Thursday, October 20, 2016

An Open Letter to New Moms

Dear Soon-to-Be New Mom, 

                How are you feeling? That sweet baby of yours should be entering the world sometime between now and the next two weeks. I hope this last stretch of pregnancy has been going well for you. That was the only time I had days of “feeling so pregnant” and my body was tired. I knew those last few weeks were prime time to sleep in, take naps, and rest up, but I was too uncomfortable.   Know that even if you’ve been worried about getting your house set up or thinking about things that you need to buy, it really isn’t a big deal. Most of those things can wait, for a long time. Your baby will have a simple life for the first few months with only basic needs. There might be times where you’re awake every hour of the night to nurse or bottle feed and feel completely drained. You more than likely will cry over little things for a while, but that’s alright. Between the hormone change and lack of sleep, I was sensitive and cried a lot the first month or so. It may take some time for your body to heal and change somewhat back to pre-pregnancy. At first everything you do might be somewhat painful. I was very emotional and lost my self-confidence for a while. I didn’t feel pretty in the least and felt like I was just a milk factory. The days and nights blended together. Every decision had me questioning myself. Am I doing this right? What does this mean? Is this supposed to be happening? All of the books I read and things I looked up online didn’t seem to matter much anymore. If I asked a question, friends, family, and neighbors each gave me a different answer. How frustrating! 

                It would be days before I had the chance to shower. Nearly every time I would feed the baby, give her over to Dad, and step into my nice, warm shower. It felt amazing. It was the only time dedicated to myself, to help my sore body feel somewhat better, and to try and relax. Typically within five minutes the baby would be crying. How could she be hungry already? End of shower. Even though it may be short, make it a point to set aside part of the day for yourself. You’ll need it and it will make you feel so much better…more human. Sometimes I would brew some hot herbal tea or work on my birth story in my journal. After some magic amount of time, I’m not sure when, everything will click. You will think to yourself, “This isn’t so hard. I am getting the hang of things. I am a parent now.” That was a beautiful day. (Months later and I still think it sounds weird being called a parent)  It is intuition and you will naturally know what’s best for your baby. Everyone may be telling you the same thing. They may say, “After all of the pain and exhaustion, it is worth it. Once you hold your baby for the first time, your heart changes.” I’ve never felt a love like this before. I cannot imagine life any other way. I believe in you. You will make a loving, strong-minded mother. I can’t wait for your baby to be born and to hear how your unique birth experience went! 

PS- Don’t feel like you have to prove anything by wanting to go the natural route. Birth plans are adapted and situations may change. Do what your body feels is right. It’s your choice to make!

Thinking of You,

A Fellow Mama

Sunday, October 2, 2016

September Miles + Major Changes

Fall is officially here and our life has been changing like the colors of the leaves. September included two races-Lake Padden Relay and Bellingham Bay Half Marathon, we just closed on our FIRST HOME, and I am currently 1,611 miles away from the PNW visiting family. Let's just say you don't know what you've got till it's gone you're packing to move! The last week of September was crunch time for packing up the house, setting up utilities, and making sure things were somewhat in order before Eisley and I left for our week long trip. Our 13 hour travel day included two flights, a two hour layover, and a two hour time zone difference. She didn't nap, stayed up late, and was still a happy girl the entire day. I feel so lucky that everything went smoothly and traveling alone with a toddler wasn't stressful. My husband is spending the final week in our rental house with our dog Luna and moving everything before we return from our trip. What an awesome man! After he picks us up from the airport, we will get to spend the first night in our new home and I am SO EXCITED!

Hiking and playing with the fallen leaves!
The heat and humidity out here in Oklahoma aren't something that I'm used to anymore. I still plan on squeezing in a run or two, if there's time! Here's a quick overview of my September miles.

Week 1: 1-3: 13.35 miles (including Lake Padden Relay)
Week 2: 4-10: 39.45 miles
Week 3: 11-17: 36.65 miles
Week 4: 18-24: 20.40 miles
Week 5: 25-30: 26.79 miles (including Bellingham Bay Half Marathon)
Total miles for September: 136.64! 

This is the first time in 2016 that I don't have a new race in sight, besides volunteering for one in November. Moving to the new house and getting settled in is my focus, then learning the new roads and trails in the area will be next. Luckily we will be pretty close to some areas for trail running. I am sure there will be lots of hiking while baby wearing over the next few months in addition to other forms of cross-training. The little one is awake from her nap, so it's back to family time! Peace out!

