Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lest I Give the Wrong Impression.....

....working out during pregnancy is not easy. My post yesterday might lead you to believe that every day, and every workout, is wine and roses. Well, let me assure you, there is very little wine. Not really many roses, either. I am generally staying upbeat, and certainly like to project an upbeat image on this here blog, but there certainly are challenges. However, I like to find the humor in the challenges and I certainly did today!

I really did not feel like moving my gravid behind off the couch this evening. I had a nice healthy dinner (salad!) and was enjoying The Following pilot on hulu. Adam was gone at a work event (hence the guilty pleasure TV watching) and since I'd been out of town for a week and then had two great work-outs this week I wasn't feeling particularly inclined to do anything physical. However, I obviously had to get my one mile run in so I figured I might as well put my suit on under my running clothes and plop myself in the pool since it's been a couple weeks since I last swam.

Run went fine. Just a mile, but very comfortable. Got into the pool, did a couple slow warm-up laps. Did my usual pregnancy body check- any aches/pains? any weird pulling sensations? No, nothing different than when I'm sitting or laying or working or otherwise NOT physically exerting myself. Arms are sore but that's from prenatal training so actually a good thing. So I carried on.

A few laps later though, I felt a bit odd. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like a pregnant cow. No, I'm not being down on myself for gaining weight. While I don't love having an extra 12ish pounds on board, I know I'm supposed to and I know I don't have complete control over where those pounds go (why on earth my upper legs need to gain weight in order to birth a child I do not know!). But I felt how pregnant cows, or cats, or elephants LOOK when they are pregnant- like they are dragging around  a rolly polly weight in their bellies. Being pregnant feels DIFFERENT when you are laying face down than when you are sitting or laying on your back or side. I didn't notice this until this week because I really hadn't "popped" until this week (week 25). But it felt so WIERD and I couldn't stop thinking about it and I really didn't enjoy the feeling of being similar to a pregnant bovine or feline or definitely not an elephant! I do love bison, but even I have limits to how similar to a bison I wish to feel!

So, I used an excuse to stop exercising that never would have crossed my mind (and hopefully never will again!). I stopped exercising because I literally felt like a pregnant cow.

There's really nothing else to say after that.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Absolutely Glorious Imperfect Run!

Today I had a great run. It's been a few weeks since my last enjoyable run. I was beginning to worry that runs >3 miles were just not going to happen anymore during this pregnancy, at least not comfortably. But today was marvelous! Yes, I required two pregnancy related pit stops (thank you Navy Pier!). Yes it was gloomy outside. Yes, I may have been caught in an absolute downpour for the last 10 minutes of my run where I gained 10 lbs of water weight on my clothes and shoes (this in addition to my 10+ lbs of pregnancy weight- I owe my joints a big 'thank you' for their ability to handle all this!).

But I ran 5.5 miles absolutely comfortably. Nearly effortlessly! I enjoyed 50 minutes of wonderful 60 degree weather in Chicago with a nice cool breeze coming off the lake. My breathing was comfortable, my pace was reasonable and even respectable. I continue to be so grateful to still be able to run without issue. I'm proud of myself for staying in good enough shape pre-pregnancy that I'm virtually unlimited (within reason) during pregnancy. I urge all women who are even contemplating getting pregnant in the next few years to get active NOW so you have a strong base to build on if you do get pregnant one day. I could have, maybe even should have, run farther today, but I'm satisfied with what I did accomplish. And with very minimal pregnancy niggles! And after a pretty tough trainer work-out yesterday!

Happy Val.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

45 in 45 week 3

Day 1- 12 mile spinning, 1 mile run (50 mins)
Day 2- 3 mile run (30 mins)
Day 3- 2 mile run, 10 min hill walk, prenatal training class (80 mins)
Day 4- 1 mile run (10 mins)
Day 5- 12 mile spining, 1 mile run (50 mins)
Day 6- 1 mile (10 mins)
Day 7- 1 mile (10 mins)

Total for the week: 240 mins out of 310 mins
Total deficit: 50+60+70= 180 mins

Eek! Looks like I'm doing 10 minutes WORSE each week.

As I predicted, travel got me a bit this week. I'm prioritizing rest and sleep. And maybe some socializing with a friend I only see a few times a year;)

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Ultimate Pregnancy Niggle

In the past, I've written about the importance of distinguishing between significant pains and niggles, defined as "slight but persistent annoyances, discomforts, or anxieties". In running, niggles can be short lived pain, sharp or dull, nagging GI sensations, or side cramps, just to name a few. Things that you can and should ignore to get on with your work-out. Because, let's face it, if you are looking for exercise to be comfortable, then you aren't really going to have any strength or cardiovascular gains. (When I ask my patients if they sweat or got short of breath during their exercise if they say 'no', I say 'work harder!'.)

