Custom Search

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Beach babe

We were super duper lucky to be able to take a beach trip this weekend despite the COVID lockdown! David's parents have a house in Bay St. Louis with a private beach. They have not been to this house, meaning we could take advantage of a place to stay AND go to the beach, even though public beaches were still closed. What an opportunity!
We only went for a day - honestly, that's enough beach for me - but we had a great time. We packed up Friday night and drove the hour and fifteen minutes while the baby slept. We brought some snacks and breakfast, but decided ahead of time to get takeout for lunch and dinner - the house has not been used in so long that any cooking is an ordeal; you have to bring every single thing you need: oil, salt, pepper, etc. I just didn't want to do that much packing for a day trip!

We got to Bay St. Louis at about 8:30 and I put the baby back to bed (his bedtime is eight, but he woke up when we went into the house). The baby bed situation ended up being a fiasco - we had to move him downstairs after he went to sleep, because we realized that the air conditioning was out upstairs and it was 82 degrees! I had purchased a Baby Dome for him to use as a travel bed - and also because I thought it was a cool thing to have if we went to the park or even at the beach. It's like a mini travel playpen.'s also incredibly uncomfortable if you stupidly put it on top of a hard rope mat. I made that little mistake and didn't realize until the next morning that you can feel absolutely everything through the thin cushion at the bottom. It was like sleeping on gravel. Poor baby woke up FOUR TIMES that night, and this is the kid who never wakes up at night! Ugh! I was remarkably fresh the next day all things considered, but I know he wanted more sleep! Luckily I figured the problem out and moved the Dome for his naps the next day - and then it was fine.

But anyway, back to Friday night: we brought wine and snacks and had movie night with The Last Dance, the ESPN special on Michael Jordan's last season with the Bulls. So far I am loving the docu-series. I grew up in the Bulls/Jordan era and appreciate the deeper look into their story.
Pre-run coffee
We got up at our usual six on Saturday and I ran some bridge repeats over the bay before joining David for breakfast. I had made banana bread to bring and grabbed some fruit and yogurt, too, so nothing that required complicated cooking. I just wanted to relax! We read the paper and ate on the back porch while the baby napped, but I woke him up so we could go to the beach before it got too hot.
Sandy toes!

The bay beach isn't as nice as an ocean beach, but we still had fun. The water was too cold for real swimming (and it's really shallow there anyway) but we played in the sand. Once baby got brave enough (water and sand are weird when you're only three months old!) we sat him in the shallow parts that had warmed up in the sun. And of course, David took a million pictures! After the beach, we got some takeout from one of the beachfront restaurants and ate outside again (I would have loved to be able to eat at the restaurant on the water! Ah, someday we will again!). I was looking forward to baby's next nap to do a karate class. Our gym is offering streaming classes, and the Saturday karate class was perfect timing - mid-nap. Plus, this house has an open floor plan that is almost like a real dojo! David and I both took the class, and I hope I am slowly regaining some of the flexibility I lost. I have a lot of work to do to get back to where I was in karate, and the remote classes, while an excellent option under the circumstances, aren't as good as being taught in person. Who knows when gym classes can resume, though. We wrapped up the trip with a long walk in the neighborhood and along the beach, then pizza in front of more ESPN (replays!). 

King of the beach
Shallow splashes! 

It was such a nice break to be able to safely get away. We saw no one except ourselves the whole time except food pick up, and David masked / gloved for that. So it was a safe excursion. And just not being in our house was great fun. Even just sitting up front in the car together felt exciting. It's amazing what a few weeks of quarantine will do to you!

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Power Mile

For the past two years, I've raced the Power Mile in the summer: the only one-mile race in New Orleans, put on by my club, the Power Milers.
Here's my mile PR and here's the day I ran a mile after one of the worst days of morning sickness ever. Not fun!

