Sunday, May 29, 2016

I Found A Running Coach

I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there... lately it's been all about the running.

For a good six months it was all about the breastfeeding, the pumping, the work traveling, the no-sleeping, the baby, etc.. But lately we feel most of that is "under control" (it's never under control but it has been much more predictable or maybe we are getting better at this parenting thing, eh?... until that next sleep regression hits that I keep hearing about). So, we're branching out and doing more running. Brad and I are also taking turns getting out of the house for solo runs - we all need our alone time!

Since I'm feeling pretty rested now-a-days (did I mention we are getting 8-11 hour stretches at night?!) naturally, I'm getting excited about running more and I want to set some new goals for myself.

Let's take a step back into time...
When I moved to Tampa and started running, I learned about this space on the internet where people share their stories (blogs!). I somehow lived in a box for several years prior because I didn't know this existed. One of the first bloggers I started following was Beth. She blogs over at

Discombobulated Running and I've always loved reading about her fitness efforts and other random personal stories she shares. She does a great job at blogging consistently (unlike someone I know.. ah hem... me?) and has a very organized method which you can find her past race experience posts on her blog. Not to mention, she's funny. I mean like witty funny and when you read her stuff you just feel like you can totally be her friend. I met her in real life ONE TIME and I think that totally makes us friends, right?! Ha :)

Anyways, Beth became a USTAF Track & Field Coach back in January and I noticed because I stalker follow her blog. I reached out to her in the beginning of May and asked her if she'd coach me to my first marathon postpartum. Even after I told her about my crazy schedule and my crazy goals, she didn't hesitate to say yes. And I truly believe that's what I need right now... someone who can understand my momma-wife-work balance, still encourage me, believe its possible and help me reach my running goals.

I mean.. I can't be the first #workingpumpingtravelingmama to also want to train for a marathon.... right?! And let me clarify that Beth did talk me down from jumping off the marathon ledge. We are going to start with a half marathon in the fall and see how that goes. I mean only crazy people jump right into marathon training after having a baby (I apologize if I offend any of my 2 readers with that last statement) and I don't want to be a crazy person. I want to run a marathon but I don't want it to take me 8 hours to finish either. I want to be healthy, fit and as well trained as I can be considering most of my life constraints right now

Before Joanna, and this new job, and our move to Texas, and Brad's new job (...before EVERYTHING changed).... life used to be all about the running. And I just have to be honest with myself. Right now we're just trying to fit the running in where we can. So, Beth and I agreed - 3 runs a week. Sometimes it's my turn to push the stroller and other times I get to lace up my shoes and just run solo. However I do it, I just need to put in the effort, have fun and now I have someone who can hold me accountable.

Because I need a plan! Ya'll know me (you like that Texas ya'll..? heh)... if I don't have a coach and a plan, I could end up running a marathon in Alabama, 6 months pregnant. And no one wants to see that. 

So if you've made it this far... go check out my new coach, Beth. She has a pretty cool space on the internet and she has lots of great recaps of her past races. No one is born a runner and when you read her stuff, she reminds you that we all have to work at it. We all start at 0.0 and achieve our goals with a little bit of hard work and lots of fun along the way. We've been working together via email (she's in Florida and I'm in Texas) and via for the last several weeks and I'm really enjoying her feedback, encouragement and coaching style.

Running Mama Stephanie

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Running Down Memory Lane

When I started running in the fall of 2011, I had no clue what I was doing. I found my groove after a few 5ks, increased mileage with Brad's help (he was up to 7-9 miles himself) and the new, shiny GPS watch he bought me for Christmas that year. Being able to look at my running data helped put things into perspective. How fast slow I was going, how far I was going and how sticking with it made me feel so accomplished. I'll be honest, I wasn't convinced that I liked running until I started signing us up for races. It was nice to have running "in common" with Brad but after several months I realized that Brad liked running... and I liked racing.

I was ready for more, so in 2012 I signed us up for The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. For a first timer at a "big" race... the race was spectacular. Brad and I had all intentions of running the race together but around mile 4 he stopped at the porta-potty and we lost each other. We later found each other around mile 10...  the relief and addrenaline that came across my body when I finally caught up to him was beyond this world. Needless to say, we crossed the finish line hand in hand. Although I couldn't walk for 2 days after that race, I was hooked.

