July 21, 2017

On Running, Or Not, During Pregnancy

Hello from week 34 of pregnancy, my first blog post of the year and my last pregnant run ever. Yes, I'm back writing and hoping to make this a weekly practice which is probably silly since I'm about to have my hands full with the birth of Zelda. But no one's ever accused me of being anything other than silly so why not, right?

This week I went for my last and final pregnant run and it felt great. No, the run didn't feel great but letting myself off the hook as the weight of my belly finally made it impossible to get my feet off the ground feels like the right decision.
My last official pregnant run at 34 weeks pregnant. Look at the heel strike! I think it's me overcompensating because I can barely get air between my feet and the ground. One of the many signs that it's time to focus on other exercise I'm ready to run after this kiddo is born.
If you've been following me on instagram, you've seen my pregnant running pictures. My belly getting larger week by week, my runs getting slower and the walking breaks longer. It's easy to look at these pictures and assume that my pregnant running has been all peachy keen, easy peasy miles. In fact, I've received a bunch of direct messages asking me how I do it from other pregnant women who are struggling to run. And so here I am, writing my first post of the year because I feel it's so important to be transparent.

What you don't see on instagram if you haven't followed along from the very beginning is that for the first 19 weeks of this pregnancy, I didn't run. In fact, I barely made it out of bed. Whomever named it morning sickness had no clue because I was ill all day, every day. Unable to eat or even keep down small sips of water, I shrunk down to 103 pounds; it was gross. My husband, Robert, even had to take a day off from work to watch him and to take care of me because I was too weak to lift my head. It became clear that unless I did something about my all day sickness, I'd put myself and this baby at risk. So when it was time to choose between a hospital visit or a call to my Dr for some help, I choose to call my Dr. and agreed to take anti-nausea medicine against which I was so opposed. Within hours I was finally able to sip water and slowly began eating again. But it wasn't for many more weeks that I was able to actually work out. I accepted that with ease. It took me over a year to make this baby happen, a story for another blog post. I chose to focus on that, on staying healthy and on getting my strength back.

At 19 weeks, I woke up and pooof! Just like that I suddenly felt amazing. I had all the energy in the world and felt so strong. Suddenly, I could run again. And so I did. And so you began seeing my running posts on twitter and instagram. And at the same time, you were probably seeing all the stories out there about other pregnant runners, much more accomplished (emphasis on the MUCH MORE) than I, running and racing. I began receiving the emails, the direct messages asking me how I do it, telling me how difficult it has been for some of you to run during pregnancy, how impossible it feels. I remember having those feelings during those first 19 weeks. In fact, I remember having those thoughts during my pregnancy with Emmett, when I was on modified bed rest during my first trimester and had to drop out of a half marathon because of bleeding. It's so easy to look at pictures and compare yourself with what others want you to see, what they're willing to put out there. Which is why I'm writing this post.

Mamas, give yourselves a break. If you can run and it feels good, by all means go for it. Rock those miles. But when the running starts to hurt. When every step sends a sharp pain through your pelvis or back, when you pee yourself every quarter of a mile, or when you can barely catch your breathe and your heart rate begins to soar, listen to your body and STOP. You have nothing to prove to yourself nor to anyone else. What you do have to do is keep it safe for now, and for your future self who'll need to be there for your newborn.

Is exercise during pregnancy important? Absolutely! But there are so many things you can do. Take walks, practice prenatal yoga, lift free weights and incorporate squats and lunges into your every day activities. Keep your body strong for delivery and so that you can bounce back easier once your baby is born. But listen to your body.

During the past few weeks, each of my runs was followed with hours of strong contractions. I hydrated, hung out on my left side, took deep breathes, everything. But the contractions would go on for hours and would get pretty scary at times. Finally, Robert opened my eyes when I wasn't willing to open them myself and reminded me of all the hard work, doctor appointments, tests and surgery I went through to make this kid. It's time to stop running for now and I'm actually really excited to take it easy for the next few weeks until I meet Emmett's little brother or sister. In the meantime, I'm spending as much time with my little man as possible.
Hanging in my lap, enjoying his last few weeks as an only child. Man I love this kid.
Did you run during your pregnancy? For the whole thing? And if not, when did you stop? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic and any ideas on how to stay in shape until delivery.

October 28, 2016

No Excuses? Someone Tell My Toddler.

