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Monday, August 21, 2017

Why I Run

I was eight miles into a 13-mile run last Sunday, and I literally felt like I had peed my pants 16 times already.  It was that humid, and I normally don't sweat a ton when I run.  However, that day was a dreaming-of-ice cream-and-ice cold-coke suffer fest.  Nothing about it felt awesome, and it was a day that makes you ask, "Why am I doing this?"  Then I was reminded...

At the end of the greenway, I saw a mini-dude riding his Strider bike.  My immediate thought was, "Who is that?!  No one that little rides a bike as well as my Logan!" <-- I'm definitely NOT competitive.  That's when I realized it WAS my Logan (duh!).  My hubby and boys surprised me and met me out on my run, and my entire mindset immediately changed.  When I saw Logan's ear-to-ear smile and heard him say, "Mommy!  You're running!  You're fast, but I'm faster!", it filled me with so much energy and pride.  We took a quick goldfish-snack break before then riding and running alongside each other.  What began as a less-than-stellar run turned into one heckuva great one thanks to my boys.

"Butterfly on my bike!"

After my race last month, all Logan wanted to do the rest of the day was "race".  He stripped down to just his underwear (because he apparently thinks my spandex shorts are underwear?) and ran sprints back and forth across my brother's cool Connecticut front lawn, proclaiming over and over again, "Mommy, I'm fast!  Mommy, I'm sweating!"  ...and just like he was my biggest, curious fan that morning, I was now his, cheering him on all the way.

This past weekend, Mike and Logan went on a camping adventure, so Cooper and I held down the fort.  We went to the park on Sunday morning and ran for an hour together.  About halfway through, Cooper farted.  LOUD.  We were smack in the middle of a crowded Country Park, and I'm sure many passersby thought it was me (who was of course immediately embarrassed).  Even Cooper himself was laughing (<-- lil' booger!).  Then in that moment, I thought to myself, "That's right, Cooper, who gives a shit what anyone thinks!?"  When finally done and stretching back in the parking lot, I looked over to see if Cooper had fallen asleep.  Instead, I was proud to see my smiling, eight-month-old boy mimicking me with his legs stretched straight up into the air.  On that morning, we both taught each other something.

I have moments of guilt in my running, just as I'm sure all parents with individual passions and goals do.  It's typically a fleeting thought though, because then I remember the competitive look in Logan's eyes and the happy smile on Cooper's face when they watch me.  We're hopefully raising our boys to be strong, confident, independent men through our athletics.  The bond I share with them is simply stronger because of my running; not only are they learning from me, but they're teaching and reminding me of so much in the process.  So sure, I have goals, and I train hard to reach them, but my running now has a bigger purpose.  I run for my boys.

 Happy Cooper

Happy Mom


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

First Race Back

A blank screen.  That's what I'm looking at right now after almost five months of not writing, and I have no clue where to start because so much has happened. much has changed.  Actually, I remember this same "lost" feeling on day one back to running after five months off, but hey, look at me now.  Sometimes, a clean slate is just what we need to get us where we want to go...

For the most part, I feel back to myself again, but I believe this to be true:  for every day you're pregnant, you need a day to recover.  It's kind of like Deena Kastor's marathon recovery advice:  for every mile you race, you need a day to recover.  For the first four five six months of Cooper's life, I was basically, well, batshit crazy.  I experienced a lot of physical symptoms (impetigo, wet skin sensations, random sweating, heart palpitations, digestion issues) that ultimately led me into some deep "what if I'm dying and can't take care of my children" anxiety.  After visiting six doctors, ruling out any auto-immune disorders, and adjusting to some new dietary restrictions, I'm finally at a place where I'm enjoying and appreciating the present instead of worrying about the future.  Cooper is now 7.5 months old, and I've officially upgraded myself to just, well, crazy.  One thing is for sure - anxiety is batshit ugly, and I don't wish it on anyone.      

