Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fleet Feet Shakeout Run aka I Met Lauren Fleshman

As some of you may know, I have quite an admiration for Lauren Fleshman. We both run for Oiselle, and we became first time moms within a few months of each other. I was very jealous of my fellow Oiselle Ambassadors that they got to spend a week with her at bird camp earlier this summer. When Lauren announced that she would be coming to the wonderful city of Chicago for the Mag Mile Half Marathon, I just knew I had to meet her! As the race was on Sunday over Labor Day weekend, we had plans to go to Michigan. I adjusted our plans so we were able to meet up at Fleet Feet Chicago (South Loop) for a fun run/shakeout run along the lakefront path.

We got downtown on Saturday morning pretty easily and the South Loop store is in a really cute area. I brought Patsy and the jogging stroller with me and we were ready to go! Patsy made lots of friends while waiting for the run to start. I ran into Erica and some of the Oiselle Flock too.
Pre-run shot at the Fleet Feet South Loop store. Source

We headed out from the store to the lakefront path and did some stretching exercises and warm ups. Patsy decided that she didn't want to do the stretches and warm ups so I held her during most of them. (Eh, a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do.)
Can you spot me in the back with Patsy? Source

When it was time for the run to start, I started in the back and chose the 3 mile option. It was nice to see some new faces and the fasties on their way back.

Starting off in the back with another stroller mom. Source
Can you spot Erica?

After the run, on the walk back to the store, I spotted LF and took the time to say hi, introduce myself, and chat her up a bit. She recognized me and thought we had met before. I told her how I run for Oiselle and we were pregnant at the same time. I told her about that time I posted, with my big ole pregnant belly, in a "Lauren Fleshman is my Homeboy" shirt. She remembered that. Haha. We got the chance to talk about our babies, child birth and nursing, and other various topics. She is so down to earth and was amazingly easy to talk to. I'm so thankful that I got the chance to meet her and I hope we get to hang out again someday! Patsy slept for most of the run, which was awesome. She woke up right when we got back to the store, perfect timing to take some photos with LF!
Patsy and I with THE Lauren Fleshman!

Lauren then asked if she could hold Patsy. Obviously I said yes, she picked her up, and kissed her on the cheek. It was so cute and made me love LF even more (as if that were possible). I'm so glad that Patsy got the chance to meet such a wonderful and empowering female athlete (and someone who's poster is hanging up on her wall). I'm looking forward to following LF's career as a family in the years to come. :)

I had an absolute blast spending my Saturday morning in the city. It was totally worth delaying the trip to Michigan for the experience. I hope LF makes it back to Chicago again soon!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Country Choice Oatmeal Review

As a breastfeeding mom and runner, I eat a lot of oatmeal. It has been proven that oatmeal can help aid in milk production. I've gotten into the habit of eating it every single morning for breakfast, during the week before I leave for work or before I leave for the long run. When the folks at Country Choice reached out to offer me some samples of oatmeal, I couldn't help but say YES! When I'm making oatmeal, I usually go with the regular old fashioned oats and add my own stuff.

All The Oatmealz!
However when I was sent lots of options from Country Choice, I figured I would give the instant steel cut oats packets a try. Apple spice and maple were the two flavors and they are both delicious! I really like that steel cut oats are a nice break from my usual old fashioned oats. They cook up great in the microwave but make sure you follow the instructions and use a deep bowl. (Speaking from experience, this can lead to a messy microwave...)

Perfect for pre-race fuel or breakfast while breastfeeding. 

I had never heard of this brand before but I definitely enjoyed my free samples! The next time I see them in the store, I will definitely make a purchase. 

Full Disclosure: I was sent these packages of oatmeal for free but I was not compensated in any other way for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zooma Half Marathon Race Recap

So this recap is coming a bit later than I usually would have written something up, but work has been crazy, I've been planning Patsy's first birthday party and I've been trying to enjoy the last few days of summer as well. Wow.

The plan for this race was to survive. I did a few 8 and 9 mile runs beforehand so I thought I had this thing in the bag. Boy was I wrong (<--foreshadowing). I think I forgot how hard half marathons can be, and I went into this cockier than I should have been.

