Category Archives: running

What Running Gave Me in 2018

I’m not an emotional person.  However, as my husband broke off from me for the last two miles of the Charlotte half marathon, I found myself starting to tear up.  As I crossed the finish line, I cried.  I have run a few half marathons.  I have even run a marathon.  What made this race different?  A lot of things.  Mostly being the impact my children have had on my life.  Being a good mom, a mom my kids are proud of, ensures a different level of love that will always be in my life.

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When I saw the Charlotte Marathon was looking for ambassadors to represent the city’s race, I felt a calling.  This was something I wanted to be a part of.  I have preached that I am someone who keeps a very diverse training plan.  I am ready to do all types of things during any given week – ride an indoor bike, do an obstacle course race, crush a 5k or finish the competitive wave of beers and burpees.  How could I challenge those who considered themselves “non-runners” to get off a bike, treadmill or out of a crossfit studio to support this event?  I kept my same training regimen and showed up week in and week out at several local running races.

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I ran some of the fastest races of my life.  Will I remember that? Sure.  However, what  I will remember most about running all these races, rather participating in all of these fitness events, is the community. It gave me inclusion.  Access to a new group of inspiring friends that showed me a whole new side of Charlotte.

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Let’s talk race day.  I had been sick for several days leading up to the Saturday race.  I spent most of Thursday and Friday laying on the couch with a low grade fever.  I didn’t intend to dwell on it, which is why most people didn’t even know I was feeling under the weather as race day approached.  I woke up Saturday with the intention that I would run my half marathon without music, without expectation and with the intention of seeing my city.

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I parked in a parking deck that I didn’t plan to park in due to road closures.  I wore shorts based on advice from my husband and other ambassadors and I did less than a half mile warm up.  Nothing went as planned.  I met fellow Flywheel instructor, Abbie Cooper, and the Charlotte Marathon ambassadors at the finish line to take some pre-race pictures.

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Whatever nerves I may have had were released through the ambassador’s version of a 90’s boy band photo op and a short jog over to the start line where I met fellow FiA (Females in Action) friends for a group picture.  I had every intention of starting with the 8:00 min/mile pacer, until I couldn’t find him.  That’s where I was supposed to meet Abbie too.  Couldn’t find her either.

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I did find Katie Gregory (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  We had already talked about trying to run a majority of the race together, so I felt good about having someone who I knew wanted to run an 8:00 min/mile pace near me.  As quick as the national anthem was played, the race started.  We walked across the start line.  There were a TON of people.  The first mile was slow.  Over the course of the mile, Katie and I picked up Alejandro (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  He was running the full marathon, with a goal of sub 3:30.  GREAT.  Someone else who would pace with us.

The energy at the start of the race was fire.  Katie, Alejandro and I chatted, said hello to friends and before we knew it we were done with the first mile (8:10 pace).  Shoutout to all my FiAs we touched that first mile (Lindsey, Natalie, Katharine).  Katie and I joked about giving and getting high fives.  I ran past a group of police officers running down fourth and high fived each one of them.  It was after the first mile that we also passed a man who eventually completed the half with crutches.  SO inspiring.  There truly are no excuses.

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Somewhere in between the transition from mile 2-3, we lost Katie.  Alejandro and I chatted as we rolled down Randolph at the Colville intersection where I saw Shane.  Shane.  His smile so big, his arms extended up in the air, his voice echoing from 100m away.  He jumped in with us.  He documented on Instagram.  He entertained us.  These are the moments you will never know unless you run without music and technology.  Shane followed my pace as we ran with a man wearing American flag running shorts and a camelback.  He typically doesn’t do races on the road, but rather on the trails. We made the turn on to Providence in the midst of a huge crowd of runners (the first relay exchange zone).

We talked about how I was now in my home.  My neighborhood.  The roads that I knew and had trained well on.  We crushed the hills.  I took my first water.  I ran into so many people on this stretch.  Mary Merlin and her jogging stroller, a former co-worker Danny Weiland (I know his wife, Allison, was out there running) and the Lululemon crew! (Lynn and Allyson).