This year, it's up in the air. Who knows when races will return, and when they do, how will they have changed? Who will have the discretionary income to register...or, equally important, to sponsor? The likelihood of the race returning this year is slim. But that doesn't mean we can run a mile.

It's official: we have something to train for. The Power Milers are training for a fast summer mile! I am unreasonably excited to have a training plan. For one thing, I haven't followed a training plan with a goal race since Boston last year. And for another thing...everything is just more exciting now (I had to run an errand this weekend and got silly excited for it). It's a way for the team to stay connected, have something to talk about on Slack, and share a common goal. Workouts start up soon, and I can't wait for the focus.

The mile will probably be run on the track, as long as tracks stay open, and will be at the end of summer. Details are understandably up in the air: will we be running alone, or can we meet as a group? Or just a few people at a time? We don't know yet, but the good thing is that a mile is pretty adaptable. We could do it on the road, we could do it on the track, we could do it with spectators, we could have competition, we could do it alone. Of course, best case scenario would be to run it almost like a race, with each other to provide that extra incentive to run faster. But if that's not possible, I think the mile would be easier than, say, a lonesome half-marathon or 10k. I can imagine doing a track mile alone with David and baby watching from inside the oval and using their cheers to motivate!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Back at track

With all the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on everyday life, maintaining a normal schedule is hard or impossible. But I have tried to stay as close to regular life as possible (rabbit trail: should I say "old life"? Will the old regular ever be regular again? I venture it won't - at the very least, we'll think twice about shaking hands!). It's not that hard for me, since I am still going to work, so I have that daily and weekly cadence to my life. But I recently decided to return to my workout schedule. I had been making modifications to allow me to take the baby running on days when David has him at home, but we talked about it, and he doesn't mind keeping him a little longer so I can run on the way home from work. I went back to my old schedule of grocery store and track on Tuesdays (although I am now buying two weeks of groceries at a time to reduce trips to the store). That meant that on Tuesday David had the baby all by himself for twelve hours! While working! But they managed - luckily he's a really good kid, and he's obsessed with his dad! 

Weather cold enough to layer up with my
Buffalo marathon half-zip. That's a race
I would do again...if we ever race again! 
With no formal training plans, and no assigned workouts, I had to come up with a workout (we aren't  meeting anymore, so the Powermilers aren't providing workouts. But I hope that changes. I'd love to have some "maintain"-type speedwork posted! I'll have to mention it to coach Jimi!). Some of us in the group were messaging about this topic, and someone suggested a 600's workout. It was one I missed right after the baby was born, but I looked it up in Final Surge history, and decided to give it a go. It looked easy on paper: six to eight reps of 600 at 5k pace, 200m float, 200m hard, with 400m jog rests between reps - but I knew anything fast would be tough, given how long I've been out. I lucked out on the weather, though. The storms the rest of the south experienced just brought us cold weather! 

This was the first track workout back that I planned to complete as written, ie no modifications, the entire workout, and at speeds that don't embarrass me. I even wore fast shoes - I changed into my New Balance 1400s after warming up. And it went ok! The track wasn't crowded, and most people were cognizant of others enough to make room (it was actually better than the park on some days!). I could stay in lane one about 75% of the time I was running fast. And except for starting too fast, I did well. My 600/200's were: 2:10/40; 2:12/42; 2:14/40; 2:14/42; 2:14/42; 2:17/41. I don't love that 2:17 I finished with (it was 6:10 pace; the 2:14s were 6:02 pace) but at least I got it together for the final 200! I definitely could not have done eight reps, though: so there's plenty of work to be done. 

And that's the wonderful thing about running. Your progress doesn't have to be measured by races: you can run alone and still check off goals. You can get faster, you can develop different muscles, you can run farther. Just because there is no race on the horizon doesn't mean I am not enjoying progress! 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sleeping baby

This isn't my usual running post, but having a baby sleeping through the night helped me get back to running so much, I thought I'd post about sleep training Audubon Baby.

