This Week on the Internet: Evidently I Don’t Want Friends

Recently, I was most pleasantly surprised to be approached by WebMD to be a contributor for their new women’s health blog. Here’s a link to my recent post of VBAC.

Also, because I don’t necessarily want friends {or because I actually care about women and am tired of all the anti- vaccine hooligans} I wrote this post on the HPV vaccine for Grace for Moms. 

My half marathon is next weekend and I feel pretty good about it. I’m going to try for negative splits, with a goal to finish under 1:50, but we’ll see how it goes. Babies are popping out everywhere (I’ve delivered 10 in the last week) interfering with my training  and sleep schedules. I know, how inconsiderate of them.

Ragnar is in 3 weeks and we just lost a runner. We are currently desperately looking for a sub, or else several of us will be running an extra leg and that is a particularly unappealing proposition.

Any of the 3 people who read this want to run Ragnar, let me know ASAP. It’s super fun I promise: 200 miles from Chattanooga to Nashville in a sweaty van with 5 other crazy ladies for 30 hours.  Hmmmm. perhaps it’s good I didn’t go into sales…

 

 

Franklin Classic 10K

I love my quaint little suburban town. It’s made up of equal parts good country folk and wannabe Nashville hipsters with just a dash of California transplants to make things interesting.  At about 70,000 people, it is just big enough to have what we need, but not so large as to feel like a metropolis. Historic homes, Civil War battlefields and gorgeous horse farms make it a joy to run through.

The Franklin Classic is a race that shows off the highlights of our town as it winds a 10 K loop through the historic downtown each Labor Day. It benefits Mercy Children’s Clinic, a local organization providing free health care to children and adults at need.

A beautiful sunrise at the over the square at the start of the race

A beautiful sunrise at the over the square.

I’d been training for the race for 6 weeks by adding hill sprints and tempo runs into my routine. I ran my tempo runs at a 7:40 pace with hopes of running a sub 48:00 10K but alas, it was not meant to be.

Once again the weather was not it my favor. At 7 am the temperature was 75 degrees with 97% humidity. The air was THICK. Even as I was warming up, I was already doubting my time. My plan was to run the first mile at 8 min/ mile pace and then try to crank up my pace to 7:30, if I felt strong.

Most races I get caught up in the excitement and start off too fast, but this time I didn’t have that problem. I felt like I had to push myself to keep my pace from the start. Even so, I was right on target the first 3 miles, but honestly I just got really hot and tired. It felt like I was running through Jello.

The course was beautiful but hilly. If I hadn’t been concentrating so hard on simply putting one foot in front of the other, I might have enjoyed historic grave yards and gorgeous horse farms along the way. As always, the race was well organized and attended. Rumor has it Ashley Judd was among the runners, but I didn’t see her. The last 2 miles I dropped my pace to 8:30. Realizing I wouldn’t make 48:00, I was hopeful to get sub 50:00; but as I rounded the final turn to finish up main street I saw the clock and realized I wouldn’t make it. I was going as fast as I could go without vomiting.

Running down Main street, into the historic square is a great way to finish the race.

Running down Main street, into the historic square is a great way to finish the race.

 

I was disappointed in my time initially, but it was still a 3 minute PR for me. My goal was likely too ambitious for that course. I’ll be back next year to support a great cause and have fun, but I’ll cross my fingers for a little less humidity.

 

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Baby Pictures: Illegal Privacy Breach or Adorable Tradition?

I write the Apgars and weight on a sticky note as I survey the delivery room one last time. The new mom is staring in awe at the baby in her arms while dad is nearby trying to dry up his tears before the extended family descends on the scene from the waiting room. I reassure myself with a glance at the monitor confirming that mom’s vital signs are stable, as I quietly make my way to the door.

“Wait Doctor! Don’t leave, yet. We need a picture of you with the baby!” They insist.
Internally, I cringe. It’s 3 am. My hair resembles that of a Dr. Seuss character due to hours of wearing a surgical hat and my eyes are a swollen mix sleep deprivation and caffeine overload. But outwardly, I smile. I realize this moment isn’t about me, it’s about the parents preserving the memory of the birth of their child.*

At mom’s six week postpartum visit, she—like most of my patients—proudly hands me a copy of the picture, requesting for me to put it on my “wall.”

