Tuesday, January 27, 2015

More Picures

Rick took these as I finished.  My big kids were cheering kind of behind the tree to the right in these pictures.  Rick was wearing the baby in a Bjorn.  I didn't want to take my eyes off of her!

A good view of the mud on my legs!

My number, finisher's slate hand painted award, visor (given to me at packet pick up), and red hat (prize for top women)

Mountain Mist 50K 2015

Mountain Mist 50K Saturday, January 24, 2015

I was up almost all night before Mountain Mist!  Friday night, our baby got a cold and woke up with congestion at 10 p.m. and then 11 p.m., and I decided she'd sleep better with her head elevated.  I brought her to bed with us and she laid her head on my chest and draped her body down over my side.  It seemed to help her, but I could not sleep this way!  I kept dozing and jolting back awake.  I was so relieved to be able to feed her around 4:45 a.m., and then I put her in her bed.  I went to take a shower and get ready.

My friend, Julia, picked me up at 6 a.m. and drove me to the race so that I could ride home with my family.  How nice was that!?  

When I arrived at the Lodge (6:30 a.m.), I was an hour early and could just relax, chat with other runners, and use the restrooms.  It's a really nice place to wait for the race!

The Race
The weather was around 30 at the start, so I had on compression socks, arm sleeves, gloves, and a hat.  But I knew I'd get warm (high in 40s at finish), so I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  As we started, I loved getting views of the snow!  There had been a dusting last night, and it was still on some parts of the mountain.  Too bad all of the icicles were melted though!  I noticed the roads were still slick in spots and felt my shoes slide a few times before we headed to the trails.

I settled into a comfortable pace.  After taking 2 full days off, I was definitely well-tapered and felt great!  I saw Christy Scott and ran with her for awhile.  After comparing her training to mine (she's been up on the trails a lot training with the Youngrens), I thought I was probably starting too fast since I was easily keeping up with her!  I later found out that Christy was struggling and dropped out of the race with hamstring pain.  

The aid stations were much needed for me to break up the monotony of the first half of the race (the race is broken into halves- the first 17 and the last 14- based on the difficulty of the second "half."  Your times for these halves are usually the same even though the distance for the second part is shorter).  We have 3 aid stations before mile 17.  These trails are the easier half of the race, and sometimes I find them pretty boring.  It was like that today.  I was impatient for it to get hard!  I didn't have anyone around to talk to, so I just kind of let my mind wander.  We have a tough climb called K-2 and some awesome rocks that we actually climb through called Stone Cuts.  There is also a section called Powerline, when we run under some huge powerlines and usually get huge mud cakes on our feet!  Today the mud was too wet for that, though, so we just sloshed through puddles out there instead.  At the 3rd aid station, I had I think 2:56, so I knew I was looking at a near 6 hour time.  Ok.

It started to get really tough for me after the 3rd aid station.  I was just feeling tired.  My training wasn't great, and I knew trying to run 31 miles would be hard.  My body hadn't gone that far in 2 years!  I also fell somewhere around mile 18.  I hit both of my knees hard and just sort of sat there stunned for a moment.  A guy helped me up and I gladly realized that I was okay.  At the 4th aid station (mile 20ish), I got Advil, a Gu, peanut butter-filled pretzels, and (my usual for today) Mello Yello.  Caffeine was helpful out there!  I started feeling a little bit better once the Advil kicked in (I'd been having some left ankle pain and knew there were a lot of rocky sections to come).

I got in front of a guy who had run 78 miles the weekend before, and even though he wasn't talking to me, I listened to his conversation and got a big pick-me-up!  It was a nice distraction.  The climb up to Waterline was good.  I began passing some men who were walking.  I was kind of jogging up the long incline before you get to the waterfall.  During the steep climb, I felt pretty good and even ran/jogged to the 5th aid station (mile 25).  Here I saw a fellow teammate and friend and dropped some gear with her (she'd bring back to the Lodge for me).  I ate salt-covered potatoes.  Yum!

As I entered the final stretch, I felt very good, just a little sore already.  I played a game where I would see someone in the distance and try to catch up and pass them.  I had been passed by a few women and knew I was in 7th place, but I didn't know who was in front or how far away they were.  It makes it fun for me to have someone to try to catch, so I wished I could see more people.  I wanted some company for this section, but I was alone.  I tried hard to pay attention to the flags, especially in the Suicide Drop section, where there's a lot of sharp turns and many rocks to jump.