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Before we knew it, we were on to mile 6.  A steady downhill in which I saw my husband all geared up on the side of the road.  I yelled, “HUBS” and the man beside me looked over and said “huh?”.  I said again, “HUBS”.  He jumped in with Shane and I.  It was at that point that we made one of the most important turns of the day.  Queen Road West.  I knew I would see my kids. The most important people out on the course that day.

Y’all Queens Road West was MAGIC.  There were people lining both sides of the street.  Cow bells. Posters.  Cheers.  I saw my girls and ran by giving high fives and smiles.  I was proud of them as I hoped they were proud of me.  Thank you to all my friends and neighbors that we passed through this stretch.   Kelsey, Shelby, Cody.  The FiA station at the bottom of the hill.  If I didn’t say something or wave, it’s because I didn’t see you.  For that I apologize.  I am truly grateful for the warm showing of people out to support the every day runner.  Shane dropped us at this point, and the hubs (Jeff) took the task of leading me to the 10 mile marker.

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I took my first Gu pack as we cruised down Queens. I actually stopped to walk to make sure I got everything in and drank enough water too.  We picked things back up at a quicker pace as such I wouldn’t lose time.  That’s when we got in a fight.  As we cruised down Kings Drive, I told my husband I wanted to slow down to conserve energy for the big hill coming (Morehead).  He offered his advice, which I did not agree with and we stopped talking.  Sometimes big mama needs a time out.

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So I took one.  As I ran straight up Morehead with a chip on my shoulder, I saw one person standing at the top of the hill out cheering people on.  Allison.  She has been riding with me for over four years at Flywheel.  Allison has been through so much in the past year.  I can’t begin to explain to you how special it was for me to hear her yell, “Let’s go Jen” as I pushed to the top.  Just months ago this girl was admitted to the ER for blood clots in her lungs (from birth control, nonetheless).  She and her doctors attribute her ability to survive at her state to her level of fitness.  Read that again.  Her ability to survive.  Allison, thank you for being my inspiration.

We hit Latta park and found the people.  Charlotte Running Company had a set up.  We ran by the Fillnows.  As we passed the Charlotte Hornets painted basketball court in the park, we ran by Jeff’s friend, Scott Williams and his two boys.  He was as surprised to see us as we were to see him.  I walked through yet another water station before I headed to the home stretch.

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As we approached the point of the race that I knew Jeff would drop me to meet me at the finish line, he said to me “Jennifer, your girls were so excited to come cheer for you this morning.  They are proud of you.”  Mind you, we hadn’t said much since I got mad at him on Kings.  I didn’t say much, but I heard him.  I told him that.  I was listening.  So he kept talking to me.  This is why I love this man so much.

We split as I headed to SouthEnd and he headed uptown. By myself.  I had run the entire race with someone else.  I was finally alone.  Fatigue was setting in.  I was no longer distracted by someone  or something else.  I got sad.  Ha. Weird.  I felt like I was going to cry.  People say running is mental.  I kept trying to figure out why I was getting sad.  I was so close to the finish line.  I saw Scott Williams and his two boys again and I was reminded to embrace the experience and just have fun.

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I cruised by the turn into Panthers stadium fulfilled and slow moving, also alone.  I felt emotional again.  This whole season.  This whole experience.  It was almost over.  I wasn’t ready for it.  It was in these last moments that everything came full circle.  Abbie pulled up beside me and said, “Let’s go girl.  WE got this.” WE.  She didn’t say you.  She said we.  We, two moms, would finish together.  Not out to beat each other.  Not worried about time.  Just there to support each other as we finished.  This amazing feeling swept over me.  The end.  End of an incredible season.  End of this race I had been training for for what seemed like forever.  Regardless of time, I felt so loved as I crossed the finish line.  No matter how fast or slow I ran, I felt loved.  What a feeling.  Running gave me that.