Friday morning. 5:45 am. I'm sitting on a couch by the fireplace, a cup of cold coffee in hand, writing instead of running. This isn't what I've planned but I've come to realize that planning is a futile effort these days. You see, my plan was to wake at 5:00 am, gulp down a cup of coffee and hop on the treadmill for my first intense workout in three weeks. But Emmett had other plans.

For the past week, my 23 month old son has refused dinner. No matter what I make for him, he won't eat it. Last night was no different, so off to bed he went with an empty stomach at 7pm. At 8pm "Mama Heeeeelllllppppp!" and crying. So much crying. We explained that with since he didn't eat dinner, he was hungry and that since mom isn't a short order cook, he'd have to wait until the morning to eat. Hard? Yes, it broke my heart. But giving in means making this the new normal and I refuse to make this normal. Emmett went to sleep with a little love and cuddling from Robert and I made plans to wake at 5 to run. 

I didn't even need an alarm. Ever since the kiddo started 4:30 am wake ups a year ago, my body clock is set to wake at 4:30 am. So I hopped out of bed this morning, headed to the kitchen to make coffee and just as I was heading down to the basement to run... "Mamaaaaaa oh noooooo! Mamaaaaa heeellllp!!!" Bam, the kiddo is awake. I hoped it was just a missing pacifier situation and quietly entered his room, picked up the 3 pacifiers thrown out of his crib, gave them back and whispered "Still night night time Emmett. Please lay down." But the kiddo smacked his lips, his sign that he's hungry, and I knew that the only way to get him back to sleep was to grab a bottle of milk. Otherwise we're facing a difficult overtired day filled with tantrums and a too short nap. 

So here I am, sitting on the couch, drinking the coffee I made at 5am but too scared to warm it in the microwave for fear that it might wake him back up. And I can't help but smile. Motherhood has changed me. I've learned to surrender, that I can't control it all. I'm learning to look at the positive. It sounds cliche but I got to snuggle with my little boy this morning. One day he'll sleep until noon and we won't have those 5am snuggle to get back to sleep sessions. One day, he won't scream "Mama Heeellllpppp!" When I lifted him out of his crib this morning, the thing that struck me most was his warmth. The warmth of Emmett's little body next to mine, how perfect he felt in my arms, how soft his skin and hair felt as I stroked it while he drank. It made me feel better about having to miss my run. No Excuses? Nah... getting my child the rest and comfort he needed this morning was the perfect excuse to miss a workout.

... and he's up! It's go time! Writing break....
The post needed cute pictures. Besides, doesn't everyone wear a crown to breakfast?
Friday. 1:33 pm. That run I missed this morning? I just got it done during Emmett's nap time.  Warm up, 1 minute speed, 1 minute recovery x 10, cool down. Then some arms & abs. Not as long as I would've liked to work out but I heard Emmett stirring and wanted to shower before the afternoon began. 

So there you have it folks. This is how I don't get it all done. How I believe in excuses. How I'm learning to be a mother bit by bit, every day.

What are your tricks to fitting in workouts? How do you cope with missed work outs or shortened ones? And any ideas how to get this kid to eat dinner?!? 

October 11, 2016

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

First comes Fall, then comes Holiday season. In our home that means, guests guests guest which means testing out tons of recipes I'll get to serve them. This week I made Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal and it was delicious. It's going on my recipe list for this season's guest for sure! 
Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a bread pan.

In a large bowl beat:
1 1/3 Cup Pumpkin Pie Filling (Yes, the stuff that comes in a can with all of the spices already in there)
2/3 Cup Milk (I used Almond. You can use whatever you'd like)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Oil (I used Coconut)
1 Egg

Mix in:
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 tsp Salt

Bake in prepared bread pan for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before you invert the pan to remove it. Slice and enjoy.

It's delicious heated in a bowl, with a splash of milk around it. I served topped with slivered almonds and chopped apples. 

May 16, 2016

The Newport 10K Recap: Ouch

The Newport 10K in Jersey City, where do I start? Such a great morning, a beautiful morning, a painful morning, a disappointing morning. This race was going to be another "comeback." I thought my life was finally in a place where I could follow a structured training plan, I was ready to get back in shape, ready to run strong again. And then life happened and I let my training fall apart.