Never is it more important to distinguish between niggles and legitimate problems than when exercising while pregnant. I assume this is one reason why so many obstetricians advice not starting new vigorous exercise routines when pregnant- if you don't know what normal discomforts to expect when running or spinning or lifting weights, you won't know when to let up on work-out intensity. 

Luckily, I'm an experienced exerciser so I can distinguish b/t scary pain and niggling pain (I think). And when in doubt, I slow down or stop. There have been about 5 work-outs during the course of this pregnancy where I've stopped early. A couple were runs where I had persistent pelvic discomfort that stopped as soon as I stopped running, and one was a swim where I felt a strange pulling sensation. Probably neither was malignant, but still, it's better to be safe than sorry.

But knowing when to stop is one thing. Finding ways to suffer through the niggles is another. And I'm finding the ultimate pregnancy niggle to be very tough to contend with. And what is this niggle I speak of? The need to pee. It's insufferable!!! No matter how many times I go, I STILL feel like my bladder is full and it is SO uncomfortable! I know it's just in my head because I KNOW after going 3 times in 1 miles (TMI) there is NOTHING LEFT, so I try, try, try to ignore it, but it's so hard! One thing I noticed Saturday during my 3.5 mile run (for my 35th birthday!), is that running faster helps! I don't know if it's a change in my stride or just the fact that I focus more on form and breathing, but the need for speed reduces the need to pee. The problem is, I'm not supposed to run too fast- the whole stay conversational rule and all. So I see lots of short fast runs with hill walk recoveries in my future. I imagine I'll develop more niggles during the third trimester and will continue to find new work-arounds. I think the key is to have lots of options for exercise. For example spinning on Sunday was fine, great even. 

I'll leave you with a couple of these belly bump photos that we are supposed to be taking. It seems that it's the thing to do. Seems kinda silly to me but I'd hate to NOT take them, then regret it later! So here you go:

I think this is the first day where I really thought 'eek! I look pregnant!' Week 24

Check out the awesome bison mittens my parents gave me to go with my bison hat! Bump week 24

Thursday, January 17, 2013

45 in 45 Week 2

Day 1: 4.5 mile run (45 minutes)
Day 2: 1 mile run, 2.2 mile hill walk (45 minutes)
Day 3: 1 mile run, 1/2 mile swim (35 minutes)
Day 4: 1 mile run (10 minutes)
Day 5: 3.3 mile run (35 minutes)
Day 6: 1 mile run, 2.5 mile hill walk (45 minutes)
Day 7: 1 mile run, 2.2 mile hill walk (45 minutes)

Total time: 260 out of 310 minutes
50 minutes to make up + 60 minutes to make up from last week= 110 minute deficit!

Excuse this week: terrible cold:(
Excuse next week: going to be traveling but hope I don't use that as an excuse!

New goal: Work out 50 minutes each day to try to improve on this deficit....Will start tonight with my first pre-natal workout class.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's the End of the World as we Know it (and I Feel Fine)

I was supposed to run a half marathon on Saturday. The Polar Dash half marathon here in Chicago, to be exact. But I woke up Friday with a terrible sore throat that developed into a full blown head congested, runny nose, sore throat tornado of a cold by Saturday morning. Initially, I was going to run anyway. I thought, 'come on, it's just a half marathon'. Indeed I did run a marathon just two months ago also with a cold, also while pregnant (14 weeks at that point). But I wasn't quite as sick and I was definitely 'less' pregnant! Adam tried to be the voice of reason, trying to talk me out of the race, especially given the pregnancy. But he also knows me well and didn't want me to be full of regret if I didn't run. To be honest, I was most worried about my mental health. I'm a runner. A distance runner. That's a a huge part of my identity. And let's face it, my next opportunity for (marathon) distance running isn't until next fall given babybison's much anticipated arrival in May. I was worried that if I didn't do the race, it would be the beginning of the end of pregnant running. And the beginning of the end of my endurance and cardiovascular health. And the beginning of the end of my mental health.

Adam and I compromised by dressing for the race, jogging to the start, and making a final decision about the race en route. That was a wise decision. About 0.5 mile into the jog, I felt pretty miserable from the cold. But I also was feeling a bit of pelvic pressure- no pain, nothing serious- but not something that I'd want to carry on with for 13 miles. So we took off our bibs and went for a leisurely 3 mile run together instead which was really nice.