Now, since I used a trigger word - sleep training! Crying! - let me explain that we didn't let a six-week-old cry it out. No way. He wouldn't understand. He was too little to comprehend naps and schedules and bedtime. So I guess what I should say is "sleep teaching", because I do think you need to teach a baby to sleep.

Baby had problems eating early on and had to go to physical therapy for that, so I didn't attempt anything about his night time sleep until he was eating well and a healthy weight. He HAD to wake up to eat. But otherwise, I did what I did with my brothers growing up, and followed some basic rules.

  1. Baby doesn't eat himself to sleep for naps or bedtime (it was ok for nighttime wake ups). He eats, then he's awake, then he goes to bed when he is tired. 
  2. Baby doesn't use sleep props TO SLEEP except a pacifier. No rocking, singing, holding to sleep; no darkened room or bottle. I am ok with pacifier because it's portable, it doesn't require my presence, and babies grow out of it - and this baby needed it to get drowsy, so he already had it. 
  3. Props are ok to grow drowsy/calm down. I swaddle baby because it calms him and lets him know, "It's bedtime". I give him a pacifier, too, because he needs to suck to grow sleepy. This is a bit of an issue, because a pacifier falling out requires replacement since he is too young to put it back himself (and he is swaddled!), but it was a concession I was willing to make since it soothes him so well. 
  4. Baby goes to bed drowsy but awake. I only put him in bed already fast asleep if it was a night waking or it he ended up napping in the car or stroller. The idea is that he eventually learns to put himself asleep all alone, although that is a goal we are still working toward. But the most important thing is that he learns to fall back asleep alone at night if he awakes!
So, how did it go? 

Well, like it does for an infant. Little babies wake up all the time, and take short, sporadic naps! But we worked out a routine and STUCK to it. Babies love consistency. 
  • The most important thing for me was nighttime. I lucked out that he started to sleep through the night at seven weeks exactly. The impetus was starting daycare! He had been improving a lot - down to one wake up per night - and I was sure he was ready to drop that wake up. But he needed a night when he was SO exhausted he simply couldn't wake up for it to happen. The first day of daycare did it for him! He was so tired out, he slept through the night - and then he just kept doing it. I maintained his feeding schedule, tweaking it so that he took four bottles at daycare (save me a feeding! Ha!), and got cluster feeds and a late-night feed in his sleep so his tummy was full for bedtime. He ate eight times a day. 
  • So yeah, that was great. BUT. I decided I wanted some of my evening back. I was feeding him at 7, 9, and 11, and I hated that I was interrupted every two hours, and had to stay up until 11:30. I tried going to bed at ten and setting an alarm for eleven, but that made me more tired than getting up with him at 3am! I decided I wanted to drop a feeding in the evening. I decided 7 and 10 was enough. So I started by simply feeding him at 7 and 10 one night. Oops, he woke up hungry at 3 am. So the next day I added a little more milk to his day bottles, and fed him on both sides at his 10pm feeding. He still woke up - at 3am. But I knew he'd gotten enough to eat, and the fact that he always wakes at 3am sounded like a bad habit to me! So I comforted him, gave him his pacifier, and put him back to sleep. No food. The next night he slept through the night, and has ever since. 
  • Audubonbaby turned three months this weekend, and decided he could stretch that little schedule out a bit more and eat every three hours during the day. This means I dropped a feeding and he eats just six times a day. I did it exactly like I did it before, only this time - no wake ups. He's a big boy now! The difference now is that, with a bottle every three hours, he has a little more time to be awake and then to nap. It's helping him get some longer naps before having to be wakened to eat. Sometimes he needs help to nap longer, though. His sleep cycle is 45 minutes, and then he wakes up. But if I go replace his pacifier and pat his back, he gladly goes back to sleep. He's still tired! He just hasn't learned to connect one sleep cycle to the next all the time. Hopefully this comes with time, but meanwhile, sacrificing five minutes to pat his back in order to earn 45 more minutes of nap is a fair trade off. And so far, he's only needed help once a day. 
Having a baby with a consistent schedule and good nighttime sleep has allowed me to get my runs in before work without being too exhausted to function. I get enough sleep, and I know when he will wake and need to eat because I'm the one who wakes him up and feeds him! We're super lucky that he's such a happy baby, and so willing to learn a schedule and routine. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The quarantine juggle

