The Philly 10k

9 May

Registration for the Philly 10k opened this morning. This is the third time that the good people at Philadelphia Runner have put on this race, and it will be my third year participating. As soon as I saw the announcement that registration would open at 10:00 A.M. today I made myself a calendar reminder (right next to my 10:00 A.M. pumping reminder!) so that I wouldn’t forget. Forgetting things is my new MO, and I didn’t want to miss this one.
  

The Philly 10k was the last race I ran while I was pregnant, so I’m really excited that it will be the first race I run post-Bean. I registered for the race last year when I was only a few weeks pregnant, things were off to a good start and it didn’t occur to me at the time that I wouldn’t run through my entire pregnancy. Then four or so weeks later I started bleeding and was put on “pelvic rest.” For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term that means no exercising and nothing can be put in your vagina (I’ll let you all extrapolate from there). So I was sidelined at 12 weeks and wasn’t sure I’d be able to workout again, let alone race, for the rest of my pregnancy. Thankfully, for more reasons than just the 10k, the subchorionic hemorrhage resolved itself by 20 weeks and I was cleared to start exercising again. When I ran The Philly 10k I was 24 weeks pregnant, which means I had 4 weeks to get ready from when I was cleared to start working out again and race day. Let’s face it, I was never in it to win it, so I decided to just take it slow, see how I felt at every turn, and use a very structured run/walk regimen so I wouldn’t be tempted to go out too hard. I got my training runs in and felt confident that I could finish the 10k – perhaps not fast, but I knew I could finish it. 

Race day arrived and I had a blast. It was such a stark contrast to the year before. My first (well, everyone’s first) Philly 10k kind of sucked. It was hot, the sun was relentless, and there were more than a few times that I almost said “Eff. it” and dropped out. But my second go, with Bean as my copilot, it was a breeze. Sure I ran a full minute per mile slower than I did the first year, but I enjoyed every minute. I ran through my neighborhood (and strongly considered stopping at my house to pee!), and I ran into (ha! “ran” into) a friend from social work school and her husband. I felt like our whole city was cheering me on and wanted me to succeed as I jogged along the course. My husband and my cousin were also really excited I ran the race because it meant they got to split my beer at the finish line, and let’s face it, extra beer is always a good thing.    

I can’t wait to experience it again this year, knowing the cutest cheerleader on the planet (I’m not biased or anything) will be at the finish rooting me on. 

My First Mother’s Day

8 May

I want to write some poignant piece about my experience of motherhood thus far, but really, I can’t help but feel it’s been said before. The writers, storytellers, and mommy bloggers before me have told of the the love so grand that it feels like you’ve been punched in the chest, the challenges so great that you wonder how you’ll overcome them, and the fact that it’s all worth it in the end. My story isn’t overly unique, I’m a mother of a small baby; there are millions of women alongside me doing this today, billions who’ve done it before, and theoretically infinitely more who will do it after me.

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Bean on the day she was born

Even though my story isn’t unique I still think Mother’s Day is a worthwhile day to pause and reflect on the last 4 months. I want to say “everything is different,” but that’s not quite true. I’m still a wife, still a social worker, still a daughter and friend. I’m still a runner and a crafter. I’m still funny (I think), and light hearted, while maintaining a healthy dose of anxiety and perpetual worry.

But I’m also tired. I’m spread thin. Trying to find balance. I’m the center of this tiny person’s universe. The level to which she needs me is amazing and overwhelming. But the level to which she loves me is even more amazing and overwhelming. Seeing her smile breaks my heart in the best way possible, it breaks it so it can grow larger and have even more capacity for love (thank you for so eloquently making that metaphor Sylvie).

There are the sacrifices you expect – like the lack of sleep. Then there are the ones you don’t expect, like needing to spend at least 3 and a half hours per day hooked up to the breast pump. You figure the baby will get sick once she does to daycare, but don’t necessarily realize it means that you and your husband likely will as well. I didn’t expect that I’d have to give up dairy and soy so that I’d be able to keep feeding her. And I certainly didn’t expect that I’d pee my pants trying to get to her.