Throughout these months though, being able to run again lifted these thoughts way more than any doctor could.  Once through that first eight week "sluggish-I'm slow as shit-why don't my shorts fit yet-am I sweating or was that pee?-I'm pretty sure I just farted, but yeah, I can't feel it" post-preggo phase, Coach Hubby Mike and I set up a 12-week plan to get me back to my first race, a five-miler in my hometown in CT.  Training consisted of gradually building miles, a bunch of tempo and fartlek runs, one solid speed workout, and leg strengthening work.  I hit one 60-mile week but had to be careful in dealing with some ankle pain, which was apparently caused by a slightly fallen arch and stretched retinaculum (no idea if I spelled that right) ligament during pregnancy.

Race day.  Since the race distance was not exact (slightly long), my goal was just to get back in the race mindset and do just that - race people.  At the start line, I saw a Kenyan woman and another woman in butt huggers, and I mentally weakened, saying to myself, "well, just go for third place."  Then I remembered what a college coach once said to me on a recruiting trip:  "If you treat yourself like a second-rate runner, that's always what you'll be."  Time to race, Jen.  I passed the woman in butt huggers at mile one, the Kenyan just after mile two, and won the race, averaging somewhere between 6:00-6:10 pace.  I felt strong, am incredibly appreciative for such a strong comeback, and left feeling confident as hell.

Okay, I digress.  ...I've thought a lot about that mental breakdown on the start line.  It brings me back to the day I delivered Cooper, when I took an epidural at 6cm dilated.  Was I in pain?  Of course...  every woman in delivery experiences pain.  Was it excruciating at that point?  No.  Cooper was born less than an hour after that epidural.  Perhaps I could have toughed it out?  Point being, here's what I learned about myself that day that I will carry forward into my races:  I fear the unknown/pain more than I allow myself to experience it.  Don't ever assume someone is better than you, and don't ever assume how bad something will hurt, as both will hold you back from reaching your potential.

Digression over.  So, what's next...  I'm currently nursing that same ankle after stepping on a cobblestone awkwardly last week (a scan luckily showed no bone stress), but other than that, it's time to focus on a fall marathon with either a 10K or half marathon tuneup en route.  We're still trying to navigate some sleep deprivation and general family-work-training balance, but all should only improve moving forward.  I'm excited to get my miles up to an all-time high and focus on some additional strength work too.  Plus, according to the Deena rule, I still have 1.5 months left until I'm completely myself again.  ...maybe then I'll get upgraded to no longer even being crazy, but yeah, probably not. :)

Happy Running!

Coop meeting some good college friends
Trail biker extraordinaire

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Never Give Up

Every day, at some point, I want to give up.

I oftentimes say to myself, "I want to feel normal again."  ...but then I realize, this is my new normal.  For every woman that wants a family, career, and to still fulfill their own individual goals/dreams, this crazy-ass life is normal.  I just haven't found a comfortable routine yet.

Some days, I question why we decided to have a second child.  And yes, I then feel guilty for questioning that.  Then I take one look at Cooper ... beautiful, happy Cooper ... and I can't even imagine or remember life before him.

Some days, I question why I still work.  Then I see one of my athletes conquer a goal they never thought was possible, and I'm so happy.  And they're so happy.  And then I realize - when they reach their goals, I'm happier than when I reach my own.  

Some days, I question why I give a shit about qualifying for the Olympic Trials.  Someone, another coach actually, once said to me, "Why do you care?  It's not like you'll actually go to the Olympics."  He sucks for saying that ...or maybe he doesn't suck, because he certainly fueled my fire.  And then I go for a run, and I feel free.  Happy.  I feel that fire and my deep-rooted desire, and I know that not going for this goal is not an option.

I may not be my happiest-go-luckiest self as of late, but I'll get back there.  Because after all, I'm choosing all of this.  Individually, everything makes me happy; all of it together is just a bit overwhelming right now.  It's kind of like opening a puzzle for the first time, dumping out all of its beautiful, colorful pieces, yet still saying to yourself, "How the fuck will I ever put this all together?"  ...But then eventually, even if it takes a little time, you do.

And that's why, every day, at some point, I know... I'll never give up.

Happy Running.  :)

 My beautiful boys (Logan, age three, and Cooper, age three months (as of tomorrow!)