It seems like every day is bringing new challenges to juggle as we try to stay safe and quarantined! Our biggest challenge so far is clearly childcare. My daycare closed abruptly, leaving us to scramble for a nanny. But she's only working three days a week, and that has meant that David and I need to figure out two days.
At first, we thought David's parents could help. Is it ideal to open our circle up and add several more people? No, but we need childcare, and at least we can rely on them to maintain social distance protocols with others. If I got a random babysitter twice a week, we would have no control over that. However, after his mom got sick and was tested for COVID19, we waited until she got a negative test. And even then, we hesitated, but we have to do something. I can't work from home as a pharmacist, and no way am I bringing my baby to the hospital! And David's job is work from home, but you can't be the primary childcare provider while you are working (he is a federal employee and they have strict guidelines). We did a few days of daddy daycare, when David got up and started working super early, then fit the rest of his workday around naps and feeding. Luckily, we have a very good and easy baby, so this wasn't impossible: but a not-quite-3-month old does require quite a bit of intervention. It's not like you can stick him in front of the tv with a snack for half an hour. He can't even pick up his own toys reliably yet! So we are planning to involve David's parents again, despite the risks. (Shout-out to David for being the world's best dad, of course - not many dads would be able to swing full-time work with an 11-week old!)
Work: silence, ambulances, and the occasional
just-discharged patient still wearing hospital socks

How does this impact me? Well, in a way it's a nice break. I was lucky to have a daycare so near my work that I could park in my regular parking garage and walk the baby over to drop-off. But it meant that every workday started early with a drop off, and ended late with a pick up of a sometimes crabby baby (ah, those drives home with a sad and tired kid, not so fun!). I like having more time in the morning for sure! However, it has thrown my running off. It's not super important, since I have nothing to train for, but I haven't been able to maintain my normal workout routine. On days that David is keeping the baby, I take him in the stroller for my morning run so David doesn't have him ALL day. Maybe one day I can swing speed work with the stroller, but not yet! Coming home is weird, too. I can't kiss my husband and scoop up my baby. I have to undress, wash thoroughly, disinfect phone and keys, put away anything that may have been exposed to airborne virus or contaminated surfaces, wash thoroughly again, and put on fresh clothes. Only then am I comfortable holding the baby. One I DO take the baby, I have him for the duration: there is no neighbor, family, or babysitter to give me a break, and I don't ask David to care for him at night if he's been home with him all day. He needs time for himself. But that means that my only "me" time work! To keep myself sane and in shape, I've started doing my preventative work - stretching, hips, yoga, core - at work. Normally I wouldn't have time, but I do in this time of decreased business. My technician joins me, and it gives us a midday moment for a physical and mental refresh. It's also good for us as coworkers: we're bonding over our collective immobility!

Being stuck at home isn't my favorite. We're the family that likes to be out and about! Right before we were instructed to stay at home, we had started taking the baby out places. We went to an art opening one weekend, and the next had dinner at a wine bar and restaurant (church the next day was our last outing anywhere!). The negatives to staying home include the risk that our baby grows up way too attached to mom and dad, and unhappy going to strangers or adjusting his schedule. But on the positive side, it's forcing us to stay home and get to know our six weeks of maternity leave was by no means enough time to recover physically and settle into a good routine with the baby. I was happy to go back to work, but honestly 8-10 weeks would have been better. Now, all of us are forced to stay home, and it's helping us both be pro parents! I am really good at "reading" babies (lots and lots of experience!) but David is new to this, and he has especially benefited. Now he'll quickly assess the baby's needs: "Oh, he's getting ready for a nap. Oh, he's bored with that book." There will always be time to go out later. So that's a bright side!

