Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding the mind to taper

One thing I’ve never been good at is slowing down.

When my midwives gently told me it was time to think about tapering my exercise regime, I nodded in agreement. On the inside, however, I was wondering how I’d turn this recommendation into reality.

You see, I’m the multitasking type. It’s a trait that suits me well both professionally and in my personal life. (I’ll refrain here from sharing the — mostly — mundane duties of mothering and keeping up a household) And exercising, is no exception. While out for a run I’ll organize to-do lists, brainstorm writing ideas and hash out problems. It’s rare my mind is at rest.

Hence, the thought of slowing down wasn’t exactly a welcome one.

So, I went for a run.

The day was cool as the thick tongue of the Perseverance Trail lolled out before me. Sun filtered through the cloud cover high above and cast golden reflections off newly discarded cottonwood leaves. They danced along the ground on an invisible breeze.

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I hadn’t noticed the silent arrival of fall. It had slipped in like an unseen roommate and hunkered down on Southeast’s doorstep, seemingly overnight.

A tinge of sadness and excitement filled me as I wound my way next to the rocky cliffs above Gold Creek. Summer was ending. But winter, with it’s own unique opportunities, was just around the corner.

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I realized it’s not always easy to let go of the things we’ve come to embrace, the habits that form as a result and, perhaps above all, the slow, forward march of time.

But it’s inevitable.

For me, it’s a matter of balancing the logical with the desirable — a feat not easily done for most, I think.

Certainly, exercise is a good thing. But, as my midwives reminded me, the third and final trimester of pregnancy is a time for slowing down, for preparation and relaxation. The logical side of me understands this, but my other side desires to push forward, to continue running as long as possible; there is something satisfying about being able to say “yes” to all those “are you still running?” questions.

Like the leaves that will continue to slowly fade from lime green to golden, it’s not something that has to happen overnight. But I realized it does — and will — continue to do so. Personally, I too have to accept change. A slower pace will benefit not only myself, but also my baby.

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The next day, as if the governing forces had reached a unanimous agreement, my mind was made up for me. I rolled out of bed with aching hips and newly sore muscles.

“That’s weird,” I thought. “I haven’t done any new exercises. Why would I suddenly be so sore?”

Outside, the sun of the day before had disappeared. In its place was a torrential downpour so thick it obscured the neighboring homes as if they were draped in fog.

The rain lasted for days. And the soreness, as it turns out, was a result of my hip bones beginning to slightly spread — medically, it’s termed diastasis symphysis. While not serious in my case, I was informed it’s not something to aggravate.

In the meantime, my hip sensitivity has hung around with the rainfall.

It seems my body and Mother Nature felt the need to seal the deal; slowing down was no longer a question, it was a reality.

Despite this, I’m still getting out. Running is rare, for any extended length of time, at least. Instead, I’m hiking and walking (my husband so cleverly calls it the “wike” — some of you may remember the “rike”?) And, I’ve decided to let the weather dictate my schedule. With rain dominating the forecast, I’m certain to get more than a few days of recovery time.

•••

Week-by-week:

This week's mileage: 13.21 miles.
Outings: 3.
Pregnancy stage: 36 weeks.

Friday, August 5, 2011

'Riking' and the right of way

As soon as I think I’ve heard it all, I’m proven wrong.

“You’re still running?” many have said.

“You ran how many miles yesterday?” is what I’ve heard from others.

Or, one of my personal favorites, “Did you know running causes premature labor?”

It’s questions like these that play on like a skipping CD through my weekly conversations.

I just smile and nod. Or, to the premature labor inquiry, I laugh outright and rebut with a probe on where they got their information.

Because for the record, there are many things that can cause premature labor, but running has never been proven to be one of them.

Just two days ago I heard and witnessed one of the most surprising reactions to my running regime.

As I gently shuffled down the Perseverance Trail, an out-of-town family approached from the direction of the trailhead. As they hiked, some looked skyward with binoculars, others snapped pictures and the two adults each carried backpacks with visibly stretched seams. One of the girls, likely in her teens, looked up as I approached. Her reaction was instantaneous and seemingly instinctual. With a loud, “Ahhhh,” she ran to the opposite side of the trail and hunkered behind her family as I passed.

At only 5-foot 2-inches tall, I can’t imagine I’m that scary. But perhaps the sight of a hugely pregnant woman sauntering down the trail was enough to conjure up some serious fear.

Maybe she was just giving me the right of way.

Regardless of the reason for her alarm, it was certainly a reaction I had yet to encounter. And, I sure hope she’s not haunted by the run in.

But yes, I am still running — most of the time. I’ve developed what I call the “rike.” It’s a mix of hiking and running and actually it’s not the first time in my life I’ve employed the technique. During my days as a competitive Nordic skier at the University of Colorado and Nevada, we would frequently head out into the mountains for a preseason rike with poles to simulate classic — or striding — technique.

Essentially, riking is quite simple: run the flats and rolling terrain and vigorously hike any true hill. The idea behind the technique is to maintain a stable heartrate and a stable level of exertion.

It’s perfect for pregnancy exercise, as well — especially in the mountainous terrain around Juneau. The key is to stay light on your toes. Resist settling into a true hike on the uphills — this tends to happen when the hips drop back and the torso migrates forward. I like to envision tiny springs on the balls of my feet that push me into the next stride. Using this technique, I find I’m able to tackle virtually any terrain while keeping my exertion level in check.

Another question I frequently hear is, “how much longer are you going to run?”

To that I have no exact answer.

I’m certain I’ll stay as active as possible as long as it feels good to do so. How long that will last, I can’t say.

But I do know I feel better after a run than before I start. And, I know I feel antsy and downright crummy the days that I don’t.

In the meantime, I’ll keep riking along, logging mile after smiling slow mile.

•••

Week-by-week:

This week's mileage: 21 miles.

Runs: 5.

Pregnancy stage: 34 weeks.

Trail of choice: Rainforest and Outer Point trails (Length: roughly 1 mile each).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Up!

A friend recently told me:
"Living in Juneau is like an abusive boyfriend. One minute you're getting roses and next minute you're getting treated like crap all over again."

This weekend was borderline abuse. Saturday was unexpectedly spectacular. The sun emerged for a fleeting day of pleasant 70 degree weather. Then, on Sunday, we awoke to sideways rain and clouds so low we couldn't see across the Douglas Bridge.

Sigghh.

But on a positive note, we did manage to sneak in a nice hike up Mount Roberts Saturday. The views and company couldn't have been better.

... just don't get me started on the latest "trail improvement" work that's been done on the trail ...

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Who's been pooping in our yard?

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Thoughts?

To the beach!

Oh the sunny days seem so far away ...
We've had what feels like weeks of rain. The hard, hard rain that soaks anything and anyone in its path almost instantly.
Despite how I feel, the rain has actually only hung around for about 7 days. But, clearly, I miss the sunshine.
On July 23 David, Elias and I took a nice bike ride out to northern the tip of Douglas Island. David had a new bike he wanted to break in and also yearned to pull Elias in the bike trailer for the first time since we purchased it over a year ago. (I had been the sole puller of the bike trailer for logistical reasons)
It was a hot (yes!) day and the beach was a welcome reprieve from the damp heat. We sat, soaked it all in watched as sea lions stalked salmon and hermit crabs ran for cover under the watchful eye of Elias.

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