A Year in Review and what to expect for 2016

While my blog was pretty dormant in 2015 I still think “a year in review” is fun to write and read. One yearly recap I particularly loved reading was Tina’s. I appreciated that even though I get her posts in my inbox each week, the end-of-year recap still seemed like fresh news! Hopefully I can portray that same feeling with this post.

Without a doubt, I can say I grew more personally and even athletically in 2015 than ever before. Technically, even though I ran less than I have in previous years, the amount I gained in wisdom from various experiences will prepare me for the year ahead more than any workout could.

A year ago, on New Years Day 2015, I posted this to IG:

At the time, of course, I had no clue what “unexpected challenges” would mean! In short, 2015 was a phenomenal year, but not for the typical reasons you might think. Compared to 2014, where I was on top of the world, 2015 left me humbled and hungry. In 2014, I got married, excelled in running by PRing in every distance, and felt somewhat invincible.

This year, though, I learned so much, and sometimes that’s what we need most. Let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics:

2015

The challenges that made me stronger: 

Injury: At the beginning of 2015, I was coming off being sidelined from my IT band, but I cross-trained sooo much during that time, and truly reaped the rewards of that! After just a few weeks back running, I ran two PRs back to back in the 5k and the 3k. Cross training really does work!

3k PR and 7th place in a division 1 college track meet. What a great day!

Pregnancy: I’ve talked a lot about this already, so I won’t go into detail, but in short, I’ve learned patience and the beauty of slowing down, both physically and mentally.  I’ve also learned to dream really big, which I’ll go into later.

New aspects of my training I implemented:

Cross Training: I really can’t express how much cross training helped me in 2015. I joined a masters swim group, met up with a local bike club on occasions, went to spin classes, and borrowed my friend’s elliptigo at various times during the year. I’ve tried to cross train at least once per week, and especially during pregnancy, as I’ve stopped running, I’ve cross-trained even more! I am confident it will pay off when I begin running again soon.

Strength Training: I didn’t start taking strength training seriously until I had my IT band issues. Isn’t that how it always works? Once injured, I religiously did a 15 minute hip routine every day for 6 weeks, and voila, my IT band got better! Magic. Since then, I’ve kept up a general strength routine, and really have enjoyed the classes at my gym. I should not be left to my own devices when it comes to strength training. I like having someone to tell me exactly what to do! I hit up the classes 2-3 times per week, and supplement with some hip strength on those same days, since I know that’s a problem area for me.  Periodic Physical Therapy Appointments:  I found a great physical therapist in the area, who has been phenomenal in helping me solve any imbalances, and prevent injuries before they occur. He specializes in gait analyses and works with endurance athletes. I have even gone to him during my pregnancy, too, to see how I’m doing with mobility/strength/flexibility, and what I need to work on. This just keeps things in check! I’ll go after I have the baby, too, to get another evaluation, as my body is going to be quite a wreck 🙂

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part of the problem with my hips was “hip drop” from a lack of glute med strength. thanks to my best friend/personal Physical therapist, Jeni, for filming and catching this imbalance!

Massage/Trigger Point Therapy/Yoga: Massages can get expensive, so I’ve learned to improvise a little. In a perfect world, I’d love to get a massage every week, but financially, that just isn’t realistic for us right now, and that’s okay! You can do a lot of self-massage through foam rollers, the R8, trigger point balls, etc! I probably get a professional massage every 6-8 weeks, and try to go to a restorative/foam rolling yoga class every couple weeks. I do massage work at home on my own a few days a week. I can be more diligent about this in 2016.

What’s on tap for 2016: 

By the time this post goes live, it’s possible I’ll have brought a tiny human into this world! Whoah.

So, with a brand new baby, navigating going back to work full time, and trying to lead a balanced life, what am I thinking for 2016 in terms of running?

My first and primary goal is to be present for my family. This mindset has taken a while to come to fruition, but I am confident that if my faith and my family are balanced, then running will fall into place how it should. Does that sound too vague or does it lack ambition? It may sound vague, but I truly am so motivated. I am excited to get back to training. I’ve poured over race websites carefully trying to decide which races I’m going to complete, what shoes I’m going to wear, and what mileage I’m going to run. Yes, it’s as neurotic as it sounds! It wasn’t until recently, though, that I realized the insanity of all this planning, and said to myself, “Katie, all of this is going to be so new. Enjoy being a new mom, and run hard. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t overplan it. Let your coach do that.” It’s a shift in the previous mindset I had that I felt I needed to prove something or be someone with my postpartum running. I have nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and everything to gain (except maybe baby weight lol). I truly have no expectations for my postpartum journey other than to be the best I can be–the best wife, the best mom, the best runner that I CAN BE. I will run hard and be smart with my return, and I can’t wait for you guys to follow along. It’s going to be a fun and crazy ride.

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couldn’t do any of this without this handsome guy.

With that said, here are my running plans and goals for 2016:

-Rock’n’Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon (July 17th, 6 months postpartum)

-build confidence over longer distances (long tempos, 10k-1/2 marathon races, aerobic threshold paced runs)

-be patient with my body as it makes it’s return to training

-no specific time goals. I believe with proper training, patience, hard work, and fun, the improvements and PRs will come.

