Two Cities Marathon training (wks 9-5)

This is such a good time of year to be an endurance athlete. It’s such a big weekend (Chicago, Twin Cities, Kona, IM LOU, Dick Collins, Healdsburg, East Bay 510, so many more I’m missing), and there’s just so much to look forward to and so many people to be excited for. It makes my soul sing! The air in the morning here is getting “California crisp” – what I call anything under 50 degrees – so while it’s still near the 80s, 90s, or even 100 in the afternoon, at least in the morning, it’s finally beginning to feel like fall (some days, anyway). So good. Every day of the year is a good day to do this stuff, but this time of year, it’s magical.

another autumn day
another autumn day


It’s been more than a while since I last posted any training updates for the Two Cities Marathon – which we’ll be staring down in less than a month’s time now – so alas, here’s a long overdue recap of how training is going. I’ll try to keep this short(er) and sweet(er) than my usual 2k+ word diatribes.

Picking up where I left off last time:

9 weeks out: 44.08 miles

long run: 16 with 10 at GMP (7:30, +/-). For not doing GMP in a while, this went fairly well (7:28, 32, 29, 19, 36, 23, 28, 34, 31, 17), even with the final 2.5 miles going straight into gusty winds. My stomach held it together on this run, too, which is basically akin to earning an Olympic gold medal. I’ll enthusiastically take it.

8 weeks out: 49.16 miles

speed: 10 miles with 5 at tempo (around HMRP, but I haven’t really raced a half well in forever, so I was shooting for anywhere between 7:05-13). I took to a park near home and lapped it to death, resulting in a map that resembled either a boot or a heart, depending on your mood: 7:04, 6:58, 6:59, 6:58, 6:53. Considering the last time I did a 4 mile tempo at the same park, and had to make an emergency stop in the woods so as to avoid the Big D, again the fact that I made it through this workout without that is a victory.

long run: a little over 18 trail miles (user error on le Garmin) at the beloved four peak run: Monument, “EMS,” Mt. Allison, and Mission for just over 3,600′ gain. So pretty up there. It’s always worth the work, and I’m forever grateful to tag along with Marc and Saurabh. It’s just so awesome and unlike anywhere I’ve ever run before moving here.

Regrouping at the top of Mission Peak before beginning our descent homeward
Regrouping at the top of Mission Peak before beginning our descent homeward


view looking eastward from Monument
view looking eastward from Monument


regrouping at the top of Monument Peak before going to EMS (right side) and then Mt. Allison (left side, with the towers)
regrouping at the top of Monument Peak before going to EMS (right side) and then Mt. Allison (left side, with the towers)


7 weeks out: 32.31 miles

-long run: 16 miles. No GMP goals, just time on my feet, with the run being made more enjoyable by company (Tri Geek for the first 4, Saurabh for the first 5, and Anil for the entirety). We also all randomly wore blue shirts on this run. I should have taken a picture.

No speed workouts this weekend because I decided to sleep in. Slacker.

6 weeks out: 50.58 miles

-long run: 15 with 12 at GMP (7:34, 23, 29, 33, 41, 36, 26, 43, 37, 37, 20, 15) with a good side of GI issues from miles 8-12 and a shit ton of mud. I decided to run in the Baylands for this, and I even recall thinking that the further I go in, the more likely it will be muddy, which will surely make the GMP feel a lot harder because my shoes will be getting sucked down into the mud (and also weighed down by it) … and yeah, that was a brilliant idea on my part. Mental training for sure.

-speed: about 10 miles with 5x1k at 5kRP (haven’t raced a 5k in a while, so I just used 6:35 as my pace based off a forever-old PR) with 50-90% jog recovery in between sets. Overall, this went ok: a 6:52 pace, 6:39, 6:30, 6:43, 6:27. I had some issues with getting the distance exactly right (my repeats were between .62-.64 miles each), but overall, for doing it a day after a big LR workout, I felt pretty good about it. This completed my first 50 mile week in a long time, which was also really satisfying. Healthy miles are the best type of miles.

5 weeks out: 50.36 miles

-long run 17 in stages (7.11 at 7:33 avg; 10.03 at 7:59 avg). Last Saturday morning, my kids ran the RNRSJ kids’ races, and on Friday night, a friend went into labor, so between the early morning races and the sleepover we had on Friday night with my neighbor’s three year-old, running early on Saturday just wasn’t feasible. I don’t like to break-up long runs, but I’d prefer getting the mileage in to skipping it altogether. The first run was way faster than necessary – I blame it on a huge adrenaline surge of trying to get in as much mileage as possible while everyone was asleep at home – but even with that, I felt pretty good when I posted the second bit that night, albeit with some bathroom stops.

almost at the end of the 800m kids' race. It blows my mind that she can run with her hair down bc that'd drive me crazy!
almost at the end of the 800m kids’ race. It blows my mind that she can run with her hair down bc that’d drive me crazy!