My office is lined with baby pictures, like almost every OB/GYN office in America. After 10 years in private practice, walking down my hall is a virtual scrap book of my life. As I see the faces of the hundreds of babies I’ve delivered, I can’t help but smile.

Recently, more and more offices are removing the baby pictures from their walls over for concerns for patient privacy. A recent article in the NY Times notes how most large hospital corporations are requiring physicians to take down photos out of fear of HIPA noncompliance. The article quotes Rachel Seeger, a spokeswoman for the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services as saying “A patient’s photograph that identifies him/her cannot be posted in public areas” unless there is “specific authorization from the patient or personal representative.” It states that unless written permission is obtained, the pictures are illegal.

Patient privacy should be taken very seriously. But is displaying a picture of baby, which was given to me specifically for that purpose, truly a breach of trust? Can there possibly be a small ounce of common sense left in this over-legislated world?

I adore the pictures as well. Some pictures make me laugh, as I remember the delivery of a baby that splashed me with a tidal wave of amniotic fluid, which sadly I’ve learned tastes like coconut water. Other faces are a reminder of a delivery tainted with tragedy; these evoke a silent prayer for patients with loss. Most of the pictures bring a simple smile and a moment of gratitude that I’ve been blessed to be a part of so many miracles.

But just as the birth isn’t really about me, neither are the baby boards. When women come back for their second and third pregnancy, I often see them hoisting up their tots to show them their own baby picture on the wall. “Look, there you are! That’s you with the doctor that delivered you!” they say with a grin. The toddler often responds with a squishy faced grimace of disbelief and a chuckle. If they can’t find their picture (we get so many, we actually have to rotate the photos) they are disappointed.

The purpose of the baby boards is to celebrate life and bring a small moment of joy to those walking by, not to expose someone’s private health information.

For now, my office walls will continue to display unflattering pictures of me at 3 am holding crying babies, fresh from the womb, still coated in coated in creamy vernix. These pictures bring us joy and my patients want me to display them. Some say it might be illegal, but surely that is not the spirit of the law. There are real problems in health care right now that need addressed, baby pictures on my wall isn’t one of them.

*any patient references are used with patient’s permission or are a fictions conglomerate of multiple patient encounters.

The 5 Most Surprising Things About My Marathon Recovery

Like the studious gal that I am, I had read about post-marathon recovery in order to avoid the pitfalls that had befallen many a runner before me. However, much like the race itself, reading is not the same as experiencing it. Here are a few of my most unexpected findings.

1. Post Marathon Depression is Real

I had read about post marathon depression, but much like R.O.U.S.’s, I doubted its existence. “Depression” is too strong a word, perhaps the “post marathon blues’ would be a better description, but whatever you call it, I was surprised to find that I did not feel like myself for the next weeks after the race. Perhaps it was the carb withdrawal (no more carrying around a bag of bagels) or maybe the lack of long run endorphins, but I felt more moody and irritable than normal. It may simply have been the normal let down after such a highly anticipated event. Luckily, I felt back to normal in a couple weeks.

2. Recovery Wasn’t That Bad

Headed to church the morning after the race

While the race itself was entirely harder than imagined, the physical recovery was not so bad. Many had warned me “that I wouldn’t be able to walk for a week” after the race. While I was sore, I was back to regular activity the next day. I followed the a post marathon taper I found in Runner’s World and it worked well.

3. I Was Ready to do it Again

I’d heard many people say that their marathon experience really burned them out on running in general and especially marathoning. Even though my experience wasn’t perfect (and maybe because it wasn’t) I definitely want to give my legs another chance to try 26.2. Not this year, the timing won’t work, but perhaps next fall, I’ll try the monster again.

4. Losing a Toenail Ain’t no Thang

I made it through the race with no major chafing or blisters, but about a month after the race, one of my toenails decided to pop off. It never turned black, it simple wiggled out like a lose tooth. No pain or drama was involved.

I'm a "real" runner now!

I’m a “real” runner now!

