Run Like A Child

Being a Mom, as with any job, you often find yourself being both a teacher and a student. Sure there are things that you have to teach your kids, such as, counting, learning the alphabet, how to go pee IN the toilet (not just NEAR it)… I find that most days, I’m learning more from my boys about how to be a better mom, a happier person, and even a “funner” runner!

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So here goes, 3 things I learned about running from my crazy boys:

1. Run, Because We Are Born To

We finally had a day of sun and above freezing temperatures yesterday. We decided to get out of the house and hit up a nearby playground. As soon as my boys saw a stretch of cleared path, they both took off running.

“Boys! Why are you running?!” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the ridiculousness of my question hit me. They are 4-year and 20-months old. What did I expect?

When I finally caught up to them (those little legs move fast!) I thought I’d ask my 4-year old again, just curious what he would say.

Me: Why do you run?
C: (Giving me a look that confirmed my initial gut reaction and saying in the most dramatic way possible that only a 4-year-old can) Mommy, what are you talking about?!
Me: Why do you like running?
C: I dunno! (Running off to tackle his little brother into a snow bank)

I have written multiple blog posts explaining the different reasons I love running. In fact, the existence of my blog is built around these reasons.! But what I learned from my son is that we don’t need reasons to run. It’s instinctual and it feels awesome. Do I really need another reason?

2. Fartlek, Because It’s Fun

My boys love to play “red light, green light.” I don’t know if it’s an universal game/thing? But my older son will scream “green light” and both boys take off like bats out of hell, yelling (there’s has to be yelling for some reason). Then at a point determined only by the fancy of my 4 yr old, he will scream “red light!” Then both immediate stop in their tracks. They rest a bit. Then it’s “green light!” And off they go again, yelling, laughing.

Speed work is fun! All the times I have dreaded my speed workouts – what was I thinking?!

3. Always, Always Stop to Smell the Roses Because… Why Not?

No matter how crazy they are running. No matter if it’s “red light” or “green light.” If there’s something interesting, such as a big puddle of mud full of worms, my boys will always stop to check it out. Jump in it. Touch it. Figure it out.

I get so focused on my runs..keeping a certain pace, getting it done, that I forget sometimes just how great and fortunate I am to be out in this beautiful world and being a part of it. I forget to see – really see – my surroundings. To smell the smells. I’m not giving up an opportunities to do so on my future runs!

Love the run you’re with ūüôā

Race Review: 2014 Anthem Richmond Marathon

Overall: Good Race. I probably won’t do it again… but never say never.

Expo:¬† I did not make it in time for the Expo, so can’t comment on that.¬† It is GREAT that the race mails your bib to you ahead of time.¬† Take advantage of that if you won’t make it to the expo.¬† I also heard from my friends that did go the expo that they met Bart Yasso and sat through his pep talk…I was jealous of that!

Race Tips: You will not need to pack your own hydration for this race.¬† This race had the BEST organized support stations that I have ever seen.¬† Water and Powerade ever 2 miles until Mile 20, then EVERY MILE after that.¬† They were well stocked and never ran out of anything.¬† There is dry and wet towel stations at two mile markers toward the end of the race.¬† “Junk Food” stations at Mile 17 and 22.¬† Also Gu along the way.¬† That said, you may want to train with the nutrition they use if you choose to shed the fuel belt.

Course / Elevation:¬† Someone told me that Richmond was relatively flat… I should have asked “relative to WHAT?”¬† It. Was. NOT. Flat!¬† No giant hills but rolling hills.¬† Then of course there’s the infamous “hill” at Mile 19.¬† I think to call it a hill is being generous – it’s nothing but a slight incline onto an overpass but at Mile 19, it might as well have been Mount Everest.¬† I was well prepared for it so I ran up it, no prob… but everyone I passed was walking.¬† I lost my running partner on this hill…¬† Bottom Line: DO HILL WORKOUTS.

One more thing.¬† The finish line is at the bottom of a pretty steep hill.¬† I guess it’s good to finish down hill – but DANG, it was a sharp decline for Mile 26…¬† My knees actually hated that downhill finish.¬† BE CAREFUL if it’s the same course.¬† You will be inclined to spring down that hill but you may risk injury.¬† I had to slow myself down about halfway down the finish stretch.

Logistics:¬† BOOK THE HOTELS EARLY!¬† I tried to book the hotels 6 to 7 months in advance and the hotels were completely booked.¬† I ended up in a hotel about 7 miles from the start line.¬† It actually worked out well because the parking wasn’t too terrible at the start.¬† A couple of tips:

  • HOTELS: Check a week or two before the race.¬† A running friend did and booked the hotel right at the start line – which was great.¬† We hung out in her room until 10 mins before the start and used the nice, warm restroom in her room instead of porta-potties.
  • PARKING: If you stay a¬†little ways from the race, do not fear.¬†¬†Race day morning, drive in and park in garages about¬†3 blocks NORTH of the starting line.¬† We did that and had no problems but saw the traffic jam of cars completely stuck in the road about 1 block or so from the starting race route.

Anything Else? This Marathon is termed the “Friendliest” Marathon.¬† And it was friendly.¬† But I was told by another runner that had ran previously in Richmond that the spectators weren’t out in full force because it was freakishly cold (read: Polar Vortex) this time around.

They put the runners in “waves” but it’s all one start.¬† Meaning, no separate gun starts for each of the waves – which was great because you didn’t have to wait, standing around in the cold, to start 50 mins after the actual start time.

