Being a Hysterrunner is What’s Beautiful

Last night as I have for most Tuesday nights of the past year, I ran with Twilight Tuesday’s Baltimore Black Girls Run group.  After the run, I led our brief ab workout which we started doing in May.  When I was cleared to go back to doing core work in March, I could barely do 10 crunches.  They were brutal.  When I planked with my husband in Brooklyn the week before the Cherry Blossom, my abs were sore for days.  Now I can do several types of crunches in sets of 1 minute several times a week.  I also can get through Bikram yoga and other core work in ways I wasn’t able to before.  I may not have a flat stomach or be an elite runner, but I truly can say that I have grown as a hysterrunner.  I have embraced the mantra of NO UTERUS, NO PROBLEM and it’s been beautiful learning about myself in this way.

Last night, I was reminded that there are other hysterrunners out there and others who one day may be hysterrunners or hysteryogis or anything.  You never know when someone may need to hear your story or in this case, my story.

One of the newbies to our group joined us last night.  She has been training for the BWC using the Couch to 5K and attending their sessions.  She made it through 2.5 miles with us in 35 minutes.  It was the furthest she had gone.  She then stayed for the ab work.  When we were done, she mentioned that she was so glad that she had come out because she had begun to get discouraged with her progress.  I shared my story with her which prompted her to tell hers.  She has had some health scares, including a hysterectomy in 2011.  She then proceeded to say that some days she feels as if her body belongs to an 80 year old woman.  Dawn & I talked with her at length about how with exercise and proper nutrition she can begin to feel better.  She was so happy to have found a group of supportive women that she almost cried.  I was glad that she was able to feel supported and hope she returns.

You see when I realized that my hysterectomy was inevitable, I searched for information about fitness and exercise post-hysterectomy.  I barely found anything.  I decided to start this blog because I knew there were others like me who needed to hear that it was possible to become fit and come back to your best self even if you weren’t the fittest chick before surgery.  It is my hope that my little blog can reach someone and support them in the way that meeting the newbie last night and sharing my story in person did.  I am still on this journey and I invite you to continue to join me.  I know that I am what’s beautiful.  I thank Under Armour for reminding women of that with their challenges.  But I also know that there are so many other women who are not a part of the Under Armour women community who need to be reminded that they are what’s beautiful.  For my hysterrunners out there, remember…

No uterus, no problem!

No uterus, no problem!

A Hysterrunner in San Francisco

The week after Memorial Day, I travelled to San Francisco for the Society for Prevention Research conference.  For those of you who may be new to my blog, in my non-running life I am a prevention scientist.  This is my fourth time attending this particular conference.  There is always a group fun run/walk on the Thursday hosted by the organizers which I’ve participated in each year.  But this year was different.  Last year, the conference was in Washington, DC.  I mostly walked the 3 mile loop from the hotel to the Mall and back.  This year, I am in much better shape as a hysterrunner.  So I did so much more than participate in the run/walk.

I arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon.  I checked in to the hotel and grabbed my yoga gear.  I had arranged to take a Muscle and Flow yoga class with my friend and Under Armour Women sponsored trainer Dr Shauna Harrison.

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The view from my hotel room!

I had been wanting to take this class with Shauna for a while.  When I realized that I would be in the Bay Area, I knew this would be my chance.  The train ride to get to Redwood City was uneventful.  The class was AWESOME!!!  It is not your average yoga class.  It is a fusion of different styles of yoga coupled with hip hop and R & B music.  If you are ever in the Bay Area, make it a point to get to this class. My only complaint was that about halfway through the class, jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks.  It got really hard to focus as my body started to shut down.  I had to spend a little time in half lotus pose resting to catch myself.  Other than that, I loved this class.  Shauna is going to be in the Baltimore area again at the end of this month.  I am going to try to get to the Hip Hop Cycle class that she’s teaching while she is here.  I was so tired when we left that I forgot to take a picture of us together.

