Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"It's better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference." - The Lumineers

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Car seats in bike trailers

Ostensibly this blog is pretty divisive. But, honestly we all agree that mothers should always be extremely concerned about the safety of their infants.

You'd have to be mentally ill to be a mother who didn't feel that way.

The divisive part of the blog seems to be whether or not you are out to prove me wrong (for whatever reason). And that's cool.

I never try to be anything but honest. And I do my best to look up appropriate research.

The story of the car seat in the bike trailer:

I never would have been able to come up with such a contraption on my own: infant car seat attached to bike trailer by bungee cords. It was recommended to me by a fellow physician, who had used it with infants without any incident. It didn't occur to me that people didn't do this all the time until our near accident. And that day, the cloth top of the trailer had gotten caught underneath the car seat.

Interestingly people do talk about it on the internet (Berkeley parenting network, for example). It's just common sense that babies can't sit up in the trailer since they can't support their head. So the kidopotomus snuzzler (best product name ever) just isn't going to be safe when a baby is as young as The Bois (nearly 3 months).

And it seems very common for people to use car seats on the baby jogger (as Jeff mentioned... Jeff I found your comments quite humorous, by the way).

So, is there any safe option for infants?

Here is a statement from Safecycling.ca:

Some families have put their child in their car seat into the trailer. This practice has not been officially safety tested, but if the child is securely strapped in to the car seat and the car seat properly strapped in to the trailer, it may be the best option for transporting a young infant.
Trailers are not necessarily designed for this car seat adaptation, but bicycles also do not get up to the same speed as cars. Caution and care are paramount in this situation.


Here is the link: http://www.safecycling.ca/BetterBicycling/2001Summer/trailers.shtml

I'm the first to admit we weren't cautious enough the day we had the near accident. So if you are going to put a car seat in a bike trailer:
- make sure the car seat is snug in the trailer and can't move.
- make sure the car seat is level and there is nothing under the car seat in the trailer
- stay on flat or nearly flat ground

If any readers out there know of reasons or laws stating trailers should not be used in this way, please speak up... I want to learn. I want to do what is safe for Christian. And I think the readers would like to know as well.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Hi. I'm back.

Okay, I'm back writing again. I had to make the blog private over the weekend because I didn't want to spend my weekend dealing with accusations of being a bad mother. And it's just the people on the runango forum who seem to have it out for me. It's a mob mentality of sorts. Why else would people be mad about my healthy, low blood pressure? Or accuse me of being a bad mother because The Bois got a sunburn once ("the lobster" story)?... the exact same thing happened to my best friend when she was a new mother.
I would post a link, but the comments are so far from the truth (for the most part) that it's not worth reading. You can google it if you like.

I'm just a normal young woman who wants to be the best wife and mother I can be. I've found true love and happiness in my life and I want to write about it; that's why I have this blog. Plus I enjoy having this link to the running community.

I was touched by SJRunner's following comment (when the easy thing to do would have been to join in and gang up on me):

...we've all made diet/workout/life choices that might be controversial to others. Why do we single her out this much, just because she is willing to be open about it? I just don't feel I can say she's crazy, and at the same time be mad when people tell me running and training for marathons is obsessive and unhealthy. Also I honestly support our preggo runners with various mileages, then I don't feel right criticizing her about her preggo mileages. Of course there's a line with everything, however, I don't feel I have the right to name that line when it comes to pregnancy and child rearing.

Yeah, I do write honestly. Maybe that is why the blog is so controversial. I don't know. And as long as I'm being honest, I do want to clarify my background a bit (also in response to the runango forum).

I had a normal childhood with wonderful parents. I went to a great college and was a French and English major. I also studied at the Sorbonne. I then moved to Toulouse, France to teach handicapped children. I really got into spiritual biking and running at this time. I almost went to medical school in France, but got into a really good one in the United States. I enjoyed med school. And it brought me to doing work in a great little hospital in rural Guatemala.

I matched at great residencies, one transitional (internship) and then one in a competitive surgical subspecialty which would follow internship. It was during internship that I met SR. After the year of internship, I moved away to start the surgical residency and was torn apart by not being with SR. He was unable to transfer to do residency there. I learned I was pregnant and didn't know how I would raise a baby living alone during residency. One night, SR drove all night to convince me to move back and live with him. There was really no other option; I missed him so much that I could hardly function and I didn't want to raise our child alone or with a nanny. I left the program in good standing. I have been taking the year off, moonlighting in Urgent Care and Inpatient Alcohol Detox. We're moving to Denmark next year for a number of reasons. I am planning to restart residency there (and the work week there for residents is only 37 hours a week!).