The stretch along the River… Gorgeous.¬† If you do run this race, enjoy that stretch ūüôā

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Running and Blood Sugar Control – Lessons Learned

“Prediabetes means you have blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes…¬† If you have prediabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.” (Source: NIH)

The week before Boston Marathon¬†2014, I was diagnosed as “prediabetic.”¬† I had failed the 2 hour glucose test and my¬†A1C test results came back elevated.

My doctor: Eat less carbs, lose some weight.  Oh and start an exercise program

Me: Um…Does marathon training count?

I wasn’t surprised at the diagnosis.¬† With both of my pregnancies, I had gestational diabetes and was informed that it raised my risk for type 2 diabetes.¬† Knowing the risks, I started running as soon as I was medically cleared after having my second baby.¬† In the year after my second son was born, I ran a 5K, 10-miler, two half marathons, and a marathon — and even with losing all the baby weight within 4 months of giving birth, I could not escape prediabetes. (I know, I’m whining).

So I did what every normal, rational person would do – I Googled “prediabetes.”¬† There is a lot of information on the Internet for managing blood sugar, preventing type 2 diabetes.¬† However.¬† I was not able to find much information on¬†prediabetes and endurance sports (perhaps I have not found the right key words to search).

I’m not going to lie.¬†Part of the reason I run is so that I can eat cupcakes, ice cream, all the fun, sugary stuff.¬† And I love carb-loading before a big race.¬† I love pasta, rice.¬†Now with my new diagnosis, I had to find a new balance with the amount of carbs I *think* I need for running.¬† The following is a list of¬†lessons I have¬†learned SO FAR from my research and experiences.¬† I hope to share future lessons¬†with all the prediabetic and diabetic endurance athletes and invite your input!

[DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical or nutritional professional.  Just a fellow prediabetic runner trying to figure out what to eat and when to eat in order to best manage my blood sugar levels.]

1.  Everyone is Different. 

One message¬†I found to be consistent in most of the literature is that different foods’ effect on blood sugar levels can vary drastically in each person.¬† For example, when I eat pineapples, it spikes my blood sugar but when a diabetic friend eats pineapples, the rise in her blood sugar level is not as drastic.¬† Also, the time of day matters as well.¬† I find that my blood sugar is the most sensitive in the morning.¬†¬†Some of articles online recommend¬†people¬†to¬†eat the carbs early on during the day so you can burn off the sugar all day – well, it doesn’t work for me.¬†I can only eat small amount of carbs (less than 25 grams) in the morning, unless I’m going out for a run.

2.  Not JUST About Cutting Carbs.

One mistake that I made initially was just cutting carbs.¬† I didn’t go fully Atkin’s diet, but I significantly reduced the amount of carbs I consumed.¬† This did manage to help me lose weight… initially.¬†¬†After two weeks of carb-cutting, I went out for a 10-mile run.¬† About 8 miles in, I started to feel dizzy, my muscles tightened and cramped.¬† My blood sugar had dropped to such a low-level that it was not only hurting my performance but extremely dangerous!¬† I quickly took 2 Gu’s and sat down.¬† Diabetes is not just about lowering blood sugar, it is about controlling and managing it.

3.  Get a Blood Glucose Meter

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The previous lesson leads me to this: bottom line, I need to carefully monitor blood sugar levels with a meter.¬† But this is tricky.¬† Prediabetes is not a “covered” condition under some health insurances (mine).¬† So the test strips for these devices can be very expensive.¬† Luckily I have some left over from my gestational diabetes days and plan to use that until I run out.¬† This is worth it to me to make sure I stay healthy, I consider it an investment.

4.  Keep a Log

I have decided to meet with a nutritionist and having data helps tremendously.  I JUST started to keep track of my blood glucose level for the following times in a spreadsheet for my weekend long runs (runs that take more than 1 hour).  I try to write down the amount of carbs consumed before, during and after a run and WHAT food was eaten.  Hopefully this will eventually help me determine what works best for me to optimize my performance.

Time/When Carbs (grams) Blood Glucose (mg/dL) Comments
Fasting (wake up) 0 Eat breakfast after taking blood glucose and at least 1 hour before run
Before Run (breakfast carbs amount) Taken just before the long run
1 Hr Into Run (Gu or Sport Bean taken) I have started to try different foods to test how my blood sugar is affected
2 Hr Into Run (Gu or Sport Bean taken)
1 Hr After Run (Food eaten immediately after run) I try to eat within 30 mins of completing a run

5. Plan Ahead

Running and taking blood glucose levels can be challenging.¬† Planning ahead helps.¬† Trial and error helps too.¬†¬†If you’re like me, especially in the summer, I am a sweaty mess when I’m running.¬† If you use a blood glucose meter, you know that sweat on your finger tips will mess with your¬†reading.¬† I try to keep a towel at a convenient point on the trail and I make sure that roughly every hour I run by that point to take my readings.

It is a pain in the butt to have to do this during a run but it is temporary.¬† Hopefully after I have taken quite a few of these readings, I will get to a point where I know exactly what to eat and when to eat it on my run that I don’t need to continue to take my blood glucose levels.

These are just some of the lessons I have learned so far.¬† I’m sure there will be many, many more.¬† I hope whom ever reads this post will benefit from this and please do leave me any suggestions if you’re an experienced diabetic, endurance athlete, I would love to learn from you as well.

Stay Healthy.  Stay Strong.  Run.