48 Hours in Atlanta: Peachtree Road Race, Georgia Aquarium, and Delicious Food

I didn’t have a blast last year at the Peachtree Road Race and definitely not the “party down Peachtree” I’d heard so much about, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it again. Fortunately I have a short memory so I found myself signing up for it again. Since I wasn’t pregnant and it was less hot than last year, I thought I’d enjoy it more.

Last minute P and I decided it’d be worth it just to make it a short family trip so we booked two nights at the Residence Inn near the start and drove up after work to the Expo so I could pick up my packet. A was mostly good but a little impatient at the drive so we were fortunate that all the traffic was headed out of town. I’d pre-purchased parking so all we had to do was show up, park, and I went in and got my packet and did a little shopping at the Expo. One thing I decided to try out was a pair of Goodr sunglasses because I’ve heard so much about them and I was tired of my heavy sweaty sunglasses and at $25, I figured it was a cheap purchase that would hopefully work out.

We were both pretty hungry so we went to check into the hotel and were happily surprised to find out that Tuesdays they have free food so we had hotdogs, salad, chips, and also free beer and wine. It wasn’t great but it was so nice after driving and the Expo to not have to worry about going to a restaurant and waiting to eat and then getting back to put the baby down. I’m also really fortunate in that A sleeps incredibly well in hotels. Like so well that I’m considering moving in. I stayed up a little longer than planned before heading to bed.

I woke up bright and early and headed down to eat some breakfast and then walk to the start corrals. I was in H this year so pretty much middle of the pack. The weather was still hot and humid but much better than 2017. Along the course there was tons of people handing out food and drinks. A men’s water polo team wearing speedos and caps were handing out free hotdogs and other people had kegs and were handing out free beer. Mellow Mushroom around Mile 4 had free pizza. An Episcopal church had a holy water fountain and were blessing the runners going by. I felt last year’s dissatisfaction melting away. This year was so much more fun and I totally get why people make it a tradition every year. I ran by a man wearing a rainbow tutu and others waving flags.

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Once I finished I ordered a Lyft and though it cost more than taking the Marta, it was definitely faster and took less walking. That may be my main criticism is that the Marta stations aren’t especially close to either the start or finish. I was especially eager to get back because I’d realized while running that although I’d brought my pump with me, I had neglected to bring any of the parts. Of course, I got back just as she finished her bottle so I had to figure out (with the aid of Youtube) how to hand express.

We had lunch nearby at a place called True Food Kitchen. It was such a neat place. They don’t fry anything and everything is made to order and their kitchen is open concept so you can watch it all. They also don’t have sodas but they do have drinks made fresh. I had a Coconut Rx and P had a Kale-Ade that tasted like ginger and cucumber.

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Old Navy has some seriously cute baby clothes!

Afterwards we went to the Georgia Aquarium. We took A to the zoo a few months ago but she slept the whole time so it was really fun to see her notice the fish. She was open-mouthed amazed at the jellyfish but the tunnel you walk through under the whale sharks was too much stimulus for her. She also liked the penguins and the otters, but wasn’t as taken with them as she was with the fish. She took a nap through the seal and sea lion show and then we decided to pack up and have an early dinner at one of my favorites, Desta.

Ethiopian is my favorite food and we’ve been coming to Desta for years now and it’s never disappointed. This was our first time with A in tow and it was every bit as good and easy as I remembered. Next time we go A will be able to eat some of it with us and I can’t wait to introduce her to Ethiopian food directly.

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The Give and Take

I’ve been back to work for a couple of weeks now and though I’m glad to be back at work, I also realized that there’s a whole host of new challenges with it. One thing I am glad I did was put kiddo in daycare for a few days at a time before I went back so that it wasn’t a ton of change all at once.

I work rotating shifts which makes it hard to settle into a routine. I just switched to the evening shift so my days look something like this:

0500-0700 wake up, feed baby, put baby back to sleep

0730-0830 baby wakes up, top baby off, dress her for “school”

0830-0900 hubs takes her to school

0900-1200 eat breakfast, do some chores, work out

1200-1400 eat lunch, prep for work

1400-2200 work

2200-0500 next day try to sleep in between nightly feedings. Last night she was up every other hour, ugh. Some of it I think is she misses nursing so when I’m available she tries to maximize the opportunity.