I hope that brings everyone up to speed. So, yes, I am a physician. I love the work and I take it very seriously.

Sorry to my regular readers who know pretty much all of that already.

Anyway, we did have a great weekend. Found a nice sushi restaurant in our town, enjoyed some eel. And we did some speed work on our run today.

The Bois has been more animated than ever. Maybe I'll find time to upload a video soon.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Postpartum diet & fitness

Today was a GREAT day. It was raining so I decided to do some treadmill running.

Now 11 weeks postpartum, I ran the fastest mile, 5k and 15k I've ever run. And it was not even in a race.

mile: 6:30
5k: 21:23
15k: 1 hour 8 min 29 sec

So the 5k was in the middle of the 15k and the mile was at the end of that 5k.
Okay, so it's not that fast, but it is fast for me, the "spiritual runner."

I think the secret has been having slow run days and then short, fast (tempo) run days. And also taking at least one day off of running a week, where I bike and swim.

The other secret is weight loss. I'm down to between 115 and 116lbs or 5 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. I've lost nearly 3 lbs in the last 10 days. Here's what I'm eating:

Breakfast
3 bowls of oatmeal
3 lefse

Lunch
Diet root beer
gum
1 bowl of oatmeal

Dinner
3 lefse, each either filled with tofu or fish, sprouts, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard
1 acorn squash
1 bowl of oatmeal
1 frozen yogurt shake

(there are minor variations in there)

I exercise around 2.5 hours a day.


(The Bois is in 2 hours of daycare a day, less if I take him in the baby jogger. I'm working 2 nights a week and 1 weekend day a week. He is with SR while I'm working. We have a babysitter cover for the sometimes 1/2 an hour overlap before SR gets home on weekdays. We're so lucky he gets to be with one of us almost all of the time.)

And yes, I do love oatmeal. Oh and my blood pressure was a nice 86/59 at my IUD placement appointment today. That was obviously before the IUD was put in. Man, the cramps were terrible.

We went to a triathlon class tonight and we're quite excited. We're doing our first tri in June. Competition is fun. And a half marathon is coming up next weekend. It's great to be able to compete with people in a healthy and socially acceptable way. So, ladies in my town, bring it on!

Running Song of the Day: Hvor længe vil du ydmyge dig? by Danser Med Drenge
(this song has soul. Here's the u-tube (blurry) video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEbilSUOI6w&feature=related) with translation under more info.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Break Through

It is fascinating to watch The Bois change. He's 11 weeks old now. For the first time, today he laughed a real laugh. And he keeps doing it. This marks a real break through for him. He's realized this is a way to tell me he wants to play. And he wants to play all the time. For better or for worse, the baby oblivion is almost gone.

We went out with my new (and first) road bike for a ride up a small nearby mountain.








We took a family picture

Today, however, has been wonderful. I cherish every moment with The Bois. As SR said last night, "you really get into things and now you're really into The Bois." (I used to be afraid that somehow loving The Bois would mean my love for SR would change. But if anything I am even crazier about SR. I still can hardly believe he's my husband and the father of my son!)


So today, The Bois and I drove to the YMCA because it was storming out. The Bois requested in his own way that we listen to the band Sigur Ros and then classical music that was beautiful in a bucolic sort of way. We saw the first flower buds of spring.


Today was my "easy day" for exercise. I swam 1 mile, then ran a 10k in 46 minutes (actually felt surprisingly leisurely) and finally went for a bike ride because the weather turned sunny and warm.


Spring is here. And I am in love (we had the BEST 14 mile run together on Sunday).


And I have someone to teach my R&B dance moves to.


Running Song of the Day:For Dig KuJeg Gøre Alting by TV-2 (The title means "for you I could do anything")
-----------------------------------------------
NOTE: I had to edit the above post. We had a real scare with a near accident with The Bois in the bike trailer. I hoped that by being honest other parents out there could learn from our mistake. Instead I am receiving threatening messages. Obviously my new mother's psyche is fragile. It brings tears to my eyes to think there are people out there who believe I would try to harm Christian. There is nothing more important to us than his health, happiness and safety.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Left arm in the air

So is post-ultra depression a well-known entity? The first two days after we got home, I was feeling great, sort of super-human. I just kept thinking about how awesome the race was, how proud I was of both of us.