5. I Enjoyed Exercise Again

While the race didn’t ruin me for running, It was nice to run/walk/swim/crossfit without checking boxes or worrying about pace. While I’m still too type A to be all ‘wild and crazy’ and run without my Garmin, I’m not absorbed with mileage this summer. I’ve even slept in here and there and eaten pancakes with kids.

 

While the race itself was a stinker, other than feeling a little moody and losing a small, expendable piece of my toe, my recovery was rather harmless. Of all the many things I stressed over about the race, the recovery should not have been one of them.

Happy 4th of July

flag

With low humidity and record low temperatures, my run on July 4th was perfect. Since the marathon I have been mainly running between 6-8 for my long run. This weekend I felt antsy  to go farther, so I dug out my fuel belt, dusted off my Goo and belted out 10 miles. It felt great. I ran an ‘out and back’ from Sullivan Farms to down town Franklin. This is one of my favorite courses. It takes me through several beautiful neighborhoods and past the Carnton plantation (a civil war cemetery).

4th

The first hour I merely took my time and absorbed the scenery: bubbling brooks, the sunrise and multiple flags along tree lined streets. As an extrovert, I love running with people, but sometimes you just need to be alone with the pavement. As I ran, my mind wandered as much as my feet. I alternated between silent prayers for the many people in my life who are hurting right now and being thankful of all the many blessing that I have as an American. For most of my run the sound track was merely the cadence of my feet hitting the road. A peaceful start to a loud weekend. I’ll admit that I did resort to my ipod for the last 3 miles as I let the tunes of Katy Perry and U2 motivate me back home.

I got the feeling that my legs had been going through lactic acid withdrawal. Like a pair of big dogs who had been kept in their kennel too long, my legs were ecstatic to run so far. Yes, it’s definitely time to start training again.

Fall running plans:

Labor Day : Franklin Classic 10 K

The Franklin Classic is a fabulous race through my home town. It raises money for an excellent cause: Mercy Children’s Clinic. I have done this hilly race before and I love the finish up main street. My goal is to finish under 50 minutes. My crazy goal would be to finish under 48 minutes.

Oct. 11: The Middle Half

I ran this flat half marathon in Murfreesboro, TN last year and set a PR. I am running again this year with 12 other gals from my neighborhood. It will be a blast. I’m a little scared to try to beat last years time(1:48), but anything under 1:50 would be great.

Oct. 24-25: Ragnar Tennessee

12 women. 2 Vans. 200 miles. Sound like fun? I can hardly wait. Me, my marathon peeps and 6 other crazy ladies are running from Chattanooga to Nashville Oct. 24-25. {Assuming we can agree on a team name}. Our only goal here is to finish (and not kill each other). I’m sure I will be writing a lot more about this one.

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th as well. Anyone else doing a Ragnar this fall or training for a crazy race? 

My First Marathon: A Long Post that Contains Bad Words and Unflattering Pictures of Me

 

“She’s going the distance

She’s going for speed.

She’s all alone in her time of need….”   -Cake “The Distance”

At mile 23 the dude from Cake blasted through my earbuds, telling me to keep going. Mentally and physically exhausted, I was in desperate need of this stupid race to be done. As I attempted to summon the will power to make it the last few miles, a stabbing pain sliced through my right knee.  Having never had knee issues in my entire life, I was flabbergasted. My thoughts quickly turned from confused to horrified, as the pain intensified to the point I could no longer run and just barely walk.

“Not now. Not so close to the end.” I thought. “Lord please let me finish my first marathon.” I prayed over and over. The tears of pain and frustration poured down my cheek as I hobbled along.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning….

The Expo

Ever since that debacle that was the Hot Chocolate Expo, I have been anxiously awaiting the marathon expo. I pictured spending the morning with my friends slowly perusing the various vendors, stocking up on GU and buying the perfect 26.2 t-shirt. Things didn’t go quite as planned. I did get to meet my buds for lunch, so I went solo to the expo.