It’s also a challenge for P because he’s essentially on baby duty all day. He packs her up for school, takes her and picks her up and puts her to bed. Even though he gets a better sleep period because he doesn’t have to do the night feedings, if she’s being crabby there’s not really anyone he can tap out with since I’m at work. Thankfully, she’s a pretty happy baby and he’s really amazing with her.

Workouts

Getting back into shape has been more difficult than I could understand. I’m about 8 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and everything I hear tells me those last few pounds tend to hang on. Since I’m also breastfeeding, I’m a little nervous to do anything that might disrupt the supply so now that I’m working out longer and more often, I’m careful to drink a ton of water and also make sure I’m eating well enough.

I’m in week 4 of my training plan for Ironman 70.3 Augusta and it’s going mostly well. Another plus side to the second shift is it’s easier to work out in the mornings for me. It’s less hot and there’s less people around. Plus, the pool I prefer has stupid hours in the afternoon and evening which makes it hard to get my swim workouts in when I’m on first shift. At the same time, workouts are hard because I feel like I’m tired all the time since I’m up and down so frequently at night. I also feel like I hardly see my baby since she’s at daycare during the day and I’m at work at night. There are some days, mainly on the weekends, where I can’t find a good time to squeeze the workout of the day in. The pool is closed on Sundays and they only have childcare in the mornings on Saturdays and there’s no pool at that location so sometimes I either have to re-jiggle the workout schedule, sub something else in, or just accept that it as an unplanned rest day.

I know that I’m building a base right now, but I also know that I’m not going to set any speed records at Augusta and anyway, I’m going to spend at least 20-30 minutes in there pumping so that’ll slow my overall time, too. I’m just trying to get back into shape and have a good race without too much soreness and part of that is accepting that my fitness level is not the same as it was last year and I’m still rebuilding.

 

 

Mother’s Day, Part 2

I meant to post this sometime closer to last month, but time really gets away from you with little ones!

Most things went according to plan. I had a three-hour window to pick up my packet the day before and Mini-Me decided to take a long afternoon nap so I had to wait for her to wake up, feed her, and then we could leave for the park.

I just kept her in her carseat and stroller combo because I didn’t intend to stay long. I met another woman with her six-month-old and we chatted about motherhood and getting back into the swing of things postpartum.

I packed my bag back home, filled up my tires, and put my bike and everything in the car. I also prepped bottles. We use the Kiinde system so although I can pump directly into the bags, I usually pump into a bottle and then measure it out into the bags so I know how much she’s eating at each feeding.

The night before she must have known something was up because she kept waking up and I started feeling a bit of a sniffle that did eventually turn into a cold for both of us. Around six she was starting to wake up (again) so I prepped a bottle for her and went and woke P up so I could leave and have time to stop by Starbucks on the way.

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The field was pretty small, maybe 70 people total? Which I like because I hate getting kicked or swam over. They started us all in one wave so I put myself towards the back and still had some people swimming into me because they’d swum too far right or left. It was pretty annoying but I just let them pass. The water was really warm and felt great and I took my time.

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I decided to wear socks with my cycling shoes for the bike portion and realized I’d left my water bottle at home. Whoops. Again, I was determined to take it easy so I cycled pretty slowly for the course and enjoyed the honeysuckle in bloom. I don’t think I passed a single person on the bike.

The run, like the bike, was an out-and-back and felt a lot longer than expected. I did a run/walk between the cones to keep myself going and took water and Gatorade whenever offered.

Still, I finished in only ten minutes slower than my time from last year so that was super nice. I didn’t stay for awards but I should have because I took first in my age group (out of 2!) but I wanted to get home so I washed off in the bathroom and pumped on the way home.

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I was really sore for a couple of days afterwards but it was so much fun to get out and back in the race scene and I’m ready to get back into more training again.

 

My First Mother’s Day, Part 1

I’ve only been vaguely aware of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for the past 10 years or so (since I had neither parent to celebrate) and Mother’s Day only because an alumna from my college was responsible for its creation.

Last year on Father’s Day was the day I found out I was expecting but this is my first Mother’s Day and I am honestly so excited about it. Not to make it about me, but because it marks another transition, a big one, in my life. I’m a parent forever now.

