That’s what a comeback is. You have a starting point and you build strength and momentum from there. Stay the course...remain patient. Focus on small steps that are constantly forward.
— Kara Goucher

March 10, 2018: Postpartum Running... and Deciding to Run Boston AGAIN

It's been a while since I've posted - I've had my hands full! Little Recap: Riley James Nurse came into the world on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at 6:56am, weighing in at 7lbs 11oz and 19 inches long. Since then, our lives have been a complete whirlwind, but loving every second of this new life. I couldn't have been more in love - those midnight snuggles, the times when he was alert and starring into our eyes, those little coo-ing noises. Ah, my heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest. But ah, those first two weeks were a rollercoaster - he needed to have a small laser surgery on both tongue and lip ties (which prevented him from latching while breastfeeding), and I was an emotional wreck - feeling like a bad mother when I couldn't nurse him, trying to survive on a couple hours of sleep a night and those HORMONES. No wonder people told me, "get all the sleep you can before he arrives" and "the first 2 weeks with a newborn is all about survival." They were right. 

Things were certainly hectic around here, as with any new family, but the constant in my life was exercise. When we got home from the hospital on Thursday, I was itching to be outside... we had been trapped in a hospital room for 3 days, and I wanted fresh air so badly! Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy out, so Riley and I spent the day lying on the couch snuggling while Ian went out and got groceries, ran errands for us, etc. (best husband award!). The next morning, it was sunny and warmer out, and I bundled Riley up, slipped him into the Baby K'Tan wrap and headed out for a short walk (i.e., 1/2 mile to Starbucks and back!). This was the best thing I could have done for myself. Fresh air, my little guy snuggling up to my chest, and an iced coffee in hand. AHH. From there on out, I made it a habit to get out for a short walk - just to get out of that slump (it's so easy to stay in your PJs all day with a new baby and get down on yourself for being lazy/out of shape), to feel like myself again, and to get back into my daily routine. I also contacted friends with new babies to join me for some company and to get any new mom advice I could! So for the first 3 weeks, all I did was short walks (between 1-4 miles per day). 

I couldn't wait to get back to my Barre3 classes, but waited until 3 weeks to get back into it (to let my body heal a bit before doing squats, lunges, and core work). I started slow - doing a lot of modifications that first week, but went 3x a week for 3 weeks, slowly gaining back strength in my core. Luckily, because I had been going to Barre3 classes all during pregnancy, I still felt fairly strong in my arms, legs and glutes, but that core, it needed so much work! Finally, at 6 weeks, I was able to bring Riley to the child care there, which made all the difference! I started going most weekday mornings because it was 

April 17, 2017: Amanda's Boston Marathon Recap

Thumbs-up to my fellow Heartbreakers at Mile 20!

Thumbs-up to my fellow Heartbreakers at Mile 20!

Reunited with my husband, Ian, at the finish.

Reunited with my husband, Ian, at the finish.

Disclamer: This blog is not meant to be a medical resource. I have no medical background, though many of my contributors will. Its important to know that every pregnancy is different, and no matter what you hope your level of physical activity will be throughout your pregnancy, you must consult your doctor every step of the way. My OB-GYN cleared me to run the Boston Marathon, based on her current assessment of my well-being, that I was in my 2nd trimester, and instructed me to only do so if I was feeling good, and to stop if I wasn't. This is my account of my Boston Marathon experience at 13.5 weeks pregnant. 

Marathon Monday always feels like Christmas morning to me. My alarm goes off around 5:00am, and it may be the only day of the year I don't hit snooze. I am anxious and uncontrollably excited for this day, and it only happens once a year! Well, this year felt a little different. Since finding out I'm pregnant, I cut my mileage down from around 75 miles per week to about 20, running only when I really feel good, and other days walking, taking a spin or barre class, or just plain taking it off. So, I wasn't sure how this day would turn out, but one thing was for sure - I was going to take that bus out to Hopkinton and give it the ol' try! 

Since finding out I was pregnant on February 12, 2017, I had gone back and forth about whether I would be running this marathon at all. I told myself that if I felt off that morning or if it was really hot (or rainy and cold), I wouldn't put my body (and baby) through that. The weather forecast for the April 17th race wasn't ideal. In fact, it was weather I said I wouldn't run in, however, I knew I could drop out at any point along the race, and get to my family, so I decided, just start the race, and go from there! It would be about 70 degrees with a steady tailwind. Normally we would be jumping for joy about a tailwind, but when it's humid and sunny, a tailwind actually isn't too helpful, it actually makes the air feel warmer! So, I didn't want to put any expectations on myself for this race. I wanted to just enjoy the crowds, have fun, and most importantly be safe and listen to my body. If I wasn't feeling great at mile 2, I would call my in-laws and have them pick me up. I packed my phone (never having run with a phone in a race before), SPF 50, 6 GUs, SOS, 4 salt tablets, and 4 Endurolytes for the race... if nothing else, I was prepared! 

