December 10, 2019

My New Niece! (and Week 10 recap of 3-3-3 running)

Last week was kind of crazy, so I didn't post. Whenever I had a chance to take a breather, I just didn't feel like being on the computer, so I read my book or worked on a knitting project for a friend. I kept taking mental notes about things I planned to write about on my blog, and now I forget most of them!

First, though... I have a new niece! Laura, Jerry's sister, had a baby last Monday. It was quite the ordeal. Laura was set to be induced into labor on Saturday evening, and I was ready to head to the hospital as soon as she called. She said I could be in the delivery room, and I was so excited--I'd never witnessed a birth before, and I always thought it would be such an amazing experience.

She didn't get settled in until Saturday night, so I knew it'd be a while before anything was happening. I didn't make plans on Sunday because I wanted to be ready to go. On Sunday afternoon, Laura said that she still wasn't having regular contractions and she was only dilated to 4 cm. A few hours later, she said the contractions were a lot stronger and that I could head up there anytime.

I drove up to Ann Arbor on Sunday at around 7:00 pm. When I got there, I could tell it would be a while (or I guessed, rather, based on my own experience with being induced twice). They had Laura lying on her side with a huge bean-shaped bouncy ball between her knees. The baby was facing the wrong direction (not breech, but she was facing Laura's belly and not her back). So, Laura's back was hurting pretty badly.

I pulled up a chair next to her and chatted for a couple of hours, and then the doctor came in to check her cervix, so her mom, mother-in-law, and I went to the waiting room. By this time, it was around 10:00 pm. The nurse told us we'd have a wait a while because the anesthesiologist was going to give her an epidural.

A couple of hours later, the nurse came to the waiting room and told us that they'd broken Laura's water to get things moving faster. Laura was super tired, and since it would likely be several hours before the baby would come, her husband asked us to go home and let Laura sleep if she was able.

I was wide awake and actually went grocery shopping on my way home at 1:00 am. Grocery shopping at that hour was a new experience for me, and I was surprised at just how many people were there. I took a sleeping pill when I got home because I was still wide awake and I knew I'd want to get some sleep before going back to the hospital. The nurse said she guessed Laura wouldn't be ready to push until 7:00 am.

At 4:00, Jerry's mom called to say they were going back up there, that Laura was dilated to 9 cm. I wished I hadn't taken the sleeping pill because I was too tired to drive at that point. I hoped that after a few more hours of sleep, it wouldn't be too late for me to go.

At 8:00, when I woke up, Laura had been pushing for nearly two hours(!)--so I quickly dressed and went back to the hospital (about a 55-minute drive). I was driving around the parking garage, hoping I would make it in time, and then I got a text saying that they were going to do a c-section.

I was super bummed! Since we wouldn't be able to see Laura or the baby for several hours, I just went back home. In the afternoon, I got a picture text:

This is Shelby! She was born healthy, 7 lbs 9 oz, via c-section. The night before, everyone had written guesses as to Shelby's weight and length on the whiteboard at the hospital, and I guessed 7 lbs 10 oz--so I was the "winner" ;)

Jerry stopped at the hospital after work, and we planned to go (with our kids) to visit Laura and Shelby once they were settled in at home. However, shortly after Laura got home, she developed a fever and a rash all over her body, so she went back into the hospital. The doctors had no idea what was wrong, and she ended up staying for two nights while they tried to figure it out and get her fever down.

She was able to go home yesterday, and I'm not sure what they finally determined had happened. Shelby stayed with Jerry's parents while Laura was back in the hospital, so I feel bad that Laura had to miss a couple of days with the newborn baby. I'm glad she's doing better, though. I'm hoping that we'll get to visit sometime this week.

I miss being around babies! Luke and Riley are growing up way too fast.

Sunday finished off Week 10 of my 3-3-3 running (running 3 miles, 3 times a week, for 3 months to get back into the habit of running regularly).

I suspected that one of my medications was causing a higher heart rate during my runs, so my plan for the week was to run in the morning and then take my medication afterward rather than waiting until afternoon or evening to run. I used to be a "morning person", but for the last few years, I am definitely NOT. I don't really feel awake and motivated until late morning.

