Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kalamazoo Marathon 2015

So... last weekend I ran a marathon. It was hot and hilly. Should I end there?! Haha.

I mentioned back in February that I was toying with the idea of a spring marathon... but wanted to wait and see how things shook out before I really committed. After a couple good weeks of training, I decided to just go for it and signed up for the Kalamazoo Marathon in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

All smiles before the start.
I've actually been working with a coach for a few months now. One of my Business Man's friend's wife's brother (got that?!) is a supah-fast triathlete and has been dabbling in the coaching realm... so I decided to give it a go! Let me say, it has been SO nice to not think about what I'm going to run, how far I'm going to run, how fast I'm going to run. We kept my mileage pretty reasonable, and I'm only running 4-5 days a week. (Which is all I can handle schedule-wise right now... long gone are the days of running 6-7 days a week!)

My training was pretty consistent, minus a few blah weeks with sickness, sleepless babies, and crazy cupcake baking schedules. I only did a few really long runs - a 16, 17, 19, and 20-miler, but they all had some element of speed mixed in. 

I was feeling pretty good and feeling like I could come close to a PR (3:20), but my main goal was to run a BQ (3:35). I figured I could run a qualifying time this spring, and then hopefully run a PR in the fall at Columbus. I also have a tendency to blow up in the last 6-8 miles of a marathon and I was afraid to go out at a 3:20 pace only to blow up in the last stretch and not even get the BQ.

So, the marathon. It was on a Sunday and I had to work Saturday... so I closed up the cupcake counter early at 2pm and we hit the road up to Kalamazoo so I could pick up my packet. It's a smaller hometown event, so that was a breeze. (They even offered packet pick-up on race day morning, but I didn't want that added stress!)

My parents met us up in Kalamazoo for the weekend, and it was SO nice to have them there to help out with James and to cheer! We rented a house through AirBNB and it was a great experience. We had a 2-story 3-bedroom house to spread out and settle in for the long weekend.

Anyways, back to the marathon. My race plan was to start with the 3:30 pace group and then pick it up throughout the race if I felt good. The weather forecast predicted heat and sun, and I knew that would probably affect me a bit, especially since I haven't been training in the heat at all yet this year.

Action shot taken by my Business Man. Those compression sleeves were a bad choice... SO HOT!

I started with the 3:30 group and things were super easy and fun. The pacers started talking about all the hills to come, especially on the back half of the course. Hmmm. I hadn't thought to check the elevation. I mean, I looked at it, but it didn't look too bad! (Guess I should actually look at the numbers, not just the squiggly lines...)

My boys having fun during the race.

We hit a lot of too fast miles the first half of the race... they wanted to 'bank time' for the second half of hills and heat. (Which I sort of understand. But if you're pacing, shouldn't you pace evenly?!) We hit the half around 1:42.

I saw my family right around mile 14. (Right after the BACON STATION! Sadly, I did not partake.) The house we stayed at was actually just half a block from the route, so they just walked over to spectate! How cool.

Seeing the family was a good boost about halfway through the race. I felt ok, but was drinking a TON of water. It was warm, and the course was pretty much full sun. Around mile 15-16 I started to drift ahead from the group, and just went with it. In hindsight, I should have stayed back. Turns out there was a big gradual downhill at this point, which would explain the cruisin'.

Awesome part of this race = free race pics!
Somewhere around mile 18, my left quad started to feel pretty much dead. (You know the feeling? Super heavy with every step.) That's when things started to go downhill. I started to get super hot, and every step was a struggle. I convinced myself to get to mile 20 and then see how I felt. 

You can see mile 20 is where things went downhill... or I guess it was uphill... bwa ha ha.

And then I walked. Haha. I just felt so hot and my quads hurt so bad. I didn't have it in me mentally that day. (And I was so far off from a PR that I kinda figured, 'what's the point?' That's not the best attitude to have.)

I allowed myself to walk from 0.0-0.1 and 0.5-0.6 of each mile remaining. It was the only way I could mentally get through the race. I think my run portions were still pretty consistent around 8-8:30ish pace but those walk breaks gave my quads a break. Especially since we climbed about a billion hills in the last 6 miles. 

