Owen plenty of time to warm up to her. Then, the five of us headed out to Bertucci's for our traditional pre-A10 pizza.

In the morning, we got up early, but remained happy that we don't have to get up as early as people do who don't stay in Annapolis. We left Owen with my mom and headed down to the race. *TMI Alert* Since having Owen, I have had more of a need to go to the bathroom during runs. I was nervous about this, so I felt like I needed to wait in line for a potty and go before the race. This took up ALL of the time that we had before the race started, and the national anthem was playing while I was in the potty. But, I was glad I did and we were properly positioned in the back of the pack when I was done.

Looking towards the starting line from the back of the pack

Todd was running with me because his training has been spotty all summer. I was glad for this, though, it's always nice to have company. In years past, we've always known lots of people to be running this race also, but this year we had exactly zero Fleet Feet Baltimore people coming down with us, so we had no one to meet and no one to run with.

We started farther back than I've ever started and I LOVED it. I was able to easily take walk breaks before mile 1 was even through. We were doing 1:1s and things were going well. The weather was nice too - sunny and about 66 degrees at the start. That's a good starting temp. It was humid, though, and I could feel it.

Things went about as you would expect - I was beating my goal pace of 13 minutes and feeling great about it, but apprehensive as I knew I'd start to fade once I hit the big hills after going through downtown Annapolis. We made it over the bridge and I was slowly feeling a migraine coming on. Bleh. The race had running medics, so I started keeping my eye out for someone wearing a medical vest. We finally passed her at the out & back around mile 7, and Todd stopped her and asked her for some Tylenol. Todd stopped her because when the time came I was like "oh, never mind. It's no big deal," but Todd insisted. The medic gave me some tylenol and made a note on my bib. The headache was gone before we even hit mile 8.

I faded some in the second half of the race, but in general things were good. Todd was hamming it up with the other runners, at one point grabbing someone's sign and cheering me on with it as I passed him. We crossed the finish line pretty strong, and I ended up making my goal exactly - 2:10:18.

The bad part? They'd run out of XL jackets at the finish. Come on, race directors. I HATE THIS. The rule should be - take the size you registered for, period. At the end, after all of the runners had finished, if there is some left, THEN you can trade. Not, "oh, I didn't notice that the size chart was so small and this isn't going to fit me can I take an XL that is reserved for someone slower than me?" Screw people that do that.

I ended up with a Men's L, which I am not happy about. Boo Annapolis Striders.

All in all, a good race. I was dreading it since it's my first foray into long distance in 2 years, but I feel like I'm truly "back." Now, all eyes are on my half marathon in October...

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Friday, August 15, 2014

My Year of Breastfeeding, Part Three: Back To Work

I initially started writing so much about breastfeeding because of World Breastfeeding Week, which is over, I guess, but then it sounded like August is National Breastfeeding month... So, I guess I'm still within the limits of writing about it while celebrating something!

The most challenging part of breastfeeding for me, by far, was going back to work. On day one back at work, not only was I worried about leaving my baby, but I also had to produce food for him in a bit of a weird place to be doing so.

One important thing to note: by law (thanks to the ACA), employers with over 50 employees must provide a place for a mother to breastfeed her baby that is not a restroom. Details can be found on the US Department of Labor Website. They also must provide you with the time to breastfeed (although I don't think they have to pay you, I'm salaried, so I don't know).

Anyway, I checked with my HR representative before I left for maternity leave and made sure things were on the up and up from that perspective. She had a spare office ready for me when I got back to work. It was not 100% ideal, but better than the worst I've heard of. I would definitely recommend talking to your HR representative before leaving on maternity leave. Some of my previous employers had a designated room for nursing moms rather than a makeshift place like mine had. One of my employers had a really nice room with a comfortable reclining armchair, table and its own fridge. My office that I used to pump had a round table and four chairs, a file cabinet, and a lamp. The lamp was stolen about 4 months after I went back to work.

