Monday, April 30, 2007

Yes, we're having a baby . . .

It's like an experiment in sociology to tell your children that you're having a baby and watch what happens. It's been a crazy week - not to mention coming home from vacation, having 2 days to recover, and then having company stay at your house for seven days, finding out you're pregnant, and really just trying to recover from a marathon emotionally and physically and wishing you can run.

So, yes - if there was any question after my last post - I am pregnant, and no, I had no idea when I ran the Boston Marathon. It's kinda funny to think about - maybe my body had it's own way of telling me to slow down. And it's kinda funny to think that I carried someone along that never qualified - oops! It's kind of a worrisome thing, too - to know that I ran that far and pushed my body to the limit while it was concentrating on other things. I've tried and tried to find research on the topic of running marathons while pregnant, but there isn't much out there but the standard - run easy while you're pregnant and don't compete. There are supposed heart rate limits (140 bmp) and supposed temperature limits (102 degrees), but there are articles that refute that, too. Perhaps when I talk with the doctor, I can find more answers.

The whole thing about telling the children . . . when you find out you're having a baby, it's a pretty exciting thing, and you want to share it with your children. It is highly unreasonable to tell a six-year-old such news, and expect her to keep it a secret. But it's also still very early in the pregnancy and there are reasons to not tell the general public. We chose to live in the moment. The kids - mostly our youngest - told the entire population in a matter of hours she was so excited. I've had very healthy pregnancies, but you can never predict such a thing - only take it one day at a time.

One day at a time? Me - who has no patience? Me, who was asking what next and planning my next marathon? Oh, my. It's so hard to take it day by day and not think too much about it all since it's so early, but it's so hard to not think about it when there is this child miraculously growing inside of me. I know that I have a scheduled 2 more weeks of no running, possibly 4, to make it either 4 or 6 weeks of no running post marathon to let my IT bands heal. And really, with no upcoming race, I have no reason to hurry it. I swam Friday, and can continue to up that training, and water running, just not with too much intensity. And I can lift weights lightly. And I read yesterday that I could bike up until 10 weeks when the uterus moves up into the abdomen. Prior to that, it is protected, and even falling off of a bike would not hurt the baby. But with IT issues, I won't be biking until after that, and then, I guess, I could ride a stationary bike. But that means a tri is out. Grrrrrr. But I've read that people do it . . . if anyone has more thoughts on that, I'd love to hear them. I did go for a 2-3 hour walk on Saturday and did lots of yardwork - my little leggies were sore after, so that was too much. Maybe I'll just walk the dog.

I'm seriously gonna go crazy. I need some focus - something to keep me occupied to take the place of training and training goals.

And all of our children were intentionally named after places - just something we chose to do. All five members of our family have the same middle initial as well - kind of a family connectedness thing. But it's so early to think of baby names . . . . and I really just want to take a nap.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Reflections on New Beginnings

My sister turns 40 today. She's beginning a new decade. She told me she took some time off this morning to honor the transition. Pretty cool when you think about it - to take the time to pause and reflect - to look backward and forward before moving head on into the present.

Our oldest daughter, Kenaia, is 11 years old - named after Kenai, Alaska. The day she was born it was unusually stormy and windy. Her birth was very difficult and she came out with reddish hair and freckles. It all fits her personality. She's a determined little bugger - stubborn to the end, and likes to have things her way. She was an early talker, an early reader, and her current literacy skills blow us away. She could honestly be a published author right now. Books and writing are her passions, and she loves all things of the natural world, especially the wind, which she claims is her 'element'. Not only can she read into books, but she can read into people - she's very introspective. Her ability to comprehend people and situations is amazing. It makes me emotional to think about how she's grown into a little young lady. She's not only my daughter, but my friend and advisor at times, and a very independent creature. She's very true to herself and loves to explore. She's adamant about the fact that her true calling is to be a Dragonologist - to travel the world searaching for dragons.

