I follow a lot of moms who are runners on Instagram and I have noticed a common thread…they all talk about they have to be ready for when their baby/ toddler wakes up (ie: meaning they have to have their run done), or I will see them post about stroller miles. While several are SAHMs, others do work outside of the house. When I see these posts & pictures, I always wonder, where is the husband and what is he doing? Does he have to be in to work early, does he not get home until it’s already dark, what is the other side to this picture/ post? Do they really have to get up at 4:30 to get the run done by 6:30am when the baby wakes up? Why can’t or more specifically why doesn’t the dad help? I understand the aspects of pumping/ breastfeeding for those with babies, but otherwise, I don’t get why more women don’t look at parenting as team work. Maybe I have an exceptional husband (truth is, I probably do), but we parent as a team (though honestly he most likely actually spends more time with Breck than I do). We encourage each other to pursue our athletic endeavors and understand the career demands we each face at different times. Today, Breck got up early (while I was out running and Braden was on the track bike on his rollers), so Braden paused his workout, scooped Breck out of bed, grabbed him milk & a morning snack, and brought him into the garage to watch Curious George and Braden got back to his workout. I got back from my run to hear Breck squealing and clapping as Braden did his bike sprints. It made my heart smile! Last night Braden was at BMX track for practice and I needed to get in my lifting workout, so little man played on the driveway, mimicked my exercises, and we got it done. Sure the rest intervals were not perfect (some longer, some shorter), but the important thing is, we find a way to make it work. Sometimes, Breck is not in the mood to hangout while we workout, so we improvise and get it done after bed or tag team the parenting tasks so the other can finish a workout. It is not always easy, it is not always pretty, but we work together to get it done and always put the happiness of our kiddo first. Seeing #motherrunner posts on social media often brings up lots of questions…this is just one that stuck out to me this morning!
Nearly 6 years ago I had the idea of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I had run a few half marathons at a decent-ish time, without the greatest training cycles and wondered if it was possible. I kinda thought the idea was crazy and wasn’t even sure if I really wanted to do it. However, it was always in the back of my mind and my husband would randomly encourage me to go for it, any time I brought it up. I started training for my first marathon in late November 2014, but ended up with a stress fracture in January 2015, and pregnant in April 2015. After having our little boy, I ran a half marathon 5 months (May 2016) after he was born, but never really had the urge to truly train and race until July 4th, 2017. I did a local 5K with basically no training (just running 2-3 times a week for 3-4 miles), and after the race, the bug to run fast was back. It was the first time I finally felt like my old running self (except for being a little more tired LOL). I spent last summer working towards my sub-20 minute 5K goal and LOVED it! After achieving the goal and taking a few weeks off, I started to question what was next. In mid-December I decided to start training for a BQ marathon. If you read previous blog posts and follow me on Facebook, you know the training definitely did not go according to plan, thanks to injury and a horrid kidney stone that had me out for almost 2 months! In the end, I ended up with only 5 weeks of training (including race week) and my longest run was only 16 miles. But I headed to Kentucky for the Derby Festival Marathon, and decided to put my head down and DO WORK!
People have asked me at what point was it the hardest and the truth is, I somehow (thankfully) never hit a wall. I reminded myself to just stay with the pace group, put one foot in front of the other and ‘do work’. Once we got out of the hills at mile 15, I started breaking the race in to segments….miles 15-17, once I hit mile 17, it was just 3 more miles till you hit the last 10K; at mile 20 it was segmented into miles 20-24, then at mile 24 it was push it to the finish. For me on that day, nothing was negotiable…if the pace group picked up, I picked up…this marathon was a matter of staying mentally tough. Even though I had not run close to the miles in training I should, even though I had no set fuel plan, I had heart and determination, and it was a matter of turning the mind off and just going. So while the race boiled down to a mental game, I do remember only three times thinking this is tough, but reminded myself I am a strength runner and I can do this. For the record and so I can remember in the future, the three tough times were: during the first 6 miles when my stomach was off, during the hills in Iroquois Park (miles 11-15), and the hardest was when I decided at mile 24 to push ahead of the 3:40 pace group and pick up the pace and my quads started locking up on me and the headwind hit me hard (thanks to tall guys in the pace group, the wind was pretty blocked the first 23 miles). When we hit mile 20, I reminded myself that this was what I trained for…these last 6 miles. A lot of my long runs I reminded myself to push those last miles and on race day, told myself this is where champions are made…these last 6 miles define you as a marathoner.
Speaking of defining yourself, ‘Define Yourself’ is what I wrote on the inside of my wrist before the race. I had listened to a podcast by Deena Castor during a training run about mental toughness and a mantra that she always uses is ‘Define Yourself’, as it related to your character. Not that I am in any way, shape, or form even close to Deena Castor level but the words really spoke true to me. The mantra was not related specifically to achieving or not achieving my goal (hitting the BQ time), but was about the moments when it was hard, when my legs would be tired. I wanted to define myself as somehow who did not give up, I wanted to define myself as someone who dug deep, and someone who stayed positive throughout the entire 26.2 miles. The one thing that I think really helped on race day, which is truly part of mental toughness, is the positive self talk. The other tip I would give to those looking to run marathons in the future is: Don’t think; just go!
