Tag: Colt Goucher
I just finished packing for my trip to Boston. At least I think I did. I’ll probably keep messing around with my luggage until the last minute, like always. I’m one of those neurotic packers who want to take everything and worry about leaving behind the stuff that won’t fit.
At least I don’t have any bigger worries at the moment. I’m fit, healthy, happy and completely ready for the Boston Marathon on Monday. I can’t wait to get out there and see what I can do. My last fine-tuning workout, a 12-mile tempo run that I did on Saturday, went well. I’ll do a little more fast running this afternoon, for sanity more than anything, and then I’ll shut it down and store energy. By Sunday I’ll be bouncing off the walls!
It’s interesting to compare this week to the week before my first Boston Marathon two years ago. I’m much calmer this time. The difference is Colt. As excited as I am for Boston, I’m even more excited about the two teeth that sprouted through his gums within the last week. Running is still very important to me, but now I have something new in my life that’s even more important. (Family was always more important than running, but this is different.) I don’t think the shift in priorities really takes away from my running, though. Being calmer and having other things to think about in the week before a big race can only help my performance, I think.
While the week before a marathon is always exciting for me, it’s also a little sad. The process of training for a marathon is such an intense journey that I’m a little sorry to see it come to an end each time. It’s like closing the door on a little chapter of my life. I get a bit nostalgic at these times. I will probably remember this particular chapter with special fondness because it started with the birth of my baby boy.
I will arrive in Boston on Thursday. Some of my family and many friends will be there, and I’m excited for that. I will keep off my feet as much as possible. A press conference and an appearance at Niketown are my only big obligations. Being Colt’s mom will be my main focus until Sunday evening, when I’ll foist him on my mom and sister so I can truly relax and rest for Monday morning.
If you’re in the city, come see me at Niketown at 8:30 Saturday morning. And if you’re in Boston to support a friend or family member who’s running the marathon, but you’re not running yourself, I hope to hear you on the course. I promise I hear every single person who shouts my name, and it really helps! I appreciate your support. And if you are racing on Monday, good luck!
Have you seen the April issue of Competitor? That’s me on the cover. If you look closely, you’ll see I’m wearing a necklace. The oval-shaped piece hanging from the chain is actually a thumbprint of Colt. I bought it from a jewelry designer named Tina Steinberg, whose work I love.
After I bought the thumbprint necklace from Tina we developed an email friendship. Recently she sent me another necklace with an inscription on it. On the front it reads, “I am not afraid.” And on the back, “I was born to do this.”
I love it! Tina could not have picked a better message for me. It’s the kind of thing I say to myself all the time, although never in exactly these words, until I got the necklace. I believe that life should be about living your passions—doing what you were born to do. But chasing your dreams is hard. No matter who you are or what your passion is, trying to do something as well as you can possibly do it is challenging, and with challenges comes fear.
As a runner, I deal with fear almost daily. To prevent fear from defeating me, I have to fight back against it in my mind. Reminding myself that I am doing what I was born to do—that, win or lose, embracing the challenge is still worthwhile—is one way I do that.
Before each big race I choose a power word that I think about during the hard parts of the race to stay strong and fight back against fear. It’s always a word that resonates with where I am in my mind at that time. The word I’ve chosen for the Boston Marathon is “free”. I want to run this race free of both expectations and limitations. I will be thinking about freedom along the way from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. And I will also be thinking this: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”
Okay, it’s time to get interactive! Tina Steinberg has graciously offered to send a free silicone bracelet with the same inscription to the first 25 readers of this blog who email her with a personal story that relates to this theme. We will pick out our favorite story to share right here. The author of that story will also receive a free necklace just like the one I have.
If you’re interested, send your story of any length to Tina at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say!
I’m on a plane to New York. Adam and Colt are here with me. Flying cross country is always a hassle, especially with an infant, but I am more excited about this trip than I’ve been about any trip I’ve made in a long time. My last couple of flights were to races where I knew I would not perform great, and I didn’t. But lately I’ve been feeling like my old self again, and I can’t wait to race like my old self for the first time in more than a year and a half!
