May 29, 2012

Getting Out The Door

With my training for all my half marathons and my upcoming 70.3 mile triathlon, I work out 6-7 days a week.  Some weeks I only work out 5 days, but I really try to do 6-7 days.  I try to run 3 days a week (2 short runs in the week and a long run on the weekend), bike 2 days a week (a short ride in the week and a long ride on the weekend) and swim 2 days a week.  And then there's yoga and strength training, which I fit in when I can. I don't beat myself up if I have to miss a workout; sometimes life gets in the way, and being a mom to my two kids always comes first.  Regardless, I really do try to stick to the schedule.

With all my dedication, however, there is something you can hear me say almost every morning to my husband, J:  "I REALLY don't feel like running today"  or "If you think I'm in the mood to bike today you're wrong" or something to that effect.  I mean, my bed is so warm and cozy!  I never want to leave it!  And inevitably I get up and my feet hurt from my plantar fasciitis and my legs are stiff and I don'

But I do.

from Pinterest/source unknown

And each time, I'm rewarded with a great sweat session.  Some runs are better than others---there are some I slog through--but some are just glorious!  Today was such a run.  I did NOT want to go. I woke up tired and sore from yesterday's 41-mile hilly ass-kicking bike ride.  I had my usual 3 mile run on the docket, but wasn't in the mood.  Reluctantly I got out of bed, stretched my legs, brushed my teeth, and changed into my running clothes.  I told my husband I would try to run 3 miles, but may end up walking it (I've been having some sharp hamstring pain on some runs, and since I have a half marathon this weekend, Rock 'n' Roll San Diego, I don't want to exacerbate it). I also told  him I might not go 3 miles...I'd listen to my body and maybe only do 1 mile.

I leashed up Padfoot, was out the door...and had the most wonderful, pain-free run!  I concentrated on a mid-foot strike, which seems to alleviate my pain, and took it nice and slow.  By the end of mile 1, I was awake, warmed up, and feeling GOOD!  By the end (I extended my 3 miler a bit to make it 3.1 miles, a true 5k) I was beaming, happy, and ready to take on the day.

from Pinterest/source unknown

I am like this with almost every workout I do...I don't want to go, but am SO happy once I get going...and even happier when I get home, all sweaty and flushed with the work of a good run/bike/swim.  When I'm balking at going in the mornings, I need to remember that when I'm done, I'm going to be so happy!

from Pinterest/source unknown
The worst is when I have a long run, bike or swim ahead of me.  Yesterday was the perfect example.  I wanted to do at least 40 miles on the bike, and wanted to try a new route, one that I knew was going to be even hillier than usual, and therefore very tough for me.  I also needed to leave early in the morning, as the ride would take me hours and I wanted to beat the heat as much as possible (I'm a wimp and hate running and biking in the heat).  I dreaded going...but once I was out there I was so happy! It was just me and my bike, in new territory, and I was really pushing my limits. I came home very sore but incredibly exhilarated.

That first step out the door really IS the hardest step.  But once you get out there, you'll be happy you did. I know I always am!

May 21, 2012

Annual IEP

I know I've been absent on the blog.  No particular reason...overall things are going well, I"ve just been very busy. I am still training hard for my half-Ironman distance triathlon, which is in September.  We're wrapping up the school year, which is a whirlwind of activity, not only for the kids but for the school Foundation I'm a part of.  We took the kids to Disneyland for a few days, and are getting ready to re-do our kitchen.....really, just life has gotten in the way.

One thing that has happened recently that is getting me down, though, is my daughter's recent IEP.  Last week was her annual review.  It ended up being over 2 days, as one of the therapists couldn't come one day.  So on Monday we met with her Physical Therapist (PT), Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech Therapist (ST), and Adapted P.E. (APE) teacher.  On Tuesday we met with her Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) Therapist.  Present both days were her kindergarten teacher, the Speech Therapist, the Resource Specialist (who acts as A's case manager) and the Program Director.

Overall, A is doing very well.  In PT, OT and APE she has met most of her goals and has made progress toward the rest.  In Speech and DHH, however, she making progress but not as much as we'd like.  Her expressive language is still very delayed (a language sample transcript shows her language to be about that of a 3 year old; she'll be 6 next month). All 5 of her therapists wrote tons of goals for her for next many! I  know this a good thing.  If they didn't think she was capable, they wouldn't make so many goals, so set the bar so high.  She'll be pulled out from class a lot next year, even more so than this year.