But then there’s the smiles. The full face, bright eyed, gummy smiles. The “you make everything right in my world” smiles. Her tiny toes, her little baby belly, her elfish nose and ears. Her laughs and her coos. The way she snuggles up against me and buries her head in my shoulder. It’s nothing short of magic. She has me bewitched, entranced, and captivated.

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for this little Bean. She is my world. And I’m smitten.

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Bean and I at 3:00 AM this morning

So I sign off with a Happy Mother’s Day, to all of the mothers, to all those who’ve been mothered, and to all those who need a little bit of extra love today – I’m sending some your way!

Running After Having a Baby

6 May

My pace is slower. Everything feels different.   Because everything is different. My rebound is taking longer, because I have less time to get out the door and run. Instead of running a few times a week, I’ve been pleased to get one run in per week.

But I found one sure fire way to increase your pace as a new mother: have whoever is with your baby give you a call when you’re almost done your run and tell you that your baby has been crying inconsolably since you left. Bonus points if you can hear the baby crying in the background, because there is nothing quite like the sound of your baby crying to kick that adrenaline up a notch and take you into the next gear!

This is what happened on Sunday. Our normally “super chill” baby was just not about it. She wasn’t okay with what was happening in her little world, her eczema had definitely flared up, her reflux was likely bothering her, maybe she had gas, and maybe she was concerned that Trump was likely to get the Republican nomination, or maybe she didn’t like the onesie we picked out, but whatever the issue actually was, one thing was clear: my girl was. not. happy. And she needed us to know about it.

Alex did his best to hold it down, but there comes a time with all small babies when reinforcements must be summoned – so he did the only logical thing he could do, he called mommy for a status report. And I heard that baby cry, I said “I’ll be right there” and I hung up. I sprinted. I sprinted the last 6 blocks of the run, and all I could think was “I have to get to my baby.”

If you are also a new mom, or have ever been a new mom, you can probably guess what happened next… If you guessed “the sudden change in level of exertion further weakened your already weak pelvic floor muscles and you peed your pants?” You are CORRECT! And if you followed that guess with “and once you started to pee your pants, you really couldn’t seem to stop?” You are double right. That’s right team – I finished my run Sunday night, my 3-mile-this-is-all-I-have-time-for-and-apparently-I-didn’t-even-have-time-for-that run covered in urine.

In the immortal words of Huey Lewis: I’m doing it all for my baby.

 

Broad Street is Upon Us 

30 Apr

The Broad Street Run. A 10-mile, 40,000 person running party cutting through the best city (okay, maybe that’s just my opinion) in our country. It’s the largest 10-mile race in the country; its so grand and coveted that there’s a lottery to get a bib. If you follow the RUN215 Facebook group it’s all anyone has talked about for at least a month. So basically, it’s a big deal. It’s also my unicorn, my fabled creature, the race I want so bad each year, but some how fail to capture every time. 

In all the years I’ve been running I’ve successfully secured a Broad Street bib 5 times, of those 5 times I’ve actually lined up to run just once. One year I was under trained, another year it was the week after an unexpected knee surgery, yet another year I injured my IT band in a half marathon the week before and could barely walk, and finally this year: I registered before checking the calendar and didn’t realize that BSR was the same day as Orthodox Easter. Our baby’s first Easter. Which is historically celebrated by our family in Connecticut, and quite unfortunately by the virtue of Broad Street taking place in the City of Brotherly Love it’s pretty impossible to be on Broad Street and in Connecticut at the same time. 

 

Bean and I checked into our hotel room in CT

 
So here I am in the back of the Prius watching my sleeping baby on our first road trip, rocking my RUN215 sweatshirt, and reminiscing about the one BSR I did run: 2015. One year ago, almost to the day, I was 7 weeks pregnant and I ran my first Broad Street Run. And it was amazing.

