Sunday, December 29

Liquid sunshine

This morning the rain was pouring. Rivers of water threatened to overwhelm the storm drains in Alexandria.

Still, I laced up for a run.

Not just any run.

My FIRST run since August. My first run since my OB doc said the cesarean stitches were healed and I could resume "normal" exercise. My first run as a new mom without my baby at my side.

I pulled on my snuggest-fitting sports bra (a recommendation from the OB). I laced up my shoes. I left a bottle of milk with Hubby and Baby. I headed out into the deluge, fully expecting to have to run-walk this foray back into the world of "real" runners.

The first few blocks felt mysteriously easy. (I credit/blame euphoria.) The rain soaked through my sleeves, and I danced around puddles to try to keep my toes dry as long as possible. Within a quarter mile I was drenched, breathing hard, and... still running.

As I passed a car idling alongside the road, I heard the driver quip - with sarcasm - to the rain-soaked women she was picking up: "Beautiful weather we're having!" One of the passengers replied, as she shook water off of her umbrella and slid into the back seat:
"Yes. Beautiful weather, indeed. The sky is full of liquid sunshine."

Liquid sunshine view from The Dock bar in Pensacola
Liquid sunshine...
... is the name of a fruity orange drink at The Dock bar on Pensacola Beach.
... is the way I felt about the rain, because I had the pavement all to myself for this first run in nearly five months.

The women may have been sarcastic in their interpretation of the weather, but to me the rain was liquid sunshine!

I laughed out loud.

Onlookers, if there had been any others out in the deluge, might have thought I was crazy.

I kept running.

I traded thumbs-ups with the one other rain-soaked runner I saw.

A sunset like more liquid sunshine
I kept running.

I reached the mile mark, still running, and welled up with tears of joy that my legs and lungs were still working. Maybe they weren't as strong or as fast as they once were. But they still worked.

I kept running.

After 20 minutes and two miles I stopped for a celebratory cup of coffee (that other liquid sunshine), and I headed for home.

My miles weren't beautiful. They weren't effortless. But they were mine.

By the time I was finished, I was soaked with rain, sweat, and salty tears.
Liquid sunshine, indeed.

Monday, December 23

Summing up 2013

This post is brought to you by the letter Z and the number 2013.

Hubby and I have run an Independence Day 5k
every year since we started dating. We kept the
tradition alive, with a new baby on board, this year.
Best race experience?

Hands down: Keeping the Independence Day 5k tradition alive by running a 5k in my second trimester is my favorite racing accomplishment... ever.

This tradition was particularly important to me because many others (like the holiday run-streak and my 12th annual ice-skating date with my friend MC) had to go by the wayside thanks to a little detour we might refer to as a bouncing baby boy!

No matter how hardcore you are, it's just plain ridiculous to go running a week after they cut open your abdomen and pull a baby out. (I was just proud to be walking couple of miles each day by Thanksgiving.) Running will return to the schedule on January 1, 2014, and in the meantime, let's recap the rest of 2013...

Most popular post?

Victory Laps: Pregnant Lady Returns to the Track (This popular post was also one of my personal favorite running stories of the year.)

Coming in a close second...Am I Still A Runner?

Best run?

Bizarrely, the best run I had all year was the track workout I did the week before I found out I was pregnant. I hit 6:50 pace splits! I was on track to crush my 24 minute 5k goal!

And... then... my pace slowed. Prenatal yoga took the place of weekly speed work. Oh well... it gives me something to work toward in 2014.

(Any bets on whether or not I can hit a 7-something pace in a 5k while pushing a stroller?)

If you could sum up your year in a word, what would it be?


In 2013 I rang in the New Year in Austin, capping off four months of almost weekly travel. By the end of this trip, I was ready to hand over my frequent flier cards for awhile, which is sort of what happened.

Because then I...
Bought a house
Hopped time zones when I moved to a different state
Changed jobs (no more coast-to-coast commuting!)
Had a baby

...and I wouldn't change a thing.

Best read

I read dozens of pregnancy and parenting books, but I don't think any of those belong on the "best" list. Even the side-splittingly funny ones felt a little like homework.

Instead, I'll nominate The Blind Masseuse (a travel memoir) and Becoming Odyssa (a memoir of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail) as my favorite reads of 2013.

Best "in my kitchen" recipe

While I loved the "creamy" asparagus soup (that uses no cream and can easily be a vegan recipe), it's not new to my kitchen - I've been making that soup for years.

My favorite new recipe this year was fluffy whole wheat pumpkin pancakes. The recipe is more work than a traditional pancake (Whipping eggwhites before I've had my first cup of coffee? Insanity!) but deliciouly worth the effort. I'll make this recipe again... but will definitely pour a cup o' joe first.