Initially, my back up plan was for Adam and I to make our own half marathon this coming weekend (assuming I'd be all better). But as the weekend progressed, I gained some insight into myself and my motivation for running the half marathon in the first place. The first insight occurred during my treadmill work-out on Sunday. After my 1 mile run, I did a 35 minutes hill climb (walking) and read the latest Runner's World. There was a touching article by Marc Parent, writer of The Newbie Runner. He was reporting on his first ever half marathon experience. It was a good article- it really took me back to my first marathon experience. The feelings of pride and invincibility. Struggling through the tough miles, feeling like a rock star during the good miles, digging deep to get through the last miles. The spectators, especially friends and family. Doing something you never thought you could do. It really reminded me of some of my proudest athletic accomplishments. And I realized: I'm a runner. It's who I am now. I think I've always been a runner, but I didn't actualize this part of myself until I started running and ran my first marathon  back in 2006. At this point, 6 years later, I'm not in danger of NOT being a runner EVEN IF my running mileage goes downhill (WAY downhill) over the next few months. I realized I had a deep fear, that if I didn't keep up at least 1/2 marathon level mileage during this pregnancy, I'd be in danger of never being a runner again. Like I'd fall into some deep abyss of lethargy and inactivity. But reading that article, and remembering the positive emotions and memories from my marathons, reminded me that I am not only a runner, but I'm a marathoner and while I may be a low mileage runner temporarily, I will NEVER be a non-runner again. That will not change, baby or no baby.

I realized the other reason I was so bummed about missing the Polar Dash was that I really wanted to do the half as a pregnant runner. Yes, I did the Chicago Tri, the Lake Geneva Tri, the Des Moines Marathon and the Outer Banks Marathon pregnant. But I was in the closet! I couldn't advertise the pregnancy. Silly as it sounds, I want to run a race with my "running for two" tee shirt on. Primarily, running is important to me and my well-being. But, part of my identity as a runner is being a motivator to others. I'm vocal about running and its many benefits, in my real life and in my social media life. It's a big part of who I am. It's my little way of doing good in the world (well besides my job- hope I'm doing some good there, too!). I can think of at least a dozen people whom I've helped or encouraged to start running for the first time, to run half marathons, to do a triathlon, to do a marathon, or just to do a quick 5 minutes of cardio prior to Thanksgiving dinner. That's important to me.

I like to think that continuing to run (and vigorously exercise in general) while I'm visibly pregnant can be a motivator and an example for others to follow. It wasn't so long ago (1970s, the decade in which I was born!) that women were told they couldn't run marathons because 'their uteruses may fall out'. And I'm sure that are some old-school obstetricians who advice against running or exercise during pregnancy even for super fit, healthy ladies. (Again- some pregnant women have complications and shouldn't run- clearly there are exceptions.) And using pregnancy as a excuse to take it easy and eat too much and move too little is rampant in our society. So, maybe it's silly, but I really do want to do a race or two in the next few months. But there's no reason they need to be half-marathons. A 5K will do!

Finally, I also realized how glad I am that I did those two triathlons this summer/fall. As my running mileage decreases, I can easily fill in the time with spinning and swimming. Both of which I'm starting to enjoy more and more. In fact, I can take this opportunity to become better at both. Especially swimming. I really think I can become a stronger swimmer over the next 4 months than I ever was before (starting from a base of non-swimmer, I have lots of room for improvement!). And with two triathlons on my athletic goal list for 2013, this will serve me well!

So while endurance running may be over for a while, it is not the end of the world and I feel fine about the whole thing. Running will continue, distance running will take a hiatus and spinning, swimming and hill walking (seriously, you'd be surprised how short of breath you can get climbing a treadmill hill!) will take over. So without further ado, here are my athletic goals for 2013, i.e. the Year of the Babybison!

1. Chicago Triathlon, International Distance August 24, 2013
2. Half-Ironman Triathlon, Fall 2013 (destination tbd)
3. Sub 4 hr marathon Fall 2013
4. Boston Qualifier Spring 2014
5. Ironman Wisconsin September 2014
(6. Continue working on my 50 in 50 goal with marathons in 2 new states in 2013.)

Short-term steps I'll take during pregnancy to help achieve these goals:

1. Finish 45 minutes of exercise in 45 days
2. Increase swimming distance to 1700 yards.
3. Increase biking distance to 20 miles
4. Strength training weekly with the pre-natal group

So, for a few minutes Saturday morning when I realized I would have to bail on the half marathon, I felt like it was the end of my (running) world. But I've done some thinking. I've adapted. And at the end of the day I am just so grateful to be able to exercise at all. So I feel fine:)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Year in Review 2012....besides running

Before we get too far into 2013, here are some of my favorite memories from 2012.

January: My birthday. It was a good one. We walked over to GT Fish and Oyster for a marvelous oyster, clam chowder and clam feast. Next we explored the city on foot in the cold, snowy weather, plenty warm from the delicious Sauvignon Blanc I'd had more than my fair share of at dinner:)

February: I took a two-week vacation in February- one week with Adam and my Dad in Yellowstone to ski and one week with Sara in Mexico to sun. Perfect

Right before they stampeded right in front of us!

Me and Dad

Sara and I on our balcony

March? April? I guess I was so busy becoming an Oncologist that I didn't have time to play! Good thing I like my job or I'd consider that a life failure. But I had/have sooo much to learn, it's probably okay that I fell off the face of the earth for a couple months!