Then I couldn't run for three days. The Bois got shots, started crying a lot more. Some woman at the Y asked me when my baby was due. And the worst part was having the step-kids over and feeling like such an inadequate, tired step-mom. Step daughter kept saying she was SR's most important child, and I was actually getting annoyed. My reaction is depressing in itself.



Anyway, I found myself with this strange desire to be The Bois. Life just passes by so quickly and I feel sometimes like I'm not living it as I would like to. If I could be the Bois I'd have another shot. And the simple pleasure I'd get out of sticking my left arm in the air.



But there's no second life. I do console myself that I can make him loved and happy. And I've been thinking a lot about how I want to affect the lives of step-daughter and step-son, too. Been thinking about what made me happy as a child. It was feeling safe, it was traditions and fun days that happened every year, it was making my parents proud.



The other night, SR was talking to his ex-brother in law on the phone and I almost started crying. I said that if I died and he went back to living with his ex-family, somehow my existence would be less important. It's a scary thought. But then I remember days like when we were at Effigy Mounds in Southern Minnesota, so in love, as I've talked about before, as if we would go up in flames. Moments like that stay with you and change you.


It has become clear that there is probably nothing more important than making the lives around me happier. There are a lot of little molecules and forces that come together to make a smile, and if we can move just one of those particles, we've done something.





So cliche, but so true.



And actually last night was great. We went to Chuck E Cheese. Admittedly, I felt we were somehow polluting The Bois by exposing him to greed, cheap fun and worthless prizes instantly forgotten. But the step kids had so much fun, and in the end, so did we. Step-daughter had a very good report card and I let her know how proud I was. There is very little that is intuitive about being a step-mom. But the biggest mistake I can make is to give up trying.


So post-ultra depression is over. And I know it was just fatigue and a change in chemistry after the run because when I look at this picture


I feel like I'm The Bois with left arm in the air.

Running Song of the Day: Fiskene i Havet by Blå øjne

Sunday, 13 April 2008

We did it!

And there was some doubt that we would actually do the 50k race. The night before the snow just kept coming down. As my mom and SR and I drove up there (of course with The Bois), we were all wondering if we would actually do this. Is it normal for humans to run 31 miles through windy snow-covered hills?

We went to pick up our packets and the trails looked treacherous. The snow was accumulating quickly.


We tried to keep our spirits up. We went out to a greasy fish fry at a main street diner. To finish off the meal we had the most decadent piece of pie you can imagine, loaded with cream cheese, caramel and pecans. It had be given a name along the lines of "Cheecarapeca." You can call a pie anything, I guess, if tastes like that. So 2000 calories later, we went back to the family-run motel.

It was strange, but I was getting really excited. Somehow we both slept really well.

The next morning, SR looked out the window and said "Should we really do this?". There were at least 4 inches of snow on the ground and the winds were strong. But as I went across the parking lot to get a gas station coffee, I saw 5 very fit people with running clothes on getting into their car. We had half figured everyone else would drop out because of the weather. I saw their smiles and knew we were going to do it, too.

When we got there about 90% of the people who had signed up had checked in. Ultra runners are so cool.

I realized it was going to be a beautiful day.

The race director talked about listening for the sand cranes. And his nephew played The Star Spangled Banner on the saxophone. Then we were off.

I lined up at the back of the pack, not knowing the consequences of this. The first mile or so was all walking because there were so many people on such a thin, snowed in trail. I wanted so badly to run my heart out, but it was impossible. Oh well, I figured I would have 30 miles to make up for it.

It turned out to be a lot of fun to run in a group. I even got a mini Danish quiz from a guy who reported he had run a trail race naked before. He told me about lots of different ultras in the Midwest. The group forced me to walk up the hills. They kept telling me I'd run out of energy. I disagreed and eventually ran ahead. Just before the half way point I was really tired. There is a total of 4700 feet of elevation change in the whole race. And it seems like a lot more when your slipping every which way through the snow.