I made my ascent to Rest Shelter Hill pretty slowly and even walked some in a section I usually run/jog (the section after Kathy's Bench).  I tried encouraging a group of about 5 guys that I passed going up this section.  I told them we were close to a 6 hour finish and that the top was close.  

For the tough parts of this race, I repeated the quote I shared in my last post.  I kept thinking that I'd wanted this!  I wanted it to be tough, and now it was.  I also pictured Jillian Michael's barking orders at me to "Dig! Dig! Dig!  Fight! Fight! Fight! Now! Now! Now!"  I tried not to think of the baby, since I was worried how she was doing with her cold.

At the top of Rest Shelter Hill, there's less than 2 miles to the finish.  I ran this part.  I passed a girl who was walking, and I encouraged a guy who was behind me.  He kept me running fast to stay ahead of him!  At the end, he kicked it in and finished right before me.  As soon as I saw my kids and Rick I thought, "What a sight for sore eyes!"  And then, I finished!

I was 7th overall female--the 3rd local woman.  I am okay with that for today but definitely have big plans for next year!

After the Race
Rick helped me get my shoes off (it hurt even to bend over!).  I sat down to cookie cake and water.  How nice to sit.  The baby was fussing, and Rick said she only took 10 oz. of milk while I was gone, so I nursed her (I ended up adding this feeding to her schedule and not pumping any at all--too exhausted!).  I don't like nursing when I'm sweaty, let alone covered in mud, but you do what you have to!  I exchanged some stories with other runners, got my prizes (slate finisher's medal and a hat for top woman finish).  We headed home.  At the house, I surveyed the damage.  Ouch.  My left ankle was purple!  I guess I know why it was hurting at mile 20 and also why I had a hard time on some of the rocks, but I still don't know when I hurt it.  My knees were both bruised and swollen and a little scraped up.  But that's it!  Even though I felt AWFUL Saturday night (hurt to move in the bed!), I actually felt better than I thought I would.  I was stiff but walked on Sunday to loosen up a little.  Today, my ankle is still tender but I am feeling better!

Closing Thoughts
I managed my 9th Mountain Mist finish!  I am proud that I didn't give up.  It's not really "fun" to race without being back to normal after having a baby.  I don't look like myself in any of the pictures.  It was hard to run this race without training well.  But I am so happy that I finished!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Doing What Isn't Easiest

Today is a rainy, cold day, just perfect for staying inside with a little baby, which is exactly what I'm doing.  She's been fed, laundry folded, dishes washed, and carpets vacuumed.  We'll go in a little bit to pick up the big kids in the carline, and, truth be told, I may just wear pajamas for the ride.

But my thoughts are on tomorrow.

This all-day rain is turning the trails into a muddy, sloppy mess. The trails will be tougher to navigate, the rocks slippery and dangerous.   Our feet will be soaked for most of the race.   Plus, the weather forecast calls for a cold start, near freezing.

I have a baby, don't I have an excuse to skip out on this race, just this once? I know how nice and warm and cozy the house will feel tomorrow, how sweet the baby will be as I snuggle with her. Yes, sometimes the juxtaposition of tough trail runner and new mom hits me hard. The contrast is so stark.

However, I know myself.  I know I will wake up and follow the plan I've made to get myself out of the door and away from her.  I will dig deep and do what's uncomfortable tomorrow FOR her.  I will do it so she knows one day, she can do something that challenges her too.   She will know she doesn't have to take the easy road.

I began my Mountain Mist journey 13 years ago and hope to achieve the high honor of 10 finishes next year.  I was 25 years old then, a young little thing and really free too.  I was at Auburn earning my Master's degree, not even married yet!   Through many changes in my life, this race remains a constant.  Tomorrow will mark the 11th time I've toed the start line of Mountain Mist (yes, I started it twice while pregnant).   It will hopefully mark my 9th finish.   I've gone through having 3 babies in that time, one only 7 months ago.   I can't expect this body to do the same thing it did at age 25, can I?

I know this.  I won't have an amazing time tomorrow.  That's okay.   I will DO SOMETHING.  I will not sit in my bathrobe as I have countless days since the baby's birth.   I will not give in to what is easiest.

Here is a quote I really like that speaks to doing something challenging.