Running for St. Jude in honor of my cousin Brittany who beat childhood cancer

Running for St. Jude in honor of my cousin Brittany who beat childhood cancer

Even pressed for time there was ONE priority: The VIP Potty Pass. Last year when I ran the Music City Half, despite being over an hour early to the race, the porta potty lines where too long for my excellently hydrated self to get bladder relief before the race. This year I was determined to start more comfortably.  If you buy $150 of Brooks merchandise at the Expo you get the VIP Potty Pass which guarantees no lines and a REAL toilet and sink. I bought an extra pair of shoes (that I will use eventually) and a souvenir hat and I was good to go. Literally.

Race day-eve

Shannon, Andrea, Deanna, Abby and Me

Shannon, Andrea, Deanna, Abby and Me

The night before the race we carb loaded at Abby’s house with pasta and sweet potatoes. It was the perfect evening to sit on the deck with our friends and husbands, nervously discussing the next morning. Abby likened the excitement and butterflies to getting ready for the prom. The six of us had spent the last 4 months logging mile after mile together, now the big day was nearly here.

Actually Nancy, no it wasn't.

Actually Nancy, no it wasn’t.

The big worry was Christina. Struggling with a stomach bug, she hadn’t been able to eat all week. She promised that she was taking fluids, but she hadn’t been able to carb load and she missed the night before party so she could rest. We fretted that she wouldn’t make the race or worse, that she would stubbornly push herself too far and get injured.

Our next fear was the heat. The forecast was projecting temps in the 70’s. We hadn’t run in any weather hotter than 40, with most of our runs in the teens. We were used to frozen bums not heat stroke.

Porta Potty Drama

Christina rallied in the morning and decided to attempt the race. She promised not to push herself, but we were still worried. We arrived downtown an hour early, getting dropped off on the far end of Broadway turned out to be perfect. The was no traffic and no line at the porta potties near corral 30.

Ready to Run!

Ready to Run!

But did I use the empty porta potty? No. I pridefully went in search of my “fancy” porta potty. Once I got to the starting line, I discovered where the other 30,000 people were hanging out. I began desperately searching through the crowds for the VIP bathrooms and couldn’t find them anywhere.  As my bladder approached its capacity, my panic escalated. All the bathroom lines near the start were at least 50 people long. After being sent on 3 wild goose chases, I finally discovered the VIP bathrooms had been moved to the convention center. I barely had time to meet up with Shannon and get back to my corral.

The Race: 26.2 Damn Miles

The wait in the corral felt like an eternity. With 30,000 people running it took 20 minutes for me to cross the starting line. Shannon was running the half and she paced with me the first 11 miles. I was a nervous mess. I couldn’t believe the big day was really here.

Minutes before I crossed the start, I got a well meaning text from husband wishing me luck and telling me not to worry that the weather would be a “perfect 75 degrees” at the end of the race. I got a sinking sensation in my stomach. 50 degrees is perfect race weather, 75 is borderline dangerous. I made up my mind to drink at every water stop and stay on pace.

Hal (Higdon- the author of the Marathon Book I read, who I like refer to in first person as if he’s my BFF) told me not to set a time goal for my first marathon other than to finish. My last half was a PR of 1:47. I felt strong and well prepared, so I proudly thought that I could manage a sub 4 hour marathon. In hindsight I wish I could go back to that starting line and slap some sense into my silly overconfident self. But alas, I set out with a goal pace of 9:20 min/miles stubbornly ignoring Hal’s advice.

We crossed the starting line at 7:20 am. The crowd of runners was thick. The first several miles were spent jockeying for position and laughing at all the spectators signs. The excitement was tangible. I tried to pick a comfortable pace but every time I checked my Garmin it was off due to the buildings. Even though I felt comfortable I started too fast with several mile splits under 9 min/miles.

My sister Amber cheered me on from OK by posting hilarious running signs to my facebook.

My sister Amber cheered me on from OK by posting hilarious running signs to my facebook.

Running through the tunnel under the Music City Center was awesome. I felt like a kid waiting in line for an indoor roller coaster with the echoing footsteps and flashing lights. We ran though the familiar landscape of music row and Belmont, on an adrenaline high. Shannon and I were having a blast. At mile 7, I saw some friends who were cheered me on and gave me a good luck hug.

Mile 7

Mile 7

A hug from Donna makes everything better

A hug from Donna makes everything better

The crowds were still thick at mile 11 when the half runners turned to ease on home and the full marathoners kept on trekking. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Shannon as she hugged me goodbye and promised to see me at the end. (Shannon learned she was pregnant half way through our training so she dropped down to the half.)