Each morning this week that I woke up early to try to run right away, I just couldn't do it. And because of that, I put my runs off until I only had three days left in the week--Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I really didn't intend to do that, but because I am super determined to get in three runs a week every week, doing it three days in a row is better than skipping it altogether. (But I am not going to do that again.)

It's interesting, though--I didn't dread running at all this week. I feel like this 3-3-3 plan is finally starting to help me get back in the habit. I prefer the treadmill right now (I just feel more comfortable staying at home to run, for some reason), but maybe I'll start taking it outside once in a while.

My only complaint is that in order to keep my heart rate at or below my MAF target (146 bpm), I have to run very slowly--so slowly that it's actually difficult to do. I wouldn't mind this so much if it didn't take so long to finish three miles! I used to count on roughly 10 minutes per mile when figuring out how long my runs were going to take. It's a nice round number and was pretty close to my average easy pace. Now, however, it takes roughly 40 minutes to do three miles. On a bad day, it's 42-43 minutes, and a good day, 38-39 minutes.

This week was better, though--I was able to run faster at my MAF heart rate. I'm really looking forward to the day that I can set the treadmill at 5.0 mph and leave it there for a whole run! Or to start doing speed work--it's so crazy to me that I actually miss intervals and tempo runs. I think holding off on them until after the three months is a good thing, though, because it makes me look forward to adding those runs.

(Note: The miles per hour and pace don't match up because the treadmill's distance displays slightly shorter than the actual distance... when the treadmill reads 1.00 miles distance, its actual distance should read 1.06.)

Ever since I started running again, I noticed that my feet feel different than they used to. After just a few minutes of running, I get a pain in the side of each foot, but mainly my right foot. I had started with my old pair of Ghosts 8, the model that I was wearing for a couple of years before I stopped running. I tried a new pair of those (I still had a brand new pair that I'd bought before I quit running) and they felt better than the old ones, but I was still getting that pain.

I thought about why that would be happening, and my theory is that my feet have gotten used to less support over the last two years. After I stopped running, I wore my Converse Chucks almost exclusively--and those are completely flat without arch support or cushioning. After reading Born to Run and learning more about why our feet grow accustomed to the support shoes, I wondered if the bones, ligaments, and tendons in my feet strengthened and toughened up from not having the arch support.

I thought back to when I wore Altras, which are meant as a middle ground between support shoes and bare feet. They are flat on the bottom, so they don't offer arch support, but they are cushioned. They also have a foot-shaped toe box so that your toes can spread out while running. (I have a long post about them here.)

When I first switched to them, it was because Golden Harper (the founder of Altra) was at a Runner's World event that I attended as a blogger, and he gave us a detailed demonstration of why he developed Altra shoes. I loved the idea, and his explanation made so much sense to me!

He warned us bloggers that we should definitely allow for an adjustment period of a month or so to transition into using Altra shoes exclusively. When going from a support shoe to a zero-drop shoe (flat) with unsupported arches, you can get injured because your feet rely on that support that they are used to. You are supposed to gradually introduce the new shoes so that your feet have time to strengthen and get accustomed to them.

I was likely hypomanic during that time, and very impulsive. Of course, I didn't listen to Golden's warning, and I wore them immediately for all my runs. Several months later, I got a stress fracture in my fibula. Whether it was due to the Altras, I have no idea; but I switched to Brooks Ghosts after allowing my fracture to heal.

With the pain I've been getting in my feet over the last couple of months, I decided to try Altras again; only this time, I would transition properly. I bought the Altra Escalante model. As soon as I got the shoes and tried them on, I LOVED how they felt!

I wanted to wear them exclusively, but I know better now. I have had them for two weeks, and I've worn them twice. For the next couple of weeks, I'll continue to wear them for just one run per week. Then I'll try two runs per week for a month or so. And then I'll try switching over completely.

They are very comfortable, but I can tell that they stretch my hamstring and calf muscles more than my Ghosts allowed (because my heels aren't raised in the Altras like they are in the Ghosts). This isn't a bad thing (it's a good thing, actually, because my feet are in a more natural position), but I need to get used to it gradually.