This was me every 30 seconds during the last 6 miles. Are we there yet? NO! Are we there yet? NO! Haha. 

The 3:30 pacers passed me around mile 21.5, so that was pretty depressing. The group had been about 20-25 people when I left, and at that point they had ZERO so that made me feel a little better.

I did run the tangents really well! Only ran about 0.1 extra throughout the whole course.

I did make myself run the entire last mile. I finished in 3:32:54, which at least got me my BQ. I was also 5th female overall which was a nice surprise. (Small race... winning female ran a 3:19. And just a note - all the women ahead of me had a nice positive split as well, haha.)

"Why are you hobbling like an old woman, mom?!"

I was so glad to be done! Lol. I enjoyed the race experience and am glad I ran it... just wish I would have been more prepared for the hills and the heat.

After the race, it was time for FUN! My Business Man and I absolutely love the area of Michigan near Kalamazoo, so we had a blast the rest of the weekend with James and my parents.

I can't get over the baby shades.

On Sunday, we headed to Holland for the Tulip Time Festival. Supposedly, there were over 6 million (!!) tulips in bloom. We started counting, but gave up around 2.2 million. ;)

We spent a lot of time walking around town, shopping, gazing at tulips, and eating delicious food.

We even got to introduce my parents to my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world - Salt of the Earth! I had a wood-fired pizza with bleu cheese, buttermilk sauce, onion jam, and honey. Alongside a glass of SOTE punch. Totally hit the spot after a long day. We also took home a loaf of fresh-baked bacon bread, which made killer BLAT's the next night.

I've already re-created this at home and it's officially my new favorite pizza.

The highlight of the weekend had to be the gorgeous weather. While 75*F and sunny is NOT great marathon running weather, it is awesome weather to be outside! We just enjoyed soaking up James time outside... and he enjoyed soaking up his Grammy & Grampy time.

Such a fun weekend... can't wait for Door County vacation later this summer!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life lately, according to James... [March 2015]

Well it's been a hot minute since I've blogged! I just don't know where the time goes. :-P

We are lovin' life with our little Jamesy-boy. I don't really have any coherent thoughts to share, so I'll just photo dump a glimpse into our days.

I'm still obsessed with baby hoodies. I just can't get over it. He will probably be wearing hoodies well into summer.

He has turned into such a HAPPY boy! Not that he wasn't happy before, but he is just SO smiley & giggly. He's become much more alert and aware of his surroundings the last few weeks and it's been so much fun.

I'd be this happy too if I got to take 4 naps a day.

I had some Babies'R'Us bucks to cash in, so we got him this exer-saucer toy. It's beach-themed. He's still not quite big enough to play in it and gets confused... which makes it all the more fun.

Ummm... and what am I supposed to be doing?!
A few weekends ago, we traveled to Indiana to visit with some of my Business Man's friends from college. There are now two babies in the mix, so that was super fun. This was one of the only pics I snapped from the weekend. 
NOT a fan of Daddy's piano skillz.
Last weekend, my in-laws came to visit. We headed to Fort Wayne for the day and spent some time at Sky Zone - an indoor trampoline park! (It has been my life dream to get a trampoline for the backyard... this was heaven! I can't wait until James is old enough so I can buy him one for his birthday or something.)

I only peed a little. Having a baby really does a number on your bladder. ;)

I got to dive headfirst into that foam pit. SO FUN!
James had his 4-month well visit last week. He is now 25 inches long and a whopping 16+ lbs! The doctor said he's doing great. Puppy came along for moral support... (shots). James has really taken a liking to Puppy. His favorite is when Puppy 'licks' his face.

He's entered the stage where EVERYTHING goes into his mouth. Fingers, hair, hoodie strings, mirrors from the activity mat. Bahaha. He even attempted to suck my nose when we were cuddling.

The doctor also gave us the go-ahead to start using the running stroller! We went a solid 4.5 miles on Saturday, and surprisingly I wasn't too sore! Unfortunately, we now have 2 inches of snow on the ground so it'll be awhile before we bust it out again.

He's getting close to rolling over! He loves to get up on one side, chill there for a minute, and flop back down.