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Don’t get me wrong, I feel loved by the ones who love me, but being a mom is hard.  There are a lot of days that go by unappreciated (especially with kids my age).  At my job in corporate America it was often that I was rewarded and recognized for my hard work.  The days are few and far between in my line of work these days.  My kids (and most people) don’t see me working during the hours they are sleeping.  Moving my whole day around to spend a little bit of extra time doing something for someone else.  Working out on a full stomach, when I’m run down or when I really just don’t feel like it.

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To Abbie.  To my moms and dads that work day in and day out.  To my friends and family who made me feel loved on this day.  I’m proud.  Proud of you.  Aim High.  Dream Big. Never settle.

Week 39 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a water melon? Somewhere over 7-8 pounds – based on ultrasound THREE weeks ago.  What do you think based on the picture below?  Can you tell I’m over it?

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Weight Gain – 25 pounds. I actually lost weight this week.  I literally can’t wait to see how big this baby is.  I can feel the mold of what makes up her back and torso and it isn’t small.  My first daughter was 7 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches long.  My second?  7 lbs 12 oz, 21 inches long.  Both were born earlier than this one.

Movement – One word.  Uncomfortable.  Movement these days is intentional.  When pressed in certain directions, I literally almost jump out of my seat.

Sleep – I’m sleeping!  Less anxiety these days.   After finding out another week would go by before our daughter would be born, I finally accepted that I have absolutely no control over child birth.  Maybe I was a little cocky going into round 3?  Like, I know my body – I got this.  Nope.  I don’t got this.  Clearly our third daughter is in charge.

What I miss – I can’t really think of anything.  Seriously.

Best Moments this Week – I made the most out of this week with my girls.  Neither of them were in camps or activities this week, so we got to spend some quality time together.  I have never been and will never be a mom who gets a sitter for the day only to go on with my own activities all day.  I left my full time job to be a mom, so I take pride in finding ways to stay engaged with my children.

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We went out to breakfast.  Even if it’s only a half hour activity, getting a chance to sit down and eat together at a restaurant is way more fun than staying at the house.

We finally went to the Myers Park Library to get our library cards and attend story time. Surprisingly, we ran into several friends that we had not seen in weeks.  We got there early enough that we could play with puzzles, check out our own books and read some stories before the FREE event began.

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We took ownership in our “makeup” and nail polish.  No.  I don’t think my girls need make up.  I certainly don’t wear a lot.  However, they are intrigued by touching and using  the products right now.  That said, I have realized that if I make them responsible for their own products, they are more likely to take care of my products.  We headed to Target so each girl could get their own small make up bag, some chapstick, a bottle of nail polish, some powder and some make up wipes.  Nothing big, but they now have a place to put their jewelry, toothbrushes and overnight accessories.  They are “big girls”.

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My husband took Friday off of work in anticipation that I might be admitted to the hospital to meet our daughter.  Either way, we had tickets to the PGA Tournament that day (so he had a back up plan).  After learning that I had not progressed much during the week (and we would not meet our daughter), we asked the girls what they wanted to do.  We headed to the park.  What a way to shift focus and move on with our day.

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After we went to the park, I told my husband to go to the tournament.  While I would miss the event, I didn’t want our tickets to go to waste.  I sat around and felt sorry for myself for about two hours before I rallied the girls to go shopping with me before stopping at Sunflower Bakery for some cookies.  They obliged.  I absolutely love shopping with them now.  Not only do they actually enjoy it, but they are so freaking cute!

Thank you Pink Social for carrying such adorable Carolina Panther gear.  We even picked up a little tee for the baby to wear as we wrap up summer.

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And, I’m still not done.  After spending all day with the girls during the week, I convinced my husband to go with us to see the Lion King in theaters on Saturday.

Looking forward to – I mean.  Do I have to answer this?  Labor.  Do people really look forward to that?  I am dying to feel like I am going into labor.  I know my husband is as eager as I am to meet our final addition.  He sure does love his girls.