-continue to race without a watch; both PRs I set in 2015 were “watchless”, and I am such a huge advocate for concentrating on effort over pace during a race.

-And finally, be a good example to my child by showing him/her what it means to work hard and go after your dreams, no matter how big.

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Katie

 

 

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The good, the bad, the ugly parts of a pregnant runner

This is part 4 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 , here is part 2 , and here is part 3 in case you missed them!

The first few weeks of pregnancy were filled with angst as I tried to imagine the next loooong 9 months. At the time, it all seemed like it would take forever! When I related it to running, I thought it would be parallel to going through a 9 month injury, which I realize now is such a irrational assumption. I’ve said this before, but I grew up so much in 2015. Looking back, of course it’s all so clear, that this is what I needed in 2015. What I needed more than any training plan, PR, or smooth-sailing year was a year to grow and be stretched to my limit, which is ultimately what happened.

I got to week 28, and couldn’t believe it. The first and second trimesters flew by. But, let’s talk about the last 10 weeks of being pregnant. You guys, I felt insane! The waiting and unknowns drove me up a wall. I am so bad with not knowing when something is going to happen (ie. labor), so the 3rd trimester was such a huge test for me. Especially the last 4 weeks, I felt I was constantly having a talk with myself about my attitude. Ha. “Katie, you have a choice whether to be positive or negative today. Choose positivity despite the circumstance of feeling large, uncomfortable, uncertain of when baby will come, etc.”

My last “race” was on Thanksgiving day at a turkey trot in Boone, North Carolina. My family had an amazing time in the mountains together. I actually surprised myself during the 5k, considering I hadn’t run in a few weeks! I figured I’d probably just walk/run it, but when Jon and I started out, I felt good, and just tried to stay steady throughout the race. I got lots of great looks and “you go, girl!” when I crossed the finish line, ha! I finished in 26 minutes, only about 8 minutes slower than my PR! 😉 #keepingmehumble

After getting back from North Carolina, I decided to join a local gym, because I knew I would need the motivation those last 10 weeks. Honestly, this was one of the best decisions! They have a pool, lots of treadmills for walking when it’s too cold out, spin classes, and my personal favorite: strength training class. I never imagined I’d get so excited to lift weights, but it’s really the only exercise I found to not be too uncomfortable during the last trimester. As a result, I now feel super strong and know all those squats and lunges will only help when I return to running!    

I tried to fill my time as much as possible, so I wouldn’t be just sitting around waiting, and something I really enjoyed was pouring myself into other people’s running. I coach a handful of people, including my husband (lucky for him), so I did a lot of extra research on running/creating training plans/etc to keep my mind off things. I also picked up a few new runners, so it was super fun to get involved with their goals, and feel like I was making a difference in someone’s life. Jon and I would go on “runs” together, where he would run, and I’d either bike next to him, or we’d go to the park and I’d walk around with the dogs while he ran. (read: I’d walk around like a creeper taking goPro photos of him because what else do you do as an overzealous spouse? #crazypregnantrunner)

Similar to the first trimester, the third was another test of strength other than physical. I really see myself as a positive person, but within my own head, I was constantly battling demons that were telling me “You’ll be pregnant forever. This is never going to end.” I know that sounds insane! But the truth is, when you become pretty much immobile, can’t sleep, and everything makes you tired, it’s so hard to imagine something so good and miraculous (like a beautiful baby!) will come out of all of this. I’ve said this before, but I want my blog to be an honest place where I share unfiltered thoughts, and if I’m being honest, pregnancy is not something I was able to embrace gracefully. I am sooo excited to bring baby into this world and be a mom. I know it will be the hardest and greatest job of my life, but I’m not afraid of that for some reason. I just don’t want to be pregnant anymore. Lol. Everyone says you forget about how hard pregnancy was the minute you see your child, and I truly hope that’s the case, because I’ve always wanted more than one child, and I love kids! I’ve talked to some women who fully understand and even have experienced the same type of pregnancy I have, and then I’ve heard stories from other women who absolutely LOVED being pregnant. I so wish that was me. But, once again, if I’m honest, I didn’t love being pregnant. It’s hard stuff, you guys!

As I wrap up this series, I hope I’ve shared the good, the bad, and the ugly of the last 9 months. It has truly been an incredible journey that I can look back on and say, “I am not the same person I was in April of 2015.” And I mean that in the best possible way. I am mentally AND physically stronger, more patient, less anxious, and ultimately just a little bit more grown up.

Now, let’s have this beautiful baby! Check back soon to find out the gender (it is a surprise!), the birth story, and my running plans for 2016.

This is part 4 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 , here is part 2 , and here is part 3 in case you missed them!

Wait, I’m pregnant?!

This is part 2 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 if you missed it!

Two lines. Seeing them on the pee stick was like having an out-of-body experience. I sat in the bathroom and cried for a long time. We called my mom and told her and my stepdad the news. It wasn’t anything like I had always imagined it would go, with balloons and a cute card saying “Congratulations, Grandma!”. Through tears I just muttered the words: “I’m pregnant.” Why did I feel so scared?