I'm excited to finally launch my new coaching website:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Comeback Time

Aaaand just as I sit down to start my first post in over 11 weeks, Cooper of course drops the loudest poop ever... hold up.

Mm k, now that Cooper is dry and smiling (don't lie - you smile too after you poop!), let's try this again...

Yeahhhhh, I just pooped!

...Cooper Reid Goff was born happy, healthy, and adorable on November 29th.   I think he looks just like me, although when I tell people this, they laugh.  Whatever.  He's a pretty cool lil' dude when he's not crying, and we're semi-coherently managing all middle-of-the-night feeds solely because of his cuteness factor.  We're excited to move forward as our lil' family of five (Zoe will always be my first baby!), especially now that...

I FEEL HUMAN AGAIN.  I'm not gonna lie, December challenged me, both emotionally and physically, almost to the point that I don't even remember the month anymore.  Between my recovery, learning Cooper's needs, just-turned-three-nager Logan being off school for three weeks, being inactive and indoors, Christmas, not sleeping, and my raging hormonal swings (i.e. lotsa irrational tears), there were moments I thought I belonged in a psych ward.  Oh, and to all the mamas on Facebook that make like everything is so perfect, which therefore makes other mamas question what the heyull they're doing wrong, can you please get real?  Because you know that after you snap 'n' post that two-second photo of your baby/toddler smiling, he/she is not smiling.  Ready, like this:

Facebook "appropriate" photos:
 Logan loves Christmas!

Such a peaceful Christmas elf!

Two seconds later (and not quite making the Facebook cut):
 Logan hates Christmas!

Such an angry Christmas elf!

K, thanks.  So yeah, back to feeling human again.  Now that Cooper is establishing more of a routine and is old enough to go out in public, I don't feel so "coop"ed up anymore.  Furthermore, having gotten a boob infection (better known as mastitis, or as I like to call it, masTITis), I decided to call it quits on pumping, which gives me another level of, call me selfish if you'd like, freeeeedom.  And of course, after awaiting this day for about five months, on January 10th, I went for my first run again.  HALLELUJAH!  

...Day one was a 2.5 mile run.  It was only supposed to be two miles, but my cloudy brain thought that 1.25 miles out + 1.25 miles back = 2 miles.  Oh okay.  Anywho, the run felt amazing.  I mean, my lungs burned like shit, but I knew to expect that.  Having been back at it for a week now, I've gone four miles at the longest and plan to hang at this mileage for another week or so.  The good news is that I feel like I can run A LOT farther; I just don't want to compromise my comeback.  I'm keeping the effort level easy as well and am happy to be hitting under 8's in doing so.  

I have a long road ahead in reaching my 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon qualifying goal, but I'm okay with that.  I'm very confident, and the training for me is the fun part anyway.  While I'm likely to race a marathon again before the end of 2017, this one will just be about being back out there (I mean, don't get me wrong, I will still race).  My focus right now is to heal from pregnancy, get my core and general strength back, and gradually return to the form I was in at the end of 2015.  Not to mention, I still have about, ohhh, 10 pounds of the 3B's (boobs, belly, 'n' butt) to shed, but that will happen in time.  The plan is that come early 2018, I will be fully targeting the OTQ standard. 

Speaking of the OTQ standard, although there has been no official announcement yet from the USATF, an inside source has informed me that it will remain at 2:45:00 for women unless the actual Olympic standard eases again (the USA trials standard cannot be faster than the Olympic standard).  The qualifying window will open on September 1, 2017, and the Olympic Trials race location/date will likely not be determined until the end of 2017.

Happy Happy Happy
comeback running!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

34 Weeks

I've set a new pregnancy PR!  At this 34-week mark three years ago, Logan was born, but Butter is still hanging in there.  I can tell this kid is gonna be a strong and excited little fella, especially by how hard he is kicking the shit out of me right now.

Now, mama on the other hand, is a big ol' lethargic bitch.  Seriously, I admit it.  I'm not a pleasant person to be around for more than, say, 27 minutes.  I'll be totally fine at minute 26, and then BAM, you better get the hell away from me because...BITCH.