But perhaps the best "in my kitchen" surprise of 2013?
Having one of my photos included in a New Orleans cookbook!

Thursday, November 14

Training for two: How to lose 15 pounds the (not) easy way

Here's my advice on how to lose 15+ pounds the (not) easy way...

Swell up with edema in the last weeks of your pregnancy, then deliver a happy, healthy 8 pound baby. Between the new addition to your family and balloon-deflating reduction in swelling, voila! 15 pounds lost, and (much, much more importantly) a whole lot more gained.

This blog is on maternity leave until further notice so I can get to know the new man in my life.

Peace and love to you all,

Thursday, November 7

Book review on the run: The Blind Masseuse

A couple of weeks ago I received a preview copy of a new travel memoir, The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, by Alden Jones...

I raved about it in an earlier blog post:
It's FANTASTIC. (And I'm not just saying that because the book was free. I've received many free books over the years, and if they're horrible, I either don't post a review or I tell it straight that the book sucked.)
... but this book was, indeed, fantastic. And I promised that I'd write an actual review.

The Blind Masseuse is a well-crafted travel memoir, but the book is also a deeper reflection on culture, travel, and tourism, and how those concepts intersect and conflict. (But that somewhat scientific explanation of the book's themes hardly do it justice.)

One of my favorite quotes comes early on in the book and set the tone as I hurried through the pages:
"While tourists spend their time away from home seeking out the comforts of home, travelers risk - even cultivate - discomfort, because what they want is the thrill of a new perspective."
That sentence stopped me in my tracks: Am I a tourist? Or am I a traveler?

As I followed Jones' trips around the world, which she admittedly makes both as a traveler and as a tourist, I kept returning to that question. And perhaps that's why the book was so compelling. Certainly Jones' writing style is engaging, and her travel adventures are at times humorous and at times poignant, but what sets this book apart from other travel memoirs is that it kept me thinking not only about the adventures of the narrator, but also about the larger context in which we explore our world (and in which I explore the world).

If we are tourists, we are merely brushing by the culture and humanity of a new or foreign place. We cling to the familiar and take photos of the foreign. We return with a scrapbook, but with no larger understanding of the world than we had when we left, ticket in hand.

If we are travelers, we immerse ourselves in all of the discomfort that comes with being out of our element. We delight in getting lost in a city, and then finding our way. We revel in learning a new word, trying a new flavor, or living on a different schedule. But eventually the unfamiliar becomes familiar. Ultimately it becomes our new reality. It's no longer foreign. And then, perhaps, we go off in search of a new adventure. Or, perhaps, we leave sooner than we might... afraid that the mystery of a favorite place will wear off if it becomes home instead of a destination.

And, try as we might, maybe even the most dedicated traveler has tourist moments. Jones writes:
"There is no disarming all of what we know, no matter how much touching and kneading and feeling we do, no matter how much we think we're trying. What makes us blind is what we think we see."
I can think of times in my own travels (both the short-term vacation kind and the lived in 5 different states and 4 different time zones kind) when no truer words could describe how I felt... thrilled at the prospect of a new adventure, but - at first - still filtering all of that new information through my old lens. It felt thoroughly reassuring, reading Jones' book, to know that even the most dedicated globetrotter has tourist moments, too.

Lest you think that the philosophical musings overwhelm the book, I assure you that the travel memoir is brilliantly written. Jones' history of her time in Costa Rica begins with the pleasantly disorienting title "Lard is Good for You." Her time in Bolivia is enlightening, if somewhat less than welcoming (picture getting caught in the middle of massive, and sometimes violent public protests over water prices). And her cruise around the world... well I'll let you read that for yourself.

So whether you're a tourist or a traveler, whether you've circumnavigated the world or you explore via the Travel Chanel from the comfort of your armchair: read this book. You will not be disappointed.

Training for two: week 40 (are we there yet?)

Aaaannnnd we're overdue!

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: 2 mile walk + lots of yard work raking leaves and digging a swale for drainage in the back yard...
Yes... I've been told I should be "resting" but what's the worst that could happen? The yard work triggers labor? On my due date? That would've been a travesty... (sarcasm completely intended)

I did have contractions most of the day, which got my hopes up that baby was on his way... only to be disappointed to discover that it was "early" or "false" labor. *sigh*

Sunday: Rest day
False labor contractions kept me awake most of the night. So instead of exercising, I napped and read a book.

Monday: 3 mile walk + prenatal yoga
Have I mentioned that it's gorgeous outside in Virginia right now? Beautiful autumn leaves. Crisp weather. I'd rather have been in a hospital (first and only time I'll ever say that???), but my morning walk was pretty spectacular anyway.
Autumn color at the historic Carlisle House in Old Town Alexandria
Tuesday: 3 mile walk
And 3 days overdue...