I headed to the city the night before for packet pickup and a mocktail party. Packet pickup was easy and the drinks were delicious. The mocktail party, however, coincided with dinner time. I enjoyed my evening hanging out with the other ambassadors, but by the time I got home, it was 9pm and I hadn't eaten anything since lunch. That isn't really conducive to great pre-race nutrition.
Enjoying a mocktail with Patsy at packet pickup

The morning of the race, I decided not to take the shuttle. They said there wouldn't be parking at the start but I found a spot. The race started south of the city so I didn't want to drive past the start, to get to the loop, then to take a shuttle back south, etc. etc. I found parking about a mile from the start but it made for a great pre- and post-race walk.

Before the race with fellow Zooma ambassadors!
Meghan and I had planned to run the race together so we started off by the 2:20 pacers, hoping that we would finish before then. Something that I don’t think I was very prepared for was the course. It was out for 3 miles, back for 3 miles, out for 3 more miles, back for 3 miles. We started off the race with a solid 10:30 pace and we were feeling good. We ran with Amanda W for most of the beginning of the race. We also ran into Amanda C (adorable mother-to-be runner) and Emily while out there too. The first few miles were solid and I had confidence that things were going to go well. That is, until, we reached the halfway point and the end of the 10k. The crowd began to thin, the sun warmed up, and we were heading out for the 2nd and more challenging half of the race. I asked for a quick walk break to recharge and then we started on the 2nd half.

Something that I don’t think I was prepared for was how the course required us to still be going out at the 8 and 9 mile markers. Mentally, that really did me in. Any miles beyond that were a real struggle. I’m so thankful that Meghan was there to offer some words of wisdom and motivation. The sun got to be too much and I lost the singlet at around mile 9. That was a freeing moment where I felt a second wind coming. That didn't last long as I was hit with a wave of nausea around mile 10. By this point I felt that I hadn't fueled properly. I had only had water and Picky Bars during the race and I needed something with salt. Water just wasn't quenching my thirst the way I needed it to. At around mile 11, I took some Cytomax for the first time during the race and it seemed to work out well. But by this point, the race was just about over. When we hit the last mile, I still felt like I was dying. Meghan pushed me to run to the end and finish strong.

I crossed the finish line with my hands in the air, extremely humbled. Our official chip time was 2:22:43. My body was beat up and done. I now realize that I was probably a little undertrained for the half marathon, so I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. Getting back on the running saddle after having Patsy has definitely been an interesting ride. Now I know what I need to work on for next time!

Hanging out with fellow Oiselle runner from the Flock, Mary

I had a fun time being an ambassador for the Zooma race. I got to meet some more great local Chicago bloggers and hang out with old friends too. As far as the race goes itself, I enjoyed the course for the most part, but I think it would have been better to just have an out-and-back course as opposed to the out and back, out and back. Mentally, that was quite challenging, especially with the 10k runners disappearing at the halfway point. The wine after the race was delicious and I like that they still had a wide selection, even after we stumbled in as late as we did. Depending on how next year goes, I just might sign up to be an ambassador again!

Next on the race calendar is Spartan. What have I gotten myself into??

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tips for Long Runs with the Jogging Stroller

If you've followed me on Instagram, you know that I've been logging some longer miles in the jogging stroller. Before choosing a jogging stroller, I looked up Consumer Reports to see which was one of the best brands. I ended up choosing the Bob Ironman based on reviews online and from other moms. It doesn't have a front swivel wheel, but I don't think that slows us down. The things you need for a longer run is a little different than a shorter. I've learned some of things from experience so I thought I would share them with all of you!

1) Make sure your jogging stroller is in the trunk the night before, if your long run is in the morning. This seems simple enough, but I am a classic procrastinator. You think you'll remember in the morning but then you'll forget like I did where I got to a run early but ended up having to go all the way back home to get the stroller. Starting a long run while stressed isn't a good idea.
Showing up to the run late enough to miss the group photo

2) Coordinate your baby's feeding schedule. As you all know by now, I'm breastfeeding. To allow for the most running time as possible, I get to the run spots early and feed Patsy as close to the start as possible. Added plus if your child goes to sleep and you can put them in the stroller without waking them up. If your baby drinks a bottle, I'd suggest having one easily and readily available just in case. Although even with coordinating and things don't work out as imagined, I'm not above whipping out my boob to feed my baby while taking a walk break. A moms gotta do what a moms gotta do.