My cousin Molly and I at the start line

When I started this post I described the run as a 40,000 person running party, and that is true, but honestly, it’s more than that. That 40,000 people mark doesn’t take into consideration the crowds of Philadelphians who come out to cheer. From (former) Mayor Nutter at the start line handing out high fives, to friends and family of the runners, to the Temple cheerleaders, paramedics and police, citizens, and DJs pumping up the noise, the energy is amazing. There’s little to compare it to, and I’ve run a lot of races, in a few different cities, and little compares to the fanfare that comes with the Broad Street Run. 
This race was different, and not just because it had the magic and mystique that only Broad Street has, but because I wasn’t alone. Known to only a handful of people, deep in my belly, was a 7 week old bundle of cells rapidly becoming more and more of a person. Soybean we called her, though we didn’t know she was a her yet. 
The weekly emails I got about the pregnancy told us that week that she had paddles instead of hands and feet, so my husband told me she would swim along while I ran. I spent most of the race picturing that, my little Bean paddling along as my feet carried us both down the street. 
I knew that running was safe since I was a runner before I got pregnant, but I still worried. Worrying, I joke, is one of my core competencies. Was it too far? Would I over heat? Was I in any way jeopardizing our Bean? I checked with my midwife, scoured the Internet and the baby books and decided it would be okay. 
Not gonna lie, I felt like a bad ass finishing a 10-mile race while pregnant, even if very few folks knew. And if I look back over the years and pick which year I was going to run Broad Street, I wouldn’t change a thing. Me and my tiny partner in crime, my sidekick, my wee creation made our mark that day. And I’ll never forget it. 
As for this year? Family first. We have scores of relatives in Connecticut waiting to meet this precious bundle and there’s nothing that would have deprived them of that, not even Broad Street. Bean has a 93 year old great grandma to meet, y’all! 

Bean and Great Grammie

MainlyRunning…and Mommying

28 Apr

Every April I start to get reminders that my domain name is about to expire. That means it’s been another year since I launched MainlyRunning, and in some cases, another year since I actually sat down and wrote a post. Around this time I also get reminders in the form of the “On This Day” feature in Facebook where I see what I posted this time last year, and the year, and the year before that. So here we are again, in April, giving this another go. But something is very different this time, something both very big, and very small at the same time: this time, as I write, my daughter lays between me and my husband on the couch. She joined us on December 30th, and no “On This Day” will ever be the same.

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Little Miss the day after she was born

This time last year I was just a little, tiny bit pregnant and I renewed the blog with the intention of blogging through my pregnancy. But, as you know, you’re not supposed to tell people when you’re just a little bit pregnant, so I stayed mum. Then, around the time that we stated telling people about the pregnancy in earnest I had a subchorionic hemorrhage (layman’s terms: I started bleeding) which led us to believe we might lose the baby, so I stopped telling people, and certainly didn’t feel up to blogging about it. It resolved itself, and Baby Main kept on growing, and we got busier and busier preparing for her arrival, and it seemed as though too much time had past to start blogging about my experiences… and now here we are, with a baby that’s about to be 4 months old, and a domain name that was itching to be renewed.

So once again, MainlyRunning is back. But with a new twist – we now have the mommy angle, the baby factor, and a little bit (okay, maybe a lot) of added cuteness! Stay tuned as I recap the last year, and then fill you in on the blessings, whoopsies, and overall antics of being a running, working, volunteering, wife-ing, (not in that order) mom.

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Little Miss early Tuesday morning

The Pit

6 Mar

To follow up on yesterday’s post about the winter, I want to address a more serious winter side effect. This winter (and most winters) didn’t just sideline me physically. It sidelined me mentally. The “winter blues” are real, seasonal changes in mood and well-being is a thing. Melancholy, apathy, lethargy, whacky moods, generally feeling some kinda way, all of this hit me hard. Starting around November, and rolling on through until, well, pretty much last week.

Truth be told, until last week I didn’t even want to run. I didn’t really want to do anything. When I was in my mental health diagnostics class (and my cognitive behavioral therapy class) (and my clinical practice class) (and probably at least 3 other classes I’m now forgetting) in grad school we learned about anhedonia. For those of you not in the field, anhedonia is defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. I remember thinking in early February, “I now know what means.” All I wanted to do was watch episodes of Parks and Recreation, play Candy Crush and listen to audiobooks. Period. Not run, or read, or make a craft, write a blog post, see friends, or spend real quality time with my husband. Anhedonia, my friends, at his/her/its finest.

Over the past few weeks I’ve felt the mental cloud start to lift, and I had this mental image of me climbing back out of a pit. Like I spent the winter in a pit, a pit that I imagined would be called “The Pit of Despair” (I listened to Cary Elwes “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” while I was in “the pit”), and I was finally getting back up towards the top.