Not much else to say, except that we've settled into a pretty good routine. He's still not quite sleeping through the night (gets hungry once around 4-5am), but hopefully soon. He's taking 3-4 naps a day, sometimes 30 min, sometimes 2+ hours! (Those are definitely rare.) 

Looking forward to a trip home to visit family this weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Return to Running

Well, here I am over 11 weeks postpartum. How have 11 weeks gone by already!? But yet, it feels like we've had James forever, like I can't even remember life without him.

But I'm RUNNING AGAIN!!! If you read any of my blog posts from the last few months of pregnancy, you might remember that I had back pain. A LOT of back pain. SI joint pain, to be exact. (God bless you for listening to me complain about that stupid back pain over and over again each week.) One of my big fears was that the pain wouldn't go away after delivery... I had read online where it took some women up to 4 months to get rid of that particular type of pain! So I assumed it would be like that.

But, less than 12 hours after giving birth, I can say the back pain was GONE! Amazing. It was the best day of my life... not only did I get to meet my sweet boy, but my back pain went away! Haha. (It was really that bad.)

I was a little nervous to start running again, because it had been a good solid 4 months of no running. I hadn't had that much time off since the beginning of high school, 10+ years ago. Ugh, how was high school that long ago? I fully planned on needing to do some sort of Couch to 5km program since it had been so long.

My happy boy with the cutest belly.

I attempted my first 'run' about 4 weeks after James was born... a mix of running & jogging on my treadmill in the basement. It hurt but felt so good at the same time! I could definitely tell things were different. However, I had no back pain so that was a good sign! After about a week, I was pretty easily running 3 miles at a time, at a very slow pace. I had my follow-up appointment the next week at my doctor, and she gave me the green light to continue to run as long as I felt comfortable.

Throughout the last two weeks of December, I pretty much ran when I could, usually 3 or 4 miles at a time. It was crazy busy with cupcakes, too, so I was grateful for whatever chance I got to hit the roads! (Or the treadmill.)

At the beginning of January, I began to have more free time to run. Plus, I had finally gotten into more of a routine/rhythm with James, so runs became easier. However, I will say that getting back into shape is difficult! My whole core felt like a big blob of jelly, and I could definitely feel it when running. You don't realize how much those muscles help support you to keep you upright!

I've slowly worked my way up to about 30-35 miles a week right now, and I've even been able to get out a few mornings a week with my running buds! Starting to feel like myself again, and it feels SO SO good. We even ran 10 miles last Thursday! Double digits, woah.

I will have to admit though, running is a complete and total PROCESS now. Where I used to just lace up my shoes and frolic out the door, it takes planning now. 

For example, if I want to go early in the morning... I have to hope that James wakes up for his night feeding at the right time. (If he's too early, it puts me in an awkward situation of 'do I have time to go back to sleep or not?' A couple of days, this has meant I'm pretty much up for the day at 4am.) I have to make sure he's fed and back to sleep, and then pump before I can head out. (It's pretty insane to even think about running without pumping first.) I guess it's not that much, but when you're trying to meet people at a certain time, it seems like a ton of work!

If I wait and run once we're both up, I have to time it so I feed him, pump, and then get him down for a nap. RUSH down to the treadmill and start ASAP because who knows how long his nap will be. If he sleeps the whole time, then run up to the shower to rinse off before he wakes up. It's just not as easy as it used to be! Lol. Nothing is with a baby. ;)

So, what are my running plans this spring? I want to run a marathon... but I realize that might be a little out there, so I'm keeping my options open. I have my eyes on the Kalamazoo Marathon up in our favorite area of Michigan on May 3. Ideally, I hope that I can run a BQ so I can sign up for Boston in the fall. However, I am taking it one week at a time. They don't charge any extra money to drop down to the half, so that is my back-up plan. :)

And another random tidbit. Breastfeeding + running = INSANE HUNGER. All the time. I feel like I'm in a constant state of of hunger... there are two levels, 'ravenously hungry' or just 'a little bit hungry'. I guess I'll take it. Nothing quite like having the metabolism of a teenage boy?!


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