Sydney is nine. When Sydney, Australia was named the site of the 2000 Olympics, we decided it would be a perfect name for a child. Sydney was born so fast that the nurse had to grab some doctor in the delivery room next door because our doctor didn't make it in time. And true to her name and her birth, Sydney is extremely athletic, fascinated by all sports, and does not like to wait for anything. In fact, not just sports, Syd is fascinated by everything. With her allowance, she bought herself a subscription to National Geographic Kids Magazine. She loves the Guinness Book of World Records. She loves Garfield and the Sunday comics and has a terrific sense of humor. She often hides around the house and tries to pop out and surprise me. She's a sponge for all sorts of information and can relay any information you request at any moment - how many people were on the Titanic, what caused the Great Chicago Fire, etc. What she really loves is animals. She has a very tender, compassionate side and gets emotional when it comes to any type of creature. She tells us that she wants to have a big house someday so she can have lots of dogs, and she wants to travel around studying animals all over the world. And play basketball for the WNBA.

Meissa is 6 years old. She was named after a place, just like her sisters - only farther away. Meissa is a double star serving as one of the head stars in the Orion Constellation. In Arabic, it means 'the shining one.' This child was also born under the constellation Leo the Lion, and in the chinese zodiac Year of the Dragon. You can only imagine the little fireball that she is. She's a true wild one - fueled by race cars, extreme sports, all things pink, fashion, hairstyles, and shoes. Several years ago she could tell you several different models of cars as they drove by on the street - yet she might also be able to tell you about the latest shoe designers. She has recently learned to read and is fascinated not only by books, but by the world of print that exists before her eyes in every moment of her day. She's a busy kid - constantly jump-roping in the house. Currently she has no aspirations for the future. She lives completely in the moment and enjoys every second of her day - inspiring others to join her. Whatever she chooses to do with herself, she doesn't let anyone or anything stand in her way, and she gives it one hundred percent.

That's a glimpse into my reflections today - inspired by my sister. And then a moment to honor the transitions before I move into the future - the unknown - the exciting, the scary, the thrilling.

I mentioned in my marathon posts that I wasn't sure what I'd learned yet. It took a while to gather and understand. But what I understand today, is that the body is an amazing thing. All things in life occur for a reason, and all things in life have their own timing - be it marathons or be it children. Well, what about both? I think it's sorta humorous that I can claim I finished the Boston Marathon ~ injured, without much training, and pregnant? Yep. Our littlest one has got to be the youngest Boston finisher in history. It's still very early - the baby won't be born until late December, but the speed of growth is rapid. Although currently smaller than an apple seed, it's heart is forming, blood is circulating, and it's liver has begun to function.

Today, we're celebrating new life as we head into the future. I'll have to reschedule the fall marathon, yet hold that Boston Marathon in my mind, understanding that the human body really can accomplish amazing things.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Now what?

I'm bored.
That great thing I wanted to do all my life has a check in the box next to it.

My massage appointment was cancelled today, leaving me a whole day open. I drove to the kids' school to drop off a bicyle helmet 'cause they're doing cycling in PE. I ate the last brownie for breakfast, and had cold slabs of seasoned tofu for lunch (the microwave is broken). And no, I'm definetely not a vegetarian, I just happen to like tofu. I've done the laundry and my house is clean - enough. I should get something out of the freezer for dinner since we have nighttime company all week, and I could clean a child's bedroom who's having a playdate today - but that's not my job.

But it's sunny and it's springtime and I can't run. I could go outside, but today I feel like if I can't run, what's the point? It's like drinking decaf coffee or showering before you get in the pool.
I really want what's next.

I spent all morning reading blogs. And I've read and re-read the comments from others on the accomplishment of merely finishing a marathon that meant the world to me. It's humbling to remember that everyone else is out there with their own agendas and ambitions and enlightening to take part in those journeys.