Wednesday: 4 mile walk (2 in the morning, 2 in the evening, and my neighbors must be tired of watching me circle the block... I'm tired of circling the block!)
And 4 days overdue...

Thursday: 60 minute walk (3 miles? 4? It's hard to keep track when all you're doing is circling the blocks near your home for an hour...)

17 or 18 miles walked  + 0 miles run + some yoga
and still no baby!


A million articles on how to get labor started.
None of which actually work.
But hope springs eternal!

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Thursday, October 31

Training for two: week 39

39 weeks down...
This weekend is baby's due-date. Keep your fingers crossed that my workout this weekend involves lots of ab exercise!

Friday: 1 mile walk

Saturday: 2.5 mile walk

Sunday: 2.5 mile walk + spectating at the Marine Corps Marathon
Despite my jumping up and down and cheering, I'm seriously glad this little runner baby didn't decide to make his debut at mile marker 22...
Run Like You Stole Something
One marathoner joked that it looked like I was the one stealing something... A watermelon! (How she had the energy to crack jokes 4 hours into a marathon, I'll never know...)

Monday: 2 mile walk

Tuesday: prenatal yoga + 2 mile walk

Wednesday: rest day
No excuses. I just felt lazy.
I did spend all day working from home seated on my exercise/stability ball. That has to count for core exercise, no?

Thursday: Yet another prenatal appointment... there may or may not be a workout today.

10 miles walked  + 0 miles run + and a bit of yoga


I'm working on crocheting a baby blanket, and I'm not on Metro so much these days, (no need to be that lady who gives birth at a metro station!) so there's not much to report in the new books department.

One of the articles I did enjoy reading was a Fit Pregnancy piece on birth preferences (rather than a birth plan). One paragraph, in particular, sums up my perspective on this issue (and what I've chosen to do):
By writing your preferences instead of a plan, you maintain the understanding that circumstances beyond your control may change and you’ll need to adapt your preferences accordingly. Women who end up with an epidural when they hoped to go without or a cesarean when they wanted to avoid it often report feeling like they failed. Women, hear me out: You CANNOT FAIL at birth. You can only do what you can with the circumstances you are given – that is the best you can do for yourself and your baby.
I was first introduced to this preferences vs. plan philosophy while reading Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England. I read (and loved) the book many months ago, but I apparently never posted a review.

Birthing From Within was recommended by my prenatal yoga teacher. Some bits of the book are a tad... new-agey? (Is that a word?) But aside from the birth-art monologues, the book is a very no-nonsense guide to labor and delivery options.

The book is intended to help each expectant mother figure out what she'd like to have happen during labor, but the guidance is blended with a solid dose of realism. The author is very clear that home births have advantages, but they will not be pain-free vacations with scented candles and sensual massage. England also is clear that, despite all best intentions, some complications require cesarean birth and 24 hours of back labor might make you rethink that epidural.

And as long as everyone is safe at the end of the process, it's all OK...

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Weekly roundup: Halloween edition

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Halloween potluck!


Wonder how long it will take to run off that Reese's peanut butter pumpkin?
The answer: More than 40 minutes, according to data compiled by the American Institute for Cancer Research, which has a list of the calorie content (and minutes of exercise needed to burn) some of the most popular "fun sized" Halloween candy.


If your Halloween costume involves a pair of stilettos, and you get chased by zombies, DC runner Inertia - winner of the 17th Street High Heel Race - has you covered with tips for running in heels.


Want a good scare?

Read the ingredients in a Chicken McNugget... Researchers, published in the American Journal of Medicine, dissected a couple of nuggets and found that
"The first nugget was about half muscle, with the rest a mix of fat, blood vessels and nerves. Close inspection revealed cells that line the skin and internal organs of the bird... The second nugget was only 40 percent muscle, and the remainder was fat, cartilage and pieces of bone."
And if that's not scary enough for you, try giving your loved one a skull flower.


I'm not even going to pretend this week's culinary adventure was healthy or wholesome. In fact, for it's diabetes-inducing level of sugar and refined carbs, it's downright... frightening.

But it was a birthday week in our household, and birthday boy wanted bread pudding.
First... Who am I to say no to a birthday request?
Second... Damn, it was good!
Good, old-fashioned, refined carb goodness -- bread pudding

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As if some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--Only this and nothing more."
Edgar Allan Poe


Wednesday, October 30

4 things no one tells you about being pregnant

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /
So... you think you know about pregnancy?
You've heard all about weird food cravings, morning sickness, and swollen ankles.
Sure. That's all true. But there are a few things people don't tell you...

You will sit sprawl-legged in public.

