Thursday, June 21, 2012

Too Much Information!

There are a lot of things to learn when you become pregnant for the first time. You are bombarded by information from books, the internet, television, and especially other mothers. My mother tells me that I'm lucky, because when she was pregnant they didn't have all of this advanced technology and information. But really, how lucky are we? Ok yes, it is amazing to be able to have a 3D sonogram and see what your little angel looks like inside your womb, to be able to monitor the babies growth and development and test for birth defects. These advances in technology are nothing short of amazing, but when it comes right down to it, does all of this information make us more informed or more paranoid? You can't eat soft cheese or lunch meat or caffine (all rules which I have broken). Are bumpers in the crib safe or not? Natural child birth or epidural? Breast feed or bottle feed? Can I still run? What about sex? Can I still color my hair? Can I get a manicure? Which sleeping position is safe? Can I use the microwave? What about second hand smoke? The list goes on and on and on! I could write thousands of questions, that all have answers by the way, just check out Google. So let me get this straight, my mother lived blissfully unaware of all of the "danger" she was putting her unborn fetus through, while I get to stress over every little thing I do. I turned out just fine, a very healthy baby of 8 lbs, my brother too! So who is the lucky one here? Has anyone done a study about the amount of stress a pregnant women goes through due to the amount of information she is exposed to and has to worry about? I'm no doctor, but my guess is that stress is just as, if not more detrimental to an unborn child than all of these potential hazards.

Now, being a newbie to pregnancy and motherhood leaves you prey to what I like to call the "Not So Silent Killer"...other mothers. Everyone wants to give you their advice and their opinion! They may come across as sweet and caring and compassionate with the best intentions, but I know better. They are trying to kill me! Now of course I don't mean literally, but I am slowly drowning in a sea of "you should do this" and "don't do that" and I am being strangled by their personal horror stories about preganancy, labor and delivery. When you first announce that you are pregnant, your heart is soaring, you can't wipe the smile off of your face, you are elated! Then for some reason, unbeknownst to me, a mother will jump right into her story about how she had a miscarriage right around this time. I'm sorry, truely from the bottom of my heart, that anyone has to ever go through something so horrible, but is now really the time to bring that story up? Honestly, what are you thinking? That is actually quite selfish, in my opinion. Dumping your sad, tragic story on a new mom-to-be because it makes you feel better to talk about it. In turn you have just put newly prego into stress mode and now all she will think about is the possiblity that she may miscarry.

Word of advice to the newbies out there. Take ALL advice from other mothers with a grain of salt. Everyone and I mean everyone has an opinion from what pediatrician to use, right down to what type of laundry detergent is safe for the baby. Your head is going to spin! You are going to stress out, which is not good for that baby. Let it roll off of your back, especially the horror stories.

Now, word of advice for all you veterans out there. Were you not once in our shoes? Were you not newly pregnant and terrified? Oh yeah, you forgot didn't you? Try, really hard, when speaking to a newbie not to tell her traumatic stories about you or your friend, or your friend's friend.
What we do need to hear is "you are going to be a great mother!", "your maternal instincts will kick in", "don't worry, you'll figure it out". Share all of the wonderful things that come along with motherhood and how much love you have for your children and how you were scared the first time, just like us! Just the simple fact that all of these women have been in our place at some point, hence all the advice, makes me wonder why they can't remember how they felt when they were pregnant for the first time. Do you not remember how scared you were, and all of the people telling you what to do? Do you not remember that you were once clueless too and that all of this motherhood stuff was like a foreign language? Next time you decide it's time to share a horror story with a first time mom, think about how it felt when you were in her shoes and tell her a happy story instead!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Check Your Vanity

This is it!  This is the first race report that I ever wrote after my first ultra in Moab, Utah.  It was published in UltraRunning magazine's July 2009 issue and I've been passionate about running and writing ever since.  I thought I'd share, because it was one of the best experiences of my life!  I want to go back one day!