I think she was the only walker in her "diaper dash" heat :) (and yes, marathonfoto thinks you'll pay for pics of your kid walking about 5 feet...)
I think she was the only walker in her “diaper dash” heat 🙂 (and yes, strangely, marathonfoto thinks you’ll pay for pics of your kid walking about 5 feet…)


Another weekend without a speed workout – what should have been 600m repeats, I think – due to volunteering at RNRSJ in the morning with Wolfpack and my disinterest in running a workout that evening. An easy 5 it was instead. Better than nothing.

always fun times volunteering at RNRSJ
always fun times volunteering at RNRSJ with Wolfpack. Big Sis has done it with me for two years now and genuinely seems to look forward to it.


she felt like a rockstar bc so many runners came over for a side-5


For the most part, training is going rather smoothly, and I’m happy with how things are going and how my body is feeling. As has been the case since I last wrote about my training, I’m still posting nearly all of my runs during the week with single or double stroller, and my weekend running is usually one day of the speed/threshold stuff and the other day as a long run. I’ve done more GMP work this cycle than I usually do, and as is often the case, GMP at times leaves me a bit terrified, wondering how the fuck I’ll be able to try to hold that pace for the race. I often feel like throwing down GMP mileage during marathon training is as much about the mental games as it is the physical. No doubt it can be intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun. It shouldn’t be so easy that it’s effortless, but it’s also a little unnerving when it feels somewhat hard and like you can’t wrap your head around that pace for the marathon distance. Basically: I think I’m exactly where I need to be.

This training plan will have me max out around 55 mpw, which is a little lower than what I’ve usually done (closer to 65-75), but I feel confident that it’ll suffice. Historically, I haven’t had any problems handling the 60-70 mile weeks, in terms of injury propensity or family stuff, but it also necessitated a lot of 4-6am running during the week, and quite honestly, I’m just not all that interested in doing that right now. I’ll get back to that schedule eventually, but right now, I’d rather just wait to run during the morning daytime hours, with the baby, post-kinder drop-off and/or piecing my miles together with drop-off and/or pick-up. Having a decent percentage of my running volume as stroller miles means (aside from the fun quality time and the slight promise of some semblance of a morning nap) that a lot of my mileage is pretty easy and casual, which for marathon training is good. Back in the day, I couldn’t understand why you shouldn’t run hard and fast (GMP or faster) on nearly every run; these days, I’m pretty much the opposite. The easy days should be easy so that the hard can be hard. If it works for the pros, it’ll work for me. Pushing weight in front of me definitely helps keep my “easy” pace in check.

Life circumstances have dictated that I basically throw out the scheduled programming for weeks 5, 4, and 3 and rearrange things pretty significantly, so just like with anything else in marathon training, it’s a bit of an experiment of one and so far, it’s been fine. It’s amounted to breaking up long runs between a.m. sessions with (or without) the baby and p.m. sessions solo, post-bedtime, as well as front-loading a week to accommodate for family travel, in addition to rearranging things to accommodate for a scheduled colonoscopy that ultimately didn’t happen (grr! stupid false positive pregnancy test!!) and for two mornings of spectating/volunteering at RNRSJ. It’s all good stuff, aside from the thwarted colonoscopy – which I have to reschedule in a week’s time, ugh – and luckily, running is fairly flexible. It just necessitates some creativity and, when necessary, letting go when it’s just not feasible to get 100% of the training in. On that note, it wasn’t until about 7 weeks out that I started doing “the little things” more regularly, but I still need to routinize that stuff better. I feel like a lot of runners are in that boat; we’ll move the world to make sure we post all of our scheduled mileage for the day/week, but we somehow just can’t find the 10-20 minutes each day to get the rest of our body in tip-top shape. Working on it…

And finally, on the GI front, there’s not a lot of news to report. I’m still having the same issues, at about the same frequency and intensity, which sucks. Fortunately, the endoscopy, parasite tests, and lactose testing all came back clean – no worms or milk allergies for me – but because I’m still having issues on the regular, a colonoscopy is in order, which is shitty in both the literal and figurative sense of the word. I last had one when I was still in Chicago, circa 2012, and it didn’t offer any answers, so I’m not anticipating much this go around either, but it’s worth a shot, anyway. A lot of good news has come from all of this – basically, I’m really, really healthy; I don’t have any absorption issues; there’s no underlying systemic inflammation; more things I’m forgetting – so for as shitty as this stuff is (you’re welcome), all told I’m very glad to be as healthy as I am, inexplicable diarrhea be damned.

