Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cross Training to Recover

4 weeks post-partum: my brain is ready to run again, my stroller is ready to roll, but my body is not.

My first inclination was to throw caution to the wind and jog anyway. I've done this recovery thing 2 times before and I ran up until just couple weeks before delivery so I was feeling a little cocky until I got the rebuke. My wonderfully level-headed midwife had a very compelling argument about internal organs and connective tissues. So, since there is no strength training I know about for internal organs of the abdominal region, that seemed like advice I should heed.

Plan B: Low-impact cardio and strength training to prevent injury when I can eventually resume running. While it is obvious that my abdominal muscles are weaker post-pregnancy, my hips have been also stretched and my quads have been rested, so everything needs to get a little stronger. This is especially important since when I do start running, as I will be just a little heavier than at my athletic peak ;)

It is still probably unwise for one to begin a brand new sport at this point, but I resumed Step aerobics to target leg strength and low impact cardio. I also resumed moderate weights for upper body and core conditioning. All core exercises are approached with caution at this point since the goal is basically just to get the two side of my abs back together and to support my back.

Finally, I've been walking, of course. I'm happy to report that I'm faster than I was three weeks ago when the man with the cane passed right by me. This is also good practice for the baby to work up to running in the jogging stroller.

So, perhaps this is old-hat to me, but there is some consolation in remembering that it is new for little Francesca, so for her sake, we'll take it slow.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Run Safe

Most of us are nervous, if not fearful, to run alone. Thoughts of accidents or abductions might come to mind. So we run or bike in groups to be safe. But sometimes, the group mentality can distract you from your focus or hoodwink you into thinking that your company will keep you safe.

Wait. I don't really know how to get my point across for this post. I'm incapacitated because my running community lost another and I'm no longer living close enough to my friends to cry with them. Carlos was hit by a car...while with a group of 20+, who were actually just one subgroup of over 600 runners in the marathon training program. He was crossing the street in the wee early morning, the last in his group, when a car plowed through. My friend heard the driver say that there were all these people in the road and he didn't know where to go so he had to hit someone. It was the shock talking - perhaps the car rolling three times - but my god, he realized he had to hit someone?

That group OWNS the street on Saturday mornings. Each weekend at 6 am, they are out there, 600 hundred of them, running and talking and socializing. Like a sea of salmon swimming against the flow of traffic, thinking about races and gu and politics and family or about nothing but the steps they are taking. The power of numbers deludes you into believing you are invincible.

But the problem is drivers think they are invincible, too. They are able to text or talk on their phones, they can yell at the talk radio, they can turn right from the left lane, they can roll through stop signs or like witnesses to the crash believe about the driver, they can drive themselves home from the bar.

So be safe out there. Keep your head up and one earbud out. Don't assume they see you or think they can stop in time. Change your mantra to: Run Safe.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Forehead Slap

My boys are major scooter addicts. Usually, I grab a book or magazine and sit on the front porch while they zoom up and down the street at lightening pace. Well, today, they wanted to venture out a bit further so I threw on my running shoes and off we went. We flew up to the local tot lot then right on past to the middle school where they are doing some work on the fields that once were there. There is an old concrete track and in the middle, there are huge mountains of dirt. The boys went around the track twice on the scooters while I ran then they played happily on the dirt mountains while I continued to run around the track. When they announced they were done, they scooted home while I ran. In all, I think I got in about 3.5 miles...not bad for a day when squeezing a run in seemed impossible! All I kept thinking was, "Summer is just about over and I'm just coming up with this plan now?!" Just goes to show, a little creativity can go a long way!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the bright spot: Sun Herald City 2 Surf

You'd think that a trip to Sydney, Australia, would be lovely. Usually it is. My mother was Australian. I am half Australian (a dual citizen, even). I love, love, love Sydney. Almost as much as my hometown, New York City.

I have probably mentioned before that my mother died on July 11, 2007, from ovarian cancer. She had moved back to Sydney when I was 19 and in college. I went out often. She came back often. She was fabulous (not to idealize -- she also could annoy me more than anyone else).

This trip was the first I could make to sort and clear out her apartment in Redfern, a suburb in the city. "Suburb" means a neighborhood -- it is a proper part of Sydney, not outside of it.) I am her only child, so I was pretty much on my own, though I cannot slight the help of my uncle and my step brother (whose father died 10 months before my mother did -- this is turning in to a bummer of a post, anyway...).