"Did you not call this a glorious expedition? And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror; because at every new incident your fortitude was to be called forth and your courage exhibited; because danger and death surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome. For this was it a glorious, for this was it an honourable undertaking."

--Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

I hope that tomorrow will not be smooth and placid.  Bring on the rain and mud and cold.  I can't wait for my fortitude to be called forth.  I want to do something that requires me to be courageous and brave.   So, good-bye Baby for the longest time I've left you yet.  Hello to adventure and to showing my kids what to do when they meet something tough.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mountain Mist Training Pictures

We've had cold, icy weather for our training runs.  Here are the trails on New Year's Eve.

And here they were on January 10.  Lots of ice on Water Line!  Rick is in the blue shirt hiking up the trail I will run on Saturday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Marathon and Ultramarathon Training While Nursing

This post is for my documentation of running marathons/ultramarathons while nursing.  Feel free to skip this one if it doesn't apply to you!  And I am obviously not an expert.  These are just my thoughts and what worked for me. :)

My priority for the last 6 months was to exclusively nurse my baby.  Running came second to that.  On days where I felt tired or just wanted to sleep in or to hold and cuddle, I did!  I hope to have more seasons to race, but this is not one of them.  However, I think you still can run while nursing, and even run 6+ hours (as I plan to on Saturday).  It just takes a little extra time, thought, and effort to prepare.  

Here's a brief summary of the last 6 months of nursing/training:

*Information about amount of breastmilk from Cornerstone Pediatrics Infant Feeding Schedule.

Month One (June 22-July 22): nursed almost 10 times a day--from 12 oz. (Week 1) - 22 oz. (Week 4), very little running during the first month, extremely thirsty and hungrier than normal, very tired (even for 1 mile walks)
*Followed BabyWise approach to creating a 2-3 hour schedule for my baby, this led to her sleeping through the night in Month 2!
*Pumped after morning feeding to establish a freezer stash and introduced the bottle.  I ended up having 40 bags of milk in 1-5 oz. increments stored after about 3 months.  I knew this milk would be needed as I increased my training.  I'm a SAHM, so this milk was used only for church services where I didn't leave to nurse, date nights, and running.

Month Two (July 22-August 22): nursed around 7 times a day (22-26 oz.), began running 5Ks and working back up to a 10 mile long run.  Baby began sleeping through the night at 8 weeks.

Month Three (August 22-September 22): nursed 6 times a day (26-28 oz.), committed to the marathon and ran up to a 12 mile long run, got back up to 6 days of exercise a week but 1/2 my weekly miles (normally run 6 miles a day, now running 3 miles a day)

Month Four (September 22-October 22): nursed 6 times a day (28-30 oz.), ran up to a 16 mile long run, used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards, nursed in public at the Liz Hurley Awards Ceremony! (I am very shy about nursing in public, so this felt like a victory to me) 

Month Five (October 22-November 22): nursed 5-6 times a day (28-36 oz.), ran up to a 20 mile long run, used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards 

Month Six (November 22-December 22): nursed 5-6 times a day (28-36 oz.), ran the Rocket City Marathon as a pacer for 4:10 group, used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards, took it pretty easy over the Christmas Break :), begin pumping and adding to milk stash during the holidays since it was getting depleted and the milk was expiring (milk in freezer expires after 6 months, now have around 30 bags of milk, goal is to keep a rolling stash in case of emergencies or decrease in supply, will "roll" the supply-try to add the same amount I use)

Month Seven (December 22-January 22): nursing 4-6 times a day (30-38 oz.), ran 3 long runs in preparation for Mountain Mist (13 mile trail run, 15 mile trail run, 19 mile road run near 8:40 pace), increased my runs to 4.5 daily miles, added Jillian Michael's videos 3 times a week for core (needed for trail running), used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards, baby was nursed exclusively for 6 months and has begun eating solids!

Now here is a little more info and some tips.

Rocket City Marathon Training
How do you nurse and also fit in your long runs?  Does it affect your milk's taste and quantity?  These were questions I had when I committed to pace the Rocket City Marathon last December.  Here is what worked for me:

*Early on (first few months) I pumped after the first feed to build a milk stash, then stopped building the stash as I added in long runs (around 3 months).  My stash was about 40 bags in 1-5 oz. increments.  I had a big supply starting from like day 2, so this was pretty easy for me to do (if I could just force myself to make the time to pump!).  After a long run, I found that I could not replace ounce for ounce (for example, see below where I used 10 oz. from stash and only replaced with 3 oz.), so the stash was a necessity!