Then with a lump in my throat, for the first time in my life, I went straight at Bicentennial Park instead of veering right. The crowd of runners thinned significantly. This was definitely the road less traveled.

Soon after the split, the heat began to get to me. Having not run any of my training runs in weather over 40 degrees, the sun felt oppressive. One extremely smart thing I did along the way was stop at the medical tent and get sunscreen, otherwise my pasty self would have been a lobster for the entire week.

Once I was on my own I pulled my ipod out of my belt. I don’t usually listen to music while I run, but I figured I could use all the help I could get at this point.  As we headed out Rosa Parks Blvd, it got desolate: no fans, no bands, merely heat and buildings. It was a nice long down hill slope. About half way down the slope it dawned on me that this was an out and back, meaning I would have to run back up this hill. Crap. I had hit my half way split at 2:04 so I was already realizing that I wouldn’t get a sub-4 and began to get down over that.

I made it back up the the Rosa Parks hill and ran briefly back through downtown. We ran beside the half runners again, those lucky devils were almost done. I hated them all. At this point I noticed a lot of my fellow marathoners starting to walk up the hills. I have always “attacked the hills”. My new mental strategy at this point was to start counting “hill kills” (the number of people I passed going up the hills). I stopped worrying about my time, my new focus was finishing.

Mile 18 is when the migrating pains started. A different part of my body would hurt for about a quarter of a mile. My pace dropped of to 10:15 and I began to fantasize about walking.  My hill kills were over a hundred at this point and it seemed too hard to keep counting. As we ran up the hill into East Nashville I was gleeful to see a water stop half way up the hill (I let myself walk through the water stops to make sure I drank enough). I begin to have moments of panic. I had not expected to feel this tired so early. I began to worry about Christina, hoping she was OK.

My Dad, Step mom and oldest son greeted me around the next turn. The water and encouragement they gave me helped me through the next few miles.

They found me again at mile 22 and 24, cheering me on to the finish.

The last hour was torture. The heat was sweltering, my legs were shot and I just needed it to be over. I realized I had made the obvious rookie mistake of starting out too fast. As we entered the uneven terrain of Shelby Bottoms, it took every bit of will power I had to keep moving. I keep thinking of the kids at St. Jude, particularly my cousin Brittany who was treated for leukemia there. She was my inspiration that last hour.

Then Cake came on my ipod:

“She’s going the distance

She’s going for speed.

She’s alone. She’s alone in her time of need….”   

 

At mile 23 the dude from Cake blasted through my earbuds, telling me to keep going. Mentally and physically exhausted, I was in desperate need of this stupid race to be done. As I attempted to summon the will power to make it the last few miles, a stabbing pain sliced through my right knee.  Having never had knee issues in my entire life, I was flabbergasted. My thoughts quickly turned from confused to horrified, as the pain intensified to the point I could no longer run and just barely walk.

“Not now. Not so close to the end.” I thought. “Lord please let me finish” I prayed over and over. The tears of pain and frustration poured down my cheek as I hobbled along. I was prepared for muscles cramps, “the wall” and even pooping my pants. I was not prepared for injury.

As I limped along, each foot strike sent horrific pain through my knee, my mind began to spiral out of control in my pain-exhaustion delirium. My thoughts quickly raced:

What if I don’t finish? What if they have to call the ambulance? What would that cost? Will I meet my deductible? What if I need knee surgery? Crap, that means I’ll miss work. Everyone will be really mad at me. My husband will never let me do this again.

Just as my thoughts were going to full blow crazy town, a fellow runner a came by and said, “Keep going. Just limp, walk, run.”

That simple advice pulled me back to reality and I kept going. After about half a mile the pain magically went away and I was able to run again. I was going slow, but I knew I would finish.

By mile 25, I had nothing left. I was physically and mentally depleted. Then an angel appeared in the form of my friend Shannon.  She popped out of the crowd and ran the last mile with me. As we rounded the last half mile, an unexpected cheering section of friends from the neighborhood made me cry tears of thanks. Equally thankful that they braved traffic to encourage us and that this stupid ass race was almost done. (Liz, Amber and Michelle: you girls are awesome!)