It’s amazing how quickly things can change—for better or worse—in running. You can be on a terrific roll when suddenly your knee starts to hurt or you start to feel stale and the whole thing unravels. Or you can be grinding along, working hard and seeming to go nowhere, when suddenly something clicks, and after that you’re stronger every day. That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago. I was really frustrated after getting my butt kicked at the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego on February 5. But the very next week was when something clicked, and I’ve been feeling stronger ever since.
Until that breakthrough happened, I had serious doubts about my decision to run the Boston Marathon only six and a half months after giving birth. Some people thought that was a crazy thing to even attempt, and I was beginning to think they might be right. But now I’m starting to feel that I will be fitter than I thought was possible in the best case scenario before I started down this road. I’m not trying to count my chickens before they hatch, but it’s not hard for me to compare where I am now in my training to where I was at the same point in training for past marathons and see that I am going to be as well prepared for Boston as I was for any of my previous three marathons.
Recently, Alberto asked me to look over my old training logs from the New York City Marathon in 2008 and the Boston Marathon in 2009. I resisted it, because I was afraid that seeing how fast I ran in my key workouts would crush my confidence. But when I finally forced myself to do it, it had the opposite effect. Yes, I had some great individual workouts back then. But what struck me the most was how much more total work I’ve done this time around. And my workout times are starting to get pretty close to my best times from the past.
One of the many factors that’s motivating me to run well in Boston is my desire to prove that what I’m trying to do is possible. I want to show that a woman runner can stay fit throughout pregnancy and bounce back fast afterward while still putting her child first. Of course, many women have already done this, but I don’t think anyone has won the Boston Marathon six and a half months after giving birth!
I feel that I’ve done almost everything right in this process. I took the right approach to staying fit during my pregnancy, and exercised the right amount of caution to make Colt’s well-being my top priority. It was right for me to set an aggressive “comeback” goal and return to serious running as quickly as I reasonably could. Even in the early days, when I was so exhausted from breastfeeding and being up all night that I didn’t know how I was going to put one foot in front of the other, running kept me sane, and a sane mom is a better mom!
It’s nice to be rewarded when you do things right. I am looking forward to Sunday’s New York City Half Marathon and to the Boston Marathon on April 18 as my rewards for following my heart through my pregnancy and my return to running. I also hope that my running well in these races will reward the many people who have supported me along the way.
Earlier this year I signed on as a spokesperson for Nutrilite, which is the world’s largest vitamin, mineral and supplement brand. One of the many things I didn’t know about Nutrilite before I started working with them was how big they are. The only thing I really did know was that they used to sponsor the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships and the Prefontaine Classic.
A week ago I visited the Nutrilite Health Institute in Orange County with Adam and Colt. I spent more than six hours there and easily could have spent another whole day. It’s an impressive facility with a lot going on inside. I met with some of their nutrition experts, who drew my blood, analyzed it, and pointed out which vitamins and minerals I need more of. I got a full tour and saw how the supplements are made. Unfortunately, they didn’t have hair nets and lab coats in Colt’s size, so he had to wait with a sitter!
I was really impressed with what I learned. One of Nutrilite’s slogans is “Seed to Serving.” It means they control the whole process of developing, manufacturing and selling their products, beginning at the four organically certified farms they own. Nutrilite’s commitment to sustainability is obviously genuine, and I like that a lot.
Another thing I didn’t know about the company before I started working with them is how many products they have. There’s truly something for everyone. I was never one to use a lot of supplements in the past, but over the last several weeks I’ve tried out a bunch of Nutrilite’s products and decided that most of them are “keepers”.
If I could only keep one it would be Double X, which is a super high-quality multivitamin/multimineral with plant concentrates packed with phytonutrients. I try to get as much nutrition as I possibly can from whole foods, but it’s nice to have the insurance of a good supplement to fill any gaps. I rely on Double X especially when I travel.
Most of the other products I use are for performance and recovery. Nutrilite’s sports drink is called ROC20. It’s available as a ready-to-drink, but I like to use the powdered drink mix because I can dilute it with extra water, which I prefer. I’ve been using ROC2O regularly in my training for several weeks now and it’s working well for me. I’ve dealt with GI trouble associated with sports drinks in past marathons, but I’m confident that those issues are now a thing of the past.