Here's why:

*  It's been nine weeks exactly since my last run.  With Logan, I had nine weeks off total including my preggo recovery time.  At this point, even if I were to give birth, say, tomorrow, I'm looking at 15 weeks and one day of no running (not that I'm counting).  I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is nada, but when you're inactive, gaining weight rapidly, and seeing your ass jiggle in places it didn't jiggle before, you realize your goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials just got that much harder.  Not that I'm not up for the challenge of course, but you get the point.

*  At 28 weeks, bed rest was recommended, as my cervix was already 50% effaced (basically, softened and shortened, which is one of the signs of labor).  Yeah, so, Dear Doc, do you know me?    Mama ain't got the time or patience for bed rest.  I did, however, stop all exercise completely, even suspending my gym membership so I couldn't be enticed to break the rules.  It's crazy how the lack of activity makes me SO tired.  I've seriously put my underwear on inside out a minimum of four times now.  I honestly have no idea what the hell I'm doing anymore.  

*  When I see another pregnant woman running in, say, 80-90 degree weather, I want to tackle them.  Okayyyy, so maybe I'm bitter and jealous.  I always try to do everything right during pregnancy, but my lil' body just really likes making fat babies that need to come out early (Butter was measuring a month ahead and nearly four pounds already at 30 weeks... 98th percentile or something), so I need to be more careful than some others.  I have to admit though, the no exercise thing is undoubtedly what has kept Butter cooking.  Realizing that exercise is actually a negative thing for my pregnant self is just, well, kinda depressing.

*  Okay people, stop telling me I'm cute.  My face feels like a marshmallow speckled with red glitter, i.e. pale and puffy with blisters.  Yeah no, I don't have acne...I have blisters.  WTH?  And when you tell me, "You're all belly!  You've gained no extra weight!"  Really, how do you know this?  Because I could strip down naked right now and show you the extra jiggle shit.  So, seriously, I realize I sound like an ungrateful bitch by saying all of this (but I've already established that I am a bitch, so why are you surprised?), but please stop mocking me.  I feel awful.  I would so much rather you say, "Jen! OMG!  You look like shit!" ...because then this would at least match how I feel, and I can be like, "I know, right?!"  Then we could continue to have a pleasant conversation without me secretly wanting to punch you in the face.

So, you can probably tell that I'm not one of those women that loves the process of being pregnant, but I also know I should shut up (<-- I just kinda suck at that).  I know the end result is 100% worth it, and I'm appreciative that my body allows me to do this at all, as not all women are as fortunate.  I thought about whether or not to even post this blog, as I feel guilty for complaining about something that truly is so wonderful...

Recently, I've had too many friends deal with situations that no one should have to go through:  being diagnosed with cancer for a second time, losing their battle with cancer, and one that sacrificed her own life during childbirth to save that of her unborn daughter.  The latter will stick with me forever, as Mandy would have been the best mom.  Even in pregnancy's toughest moments, she undoubtedly found the bright side in them, as Mandy was certainly a better person than me.  I hope the community continues to support this family.   

I most likely won't blog again until after Butter is here.  What I'm looking forward to most is giving Logan a little brother.  Logan has really enjoyed being the household helper recently, so my first task for him will be all middle of the night wake-ups and feeds (<-- I mean, seriously, how awesome would that be??).   And finally, I of course can't wait to start training again.  Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps, almost like my face is going to explode.  I just have to remember what I try to instill in all my runners...patience.  I have no idea how everything will work/balance yet, but I do know we'll figure it out.

Happy Running!

 30 Weeks?  I've stopped taking bump pics since this one...

Some of my awesome runners threw me an awesome shower with this awesome cake! 

Our little man is growing up.  ...almost three years old! 

Happy Halloween!  Logan with his girlfriend, Edie. 

Butter wanted to dress up too...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

27 Weeks

Yeah, so, I'm getting big.  While in the gym earlier this week, the front desk lady gasped and exclaimed, "Ohmigod!" as I waddled through the door.  Then some dude thought it was funny to tease me while lifting five pound weights by saying, "Hey there, your sit-ups aren't working!"  It did actually make me chuckle, until I suddenly had the urge to punch him in the face (no worries, I refrained).  In any event, shit is getting real.