May: Grandma's birthday

Mom, Dad, Grandma, me and Adam on the Milwaukee RiverWalk.

Happy, happy birthday!

June- uh-oh. Another month came and went and I can't remember what I was up to!

July: My former roommate and maid-of-honor, Tamara came to town! It was so great to see her- it had literally been years since our last reunion!

August: Our 9th Wedding Anniversary! And my first triathlon!

Outside Bridgehouse Tavern

Resting after almost kayaking:)

Me and Sara, triumphant (and tan!) triathletes!

September: Learning about babybison! We found out on September 3rd.

October: Fall golfing with my folks prior to our dinner and the great babybison reveal!

At South Shore golf course

November: Outer Banks vacation with family

December: Christmas! Since I just posted a bunch of pics of our Anne of Green Gables Xmas, I'll leave you instead with photos from our last New Year's Eve Celebration as child-free yuppies. We had a nice steak dinner at Three Forks, a steakhouse super-conveniently located in the park right next to our apartment. And we tried to take a baby bump pic, since that seems to be the "thing to do" but not sure how well it turned out. Will make a bigger effort once the bump is, well, bigger!

Happy New Year's!

Babybison at 21 weeks

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

45 in 45 Week 1

Well, this is not going to be easy!

Day 1: 10 mile run, 1 hr 30 min
Day 2: 1 mile run, 12 mile spin, 50 minutes
Day 3: 1 mile run, 2.2 mile hill climb, 45 minutes
Day 4: 1 mile run, 800 yd swim, 35 minutes
Day 5: 1 mile run, 10 minutes
Day 6: 1 mile run, 10 minutes
Day 7: 1 mile run, 10 minutes, 5 minute planks/squats

Total time: 255 minutes out of 310 minutes
60 minutes to make up

Days 5 and 6 were unavoidable due to my work schedule. Yesterday I had new unexplained abdominal pain while running so didn't want to push it. I'm going to have to find ways to make up the time in the next 7 days!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Felt Like I Just Got Out of Jail

Phew! Between working long hours (two twelve-hour shifts this weekend, boo!), the dark and the cold, I've been doing waaayy too many treadmill runs lately. They are just so doggone boring! And uncomfortable! Something about the way my gait is different on the treadmill, I feel a lot more "pregnancy niggles" than I do outside. But yesterday, I was let loose!! I left work a bit early so I could run outside before sunset and it was WONDERFUL!

I initially planned to run three miles yesterday but the nice cool air and just being OUTSIDE made me not want to stop and I ended up running 4.5. As much as I run and often (though definitely not always) enjoy running, I'm not one to ever run more than planned. It's just a testament to how cooped up I've felt and how I really need to run more mileage than I have been lately.

As you can see from my Daily Mile year end summary there was a steep drop off in miles over the past few months. I am a happy, healthier, more energetic person when I'm running ~100 miles a month. For many marathoners 100 a month is low mileage, but for me, a base of 100 miles with biking, swimming and other activities layered on top is perfect. I need to inch closer to that ~25 miles/week number before I re-inch back down when I get closer to my due date.

In other exercise news, I went to my "fit test" with my new prenatal trainer today. I'm pretty sure I'm the only pregnant lady at my big box gym on Michigan Avenue, so my husband was awesome enough to find a gym program up north that caters to prenatal and postnatal women. First off, my trainer seems great and I'm excited to start small group training classes (just 3-4 women at a time). If I don't get enough DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) in the group setting, I might opt for some individual sessions. We'll see. At the fit test, after a few minutes of asking what kind of exercise I've been doing pre-pregnancy and lately, my trainer actually apologized for even doing the functional assessment because clearly I'm plenty fit! That was nice to hear but I couldn't help but state how far I've deteriorated in the past few months- my strength at this point is a joke! But that should start to improve soon!

Lots of people like to talk about pregnancy being a time to "maintain, not gain" in terms of fitness. I think this is just one more line that gives folks an excuse to not work very hard. Like people who say "taking the stairs" is enough exercise or who believe you can call an activity "exercise" if you don't break a sweat, become short of breath, or get sore. Of course, one has to be reasonable and cautious (and there are tons of exceptions- people with medical problems related to their pregnancy, of course fall in a different category). I've been paying close attention to the various "pelvic sensations" I have during normal daily activity (kicks, which I'm feeling intermittently which is pretty cool, btw), mild not-quite-pain that I perceive as round ligament stretching/inflammation, the mildest back pain (barely pain, super mild soreness is a better description) and various other feelings NOS (medical term for "not otherwise specified"). If I have the same sensations while running (....or swimming....or biking) I figure I'm fine. If something is different or more persistent, I figure I should slow down or stop. And I've been generally following the advice of always not working so hard that I couldn't have a conversation. I allow myself to work a bit harder for short stints but never do I get nearly as short of breath as I usually would during, say, a speed work interval pre-pregnancy.

