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!

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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.

New Goals–What’s Beautiful?

Thanks to Mother Nature, I barely ran this past week.  Tuesday evening was stormy – thunder, lightning…so Twilight Tuesday was cancelled.  However, I found a TV exercise game online.  I did the exercises during Dancing with the Stars The Results show. 

I did get to Bikram Yoga on my lunch time on Wednesday.  I followed that up with a 2 mile run on Thursday morning before work.  All in all, not bad for someone who completed 2 half marathons in 8 days.  I probably needed the rest more than I realized.

Next week, I will be building back up my miles and beginning speedwork in preparation for my next challenge. Thanks to the encouragement of the wonderful Dr Shauna Harrison, I have signed up for the Under Armour What’s Beautiful competition.  If you don’t know, Under Armour Women “are redefining the female athlete by setting epic goals and pushing past where we’ve ever been and where we thought we could go.”  As a part of the challenge, you set goals for yourself with the hopes of crushing them.

I had already set a challenge for myself for 2013.  I planned to run 13 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.  Well, in the past few months, I have blown through more than half of my goals.  At this point,month 5, I have already run 6 races including 2 half marathons!!!  So for my challenge, I have upped the ante so to speak.  I am aiming for a sub-three hour half marathon! Yes, that means I will be running at least one more this year!  My specific goal is:

I Will run 13 races in 2013 including a sub-3 hour half marathon and rebuild my core.

I’m still working on my Summer/Fall race schedule.  However, I’m thinking Rock N Roll Philly and/or the Baltimore Running Festival will probably be on it.  One of those two will be my goal race.  This will mean running and training strong this summer to be ready to blow through this next goal. 

Classes are done for this school year so I get my Thursday evenings back.  That means 3-4 runs and 2-3 crosstraining sessions are back in the schedule.  Woohoo!  This week’s schedule looks like this:

Monday – Bikram Yoga

Tuesday – Twilight Tuesday Tempo Run 3-4 miles

Wednesday – ?

Thursday – Speedwork

Friday – Bikram Yoga

Saturday – Long Run 6-8 miles

Let’s see how I do this week!

What are your goals for this week?  Are any of you doing the Under Armour What’s Beautiful challenge?  Is anyone else sick of this crazy weather?

A Quest for Tights

It’s Fall which is perfect running weather.  As the weather grows colder, it is time to figure out what to wear to run.  There are many blog posts and articles out there which can help you.  Cold Weather Tips for Beginners on active.com is one.  The Never Say Never November 2012 issue of Runner’s World has a great article titled “Bottoms Up” which is a great gear review for cold weather bottoms.  So this post isn’t about to recreate the wheel.  What I am going to do is share with you my quest for the perfect tights for my fellow hysterrunners. (WARNING – This post is longer than normal for me.)

Women who have had a hysterectomy know of the dreaded swelly belly.  What is swelly belly you may ask?  Well, according to the HysterSisters website, swelly belly “refers to post-op swelling of the abdomen. It can occur in any type of hysterectomy procedure, but seems to be more prevalent in abdominal surgeries.
The current views are that swelly belly is caused by trauma to the abdominal tissues, gasses used during surgery, and/or fluids collecting in the tissues due to trauma during surgery.”  Trust me when I tell you that it is UNCOMFORTABLE, especially at the end of the day.  From what I have seen and read, it can last for up to 16 months post-surgery!!! YUCK!!!

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Because I don’t intend to let swelly belly stop me from being a hysterrunner, I need to find running tights which support it.  During the day, I have been wearing a girdle under my clothes to support my injured stomach muscles in much the same way as someone would ear an Ace bandage to support an injured ankle.  However, girdles don’t cut it for running.  Hence, the quest.

On the HysterSisters site, a fellow hysterrunner had mentioned that compression tights were best.  I agree with that.  Now which ones should I choose became the question.  So during this month, I have tried 4 different types of compression tights – Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Compression, Nike Element Thermal, Saucony AmpPro2 Training Tight, and the CW-X PerformX.  You can check out the individual websites for their official features and compression fit for muscle stability, etc.  What I am going to share with you is how they worked for me and my swelly belly.

Saucony AmpPro2 – I had high hopes for these tights.  They came in a cute tube which I have had displayed on my television console during my entire recovery period.  They were what I dreamed of wearing when I ran my first post-op run.  For compression, my legs felt wonderful! For swelly belly, these were a no-go!  They were subject to slippage.  In fact, 1/4 mile into my first run, I felt a cool breeze as I discovered that they had slipped below my butt.  It was a good thing my shirt was long in the back!  They also didn’t really sit right over the belly and provide any support above the legs.  I will save these for next Fall/Winter when I can wear them with a pair of shorts over them because of the leg compression.

Nike Element Thermal – When I put these on, I liked the fact that there was a drawstring so I could pull them tighter around my waist and belly.  They also have a brushed fleecy feel on the inside which makes them warm and cozy just where it is needed.  Like the Saucony tights, these also were great for my legs.  They were ok to run in; but, I still had a bit of a belly jiggle going on.

CW-X PerformX – These were the third pair I tried.  I was planning to save them for a long run because of their reputation for supporting muscles that have gone the distance.  But when I realized that my first two choices weren’t as supportive as I would have liked, I decided to try them out on a 2-mile run.  As soon as I put them on, I was in heaven.  My muscles and joints truly felt like they were in alignment.  They provided perfect pressure and support to my swelly belly as well.  When I ran in them, I didn’t hear LL Cool J rapping – you’re jiggling baby! I had hit the motherlode.  These tights are the go-to in compression for most runners and they are definitely the go-to for me as a hysterrunner.  However, the price is somewhat cost prohibitive.  I want to be able to run 3-4 times a week and only one pair isn’t going to be enough.  So I continued my quest.

Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Compression – Last but not least, I tried these.  They look like plain black tights; no fancy stitching or reflective stripes.  They don’t even have a drawstring waist. But…wait for it…they have an awesome fit for my swelly belly!  They come up above my waist with just enough support and pressure.  I wore them around the house for about an hour before I headed out for my run and didn’t feel uncomfortable.  They kept supporting me while I ran and I only heard LL when my MP3 shuffled to him!  These are definitely a keeper.

So, basically I have come up with 2 pairs of running tights which are about to be in heavy rotation this cold weather running season that work with the swelly belly of this hysterrunner.  CW-X and Under Armour will be my new best friends.  I will probably invest in at least one more pair, which one will depend on if I can get a sale or not. (I’m a frugal Franny!)

I should probably tell you that I was not provided with any of these tights for free.  I bought most of them on clearance during the summer when everyone else was focused on shorts. (Frugal Fanny again!)

Talk to you all soon! Continue to Never Say Never this November!

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

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