I had my fair share of issues when I got back to work. One of my fellow employees found it amusing to knock on the door while I was pumping, even though he knew I was in there and what I was doing. After I caught him doing it, he stopped. I think he might be the same guy who stole the lamp. I had trouble with people from other locations trying to squat in the office for the day, until finally I started locking the door all the time.

I was lucky that I was able to keep up with producing enough milk for Owen during the time that I pumped. I have a few tips that I think really helped me:
  • Get lots of rest, and stay hydrated. These aren't the be all -end all of making things work, but I know that the more rest I would get, the more I would produce.
  • Don't skip pumping sessions. If you have a plan that is working for you, stay on schedule. Make it a priority. Put it on your calendar so that others cannot schedule that time. Set an alarm.
  • Make sure you're nursing whenever you can when you're with your baby. I have to admit, I made it a huge priority to make sure that I was always with Owen when I wasn't at work so that I could nurse him. Nursing keeps your supply up better than pumping, so make use of that if you can.
  • Don't let daycare try and tell you to bring in more and more milk! This is HUGE. Daycare is used to formula fed infants, and they will try and tell you that your baby is hungry and needs more and more milk. I fought this over and over and worked with them. He would drink the bottle so fast and would cry when it was gone. But, I never sent in more than 9oz per day for him. In general, breastfed babies need 1oz per hour of separation. Kellymom.com has an excellent page on this, complete with a calculator for figuring out how much milk your baby needs. Personally, I think this expectation of more, more, more is what sabotaged many of the working moms that I know who gave up pumping early.
  • Don't increase the nipple size on the bottles. Breastfed babies east slower than formula fed babies and the slower they eat, the faster they'll get full. So, use the lowest flow nipples you can find, and don't ever increase them. Owen was still using newborn nipples at 12 months. I mean, your own nipples don't change the flow, right?
More tips can  be found at Kellymom.com, which is a tremendous resource.

My biggest tip? It's fine to breastfeed part time if you want to. At 12 months, I weaned from the pump and by the end of June, I was not pumping at work anymore at all (a WONDERFUL relief!). However, I still nurse Owen before bed and in the morning (and if he wakes up during the night). I also nurse him twice more during the day on weekends or if he's home from school. Yes, I still make milk (many friends have asked). Owen drinks whole cows milk from bottles at daycare now.

I hope that my posts on breastfeeding have been helpful. I loved reading about peoples experiences when I was in the thick of breastfeeding, because it made me feel a little less like the only person in the world who was not planning to give formula to my baby ever. Hopefully you learned something!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Year of Breastfeeding, Part 2: Out in Public

Continuing with posting for World Breastfeeding Week!

If you are looking for an excellent online resource for breasteeding, check out KellyMom.com. That site has been invaluable to me for the last 14 months, letting me know exactly what to expect at each stage of my breastfeeding journey.

There are a lot of different bits of advice out there about how to avoid postpartum depression. What did I find worked best for me? Leaving the house. Todd and I would take a walk or go to the grocery store, or go out somewhere for that first week that I was home with the baby. Then, he went back to work and I had to venture out on my own and it wasn't as hard as I was afraid it would be. One of the challenges, though, was breastfeeding.

Nothing obscene here...
Not that I think that breastfeeding is more difficult in public than formula. This is one of the big advantages to nursing - no formula to have with you, no bottles to deal with, no measuring or mixing. If I was caught out longer than expected, I didn't have to worry about being out of food. Diapers, yes, but food? No problem. What a pain it's been since Owen has started solids to worry about if he's going to get hungry while we're out! Of course, I'm still nursing him, so no biggie most of the time.

What was a pain was that at first, I was intimidated by the thought of nursing in public. I had a cover, and I used it. Even so, I really wanted to have privacy when I was nursing - especially right at first when I wasn't so good at it. A lot of times this meant nursing in the car with the air conditioning blasting, or nursing in a dressing room (NOTE: At Kohls, the lights are on a motion sensor activated timer and if you don't move around enough because you're nursing, the lights will go out). I learned what stores had great resources for nursing mothers. Shout out to Ikea and their baby care room - complete with a private bathroom, changing table, and comfortable chair and table for nursing. I LOVE Ikea for this. Ikea also happens to be the only place where I've ever seen a Koala Care Changing Table that actually contained supplies.