Around 18 weeks, my running actually started to pick back up.  I snuck back under 8:00 pace, while still at recovery effort, and felt so thankful that my body was letting me do this.  Then somewhere around 19 weeks, my feet got really fat, and I no longer had sneakers that fit.  So, in my stubborn-ass nature, I put on the one pair in my closet that actually did still fit, full-well knowing that this particular shoe was BAD for my running gait.  "It's just one run," I thought.  "What are the chances that something will go wrong?" I thought.  Yeah, so, about a mile into that run, I pulled my calf.  BAD.  I ended up with about two weeks of no running.  That's when this happened:

What do you get when you cross a pregnant chick with the inability to run or drink wine?  A hole punched through your bathroom wall.

Luckily, we took a really nice trip to Maine right after this happened.  We had some cooler weather, lots of opportunities for cross-training (kayaking, hiking; etc.), and other distractions.  However, on our final night in Maine, I ate a cheeseburger (obviously) ...but then threw the entire thing up a few hours later.  Oh dear lawd, my pregnant ass is revolting against beef!  Therefore, when we got home, this happened:

What do you get when you cross a pregnant chick with the inability to run, drink wine, or eat cheeseburgers?  A hole punched through your other bathroom wall.  
(Hot dayumn I'm strong!)

Luckily after this, I was able to start running again.  Except now, I was around 22 weeks, and my GI system started to perform some really special tricks (which was eventually determined to be from my daily white chocolate mocha), and my uterus was starting to cramp.  Around 20 weeks, I was diagnosed with partial placenta previa, which means my placenta is somewhat covering my cervix.  The risk with this is the placenta tearing, which can send you into pre-term labor.  The doc advised to stop running if I felt any cramping and that if I progressed to complete previa (or if the partial did not clear by 28 weeks), most of my activity would be halted.  So, from that point forward, running became very spotty, and from 25 weeks on, has basically been non-existent.  The cramping and the urge of a baby falling out at any second is, ya know, a tad unsettling.  Now, with less than a week to go until my 28-week mark, the partial previa has yet to clear.  So, that's why this happened:

What do you get when you cross a pregnant chick with the inability to run, drink wine, eat cheeseburgers, or drink white chocolate mochas, topped with the lingering threat of not being able to move at all?  A fully torn off car sun visor, irrationally accomplished while sitting at a red light.
(Do I need anger management??)

I've still been able to ride the recumboring bike and the elliptikillme in the gym, but I'm not gonna lie, that shit blows.  However, I do it because my running goals sit thick in my heart, and I will be thankful I stayed in shape during this pregnancy.  If after next week I'm taken off all activity, I'll probably be somewhat distraught, but hey, it's for a very good cause, and well, we do have a third bathroom...

I find myself cringing now when someone asks me, "Are you still running?"  Many people think your level of activity during pregnancy is a choice.  Maybe for some it is, but for others, you have to listen to your body and doctor and do what's best for your baby.  If it actually was my choice, I'd head out the door for a 20-mile run right now, but unfortunately, that's not in the cards for my body.  I actually had someone call me a wuss (granted, they said it jokingly, but still!) when I mentioned I was going to the gym to ride the recumboring bike.  That was like a knife going through my chest.  At that moment, I wanted to drink six white chocolate mochas and then invite him over to my house, where I'd lock him inside for 24 hours...  

Do you ever drive past a greenway, trail, or other runners and start crying because you want to be running SO BADLY?  That's where I'm at right now.  Here's the thing though... I know this is going to serve me SO WELL.  My desire and drive has never been greater while dealing with the forced rest, and like I've said before, I truly believe this is how some women come back from pregnancy faster than ever.  Screw the hormone levels and blood volumes; it's about heart and guts.  How bad do you want it?  I know I want it more than ever. 

T-Minus 12 weeks and five days (but let's be real, most likely less for me) until we get to meet our new little man!  And T-Minus 18 weeks and five days until I can start training again!  ...not that I'm counting. :)

Happy Running!

Here's a little of what we've been up to these past 10 weeks...

Butter's room is starting to take shape!