I took this the night I found out. I really wanted to be excited, but I mostly was just so scared.

When we started telling people the news a few months later, friends would ask if I took a bunch of tests to make sure, and honestly I didn’t even think about that. I just took 1? Taking multiple tests is a thing? I had no idea what I was doing (still don’t. does anyone?). I just knew I was pregnant and scared.

We posted this on Instagram when we announced the news at 12 weeks. lol.

The next 8 weeks, also known as the first trimester, are a bit of a blur when I look back. I was really sad. I cried a lot. I didn’t know how to handle the news. I realized deep down that this would be a blessing and all the things I knew I was supposed to say, but I constantly asked myself, “Why do I feel so empty? I am being given one of the greatest gifts in life, one so many women dream of, and something I’ve always wanted, yet I feel like my life is suddenly changing and selfishly I’m not ready for that.”

Because I know you’re wondering, and because I was very open about this prior to getting pregnant, no I was not on the pill. In fact, ironically there is a draft post that I never published on why I went off the pill and how it was one of the best decisions personally and athletically for me. I still stand by that. So, technically, I should have been prepared for what could happen. Duh. It was a decision my husband and I made together, and we still stand by our decision, except he handled the news of having a baby wayyyy better than I did. It literally took him 48 hours and then he was all, “THIS IS AWESOME I’M GONNA BE A DAD!” Perhaps I thought I was immune to Mother Nature. Regardless, it truly took the entire first trimester for me to feel connected to baby.

Honestly, my husband is the best there is. 5 weeks pregnant here. Already hitting up the fried chicken wing joints for dinner 😀

My running changed pretty much overnight. I wanted concrete answers to how training should go during the next 35 weeks. I poured over blogs and books and talked to people I knew who ran while they were pregnant. Everyone just said, “You’ll know what to do.” WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN? Tell me exactly what to do! Do I wear a heart rate monitor? Do I still train hard? So many unknowns. With the future of having a baby and how to be a mom being so unclear, I desperately wanted answers and something I could control. Releasing the death grip on having a set-in-stone plan for running was difficult. This would become a recurring theme throughout my entire pregnancy. I’ve learned so much.

We celebrated my birthday in mid June with a fun 5k downtown and a nice dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Jon planned the whole thing. It was such a treat, and getting to tell my good friend Julia the news was great. She’s been such a huge support and a phenomenal friend over the last 8 months.

cheers to 25.

the Gibson Guitar 5k with Julia

As I approached the 12 week mark, I began to feel like the fog was being lifted. I did a happy dance when I made it a few days without crying. People asked me if I ever had morning sickness or extreme fatigue during the first trimester. I didn’t. A little nausea and food aversions, but nothing too terrible, honestly. I think it would have broken me had I experienced the physical pains on top of the mental. God is great like that.

I did eventually figure out a rough “plan” for running, one that worked for me. Because Memphis is insanely hot during the summer, I wore a heart rate monitor for the majority of my runs in the beginning. My coach still sent me weekly “plans”, but they were not set in stone, and I eventually became okay with that. Here’s my training log from a typical week!

6/8/2015 Mon. 6 min easy, 12 min threshold, 6 min easy AM swim. 1000 warm up, 9×100 progressively getting faster, 6×100 with fins. very hard to get out of bed, but i was glad i did it.
6/9/2015 Tues. 10-14 x 90 sec. @ 5k effort with 2 min. recovery this went great!! to avoid overheating, i did the workout inside on the treadmill. 1 mile warm up. 12 repeats. started at 6:30 pace and worked my way down, last 3 were 5:50. Heart rate never hit 170! feeling good.
6/10/2015 Wed. cross train strength trained and biked a bit.
6/11/2015 Thurs. 6 min easy, 12 min threshold, 6 min easy this was my “test” run for saturday. i wanted to see what my heart rate could handle, so i started at 6:30 pace for the middle portion. eventually had to slow down pretty significantly to get my heart rate back down. saturday will be a nice little “trot” ha.
6/12/2015 Fri. 14-18 x 10 sec. @ 400m effort with 2 min. recovery did 6 min easy, 7 min at threshold, 6 min easy.
6/13/2015 Sat. cross train or complete day off Gibson 5k. just paced my friend Julia. 7 min pace. She didn’t race as well as she wanted to, but i felt great. it was really hot.
6/14/2015 Sun. 30 minutes easy nice and easy recovery run with friends!

The main thing was staying hydrated and making sure I could laugh during a workout. Initially, I was very focused on my heart rate and not going over 175 (my lactate threshold), but eventually I realized the laugh/smile/talk test was better, and let me be a little less rigid, without having to constantly check my watch or wait for it to beep to tell me my heart rate was too high. That’s how I gauged the intensity and when to back off. I also trained with a talented high school xc team during June and part of July, which really helped with motivation, and feeling like I wasn’t totally losing all my fitness. Those girls gave me more than they realized during those 6 weeks. I began to find a groove as I approached the second trimester, started feeling happy and confident that I could maybe do this motherhood thing after all!

This is part 2 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 if you missed it!