I knew I was going into this race undertrained and so I re-set my expectations. Between a 17 month old who thinks 4am is a proper time to wake every morning and a really successful Mother's Day season (thank you US Weekly!), I often had to choose between sleeping, working and training. I chose work. It's not like I could tell customers "Hey, sorry you didn't get your order but I have a 10K in a few weeks and I needed to run." I think my schedule as a mom/entrepreneur/runner deserves its own post so I won't go into crazy detail here but let's just say that I can't do it all. The weeks leading up to the race I often said that I'd never been so exhausted in my entire life and something had to give. So I put serious training on the back burner and did whatever I was able to fit in.

The night before the race I realized I hadn't even looked at the course, hadn't put together my breakfast plan for my 4:30am wakeup, hadn't even looked at the weather. But I had prepared breakfast for Emmett, his mid-morning snack to bring along, charged the ipad in case he was a disaster in the car and we needed it for emergency relief, packed his diaper bag, a carrier, and his stroller with rain cover. I laughed at myself. Race prep really has changed, hasn't it!

Race morning. 4:30 am wakeup, coffee, breakfast, bathroom, get dressed, get the kid up and dressed, pack the car and head out the door with Robert and Emmett. Picked up my bib, did the whole pre-race picture thing, and lined up at our intended pace group with Ashley and Fiona. I was excited to run with these two again, almost a year after we raced the Mini 10K together. I knew they'd stick by me and keep me going, and since Ashley gave birth just two months prior, she assured me there'd be no pressure to pick up the pace.
Pre-race photo opp with my little guy
The race through Jersey City was beautiful. Aside from the giant roadkill (what was that?!?) just a few minutes into the start, it was lovely. We got a tour of the area, shops here and there, cute brownstone lined streets with parks scattered throughout. But there were also plenty of potholes, it was a hot hot morning and some of the black paved areas didn't help our cause (so so hot). At the end of mile 2 I thought, "that was just two miles???" From there, every mile felt like two. I wasn't wearing a watch so I wasn't 100% sure of our pace but I knew it wasn't fast (for us) at all. Based on the time clocks, I could estimate we were probably running an average of a 9:45 pace which should have felt calm and easy for me. Instead I doubted I could keep it up. I spent the first two or so miles of the race chatting with Ashley & Fiona about motherhood, breastfeeding, menstrual cycles and sex after pregnancy (apologies to those around us who might not have been as interested in those topics) but my mile 3, their easy conversational pace became my "I can't talk right now I'm trying to breathe" pace.
Early in the race before reality hit.
The cheers here and there helped. We spotted Danielle and Amelia cheering and it was great to see friendly faces, they certainly put a smile on mine. But by mile 4 I felt my fingers swelling and my head started pounding. I was dehydrated and the tiny sips I was talking at water stops weren't helping much. My legs felt so heavy, like I had lead in my running shoes. You know that feeling during mile 18 of a 20 mile run when you're so depleted and don't know if you can keep going but want to push through? That's how I felt and it was a humbling experience. I slowed down a bit, hoping Ashley & Fiona were ok with that and in step, they slowed down too and I was so grateful. Mile 5 felt like an eternity but we were approaching the water and the beautiful skyline. I kept repeating what Robert said to me during a difficult run in Montana last summer: "It's nothing you can't handle" and pushed myself to keep going, strong and steady. I kept telling myself I could handle just another mile. If I could handle more than 20 hours of labor, I could handle less than 10 more minutes of running. I told myself that this was the wakeup call I needed. That I'm not invincible, that if I wanted something I needed to start working for it again. I told myself that starting Monday, I would find a way to get back into shape and I wouldn't take my fitness for granted. And then I relaxed, took a moment to look up and admire the beautiful NYC skyline and CRASH BAM OUCH.