The question is, where do we place her?  She'll be in kindergarten again; she is in a great 2-year kindergarten program which is for kids born June-November, who would normally be the youngest kids in the class.  This gives young kids an extra year of growth. So next year is Year 2 of kindergarten, this time at our home school (our home school doesn't have this 1st year of kindergarten, so she's at another school in our district).  Academically, A is right on target (reading, writing, counting) and does not qualify for Special Day Class.  What she NEEDS is a DHH class, a small class just geared toward deaf/hard-of-hearing kids.  But my school district does not have such a class.

We CAN think about putting her elsewhere. A school district near us has a DHH class that mainstreams for some activities. And, even farther away there is a private DHH school, with only DHH kids.  This intrigues me a lot.  Our DHH therapist said that most kids only go to that school for a year or two, then transfer back to their home school.  Most kids' language is greatly enhanced by going there.

In the end, we decided to try A at our regular home school in the fall.  I want to see how she does this summer and receiving school services again.  In the fall, October or November, I will call an emergency IEP and meet with all the therapists.  If she is making progress, we will keep her where she is.  If not, I will start the fight for the district to move her to one of the DHH schools as soon as possible.  Six months is a long time, and I want to see what more we can do for her at home and at school. (I already have her in a language pragmatics/social skills group that I pay for privately once a week; she'll continue over the summer. I'm also looking into another such group, and maybe 1:1 speech therapy. I am also calling the DHH school this week to see if there is a summer program that we can enroll in).

The hard part is knowing if we're doing what's best for her.  I want her language to improve. It IS improving. I also don't WANT her to be segregated with just DHH kids, but I will if that's what best for her, especially if it's only for a year or two. I guess time will tell.  The good news is that no decision is irreversible, and we can put her in a DHH class or a general ed class at any time.  The bad news?  Parenting is hard. Making these decisions is awful.

May 7, 2012

OC Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday I completed the OC Half Marathon. I was excited to do this race, as it would be the third and final race in the Beach Cities Challenge (doing the Long Beach, Surf City and OC Half Marathons consecutively earns an additional medal) and I had heard how great the race is.  I was also nervous about it, since I'd been having foot pain, and even wrote about downgrading my goals for the race from finally making my sub 2:30 to just finishing it and enjoying it. In preparation for the race, I made a special Beastie Boys playlist for my iPod, as rapper MCA had just died 2 days before.  I used to be a huge Beastie Boys fan in high school and college, and was deeply saddened by the news.  Their music got me through the first of the race with a big smile on my face.

I drove up to Costa Mesa on Saturday afternoon with one of my girlfriends.  We hit the expo, which was well organized but kind of crowded.  We got our bibs, t-shirts and packets and were on our way.

After checking into the hotel, we had an early dinner at Panera, hit the hotel's hot tub, and light's out by 9:00.  After all, we had a 4:00 wake-up call for the race!

Of course, 4:00 came too soon.  But we had a shuttle to catch that left the hotel at 5:05, and we needed to be down in the lobby before that.  Most runners had to park at the finish line (at the OC Fair) and get shuttled to the start line (at Fashion Island) for the point-to-point race.  Of course, this led to lots of traffic on the freeway. Because we were staying at one of the sponsored hotels (the Hilton Costa Mesa), we had a shuttle take us straight to the start line.  This was good, except that our driver got lost!  It was a bit frustrating to be circling around in the dark as the minutes to race start counted down...but eventually he found the start area and we got off.  We hit the port-o-potty line immediately, which was good as the line moved soooo slowly.  We then met up with my friend Mihael, got in our corral, and were on our way!

Overall, I thought the course was pretty, but definitely not what I was expecting.  I was under the impression that the run would be coastal, like Long Beach and Surf City were; however, that was not the case.  There were not too many ocean views.  We ran by the Newport Harbor, saw some amazing homes and yachts, and ran by the Upper Newport Bay  Estuary Reserve.  It seemed the majority of the run was through local neighborhoods.  The weather was great; overcast the entire time, without a hint of the sun.  It did get a bit warm for a bit, but overall a cool breeze made it perfect running weather.

The halfway point: 6.6 miles
I can't imagine how much it costs to live here!

Although there was plenty of course support (and the aid stations didn't run out of water or cups, as far as I knew----bravo!) I was disappointed that there was no entertainment.  I love it when there is a little course entertainment, whether it's a band or a local cheerleading squad.  However, the local residents were great!  Many neighborhoods were out in full force.  Lots of kids, still wearing pajamas, lined the streets giving runners high-fives (I tried to high-five every single one!).  Some kids had hoses to run through; I ran to one group of girls with squirt bottles and asked them to squirt water in my hands (I had had a Gu incident where my Gu exploded on me, and my hands were sticky.)   Handmade signs were great to read.  I really appreciated the great support in those neighborhoods!