I met my friend Mark so we could ride the bus together and settle in for the two-hour wait in Athlete's Village. Each of the six times I've taken that bus, I recall thinking, "Wow, this is far in a moving vehicle... and we're running this distance back to Boston!" And today, more than ever, I was a bit nervous about that. The bus is legitimately a one-way ticket to the starting line, then it's up to you to get yourself back to Boston (through eight towns)! I'm not going to lie, I hadn't even tried running that morning before hopping on the bus. I had a bit of an upset stomach, and felt more unprepared then ever before. Some days when I had tried to run, I couldn't even make it down the street without getting a cramp or feeling like I had cement legs. What if that happened in the first mile? I would be so disappointed. But, I tried to stay positive, and remember that this is my home race. It's easy for me to get home, so whatever happens, happens. It was especially great that people finally KNEW at this point that I was preggo. So, I had a good excuse if I had to drop out! When we arrived at Athletes Village, we found a grassy spot in the tent and spent those next two hours chatting, using the porta-potties (I think I peed five times... this is pregnancy), and body glided up for the long haul to Boston. Side note: my boobs are twice the size they were just 2 months ago, and I was pretty worried about my sports bra holding up AND the amount of chaffing I may endure. So, yeah, the things that we women have to worry about... giggling boobs were my biggest fear. 

I found my way to Wave 1, Corral 2. It was a little bittersweet, as I would have liked to experience the Elite Women's Start, if I hadn't been pregnant, but starting with Wave 1 was a much better idea (and enjoyable - as you'll soon hear). The gun went off, and it took me about 50 seconds to get through the start line. I hadn't warmed up, so I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel, but those first 5 miles are primarily downhill, so I knew I would at least be okay for those miles. My plan was to just go by feel, take it easy, don't think about the time. I found myself glancing down at my watch and needing to slow myself down several times in the first mile. It's such a contagious energy at the start, but I know that runners pay for it in the end if they go out to fast on this course. It's definitely tactical. My first mile was a 6:40, but it actually felt just fine. I reminded myself that it was going to be really warm and I wouldn't be able to keep this pace up for the race, so I slowed down to 6:50 for the 2nd mile. At this point, I was already saying to myself, holy sh*t, I'm only 2 miles in, why is this going by so slow? Mentally am I prepared for this? Again at mile 3 I thought, wow, this is a long race, the sun feels really hot right now, and I'm not sure I can endure this for another 23 plus miles. I made myself take 2 waters (and sometimes even a Gatorade as well) at each stop. I took a sip of water, and then poured the rest over my head, back and hands. This little splash really helped keep me hydrated and cool, and the miles started to tick by. I noticed I would occasionally get caught up in the pace of the people around me and then get a little out of breath. When I realized, I would quickly slow down 20 secs per mile, and collect my thoughts ("It's ok that everyone is passing you... just relax, and remember you are just ENJOYING this, not going for time!"). I was feeling mentally tired early on but feeling physically ok, I called my dad at mile 6, to say, "I'm feeling good, and I'll see you at 17." After that, I knew that if I needed to drop out (and there was no shame in that!), that I would do so when I got to my parents, and then we could take the Woodland T back into Boston all together. In the next few miles, I ran into some friends — Rohit, Rob, Mike McGrane, Lindsay Willard — and seeing familiar faces gave me the extra boost I needed. Every now and then I felt some discomfort in my hip joints, my shorts (probably a bit too tight) riding up, my boobs bouncing... all just new sensations I had to put up with... it certainly wasn't enjoyable, but wasn't painful, so I continued. I would check in with my heart rate and breathing every now and then, making sure I was never 'huffing and puffing,' and still just breathing in and out through my nose, without straining. As I got deeper into the race, this was increasingly hard to control, but I just slowed down a bit each time I noticed my breathing change.

I got to the Scream Tunnel in Wellesley (20K), and felt comfortable enough. I took my phone out and even documented the screaming fans, with "Kiss Me!" signs. It was really fun to be able check in via social media for friends and family wondering where I was and how I was feeling. Nothing was too achy through the half. I thought, okay, now either I decide to stop in 4 more miles, or I continue on another 9 after that, if I'm feeling good. Either way, I'm okay with it, it's really just about how I'm feeling. There had been many times during my training runs that I would get some cramps and have to stop, or my legs would feel like cement, or I felt like I was breathing too hard (even just going 8-minute pace)... but none of this bothered me too much today.