Post-race baby lovin'

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bellingham Bay Half Marathon

Sunday was the 10th annual Bellingham Bay Marathon, which included full, half, 10k, and 5k distance options. Not only is it a popular and beautiful race, but it is also a Boston qualifier marathon which brings people from many different states. The race starts and ends at the same point downtown, followed by live music, an awards ceremony, and a Boundary Bay beer garden. I started following a training plan 8 weeks before this race. (I use the term “following” very loosely: I’m a stay at home mom, toddlers get sick, wake up all night with mental leaps, we cosleep on her floor bed, I’m exhausted, etc.)
Moments before the race started!

Mile 1: 8:12
Mile 2: 7:54

Miles 1 and 2 were relatively flat, heading through downtown from Railroad Ave in front of Depot Square. Besides walking the ½ mile trek with a friend from my house to the race, we didn’t do any warming up. I started slower, letting the first mile be my warmup and allowing me to find my groove. This was the biggest race I’ve ever done so the initial takeoff took some navigating between all of the other runners. Mile 2 was a little faster, feeling fresh and excited to be racing.
Mile 3: 8:02
Mile 4: 8:02

Miles 3 and 4 went along Bellingham Bay with views of the San Juan Islands to our left and neighborhoods to our right. My pace was steady for both miles, knowing that a nice downhill would soon follow. Did I mention how bad I needed to pee? There’s nothing quite worse than holding back pee…during a race (only 8 miles to go) after giving birth to a child. You know exactly what I mean mamas, all the kegel exercises in the world don’t seem to be helping me out. I made sure to pee before leaving my house, only 30 minutes before the race. After checking the race area out, we meandered our way towards the porta potties and saw ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE lined up through the alley. Okay, maybe not that many, but at least one hundred. There was no logistical way that we could get through that line with 20 minutes before the race start. I knew that there were potties located every 2 miles along the course, but I was racing for a PR (not racing to go pee)!

Mile 5: 7:30
Mile 6: 7:21
Mile 7: 8:13

Miles 5-7 were magical. I knew ahead of time that they were on a downhill and that they would be the opportunity to knock down my average pace. The 1:45 pacer came into view with a little pack of racers surrounding her. My goal was to finish 1:44 or faster, so this was perfect for me to speed up and join her gang. We ran through a neighborhood park which had two giant porta potties screaming at me. I stopped for a second, thought, “screw it” then continued running (bad idea). Mile 5 was at a 7:30 pace and Mile 6 was a faster 7:21 pace. The halfway point at mile 6.5 was a checkpoint with a timing pad, marching band, lots of spectators holding funny signs, and a porta potty. I tried to ninja speed my way through the peeing process and sadly (quickly) saw my 7:51 average pace go down to 7:56. WHY?! I sprinted out to hopefully make up some time. My watch showed a pace of 6:30-6:45 which I only carried for a short while. (Looking back, this was a bad idea and my energy levels declined the second half of the race.) Mile 7 still managed to have an 8:13 pace while we ran along the marina. 

Mile 8: 7:57
Mile 9: 8:25

During Mile 8 we reentered downtown Bellingham. Trying to catch back up with the 1:45 pacer, I surged a little doing 7:57 for Mile 8. Mile 9 welcomed us with turns and rolling hills, running along local businesses and cheering spectators. My energy really started to go down which is obvious with the much slower 8:25 pace. Luckily, we now were on South Bay Trail, which is gravel, and also happens to be one of my regular running spots.

Mile 10 at Boulevard Park
Mile 10: 8:28
Mile 11: 8:22

Mile 10 was an even slower 8:28 pace. Arguably, this could’ve been totally mental instead of physical. I knew the last 3 miles of the race were all hills. My mind games bounced from going slower so I could haul through the hills, or going faster because the hills could really slow me down. What was the better strategy? We were in Boulevard Park and these were MY stomping grounds! I wasn’t going to allow the negative self-talk bring me down. Mile 11 was a little faster 8:22 pace, including the steep Taylor Dock ramp that previous racers hyped about. The dock wasn’t a problem. I run there weekly, many times while pushing a stroller up too!  

Mile 12: 8:57
Mile 13: 8:50

The last two miles of the race were my hardest. Mile 12 was my slowest of the entire race, an 8:57 pace. I was seriously struggling and a little disheartened that there was no possible way for me to finish within my goal time. Knowing this, I smiled for my self-motivation and simply wanted to enjoy the remainder of the race. Mile 13 was an 8:50 pace, climbing up the hills and hopping between the 5k and 10k walkers.