In my longer runs I supplement the sports drink with Endurance Cubes, which are high-carb chews, and XS Energy Drink, which I like to use for a caffeine boost halfway through my 20-milers. After workouts I eat a whey protein bar or drink a whey protein shake. What I like about Nutrilite’s protein products is that they have different options in terms of protein grams and calories. I go for the lighter ones. A lot of the protein products out there are overkill!
The most random Nutrilite product that I’ve added to my routine is Restore, which is a Strawberry Lemonade drink mix you’re supposed to take at bedtime for better sleep. It sounds kind of crazy, but Adam and I are hooked. We’ve slept so well since we started using it that I’m afraid to stop!
As you can tell, I’m pretty excited about my partnership with Nutrilite. It’s great to have the support of a nutrition company that can make a real difference in how I perform as a runner. I’m also proud to represent a brand that has such high standards for quality, research, and environmental responsibility.
Look for me at the Nutrilite booth at some upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series events!
I’m back in San Diego. We (Adam, Colt, Adam’s mom and I) flew in yesterday. Tomorrow I will compete in the USA Cross Country Championships. I’m looking forward to doing my first cross country race since 2007—but I’m not looking forward to getting my butt kicked!
Even if I were trying to peak for tomorrow’s race, it would be a tough one to win. The defending champion, Shalane Flanagan, is racing and she is very fit. We train in close proximity in Portland so I know. Shalane’s new training partner Lisa Koll is also racing. She’s extremely fit as well, and crazy talented. And then there’s Molly Huddle, who broke Shalane’s American record for 5000 meters last year.
It would be awesome to win against such a strong field, but my chances are slim. While my speed has been coming around in recent weeks, it’s still not back where it was before my pregnancy. And I’m not exactly tapering for this race. I ran 120 miles last week and am running 110 miles this week. I’d be lying if I told you my legs felt fresh! Boston is my goal, and the USA Cross Country Championships are just a steppingstone along the way.
Still, I love to compete and I will do my best. I’m also excited to line up with some of the amazing new American talents that came along in the short time I was away. Lisa Koll was still in college when I was last competing seriously and Molly Huddle, who’s only 25, hadn’t broken through yet. These are women I’m going to have to be able to beat eventually to achieve some of my important goals, so it’s not too soon to get some experience competing against them.
As for my training itself, it’s going well. Absorbing 120-mile weeks is not quite as easy as I had hoped it would be at this point, but I’m surviving, and it gives me a lot of confidence to know that I’ve already logged as many training miles as I did before my last Boston Marathon, and I still have more than two months to prepare. I’m really amazed by how much work my body can handle and I know it’s going to pay off.
After this race I’m looking forward to not traveling for a little while and just grinding through my toughest weeks of training in Portland. Adam continues to do most of my runs with me, pushing Colt in a baby jogger in the afternoon runs. Colt seems to enjoy it as much as we do, and he has no idea it’s not normal!
We’ve been busy. The Gouchers haven’t had a weekend at home in three weeks, and we’ve got two more road trips lined up for this weekend and next. In fact, I’m writing this on the road, in Seattle, where I’m running an indoor track race tonight.
Last weekend we were in sunny San Diego for Endurance Live. It was a lot of fun. On Friday we went to Point Loma Nazarene University for a track workout. I don’t think I’ve ever run on a more beautiful track. It’s on a bluff with an incredible view of the ocean. Adam told me he wished he could go back to college and enroll at PLNU. He paced me through 12 x 800m in 2:32. Competitor’s Matt Fitzgerald joined us for part of the workout. He couldn’t handle the whole thing, and I have to admit it felt good to beat up on a Competitor employee after losing to Mario in Phoenix!
After the workout we had lunch outdoors by the pool at our hotel. We haven’t seen much of the sun in a while in Portland, so we wanted to soak up as much as we could while we could.
Saturday morning we ran with a big group along the waterfront as part of Endurance Live. After breakfast we made our way to the Endurance Live consumer show at the Convention Center. One of the highlights for me was participating in a panel discussion with three-time Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington, mountain biker Rebecca Rusch, and reigning Ironman champion Mirinda Carfrae. I have a ton of respect for what those women are able to do (Mirinda ran a 2:53 marathon in 100-degree heat after riding her bike 112 miles at Ironman last October!), and I really enjoyed hearing about their perspectives and experiences.