I was there for a mere two weeks, with my younger son, Az, who is now 14 months old. I left husband and 4-year old Iz at home. (Iz needs action, structure, not sorting and packing.) No way I was going to get everything done. I was non-stop (well, except for stopping every 30-60 minutes to feed, entertain, comfort Az or get him to sleep -- as non-stop as a mom can be). I sorted boxes in the two-car garage underneath the building. I sorted the office of a writer (my mother was an excellent one -- look her up, Glenda Adams) -- including the notes, the novel in progress, the copies of books, the reference books. It was incredible. And I could not throw out her writing. No way.

What does all of this have to do with running? Well. Since I started running, my mother encouraged me to run the Sun Herald City to Surf in Sydney. And I did twice while she was alive. And she would be at the Lamrock Cafe when I finished, waiting for me with a flat white coffee.

The race covers 14 kilometers, or 8.7 miles, from the center of the city to famous Bondi Beach. I have now run it three times, in 2000, 2003 and 2008 (just a week and a half ago). My best time, go figure, was the most recent. Five years older, two kids later, sleep deprived because Az was waking up at least three times a night. I finished 6,000 and something out of 70,000 registered runners. (Yes, 70,000 -- it is a crazy-huge race. This may explain the few moments of rude behavior I experienced -- deliberate elbowing, running into, etc.)

The race is gorgeous. Especially once it gets to the water. The course is very, very hilly along the southern shore of Sydney Harbour. Heartbreak hill is a kilometer long, curving, winding up a headland. That may not sound long, but that is only the longest hill, not the lone hill. Volunteers handed out heart-shaped sponges soaked in cold water. Ahhhh.

Did I mention it is winter there? And winter is mild. Maybe 60 degrees at the height of the day. So the hill could have been worse, especially in August in the Washington, DC, region.

The race finishes at Bondi. We hit the northern end of the beach at the 13 kilometer mark -- still a kilometer to go. Sounds like nothing -- but six-tenths of a mile is not insignificant when you feel ready to sprint to the finish. Still, I felt great. But that beach is darn long.

My step brother's girlfriend was at the Lamrock Cafe waiting for me. (My uncle had Az, but we met up with them nearby.)

The race was the one bright spot in a very hard trip. Though breakfasts at Cafe Zoe were also excellent. Oh, and the oatmeal cookies at the Bourke Street Bakery. And runs in Centennial Park. (I rented a jogging stroller.) My mother would have been pleased at the little moments I grabbed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Proportions

I, too, have been watching the Olympics (though intermittently due to the new Wii Fit that's monopolizing my time!), but it's gotten me thinking: 2 1/2 hours or so to finish a marathon? Seriously? My time ranges from 4:30 to, I'm thinking, 6:30 this coming October. Doesn't that mean us Penguins are better athletes? We have greater endurance! Right? RIGHT?!

Athlete. Mom.

I've found this summer's Olympics to be very encouraging. Though the gymnasts are mere babes, there are many other highly competitive athletes at these games that are still older than me AND they have a child!

Photos of Olympic Moms

Now add to that list yesterday's winner - by a lot! - of the women's marathon, Constantina Tomescu. In addition to having a kid, at 38, she was the oldest competitor to ever win this event.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stroller Maintenance

So, we are careful to maintain our cars as per manufacturers recommendations to change the oil, rotate tires, etc. And my husband is particularly neurotic about taking care of his many bicycles. Yet, the jogging stroller receives very little attention until things really start to fall apart.In anticipation of putting an infant in our loyal double jogger, I replaced all 3 tires (yes, you can see the wires underneath the worn-away rubber) and the brake caliper (rusted open), brake pads (large chunks were worn away) and brake cable.*

I suppose that occasionally washing off the mud, lubricating moving parts and rotating the tires wouldn't hurt...

* Customer service at Dreamer Design has been VERY helpful with ordering replacement parts.

Howdy- I'm now a Houston Running Mommy

Hello Running Mommies! I've missed reading your blogs and seeing how everyone is doing with the heat, running, and the uplifts.
We made it to Texas and 80 houses later we bought a foreclosure and will close hopefully next week. At first running trails were very important. Later pools, bedrooms for visiting elderly family, and walking distance schools won out. In the end we were picking up a friend for a play-date who was visiting from KY and saw a foreclosure next door. I peeked in the window and quite honestly the hardwood floors had me at hello. It needs work, but it has the pool, strange floor plan, etc.. but I'll have to run on the street to get to sidewalks, hmmmm. Will this work? I did find a very cool park with running trails in the shade that will entail getting the running stroller in the car.