Just before I reached the turn around, I saw the leaders heading back. And there was SR in 4th. He looked happy, though I thought a bit pale. He stopped for a kiss and everyone around us watched.

At the turn around, my mom was waiting in the car for me to breastfeed The Bois. Unfortunately the boobs were bone dry. But The Bois was sleeping peacefully. And she had formula along.

After taking a nice break and eating these amazing chocolate cookies, I left for the second half. I felt much better. I had developed a strategy by this point: No walking up hills and just a quick sip of orange drink and a few peanut M&M's at each aid station. The whole way back I was passing people. I felt really good. I was smiling without realizing it. And then I put on my music. Life was great. Except the snow was SO slippery. I regretted not having trail running shoes. My old Sauconys say "TR" on them which may mean Trail or Track for all I know. I fell a total of 10 times. Once down a hill, almost sliding into a pond.

I wore my grandma's driving gloves, which worked great because they were totally waterproof. I didn't wear the yak trax and I didn't have a fanny pack. I didn't feel I was lacking anything.

With about 2 miles left, I got passed by a strong-looking girl. I thought I'd just let her have it. My legs were hurting badly. But then I put on some Danish rap music and got a second wind. I was almost sprinting. I have now idea how I did it, but I kept it up. I passed the girl and then passed another woman and a few men.

The end finally came. My legs were very sore, but I felt great. I would love to run races like this for the rest of my life.

It was wonderful to see SR and my mom and The Bois. And then Meghan from Meghan's Crooked Trails blog came up to me and introduced herself. It was so cool to have a friend there, albeit through blogs. She did awesome, taking 3rd overall for the women. I'm sure I'll get asked, so I'll go ahead and tell you I took 7th for the women.

We had veggie chili and cookies and I breastfed The Bois. The boobs were back in business.

SR and I can't wait for our next ultra. In fact we've been obsessing about it a bit.

So maybe the answer is it isn't normal for humans to run 31 miles in those conditions. But it sure was fun.

Thanks so much to everyone for the encouraging comments! Heather, I'm touched by your comment and wish you happy running and exercise during your pregnancy and most of all a healthy child!

Running song of the Day: Oxygen by Cerys Matthews

Thursday, 10 April 2008

50k with 9 week old Bois

It's a bit difficult to keep the excitement up about 31 miles of trail running with cold, pouring rain outside. I'm hoping it turns to snow, as predicted, otherwise I might have to say it's not worth it!

It's not the simplest thing to prepare for and run an ultramarathon 9 weeks after the birth of The Bois. But my strategy was as follows:

Run 12 miles with or without baby jogger every other day.
Alternating days run 3 5ks as fast as I can on the treadmill and then swim or elliptical. Of course this was made much easier by the 2 free hours of childcare at the YMCA.
Last week, we got in 4 days of running at 7000 feet in Utah. Who knows if that will help or not. From what I've read, peak EPO level is reached after two to three days altitude exposure and the effect lasts 10-15 days.

I've never been a big one for tapering, but today and tomorrow (two days before the race) I'm just running a 5k, then spinning then swimming.

The plan for the race is to start out fairly quickly and take a nice long break midway where my mom will be waiting with The Bois. I'll breastfeed or pump, eat some snacks, drink something. Then I'll continue, probably not as quickly and making more stops the second half. Provided it's not freezing pouring rain, it should be a lot of fun.

SR bought some yak trax, but I have decided not to wear them if it is at all muddy (thanks to the advice of a friend).

I'm looking forward to seeing one of my blogging friends there, too! I think you know who you are!

I am feeling a bit of pressure from SR to go for the female win or at least the youngest age group win. I love the competition of a run, but hate the pressure, probably because I've never really been that fast. And seeing as I've never run an ultra before and have only run one marathon AND I've only gotten in one long run (18 miles) because of babysitter time constraints, I'm not planning on anything spectacular. Maybe one day.

Time for The Bois and I to head to my dentist appointment.

Running Song of the Day: Ridder Lykke! By Rocazino

Monday, 7 April 2008

Utah

Sorry I haven't written. We're visiting my sister in Utah and doing some skiing.
The Bois smiled on command for the first time and also rolled over from a flat surface on his own!


The skiing is beautiful. And somehow our family is managing to get along and actually have a pretty good time. The best part was my dad beating SR in a ski race.