Cravings – Not many cravings these days.  Favorite at home meal this week was turkey tacos with fresh guacamole, cooked corn, and jalapeños from the garden. My husband and I snuck out for dinner at Cafe Monte on Saturday for some much needed adult time.

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Symptoms – I have trouble getting in and out of the car.  I don’t know why I was ever worried about diastatis recti.  I have no control at this point.  I have no abs.

Workouts – Lots of Flywheel.  I lost interest in strength workouts this week.  My large stature makes lifting uncomfortable and undesirable.  Further, the chance of rain most of the week put a damper on my intentions to walk/run.

  • Monday – Strength workout in the garage.
  • Tuesday  – Ride 3:30 PM Flywheel with Shelby.
  • Wednesday – I went for a RUN! 3 miles at that.  I mean thanks (but no thanks) to everyone who has told me I should walk to get the baby to drop.  I’m pretty sure that running would get me there.

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  • Thursday – Ride Flywheel Charlotte with Brandon.
  • Friday – Ride (AGAIN) Flywheel Charlotte with Shelby.
  • Saturday – I got myself together and did a short strength workout in the garage.  I can still do pull ups!
  • Sunday – I rode with Brie at Flywheel.  Girl.  That class.  The best I have taken in months.

Week 37 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a cantaloupe. Somewhere over 7 pounds – based on last week’s ultrasound.

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Weight Gain – 26 pounds.  I am staying consistent with my weight gain from my previous two pregnancies. However, I am in much better shape strength wise with this pregnancy than I was with number one and two. I would say more of my weight gain is lean muscle mass at this point. It will be interesting to see how that translates when I take several weeks off from heavy lifting following delivery.

Movement – Whoa, movement. At my ultrasound last week the baby was rolled over to my left side. In what seemed like a 48 hour period, she completely shifted down and her back is now facing out. She is riding low. Getting out of bed is a struggle.

Sleep – After several rounds of severe Braxton Hicks this week that made me question whether labor might be impending, my anxiety level is heightened. Hence, I am not sleeping my best. With two kids to look after full time, not knowing when I will be heading to the hospital for a 48 hour period is nerve racking. I’m doing my best to rest throughout the day on the nights that I don’t sleep as well, as I know that I need to.

I have been trying to keep the girls on a pretty consistent schedule which means that we try to get as much activity in before lunch time (in case we don’t want to play outside in the afternoon heat).  The girls are also finishing up their summer session of soccer.

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Spending the afternoon indoors can be boring.  To fill the time with less physical activities, we have been painting, baking and watching movies.  I am nesting now.  I take a deep breath every time I take out all of the tools that I know will bring on a huge mess (i.e. clean up).  The more we try these activities, the more we get used to learning how to clean up right?

What I miss – Competing!  This weekend I had several athletes complete the Asheville Super Spartan Race.  I have favored this course in past years, as it has been a strong course performance wise for me.  I didn’t even get to drive up to watch because of my impending due date.  I am so proud of them for heading up the mountain and crossing the finish line.  We will see what my race schedule looks like the rest of the year post baby.

Best Moments this Week – While I wasn’t competing this weekend, I stayed busy at home spending time with the family (we never know when any activity will be our last as a family of four).  IMG_6072

After a crazy thunderstorm knocked out the power at our house Friday evening, we decided to walk out to watch the kick off for 24 Hours of Booty (i.e. the biggest tailgate of the year for residents of Queens Rd).  After a half mile walk (in which my oldest daughter scootered the entire way), we ended up at an F3 party.  Live band – check.  Barbecue – check.  Kids – check.  The girls lined the streets with the other children to give out high fives to the riders.  They are finally at an age where we can trust them not to walk out in front of (bike) traffic.

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We laid pretty low on Saturday.  As I mentioned above, I slept in, watched the Asheville Spartan Race live and completed a short workout in the garage before running a few errands with the family and calling it a day.