What's next? My training plan is all penciled out for the Bellingham Bay Marathon in the fall. (If you look at the photo of the footbridge in the link - and you were to walk north another 100 meters, you'd come to another similar footbridge that my husband and I were married on :) I'm supposed to do the cross-country ski leg of the Ski to Sea Relay (cross-country skiier to downhill skiier to runner to road biker to canoe - 2 people - to mountain biker to sea kayaker) May 27th, but I'm not sure that's going to happen. I'd love to do a triathlon. I've always wanted to, and now I've actually learned to swim and I have a bike. I want to do an ironman. I want to do a half ironman. My husband has convinced me that for my body right now, it would be wise to try a sprint first. That's easier said than done - to try to schedule that in this summer is insane between camping and long camping and my husband's race schedule. Chelan Man might work - we'll be there both days anyway because my brother and my husband are both participating and on different days. I wonder what a splash n dash is? And to clarfiy: 'Camping' designates a weekend trip, long camping is the longer trip to the California Redwoods and all the stops enroute. We're thinking we can fit in the Redwoods, Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, and we're considering Mt. Shasta/Shasta Lk, the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, the Lava Beds National Monument, and the Oregon Caves National Monument.

I long to see the world and go play in it, can you tell? And aside from all of those above desires, I'll just throw out there that I'd love to run NYC and London - but that's not a plan, yet - just a dream. I'd like to do Safaricom too, while I'm purging. And I might as well tell you about my Frito addiction. I eat them every day. Really. Mostly while watching healthy television programming late at night, but often for mid-morning lunch and sometimes they're a good breakfasttime treat or a dinner appetizer. In fact, I'm eating them right now. Like I said in the beginning - I'm bored. So, now I really oughtta go make myself a smoothie and email my swim coach about the triathlon training group.

Two questions of the day:
~Does boredom breed creativity or insanity?
~Who is 'Impey'?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Perspectives on Boston 2007

I don't think it has completely settled in with me just what I accomplished.

There are so many runners and so many stories and so many individual experiences --this one is only mine, and everybody else's is different.

The email alerts on severe weather that the BAA sent out days prior to the event were a little intense.
Saturday was calm in Boston - like the calm before the storm. Sunday morning it started to drizzle and a lady from somewhere in Texas described it as 'bone-chilling' cold. We drove up the coast of New Hampshire and into Maine - it was snowing up there while we were geocaching.

Sunday night the weather got crazy and the news media had a heyday. Every channel showed the storm system and hour by hour forecast of the tremendous power of the nor'easter with 40 mph sustained winds - gusts higher, many inches of rain, and temps near freezing. It became nerve-wracking figuring out how to layer for a race in such conditions. I heard one man interviewed who said you train in rain, you train in wind, you train in cold - but the likelihood that you'd train in all three is pretty slim.

By Monday morning the weather was pleasantly warmer - high 40's - and the predictions were that the rain would die down as the race started. Shuttling around all morning from the hotel to the state park to the start line to the athletes village and back to the start was messy.

This is a picture I took while sitting under the tents at the village - on a plastic garbage bag where I huddled on a 2 foot square patch for over an hour - wearing many many layers of polar fleece, goretex, and thankfully not the shoes I was to run in.

This picture is of the area between the two large tents at the village (the field at Hopkinton HS). It wasn't a fun place to cross.

Just as the race began, the rain stopped, it was warm enough to run in shorts, and for me, the wind never factored in. I actually felt great. I anticipated going out a little fast the first few miles with the downhill, but made sure I stayed really relaxed and comfortable. My first 5 miles were all in the 8:00 range, and that was fine, but I went conservatively after that and intentionally slowed my pace to what I thought I might accomplish in this long run. My next five miles averaged around 8:20's - perfect. I actually felt pretty good - all that cross-training has left me with relatively good conditioning - sorta.