For the day, I asked P if he could take care of her in the morning while I did a local sprint triathlon. I did it last year and when the email rolled around again, I found myself yearning for it even though I knew it was potentially a bad idea since I’m still only 3 months postpartum. I haven’t swam, I haven’t ridden my bike in several months, and I’ve only begun running again. But I really wanted to do it and figured worst case is it’d take me about two hours or so. My time from last year was 1:31 so I figured an extra 30 minutes would be a generous buffer plus time to travel there and back and beforehand to set up my transition area and get body marked.

Plus, I’ve come a long way in the past three months in learning how to plan my time with a baby.

The logistics basics:

-Pack everything the day before, not the night before

-Pump up tires

-Find bike rack in garage and put on car (tricky because my stroller is in my trunk and my bike rack makes it hard to move things in and out of the trunk)

-Pick up packet (P is volunteering all day so Mini-Me is in tow and right now is taking a long, luxurious, unexpected nap)

-Prep bottles for Mini-Me’s meals while I’m gone. I’ve been gifted with a bit of an oversupply so I’m able (aka need) to feed and pump. Most of the excess gets frozen but this past week I donated some to a local mom who was struggling.

Day of:

-Top Mini-Me off before I leave

-Bring pump with me, pump before start and after finish

-Return home victorious

 

Rebuilding

I knew on the surface that getting back into shape postpartum was likely to feel more like starting from the very beginning, but it’s been so long since I truly knew what that was like that when I began my workout plan, it was a very rude awakening.

I’ve been a big fan of Ashley Horner’s workouts but they can take a long time and I knew I needed something that I could do at home, with minimal equipment and time. I chose to go with Glow Body PT’s 12 Week Postpartum Plan because it was highly recommended by other military women, I liked that the workouts were short and intense (and as a new mom, my time is crunched so short as it is), and I also got it on discount way back in November for Veteran’s Day. That’s just how long I’ve been looking forward to this program.

Still, I didn’t even look at it until a couple of weeks ago when I decided to print it off and put it in a binder for easy reference. I’m motivated by crossing things off of lists so I put the workout plan on the front cover of my binder so I can cross workouts off as I complete them. It’s also great because I can see what’s next and flip to the tab to see what the workout is like. One of my absolute favorite parts is that Ashley Keller (not Ashley Horner) also made real-time workout videos for every workout so I can just queue it up and as soon as Mini-Me is asleep I can hit play. I can see what the exercises look like and just follow along. SO. NICE.

I still have a ways to go before I’m anywhere near my previous fitness level, but it took my nine months to get to this low so I expect it’ll take me a while to get back plus deal with finding an entire new routine.

I want to be Real

“He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”
Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

I’ve been a consumer of social media for years and even more so in recent years with my deployment and pregnancy and now as a new mom up at all hours of the day and night and I’ve really noticed the lack of authenticity in so many posts. Or often people post about things being real but the picture is heavily edited and filtered, kind of the opposite of being “real.”

I’ve done it too. I’ll take a bunch of pictures and only post the best one and tweak it so that things look brighter and better than they are. Why are we so afraid of ourselves?

I’m never going to be able to achieve or sustain that. Let me tell you the kind of mother-athlete I am: I sleep in the clothes I wore that day, plus my favorite Oiselle Lux sweatpants because I get up and down all night and it’s easier than changing. In the mornings, if I workout, I throw something, anything on. Clothes don’t match anymore.

I workout, maybe I shower. I eat granola bars all day. My house is usually pretty well vacuumed because Mini-Me likes the sound of the vacuum, but it’s untidy as hell everywhere. My kitchen table has a breast pump on it, books, a hat, this computer, flowers in a vase, multivitamins and my incomplete cross-stitch. My coffee table is no less crowded.

I take gym pics to keep myself accountable for my workouts, not because they look nice because they sure don’t. I gained over 60 pounds during my pregnancy and I still have a lot left to lose. I have a belly pooch and my hips and thighs are thick now. It’s a rare day that I put makeup on.