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We kept with that theme Sunday.  After teaching at Flywheel that morning, we grabbed breakfast at Flying Biscuit, went to Lowes and the grocery store and occupied the rest of our afternoon at the house.  Paint shelving – check.  Water balloons – check.

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Looking forward to – Meeting our third child.  Could we get any closer?  Time sure does creep by the last few days/weeks.  I have one of my final doctor appointments on Wednesday afternoon.  No camps this week for the girls, so I will be taking them with me.  My oldest daughter will actually help measure my belly at some visits.

Cravings – Let me name them all in order.

  • Peanut butter.  I eat it several times in a day (whether it be on a bagel, in a bar or in a smoothie).  I can’t get enough.
  • Desserts.  Preferably chocolate.  Cookies, cakes and brownies.
  • Quantity.  Any and everything.  This baby is growing bigger and bigger by the day.  With nesting going on, I am filling up plates full of food (and eating it all).

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Symptoms – I’m going to be real here.  Some time on Wednesday afternoon, I started to feel serious Braxton Hicks.  Like the kind that make you question if labor is lingering.  If you have never had a child, you won’t get this.  Essentially your stomach tightens up all around the baby, everything starts to compact down and you aren’t sure if you need to poop your pants.  That’s real.  It’s inconsistent and sometimes quick, sometimes long.  After going away the next morning, it happened again on Thursday.  After going to bed early, drinking a TON of water and taking off Friday, I was back to myself (and I have been since).  Eek.

Workouts – See symptoms above.  Serious Braxton Hicks contractions created a need for me to slow things down this week.  That said, as I sit here and type, I feel great (like I could go a few more weeks carrying this child).

  • Monday – I taught my regular 6:30AM Flywheel class.
  • Tuesday – Strength work in the garage (as always, I will send if you would like to see).
  • Wednesday – I went for a RUN!  See picture below.  I squeezed in almost 4 miles.  That said, this is the day I started to feel yucky in the afternoon.  Maybe the running started to make her drop?  Either way, I’m done with that.

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  • Thursday – I rode with Abbie (who is due just a few weeks after me) and taught my final 3:30PM Flywheel class before baby number three arrives.
  • Friday – TAKE A DAY OFF.  Regroup.  It’s time to start conserving energy.
  • Saturday – Sleep in.  Short Strength workout in the garage.  I’m still hanging in there (quite literally!)

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  • Sunday – I taught my final 7:30AM Flywheel class before baby number three arrives.  So bittersweet.  I L.O.V.E this crew!

Week 36 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a melon. Approximately pounds 6 pounds, 10 ounces.  Coming directly from the 36 week ultrasound!  She is head down and ready to go!  For reference, my second daughter (who is holding the ultrasound picture) was 6 pounds, 11 ounces at the same ultrasound.  It’s pretty amazing how consistent they are.

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Weight Gain – 25 pounds.  Weight has stayed pretty consistent.  My belly, on the other hand, continues to get bigger.  Each and every week that passes, I feel a big shift in the outward size of my belly.  Someone told me this week that they hope I have my baby soon because I look really uncomfortable.  Okay then.

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Movement – The baby is most certainly running out of room.  Movements are becoming more and more uncomfortable.

Sleep – The weekends have turned into big training days for me:  I have been waking up early both days to either teach at Flywheel, train my obstacle training group or train my own individual clients.  That said, I was able to catch up on some rest during the week while the girls were at camp Tuesday-Thursday.  Not feeling the need to wake up early to workout definitely helps me rest easier.

What I miss – Cooler weather.  Holy heat wave.  I would give anything for high temperatures in the eighties.  I have heard pregnant women complain about the heat before, but I thought they were just being high maintenance.  I’m there.  It’s just plain hot.  So hot it is hard to breathe outside.  Even my clients have told me they are worn out from the intensity of the change.

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I don’t think it would be as bad if I didn’t need to find something for the kids to do (specifically in the afternoon).  Most days involve living room furniture forts, stickers and crayons, pretend play and playdoh.