At mile 9 my IT band started acting up. It was just mild at first - just sorta sore/tired feeling - but I could feel it - the same as that last long run I did in February. I hung tight for a little while, thinking one thing at a time - just get through the half. And I almost did that respectfully enough. I stopped for a couple of minutes - restroom stop and just to sorta gather myself. I started noticeably slowing down in there somewhere after the half and by miles 15 - 20 the pain just got worse and worse. I consider myself to have a pretty high pain threshold - (I've had 3 kids all natural childbirth :). But for me, IT pain gets pretty intense. It sorta feels like there's a big wide rubber band stretched along the lateral side of my knee and it's being pulled at the ends and plucked from the side. My gait become pretty awkward and my favoring my left knee was obviously creating a whole host of other issues for me. I walked every now and then - it was less painful and it gave me a break, and then I'd start again, only to go a little while and have it continue to get worse.
The Newton Hills approached. Having been a seasoned ITB runner, I know that uphills are easier than downhill. And truly, compared to the hills in the Pacific Northwest, I'm not sure what the worry is over those hills in Boston. The inclines, I'll call them, helped me tremendously. The uphill rolls felt better, but it got to the point that any kind of downhill decline had to be walked because I couldn't run anymore. So through the Newton Hills and continuing on. By mile 22, my pace was between 11 and 12 minutes. My right calf was doing all the work for my left knee, my quads were pretty pissed that I hadn't put in the appropriate miles in the months leading up to this, and my left ITBand was shot to hell. But I could still limp. Many a person would pass and touch my shoulder or say, "hey, you're doing great - you'll make it." I remember some bystander hollering to the masses, "Remember what race this is!" That comment stuck with me. This was the Boston Marathon. That thing I'd watched on TV when I was a kid and only dreamed about. That race I used to record every year and force my family to be silent while I watched it in awe and reverence. I spent many an emotional mile during this portion of the course - I cried every now and then when I wasn't holding back tears. It was hard to be walking at times when there were so many spectators lining the course and cheering and being supportive.
Around mile 23, I started feeling my other ITBand - it came on pretty suddenly to the point where I felt like I couldn't limp well anymore. I wondered what it would be like to come this far and have to stop. I never thought about what I might be doing to my legs by running on them. I just wanted to finish. Just before mile 24 I had some serious anxiety. It had gotten to the point where I'd stop to walk, and then I couldn't start to run again - my legs just wouldn't work right to complete the motion. I had a tense moment where I started hyperventilating and couldn't catch my breath. I actually considered the thought that I didn't know for sure if I could finish. Then I got mad. I'd decided way back somewhere that I didn't wanna come back and do this. I didn't wanna have to. And I didn't wanna live on, saying, "Yeah, I went to the Boston Marathon once - I never finished." I dug deep from somewhere within and started running. I told myself that I couldn't stop and walk at this point, because if I did, I knew inside that I wouldn't be able to continue. I blocked out everything else and focused on the thought that this was Boston, and I was going to be a finisher.

The finish line before the runners arrived.
I'm somewhere in there with that white space blanket on.

And so I was. I finished the Boston Marathon. According to the BAA, I ran a 4:07:13 - with an injury, and without really running much for 2 months. Aside from childbirth, I don't think I've willingly and intentionally put myself in that much pain in my entire life. It was truly a grueling experience. It helps to wear a Boston Marathon shirt around when you can't walk - people look at you funny, then they just smile. It's 4 days after the race and I can almost walk normally. The inability to walk made vacation highly interesting.
I'll have to post more later in tidbits on perhaps what I really learned from the experience - like I said in the beginning - I think I'm still figuring that out. There's a lot still in my head. I know that I'm tired. Mechanical airplane failures - switched flights - missed connections - airport food vouchers - shuttles that never arrive for some hole hotel the airline puts you up at in a city which will not be named somewhere in the middle of the country . . . a 6 hour flight that passengers can accomplish across the country took us 23 hours. And our lost luggage arrived on our doorstep late last night.
Vacation was amazing - but that'll have to be another post. And I've got loads of blog-reading to catch up on.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Marathon Weekend Plus

I feel that today I should be able to say something profound . . deep inspiration that I've learned from my training, what my goals and race plans are. But really, i have nothing. Seven weeks of injury recovery and mininmal running. Completey different exercise regime than I'm used to. A time change to adjust to. And a race forecast that changes by the hour. Yesterday it was forecast to be in the high thirties, raining, and 40+ mph winds. Lovely. How do you take all that into consideration and plan for a race?