To this day, I'm still not sure how
I convinced him to dress like Mickey :)

I had such a magical race experience that I immediately began thinking about our next race. Brad went on to run another half marathon the following spring but I cut back to the 15k. It was my last semester in college and I didn't think I could handle the full class load, working and the training involved. Although I love the 15k distance, I completely regretted not doing another half that spring. He took 30 minutes off of our Disney race just 3 months earlier. I was incredibly jealous (okay, maybe we are a little competitive). As the good weather was coming to an end, I had no more race opportunities to sign up for another half.

SO whats better than another half marathon? Signing up for your first full marathon! You read that right, I ran one half marathon before I signed up to run my first full marathon. It took a little while to convince Brad to do it with me. I think the only reason he finally agreed was because we could take a vacation to see a new place, see old friends who moved away from Tampa and eat all the food when we were done.

In preparation for the Disney half, I found a very very generic training plan in a women's magazine. I knew that 26.2 miles wasn't going to cut it if I didn't step up my game. So after signing up, I found Brandon Running Association (BRA). A few "runners" from my new running group shared  Hal Higdon's site where I could find more thorough training plans to get us to 26.2. So off I was to find us a plan.

We did it! I trained all summer with BRA (Brad did most of his long runs solo due to our opposite schedules), we both mostly followed a plan and we flew to DC with a good bit of our family who would be there to cheer our crazy asses on. We ran The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in 2013 together and it was even more magical than our Disney race - Brad proposed at the finish line! I cried for a good 2 hours of that 5 hour and 8 minute race (including the finish line proposal where it took me several minutes to muster out a "yes!" through all my emotion). We had most of our family there to celebrate with us. As soon as the race was over, Brad vowed that he would never run another marathon. I on the other hand was thinking about my next :)

I knew I needed help if I was going to become a better runner and improve my time next go around. I found a coach through BRA and he helped me get to The Bank of America Chicago Marathon healthy and at my best. I had a goal to finish in 4hrs and 30min. Although I wasted 5 minutes in line at a porta potty around mile 4 (I still cringe about this every time I think about this experience), I finished in 4:30:33. I did it. I met my goal and that is ONLY because I had the full support of my new husband (we tied the knot 5 months after MCM), BRA and my new running coach. 

One of the happiest running days of my life

As you can probably gather, running has brought some pretty amazing memories for me. I've run countless miles with BRA friends (who I miss SO much now that I'm in Dallas!), with Brad, with our dogs and solo. For a long time I struggled to believe that I could actually achieve something measurable and running has proved to me time and time again that you can do anything you set your mind to. Running has also made me understand what true commitment is. "True commitment takes effort and sacrifice" ...thank you Greys Anatomy.

I came back from Chicago feeling accomplished. Brad and I had just spent the last year checking some pretty big items off of our list. We got married, experienced a road trip honeymoon through 3 different states, remodeled our kitchen and participated some smaller races in other Florida cities we had never visited together. We were both ready for some life changing events to happen. We took some serious time to reflect and think about our lives together and thats when we decided to start a family. We had been talking about it leading up to Chicago but the feeling of "ready" didn't really sink in until we got back. 

Several months after Chicago we ran Ragnar Key West and I was about 8 weeks pregnant. This was another amazing experience. When I wasn't eating everything in sight and sleeping in a moving van, I was running and I had the time of my life. I got to know a few BRA frunners on a whole new level and I got to run in some pretty epic conditions. I remember my first "leg" being at 4pm with massive Miami heat. My second leg around 3am over a bridge very close to the keys (half asleep?). And my last leg around 10am on little sleep trying to beat the girl in front of me to the exchange.

Thats where it ended. In the Keys I left all of my running happiness. I went on to run several more miles throughout my pregnancy but it just wasn't the same. I was slow, I was sluggish and close to the end I was large. Nothing fit. I produced more sweat than I ever knew was possible. I was so uncomfortable. I traded in my running shoes for a yoga mat.

After Jo was born, it was hectic. We sold our house and moved to grandma's house when she was 4 weeks old. We moved from grandma's to Texas when she was 9 weeks. Then we both spent another 4 weeks unpacking, adjusting to the 40 degree days and celebrating the holidays. I ran a few times but always put pressure on myself to be faster. I wanted to run the times I did the year before I was pregnant. I still had a bit of baby weight so my running even felt sluggish. I just couldn't get in the right mind set. Then Jo got a few colds and a running nose which meant no one was sleeping in our house (and no one was running either).