Once the race was over and the Garmin was stopped, that is when I realized just how hard that marathon was and how bad everything hurt. I walked to the VIP tent (I got free VIP access because they did not have the 3:35 pace group that was advertised online), tried to drink some water (no food, because I cannot stomach it after long, hard runs), and got stretched out by the ATs onsite. I then walked the quarter mile (which took almost 30 minutes) back to the hotel, jumped into my car and started the 7 hour drive back home. I made it home in time for bath & bedtime with my little boy, which perfectly sums up my training cycle mantra #runhardmomharder
The big question is, ‘What’s Next?’ The plan is to take 3 days completely off, except for walking, stretching, and yoga. Then I plan to focus on 5K & 10Ks, with a weekly long-ish run of 8-10 miles until after 4th of July, then start ramping it back up and race Big Cottonwood Marathon on Sept 8th, with a goal of improving my BQ time to guarantee a registration spot for Boston! The one thing I hope to do differently in my next marathon training cycle, besides ideally being longer, is to have more miles during my long runs at marathon pace.
And finally, a few random facts (so I remember in 10 years from now): I ran this marathon consuming only 9 sweedish fish, 4 swigs of powerade, and a probably 10 or 12 swigs of water (I didn’t actually count that). Also, the day before the race was a big cluster: spilled smoothie, a fender bender w/ my neighbor, snapping at my supportive husband, finding out there was no 3:35 pace group as advertised, locking myself out of my hotel room, a dinner order that took over an hour which lead to everything getting pushed back and no pre-race stretch, soak, or foam roll, and no Tylenol PM to help me fall asleep. The week of the race was also less than ideal: busy/ stressful week at work and another bout of sinus issues. However, I went to bed hoping all the bad was over, and on race day, I got up and didn’t even think about all the little things from the day before…I was there to do work! This race medal is one that will always hold a special place…my first marathon & my first BQ!
Oh January, what a month you were…Between snow days, potty training, nearly 5 weeks of diarrhea/ loose stools, daily swim lessons, and the standard craziness that life brings with two working parents and a 2 year old, the month truly felt like it was forever long! Not that January was all bad, as we did have our first parent’s weekend away and took Breck to his first motocross race, I am crossing my fingers and toes that February goes a little smoother and is much warmer, though the 10 day forecast is not all that promising L The one thing that has somewhat saved our sanity on a nightly basis is the fact that I have spent Sunday afternoons cooking all of our dinners for the week. While I miss my fresh salads and grilled meats, there is just no way to make that happen when we don’t get home from work/ swim lessons until almost 7:30pm every night. So instead, we scoop out some food into a bowl and throw it in the microwave for a few minutes and call it family dinner (which really is more like a game of inhale your food and see how many times you get up and down).
Since I always like to see what other people are eating, and in case anyone else out there would rather cook all their meals for the week (except Saturday night) in one afternoon, here is a rundown of our healthy meals for the last 4 weeks. A few notes and tips…for the meals that used chicken, I pre-cooked all my chicken breasts in the Instant Pot, which is a huge time saver and makes perfectly shredded chicken. A few of the meals were utilized for 2 nights and often still had a couple lunches leftover as well. All meals passed the Breck (our 2 year old son) test. Some meals he loved more than others but each one he ate either for dinner and/or lunch.
Week 1: Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole (2 meals), Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (2 meals), Chicken Fried Rice w/ Veggies & Cauliflower Rice (2 meals)
Week 2: Shalane Flanagan’s Marathon Lasagna (2 meals), Instant Pot Gluten Free Chicken & Dumplins w/ Carrots (2 meals), Instant Pot Chicken Sausage & Mushroom Risotto (2 meals)
Week 3: Shalane Flanagan’s Marathon Lasagna (2 meals), Instant Pot Turkey Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes, Buffalo Chicken & Broccoli Baked Potatoes, Mexican skillet w/ Cauliflower Rice
Week 4: Instant Pot Roast w/ Carrots, Potatoes & Onions (2 meals), Sweet Potato Turkey Chili w/ Homemade Gluten-Free Breadsticks (2 meals), Spinach, Caramelized Onions & Chicken Sausage Quiche, Chicken Sausage & Mushroom Risotto w/ Broccoli (2 meals)
If you are interested in any of the recipes, let me know because I am happy to share!