I will admit that when I'm physically tired (like today), I'm not forcing myself to work out. On days like today, where I'm sleepy and all I want to do is sit on the couch, I do back off. But not to sitting on the couch entirely. Rather, I run my daily mile (which is as much a part of my daily life as brushing my teeth or taking a shower) or if I'm feeling like I could do a little more I implement my newest back-up plan- treadmill hill walking. Cardio wise, this can be harder than running. But somehow mentally easier.

Days like yesterday's run (and last week's 10 miler) where I feel great tell me I'm doing everything right. I'm not overdoing it. I'm probably undergoing it. And I fully plan to gain strength as I go into my last three months. Arm strength, ab strength, leg strength. I likely can't gain speed (due to the rule of conversation) or endurance (I'm probably down to half marathons mostly because of the time of year), but I can gain strength. And I can work on my diet. I may be the only pregnant woman in the history of time to eat less during pregnancy than prior, but given how much I've decreased my calorie burn, I have to! (And don't worry ya'll, I've gained the requisite amount of weight- on the very lower end, but the docs say I'm just fine.) So since I'm eating less, I need to ensure that the calories I put in are high yield. Strength gains, diet gains. This is how I will improve my body even as I get bigger.....and bigger....and bigger over time:)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas 2012

The peach puffy sleeve dress takes the cake- nice job Aunt Kelly!

My favorite family tradition is our themed Christmas Eve dinner. We've done this for as long as I can remember. This year we stepped it up a notch by including costumes in our Anne of Green Gables themed festivities. For those not familiar, Anne of Green Gables is a novel (adapted into movies and mini-series) written by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. It takes place on Prince Edward Island and chronicles the adventures of Anne Shirley, an red-headed orphan girl who constantly gets into mischief despite very good intentions. It's a great book for kids of many ages.

A-L and Jason enjoying 312
 The novel was published in 1908, so you can imagine the costumes necessary to be true to the time. Turns out my cousin Anna-Lisa has a secret stash of old-timey dresses that we were able to dig into. I think my Aunt Kelly's taffeta dress took the cake! I must admit the dress I wore was actually one I wore to a high school dance. Ugh, what terrible taste I had! The dress was a bit of a tent on me even 4.5 months pregnant, so I can image how ridiculous it was when I was a skinny little thing in high school!

Test batch bison.
One of the traditional meals on Prince Edward Island is pot pies and Adam was put in charge of this task. He did an absolutely amazing job! There were three varieties- traditional chicken pot pie, an amazing seafood pot pie made with Canadian lobster, scallops and shrimp and a bison-bourguignon-turned-pot-pie. Each was even more amazing than the next. I was lucky enough to sample all the test runs in addition to eating a bit of all three on Christmas Eve! Adam spent 14 hours doing prep work the day before and he wouldn't even let me help!

Chicken pot-pie before the oven

Seafood pot pie post oven.
My favorite- the big bison-bourguignon pot pie!!

After dinner, everyone was handed an Anne of Green Gables quote hand chosen for them. Some of my favorites:

"Red hair is my life long sorrow" (read by the only family red head, Anna-Lisa)

"But really, Marilla, one can't stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?"

Anne: "Have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I have never made the same mistake twice."
Marilla: "I don't know as that's much benefit when you're always making new ones."

My Grandma and Grandpa Monson had actually been to the Anne of Green Gables house years ago and my Mom still had a post-card they sent us from their visit, which was so cool!

Grandpa and Grandma Monson, me, Grandma Nelson. All in hats!

Babybison got gifts!
Between the 4 days off from work, no one in the family sick, and the big baby announcement, this was one of the best Christmases I remember having as an adult. It was great to see my family, even if our visit was too short!

We're considering themes for next year....Gone with the Wind is on the list as folks had lots of fun with the dresses. Any other thoughts?

Friday, January 4, 2013

45 for the next 45 (Take 2)

Well my plan for 45 minutes of exercise for 4 in 5 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's was a total bust. There are multiple reasons for this, most of which have to do with me prioritizing sleep over exercise which I think is reasonable given the pregnancy. Could I have done a better job than I did? Absolutely. But it was unlikely that with my sleep needs and my work schedule I was going to accomplish that goal.

But, I think this post is a good lesson to all of us who do a generally decent job of staying in shape but are always trying to improve- sometimes our work-out plans fail and the difference b/t us and couch potatoes is not a lack of failure but the ability to re-group and try again when failure occurs.

I'm ready to re-group and try again. I have a few things in my favor this time, like no more procedures related to the pregnancy (hopefully) and a good work schedule for the next two months. And I'm going to start going to pre-natal small group training classes which I'm super excited about. While all of family and friends (with a couple rare exceptions) have been completely supportive and frankly not surprised by my two triathlons and two marathons while pregnant, it will be nice to actually work out with some other fit-minded pregnant ladies with a trainer who specializes in pre- and post-natal women!