I remember feeling my foot hitting something, feeling my body flying forward and my brain screaming "find a way to stop this fall"... and then the feeling of the skin coming off my knee, my shoulder sliding across the pavement and the left side of my head slamming into the ground. My friends tried to get me up but my knees were screaming and all I could keep thinking was "I slammed my head. My head, the ground." I think that's when all the emotions built over the past few weeks came pouring out and I began sobbing. I let people believe that I was crying because I was hurting but in reality, I just needed an emotional release. I was disappointed in myself for not being better prepared, frustrated that I never feel like there's enough time to get it all done, angry that I'd dragged my family out of the house at the a$$ crack of dawn to drive almost two hours for a race that I'd totally messed up. I let myself have a pity party and honestly, it felt good. I felt weak and humbled, like I needed to lean on others for a few minutes and weirdly enough, I think I needed that.
Once the paramedics cleaned me off and bandaged me up, Ashley and Fiona suggested we just walk to the finish line but we were about a quarter of a mile away. I didn't want to watch everyone else run by, I wanted to run with them. So we did. We ran, more like jogged, to the finish line and completed the 10K. And the cool part? Just moments after we crossed, I heard the race announcer announcing this contest and heard "Erica Sara Designs" over the loudspeaker. Ahhhh! I was able to forget about the blood running down my leg for a second!


Share your story and a photo using the hashtag #WhyIRun and #Newport10K on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook before midnight Wednesday night. One winner will be selected at random and notified via direct message on Monday, May 23rd. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Erica Sara Designs.

Still plenty of reasons to celebrate.
So, that's my  short and not so sweet recap of the glorious Newport 10K. I feel oddly simultaneously happy and disappointed with my race. It felt great to be back at a race again and so nice to run with my friends. But obviously, it didn't go as planned and even more upsetting is that I didn't get to connect with so many friends I'd hoped to see there.

A major thank you to Fiona & Ashley for being the most awesome #momsquad this mother runner could ask for. Seriously ladies, thank you for sticking with me and picking me back up when I was a giant heap of tears. And of course thanks to my husband Robert who not only understands why I'd want to drive almost 2 hours to a 10K but supporting it and encouraging it 100%.

Next up is the NYRR Mini 10K in NYC on June 11th. I took yesterday off just to be sure that everything was ok with my knee but started logging miles again this morning. Between now and then I have Father's Day orders, an exciting & significant race order to fill, and my holiday look book to put together so I'm trying to keep my expectations realistic. I just want to feel better during that race than I did this weekend. That's my goal!

Who raced Newport 10K? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the race so leave a comment below letting me know how it went or a link to your recap if you wrote one!

March 24, 2016

Newport 10K Training: Week 1 in progress

Is it just me or do treadmill runs seem so difficult that they make the outdoors feel easy. I just hit the pavement for three miles in this gorgeous Spring weather and I felt like I was flying!

Today is day four of my official Newport 10K training. I found this great 8-week training schedule online for advanced beginners and thought, “hey, THAT I can do.” (FYI, I have no idea where this training plan originated and I’d love to give the writer credit where credit is due so feel free to point me in the right direction.) As I complete each day, I’ll be filling in the calendar with images of my workouts, sort of like a visual diary. It’ll be fun to look back to see where these two months will have taken me.
Monday: Rest day so I took Emmett on an hour walk, carrying him in the Ergo most of the way. We walked to a neighborhood farm to hang with some chickens and turkeys, and chatted with the local farmers. 

Tuesday: When my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I actually dragged my butt out of bed and hit the treadmill for my 3 miles. I'm proud of myself for this because after many sleepless nights (a one-year-old with an upper respiratory infection will do that to you), I was so tempted to hit snooze. But I got up, got the miles in, showered and put on real clothing all before 6 a.m. Wooohoo! So from now on, Tuesday runs will either be before Emmett wakes or stroller runs. 

Wednesday: 45 minutes on the elliptical and then 15 minutes of free weights. I love the elliptical. Does that mean I'm crazy or something?

Thursday (TODAY): Schedule called for 2.5 miles but that felt like peanuts and I really wanted to enjoy this beautiful weather so I made it 3. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be a rest day so I’m planning on stretching and enjoying it. It feels good to be training with a schedule again. Since my son was born, I haven’t been very good about sticking to training plans and, as a result, my running and overall fitness have definitely suffered. I think the most important thing is that I picked a realistic plan – one I can make the time to do. Between motherhood and work, it’s been hard making running a priority but I finally realize that I need to find a way to make it one. That’s another post for another day.

And now it’s time to announce the winner of the Newport 10K giveaway {insert drum roll here}. Congrats, Josephine! Please shoot me an email at erica@ericasaradesigns.com so I can send you your race entry and your $40 EricaSara.com gift certificate.

Thanks for stopping by to read about my training. Any thoughts on my schedule? Tips you have or favorite cross training ideas you think I could add in? I’d love to hear them so please leave a comment below!