But the biggest highlight was meeting Trista and Ryan Sutter from The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. I am a huge fan of both shows and I watched every episode of Trista’s seasons on them. She came to Endurance Live with her husband Ryan because he was receiving the Celebrity of the Year Award (he’s a triathlete). I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to meet them and have my photo taken with Trista.
Saturday night was the Endurance Awards Show at the Hard Rock Hotel. It was very well done. People call it the Oscars of endurance sports, and I understand why. If you’ve never experienced it, be sure to make the trip next year. I was thrilled to see my teammate Chris Solinsky win “Runner of the Year”. The funniest moment was when Shalane Flanagan’s husband thanked Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor, and me for all getting pregnant last year and making it easier for his wife to have a successful marathon debut. I think Shalane would have done just fine, anyway, but I had to laugh.
Before we left on Sunday Adam and I ran 20 miles together. Adam pushed Colt in his baby jogger the whole way. What a man! The weather was gorgeous again and Colt slept the whole way. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning.
Tonight I’m running an indoor 5000m at the University of Washington. It’s a low-key meet and I’ll be up against college girls mostly. My goal is to run around 16 minutes flat. I don’t know how competitive I will be at that pace, but I’m more concerned about what I get out of the effort than what place I get (although I always want to win.) In fact, I’m approaching it as a workout more than a race. As soon as I finish I’m going to run some 1200m repeats to round out the day.
It will be pretty late by the time that’s done. Then Adam, Colt, and I will get in the car and drive back to Portland, arriving home at around 1:00 AM if all goes well. Then we’re off to San Diego again the following weekend for the USA Cross Country Championships—and more sun!
UPDATE: I won my race with a time of 16:11. I’m happy with that because the race started off really slow and I had to make up time in the second half.
My streak of 511 days without racing came to an end Sunday at P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in Phoenix. It was a mixed bag. On the positive side, I love racing and missed it, and it felt great to get out there and suffer again after so long. Also on the positive side, it was something I really needed as I prepare for the Boston Marathon in April. On the negative side, I did not run especially well or feel particularly good, and I lost!
The week leading up to the race was less than ideal. Colt had to be hospitalized and operated on, I spent a couple of sleepless nights on a cot in his room, my training was messed up, our travel plans were delayed and then hurried, and I had to spend much of Saturday on my feet instead of off them as I normally do the day before a race. I think I was functioning on pure adrenaline throughout that week and I could feel that adrenaline run dry about halfway through the race!
All in all, I’d say the events of last week added a minute to my finish time of 1:14:02. This means that, even in ideal circumstances, I would have run about five minutes slower than my normal half marathon time. That’s about where I should be at this stage of my post-pregnancy comeback; unfortunately, it wasn’t where I needed to be to beat Madai Perez to win the women’s race or Mario Fraioli to win the “Battle of the Sexes”.
I can’t help it—I’m very competitive and I hate losing. Sunday I felt like I lost twice in one race. In the middle of it Adam shouted to me, “You’re only 80 seconds behind!” And I thought, 80 seconds behind who: Madai or Mario? It didn’t matter—I wound up about two and a half minutes behind both of them. My legs just didn’t have their old snap, so I had to forget about racing and just run hard and get what I could out of the effort.
Now, if you’re concerned that my performance in Phoenix doesn’t bode well for Boston, relax. I’ll be fine. I’ve got almost 90 days left to build on the foundation I’ve laid, which is really an eternity. I’ve made more progress than I’ll need to make to contend in Boston in less time in the past. And my foundation is very solid. I’ve already got three 100-mile weeks in my legs; compare that to my ramp-up for the 2009 Boston Marathon, when I didn’t do my first 100-mile week until February.
True, my speed and racing sharpness are behind where they were two years ago, but I’m not worried about that at all. For starters, Sunday’s race itself will give me a big boost in that regard. Nothing gets me ready to race like racing. Alberto told me I’d probably be able to run the same half marathon three minutes faster two weeks from now, and I believe it. Next up is cross country nationals in San Diego on February 5, and I know I’ll get another boost from that.