I have a tattoo on my ankle. Maybe you've seen it - there's a picture on my first blog post. It's a kanji symbol for 'passion'. The reasons for it are multifaceted, but the basis is the way I want to live my life - with passion. I want to be able to take each moment, enjoy it completely, and live it to the fullest potential - to get the most out of my experiences and really live.

At this point in my life, Boston isn't just a race - it's an experience. It's the cleaning the house inside out for my parents to stay here and spending weeks making sure everything is in order for our children while we're gone. It's the picking and choosing of the hotels, airlines and rental car. The excitement of driving around Boston, then getting the hell out of the crowds when it's over and staying in the fancy villa in providence, rhode island. It's the walking barefoot on the beaches of the mightly Atlantic Ocean at Cape Code, with 40 mph winds in my face, and the funny little old couple who own the B&B we're staying at. It's eating at the hilarious restaurant in Boston Anne told me about that doesn't really fit tourists well. The many late nights I've spend looking up the geocaches that I'm going to log, and which travel bug I'm taking for a trip across the country. It's the checking out the coast along the New Hampshire seashore, and really being able to say I went through 4 states in 5 days. Coming from the west coast, you don't do that very often. (Our states are bigger. :)

So this big race - with the crappy weather and the unknown fitness level put to the test of a marathon? Fuel belt or pockets? One shirt or two? Shorts or tights? Gloves or not? Gatorade or water? Cliff shots or gu? Breakfast or not? I have no idea, really. I've gone through so many race scenarious in my mind. I know I want to start out conservatively the first several miles. (But if I'm freezing cold, I might just whip through the whole course really fast to keep warm.) After those first downhill miles, if I feel good, I'll take it up half a notch - maybe just a quarter notch - at it's my secret what a notch really is. At the halfway point, I'll gauge how I'm doing and make a pace judgement again. And if I'm still running by mile 19, I'm gonna go like hell. My PR is 3:25:17 - Vancouver, BC, 1994. My second fastest was Portland, OR last October with a 3:34:05. My slowest was Seattle, WA 1996 - 4 and a quarter hours, I believe. This marathon is # 9 for me. Boy, it'd be great to run really fast, and I know exactly the race I'd need to run and the splits I'd need to have. But come Monday, I truly think I'd be happy somewhere between 3:45 and 4:00. I think I need to slow down and enjoy this one - and really focus on actually surviving it until the finish line. There are so many factors going into this one, that sometimes you need to leave them all behind on the starting line, and when the gun goes of - just run.

Have an excellent weekend.
-# 12892 (wave 2)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pace Adjustments

Running too fast is how I injured myself, so it would seem logical to slow down. For a few weeks I barely ran at all, then I only allowed myself to run on the track or the treadmill. The treadmill was safe - I could set the pace and not cheat. The track . . . well, that just got me excited. Running on a brand new track in the springtime . . . the smell of it warming up after a light rain . . . coming around the last corner and down the straightaway. I just couldn't hold it in. And then sometimes other people show up at the track - and I just can't help myself and pretend it's a race. I don't think they ever know the difference - I just look like the average runner with headphones, but inside I'm scheming and unintentionally getting in interval workouts. Then I go back to the treadmill so I can slow down, and I find myself looking in the mirror for other people on treadmills to race. I know, I'm sick. I've just gotten really bored and antsy. I actually allowed myself to incline the treadmill once to feel a hill, and I've allowed myself to go downhill a few times. I figure that's good training for the first 5 miles of Boston. I often wonder if other people at the gym think I'm cheating my run and making it easy by going downhill. Maybe they don't notice.