I'm also going to give myself some leeway mostly because of the pregnancy- I want to be absolutely realistic and sure I can accomplish my new goal of 45 minutes of exercise for the next 45 days (Jan 1-Feb 14). So aggressive walking on an incline that results in sweating and/or shortness of breath will count. I did this for the first time yesterday, and yes, walking can be a workout at 3.8-4.0 mph and 5-6 grade or higher incline. I imagine there will be days when I'm exhausted and sore and not mentally (and eventually physically) able to deal with any other form of exertion so I'll leave this in as my back-up. But I promise I will walk with a vengeance and I think if the hill is steep enough I can get short of breath enough to get some cardiovascular benefit from this! Mostly I will be running, swimming, occasionally spinning and strength training with the pre-natal group. Oh- and the 45 minutes a day is an average- I can bank extra time- so Tuesday's 90 minute 10 mile run buys me some time for this weekend when I am working two 12 hour shifts and will likely only get in my one mile a day.

So far, I'm 4 days in and going strong:)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Running Year in Review 2012

Overall, 2012 has been a good year for exercise, despite the fact that I only accomplished 1 of the 2 goals I set out for myself for the year. But I have the best excuse one could ask for (i.e. babybison), so I really don't consider this a fail at all! I accomplished my goal of completing my first triathlon- in fact, I completed two! I did not complete my goal of running a sub-4:00 hour marathon. But read on and I think you'll agree that it was best to delay that goal to 2013.....

Coyote and me!
The first half of the year was so-so from an exercise perspective. I was still a first year fellow so working really rough hours and having to carry my pager with me to the gym, to the pool, on my runs. Ugh. It was the pits. But I kept up a fair amount of mileage, averaging 76 miles monthly. I kept up with at least medium long runs outside (~10 miles) all year round, and logged some great speed workouts on the 'mill. One of the highlights of early 2012 was the "destination daily miles". Running in Yellowstone in the winter was absolutely incredible! Sometimes, we were the first humans out for the morning as evidenced by these tracks. Other times, Old Faithful would erupt right as we ran by, an added bonus to an already awesome experience. While I only ran 1 mile a day while there (don't worry, I skied more miles!!), those were some of the more memorable miles of my running life.

Near Old Faithful

Old Faithful is actually erupting in the background left

The first big running event of the year was the Med City Marathon over Memorial Day weekend. I was well trained for this race. I absolutely had a sub-4:00 in me. Training had been going well. But when the predicted temperatures creeped up to the 80s with humidity in the 90% range, I knew I had to ditch all plans for a PR let alone a sub-4. Nothing like going to the start line of a race knowing it's going to be a slogfest*. I felt hot and nauseated by mile 0.5. Zero point five!! That was one painful 4.5 hours. I made it through, and knocked Minnesota off my 50 in 50 list, but that's the only good thing I have to say about that experience!

The memory of Med City was so brutal that when it came time to run the Ann Arbor Marathon less than a month later, I just couldn't do it. It was hot and I was mentally and physically exhausted. Instead Adam and I had a leisurely breakfast at Zingerman's Deli and drove back home.

The rest of the spring and early summer were dedicated to triathlon training. I convinced my dear friend and training-partner-from-afar, Sara, to do the Chicago Triathlon (sprint edition) with me for our first ever triathlon! Note that neither of us really knew how to swim when we embarked on this training. But we dutifully got coaches, did some open water swimming, rented the wetsuits, and let's face it, even looked like we knew what we were doing! Sara did indeed know what she was doing and kicked some serious butt in all three events. I sadly, lagged a bit behind, but the experience resulted in what I think is the funniest blog post I've ever written. If you missed it the first time, or want another laugh, check it out here.

First time triathletes!

While I was still proud of myself for completing my first tri even if it was more of a 'try' than a 'succeed' I needed to redeem myself by properly swimming a race. So I signed up for the Lake Geneva Triathlon just days after my Chicago Triathlon debacle. Right around this time, is when I found out I was pregnant!

Even though my first tri didn't go as well as I was hoping, I enjoyed many parts of the experience and admittedly felt a little hard-core that I had done it so I had big plans for my triathlon future. I was planning to head up to Madison to watch Ironman Wisconsin, then spend the night to sign up in person for Ironman Wisconsin 2013. Exactly one week and a day before I would execute this plan I found out I was pregnant! Thank goodness we found out when we did rather than after I paid out the $600+ dollars for registration!!