As for my running, the first 10 miles were great. I hadn't run in 2 weeks, due to injury and wanting to rest my feet, so it felt amazing to actually lace up my running shoes and run. I took walking breaks when I needed them. At mile 10, however, the pain in my left foot suddenly came back. It a sharp, shooting pain, just like 2 weeks ago, although it seemed to ebb and flow.  I spent the last 3 miles walking more than I wanted to, as I didn't want to risk further injury.  I was excited to finally cross the finish line, where I heard the announcer call out my name (that was cool!)  I finished in about 2:36, no PR for me, but certainly not my worst half marathon time. I was very pleased, especially considering how much I had to walk during the last 5k.

After I got my medal for the race and refreshments (like the other races in the series, they gave each runner a bag containing snacks, like a banana, cookies, etc, which I love!) I wandered over and got my HUGE and HEAVY Beach Cities Challenge medal. This medal combines elements from all three races (the Queen Mary for Long Beach, the surfboard for Surf City, and the wave for OC).  I then found my friends; Mihael drove us back to the hotel so we didn't have to deal with the shuttle again.  Getting out of the Fair parking lot took a while, but that was to be expected.

Rocking my new purple Team Sparkle skirt
Ready to add to my medal rack!
 All in all, I enjoyed the race, although of the three races in the Beach Cities Challenge this was my least favorite (Surf City ranked first with me, and Long Beach was second). It was well-organized, well supported, and a pretty course.  I'm glad I completed the challenge. Now, I need to figure out what's wrong with my foot, as I have Rock 'n' Roll San Diego in a month, and I'm in 70.3 training as well!

May 3, 2012

Downgraded Goals

This weekend I will be running in the 3rd installment of the Beach Cities Challenge, the OC Half Marathon.  I've already completed the other two races in the series, the Long Beach Half Marathon and the Surf City Half Marathon; by finishing OC I will get an extra medal, which is a composite of all three medals. I'm really looking forward to adding both new medals to my new medal rack!  I've heard so many wonderful things about this race; it's supposed to be all (or almost all) coastal. And both the Long Beach AND the Surf City races were exceptionally well-organized, so I am expecting the same for this one.  Already they have been very informative on their website and emails, and quickly responsive to questions on their Facebook page.

However, even though I'm excited to do this race, I have some trepidation. I've been injured---again--and have downgraded this race in my mind from a "B" race to a "C" race (the only "A" race I have this year is my 70.3 triathlon in September). By "C" race, I mean I am running this solely for the enjoyment of running the race and enjoying the course and camaraderie of the other races. I have no time goal in mind (I am not even THINKING about trying to break 2:30, even though I was just a few seconds shy of this goal last month at the Hollywood Half Marathon.)

So yes, I'm injured.  Again.  This seems to be a theme with me....looking back at many of my race recaps, I spent the week before with a plantar fasciitis (PF)  flare-up, or something else happened. Maybe it's psychosomatic? Regardless, it's more than just my PF that's bothering me.  A week and a half ago, I went for a 10 mile run.  The first 9 miles were wonderful.  At mile 9.1, I took a step and had immediate shooting pain in my foot, along the outer edge.  I wasn't sure what happened; I didn't seem to step on anything, but it was an awful pain. Luckily, I was close to home, and ran/hobbled the rest of the way home.  All day I was in agonizing pain; I couldn't really bear weight on it and had to walk on tiptoe, which seemed to cause the least pain.  The next day I canceled my scheduled long bike ride and went to Urgent Care; I was sure I had a stress fracture.  Luckily, the x-ray showed no fracture, and the doctor said I must have hurt (strained? torn?) a ligament or something in my foot.

I decided to take off of running completely until the OC Half Marathon, which would be two weeks later.  I really wanted to do OC, even if it meant walking it, as I wanted to complete what I started with the Beach Cities Challenge.  But I didn't want to be stupid; no race is worth really hurting myself, especially when I'm training for a half-Ironman distance triathlon in 5 months!  I promised myself that if I were still in a lot of pain on race day, I wouldn't do it.   I knew taking two weeks off of running wouldn't really hurt me. For long runs, I  did 13.1 miles on April 7 at the Hollywood Half; the weekend after that I ran 8 miles; and the weekend after that I ran 10 (ok, 9 and then hobbled 1).  Up until my injury I've kept up my twice-a-week 3 mile runs.  So really, I would only be missing 5 runs total (4 3-mile runs in the two weeks, and one long run over that weekend, which was scheduled to be 6.6 miles).