There will come a day when you try and cross your legs, because you've been crossing your legs your whole life, and you will suddenly realize that they no longer fit together. Your pelvic joints spread to make room for that baby to get out, and they don't want you messing with their goal. Hell, let's be honest. You can't even sit with your knees together.

When you try, for the sake of decorum, to sit with some semblance of legs-together dignity, baby starts jabbing your hip bones in protest. Hard. This isn't a good position for baby, and it isn't great for you either.

My advice: Give in, buy coverage-appropriate clothing (think long, floaty dresses or comfy slacks), lean back, and enjoy your new favorite seated position.

You can't tie your own shoes.

No matter how much yoga you do before and during your pregnancy, there will come a point when that basketball in front of you (you know... that spot where your abs used to be) gets in the way of basic life skills like tying your shoes, clipping your toenails, and putting on your socks.

You will try all sorts of seated-leg-lift or squat-and-reach positions. Some will work better than others. But at some point you will give up and buy slip-on shoes. (A size larger than your pre-pregnancy size, of course...)

My advice: Get thee to a prenatal yoga class. Yoga won't prevent, but it will delay the onset of this particular pregnancy challenge for as long as possible. And trust me, you want to delay asking your partner to help you tie your shoes. Also, use this as an excellent excuse for a pedicure. Can't reach your own toes? Have someone else file and polish those nails for you!

Toward the end of pregnancy, you will wear more food than you eat.

At some point in the 8th or 9th month, that napkin you put on your lap at nice restaurants will be completely useless. What lap? Your belly takes up most of the space between your spine and your knees, so every crumb that falls from your fork ends up... you guessed it... on your shelf (erm... I mean baby bump).

Also, you can't sit up close to the table anymore. You wind up sitting a foot away from the table, with your legs straddling the chair (see sitting, above). This makes eating soup in public a real trick. You think "This shouldn't be so bad. I can get a spoon from my bowl to my mouth." And then, after ordering the soup, you realize that spoon has to travel 5 or 6 times the distance of any other spoonful of soup you ate pre-pregnancy. And soup spills. Easily.

Last week, at a fancy restaurant, I gave up and held the bowl under my chin. Screw the people who were looking at my funny. At least I didn't spill it all down the front of my dress. Or tuck my napkin around my neck.

My advice: Make use of those bibs you got as shower gifts. Or eat at home. Or both.

Strangers will tell you to have sex.

By 9 months into pregnancy, you start to think you've become immune to random, unsolicited advice from strangers. After all, you've been getting random, unsolicited advice from strangers for nearly a year now. But just when you think the advice can't get any more intrusive, or bizarre, it does...

As you near the prenatal finish line, everyone and their mothers (especially the mothers) will tell you their "sure-fire" way to get labor started. Because by 38 weeks you want that baby out, and by 39 weeks YOU WILL TRY ANYTHING TO GET THAT BABY OUT. So you'll hear all about the labor-inducing benefits of castor oil, massage pressure points, spicy foods, and vigorous exercise.

But whether or not any of these tricks really work, the advice everyone loves to give was best paraphrased by a massage therapist I know:
"The magic that gets baby in there, also gets baby out."
Yes. Random strangers will tell you to have sex.

Some will be coy about it, as my massage therapist friend was. Some will come right out and say "If you get tired of waiting for baby to arrive, just have sex."

Really, if sex were such a powerful trigger for labor, there would be no 42 week babies. But that doesn't stop strangers (and I mean everyone... other customers at the grocery store, the clerk at the bookstore, the receptionist at the dentist's office) from telling you to have sex.

My advice: Umm... For this one, I've got nothing. If you think of a clever reply, do let me know!

Friday, October 25

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck and it's Marine Corps Marathon weekend!


My favorite on Buzzfeed this week: 25 Things non-Runners Don't Get About Runners.
What's wrong with showing off your black toenails?!?
And doesn't everyone plan vacations just to try out a new running trail?


If you call for a pizza after your next long run, this pizza proximity map is for you... it shows the (average) closest pizza place for every county in the U.S.

I guess people in the mountain west don't have much pizza around?


My twitter buddy @Tai_Fung wrote a great post about one of my favorite local running routes: the Mount Vernon Trail.


So... Do you remember those (now former) Boy Scout troop leaders who destroyed an ancient rock formation in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park?

Yea... they're such a nice bunch of people that the guy pushing the rock was in the middle of a lawsuit claiming a back injury that resulted in "great pain and suffering, disability, impairment, loss of joy of life" and that the injury was "debilitating."

Your back injury was soooo debilitating that you couldn't push a giant boulder?