But I’m willing to bet that I’m closer to the norm than further from it, despite what social media would have you think. I scroll Instagram at night looking for others who want to be Real, like I do. Women who aren’t scared of their flaws and who don’t pretend they have it all together. You’d think that the ones who have it all would be rare, but it’s the Real ones who are rarest of all. Let’s be real and raw and ourselves.

 

Instant Love

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One of my absolute favorite stores to browse, Williams-Sonoma, recently announced they were closing their Augusta location. As heartbroken as I was, I recognized a good sale and quickly snapped up all the things we’d thought about buying but hadn’t. Mainly replacing all our old cooking utensils I’d had since I first stocked my kitchen, but also a new gadget that I’d been hemming and hawing over for months – an Instant Pot. I’d heard that they’re life-changing. I’d also heard they do everything equally well but nothing great, so I’d put it off because we already had a slow cooker and a pressure cooker and pots and pans.

Well, I LOVE my Instant Pot! Really, really LOVE. It’s not prep to eating in 15 minutes, and there’s still some significant prep work in some recipes, but overall I think it was a good buy and appreciate cleaning less dishes. Plus, I can cook food that’s frozen and an entire roast in 15 minutes instead of several hours.

My favorite place to dig up recipes is from the Instant Pot website, but these have been some of my favorites so far:

  1. Turkey and White Bean Chili – this was a little soupy to me, so I added some chopped corn tortillas left in the fridge and it was so good.
  2. Risotto with Pancetta, Peas, and Mushrooms – this was crazy good and you could easily leave out the pancetta.
  3. Korean Beef from Damn Delicious – so good!
  4. Korean Chile-Braised Brisket – I made the kimchi coleslaw but think it was better with just the plain kimchi. The brisket was great and I’d actually recommend not sizing this one down because it’s so good we cleaned up the whole recipe.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

As in, a few things that have saved my sanity (as much of it as could be saved, anyway).

best things

1. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin // This was a gift from a friend and I thought “cool” and put it away until I came home from the hospital with cracked and bleeding nipples and then I went and eagerly dug it back out. I like that it’s safe that Mini-Me can nurse without wiping it off and it really helped me heal quickly.

2. Himalayan Salt Lamp // I got this while searching for the perfect night light that would be bright enough to see by but wouldn’t be white light. I love that this one is dimmable.

3. Lansinoh Hot or Cold Breast Therapy // While I was in the hospital my nipples were cracking and bleeding from learning to latch and doing it poorly. I vaguely remembered from my breastfeeding class that if you didn’t want to breastfeed you wanted to wear a tight bra and use cold compresses on it. Since I wanted to breastfeed, I figured the opposite was true and spent time hugging my electric heating pad to my chest for relief. It definitely worked to the opposite effect and when my milk came in, I was suddenly and painfully very, very engorged. As it turns out, I needed a cold compress to help ease my pain. These are great because they can do hot OR cold.

4. My Brest Friend // I hate the name of this pillow and the fact that it’s called “Brest” makes me cringe every time. But I do love how it works. I was using a Boppy for several weeks but I hated how Mini-Me would slip down inside it and it didn’t give me much support front or back. I ordered the MBF (I refuse to write that name out more than once) and really liked it. The Boppy is useful for other things, and my husband loves it for bottle-feeding, but not for breastfeeding.

5. Dohm White Noise Machine // I like this so much I have two, one in my bedroom and one in kiddo’s room. The noise level is customizable and is perfect for drowning out other noises.

6. Lillebaby Airflow Carrier // I ordered this at the strong recommendation for others and it’s great for when I’m in crowded spaces (like out shopping) or when I’d like to have two hands available (like eating) and really helps keep Mini-Me calm and happy. They’re having a clearance sale right now so I picked up a second one so my husband can have one sized for him (they resize easily) and I can have another pattern one sized for me.

7. Sun Basket Meal Delivery system // We used Blue Apron for a while but got tired of how every recipe seemed to use a fond which would invariably smoke up our kitchen and also how every meal seemed to have kale. I like kale, but not for every meal. We’re currently using Sun Basket and while it’s more expensive ($11.99/serving) but we like it a lot better in terms of options available and how easy it is to cook. Most of the recipes say they take 20-45 minutes but my experience has been that they take a lot less, typically around the 30 minute mark, from start to finish. They have paleo, vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian and family friendly menus and you can swap in between all of them. Since my bout of HELLP, we’ve been working on reducing our sodium intake and the amount of red meat we eat every week (hard when your husband thinks meat makes the meal). Sun Basket’s vegetarian and even vegan options haven’t raised a single eyebrow and he’s really enjoyed them without complaint.