So I have been marathon training for almost 2 months with the hopes of qualifying for Boston. While there have been too many workouts where I didn’t hit the paces and a few of the easy runs cut short, one thing that has remained consistent is my long runs. Despite constant self-doubt, I still believed deep down that I would be able to dig deep and pull together the grit to hit the BQ on race day. The main reason I want to achieve this goal is multi-fold. First, I am a runner and qualifying and running the Boston Marathon is considered a pretty premiere accomplishment. The second reason is because I said I wanted to hit the BQ and I need to prove to myself that I can do it. However, I honestly don’t love long distance running; I prefer to push myself on speed intervals and racing shorter distance like 5K or 10K. I think an occasional half marathon is good, but truthfully, I hate the long 2-3+ hour training runs. But, despite the fact that it has been a brutally cold winter and my workouts haven’t been perfect, I have kept pressing towards my BQ races (Tobacco Road Marathon on March 18th and Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon on April 28th).
A short little back story before we get to the present…Two weeks ago on my Saturday long run I had hip/ glute pain for the first 6 miles of my run but managed to finish the 18 miles at 8:15/ mile pace. I had no pain during my runs that following week and just dismissed those first 6 miles as ‘just being off’. Last Saturday, was a completely different story…at 8 miles in, the hip/glute issue reared it’s ugly head and the pain was excruciating…every single hip flexion and especially extension on the left side was complete pain. Everything was tightening up and when I kept seeing paces in the high 9’s and even a couple 10’s when I would glance at my Garmin, I decided to call it at 16 miles instead of the planned 20 miles. I took Sunday as complete rest day and on Monday decided to break up my 4 mile run up into three 10 minute segments on the treadmill, split up between my strength work. It was still stupid pain, but I pushed through it since it was only 10 minutes. Yesterday (Tuesday) was supposed to be my speed workout day and at 2 miles in, I called it because I was nowhere close to the pace and was probably doing more damage by compensating and running with a jacked-up gait. This morning I had my first appointment with Elite Performance Chiropractic (EPC) and learned what my biomechanist of a husband had already diagnosed…I have gluteus medius syndrome.
Another dang overuse injury that is most likely due to my negligence! When I am pressed for time (which let’s be honest, is all the time), my bike workouts are the first to go, closely followed by my strength workouts. In fact, last week was the first time in over a month that I did both of my weight lifting workouts and even then, they were still rushed and did not incorporate any dynamic warm-up drills. Also, my core work is non-existent, since I still haven’t gotten everything fixed from having diastasis recti from being pregnant over 2 years ago. So I haven’t wanted to face this, because I don’t want to shut marathon training down…I had to shut it down 3 years ago at nearly the same training point due to a stress fracture. The fact that the overuse injuries hit about 6 weeks prior to race day and always after I have done two 18 mile runs would make me think my body just can’t handle the volume…but, I can’t say that, because I haven’t done the full proper training (ie: strength work). So, where does this leave me….
Truthfully, I don’t know…I am going to work with EPC for Active Release Therapy & manual modalities and see how things progress. My plan right now is to dial the running back for a week, stretch the crap out of my hamstrings, hip flexors & glute, hit the gym like I should have been doing, work on strengthening my glutes with specific drills, get up more at work (another post topic for another day) and see how the body feels. Ideally I do not want to give up on the Tobacco Road Marathon because I still question if I would not have been able to pull the BQ time when I was training 3 years ago. However, I also do not want my first marathon to be a DNF or a slug fest. I do have plans for Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon at the end of April, but was hoping to use that as a back-up race to get a better BQ time. So today, I hit the gym…tomorrow I will hit the bike and/or rower, Friday I will go back to EPC, Saturday bike, and test out the run on Sunday with 3 or 4 flat miles…
Since learning that I could quickly and easily cook spaghetti squash in my instant pot, we have been having my spaghetti squash pie almost weekly. This week I wanted to mix it up and found inspiration for a buffalo chicken spin thanks to The Real Food Dietitians blog. I adapted the recipe to make it quicker and easier for the busy working mom, who is also trying to balance marathon training (ie: me). To make this recipe easier and quicker, I cooked both my chicken breasts and spaghetti squash in my instant pot, so the only work I had to do to create a healthy meal that lasted us 2 nights was basically mix a few ingredients together and pop it into the oven. To top off the finished dish, I mashed an avocado and drizzled my favorite healthy blue cheese dressing (Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Dressing) and it was fantastic!
Lately I have been trying to prep 3-4 meals on Sunday night to have healthy options ready to go during the week since the evenings are becoming busier and more chaotic. This is definitely a recipe that will be added to the rotation! I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we did!
- 2 Chicken Breasts (cooked & chopped/shredded)
- 1 Large Spaghetti Squash
- 1 Bunch Green Onions (thinly sliced)
- 6 tbs Buffalo Sauce
- 1/4c Blue Cheese Crumbles
- Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Blue Cheese Dressing (optional)
- Avocado (optional)
- Cook spaghetti squash. Remove threads of squash and place into large mixing bowl. I used the instant pot (pierce squash, add squash and 1 cup water to pot, manual setting, 20 minutes, natural pressure release), but you can roast it, boil it, or do the microwave trick. Once cooked, cut squash in half length-wise, and remove seeds.
- In mixing bowl, combine spaghetti squash, cooked chicken, sliced green onions, buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles.
- Pour mixture into a 9*13 pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Photo & Recipe Adapted from: The Real Food RDs