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Above is the view from the train & a pic that Shauna tweeted about the #sweatpink laces I brought her.

Wednesday was spent completely involved in the conference.  I presented that day so there were no additional exercise breaks.  Thursday, however, more than made up for it.  I was able to get in TWO RUNS for the first time ever.  The first run was 3.39 miles from the hotel to Fisherman’s Wharf and back as a part of the fun run/walk.  I was able to explore the Embarcadero and even saw sea lions.

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The second run was possible thanks to a twitter connection.  Mizuno was hosting a Sunset Run in conjunction with Fleet Feet San Francisco.  There was a tweet about the Sunset Run which led to a series of tweets and DMs between me, Fleet Feet, and Seth and Jeff of Mizuno Running.  The Sunset Run was at Chrissy Field along the Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.  The weather was perfect.  Every one there remarked that it is usually chilly and foggy when they host them.  I was glad that the weather held up.  The run was from 3-5 miles to the base of the bridge and back.  I was able to get 4.5 miles in total.  But, the best part about it is that I was able to try some cool new Mizuno Wave Inspire running shoes.  They felt great to run in.  They gave me the support that I need as a moderate pronator but they were so much lighter than my Sauconys.  I felt like  I was cheating on Team Saucony but that Mezamashii feeling was great.

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I wish I didn’t have to give back the shoes.  I really want to know how they would feel on a long run.  I did get a really cool glass and washcloth to bring back East with me.

If anyone had told me last year that I would not only be completing the fun run while away at a conference but also that I’d be fitting in time to do yoga and running twice in one day, I would have said they were crazy.  Now look at me!

How do you fit in exercise when you travel?  What is your favorite way to sightsee?  Tell me about it in the comments.

What A Difference A Year Makes…

Today is National Running Day 2013!

natl running day

Last year, after my high blood pressure scare, I was cleared to run on May 30th.  My first run with Black Girls Run was the next day – June 1, 2012.  It was a celebration run as BGR: Baltimore was celebrating its one-year anniversary with a fun run hosted by Charm City Run.  It also coincided with National Running Day.  I was just excited to be running again.  I did my first 3 miles using the Galloway method that day.  Two weeks later I ran my first 5K at the Baltimore Women’s Classic.

Today, I ran just under 3 miles in less than 40 minutes which after the year I’ve had is incredible.  I may have been sidelined by health issues but I have come back.  Throughout my recovery, running has been key.  Whether I run 1/4 mile or 13.1, I am a runner.  Running has helped me to stay sane despite my health challenges and to become healthier in the process.  I am several pounds lighter and my HBP is under control.

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The pic on the left is from 6/1/2012; on the right is from 6/5/2013.

To celebrate National Running Day, besides my run, I registered for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia.  Last year, I would have never thought anything longer than a 5K was possible for myself.  This year, I have already run 6 races out of my #13in2013 goal, including 2 10-milers and 2 half marathons.

RnR half natl running day

I am truly proud of how far I have come.  I am looking forward to continuing to become that fit chick!  I love being a hysterrunner!

Did you go for a run for National Running Day?  How has your running progressed in the last year?  Share your responses in the comments.

From Iron to Titanium in 1 Week!

This week I ran the Half Marathon at the Frederick Running Festival, one week after running in my first Half Marathon, the Athleta Iron Girl. I made it through the challenge and am now a Titanium Girl!

To recap, I travelled with my family to Frederick on Saturday afternoon. We drove straight to the Fairgrounds for the Expo to pick up my race packet. This was a relatively smooth process. I bought a Titanium Girl t-shirt and….

A special edition ViewSport tank just for the FRF! I can’t wait to wear it on a run when it warms up! When activated, the hidden image says “Run Frederick!” I love my purple long sleeve. Now I have a tank to rock.