*After Month Two, for early morning runs I made sure the baby would not wake before I returned home.  I followed BabyWise and got her to sleep through the night at 8 weeks.  I would do a full feeding at 10 p.m. each night.  Then she would wake at 7 or 8 a.m., so I knew I could run as long as I got home before then.  Now (Month Seven) I wake her from 8-9 a.m. for her first feed.  This makes it so easy to run before she wakes.

* I could easily do my usual morning runs (usually 3 miles) without pumping or feeding first, but I also decided to try this method for long runs too!  I knew that I wanted sleep more than I wanted to not be engorged while running!  That's right, between about Months 3-6, I would sometimes do a long run with friends and would NOT pump or feed beforehand simply because I wanted the sleep.   When I met friends to do long runs around 5 a.m., I could run up to 20 miles with them without nursing or pumping first.  This maximized my sleep and got my body adjusted to running like this.  I never leaked at all!  It's amazing what our bodies can adapt to.

*Marathon morning I did wake up the baby (5:30 a.m. or so?) to feed her before I left the house.  I figured she would take more from me than I could pump.  After she ate I didn't know if she would think it was morning and stay awake, but she did go back to sleep.  I put her back down and left 10 oz. of milk for 2 bottles for the 6 hours I would be gone.  The sitter said she took them both fine.  I only pumped 3 oz. to replenish, but I figured that was fine since I certainly lost a lot of my fluids through sweating that day.

*I sometimes pumped in the car but found it awkward.  I mostly pumped after returning home.  I always pumped if I'd missed a feeding to replenish the milk the baby had drunk from the freezer stash.

*If I ran alone I could time my runs better, so I didn't run much with my friends.  I ran after a feeding, thus hopefully eliminating the need for a bottle in my absence.  She eats every 3-4 hours now, so it's pretty easy to time most of my runs.

*I ran the minimum number of miles I needed.  I really only ran to get up to just barely being able to finish with my goal time.  It was a pretty good challenge for me to finish in 4:10.  I only did one 16 and one 20 miler and a few 10-14 mile runs in preparation.  No real order to the runs either!  I just did them when it worked out.  I know this wasn't ideal, but it's what worked.

Ultramarathon Training
Now I am training for the Mountain Mist 50K.  My training for the marathon really was bare-bones, but my training for this race is equally if not more so!  My goal is just to finish, hopefully in the 6-6:30 range (a general rule of thumb is to add 2 hours to your marathon time and that is what you can get at Mountain Mist). 

Tips I've learned from this training:

*In my case, the mountain I train on is a 30 minute drive from my house, adding considerable time to any training run.  I've only trained twice on the mountain for this reason (both times with my husband, Rick)!  Our sitter came on New Year's Eve for 4 hours (13 mile trail run) and last Saturday for 4.5 hours (15 mile trail run).  These runs were later in the day, so I was able to nurse the baby at least once before we left for the run.  

*I'm more worried about blisters on the bottoms of my feet than anything right now!  Lack of training on the trails leaves you unaccustomed to the terrain, so I have had new blisters from each training run.

*I'm rereading my previous blog entries about MM and working on my mental focus for the race.  This race is so tough, so you have to have your mind ready to conquer it.  That's something I can do from home. :)

*I'm making a nursing plan now.  I plan to feed the baby before I leave and will leave 15 oz. for the 8 hours I'll be away from the baby for the race this Saturday. 

The Baby's Weight and Other Concerns
Everything in nursing is based on diaper output and weight gain.  I mean, it's not like we can tell how much they are drinking!  Diaper output is fine! :)  And my baby was at the 95% for her weight at 2 months, 90% at 4 months, and 75% for 6 months.  In other words, she's doing great!  

The baby has shown no problems drinking after my long runs (the milk's taste does not seem to have changed enough to affect her).  She will even nurse right after a run, but I prefer to shower and then feed her if possible.  

My eating and drinking habits were adjusted based on running levels--nursing adds a need of around 500 more calories a day and LOTS of water.  I just eat when I am hungry and it hasn't been a problem.  Not something I worry too much about since everything else is going fine.  I do still take a prenatal multivitamin.