Good luck and godspeed this weekend, friends!!! xo

postpartum running: 13 months out

I’ve had this draft saved on my computer for well over a month now, and I keep coming back to it, editing and revising it, deciding that I don’t like what I originally said or that it wouldn’t necessarily be helpful to anyone. I guess you could say that I more or less had this “grand master plan” of what my “postpartum running from the one-year-out mark” post would look like, and it wasn’t until (and unless!) my thoughts on the screen mirrored those in my head that I’d be sufficiently content to hit publish.

…and in the “yet again, the universe always makes sense” department, I realized that it’s kinda that image, that picture of me having an idea in my head for how I want something to look, working on it, feeling like I am coming up short compared to my lofty standards, and eventually saying eh fuck it this is probably good enough I’m probably overthinking this and letting go (hitting publish) – that picture, that process, that’s really one as good as any to adequately (appropriately, accurately, pick your starts-with-a-adverb here) to describe postpartum running (round 2) from the one-year mark.

The cliché of how quickly time passes, especially when you have a little one, is a tired cliché for a reason: it’s true. “The days are long but the years are short” – or whatever – but there’s this weird Twilight Zone, time-warp thing that has made this past year both feel like it has flown by and that it hasn’t. Most pertinent to this blog, though, as soon as G showed up a year ago (or 13 months ago, anyway), there began the newest chapter in my “pregnant running” to “postpartum running” story.

3 days old
3 days old. and yeah, after you have a baby, you still look pregnant for a while. totally normal. sweet umbilical hernia I got there, eh?


13 mos. old. Slight difference.
aaaaaaaand 13 mos. old. Slight difference.

Pregnancies are known for being wildly different, even when we’re talking about the same woman, and I’d venture to say that postpartum stuff can vary tremendously as well. With my first, I didn’t begin running again until six weeks postpartum, and this was after taking the final six weeks of my ~41 week pregnancy off from running because I had developed some killer lower SI pain that was only going to go away once I had the baby. That postpartum journey with A was good and fortunately without any sort of injury or setback. I had her in the spring of 2011; a year later, almost to the day, I knocked about four minutes off my three-year-old marathon PR, and for those first 18 months (or so) postpartum, I set and re-set PRs in nearly every distance I raced, ultimately bringing my marathon PR down from a 3:37 (2008) to a 3:34 (spring ’12), 3:31 (winter ’13), a high 3:20 (spring ’13), and my current PR, a low 3:20 (autumn ’13, when A was just shy of 2.5 years old). I changed literally everything about how I trained from prepartum to postpartum and was lucky (smart) enough to remain injury-free. Sometimes women can suffer from a bunch of different postpartum-related complications as their bodies get used to not being pregnant anymore, and I luckily didn’t have any of those problems the first time around.

Postpartum running the second time around has been pretty similar in some respects. For starters, I ran longer during my second pregnancy, with my last run about 10 hours before I gave birth, and my midwives cleared me for “activity” sooner, at three weeks postpartum – not at all at my begging insistence, more along the lines of them mentioning to me “oh yea, you’re looking good, go do whatever you want.” Well then … I didn’t have the shitty, ohmygodmyuterusisgoingtofallout feeling I had in my initial postpartum runs like I had before, and generally speaking, I felt great the second time around pretty much from the start. Of course, stupid things came up the second time around that interrupted my running – a double-hernia repair at about a month postpartum and then at about three months postpartum, another outpatient surgery to fetch a runaway IUD that had perforated my uterus and had set up shop elsewhere in my right quadrant (oh, and an unplanned appendectomy, too … BOGO, I guess?), and this pesky GI stuff that I’ve been dealing with actually since before my first born – but all told, postpartum running part deux has been fairly smooth sailing, in terms of the actual physical side of things. Just like the first time around, I fortunately and very luckily haven’t had to deal with post-pregnancy complications (such as DR or uterine prolapse).

thank god I gave birth about 12 hours later. this was my last pic I sent to my also-pregnant-at-the-time sister, basically saying that I had no idea where else this baby was going to grow because I was plum outta room.
praise the lord I gave birth about 12 hours later, at 38w1d. this was my last pic I sent to my also-pregnant-at-the-time sister, basically saying that I had no idea where else this baby was going to grow because I was plum outta room.