As time went on and I found myself needing to nurse in public more and more, I felt more and more comfortable with it. No one ever said anything to me (except the occasional "good for you" or something). Then came our trip to Disney in August. We were out in public a lot and it was hot. I breastfed all over that place - in the lounge of the Contemporary Resort, inside the Carousel of Progress, on Spaceship Earth, on the Monorail. Heck, on the Peoplemover, a Disney employee actually  told me to breasteed on the ride, and that I could stay on as long as Owen wanted to eat (this turned out to be twice). It's actually a little known secret among nursing mothers that the Peoplemover is the best ride in WDW to nurse on. Disney also has baby care centers in every park that include nice diaper changing tables and private nursing rooms with rocking chairs and individual dimming lights.

A funny thing happened at Disney. I stopped worrying so much about nursing in public. Sometime during that trip, I completely dropped the cover and haven't used it since. I don't even know where it is and Owen wouldn't tolerate it at this point anyway. I started noticing women nursing all over the place and realized that they'd been there all along and I hadn't seen them. So, if I hadn't noticed women nursing all this time, why in the world would people even be paying attention to me? The baby's head hides anything that I wouldn't want seen, and your shirt covers the top. I started nursing in front of people and I didn't care what they thought anymore.

The change to not caring about what people thought in public was wonderful. I am not sure I could have continued breastfeeding this long with all of that fear that I had at first.

Here's what you need to know as a breastfeeding mother -- most states, 46 of them, in fact, have laws allowing a mother to breastfeed in cover without a cover. Here's a list of breastfeeding laws. Do NOT let anyone tell you that must use a cover or that you cannot breastfeed your baby. Be aware of the laws of your state, and let people know if someone says anything to you. The good news is that I never experienced any backlash, although I admit I'm starting to get nervous as Owen gets older that I might start getting comments about nursing an older child. We shall see.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

My Year of Breastfeeding Part One: Just Starting Out

It is World Breastfeeding Week, and I wanted to do my part to share my breastfeeding story.

It's been 14 months since Baby O was born, and we are still going strong breastfeeding. It's been a pretty great experience so far, overall. Sometimes it's been difficult, sometimes it's been painful, sometimes it's been sweet and wonderful. Like everything in the world, breastfeeding has its ups and downs.

People seem to be very surprised when they find out that Owen is still nursing. In fact, in the US, while nearly 75% of mothers are breastfeeding at birth, less than 25% are still breastfeeding at one year (via Kellymom). The American Academy of Pediatrics (as well as most other organizations) recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life and that breastfeeding continue along with solids until age 1. In the US, the number of babies that are exclusively breastfed until 6 months stands at less than 15%. It's too bad that this is the case, because breastfeeding is so wonderful, both for you and for your baby.

I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Owen even before he was conceived. To me, there was no reason not to breastfeed him. It would be healthier for him, could possibly help me to lose weight, and would be less expensive than purchasing formula. After talking to a number of friends about their breastfeeding experiences, though, I decided that I wanted to take a breastfeeding class. I was already 8 months pregnant, though, and there were no more classes being offered in the area before my due date. So, I ended up asking for some advice from Emily, who was my birth class instructor, and she recommended Breastfeeding Made Simple as a great book to read before Owen was born. I bought it immediately and read it cover to cover and it certainly gave me a great basis for what to expect when Owen was born. My single biggest tip for new moms is to make sure that you either read up on breastfeeding or take a breastfeeding class before your baby is born. Lactation consultants in the hospital are great, but they are not always available and they do not always click personality wise with mom.

Owen was born with meconium in the amniotic fluid because he was stressed in the womb (the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck). What this meant was that I could not breastfeed him immediately. Once he'd been looked over for any possible problems, though, he was brought over to me and I proceeded to get him to latch. Thankfully, my doula was there to assist because even though I'd  prepared, it still wasn't easy in practice. He did latch pretty easily though, and I was so relieved.