We checked out the Kids Fun Run for a few then headed to the hotel. I set out my outfit for the morning. Then, we headed to Applebee’s for dinner. Nothing too fancy; just shrimp and pasta. When we got back to the hotel, I showered, checked twitter and hit the hay by 10. Sleep was a bit rough, though. Next time, I’m bringing my own pillow and sleep mask.

I woke up, got dressed and hubs dropped me at the start. I met up with some of my Black Girls Run ladies and took this pic.

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It was right after this that I realized I forgot my GymBoss timer back in Baltimore! Ugh! I rely on my timer to keep me at a 13 minute pace. Cue minor freakout! A few deep breaths later, I got on line for the bathroom which was ridiculously long. I barely made it to the start on time. As a result, I started at the very back as opposed to in the 13/14 minute pace group. That was ok, though because I got to see my Soror Cecily in the caboose section!

After the start, I couldn’t find my rhythm for the first mile. Then, just as I did, I realized I was a bit too hydrated. I had to make another pit stop at the Mile 3 water stop. When I came out, I literally ran into one of my professional mentors, a fellow PhDiva who happens to be an ultrarunner. She was pacing another Titanium Challenge girl. I decided to run/walk with them for a bit.

At about Mile 8, we got a police escort. Although we were on pace to finish within the course time limit, the cops starting moving people off the course and on to the sidewalk. I stayed with them until Mile 11. Then, I took off. I ran past the police and caught up with the turtle pack. As I came onto the track, my family was there waiting with signs which was just the push I needed to finish strong. I came in slower than last week but I still finished.

My time wasn’t impressive but for a hysterrunner going from 0 miles to back to back Half Marathons, finishing is a blessing!

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The turtle with the gecko.

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The turtle and the caboose - Finishers!

Have you ever feared the sweeper? How were your runs/races this weekend? Tell me about it in the comments.

My Medical Progress & Monthly Goals

I haven’t written official monthly goals in a few months.  But, it’s May, the month for mothers, especially mother runners Smile! So I ‘m writing them down.

I still have some twinges of pain in my incision from time to time, especially with extra exertion, like in a race.  In fact, after I was finished with the Iron Girl, it throbbed for a while to a beat which felt like my run pace.  I spoke to my Gynecologist at my follow-up appointment last week about this.  He said that I should expect to feel throbbing for up to a year.  He said it would be ok if I worked on abdominal work, though.  I had been trying it intermittently, with the exception of Bikram Yoga, because it hurts.  The night before my surgery I did 175 different types of crunches because I could.  Now I can barely do 10.  However, I have no adhesions and have healed well so I can focus on building back up my abs. Woohoo!

I had my follow-up general practitioner doctor appointment on Monday, the day after the Iron Girl.  I wore my medal to the appointment, of course.  My BP is down to 120/80!!! We were both very excited to see those numbers.  I still need to stay on the single medication for now but we will be reassessing in 4 months.  My task until then is to take my pressure before and after a few runs as well as to do a few test days without medication and take my pressure on each of them.  The research scientist in me is looking forward to collecting this data. LOL!!!

Now that I have a clean bill of health, here are my goals for this month.

Running – Frederick Half Marathon on May 5th ~ Race 6 of #13in2013 then to maintain my distance and do some speedwork to be prepared for the Baltimore Ten Miler in June.

Abdominal Work – I’ll be adding 15-30 minutes of ab exercises to our post-Twilight Tuesday runs starting in May.  Looking forward to working with my sole sisters of BGR on a common goal.

Bikram Yoga – Get in at least 3 sessions this month.  I love Bikram.  It helps me to be more flexible and I always feel centered after these sweat pink sessions Winking smile!

Strength Training – Help! I need to figure something out that is consistent.  This is my weakest link!  My goal this month is to figure out how to be strong.

Do you set fitness goals?  Have you dealt with coming back from illness?  Share your experiences in the comments.

I am an IRON GIRL!!!