I attempted to create some ways to slow down my pace last week. I had two very exciting training days. First, I now have an adjustment on my cell phone plan that will allow me to email my photos. So I took my phone to the track to practice taking pictures with it while I was running. I mean, why have it be a new thing out on the marathon course, and have it be impactive? I had to practice, right? But it didn't slow me down. Instinctively, I knew I had slowed down to take a picture, so I'd speed up again. My laps were on pace like clockwork - one 400 after another. And I'm proud to say that I'm up to 7 miles at a time. :) I haven't actually looked at my photos, but I know how many I can take so I can pace my camera-taking during the marathon.

But I found another way to slow myself down. I know it was naughty. My IT bands would probably be much safer on flat surfaces. But what would you do on a day like this?

Initially I was just sneakin' out to run in the sunshine - the mountains and the water were calling to me. I figured the concrete bike path is pancake flat and the dirt path is nice and soft, so I'd be just fine. Then I discovered it was low tide and I couldn't resist the beach - that soft sand and the waves breaking and the seagull cries . . .

So it was a little slanted, but if I came back the same way I got the slant on both sides, right? And I had my camera to slow me down - that's supposed to be a good thing - not going too fast. And then my terrain changed a little bit - that's where the naughty part comes in. Sometimes a week before an important race you shouldn't take risks, but sometimes you just have to live a little.

I was able to slow down that too fast pace by a whole two minutes! And I had a most excellent and uplifting run. Then I went back to the track and I'm still stuck on that quicker pace. But the way I figure, with lifting three days a week, yoga, massive stretching, water running and swimming - I've only gotten stronger and I haven't lost any conditioning - endurance, maybe - but my strength feels really great when I'm out running. So that's my excuse for not slowing down.

And??? I have NO PAIN when I'm running! I know it might come back at any moment but it's still exciting. I'm sorta looking forward to 'post-race' training because I do feel really strong and I can't wait to restructure my training and set some goals for what I want to do next. My swim coach has been a huge help and I'm feeling really comfortable with my stroke - thinking about all of those summer triathlons looming out there . . . but I gotta wait. It's like I have BB time and AB time. Before Boston and After Boston. I gotta reign myself in and do one thing at a time.

Happy Easter!

My fascinating fact about these Easter Eggs:
We died them with three things: purple cabbage, beets, and turmeric. (and vinegar and water)
Turmeric dye is yellow, beet dye is deep pink, and purple cabbage dye looks plum purple but the eggs come out blue. You mix colors like you learned when you were in preschool and you get new colors. The really odd thing, though - when you mix the cabbage dye (purple) and the turmeric dye (yellow) you get this glass of orange liquid. When you put an egg in it, it comes out green. This was truly the highlight of my Easter.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Honest Thoughts

Two weeks and counting 'til the Boston Marathon.
I've run far too many laps around the track lately - forever running in circles provokes all sorts of contemplation:

~ why does it take runners 45 minutes to go a half mile from the athlete's village to the starting line?
~ is it improper etiquette to wear a jacket you buy at a race expo if you don't finish the race?
~ i've never not finished a marathon . . . what if?
~ should i go out of my way to buy a smaller foam roller that will fit in my carry on, or should i just get out the bread knife and saw the one i have in half?
~ which old raggety running shirt should i pack to throw off somewhere in Hopkinton?
~ is 4 states enough to drive through in 5 days, or should we try 5 for 5?
~ will there be a sunrise that morning at the Cape, or will it be cloudy?
~ at which mile mark will my ITB start feeling like a rubber band pulled too tight?
~ what will Heartbreak Hill feel like after 49 days of not running any hills?
~ how much memory do i need in my camera for mid-race photo opportunities?
~ will vitamin 'I' get crumbly in my pocket if i don't put it in a ziplock?
~ for my pre-race meal, should i have roasted garlic or spicy chicken wings?