Since he was born on a Sunday evening (on a holiday weekend, no less), there was no lactation consultant around to help me in my first overnight with the new baby. At 10:30pm, he was ready to nurse again and Todd and I were at a loss. We called the nurse and she helped some, and we finally did get him to latch. He was wanting to eat every 2-3 hours (which is totally normal for a newborn), and every time, I was tired and stressed and panicking about the thought that I'd get this wrong and he'd either starve or not want to continue nursing. That first night was the worst. We made it through, and I did get him to latch. I don't know what I would have done if I'd gone into the hospital with absolutely no knowledge of breastfeeding. The next morning, I was so completely relieved when the lactation consultant showed up! Take full advantage of the services of the lactation consultants in the hospital - they are your best resource. You'll also get used to people looking at and handling your boobs. That's just how it goes.

Owen and I were slowing getting better at breastfeeding once we got home. I got used to using a Boppy Pillow to help prop him up while we were nursing - sometimes he had marathon nursing sessions. Latching, though, was painful at first. This was scary for me because everywhere you look, everyone you talk to, says that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt. And it doesn't, but it did for me. Latching itself and then let down were both painful during those first weeks at home. Todd used to tell me that he could tell when the baby would latch properly because I would jump and wince.

Within about 24 hours of being at home, I was hit with the next big breastfeeding challenge - engorgement. It is completely normal to be engorged right after your milk comes in, and I kinda knew that, but it still took me by surprise and completely freaked me out. I didn't have a breast pump yet, and I was in quite a bit of pain. God bless Todd for going to WalMart at 10pm to buy me a head of cabbage. Why? Because cabbage leaves reduce engorgement. Why? Dunno, but it worked like a charm.

Even after the engorgement phase passed, I still found that I had a bit of an oversupply of milk. My pediatrician described it as "trying to drink from a fire hose." I would occasionally squirt Owen, or he would just be unable to eat as fast as I was producing. We eventually evened out with each other, but for a while he would spit up more because of it. He was never hungry though!

I would say that by the time Owen was about 6 weeks old, we had pretty much gotten the breastfeeding down and we were both pros. Those first few weeks, though - they were tough ones. I can completely understand now why some women stop breastfeeding so early. There is immense pressure to produce milk and keep your newborn from losing too much weight. Engorgement is scary. Latching and let down can be painful or uncomfortable, and the whole thing is a learning process for everyone. I promise that it gets better, so stick with it. It's totally worth it.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

10 Second Book Reviews

Island Beneath the Sea: I wanted to love this one, I really did. It's the story of a slave woman and her life. The story takes her from Saint-Dominigue, Haiti to New Orleans, and is truly epic. Isabel Allende's prose and imagery is beautiful and then brutal. The history of slaves on Haiti is told in great detail. The brutality of the slave owners is sometimes difficult to read, and the historical sections sometimes dragged for me. In the end, the reason I didn't love the book was because it was just too heavy for me at the time that I was reading it. I did like it, and I do recommend it, but it was just... too much.


The Hangman's Daughter: This book is the first in a four-book series. I bought the fourth book because it was on special on my Kindle for 99 cents. Then, I was kind of obligated to read the first 3 books in the series. So, I started with this one. It's less about the hangman's daughter as it is about the hangman himself, and his physician friend, who happens to be in love with the hangman's daughter. It's a bit of a crime drama, but it's a crime drama that takes place in 17th century Germany. It was a good start to the series, and it did make me want to read on. So, I recommend it.
The Dark Monk: This is the second book in the Hangman's Daughter series. It's much the same as the first, except that the hangman's daughter actually takes a larger role in this one. It's a mystery set in 17th century Germany and includes the same cast of characters as the first book. I enjoyed it, and I will eventually finish the series (although I took a break from it for a while).






The Dog Lived (and So Will I): This one is honestly a nice break from animal stories where the dog doesn't live. It's clear from the title that it doesn't have an Old Yeller kind of ending. Yes, the dog lives. This is a personal memoir by the author about her fight with cancer which just happened to happen right when her doggie is fighting cancer as well. It's a cute story, and a quick read. I very much liked it.