Before Lake Geneva swim. So nervous!
And just like that my race agenda for the next year needed some serious revision! Turns out I was pregnant (just) when I completed the Chicago Triathlon. I felt fine during and after the race and saw no reason to skip the Lake Geneva Sprint tri. And while I was so, so, so nervous before the swim (I'm not sure I've ever been that nervous in my life!), I totally redeemed myself at that race and was so happy I did it. So happy. I would have been so down on myself if I ended my first triathlon season not even swimming the swim! I took it a little easy on the bike and run, not pushing myself as hard as I could, but that's the only modification I made based on being preggars. And I hydrated well. So well that I had to pee during a 5K, which was lame (normally, I'd just hold it for 30 minutes, but I was trying to be a safe pregnant athlete), but better to be safe than sorry!

Happy marathoner- 11 weeks pregnant!
Next up was the Des Moines Marathon in October. I was soo looking forward to this race! I was itching for a redemption marathon in good weather after Med City and was excited about running part of the race with Sara. And I had zero pressure on myself in terms of performance because I needed to follow the whole "keep your pace conversational" that is advised for fit pregnant women. (A longer post on endurance exercise during pregnancy to follow.) I had such an enjoyable race! One of the most enjoyable experiences of my 13 marathons. I was a little bummed that I couldn't push it a bit because I really felt capable of a sub-4. All my recent long runs indicated I was ready. But, even I have priorities more important than running!

My fans, runner husband, and 14 week old fetus;)
In November, I had another fun race planned- the Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina. Adam and I convinced my family to join us in a beach house for the weekend. Unfortunately I got a nasty, exhausting cold and was really just in survival mode for most of the trip, including the marathon. But I hung in there and got it done, in large part because of the help and support of my cheerleading crew! I was able to appreciate the perfect running weather and the beautiful views, but didn't really love the running. The pregnancy was a total non-issue, I just kept the pace conversational- in fact, had conversations with my dad who biked along with me for a few miles!

December has been a slow running month for a variety of reasons- recouping from that cold, recouping from some not-running-related stresses and pregnancy related uncertainties (now resolved, thank goodness), and being on service again (meaning rough hours) plus my pretty strictly enforced 8 pm bedtime and sleeping in whenever possible -- let's just say the next few months will be a build-up phase again. But as of December 29th both Adam and I have run at least a mile a day for 2 years! While this is less a "goal" than just a way of life at this point, I'll still take a second to be proud of our consistency. And I want to throw out a congratulations to Sara, who just completed 1 year of running at least 1 mile a day! Love it!

As for me, I'll keep on working out as much as I can until I get so big that all I can do is maintain...probably around April I imagine I'll be down to 3 work-outs a week...and by May I won't be surprised if I'm down just to my requisite mile a day. But until then......I'll work to implement my 2013 goals (post to follow!!)

(*definition of slugfest according to Wiktionary: An activity or event characterized by a long duration and an exhausting, wearisome perception by its participants")

Sub 4 hour marathon in 2012. Complete my first triathlon in 2012 (done August 26, 2012!). Qualify for Boston in 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In case you haven't noticed....... blog title changed. That's right, take a look. Those who know me really well have already heard the news and are slowly getting over their surprise and moving on to the excitement phase. Those who know me pretty well but not quite well enough to be in the first wave of announcements may fall out of their chairs. Me? Adam and I? Baby? Yup, that's right. Ten years into a wonderful marriage, we've decided to introduce a third party. Our baby(girl)bison will be joining us this May!! We're thrilled, so excited about babybison, and excited that it's not a secret anymore:)

Well, that's how I told you, my readers. Here's how we told some of the other key players in our life.....

Adam learns the gender

I learned the gender of the baby a few weeks before Adam did. He didn't want to know the gender until we knew all the tests from our amniocentesis were okay. So the day we got our final amnio results, I bought a pair of baby boots and lined them up with the many shoes that litter our front hallway. I really didn't think he'd notice that, so I also bought streamers and a balloon to decorate the apartment. But sure enough, as soon as he walked in the door, he said "So, it's a girl?" I asked how on earth he knew (the boots were black and white so I didn't think they totally gave it away!), and he said he noticed the liner of the boots was pink. Very perceptive, that one! I even got domestic and put up streamers on the windows- see them in the background?

Mom and Dad

Personalized menus at Sepia

Every year, in lieu of birthday gifts, we take my parents out for a fun Chicago day including a nice dinner. This year, we played a bit of golf on an unseasonably warm- but still chilly- day, then headed to Sepia for dinner. Golf was a lot of fun but I must admit I was eagerly awaiting what we had in store for them at dinner! We arrived and were directed to our table. As planned, the maitre d grabbed the "special" menus set aside for us with a quick wink in my direction. We sat down, and the waiter carefully looked us over and handed us each our personalized menus. Of course, only Adam and I knew they were personalized:) My folks starting reading the menu, my Dad in particular, noting some tasty appetizers. My mom was kinda quiet, looking things over. The subtle salutation at the top had not yet caught their attention so I gently nudged "what do you think about the menu" and my Mom quickly read it, looked at us in shock, read it again said "Really?" and got very excited. Those who know us know we've never talked about having kids, quite the opposite in fact. And our change in heart has been quiet- only a few of our closest friends knew we were considering kids and no one else. So my Mom was shocked but also so, so excited! Way more excited that I was expecting. My Dad was quick to follow and soon the waiter was over congratulating us as well. Later the manager came over to well wish. Sepia did a nice job with the celebration, with their enthusiasm, flexibility and extra touches to our dessert plates:)