When I began running postpartum, I didn’t really start with any hard-and-fast running goals, in terms of weekly volume or speed or anything like that, because I obviously needed to figure out how to be a mom to two kids for the first time in my life. It’s no small order, even if you’re “just” a SAHM. I think this feeling of somewhat detaching from my running – that is, being satisfied with being able to run, even if it’s not necessarily what I “wanted” to or “needed” to do that day – has been key to my first year of postpartum running this time around. I can care, but I can also not. Go have expectations, but also don’t. Make some goals, but don’t really worry about them too much. It’s been strangely liberating and empowering.

first time on AR trails after giving birth - 11 miles, 2,400+ gain, and pretty much had my ass handed to me. It was so good.
first time on AR trails after giving birth – 11 miles, 2,400+ gain, and pretty much had my ass handed to me. I didn’t know what distance I’d be able to post that day, much less how I’d fare climbing, but I showed up, and therein was the victory, my friends.  PC- Saurabh


Along those same lines, probably one of the biggest lessons that postpartum running part deux has taught me has been to just go with things more often. Cue your inner Elsa, and don’t be afraid to let that shit go sometimes. When you’re figuring out life with little ones at home, you will likely eventually learn that your days and nights don’t always go as you envision. Some drawn-from-real-life examples:

That 5-mile stroller run becomes 1 or 2 because the baby is incredibly fussy, and/or you have to go get your other kid from school because she’s fallen ill.

That predawn run, where you get up at 4 to pump (yup) so you can be ready to run by 5 (yup, there goes an hour), doesn’t happen because the baby literally wakes up as you’re heading out the door.

The long trail run with your friends might not happen because you’ve gotten shit for sleep the past few nights because (insert reason here, probably something related to the baby), and at the end of the day, running for a few hours, while awesome, will not incur the same benefits to you, at this moment in your life, as sleeping for a few more (likely interrupted) hours.

And so on.

With all of these, hmm, let’s call them “life circumstances,” you can choose to just let them go and move on, hoping that tomorrow (or whenever your next opportunity to run comes) will go a little more according to what you envisioned, or you can sulk about things not going your way. It’s admittedly sometimes hard to just let it go – we runners are goal-driven, come hell or high water, for a reason – but it’s been in doing that for the past year that I think I’ve felt my best, both mentally and physically, with my running. I care so much and am so eager to improve, but I’m also very content. So weird. My words are failing me.

When you’re a runner, and probably a bit of a Type A, becoming ok with doing less than you envisioned can be a lot easier said than done. It’s so satisfying to check-off boxes each day, log lots of miles, and watch the numbers rack up week after week. My experiences this past year have taught me that if you’re parenting little ones (and still wearing all the other hats that life gives you), sometimes something’s gotta give – especially if you’re finding that you’re feeling mentally or physically burnt-out or just tired as hell. Running is supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be another life stressor. Like I said before, if I can run for an hour or sleep for an hour, and I got shit for sleep the night before, I’m at a place in my life where I will enthusiastically sleep for another hour and not feel bad about it. At earlier stages in my life, I would be riddled with guilt over my irresponsibility. No more. I so do not believe in training at all costs. I don’t know that I’ve ever bought into that mentality – all those ideas that the ridiculous fitspo memes unfortunately perpetuate – but after having my second kid, I’m more of a non-believer than ever. I’m human. I’m cool with that. Sometimes, a lot of times, I fall short. I miss miles. I skip workouts if I think it’s the right call or, hell, if I feel like I need to be lazy one weekend morning (looking at you, Saturday’s workout). It’s all good. I’m alright with it, more now than I have ever been. I want to check-off all those boxes as much as the next runner, but if I can’t (or choose not to), no big deal. Life goes on. It’s not going to break my training/race.


course monitoring like a champ
trading in a morning run to volunteer with my team at a major race in my city? no brainer. didn’t feel guilty for it. [~2.5 m/o G]

Looking back at the past year, when I ran the Berkeley half marathon at about three and a half months postpartum, I told myself that if I did it and felt pretty good in the thick of it, that I’d consider a spring marathon. It went better than I anticipated it would, so I figured that a spring 26.2 would be fun. Running while pregnant (both times) allowed me to re-harness my love of running just for the sake of running, but now that I wasn’t growing anyone, I wanted to return to the structure that marathon training dictates – while still being comfortable letting plans fly to the wayside if I needed to. It’s a bit of a juxtaposition – wanting to train for a marathon because I like and thrive on the structure but remaining willing to tell said structure to eff off from time to time – but it worked for me.