In case any of you have felt this way, are currently feeling this way, are also suffering from the winter blues, or often find yourself in a general state of melancholy.  Here is a little advice to help you climb back out:

1. Read this blog entry by The DIY Couturier: 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed  (Full credit for these tips goes to Rosalind Robertson, the author of The DIY Couturier, who I have not met, but was seriously inspired by)

2. Surround yourself by a support network. Even if that network is one person. Find someone(s) who you can talk to, who will listen, who will be there when you’re feeling down, and who won’t judge you for how you’re feeling.

3. Get off the couch. As physics has shown, an object in motion, stays in motion. So get up, turn off the TV, go outside, hell, even just go into another room. Makes plans with someone and follow through, sometimes just knowing that someone is counting on you can give you the push you need.

4. I fully and totally second The DIY Couturier’s number 17. Turn off the external drama. We have a year round rule in the Main house “Comedies only.” When people ask me if I watch Scandal or House of Cards or Insert-Other-Drama-Here the answer is no. Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, that’s where it’s at over here. I also do not watch the news, and I limit my Facebook clicks to cute kittens, silly quizzes, and lists of “Life Hacks.”

5. Baby steps. Small wins. Acknowledge them all, and be proud of them. There are some days that I’m super pumped that I unloaded the dishwasher and loaded it back up, and then walked to work. Win! Let’s see what we can do tomorrow!

Please know, if you’ve also found yourself in the pit this winter, sometimes I fall into the pit, you fall into the pit, we all fall into the pit. Little by little, the sun will shine longer and brighter, the top of the pit won’t seem so far away. And now to end on a lighter note:

 

 

 

 

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

5 Mar

No. No, I do not want to build a snowman. I want to run. I want to run outside. I want it to be over 40 degrees, and I want the sun to come out, and I want to go outside, and I want to run outside!

I’ve never liked snow. As a child I grew up in Charleston, SC, so snow didn’t happen with great frequency. The first time I saw snow was on a visit to see my grandparents in the Philadelphia suburbs. My parents were so excited to show me snow for the first time, like most parents seem to be, so they opened the front door and had me gaze at the wonder. I promptly replied, “Get that white stuff offa my car, I wanna go home.” They bribed me with a Happy Meal to play in the snow, I lasted roughly 15 minutes.

A year or two later it did actually snow in Charleston. Again my parents were excited for the opportunity to play in the snow. My dad wanted to do the father-daughter bonding activity of building a snowman. We got the snowman erected and he headed into the house to find something to use for arms, I believe he was thinking BBQ tools would work well. While he was gone I decided I was done with the snowman and knocked him over. My dad was displeased. As you can imagine.

Me - Sitting on the remains of the snowman

Me – Sitting on the remains of the snowman

Then there was the time that I went sledding and injured my knee as I flew down the hill.

Are you noticing a trend?

So, here we are, watching another 4-8 inches of snow fall on Philadelphia, and here I am thinking, “Hey, Mother Nature, there’s this little thing called the Broad Street Run, maybe you’ve heard of it, yeah, so, I need to train for that. Can you cut me some mother*$@&ing slack??” This winter has been wrought with below freezing temperatures, thin ice, thick ice, sleet, and snow, and I’ve been trapped inside.

Over the winter I’ve seen many folks running outside, sometimes even ON THE ICE. But as you’ve heard over the course of this blog, I fall down. A lot. I’ve had to answer yes to the question that the doctor asks at your annual physical: “Have you fallen more than twice in the past year.” My nickname as a child was Calamity Jessica, a take on Calamity Jane. So running on ice, or snow, or general slickness ups the likelihood of me falling (which is already rather high) by, oh, let’s guess, 1000%. It’s not an option for me. When I see those runners I lament that I am not running, but then I remember what Amy Poehler says in “Yes Please”: “Good for her, not for me.”

So this is me right now, wanting to do whatever Frozen things do….In Summer!

DISCLOSURE: My husband loves snow and has every desire, that I do not share, to build a snowman. Out of devotion to the man I love, I have agreed to craft an Olaf out of snow this afternoon. So I will in fact be building a snowman. Just needed to be up front about that.