If you are still going to work, or going out shopping for essentials, how is this affecting your daily life? Do you have a decontamination routine? Are you masking out of the house?

Monday, April 6, 2020

March running

I think we can all agree that March was a weird running month. Initially, I thought it would be a come-back month for me; I was hoping to add in group workouts gradually (while gradually persuading David to take the baby more and more...kind of the frog-in-the-pot method of passing the baby off to him 80% of the time, haha). I also planned to race either end of March, beginning of April, or perhaps both: regardless, I would have been sort of training throughout the month (both race options were 10ks). Instead, I spent the month trying to figure out our new normal. That meant no group runs, and it meant a few skipped workouts as we tried to adjust. But overall, I got most of my runs in.

March miles: 218, including my first week over 50 miles

Key workouts: Ha! None, really, but here are a few that seemed to indicate progress:

  1. Seven x 1000m. I averaged a bit under 7-min pace on a really hot and humid day, which was good for me. 
  2. Eight miles with 1-min pickups. Sure, my average pace was still over 8 minutes for this run. But I managed to meet up with our group for Audubon Fridays, the only one I have managed so far since the baby, and the last for a while! 
  3. Three x 1600 at 10k, then 6x400 at 5k. This actually should have been 8-10 400's, but I cut it short since I felt like I was falling off pace on the 6th. But my 1600's were solid, 6:47, 6:52, and 6:52 pace. Hard to believe I ran a marathon at that pace less than a year ago! But I'm slowly coming back!

Next up: I'm not feeling confident enough to add any potential races (not that any have open registration that I know of!), but that means now is a good time to work on some weaknesses:

  1. Core. My abdominal muscles are loose and weak, and I avoided any core work for the first few months post-baby to let the muscles knit back together. We are getting closer, although there is still a small gap. Once I feel it's safe and won't cause diastasis recti, I will be back to regular core work. I also really, really need to work on my lower back. I hurt it during pregnancy, and I need to strengthen the muscles to take the work off my spine. I can feel the weakness affecting my entire posterior chain. 
  2. Turnover. My cadence is really pathetic right now, and I never run my fastest with low cadence. I need to improve it, but this is something I have always struggled with. What has helped in the past was focusing on turnover more, doing strides after easy runs, and karate. The rapid kicking in karate seemed to train my leg muscles to snap a little more. I can't take karate right now, but I am able to do some karate drills at home, and I have decided that I need to make myself do my "Monday class" just like normal. Routine is healthy for humans anyway! 
  3. Strength and power. I'm just overall weak and deconditioned. I have no excuse not to get back in shape; I have dumbbells at home and there are a plethora of resources available to guide me. I just need to actually do the workouts! I want to do some plyometrics, too, to help with muscle power. 
  4. Anemia. I had to cancel my doctor's appointment this month due to COVID19 - the appointment where we'd plan for my upcoming surgery (the one that pregnancy interrupted!). I would have gotten updated blood work, too. The last time I had an iron panel done, I was still in the hospital after delivery, and was severely anemic (like...transfusion-level). Obviously, things have improved since then, but I am probably still anemic since I am still experiencing significant blood loss. I won't know for sure until it's safe to get lab work done, though. In the meantime, I am still taking oral iron (and crossing my fingers that I don't drop dead before I ever have my surgery...not exactly great timing!). 
And as for running? I've got a few April goals for running, too. 
  1. Weekly mileage at or over 50. This has been hard to do because I have limited time in the morning thanks to feeding the baby, and I rarely get my long run up past 11. 
  2. Increase long run to 12 miles. I'll probably be doing this with the stroller, so it will take all day, but if baby will tolerate it, I want to shoot for at least 12. 
  3. Do strides once or twice a week.
Hopefully I can make some progress here, and will have made good use of my time this month!