Anyway, here is my recap for Week 10:

Friday (3.36 miles in 40:05, 11:56/mile pace, average HR 143 bpm)

I actually did manage to run in the morning on Friday, because I was planning to go to the hospital with my mom (she had an ablation procedure on her heart). However, I had taken my meds right when I woke up, forgetting that I planned to wait until after my run.

I started the run at 4.7 mph, hoping to be able to leave it there for the duration, but had to lower it to 4.6 when my heart rate monitor beeped at me. However, I was able to keep it between 4.6 and 4.7 mph for all but about 30 seconds when I had to lower it to 4.5 mph. I didn't have to lower the incline at all. This is definitely progress from a couple of weeks ago!

I watch the show 24 while I'm on the treadmill and each episode is about 40-42 minutes or so. When I reached three miles, I kept running to finish out the episode. I actually did that for all three runs this week.

Saturday (3.48 miles in 41:04, 11:48/mile pace, average HR 145 bpm)

I started this run at 5.0 mph, hoping that when my heart rate hit my MAF, I wouldn't have to reduce the speed so much to lower my heart rate. I was able to go between 4.9 and 5.0 for 1.5 miles! That's the fastest I've been able to run while staying at my MAF heart rate in a long time.

After that, though, I had to lower the speed quite a bit to 4.6 mph and occasionally 4.5 for the rest of the run. I was still able to keep the incline at a flat 0%. I don't lower the incline unless the pace gets too slow to maintain decent running form (about 4.2-4.3 mph).

I felt VERY good during this run, especially during the beginning when I was able to run faster. It made my legs feel great! I think that hydration plays a big role in how I feel as well, because I was very well-hydrated Saturday. I haven't been doing well at staying hydrated lately, and Saturday's run made me want to pay more attention to it.

Sunday (3.44 miles in 40:58, 11:54/mile pace, average HR 145 bpm)

I was hoping for another run like Saturday, but I started at 5.0 mph and had to decrease speed to 4.9 and then 4.8 within the first mile. Second mile was mostly 4.6 to 4.8. And then the third mile was between 4.5 and 4.6.

I wore the Altras, so the different running form may have had something to do with my higher heart rate. I notice that I focus on my form and breathing more when I wear the Altras because I am so conscious of how they feel and whether they help with the pain. (I don't get the foot pain that I do in the Ghosts, so it's a good sign so far!).

It's interesting, though--when wearing the Altras, my right foot drags on the belt occasionally (I hear a ziiiiip noise when the shoe brushes against the belt). This makes me more aware of my running form.

While a lot of runners tend to pronate their feet when they run, I actually supinate (the opposite--it's where I land on and push off of the outer side of my feet).  You can clearly see it when looking at my shoes--the outside edge of my shoes is what wears down first. The Ghosts are meant to straighten that out, but when wearing the Altras, my feet feel more "free".

It's the outside part of my foot that touches the belt occasionally, likely due to supination from the different (more natural) shoes. Again, it's not necessarily a bad thing--I'm just hoping that by strengthening my feet and focusing on running with the proper form, I can correct it naturally rather than with support shoes.

So, Week 10 felt like a really great week, other than the fact that I squashed all three runs into three days. I took yesterday off, and I plan to run later this afternoon or evening. And... I'm actually looking forward to it! It's nice that I'm finally seeing some progress. :)


  1. Congratulations!! I watched my youngest niece come into this world August 2018 and it was the most amazing and memorable experience of my life.

  2. You can do a lot to help improve your stride and prevent pronation/supination. Katy Bowman teaches natural movement, and has a lot of good youtube videos and books about it. I work for a minimalist shoe company, and wear minimalist/barefoot shoes all the time, for basically everything.

  3. Your niece is perfect! I'm still doing 3/3/3. I'm not as far into it as you are. Weird thing is I've had pain in my right foot for the past couple weeks. I don't know if it's arthritis or if there's a little bone fractured. And even weirder, it doesn't hurt when I run, just when I walk. I've never checked my heart rate while running, but I know it's probably way too high for my age. I push myself SO hard and have to keep thinking about breathing! I'm not built like a runner. I have short legs and a short fast stride instead of what I see everybody else doing. Hoping Santa brings me new shoes for Christmas. I always wear Asics Gel. Keep up with the good work!

  4. Congrats on your new niece!



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