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The girls are still playing soccer one afternoon a week.  Practice is thirty minutes.  I don’t think any of the kids could take much more.  Fortunately, there is a shaded area that they spend the majority of their time in.

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We have also tried to spend time outside early enough in the day that the heat doesn’t wear us down.  Both girls thoroughly enjoy “scootering” around the block (a solid half mile) and riding in their covered wagon.

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My sister recently moved to Charlotte and she has been more than helpful by inviting us over to her apartment complex to go to the pool.  Let’s face it, it is more trouble than I want to take on to head to the YMCA pool by myself with both girls (in this heat, with this belly, blah, blah blah).  I would rather walk around the mall.

Best Moments this Week – The ultrasound.  I have been dying to see this little munchkin.  I love going to the doctor to hear the heartbeat and measure my belly, but there is nothing better than actually seeing your love bug on the screen!

Looking forward to – Meeting our third and final girl!

Cravings – With increased energy the past two weeks (possibly nesting instinct?), I have been motivated to cook.  Spice things up!  After cleaning out several drawers in our kitchen, I came across some healthy recipes that I had ripped out of magazines years ago and decided to finally test out.  Quick and easy turkey chili over spaghetti and harvest grain couscous.  Good quality food that makes you want to eat in more.

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My parents offered to watch the girls on Saturday night so my husband and I could go out to dinner.  It’s restaurant week in Charlotte, so without reservations, we headed out EARLY and enjoyed an incredible meal at Napa on Providence.  Because we decided to choose items off the restaurant week menu, we were able to try items that we typically wouldn’t choose.  For once this swung in our favor.  We each enjoyed the gnocchi appetizer, chili rubbed salmon (seen below) and a brownie fudge sundae.  Yes, we really ordered the same exact thing.  There is a reason why we got married.

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Symptoms – I’m going to be real here.  I have felt pretty invincible this pregnancy.  On Tuesday of this week, I started to feel random pinching in and around my belly button.  The pain was not consistent, not tender to the touch and not something that would happen upon moving a certain way.  It was gone by Wednesday.  I reached out to my doctor and she mentioned it might be a hernia.  Eek.

While the pain is gone, I am concerned that after having three kids in less than four years, I may have some ab separation post partum.  I had my belly button pierced before I got pregnant.  I haven’t gotten stretch marks anywhere from any of my kids (I’m lucky), but I have started to notice at the point where my scar tissue is on former piercing there are two stretch marks starting to form that look like a “V” up my abdomen.   There is nothing I can do at this point but slather on the lotion and hope everything pieces itself back together.

Workouts – This is the first week in which I feel like the size of my belly has limited my range of motion and left me feeling like I just need to accept the fact that I am way closer to having a baby than I think (see picture below).  I have no desire to run (rather walk or go to Flywheel) or do pull ups without assistance (sometimes opting to do TRX rows altogether instead).

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  • Monday – I taught my regularly schedule 6:30 AM Flywheel class
  • Tuesday – Strength work in the garage.  Ask me for the workout, I can send it!
  • Wednesday – I went for a run that went on to turn into a walk.  It’s just not comfortable.  Just over three miles.
  • Thursday – I rode in the 9:45 AM Flywheel class before teaching my regularly scheduled 3:30 PM class that afternoon.
  • Friday – Strength work in the garage.  This heat though!  I had to tone the intensity down and take breaks to keep my heart rate from skyrocketing.
  • Saturday – After training people most of the morning, I jumped in a Flywheel class for 30 minutes that afternoon just to get my legs moving.  IMG_5989-1
  • Sunday – It was my 5 year “Flyversary”  ride.  Wow – I cannot believe I have been an instructor with this incredible company for FIVE years.  It seems like just yesterday I was just a rider like everyone else.  I have so many incredible memories with individuals who I would now considered my best friends.  The support at the ride was everything.  You know you appreciate your job when you can tell the people you instruct you love them and they say it back.