I've injured my left knee too-- never had this much time off from running in 20 years. I almost thought about becoming a walker and saving the knees (Runner's World insists running does not cause knee problems and I believe them).

Well, I'm off to find some running Moms in Houston who do not think I'm too geriatric to run with. We're civilians now- Army over civilian life lets go!


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Let's do a SMR top 10!!

Anyone want to contribute to "Top ten reasons NOT to run in the heat of the day"?

I'll start with a recap of my AM today....
I awoke bright and early to get in a run while also running an errand to the local ACE hardware to pick up picture hangers ( I Love to makes me feel so smug! HA, HA day, I got two things done!!!). However, instead of donning my running shoes right away, I got on the computer and had some coffee......over 2 hours later, I headed Eastern NC, in Aug, after 9:45....
More than half way through the 6 mile round trip, I found myself really hot and obviously it was affecting my normally "good" judgement......I found myself running on the roadside, trying to get closer to the traffic for the incredibly great feeling breeze the vehicles created as they drove past............I really need to go out earlier!!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Thanks for the tips on getting back into the running groove after a week long break. Today was finally the day. I started to notice I was getting more and more inpatient with my boys and getting on them about stuff that normally wouldn't bother me...well, not enough to yell anyway! Also, the coffee pot brewing a new pot at 4:00 in the afternoon (every day!) because I was feeling so sluggish was a bit of a sign as well that I needed to get those shoes back on and give it a go. I parked the kids in front of a table full of star wars figures and hopped on the treadmill. It was the best thing for us all. I now have 5 miles under my belt, a smile on my face and no need for coffee! How did I get through the stresses of every day mommy-hood before running?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Getting Back Into Shape

Recovering from pregnancy can be tough. For some of us, especially those who may be a bit, uh, top heavy, running may not be enough. Running might tone your legs, but what about your arms, chest, etc. I am a BIG fan of Pilates and have been since before people knew how to pronounce it, but I've also got a need for speed. I found just the thing: Postnatal Power Tae Bo Workout! Don't laugh. It works! It's not so high speed that I'm too tired to turn it on after the kids are asleep, and it's not too slow that I fall asleep. And, best of all, it has also accomplished what I thought could only happen through surgery: it's gotten rid of the "side-boob." I'm sure some of you know what I mean. It can make running difficult. After just a few Tae Bo workouts, I've gotten rid of that and have whittled my waist so much that I no longer need to run with banded yoga pants and a tight running tank on top of my sports bra. Three cheers for Shellie Blanks!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Run, Solve, Run

So, I'm very excited about an upcoming run that I'm running organizing. (You see, sometimes, I want all the social aspect of races without all the exercise, so I plan Hash Runs.) This month, I have a guest of honor; a great friend who asked me months ago to help her celebrate her birthday with a fun run. I've decided to step it up from a simple hare & hound chase, to a treasure hunt. A guerrilla race that will send runners through a Miami village in the dark picking up envelopes and solving riddles. Think Amazing Race. Think Herald Hunt. Think "Run Think Run." Now add beer & wine and lower your expectations.

I guess I'm pretending like I'm still being paid to lead corporate team building events. I've been writing cryptic crosswords, scrambling sentences, compiling photo puzzles and holding onto a big fat grin. So far, around 40 people from our running community have RSVP'd. If you're in the Miami area this Thursday night and want to come out, send me a note. It outta be a fun night!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Post Vacation Blues

We just returned from a fantastic vacation at the shore and now I'm totally unmotivated to run. It's horrible. I ran 3 times while we were gone. All three were at the beginning of the trip...back when I was still super motivated girl in training. But it didn't take long for the lazy beach days, loads of snacks and zero schedule to turn me into a total slug. I told myself I was getting exercise by slepping the kids and 9 million toys to the beach each day. And we all know how much effort it takes to get 2 kids covered in sun screen...that has to burn at least 300 calories each time! So now that I'm back and it's 95 degrees and humid, how the heck do I get back into it? Short runs? I just know the first time I give it a go, I'm going to start panting one block in and get down on myself. I'll try and look on the bright least I'm tan!

Even though they will leave me in the dust...

I am so excited to get back out and run with a seemommyrun group this Saturday at 6:30! It's been a long time since I've run with a group, and I need the speed and motivation a group provides, and the comraderie. Now, if only I can get that alarm clock to go off....