3) Bring toys, snacks, and a bib. If I remember the toys, I forget the snacks. If I remember snacks, I forget toys. I recommend carseat toys or a toy with a ring that you can attach to the stroller or buckle strap and it won't fall out while you're in motion. I also recommend snacks that are easy for your little one to hold (teething biscuits, mum-mums, carrot or celery sticks). Having to stop and give your baby a handful of fruit or puffs once a mile is not really an efficient run. Don't forget a bib to go with those snacks! Nothing like having a baby covered in food out on the trail, possibly attracting who knows what wildlife!

4) Pack an extra diaper and some wipes. I learned this the hard way with an incredibly fussy baby for an almost entire 8 mile run. I just couldn't figure out what was wrong! I fed her, I gave her snacks... Until I got to the car and checked her diaper. No wonder she was miserable during the workout. Now I always pack just one diaper and a few wipes in a ziplock bag. Just enough in case of emergency.

5) Bring some tunes. Having a jogging stroller gives you lots of room to store your own gear. Who needs a fanny pack when you have an empty shelf/canopy. I love putting my iPhone/iPod on, without headphones, for Patsy and I to enjoy on the run. It makes the miles go by faster, I swear!

6) Plan your run on a nice, flat paved road or trail. If you're doing your long run with a jogging stroller, that is enough of a workout in my mind. I recommend finding a great local path or easy neighborhood route with few turns. I've done longer runs on a winding, hilly trail and it was just.... A lot. If that isn't something you're used to or something you're looking to do, do some research before you head out the door.

7) Slowly build up your distance with the stroller. Just as if you're training without a stroller, I started out with 3-4 mile runs and then did some 5 and 6 mile runs before building up to 8 mile runs. If you build it up slowly over a few weeks time, a 9 mile run with the stroller won't feel so daunting.
A quick 3 mile jaunt around the neighborhood.

8) Have fun out there. Going for a long run isn't particularly fun sometimes but I find that sharing the experience with my baby girl makes it much more enjoyable. And it makes running without the stroller so much easier!
8 Stroller miles done with Meghan,
with a smile on my face

Do you take your jogging stroller on long runs?  What kind of jogging stroller do you have? Are there any tips you would like to add or anything I forgot?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pregnant and Plan on Breastfeeding? Tips on How to Prepare Beforehand

When I was pregnant I planned on breastfeeding. I didn't really know much about the act itself, I just knew I wanted to give it my best try to make it work. I had a few resources that helped out tremendously, and others I stumbled upon along the way. I've kind of proclaimed myself as a resource to my pregnant friends that also plan on breastfeeding. I thought I would offer help and advice that worked well for me. If you're pregnant and plan on breastfeeding, here are some tips to set yourself up for breastfeeding success.

Disclaimer: this post is not meant to put down moms that feed their babies in any other fashion. I understand that breastfeeding isn't for everyone. For those that want to breastfeed, I hope you find this information useful.

1) Golden Hour immediately following birth. Golden hour is where the parents and baby get special skin-to-skin time immediately after the baby is born. Even after your baby is weighed and a wellness check is given, this time is crucial for both the parents and baby. Find out what the policy is at the hospital where you'll be delivering. If this isn't part of it, I'd talk to you doctor about it. If your baby is not immediately sent to the NICU and if you are doing fine too, that time is so important. Don't take my word for it, check out the info here.
On my chest, immediately after birth, even after having a c-section!

2) Hospital lactation support. Does your hospital have a certified IBCLC on staff (having someone certified is important)? Will that employee be there while you're delivering? After you've delivered? If you're not sure if someone will be available, have the number of an independent IBCLC that can come visit you in the hospital. Although breastfeeding is natural, that doesn't mean that it comes naturally for all women. It is better to be prepared, just in case! Here are some great local IBCLC resources. Do your own research. Stick up for you and your baby. Kellymom.com is a wonderful breastfeeding resource. Some hospitals and hospital staffs don't understand the complexities that go along with breastfeeding so they look to formula for easy answers. Supplementation with formula before your milk comes in isn't always necessary. (See size of a newborn's stomach here.) Supplementing with formula because your baby is jaundice isn't always necessary. Get a second opinion. If you don't want hospital staff to give your baby any formula, explicitly say so! Know your rights as a parent.