So there's joggling (juggling while running), but what should we call knitting on the run, runnitting? Clearly it needs a name, because at this year's Kansas City Marathon one runner set a new world record for the longest scarf knitted while running a marathon. (I wonder what his training runs look like?)
Thanks @chiarraigrrl for the link!


Continuing the pumpkin-flavored trend from last week, I baked pumpkin-raisin bars.

To make the recipe healthier, I substituted whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour, and I used only half of the recommended sugar. (I think the sugar could be cut down even more, especially with a hefty portion of raisins added to the batter...) Still, these were a good, portable breakfast for the week!

"Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time."
Michael Sargent


Thursday, October 24

Training for two: week 38

38 weeks down...
And apparently the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has moved the goal posts on "full term" pregnancy. Not that it matters now that we're a few hours away from the new definition of full term, but the new pregnancy term classification system has five major categories:
  • preterm (before 37 weeks)
  • early term (37 to 38 weeks)
  • full term (39 to 40 weeks)
  • late term (41 weeks)
  • postterm (42 weeks and more).
So despite whatever I said last week, NOW we're at full term!

And in other weird news, parts that hurt a few weeks ago (read: achy hip joints!) feel brand new now. I have no idea why. But I'm not complaining. I'll be sore again soon enough...

Friday: 3 mile walk

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 2 mile walk + yard work
I planted dozens of daffodils for the spring! Now if I can just keep the squirrels from eating all of those bulbs...

Monday: 2 mile walk

Tuesday: 2 mile walk

Wednesday: 1 mile walk

Thursday: REST

This week's prentatal appointment took the place of my morning workout...

And my doc, husband, and I set an induction date for the 41 week mark. Juuuuuust in case Baby decides to hang out longer than he's supposed to.
Taper madness... but at least the finish line is in sight!


So... With my wonky doc-then-work schedule, I may or may not get in some real exercise today.

If not, we'll think of this as the beginning of "tapering for the big day."

Hell, I even carb-loaded by stopping to pick up bagels on the way in to my office this morning. Taper it is!

10 miles walked  + 0 miles run + no yoga???


A few days ago I received a preview copy of a new travel memoir, The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, by Alden Jones...

It's FANTASTIC. (And I'm not just saying that because the book was free. I've received many free books over the years, and if they're horrible, I either don't post a review or I tell it straight that the book sucked.)

But more on the book later... it deserves its own post for a detailed review.

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Friday, October 18

Weekly roundup: post-shutdown potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!
Today's theme... In addition to being thrilled that my colleagues are back to work (and getting paid) and local parks and bike trails are open again (since in the DC metro, everything local is really federal), there's a ton of fun stuff in the news... Today is a true potluck!


Triathletes really are tougher than the average bear. According to new research, triathletes experience pain at the same rate as mere mortals, but they can tolerate pain for much longer. (I seriously hope this holds true during labor and delivery...)

Creepy baby bump costume via Buzzfeed

I love my Halloween runner costumes, but with no dress-up-dash on my calendar this year, I might go with a pregnant Halloween costume instead.

(My favorite: The "Alien" style costumes where baby is climbing out the hard way. My husband thinks that's sick and twisted. But, hey, it's Halloween, right?)


I'm not sure what to think about this post "What do other countries think is American food?" Along with a photo of the "USA" food section of a local grocery store, the author writes:
It's almost embarrassing to think that this is the kind of food that other countries really think of when they think of American food -- processed junk! Shelves filled with mac 'n' cheese, salad dressings... canned soups, beef jerky, roasted nuts, and all sorts of condiments, many with sugar as the first or second ingredient.
Is this the food culture we want to be perceived as having in the United States? I sure don't!
Then again, the items weren't too far off from what fills the shelves of many convenience stores across the country.
But if I think about the "Mexican" food section of my local grocery store, it is filled with canned salsa, oil-laden mole sauces, and other prepared and preserved foods.

Yet I lived alongside the Mexican border for years, and I traveled often to places like Tijuana, Ensenada, Cabo, and Nogales. I know that "real" Mexican food is often fresh and local.

But we can get fresh vegetables in the produce section. The "ethnic" section of any grocery store is generally reserved for the preserved spices and sauces that aren't stocked in the produce, dairy, and meat aisles, no?

So... is that "USA" section of the market really an indictment of "American" food? Or is it just how grocery stores merchandise their products?


It's autumn.
That's pumpkin season.
I'm baking my favorite whole-grain pumpkin bread.
Pumpkin oatmeal bread

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gable


Thursday, October 17

Training for two: week 37

37 weeks down... and now that we're entering week 38, baby could show up tomorrow or three weeks from now. (Fun facts: Did you know that 37 weeks and up is "full term" and that "due date" is just the midpoint between week 38 and 42 - the weeks when most babies are born?)

Friday: 1 mile walk + squats, lunges, and upper-body strength training

Saturday: REST
The swing is awesome, but
literally takes up half the living room...
(And built an infant swing - which now takes up half of our living room - and figured out how to work the Pack-n-Play. Score!)

Sunday: 2 mile walk + 2-hour nap!
Thanks to nighttime kicks, I'm not sleeping more than 2 or 3 hours at a time anymore. Napping seems much more productive than exercise.

Monday: 3 mile walk

Tuesday: 1 mile walk + prenatal yoga

Wednesday: 2 mile walk

Thursday: Morning workout was swapped for a prenatal checkup

9 miles walked  + 0 miles run + 1 yoga video and some strength training
(Yeah... last week I thought I'd pick up the pace and get in more mileage this week. Instead I napped more. And I don't regret it at all.)


The Runner Dad's post "The First Four Weeks" is the kind of prepare-for-the-worst parenting essay I love best. Here's what I wrote to him in response...
"With baby #1 due any day now, I have to admit that I love reading these stories.
I'd rather hear how HARD it's going to be than have some false sense of security that the first month of baby care is supposed to be all sunshine and roses... only to be blindsided that it IS hard.
(Better to be pleasantly surprised than knocked for a loop, right?)
It's sort of like standing at mile 24 of a marathon and watching runners' faces... Seeing the pain, you get a sense of what you're in for when you run your own race. That's MUCH better training than hearing stories from runners, 6 months later - when their muscles are no longer cramping and they can walk up and down stairs without wincing - that it's the "best thing they ever did in life."

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Tuesday, October 15

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread

This pumpkin oatmeal bread is one of my favorite fall dishes because it's both delicious and healthy. The recipe is packed with tons of vitamin A from the pumpkin and healthy omega-3s from the flax and walnuts. Plus it's 100% whole grain. I've been making this quick bread, and modifying the recipe, for years.

I think this version is perfection...


Pumpkin oatmeal bread
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)
1 cup regular oats
2 tbsp oat bran or wheat germ*
1 tbsp ground flax seed*
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 cups whole wheat flour (preferrably whole wheat baking flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips*
1 cup chopped walnuts*
Cooking spray

*Note: Bran, flax, chocolate chips, and walnuts are delicious additions, but are entirely optional.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; mix well to ensure there are no undissolved bits of brown sugar. Combine pumpkin, oats, and milk; add to sugar mixture, mixing well. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir with a fork. Add to sugar mixture; mix just until moist. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. (Do not over mix the batter!)
Divide batter evenly into TWO 9 x 5-inch loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Friday, October 11

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!


If your job is across a river or bay from your home (I'm looking at you San Francisco, New York, and D.C. workers!), there may just be a new option for your commute: water biking. Pontoon-like floats turn any bicycle into a water-cycle.
The only drawback... Getting sweaty on the way in to the office is one thing, taking a spill and getting drenched is another.


Today... in things I don't understand... 
According to a survey in the U.K., nearly two thirds of adults lie about reading classic books. The most lie-inducing books, in order of percent of people who lie about reading 'em:

  • "1984” by George Orwell
  • “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
  • “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
  • “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  • “A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster 
  • “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  • “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen 
  • “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte at tenth

Why lie?!?
I tried reading Great Expectations, got about 50 pages in, and realized Dickens is better on screen or in a theater than in print. I quit. Big deal.


It's that time of year again... time for dress-up dashes and haunted 5k races! If you're planning to race in full Halloween regalia, check out my gallery of runner-friendly costume ideas. (And please suggest your own - with links - I'd love to add more ideas to the list!)


Given the change in the weather, this week has been all about soup. One of my favorites is a "creamy" asparagus soup that uses no cream. The broth is thickened with rice, pureed using an immersion blender. (I use brown rice and cook it longer than called for in the recipe.) I make the soup with chicken broth, but the soup can easily be made vegan by substituting vegetable stock for chicken.
Source: Food & Wine Magazine

"I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read."
Samuel Johnson


4 easy and awesome DIY Halloween running costumes

I'm not a "stunt runner" but I do like a good dress-up dash. The pressure of racing for a PR is disappears, eclipsed by the challenge of finding the perfect running costume.

I personally like a costume with a bit of irony and that doesn't chafe on the run.

A few of my DIY Halloween costume favorites over the years...

The "road runner"

Jogging jack-o-lanterns
(This is the ONLY time you may ever refer to me as a "jogger.")

Cookie Monster (Props: blue clothes, fuzzy knee socks on arms and legs, and a bag of Chips Ahoy)
Hooters Waitress (The costume is self-explanatory, but it's worth noting that this was the first and LAST time I'll run in pantyhose. But maybe NOT the last time I'll run while carrying a pitcher of beer.)


Thursday, October 10

Training for two: week 36

Here are the workout details from week 36...
With the close of week 36, baby will officially be "full term." Now the question is: will he arrive sooner? Or later? Based on the size of the "bump" I'm hoping for sooner...
The bump at 36 weeks

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: Prenatal yoga

Sunday: REST

Monday: 2 mile walk

Tuesday: 2 mile walk

Wednesday: 2 mile walk

Thursday: 2 mile walk

10 miles walked  + 0 miles run + 1 yoga class
(Is this really my lowest mileage week so far? Yikes!)


I finally read The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Is the book worth reading?
I think the baby calming techniques (swaddling, side or stomach lying, shushing, swinging, and sucking) are brilliant.

BUT, to be completely honest, I thought the book was poorly written.

The text is chopped up with quotes, anecdotes, and illustrations thrown in, seemingly, at random. It would benefit from some serious editing help.*

That said, I have been practicing my swaddling technique, and I'm all for swinging my baby if it will help him stop crying.

Fortunately, there's a Happiest Baby video that goes into detail on how to swaddle, shush, and swing properly... and skips over all of the silly anecdotes.

So... the bottom line here is: if you have to pick one, skip the book and buy The Happiest Baby On The Block video instead.

*Note: The "research" on traditional cultures, like the !Kung, gives the merest lip-service to a unique method of child-rearing, while providing almost no anthropological detail (or source notes!) about the cultural norms and values at play. (To be fair... I'm a demographer/sociologist. If I see a culture held up as a "great example" of "how to do things right," I expect more detail. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on a baby book... but then again, if you're going to tell me that there is a "right" way to calm a baby, it seems reasonable expect more than "this other group does this thing, and it seems to work for them.")

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Friday, October 4

Weekly roundup: the shutdown edition

After a long (and much needed) hiatus during which I moved, bought a house, started a new job... yada... yada... yada... I welcome you back for another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love:

This week is we're going to party like it's 199...5. Government shutdown 1995.


Since I've moved to DC, we've had a mass shooting, a federal government shut down, and all national parks and monuments are closed.

Read: almost every public space in and around DC is closed. Runner friends, this includes closing almost all local parks and bike/run/hike paths. Local run clubs are scrambling to re-route planned weekend runs, at least two races are being postponed until November, and an upcoming Ragnar race has to be re-routed, but the Marine Corps Marathon and the Army 10 Miler will go on, as scheduled.

Granted, bike path closures are not nearly as bad as pulling funding from Head Start and WIC, but the point here is that the District is a mess.

A tropical storm might be headed straight for my old home in Pensacola, but the Gulf Coast never looked so good...


Thankfully the days here in DC are not entirely dark.
The funniest thing to come out of the shutdown? Shutdown pickup lines.

Some of the best (or worst?):

  • You must be furloughed from the Center for Disease Control, because your smile is infectious.
  • Are you furloughed from the Library of Congress, cause us getting together is overdue.
  • Baby, you've chained up my heart tighter than the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The only thing nonessential about you are those pants.
  • My resolution continues ALL NIGHT.
  • Congress might be closed, but we can always have a caucus at my place. 


If you can't beat 'em... whip up some pancakes?

Fluffy whole wheat pumpkin pancakes (modified from the original in Epicurious)

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray

Whisk first 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, oil and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). Beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. (Whisk by hand for an excellent arm workout!) Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, re-spraying the pan between batches.

Baby, I let the government shut down, so I could spend the whole day with you. #shutdownpickuplines @MattVas


Thursday, October 3

Training for two: week 35

Here are the workout details from week 35...
My energy levels are inversely proportional to the number of times I wake up each night.

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: REST
(Full disclosure: I napped for two hours after taking a 4 hour infant care and CPR class.)

Sunday: 2 mile walk + another 2 hour nap...

Monday: 2 mile walk

Tuesday: 2 mile walk

Wednesday: 2 mile walk + prenatal yoga + "keep ups"
My yoga teacher introduced me to keep ups a couple of weeks ago. The exercises are designed to induce discomfort and muscle fatigue (think small, repetitive movements for 3 full minutes) so pregnant mamas can get used to discomfort without panic.

Thursday: 2 mile walk

12 miles walked  + 0 miles run + 1 yoga session
...and no more weight loss due to nausea! Hooray!


I finally finished The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean by Phillip Caputo

And after last week's infant care class I'm starting The Happiest Baby on the Block next. I don't expect to become an infant-calming expert, but what the heck, I might learn a few helpful tricks!

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Thursday, September 26

Training for two: week 34

Here are the workout details from week 34...
Goodbye third trimester nausea...
Hello frequent restroom breaks!

Baby has "dropped" a bit, which has eased my nausea but also increased my sprints to the restroom. I guess this is where being a runner comes in handy?

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: 4 mile walk

Sunday: 3 mile walk + yard work

Monday: 2 mile walk

Tuesday: Rest day!

Wednesday: 2 mile walk + prenatal yoga

Thursday: 2 mile walk

15 miles walked  + 0 miles run + 1 yoga session
...and no more weight loss due to nausea! Hooray!


I'm still reading The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean by Phillip Caputo. It's compelling, but I spent my weekend hanging out with family, so I haven't finished this book as quickly as I thougth I would.

And after this, I might go back to baby book reading for awhile... After all, baby could show up next week or next month. At this point it's anyone's guess...

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Thursday, September 19

Training for two: week 33

Here are the workout details from week 33...
Goodbye appetite...
Hello third trimester morning sickness?

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: 5 mile walk

Sunday: Why didn't anyone tell me that morning sickness can return in the third trimester?
Ok. So it's not really hormone-induced morning sickness this late in the game... The cause of third trimester issues is often that when the baby starts taking up all the room in your body, digestion becomes particularly difficult. (I found this out, the hard way, on Sunday morning.) I called my doctor, who sounded somewhat less than worried, so on her instructions I spent the rest of the day nursing Gatorade and a bowl of chicken soup. Bleck.

Monday: Rest and recovery
... and much too much time watching the news of the Navy Yard shootings. Suddenly nausea seemed small trouble compared to 27 families devastated by that tragedy.

Tuesday: 4 mile walk
Hubs and I met up with friends for a walk after work. I was feeling better physically, and needed the break emotionally.

Wednesday: 2 mile walk + prenatal yoga

Thursday: 2 mile walk

17 miles walked  + 0 miles run + 1 yoga session
(Honestly, considering how badly I was feeling on Sunday, my total mileage this week is a bit shocking. I had to check the math twice.)

...and 4 pounds lost. Bleck.
I was quite happy with my pound-a-week progress thankyouverymuch. Given that my meals are now about half their normal size, I'm hoping to stop the backslide on weight gain. Baby is still healthy and kicking, but mama doesn't need (or want!) to lose any muscle mass from this nausea!


Last week I...
...finished City of Thieves which was fantastic! though graphic... but what World War II book isn't?

... polished off 46 Days: Keeping Up With Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Appalachian Trail which, sadly, was not nearly as good as Becoming Odyssa - in fact, it was sort of a boring read despite the amazing accomplishment of setting the Appalachian trail speed record

...and started The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean by Phillip Caputo, which looks to be another book - like City of Thieves - I won't be able to put down.

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.

Thursday, September 12

Training for two: week 32

Here are the workout details from week 32...
Goodbye ankles!
Hello compression stockings!

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: 3 mile walk.
I met up with runners in a real running group!
As a newbie in town, I still need to find running buddies, so when I learned about a moms run group, I hoped it would be a good fit. I'm not a full-fledged mom yet, but I think belonging to a moms running group will get me back up and running after baby is born. The ladies seem super nice, and didn't mind that I waddled along behind while they ran.

Sunday: working in the garden... planting fall flowers and spreading mulch.
It really sucks that I'm not allowed to move bags of mulch, and had to call my husband to help, but at least I can still play in the dirt! (With gloves, of course. No need to be getting toxoplasmosis...)

Monday: 2 mile walk

Tuesday: 2 mile walk + lunch-break yoga

Wednesday: 3 mile walk

Thursday: 1 mile walk
Today I had my 32 week prenatal appointment. The doctor gave me a nice pat on the back for keeping up with daily workouts, and she didn't give me any trouble about how much weight I've gained. (33 pounds and counting!) Phew!

We did, however, talk about the fact that my ankles have disappeared. The good news is that the swelling is not preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure which can be dangerous, and - as you know if you watch Downton Abbey - sometimes fatal).

My blood pressure remains at the lovely, low level of a lifelong runner. So the edema is "just" a normal side effect of pregnancy. *Cue sigh of relief*

But when doc handed over a pair of medical compression socks, I had a moment of sadness: I've officially become my grandmother.

If the socks were black and neon, like fancy runner compression sleeves, I could convince myself that they're for "training" and "fitness." But they're not. These socks are a hideous, industrial tan. They look like old lady socks. They ARE old lady socks. I have clear memories of my grandmother wearing the exact same type of socks on a daily basis.

But my legs feel soooooo much better with them on...

So style be damned. I want my ankles back!

12 miles walked  + 0 miles run + 1 yoga session + 2 new compression socks


I'm in the middle City of Thieves of by David Benioff.

So please pardon me while I stop typing and return to my reading.

Yes... the book is THAT good.

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.