Jo's sickness started to level off and within the last 8 weeks I made a decision to change how I felt about the one thing I used to love so much. Brad and I signed up for a few local 5ks. We started getting out together with Jo and the stroller. We started having fun again with our running. I bought a new watch, I bought some fancy socks... anything to get me out of the rut I felt like I was in.

I also got a coach! I'll tell you guys about her and our ultimate goal to get me to another marathon before baby #2. This time around, the running is not about the PR or the fancy big races in big cities (because that is just far more complicated with a baby). This time its about feeling good. It's about being the best person I can be (wife, mama, runner, project manager... you name it). It's about committing and feeling accomplished in all areas of my life. It's about being proud of myself for the effort.

My stroller buddy, Joanna

It's about setting a good example for my daughter - making her proud of me. It's about putting in the work and adjusting expectations when life happens. It's about giving myself grace. But above all, its about getting back to just enjoying the run.

Stay tuned,

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stroller Running

Somewhere along the lines I told Facebook that I was only 7lbs shy of my pre-pregnancy weight. I have to sadly admit that once those size 10 jeans started to feel loose, I went out and bought a scale. I knew I was losing weight the right way (eating healthy, getting more steps in during the day and trying my best to exercise) so I needed a little push. The scale did just that - push me to get out and exercise more. I've been fluctuating between 6-10 pounds (until I reach my pre-pregnancy weight) over the last month. I'm sure it has something to do with how many ounces of milk my breasts are carrying in the morning, if I had wine and ice cream the night before and overall how active I've been.

Although I have successfully been able to convince whine enough for Brad to push the stroller during all of our races and training runs up until now - this has sadly come to an end.

I seriously don't know how he does it without stoping to walk.
Fire Fly 5k in Dallas

Run For Cover 5k in McKinney
Brad started his "real shift" this week so Jo and I have been running on our own (mostly when he's been sleeping). Those instances where he is running with us, usually he is holding on for dear life after Toby who likes to sprint. If you know Toby, he is an 8 year old puppy who needs lots of exercise. Toby has a lot of energy and LOVES to run. No way Jose, I'll stick with the stroller ;)

This week I got out for 3 runs and ran 6.5miles with Jo and the stroller. This sounds so pathetic in my eyes because there were weeks of training where I'd run anywhere from 25-45 miles. But I've got to give myself grace and realize that life is a lot different right now. Running is also a lot different. Pushing a 19lb baby, a "light-weight" running stroller and ALL of my water is no joke. Not that I ever joked about it before, but definitely not joking now.

I've got this crazy idea (that stemmed before Joanna was even born) that I want to run another marathon before baby #2. I know that you're thinking - who the hell is even thinking about baby #2? Well if you know me, I'm a planner. I can't stay that I'm always the best planner (even though I should be as a Project Manager)... but I still plan. So naturally I'm thinking about my running and my rapidly growing family when I say, "when's my next marathon?".

First.. I've gotta keep stroller running. And/or I need to invest in a treadmill. Jo is GREAT in the stroller. Most afternoons when we get home from work/daycare, she will fall asleep while running in the stroller. The problem is not Joanna. The problem (roll in the excuses) is the soon-to-be 100 degree Texas summers. Can I really hydrate enough during the day, wear enough sunblock and survive those summer evenings all while pushing the stroller? Or can I motivate myself to treadmill run in my 73 degree bedroom after I put her to bed in the evening? I'm not sure which one is worse so these next several weeks I'm going to be focusing on my exercise efforts.

I'm focusing on 3 efforts a week. I just need to do something - 3 days a week. When I first went back to work, I was doing pretty good getting up and exercising in the morning before I started my day. Joanna was about 3.5 months old and mostly sleeping through the night. Then around the 4.5 month mark she got sick with 2 colds and I'm pretty sure just STRAIGHT UP stopped sleeping. When I wasn't getting enough rest, I quickly gave up exercising during the week. She seems to have settled down again in her sleeping routine. Not quite sleeping through the night but also not nursing all night long. So, I'm going to try again and focus on getting some exercise in during the week.

There is no dieting going on over here - just healthy eating. I know that I need good, healthy, wholesome foods to power me through exercise and also help me reach my goal to breastfeed Jo until her first birthday. So although I started off by saying that I'm 6-10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight - I really need to not focus on that. 

I know I'm not the most dedicated blogger out there but I'll try my best to keep you guys abreast of my exercising efforts and my goal of running a marathon. I need to find a running coach, a running group for those long rungs and really just give myself grace as I enter a new chapter in my life - stroller running!

Until next time! 

Running Mama