3) Find a local support group. Your hospital probably has one. If not, look for a local La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA chapter as they typically hold weekly meetings. The first few weeks (about 6) are tough. Cluster feedings, all-nighters, snacky babies that only eat a little at a time... Having support IN PERSON of other moms that are doing the same thing you are definitely helped me. It also helped normalize the act a bit. I had never seen a woman breastfeed before and being in a circle surrounded by a bunch of moms also breastfeeding their children made me feel more at ease with what I was doing.
Halloween Party at the Palos Hospital Nursing Mom's group

Online resources are also helpful! There are a few closed Facebook groups (it doesn't show up on your news feed) that offer support to moms that seek it. Breastfeed Chicago is a local Facebook group that I have enjoyed being a part of.

4) Find a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician. Your local support groups most likely have some great resources available. Or, ask other moms that are also breastfeeding. Most doctors will say that they are breastfeeding friendly, although many are following older, outdated practices. Not all pediatricians understand that breastfed babies grow at a different rate than formula fed babies, and may state that you're not making enough even though your baby is doing just fine. (The updated WHO charts are what should be used.) I thought my pediatrician was breastfeeding friendly, but after several meetings and appointments, it turned out that I didn't like his advice. We switched and the new pediatrician is great. Changing pediatricians is pretty easy and there are lots of options out there. Spend time to find one that works best for you and your family!

5) Make friends with other moms that are breastfeeding. It definitely helps to talk with someone else who's also going through it. Breastfeeding is kind of like a club or alliance. Were all trying our best to make this work. We understand the nuances, the clogged ducts, the nipple pain, the leaking and all the other fun things that go along with being a nursing mom. I have to fight the urge to fist-bump other moms I see downtown with a recognizable Medela tote. Don't worry fellow mom, we got this.
Patsy and Layla play date from several months ago.
Meghan is a fellow nursing mom and we've definitely swapped stories over the past several months!

6) Donate formula samples. Registering for baby gifts gets you on the list for the formula companies. Before Patsy was born, I had received at least 6 tubs of free formula. I kept them around at first "just in case." There were definitely weak times when I was tempted, but I'm also stubborn. The stubbornness won and I didn't open a single tub. After that point, I donated them to a local woman's shelter. They need it more than I do. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. If your baby demands more, your body will make more. I felt it best to not have it at home, especially since I had a freezer full of milk once I started pumping. If we had any "just in case" moments, I'd rather give her my own milk.

7) Get the gear. This one is only partly true as not much has changed in the world of breastfeeding in the last thousand years... Breastfeeding doesn't really require a lot of "gear" but a pillow (Bobby or Breast friend) will help make things easier. Also, in the nervous early days/months, I didn't go anywhere without my nursing cover. I felt most comfortable while being covered so that is what worked well for us. Although now that she is quite unruly and a little sweat hog, it is harder and harder to use the cover.
Feeding Patsy, covered, while at the outlet mall

8) Breastfeeding isn't all or nothing. Sometimes mom isn't able to make enough. Sometimes mom can't pump enough. Sometimes babies just need more! When that is the case and mom cannot exclusively breastfeed, that doesn't mean that you can't have breastfeeding success! Any milk you can provide for your baby is better than no milk at all. I love this post from a mom about "inclusively breastfeeding." It is encouraging for all moms that are doing the best with their situation!
I can't always feed Patsy from the breast, so she does take several bottles a day while I'm at work.
I pump enough so she still gets mama's milk even when I'm gone.
Check the latch on that bottle!

9) Don't give up on your worst day. There are going to be tough days ahead. I would equate it to running, since that is something I'm familiar with. Sometimes if there is a tough long race, you just have to tell yourself "just one more mile." Just one more day. Being a mom is hard, whether you're breastfeeding or not. Determination is sometimes necessary when it comes to breastfeeding. Let your mommy instincts guide the way.

2pm, haven't showered in a few days, still in pajamas, covered in baby puke, and the tears keep coming.
Somehow still with a smile on my face. Wouldn't change it for the world!

Spitup on all of my pajamas--on the reg.

Please don't get discouraged by reading this post! Breastfeeding is really wonderful and for some moms, it works out wonderfully and there aren't any issues. But the world is full of Booby Traps and I think we owe it to ourselves to do our best to guard ourselves against them! I hope you find these tips helpful.

Any other breastfeeding mamas out there want to add to this list? What helped you to breastfeed successfully?