Brother, Sister-in-law, Niece

Christmas morning run with Karin
We wanted to tell my brother and his family before we told my family at large, so we planted a shirt that my mom had made for me as a gift, pretending it was from Adam to me for me to wear on my run the next day. I made sure everyone was watching and opened the shirt. Garrett and Jill were shocked and confused. A good 10 seconds passed before Jill asked more questioningly than declaratively "you're pregnant??". We had them floored. A few beats later they recovered with the appropriate congratulations but it was a pretty funny 10s as they started blankly at us. What can I say? People are surprised when the couple who loves to travel to exotic locales and race destinations, live in the high rise on the lake in downtown Chicago and avoid all things kid decides to add a kid to the mix! (Don't worry- we'll still travel and race. We are lucky to have had many volunteers to baby sit already!)

Adam's Family

Since we delayed our announcement by a couple weeks to coincide with Christmas, I thought a gift would be a good way to tell Adam's family. So we framed and wrapped one of babybison's ultrasound pictures. Much like almost everyone else in my family, his parents were shocked. So shocked that it took a few minutes of "what is this an ultrasound of? a kidney? why are they giving us a kidney?" before they literally took the picture and compared it to ultrasounds of a previous grandchild on the fridge, before they realized what was going on. Fun times. His Mom laughed and clapped, his Dad cried. We then called his sisters. For his younger sister Nora, who was unfortunately home sick with the flu we enlisted the help of our niece to inform her mom. She was excited and got out of bed for that news. For his older sister Maggie who was taking care of our two sick nephews we just outright told her. Much like her Dad, she cried.

The Rest of My Family

We enlisted my niece and only current great-grand child in the family, Gwyn, to help spread the good news amongst my family. She had the wonderful idea of making a shirt that said "Jingle bells, jingle bells, cousin bison on the way" and wearing it to the Xmas Eve gathering. Now our Xmas celebration deserves and will recieve its own post, so suffice it to say here that every year we have a different themed meal and this year was Anne of Green Gables, which is why some of us are intermittently "in costume" in the pictures that follow. No, I don't usually wear lace dresses and hats.

"Say cheese!"
The first to arrive were my Uncle Scott, Aunt Kelly with two of my little cousins and my adult cousin Anna-Lisa and her boyfriend Jason. Immediately upon their arrival, I gathered them together to take a picture by the tree under the guise that I wanted a picture of all the costumes. In reality I thought we better make the announcement quick before either Kelly or A-L noticed my small but present baby bump! So we all assembled and Adam said "Say cheese!" He then made a nice show of checking out the photo to make sure everyone looked good. During this time, Gwyn covertly uncovered her T-shirt. Then Adam said we needed to re-do it and "say cheese" ensured one more time.  He again said the photo was sub-par and but time instead of "say cheese" he said "everyone say Val's pregnant!". Only a couple people repeated him and then a confused silence filled the room. The epitome of a pregnant pause (ha, ha, I'm too funny). We then had Gwyn turn around and reveal the shirt. I believe my Aunt Kelly was the first to catch on but soon everyone knew and there were hugs all around. I even- much to my surprise- got a little teary eyed. It was just so fun and great and the enthusiasm from my initially very confused family was so wonderful.

"Say Val's pregnant!"

We ended up telling pretty much everyone else individually. Next was my Grandma Nelson. Then my cousin, Karin, who had what may have been the funniest response to Gwyn's shirt which was "is someone getting a puppy?"and then her response to me once she realized I was pregnant "I thought you weren't doing the whole kid thing?" which I reminded her was exactly her response to me roughly 10 years ago when I told her I was getting married. I told her the marriage thing- though not entirely thought to be my scene at the time- turned out really well so I expect this next adventure will as well:)

The big surprise of the evening (besides our announcement itself) was how quickly my Grandma and Grandpa Monson figured it out! We showed them Gwyn's shirt and they immediately knew we were pregnant! They weren't even surprised! And out of everyone in my family, the only person who made name suggestions was my 94 year old grandfather! Hilarious!

Right after we told them

I hope our families had as much fun with "the big reveal" as we did. I'm sure every pregnancy announcement is exciting and wonderful, but I did enjoy the additional twist of folks being so shocked. We've been so vocal for so long about not wanting kids.....right up until the past year when we started thinking we did, and then we were really quiet about it right until Christmas:) Telling people about babybison has really been one of the most fun experiences of my life thus far!