Allegiant (Divergent Series): Ugh, this one was so disappointing. I loved the first two books of the Divergent series, but this one fell flat. The writing was sloppy, and the story really deviated from the original premise of the series. In fact, a lot of the fighting and whatnot from the first two books was rendered basically pointless. I won't quibble over the ending (which many fans hated), but the book itself wasn't very good. It didn't help that it had been something like 2 years since I'd read the last one.




Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln: I listened to this one as an eBook, and it was long. 41 hours. I listened for 30-60 minutes per day and it took me from September to January to finish. It really gave me some true respect for Abraham Lincoln and how great he was as president. I also learned a lot about some great men whom I knew very little about. My biggest lesson is that politics really isn't that much different now than it was then. We like to think we're all fresh and new, but no, it's all just more of the same. The disappointment that I had with this book was that the movie only covered a very small part of it. I'd love to see more of Lincoln's life covered in film.


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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back to the Grind

Galloway training, Week 1
Photo courtesy Fleet Feet Sports Baltimore
Well, I'm running again. You know, for real. The Baltimore Galloway program kicked off on May 24, and I'm back in it!

I signed up for the training program in the hopes that it would get me back on track. So far so good, as I've managed to get most of my runs in so far this season (granted, it's only been a few weeks).

My old group is... I don't know, dispersed, I guess. Plus, I am slower than I was pre-baby, so I've been added to the marathon training group, even though I'm only doing a half marathon. The last time I led a marathon group (2011), I had someone doing this, so it's no big deal, but it means my mileage is picking up faster than I'd like. I'll end up turning around earlier (either with the group or without the group) later in the season. At least the pace is right, and I've felt pretty comfortable running with them so far. Plus, this particular group has the highest number of my close friends compared to other groups, so that makes me happy.

On week 2 (May 31), I ran my first magic mile since 2012. Well, that's not totally true. I ran a magic mile in the fall on the NCR trail and was so ashamed of the time that I quickly wiped it from my memory. This one was on the track, and it was better, but still my second slowest magic mile since I started keeping track of them in 2006. My worst one was 2007, when I hadn't been running at all in months. My time was 11:31... only 8 seconds faster than my per-mile time on my half marathon PR, and slower than my per mile time for my 10K and 5K PRs. So, I have some work to do.

The good news is that both the 10K and the 5K that I've run since returning to running have been faster than the pace that Jeff Galloway predicts for a magic mile time of 11:31. The bad news is that the predicted half marathon time would be slower than any other half marathon I've run, including the one where I rode a roller coaster during the race. So, I have a pretty big goal of getting faster over the next few months.

I haven't decided what race to run yet, but I have a few ideas. The tricky part is that Todd wants to run a fall half marathon also, so we have to balance out TWO races (since one of us has to watch the baby while the other runs). Someday, I'm going to start a "parents half marathon" where one parent runs a half on Saturday and the other runs it on Sunday.

Anyway, my ideas:

  • Richmond, November 15. One of my good friends is running the full marathon, so it would be nice to go down and run the half at the same time. The bad part is, I don't really want to wait until mid-November to run my goal race. But... that would give me more time to improve my speed, so maybe.
  • Gettysburg Blue-Grey Half, October 26. The biggest benefit here is that it's only about 45 minutes from my house. It's a small race, which I like, but likely to be pretty hilly. And, I only have a ho-hum interest in the civil war theme of this race. It also doesn't run on the battlefield
  • Runner's World Half, October 19. This one has been on my bucket list since it was introduced. The course looks beautiful... but challenging. The exciting part is that there is a 10K on Saturday that either Todd or I could participate in.
  • Hershey Half, October 19. Fairly close to my house and an interesting course, I think this would be a nice one.
  • Monster Mash Half, October 18. Probably the one I'm least interested in at this point, but it's not too far from home and you get to wear a Halloween costume.
We'll see.


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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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