Around 15 miles, the first uncomfortable aches set in. My socks felt a bit tight on my toes, and the pads of my feet were feeling the friction. My hip joints were causing me a little discomfort, but nothing that I couldn't run through. I finally got to my family at 17, and stopped for about 40 seconds to give hugs, drink some water and grab a photo! My cousin Meg and friend Molly ran with me for the next half mile, until I got to the Newton Hills. That helped SO much. I was secretly hoping they would want to join me up the first hill, but they turned before Firehouse Hills. Mentally, I was tired. I had to break up my race into chunks - just 3 more miles until my teammates are waiting for me at Heartbreak Hill Running Company (Mile 20). I had a BIG surge when I saw all my teammates! I went from 7:00 pace to 6:20 as I sprinted by.... WHOA, slow down I thought! I still have Heartbreak to climb. After that, I thought, I know people along the whole route! Once I got up Heartbreak, I checked my watch... I had about 5 1/2 miles to go, but I was having a hard time figuring out my estimated finish time. Maybe 3:10? 3:15? That's faster than I anticipated, I would be happy with either... maybe I could even walk those last miles if I had to?! And I would if I had to. I wouldn't drop out now. I wanted to finish because it would be worth it to get my medal and be able to tell my child someday, "You participated in the Boston Marathon!" These thoughts got me up Heartbreak Hill, through Boston College, and down Beacon Street. I saw so many friends and family, got to run alongside a Masters 50+ female who was crushing it, and even got to encourage others to 'keep going, you're almost there!' 

When I finally made it into Kenmore Square, I felt a total rush of emotions. I DID IT. I ran my 6th Boston Marathon, and it was a fun one at that! I followed those blue adidas stripes down Commonwealth Ave, onto Hereford St, and then down the final stretch on Boylston, and it was like a dream. I recorded that moment when I could finally see the finish line, and, just as I always feel, it seemed like a mirage. Don't get me wrong it was HARD. I had some challenging moments, more mentally than anything else. I'm super competitive and it's difficult for me to let other runners pass me if I could possibly keep up. Then, I was also undertrained - I hadn't run a 20 miler since mid-February, so after Heartbreak Hill, I felt like my legs wanted to collapse on me. But, I stuck with it. 

I never imagined I would get to run the marathon this year. I hoped and prayed that it would be okay, but I didn't let myself get my hopes up in case I was not be able to finish (or even start). I did, and the best part was that my husband was waiting for me at the finish. It was such a special day for the three of us, and I will always reflect back on running with my first child, and letting him experience the best marathon in the world — and the hobby that brought his parents together! 


April 8, 2017 - Greetings from Wanderlust 108 Atlanta!

We run. We practice yoga. We meditate.

We run. We practice yoga. We meditate.

Beautiful morning for a 5K run! Wanderlust 108 Atlanta, you're amazing!

Beautiful morning for a 5K run! Wanderlust 108 Atlanta, you're amazing!

The weekend before the Boston Marathon, I flew down to Atlanta, Georgia to lead my second Wanderlust 108 event. I get SO excited about these. If you haven't heard about them, Wanderlust 108s are one-day "mindful triathlons," and combine all the things I love the most: running, yoga, music, healthy food, and meditation! I have been lucky enough to partner with adidas to lead some of these events in New Orleans, Atlanta and Kansas City, with more coming in the fall. I lead the runners warmup and the 5K run. I love to inspire people to run, to be healthy and fit, and to push themselves to be better, and Wanderlust 108s really embody all of those things! 

I flew into Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, and took the train to my downtown hotel. I had been to Atlanta before, and was excited to have the afternoon to explore (not to mention, the weather was amazing - 70 and sunny yes please). I walked around Centennial Park, had dinner outside, and prepped for my 5K warm up — which would be in front of thousands of participants. EEK!

The day started early with a 5:30am wake up call. I got ready for the day: put on my new Wanderlust x adidas 3/4 length tights, baby blue sleeveless top, and adidas Ultraboosts. Noah Levine, the world-renowned Buddhist teacher and meditation expert, picked me up and we drove to Historic 4th Ward Park. The day was perfect: sunny and 70 degrees by 7:30am. The Wanderlust 108 crew was busy setting up the runners arch, and participants were setting up their yoga mats and registering for the run. There was so much energy and excitement happening as we prepared for the big day! I connected with MC Yogi and production manager, Chris Murray, and set up to kick off the event. Runners lined up to get body painted, and then made their way to the arch. MC Yogi introduced me and I lead the runners through a 10 minute dynamic warm up, including partner exercises, such as squats, quad stretches, and hamstring sweeps. We gave out hugs and introduced ourselves to our neighbors. We ended with a quick meditation by Noah, and the runners were off!

I ran alongside various groups, some who had never run a 5K before, some who raced, and others who walked. I slapped high fives to all the finishers (I probably gave out 800 hand slaps, no joke). One woman finished and started crying (happy tears) and hugged me. She was so proud of herself for finishing. Turns out, she had lost a significant amount of weight, and this was her first 5k! I love stories like these; it reminds me why I love running and coaching SO much! 

Later on, I participated in Alive with Chelsey Korus. Her sequence was invigorating, fun, challenging AND interactive. At one point, we linked arms with the yogis next to us to do Warrior 3s and backbends. It was the ultimate trust fall, but we got through it, laughing!

I ended up walking back downtown, because the weather was so gorgeous, before heading to the airport. A very quick trip but so much fun. It's an honor to lead these 5Ks throughout the country; I can't wait for the next one. Stay tuned!