I am truly humbled by my journey over the past 8 months.  When I got the idea for this blog.  I was still on bed rest post-surgery.  In fact, when I decided to run a half marathon, I was in the middle of a hormonally charged crying jag and in extreme pain.  During the ugly cry, I was babbling about never being able to run again. My husband convinced me to take my pain meds which I was afraid of taking by assuring me that not only could I run but I would be able to run longer distances than before. (Long story short – I’m allergic to a lot of meds and am leery of them as a result.) Being that I had been hemorrhaging for the better part of the previous 5 months, I had been limited to 3-4 mile runs.

When my hormones started to return to normal and the pain subsided a few weeks later, I decided to run one 5K a month for 2013.  Then, I heard about the Iron Girl and the #13in2013 challenge and decided to go a bit farther.  I would run 13 races, including my first half marathon.  I planned my earlier races for the year to gradually build up to this distance.  The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was actually my second peak long run for the training period.

So to recap a wonderful weekend…

Saturday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn not to head out for a long run but to take the mini to a Boy Scout STEM event which was actually held 20 minutes away from the start of the race.  I made sure to bring my water with me to stay hydrated.  When they broke for lunch, I left to pick up my race packet and hit the Expo.  I learned my lesson from the Cherry Blossom Expo and limited my time there to only about 45 minutes.  I picked up a magnet for my car and some cool arm sleeves. On my way back to base to pick up the mini, I ran 2 quick errands, including picking up some coconut water to aid in my continued hydrating, as well as to be prepared for post-race hydrating.  We headed home where I put my feet up for a few before heading to my girlfriend Betsey’s house.  She lives in Columbia so I stayed at her place to make race morning a bit smoother.  After pasta at Bertucci’s, we headed home and I prepared for a good night’s sleep.  Before going to bed, I posted the following tweet.

night before ig

Race morning, April 28, 2013 – I woke up, got dressed, and had oatmeal for breakfast. I hit the bathroom before leaving.  After a slight detour, I got to the start and needed to use the bathroom again.  I spent the next 20 minutes on line to use the Port-A-Janes and missed all BGR pre-race pics in the process.  I lined up with some friends in the 12-minute pace group just to chat but fell back to my 13-minute mile pace right as we exited the parking lot. My long slow distance runs were at a 14-minute pace with the intention of running at 13-minutes for race pace.  I was confident that this was pretty doable.  With the rolling hills of Columbia to slow me down at some points, I figured I could be done in about 3 hours.  I finished the first 5K and developed a slight stitch in my side, something that happened in longer runs during training so I was expecting it.  I lifted my arms and took deep breaths to get past it while I kept going.  At the 10K split, I was at 1:35 on point with pace and feeling pretty good.  Then came the serious hill.  Even though I trained on hills all winter, it was still hard.  The downhill had me staying in control but picking up the pace to make up for slowing down a bit earlier.  However, I run/walk on a 1:1 ratio and it was 3 intervals before I could stop running and walk.  You get to the bottom of the hill, turn the corner and have to go up a steep hill.  Most of us walked up that sucker!  The rest of the course was pretty much average rolling hills but my effort on those two steep ones definitely had me feeling the burn.  That being said, I finished strong with a final time of 3:06.12 just over my estimate but still a PR!!! LOL!!!

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Thirteen point freaking one baby! & yes, that’s a #RunChat tattoo on my shoulder!

Have you ever challenged yourself to do something new?  Have you ever run a half marathon?  Tell me about your experiences in the comments.

Faith & Fitness Friday

Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1

As I prepare for my first big race ever, this Scripture phrase is becoming more and more of a friend to me.

My hysterectomy and the events leading up to it and recovering from it was a race which I have already endured.  I know that running a foot race is possible.  I know that God has strengthened me in every way to prepare me for this race.  I just need to put my training – physical, mental, and spiritual – into practice.

Good luck to everyone running races this weekend! No matter what kind.