And I really haven't run at all since then!  In fact, I haven't done much walking at all.  I usually take our dog, Padfoot, on a daily 1-mile walk (and he usually runs my short 3-4 mile runs with me too). I have only walked him once in the last week and a half, wanting to stay as non-impact as possible (my husband has been walking him as usual every night, so he IS getting out).  I have managed to work out every day, except for the one day I canceled that long bike ride.  I've swam, biked (even logging my longest bike ride ever, 40 hilly miles, last weekend!), done the elliptical, done yoga, and started pool running (I did pool running on Saturday for an hour and 15 minutes, the amount of time it would have taken me to run the scheduled 6.6 miles).  So even though I haven't been running, I'm still in good cardiovascular shape, and both the pool running and the elliptical mimics running.  And, of course, the biking makes my legs stronger.

What's great is that the pain I felt on my outer foot from that run went away in just a few days. I don't have any pain there anymore at all. What's not great is that I've been feeling the familiar pull on my heel from my PF, and also I've been having some glute pain, which has happened on-and-off ever since I ran the Silver Strand Half Marathon in November.  So I'm glad I'm resting my foot.  My plan for Sunday is to wear compression shorts for my glute pain (it helped me during the my last three half marathons) and tape my foot with KT Tape, run slow, and hope for the best. I truly don't mind walking more than I would like to.  As long as I make the course cut-off of 3 1/2 hours, I'll be happy.

Hopefully my next post, which will be my race recap, will be a happy one, and not a (too) painful one!

May 1, 2012

"Train Like A Mother" Book Review

I've written before about the website Another Mother Runner.  I was featured as one of their Mother Runners back in February, which was such an honor.  I actually became aware of their wonderful website last year when I connected with Sarah Bowen Shea on Twitter.  SBS,  as she goes by, is one of the two authors/creators of their books and website, as we bonded over our shared injury of plantar fasciits.  She and her friend, Dimity McDowell (also a Twitter friend of mine) have created this wonderful forum and community for mother runners, not just on their website and Twitter feed, but also on their Facebook page and their podcasts.

I had the privilege of meeting SBS last year at the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas expo.  I stopped by her booth so I could finally meet her in person. I ended up buying a cute shirt that says "are my kids still chasing me?" (I swear I wear this ALL THE TIME, sometimes when I'm not even running! It's so cute and I love the fit) and their first book, Run Like A Mother.  SBS even signed it for me.

I love this book so is full of stories, tips and inspiration, not only from SBS and Dimity but from scores of other mother runners.  So, you can can imagine my delight when I was contacted by them to ask if I would read and review their new book, Train Like A Mother.  I jumped at the chance.

This book, subtitled "How to Get Across Any Finish Line--and Not Lose Your Family, Job or Sanity" is the perfect companion to their first book, and an indispensable guide to any woman (or man, frankly) who is looking for a training plan for a race.  They have training plans for running a 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. Additionally, they have chapters on strength training, injuries, nutrition, and more.  Like their first book, this one is not only written by both Dimity and SBS, but is peppered throughout with real-life advice from other real-life mother runners.

Although I have completed tons of races (countless 5ks, 11 half marathons, 1 full marathon and 6 triathlons so far, with  my 12th half marathon coming up this weekend) I have never actually followed a training plan. I have always made up my own, mainly consisting of doing a short run (3 miles) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a long run on the weekends (long being anywhere from 5-11, depending on where I am in the training and/or taper cycle).  Other days I cross train with swimming and biking.  So I eagerly flipped to the half marathon training section, and started reading.

Each race distance section comes with 2 training plans.  The first is the "finish it" plan, which is for the runner who just wants to complete the race; maybe a runner who is a beginner to the distance, or wants to cross that distance off their bucket list, for instance.   The second is the "own it" plan, which is for more experienced or intermediate runners/racers who want to better their time, set a personal record, and/or wants to do more than "just" finish a race.  I love how this is broken down, as every runner, no matter what distance they are doing, is looking to either finish or own the race.

The excellent training plans make up the meat of the book, but for me, the real gold are the nuggets of advice from SBS, Dimity and other mother runners.  I totally related to "The Five Stages of Grief" when dealing with an injury, and loved the Race-Day Checklist. And their "Top Ten Training-Related Questions" (How do I determine race pace? Is the treadmill the same as running outside?) is a great reference.  Most of all, I love the casual, humorous and informative tone of the book.  Both of their books are easy reads, and I finished both being even more inspired to run and proud to be a part of the running community.  I think they should be on every (mother) runner's reading list.