The finish line was loud! I went as fast as possible without my legs giving out on me. My watch read a longer 13.19 miles instead of 13.1 (I had also read race recaps of previous years, on the same course, reading 13.20 miles). This race is USATF-certified, so the distance difference is a little strange. My final .19 miles read a 7:32. My official finish chip time was 1:48:08, 4 minutes slower than my goal of 1:44 or faster. I was starving and felt a little sick to my stomach, but was happy to be welcomed by all of the enthusiastic youth volunteers. After leaning on a railing to catch my breath, I dove into the post-race food spread. I walked around eating gummy bears and looked up to see my husband with our daughter in the stroller. Yippee! They made my heart skip and I immediately felt better. Overall, the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon was a fantastic race. The course was beautiful, everything was very organized with a TON of volunteers, and I completed my second half marathon with an 8:16min/mi pace. I’m happy with that. Maybe I’ll do something crazy like sign up for another half marathon while pushing Eisley in the stroller…

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What the Fartlek?! 21 Running Terms Explained

As you enter the wild world of running, you might find yourself attempting to translate training plans, surrounded by unusual (and possibly unnecessary) gear, all while confused by a whole new language! Coaches and friends may use lingo leaving you scratching your head while staying on the sidelines. Here’s a list of 21 running terms to help get you going on your running journey!
Aid Station: Points along the race course (more common in distances further than a 5k) where volunteers/staff hand out water, electrolyte drinks, snacks, etc. In extreme environments or in ultra distances, medical staff is there to measure weight, check for dehydration, and make sure the runner is physically able to continue the race.
Base Mileage: A runner’s average weekly miles ran.  
Bib: The number corresponding to each individual runner “bib number” so they can be identified, printed on a square piece of paper. 

Race Bib
BQ: “Boston Qualifier” A qualifying time standard that runners must meet to qualify for the famous Boston Marathon. Runners still must apply for a spot in the race or apply to run for a charity through the Boston Marathon Charity Program.
Cooldown: An easier exercise after an intense run/workout used to allow the heart rate to gradually go down.
Cross-training: When a runner does yoga, cycling, kayaking, strength training, etc to enhance their running. Cross-training improves cardio, flexibility, reduces the risk of injury, and strengthens muscles that may not be used while running.
DNF: “Did Not Finish” When a runner quits a race for whatever reason (injury, ill, improperly trained, etc) or did not complete the race before the designated cut-off time.
Fartlek: An unstructured workout focusing on speedwork that alternates faster running with easy-effort running. The runner chooses how long or short the faster distances are, changing it up and moving at an easier pace inbetween.
5k: Race distance of 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles.

Warming up for her first 5k...or 50m dash :)
10k: Race distance of 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles.
Half Marathon: Race distance of 13.1 miles.
Hill Repeats: A structured workout for runners to sprint up a hill, jog down to recover, and repeat multiple times.
Long Run: A weekly run (done 1-2 minutes slower than average pace) that helps build endurance, boosts aerobic abilities, utilizes fat for fuel, and allows runners to test out new fuel (gels, chews, drinks), clothing (socks, shoes, compression sleeves), and gear (hydration vests, running belts, earphones) before race day.
Marathon: A race distance of 26.2 miles.
Negative Splits: Running the second half of a run or race faster than the first half.
Pace: Typically the time it takes to run one mile. Different distances have different paces; example being a 5k pace would be much faster than a half marathon pace due to the shorter mileage.
PR: “Personal Record” either in time (fastest) or distance (furthest).
Splits: The time it takes to complete a certain distance in running. Typically splits are checked every mile, helping the runner track their pace or try to reach a certain goal. 

Taper week can be so difficult...I just want to RUN!
Tapering: Reducing the intensity and amount of exercise a few days to a couple weeks before a race to recover and have “fresh legs”.
Tempo Run: A comfortably hard, or faster-paced, run at your lactate-threshold which improves metabolic fitness.
Ultra: Any race distance longer than a marathon, also known as an ultramarathon. Races usually start at 50k (31 miles), 50 miles, 100k (62 miles), 100 miles, and beyond!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Green Goddess Smoothie

Do you ever try something new and think, "WHY HAVEN'T I DONE THIS BEFORE?!?" Come closer my friend, let me introduce you to this Green Goddess Smoothie...

Pin this for later!
I've been enjoying this smoothie so much that I may have prepped an entire week's worth of the same kind...don't judge. I find it extremely helpful to portion out smoothie ingredients (including greens) into individual freezer bags. Label what's inside and what needs to be added, whether it's almond milk, coconut water, hemp seeds, cinnamon, etc. In the mornings for breakfast or after hitting the gym, you can grab a bag from the freezer, pop it into the blender, and simply add liquid! It is also great when you find organic produce on sale so you can stock up without worrying about it going bad. Instead, divide it up and prep your smoothies!