The last miserable mile

The last miserable mile

Then it was over. We crossed the finish line at 4:24. I had pictured my self feeling euphoric in this moment, but instead I merely felt relief that it was done.

I was a marathoner.

26.2 miles

26.2 miles

I laid in the shade and drank water until my parents found me to take me home.

As we pulled into the neighborhood, this sign made me misty eyed.

As we pulled into the neighborhood, this sign made me misty eyed.

Christina and the rest of the gang all finished. We all fought our individual demons and conquered the beast, finishing with no major injuries or incidents. (My knee has never hurt again.)

Running a marathon was the single hardest physical thing I have ever done. Perhaps picking a hilly course on a hot day is not the ideal first race, but nevertheless I ran 26.2 damn miles. Actually my Garmin read 26.7, but who’s counting.

Abby in her last mile

Abby in her last mile

Christina's husband ran the  last mile with her

Christina’s husband ran the last mile with her

 

“So how was your race?” My staff asked me as I walked into the office on Monday morning.

As I opened my mouth to answer, time seemed to pause as a multitude of adjectives leap into mind: exhilarating, beautiful, humbling, empowering, excruciating, wonderful…

Instead, I merely smiled and said, “Good. My race was Good. I finished”

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Countdown

One week from today, I will run my first marathon. Four months of training, blisters, sore muscles, frozen hair and laughs will hopefully all pay off on April 26th. I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

Life has been busy and since this little blogging project is a sub-hobby of a hobby it must take a back burner to more important things, such as the 10 babies I delivered in the last week and coloring Easter eggs with my littles. But alas I wanted to document my last few long runs, for posterity’s sake in case I never do this again.

18 Lonely Miles

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I ran 18 by myself. To make the distance slightly more palatable I  broke it up into smaller chunks. I started in Sullivan Farms and ran 3 out and back into Ellington Parkway. Then I stopped back at my car, dropped off my headlamp (I had to start at 5:30) and picked up my iPod and fuel belt. I don’t normally run with music, but with 18 miles alone I needed a little help. I hate ear buds, so I ran with my 1985 walkman earphones. I looked ridiculous, but Katy Perry helped me through those last miserable miles.

I then ran through Polk Place, up Lewisburg Pike and through the Carnton Plantation. Running past a Civil War Cemetery at sunrise was phenomenal.

20 miles in Nashville

Christina, Abby, me, Shannon, Andrea and Deanna ready to run 20 freaking miles

Christina, Abby, me, Shannon, Andrea and Deanna ready to run 20 freaking miles

Twenty miles was the longest run of our training. The idea was pretty daunting so once again we teamed up with Nashville Striders who organized the course. We ran from Centennial Park to LP field and back, running most of the first half of the course. It was one of the only runs where all 6 of us got to run together.

I love running through down town

I love running through down town

Twenty miles was a challenging distance, but once again our legs took us further than we thought they could.

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 The Tulsa Run

Tulsa is my hometown, where I started running.  Running in Tulsa is wonderfully nostalgic for me, so when I realized I would be traveling home for a wedding a month before the race I was tickled to get to a run a long run on the River Trails in Tulsa.

Riverside Park Tulsa, OK

Riverside Park Tulsa, OK

With over 20 miles of beautifully maintained trails with regular water stops and bathrooms and a separate trail for bikers, its is the perfect city for runners and bikers. I got to catch up with some old friends and literally take a run down memory lane.

Running with friends in Tulsa

Running with friends in Tulsa

I am truly jealous of the park system in Tulsa. I was on such a running high after my 16 miles there I came back to my parents house and declared that we we’re moving back to Tulsa. However, my bubble was then burst when my husband informed me that this would involve us having a long distance relationship.

The Final Countdown 

For the next week I’ll carb load, neurotically check the weather and hopefully get some sleep. The weather forecast is looking hot,which makes me nervous, since we have only been training in cold weather. At least our matching t-shirts for the race are short sleeves.

back of shirt

back of shirt

If you see us on the course next week, wish us luck!

Anyone have any advice for us first timers?