Travelling & Tapering

I wanted to post another Wordless Wednesday but this one needed words to go with the pictures.  I spent the weekend in Brooklyn, New York visiting my family.  Erika at Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss was kind enough to share a running route with me.  However, we didn’t have enough time to do a full route.  So my husband and I set out on a shorter, make it up as we go along, route which covered about 1 1/2 miles around my Mom’s neighborhood on Monday morning.  The route took us around Brower Park so we had to stop on the playground to get some core work and strength training in.

My core work has SUCKED since I started back about 2 weeks ago.  The night before my surgery I did my last 175 crunches (different styles).  Now, I can barely do 10 at a time of any kind.  UGH!!! Anyway, I have managed to get 2 Bikram Yoga classes in in the past 2 weeks which has helped me to ease into core work.  At the park, I worked on some push-ups and planks.  I got 5 planks in of about 30 seconds each.  My core still hurts!  Here we are:

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Me- Planking in Brooklyn

Hubby - Pushups in Brooklyn

Hubby – Pushups in Brooklyn

Since I’m tapering for the Cherry Blossom on Sunday, I have one more run left on the schedule for this week.  I will probably get about 3-4 miles in tomorrow at lunchtime around the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore.  Then, no more running to have fresh legs for the race.

What about you?  How do you train when you travel?  Any one tapering for the Cherry Blossom this week?  Let me know!

Wordless Wednesday

Rolling deep with BGR before our 10 mile long run!

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Ice Bath Haiku

ice bath haiku

As I have been training for middle distances, my mileage has increased as expected.  When I sat down to write down my training schedule, I wrote the word ICE next to each run that was longer than 8 miles.  I had heard from one of my BRFs, Real, that 8 miles was the distance that brought out the aches and pains during trains.  Anything more than 8 miles and you really feel it.  However, Real trained for her first half-marathon during the summer and raced it in the Fall.  I’m training for Spring races in the Winter.  The thought of coming in from a frosty (20-40 degrees) run and getting into an ice bath just didn’t fly with my brain.  The last thing I wanted after running next to an ice covered lake or pond was to come home and get into ice water.  No way, not me!

In February, I started doing runs longer than 8 miles but did I ice bathe after?  Nope!  I ran 9 miles the Saturday before my birthday.  On my birthday, I had a therapeutic massage.  The masseuse commented on how tight my calves were.  She is a runner herself and spent extra time getting the knots worked out.  I ran the RRCA 10 Miler a few days later to celebrate with no ice bath.  Then, my mileage dialed back a bit for a few weeks.

Fast forward to this month, I ran 9.5 miles 3 Saturdays ago and 10.3 miles last Sunday.  Following both of those runs, I came in and took my warm shower.  I wore my ProCompression Marathon socks to recover.  I made sure to stay hydrated, paid attention to the macros and micros of my diet, etc so that I would recover well.  However, for most of last week my calves were TIGHT!  My speedwork was more like slow-work.  My 7 mile easy run was cut short to 5 miles.  I did Bikram Yoga on Friday with the hopes that the heat and the stretching would help.  It didn’t.

So this Saturday’s long run of 10 miles – the last long run before the Cherry Blossom on my schedule – was BRUTAL!!!  Instead of my calves loosening up after the first few miles, they felt tighter.  I do 1:1 run/walk intervals.  I mostly walked the last 3 miles.  I finished in my worst time ever since February.  I knew it was time to embrace the ice bath.

If you haven’t taken an ice bath before, check here for some Do’s and Don’ts.  I climbed in to my tub filled with cold water, sat down and winced.  I stayed in for a little over 10 minutes.  When I climbed out and warmed up, not only did my calves feel better but aches in my hips which I had only just begun to realize existed were gone as well.  Even more important to me as a hysterrunner, the aches in my lower abdomen around my incision which I have felt since I started running again were also going away.  I thought that they were a permanent ache to deal with.  Turns out they too were just muscle aches due to running!  I’m a believer – cue The Monkees!

The Monkees–I’m A Believer

Have you ever taken an ice bath?  What do you do to recover from intense effort?

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!