This smoothie is high in dietary fiber which aids in digestion and helps you stay full for longer! It is  a great source of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and antioxidants. The mint leaves give it a crisp, refreshing taste which isn't normally expected with green smoothies. I personally used organic Chocolate Mint from our garden, but you can use whatever variety of mint you have available. Although many children immediately refuse any food or drink that is green, our toddler surprisingly loves this smoothie! Lately the trick seems to give her a 'special straw' and everything tastes better. Enjoy this smoothie, shine on, and feel like the goddess you truly are, ladies!

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Green Goddess Smoothie
A detoxing smoothie that will leave you feeling like a goddess!
  • 1 cup Kale
  • 1 cup Green Apple
  • 1/4 cup Celery
  • 10-15 Mint Leaves
  • 1.5 cups Coconut Water
Wash and cut produce. Make sure to remove kale ribs.Measure coconut water into blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 smoothie

Sunday, September 4, 2016

August Miles + The Running Dilemma

August was the first month that didn’t include any track practices, social runs, or races. I was able to go on one long run with a friend, but besides that, my running life had me prowling like a lone wolf. 

Week 1: 1-6: 25.85 miles
Week 2: 7-13: 20.49 miles
Week 3: 14-20: 27.07 miles
Week 4: 21-27: 44.42 miles (The most I’ve ran in a week!)
Week 5: 28-31: 20.58 miles
Total miles for August: 138.41! (The most I’ve ran in a month!)

Mama Lone Wolf

To run alone, or in a group...that is the question.

For me personally, solo running has always been preferable to social running. Maybe it’s because I’ve only had a little experience of running with others. The beginning of this year I joined a local running club and made some fellow running friends which has been the extent of my social running. Currently, I am doing some training with a friend for the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon. There are definitely pros and cons to both solo and group running. Whether I’m in a group or simply with another person, I find myself distracted and mentally scattered, which sometimes leads to a not-so-good run. If we’re talking, I may find myself out of breath the duration of the run. Sometimes I feel swift and comfortable following the other person’s (or group’s) pace, allowing them to take the lead, but then I may regret it while feeling exhausted trying to keep up. When I am with someone else, I either feel pressure to keep their pace or guilt for asking them to slow down a little bit. 

On the other hand, running with others can force me to push myself in ways that I never knew. I may reach a speed that I didn’t think was possible or learn a different training method that really works for me. Finishing a tough long run with a friend brings you both a sense of accomplishment and builds up confidence. At group track practices, the friendly competition helps me break through workouts that I wouldn’t feel like doing alone. People are supportive and cheer each other on, offering advice and sharing experience. 

Comfortable pace of a solo run.
Solo running allows me a much needed therapeutic and meditative time, obviously, by myself. As a stay-at-home mom, getting time to myself is necessary for my sanity and ability to be a happy mom! I go through mental processes, evaluations, spiritual journeys, and learn more about my identity with each run. I find myself lost “in the zone” so often that I’m nearly on autopilot. My body is in sync, my legs are strong, my breathing is natural, and I feel as if I could continue running forever. Keeping a strong pace, yet knowing when to ease up, is something that I’m only able to do while running alone. 

So which do you prefer, to run alone or in a group?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Vegan Lentil & Veggie Soup

In September, we officially welcome FALL! This year the autumn equinox lands on September 23rd. How do you plan on celebrating? The weather here in the Pacific Northwest has been cooling off with some cozy rainy days, which has my mind in comfort mode (or should I say my stomach?!) I personally can't think of a better meal than one that involves your crock pot! It's so easy to prep in the morning, throw everything in the slow cooker, then let it simmer away while you go about your business. Welcome yourself home with warm, comforting soup that tastes good and is good for you too!

This summer we've been getting a CSA box each week. If you know anything about me, then you know I LOVE veggies! The only time this becomes a problem is when there is an abundance of produce that needs to be eaten fast before it goes bad. I am a big fan of "no veggie left behind" so I decided to put together this delicious, detoxing soup! The fresh garlic cloves contain antioxidants and are proven to improve the immune system, just in time for the cold and flu season. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and has also been shown to be a natural anti-depressant (If you are sensitive to spice or peppery taste, omit the turmeric). The lentils in this soup contain 18 grams of protein, power up! For busy moms, we want to make the most of our time while also feeding our family healthy, nutritious foods. This soup is a large enough batch to eat for dinner and freeze the extra for later!

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Vegan Lentil & Veggie Soup
A hearty, vegan soup made easily in the crock pot!
  • 2 quarts Veggie Broth
  • 1 14.5oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 ears Corn on the Cob, cut
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 cup Lentils
  • 1 large Tomato, diced
  • 5 Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • 5 Carrots, sliced
  • 3 Ribs of Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
  • Salt & Pepper
Cut, slice, and dice all of the produce.Throw everything in the crock pot.Cook on low for 6-8 hours.Enjoy now or freeze for later!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings