Friday, December 26

Summing up 2014

This post is brought to you by the letter B and the number 2014.

Best run?

I'm not sure I'm running often or regularly enough to be able to recall a "best" run...
Yes there is one...

My first post-baby run. In the rain!

Oh wait, that was 2013?

Run-commuting, which is all I seem to have the time or energy for lately, just isn't that glamorous.

But there was that one run...

I got together with a group of co-workers and ran the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms!
Image cropped to protect the innocent
Oh hell, yes!
But it was a picture-perfect day for a run.

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

But also laughter.
And puke.
(My kid's. Not mine...)

Best read

Despite the exhaustion (or maybe because of it) I have done an incredible amount of reading this year... Amazon claims I downloaded nearly 3 dozen e-books, and I can attest to having read almost all of them. And the range is quite wide. I read through almost all of the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I read cooking and travel books. I read (and quit reading) parenting books. I read management theory books...

Of that melange, some of my favorite reads, in no particular order, were:

But if I had to pick one favorite of the bunch, it would be The Goldfinch: A Novel. Donna Tartt's new book was so compelling that I stayed up late at night to read "just one more page," even when I was bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation.

Best "in my kitchen" recipe

My whole cooking style has had to adjust to a new schedule and set of demands. So I have a many new favorite week-night recipes, and I've taken to roasting lots of vegetables on the weekend so there's less work to do during the week. (I especially love Yotam Ottolenghi's cauliflower with saffron and olives.)

But I've posted few of those new gems. So, by default, this year's winner is apple cake.

Best race experience?

I only ran one race this year... and I hated it.

Even the Independence Day 5k tradition, which survived the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, fell victim to new parent exhaustion and stroller unfriendly race rules.

But I did find an incredible new running group, and got some speed back!

Most popular post?

Quality clearly trumps quantity.

Despite my anemic post record this year, the blog continues to be popular.

DIY Halloween Running Costumes and Random Acts of Kindness generated enough traffic to land them in the top 10 posts ever on this blog!

Thank you all for sticking around in 2014.

Happy Running!!!!!

Thursday, December 25

You might be a mother runner if (2014 holiday edition)

You might be a runner if...
(holiday edition)
  • All you want for Christmas is... a jogging stroller that isn't so heavy.
  • All you want for Christmas is... for your baby to sleep in so you can go for a run.
  • All you want for Christmas is... a babysitter willing to cover the hours from 6-9am on a Sunday, so you can run your favorite race.
  • You still decorate your Christmas tree with race medals... but now it's because your toddler has broken all of your other ornaments.
  • You avoid gaining weight over the holidays by run-streaking running after your sugar-cookie-fueled toddler.
  • On Festivus you've got "feats of strength" covered, but your list of grievances is mostly about sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums.
  • You can eat your weight in Christmas cookies after a long run OR after a long night of teething-related sleep deprivation.
  • Your yes or no RSVP to a holiday party depends on whether or not you have a race the following morning it works with your kid's nap schedule.
  • At holiday parties, your idea of "small talk" still involves bodily functions - sweating, cramping, and GI issues... but now you're referring to labor and diaper changes, too. (And you wonder why people shy away...)
  • You sing Christmas carols to your kid while you push the jogging stroller through your weekend workout. It has to increase your VO2 max, right?
  • Santa tried to recruit you for this year's sleigh team because he saw you running at night... wearing a blinking red light... because the only time you can find to run is after your kid is asleep.

What would you add to this list?

See the running jokes page for more "You might be a runner" jokes.

Image source

Wednesday, October 22

The best DIY Halloween Runner Costumes

It's dress up dash time of year!
Here are a few of my DIY Halloween costume favorites over the years...

As you can tell, I like a costume with a bit of irony, and I refuse to wear a costume that chafes on the run.

The "road runner"

  • Black or grey shirt
  • Black or grey shorts or tights
  • Yellow duct tape (Also white duct tape for sides, if you're feeling really creative.)
  • Optional extras:
    • Black and yellow mask
    • Toy cars

The "runaway bride"

  • White top and tutu or an actual wedding dress
  • Running shoes
  • Bridal veil or tulle
  • Optional extras:
    • Race bib
    • "Bouquet" made of energy gel packets

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

  • Orange shirt
  • Black duct tape cut into jack-o-lantern shapes
  • Optional extras:
    • Leaf and stem on your head
    • Orange and black face paint

Cookie Monster

  • Blue clothes
  • Fuzzy knee socks on arms and legs
  • Bag of cookies
  • Optional extras:
    • Googly eyes t-shirt
    • Googly eyes face paint


Tuesday, October 21

The good, the bad, the ugly (and the COLD!)

The Good:
Running to work when the temperature is a chilly 50 degrees.

The Bad:
Following that run with a COLD shower at work because the water heater broke.

The Ugly:
Having to shave while in a cold shower. Ouch!

Sunday, October 19

Acing the pace!

I followed it up with 3 more for an 8:07 overall pace!!!

I started to write this post as a long reflection on my return to running after having a kid... but screw it. The thing that has me walking on air (and will have me limping, sorely, tomorrow) is that MY LEGS ARE FAST AGAIN.

I felt like I was going to *die* while running the last mile.
But I feel like a rock star right now.

Monday, October 6

Apple cake tries to go Paleo

apple oatmeal bread
It is no secret that my favorite autumn treat is pumpkin oatmeal bread.

But... this year we went apple picking, and with two refrigerator drawers full of apples, I was inspired (cough: required) to modify the recipe to turn it into an apple cake.

I joke that the cake is "paleo." It's obviously not. But the recipe is packed with healthy omega-3s from the flax, plus it's low sugar, and 100% whole grain.


1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 mashed ripe banana or 1/2 cup prune puree
1/2 cup canola or walnut oil
2 whole eggs
1 cup shredded apple, squeezed
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp oat bran or wheat germ*
1 tbsp ground flax seed*
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
Cooking spray

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 apple, 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. (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 45-50 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 3

Last week / this week

Last week...
Sick baby
Work "issues"
Drainage problem in the basement that requires a very costly repair

This week...
Morning sunrise over the Potomac
4.5 mile run with my run group
Gelato with Hubby and Baby

(I think I liked this week better...)

Friday, August 22

Random acts of kindness: pay it forward chain headlines

Last night baby boy woke every 90 minutes, and partway through the night we had a house-related catastrophe (don't ask) that kept me awake through what little sleep I might otherwise have gotten.

Needless to say, I wasn't in a chipper mood when I "woke" up and got ready for work this morning.

But then... browsing Express on my commute this morning, I read the following:
Making the work less terrible, one overpriced coffee at a time
A woman started an act of kindness chain that lasted for hours at a Starbucks drive-thru in Florida. She ordered an iced coffee around 7 a.m. Wednesday and asked to pay for the caramel macchiato for the stranger behind her. He returned the favor. The chain kept going - all the way up to 379 - as employees began keeping count.
Other news sources claim that the chain re-started, lasted as long as 11 hours, and reached as many as 700 customers.

The news actually made me a bit misty-eyed. I know buying a cup of coffee is a small thing when there are seemingly insurmountable problems in the world, but small kindnesses matter. I'm sure the lady who started the chain had no idea it would reach all the way to Washington, D.C.

But it did.

Long time readers of this blog (who stuck around through my maternity leave earlier this year) know that I am a huge fan of random acts of kindness. I also have a borderline obsession with my morning joe. And this news, expertly blending the two, was a bright spot in my otherwise bleak morning.

Thank you, coffee lady, for making me smile today.

Sunday, August 17

Rants and Raves


I have three things to rave about this week:

1. I watched a man offer his seat on Metro to a mom and her kid. This occurred one stop after another rider offered a seat to me. (Just because.) I declined -- I actually prefer to stand when I ride -- but it was so very refreshing to see kindness among fellow commuters.

2. 2 new shoes mean my hips aren't bothering me any more!
Never ever again let me put 1,000+ miles on a pair of running shoes. I'm a veteran runner. You'd think I'd know better. But somehow all those miles I walked while pregnant didn't seem like "shoe miles."

3. 3 mother runners + 4 miles = 1 gorgeous run completed before 8am!

... a few more runs like this and I might actually feel like a "real" runner again.


I hate the idea that I'm not a "real" runner right now.

I am a firm believer that anyone who runs is a runner. I tell that to other people - and believe it - all the time.
But somehow, when it's me, I can't keep the same perspective.

Friday, August 15

(re)Becoming a Runner

I ran through my first two trimesters of pregnancy, but by 27 weeks my ligaments were too loose to keep running safely. I took several months off of running for my third trimester.

My plan was to jump right back into the game 6 weeks postpartum.

But I had an emergency cesarean birth, leaving me feeling less than bouncy.

Within a few weeks, I was speed-walking and doing strength training to rebuild my decimated core muscles. I started running again as soon as I was cleared by my doc...

I even ran a 5k.

But then my baby started waking up every 90 minutes at night, and I fell off the wagon.

Now, slowly, I'm (re)becoming a runner.

I've joined a couple of running groups.
And in the past couple of weeks, I've even attended group runs!

I'm slower. My muscles are mushier. Between child-care, cooking, commute, and work, (and naptimes. and mealtimes. and EXHAUSTION) it takes all my creative scheduling energy to cobble together 45 consecutive minutes of running time. But I'm beginning to regain my stride (literally and figuratively).

Yesterday I did my longest (or close to longest), definitely hilliest, and undoubtedly FASTEST run in well over a year.

One step at a time...

Monday, July 14

What running looks like with an 8 month old

My Facebook wall today: Fastest mile I ever ran? Maybe not. But the lightning sure put some pep in my step on the commute home tonight!

That's the kind of running milestone I celebrate these days.

My running has been derailed. There are no more detailed training plans. These days I'm just trying to keep from passing out from exhaustion at work after yet another sleepless night. If I also shuffle home from the Metro station, it's only because it buys me an extra few minutes with my baby boy.

If I'm honest with myself, I think I jumped back into racing too soon. I ran a 5k at 6 months, and while my body was ready for the run, my head wasn't in it. I sort of hated every moment. ("Why am I doing this?!?" really isn't a winning mantra.) But that may be just the brutal 6-7 month sleep regression talking.

Over the next month my miles dwindled in direct proportion to my hours of sleep. Cumulative sleep deprivation is no joke. My body was barely functional on 2-3 hours of shuteye per night, and while I know well-meaning parenting books will tell you that exercise helps stave off fatigue, that advice is aimed at the sedentary American general public. Track workouts, I am sure, are not what they had in mind.

So I took a few weeks off. Dancing in the kitchen with my baby became a "workout."

And now, slightly better rested, I'm building back up again. But my running life will probably never be the same.

Here's what my running looks like now:

Last week I snuck out of the office for 3 miles at lunch. Over the weekend I was awake at 5am, so I nursed my baby, handed him off to dad, and hit the pavement for another 35 minutes (who knows if it was closer to 2 miles or 5?). And I've run to or from the train station a few times. I might've lifted weights once or twice.

I have no idea how many miles I've run.  (Did I run commute 3 days? Four?)

And I don't care.

I'll just keep plugging along until the spark re-ignights. (Let's just hope it's not in the form of more lightning.)

Sunday, May 25

Lessons from a 5k

First post-baby 5k lessons:

  • When you're coordinating your race around baby feeding and nap schedules, a 30 minute delayed race start is completely unacceptable
  • I'm not as fast as I was
  • I'm not nearly as slow as I thought I'd be
  • Mid-race daydreams now revolve around watching 8-10 year old runners and wondering if my son will be a runner when he's that age
  • I've entered a phase of life where racing seems like a waste of precious running time
  • Hubby is still my favorite racing partner, but for entirely different reasons now (baby transport > mid-race paparazzi)
  • I believe more races should be stroller-friendly
  • Running 3 miles as a nursing mother is possible (if not always comfortable).
  • Women who run half marathons or longer before weaning deserve gold medals.
  • I will race less now, and won't really miss it as much as I thought I would
  • I will pretend that some mornings are race days anyway, just to make sure I get out the door

Tuesday, May 20

Multitasking to the extreme

This morning...

I ran a mile with my husband. To catch a Metro train.
We combined "couple time" with commuting with a workout.
(Multitasking takes on a whole new meaning with a 6 month old at home.)

Lifting a 20-pound baby overhead, repeatedly, is waaaaay better than any Jillian Michaels workout. My biceps have never been bigger, and JM doesn't giggle with glee after a few reps.

Thursday, January 16

Training for two: postpartum fitness

BB's little baby feet...
My last prenatal "training for two" post went live on November 7th. A few days later I walked 4 miles before heading to the hospital to deliver Breech Baby (hereafter known as BB).

I bounced back quickly from the cesarean operation, but I have a new appreciation for basic life skills like walking up and down stairs. For the record: It is one helluva knock to the ego to go from track workouts... to speed-walking at least 3 miles a day... to clawing your way through the 30 minutes it took to walk a single mile. Hello post-op body. What did you do with my stamina?

BB's favorite book, and my postpartum fitness motto
But with a combination of patience (read: not trying to do too much too soon), luck (read: no infection), and perseverance (read: I think I can! I think I can!) I kept at it, and was walking (sort of) like a normal person by week 3.

At 4-6 weeks postpartum, my workouts looked like this:
Monday: Post-cesarean core workout from BabyWeightTV
Tuesday: 2-3 mile walk
Wednesday: Post-cesarean core workout
Thursday: 2-3 mile walk
Friday: Post-cesarean core workout
Saturday: 4 mile walk
Sunday: 4 mile walk to BRUNCH (some things never change)

Honestly, I thought the post-cesarean workout video was great for weeks 4-6 postpartum, but my Type-A, track-workout-loving self absolutely HATED how slow the workout was. I know the gentle exercises were a necessary transition between surgery and a good, ache-inducing, sweaty workout, but the whole process sort of made me feel like an invalid.

Admittedly, my core muscles are still woefully weak, but I credit good prenatal fitness with my speedy recovery. And with that in mind, I was back up and working(out) as soon as my doctor gave me the green light.

My first non-postnatal workout was Kelli's Favorite Bodyweight Workout from FitnessBlender. It kicked my butt! (Truth: I'm not kidding about the weak core. At 10 weeks postpartum, I still modify some of the ab-toning moves.) My workout weeks now look something like this:

Monday: bodyweight workout + 3 mile walk
Tuesday: 2-4 mile walk + energizing yoga (a sort-of antidote to sleepless nights)
Wednesday: bodyweight workout + 3 mile walk
Thursday: baby yoga + 2-4 mile walk
Friday: HIIT workout (this Bodyweight Cardio workout is a current favorite)
Saturday: 2 mile run
Sunday: 4 mile walk or 2 mile run

I'll keep posting my progress in coming weeks. Eventually I'd like to get back to running 4 days/week and then add speedwork back into my running routine, but the body has to finish healing (and ligaments need to firm back up) before that's a realistic goal.

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week postpartum 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.