cheesin' at Berkeley
mid-run cheese


In my first marathon postpartum, at 7 months, I virtually tied my PR with a high 3:20 (fifty seconds slower than my PR, and on a pretty warm day), and not long later, I comfortably helped pace a woman to her first marathon finish and BQ at a 3:30. I could have been pissed about coming this close but still falling short of my PR attempt at Modesto, but honestly, I wasn’t. I ran a time at 7 mos PP that it took me 2.5 years to reach after having my first; c’mon. Of course I was going to be happy with that. About 9 weeks later, when I ran another marathon as a comfortable LR and helped pace a woman to her first marathon finish (natch) and BQ (3:30, baller), when I was beginning to feel kinda mentally burnt-out, I was again thrilled with how my running was shaping up so soon, relatively speaking, after G. I couldn’t have run that pace a year after having A, and I did it less than a year after having G and while still also BFing exclusively. Why wouldn’t I be happy with that?!

Modesto '16 - juuuuuust outside my PR and having an effing ball
Modesto ’16 – juuuuuust outside my PR and having an effing ball


but really, if you can't take two seconds to look like an idiot for a camera mid-marathon, why bother. (PEM '16)
but really, if you can’t take two seconds to look like an idiot for a camera mid-marathon, why bother. (PEM ’16)

With all of this, I’m not insinuating that I’m any better a runner than I am; instead, I’m sharing my experiences because I’m trying to harp on the importance of having some perspective in your postpartum running. It’s up to you whether you find value and worth in comparing your postpartum performances to your ones pre-baby, but if you do, please please please remember how much your life and body have both changed so profoundly and dramatically in the process. Becoming a mom isn’t a handicapping attribute to sport, despite what you might have gleaned from Olympics commentators, yet at the same time, it’s unrealistic to think that becoming a mom doesn’t change your running (or your body) in some long-lasting ways. Having two kids now hasn’t written off my will to compete (with myself or with others); if anything, being able to nearly-PR my marathon 7 months out makes me really excited to continue on this road (or trail, sure) and see where it ultimately leads. I have goals and ideas and dreams and aspirations, but like I’ve explained, it’s all day-by-day. I’m along for the ride as much as anyone.

speaking of ride... (10 mo. G)
speaking of ride… (10 mo. G)
winning the 5k baby mama division (while pregnant) in 2015 at - Santa Cruz
more rides … winning the 5k baby mama division (while pregnant) in 2015 at – Santa Cruz – while pushing A


winning the baby mama 10k at with G (just shy of 8 mos.) and winning another running stroller - so fun
and more rides still: a year later, winning the baby mama 10k at SC while pushing baby G (just shy of 8 mos.) and winning another running stroller – so fun. If you are local, put s.i.b. on your calendar.


With all of this in mind, then, if you’re reading this and you’re postpartum, I think the biggest takeaway I can give to you (and to myself) related to postpartum running is to just relax.

You’ll develop your speed again (and at least anecdotally, from virtually any mother I’ve talked to who ran pre-pregnancy and has continued to run postpartum, you’ll probably get faster. Chalk it up to using your running time more wisely, I guess?).

You’ll develop your strength again (and here, you’ll probably be able to throw down more. Hauling around children does wonders for your strength, if not also leaving you a little creaky from time to time).

You’ll develop your training volume again (if you want to. Your world is different now. You might want to, or you might not. Different strokes).

I don’t think there’s any real value in giving yourself a deadline of when you want things to happen. Put in the effort, be ready and willing to work when your body is capable of handling it, and just let things unfold. Don’t think that just because X hasn’t happened by your arbitrary date that you’re somehow incapable of realizing the goal. This shit takes time – all good things do, right? – and again, with postpartum running, you’re figuring out how to “do” your life again. It’s tough. It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s tough. I don’t know when you can say that you’ve figured it all out because if babies/kids are good at anything, they’re pros at disrupting schedules juuuuuuuuust when you think you’ve got everything figured out – they change so much and so quickly – but hey, parenting, running – take it in stride, ya know? Literally and metaphorically. Step at a time, mis amigas.

even a rocky step is a step. (at the peak of mission peak - Sept '16)
even a rocky step forward is a step forward. (ridiculous and awkward selfie at the very foggy peak of mission peak; you’re welcome – Aug ’16)


I implore you – just be patient. Chances are, you’re doing a better job than you realize. If today is rough, it doesn’t promise that tomorrow will be, too. One bad run doesn’t mean that the entire week will be garbage. Every day is an opportunity – as after-school-special cheesy as that sounds – and you’ll figure it all out. You’ll be fine.

You’re doing great.

marathoning bay area wife and mom ruminating on her love of the run