Check Your Vanity
If I learned anything at my first ultra, it would be that the types of runners that participated in these events check their egos, insecurities and vanity at the starting line. There is no shame in this game. Farting, public urintaion (and defecation), profanity – are all glorious characteristics of this sport. I have never cared lessa bout what I looked like in my life! Quite frankly, when you cross the finish line after running 50 miles or more, you feel so good about yourself that your true character and spirit are the only things that people see. They see a winner, no matter what place you come in.
I also learned that the small community that is ultrarunners is quite possibly the most amazing group of people you'll ever meet. We come from all walks of life, from all over the world. Most runners will give you a friendly nod or an encouraging "You're looking good, keep it up."
The 24 Hours of Utah was my first-ever ultra, prefaced by one marathon, a few 8ks and several 5ks. While training for this particular race, I worked hard, gave up boozing, went to bed early and stuck to a fairly healthy diet. My friend, Sam, who also ran the Moab ultra, was my "trainer". He e-mailed me workouts every week and we often argued about scheduling and finding time in an average day for a three-hour workout on top of school and work. I was looking forward to getting this race over with, to return to my "normal" life – that's what i thought.
Upon arriving in Utah, I quickly realized that the terrain that I trained on – mostly asphalt – and the terrain I was going to be running on – mountains and trails – were quite different. Too late now. The coarse was mainly uphill, climbing a gorgeous desert mountain and galloping down the slick rock on the other side. The bottom halves of the trail were thick sand. After the first 5.37-mile loop I realized how difficult this feat really would be.
Watching the sunrise and sunset while running was surreal. As I set out on my final loop, my crew memeber, Dani, walked with me a little and noted that I looked like a mall walker, swinging my arms as hard as I could and putting as much power into my strides as possible. Muscle fatique paired with mental exhaustion had finally overpowered the Mountain Dew I had enjoyed earlier. Journeying on up the mountain, the night sky became increasingly dark. My headlamp did not provide enough light to stay on course; it was difficult to see any trail markers in the dark. I tripped over a rock and the muscles in my calves squeezed up into balls of tension as my face hit the slick rock. As I struggled to find the makers, I heard the sweetest sound in the distance, "Lu, is that you, buddy?" Dani had come out to find me and guide me back to home base. I had done it, 53.7 miles, just over my goal of a double marathon.
When the sun rose again in the morning, I had not come down from my runner's high and was wide awake. I was dirty, I stunk, I hadn't slept in over 26 hours but I had taken second place in the female solo 24-hour category and I will tell you – I've never felt better in my life. I stayed up to support Sam through his last grueling laps of the 100-mile race. Ready to collapsel, he mustered whatever he had left in him to jog across the finish line. Almost everyone had packed up and gone, so only a few of us were cheering his success, but it didn't matter. We both accomplished our goals that day.
As the aches, pains, blisters and bruises fade, my pride, self-confidence and the sense of self-worth that I've gained remain as I return to everyday life.

Also, check out the video that Sam put together after the race.  I still watch it to this day and it makes me smile!

Monday, June 18, 2012

What makes a runner?

I have to admit that I feel a little silly creating a blog about running. I read blogs about these amazing runners and their 1st place finished, PR's and many logged miles, which in turn makes me feel like a fraud. I am an average woman, wife, and soon to be mother from Lockport, NY who runs whenever I can make time. I can't hold a candle to most of these runners in terms of time or distance. But, does that make me any less of a runner? Does that mean that I am any less passionate about it? I think not. I think that just like the world is made up of all different kinds of people, the running world, too, is made up of all different types of runners. Whether you run 100 mile ultra marathons or just a few miles a week, you are a runner! And let's face it, if there weren't people like me out there, who run 3-4 miles a day, a couple times a week, you ultramarathoners and speed racers wouldn't look as good! So, you're welcome:)
Ok, ok I have a confession to make, I have run a few ultras in my day, a few marathons too. I don't feel any need to share my times with you because quite frankly it doesn't matter. I did it! I reached my goal of the finish line, regardless of how long it took me, I did it! I put in the training and the miles and I laced up my sneaks everyday and hit the pavement. Who cares what place I finished in? I loved every minute of it. So for all you average joe's out there, who think that you can't call yourself a runner, well you couldn't be more wrong! Whether you run one mile or a hundred, all that matters is that you get out there! Cheers!

Race Envy

I have recently come down with a case of race envy. I have had it before but now as my belly expands, I have become obsessed with what I can't do...RUN!

The past year has been a whirlwind. I got engaged, married and pregnant within 7 months. My running, before I met my husband, was the love of my life. I ran 5k's, marathons, ultras and my favorite thing to do on weekends was go for long runs with my friend Sam. My life revolved around my running. Lucky for me, I married a runner. Evan and I would run together before work several times a week. When I became pregnant, I continued running, until about 3 weeks ago. I decided that the pressure I was beginning to feel in my lower abdomen was my body telling me enough is enough. In all honesty I was hoping to be one of those moms that would be able to run until delivery and then pick right back up. With 2 months to go, I am reduced to walking, some very light weight training and yoga. I am fine with this because it is all for the most noble cause, delivering a healthy baby! However, I do have to confess that I miss running terribly.

On Sunday, a few of my friends ran the BPAC. This is a 6 hour race, where you run as many of the 3.5 mile loops as you can in the allotted time. I have done this race a few times and it is one of my favorites! Race envy set in immediately. Are any of you familiar with this syndrome? It's a feeling that runner's have when they can't do what they love most. Whether you are injured, or pregnant, or volunteering at a race or pacing a friend, race envy inevitably sets in. I have crewed and paced in several races and it is like pure torture. Why didn't I sign up for this race? I say it to myself everytime. Although I often say the opposite while running a race...Why the hell did I sign up for this? But I know why...I run because I love it, because it keeps me sane, because it's in my soul, because at the end of every run, every race I have the same feelings...pride, happiness, peace.

As I journey through these last months of pregnancy, I feel such joy because I am actually training for the most important event of my life! When baby arrives I hope to return to running as soon as the doc gives me the green light, jogging stroller and all:)