We're fortunate to have the new LeBauer Park in Greensboro. 

Fun times with family and friends in Rangeley, Maine

I'm fortunate to have so many beautiful mama friends!

Neighborhood cocktail party (minus the cocktails for me!)
25 weeks along

National Folk Festival in Greensboro

Logan is picking up my carbo-loading slack!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

17 Weeks

Don't try this at home:  vacationing with a toddler while pregnant and therefore unable to 1) drink wine, and 2) go out for hard runs.  Or, if you do, bring a babysitter.

Mike, Logan, and I ventured to Wrightsville Beach for the Fourth of July weekend.  Totally my idea, which was probably a stupid one.  Don't try this at home:  listening to a pregnancy-brain laden pregnant chick's ideas.  

The weekend was full of toys being thrown off our third floor balcony, crayons being thrown across restaurant booths, blood-curdling screaming for no apparent reason, "no mommy sit" (I'm apparently supposed to stand at all times now), and eating meals realllly fast to ensure we actually got to eat before the tyrant sounded his alarm.  "Tyrant" is now in the running for baby boy #2's name.  "Butter Tyrant Goff" - definitely has a good ring to it.   

Okay, it wasn't really that bad.  It was awesome to see the beach and especially how well Logan does in the water.  Our little dare-devil apparently has no fear diving off a pool ledge and seemed to pick up some basic swim techniques easily.  Logan just may be a triathlete in the making - and I hate to admit this - with running being his weakest link.   NOOOOOOO!

Air Logan!

The highlight of the trip for me, probably to no surprise, was a run on the beach unintended one at that.  Since the Saturday morning temp was already 80 degrees with ridiculous humidity, I didn't set out to run for fear of frying the Butter Tyrant.  Therefore, I planned a leisurely walk on the beach instead.  That afternoon, I threw on my now ill-fitting bikini and headed toward the ocean.  The sand was hot, so I ran down and realized that not only did I feel good, there was an awesome breeze coming at me.  Therefore, I kept running, taking two-minute breaks every ten minutes to douse myself in water.  Lemme tell ya... if you want people to stare at you in shock/horror, go running on the beach pregnant, barefoot, and in a bikini that does not fit properly.  I didn't care though.  I felt so good, almost Baywatch-like, except my new gargantuan, science-experiment-like boobs are actually real, and I have a gut.  I made it about five miles before realizing how blistered my feet were from the rocky beach sediment and called it a day.  Pure bliss.

At 17 weeks along (halfway according to Logan), running has become harder but is still going fairly well.  I'm running three to six miles at a time now, four to five days per week, and have slowed considerably in sticking to recovery pace effort (about 8:30).  I have more occurrences of walk breaks, mostly humidity-driven, but listening to my body is most important right now (although isn't it always!).  All-in-all, I'm 100% content with what my body is allowing me to do at this point.

In the next two weeks, we need to decide if I'm going to start weekly progesterone injections to help stave off pre-term labor.  We would of course prefer to not have another baby in the NICU but also don't like the idea of pumping my ass (literally - the injections are in the ass) with a synthetic hormone.  If we decide to do it, I anticipate running becoming even tougher, as additional hormones are guaranteed to make anyone batshit crazy.  This is NOT part of our decision-making, but I need to be prepared for what the final 20 weeks could bring.  Therefore, if you see me running down the road with a botox-looking ass (maybe I really should be on Baywatch?!) and crying simultaneously, you'll know what we decided.  I just have to keep reminding myself that this is temporary and will ALL be worth it.   

Streaming the 2016 Olympic Track Trials this week has provided me motivation when getting my 12-pounds-and-growing heavier ass out the door to run at 6am feels tough.  It's a wonderful reminder to enjoy and appreciate life in the present but to always keep your eyes on the prize.  I'm coming 2020... 

Happy Running!

obligatory (17 week) bump pic

 Another highlight from Wrightsville was the food (the taste, not the speed at which we ate).  This was a delicious smoothie in a bowl from Sundays Cafe, which followed a massive gouda cheese-baked bean-brown sugar-cole slaw burger from Poe's Tavern (ate it too fast to get a pic).