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03.13 I remember

Yesterday was the anniversary of my parents’ deaths; they died on the same day four years apart. One was expected, the other was not, but both hurt just the same.

When my last parent died, we hadn’t been on good terms due to some choices I’d made and how he reacted to them and also the influence of my stepmother. We hadn’t seen each other in three years or spoken to each other except for maybe two emails. When he died, I was a junior in college and sort of just fell apart so much so that I took a leave of absence from my Corps of Cadets, didn’t go to my Army ROTC Spring FTX. This was kind of a big deal because your entire junior year is spent prepping for an evaluation camp held between your junior and senior year which evaluates your potential and is a huge portion of determining your branch and future assignment. It’s like the Army ROTC equivalent of a thesis defense, screw it up and you’ll pay for it for years.

Everything Army was particularly difficult for me to get through because every class, every PT session reminded me of him. I was painfully haunted that he’d never see me graduate or commission, get married, and that he’d never even get the chance for us to have a better relationship. Every mile I ran hurt. Every time I put on my uniform I ached inside. I also wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around, either. I remember one day another student was complaining that the salad bar was out of something and I ripped her a new one because how could anyone be so stupid to complain about that when there were so many worse things she could be missing? To all who knew me then, I’m still really sorry for how I lashed out at the people around me who only wanted to help. As painful as it was, running was my self-imposed treatment for my grief. My dad was a runner which made it worse, but also helped me feel like I was still connected.

It’s been ten years since he died and fourteen since my mother died. In a few years, I’ll have lived as long without a mother as I did with her. That loss was a lot more painful while pregnant as I tried to envision how on earth I was going to be a mother when I didn’t have one and was pretty sure I had no maternal instincts (I still maintain I don’t, but I took every class offered by the hospital and the post).

As I mentioned before, I was kind of an emotional wreck that whole spring. I was offered the opportunity to not go to the Army evaluation camp that summer. I probably should have taken it but my main motivation was that I didn’t want to repeat my MSIII year. Unsurprisingly, I did poorly because I just didn’t care about any of it still. It all seemed like a enormous waste of time and effort when there were so many other things, real things, that Actually Mattered instead of exercising Vietnam-era tactics and being evaluated on them.

I’m glad I did go, though. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met my husband, I don’t know what I would have commissioned as, but I know my path would have been different. I don’t think I’d be here now, in this house with my dogs and cat and sleeping baby snuggled against me. I used to be so angry but now I’m just sad that my daughter won’t know them, and I’m sad for my dad that we never got the chance to have a better relationship before he died. I am thankful that he got me into running and that my mother, who had skills that Martha Stewart would envy, left me with an appreciation for crafts, cooking, and a deep love for dogs.

One Month Postpartum

A month ago I was super pregnant and mentally prepared to still be pregnant halfway into March. Instead, little girl is a whole month old and my life is completely different now.

Although she isn’t sleeping through the night I like to think that my years of Army training have prepared me to function on little or poor quality of sleep. I did lose 30 pounds in the week after delivery which was pretty cool and I’ve lost another five since then. I haven’t been cleared for strenuous physical activity but I have been doing walks around the neighborhood with the dogs and stroller. I also joined a postpartum yoga class on post which of been a lot of fun even though I seem to spend a lot of the time either breast-feeding or trying to call me fussy baby. In a few weeks she’ll be old enough that I can leave her in childcare at the YMCA and then it will be a little bit easier to get my workout in.

She’s grown a whole pound and some change in a month and is a little taller than the height/weight ratio but she’s gaining both pretty evenly so I wonder if she got the tall genes that I didn’t get. It’s also a little humbling to think that had she cooked longer this is how big she might have been full term.

I’m still holding off signing up for races until I’ve been cleared and have a base again, but I DID sign up for the 2018 Peachtree Road Race again. This year I was quick enough to get an Atlanta Track Club membership and a guaranteed entry.