I’m really excited about these next 12 weeks of training. Up to this point I’ve just been trying to survive; it’s been all I can do to absorb all the foundation-building mileage I’ve been doing. Now I’m reaching the point where the volume itself is not such a challenge and I can turn my attention to going faster and faster in my key workouts. Plus, I just weaned Colt, which will only give me more energy to put into those workouts!
Speaking of Colt, the other important benefit I took away from P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon was my first experience traveling with Colt to a race. I’m happy to say this was probably the most successful part of the trip. He was really good on the plane and he had two of the best nights of sleep of his young life in the hotel. It’s funny, I remembered to take everything Colt needed for the trip but I forgot my own warm-ups and drink mix—something I never would have done before I became a mother! That’s why this practice was so important, though. Now I see the kinds of mistakes I’m liable to make when I travel to a race with Colt and I can prepare to avoid them next time.
I can’t wait till next time!
When I got pregnant I knew and accepted that running would never be my top priority again. While I hoped that I would often be able to put as much into it as I always had, I was prepared to make sacrifices as a runner for the sake of being a good mother.
Now I am a mother, and those sacrifices are a reality. After a tough first several weeks I got some momentum going and was maintaining a good balance. Colt was doing well and I was getting the hang of being a mother, so I was able to make a full commitment to my running without making any sacrifices as a mother.
Then, two weeks ago, Colt got his first cold. It was brutal. He was up all night crying. Of course, I was up with him without a second thought. I knew the sleepless night would wreck my running the next day but I didn’t even think about it. I only thought about these kinds of consequences before Colt was born. Now that he’s here, whenever I hear his cry those maternal instincts kick in and everything else that’s important to me goes out the window, running included.
Unfortunately, Colt’s cold somehow left him with a swollen neck. We took him to the doctor, who said it probably wasn’t anything serious—maybe just a swollen lymph node, but over the weekend it got worse, so she checked him out again and sent him to a specialist. The specialist ordered a CAT scan to find out exactly what was going on. I’m glad he did, because the test showed that Colt had a huge abscess on his jaw that was likely caused by a staph infection.
The fluid inside the growth had to be drained quickly before it continued to grow. It was growing so fast and starting to affect how he was holding his head. If it had burst he would have become septic, and the doctor said that would have been life threatening. Adam and I are counting our blessings that this didn’t happen. We slept head-to-toe last night in Colt’s hospital room. We were supposed to travel to Arizona today for the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon, but that’s not going to happen. The doctor says Colt can travel as soon as he’s released, but that might not happen until Friday.
If nothing else, Colt has given me a great excuse to use if I don’t win my showdown with Mario Fraioli in the race! (I’m glad I’m able to make this joke—I sure couldn’t have done it 24 hours ago.) Speaking of that upcoming battle of the sexes, check out the Kara Goucher vs. Mario Fraioli update in the latest RunCenter show. It starts about three minutes in.
I’m still really looking forward to my first race in a long, long time. It was the last thing on my mind for a couple of days, but Colt is going to be OK, and life goes on. I’ll let you know how it goes next week.
My eight-week-old son Colt is the one who’s supposed to be taking baby steps, growing a little and doing something new each day. But his mom is taking baby steps too. Mine are all about learning to compartmentalize my roles as a mother and a runner and make them complement–rather than conflict with–each other. I’m happy to say that, just like Colt, I’m making progress!
During the first few weeks after Colt was born I felt guilty every time I left him to work out, and I thought about him constantly while I ran, which didn’t help my running. More recently I have learned to tune out thoughts of him (not completely, but mostly) while I’m training. As a result my runs have gotten a lot better.
My goal is to be 100 percent present in whatever I’m doing. So when I’m running, I give myself completely to that. And when I’m home, I give myself completely to Colt. I’ve found that by making every minute with him a quality minute it’s easier for me to leave when it’s time to leave and stay focused on my training while I’m away.
Within the past couple of weeks I’ve started to feel a lot better about my ability to be a great mother and a great runner simultaneously. I knew that plenty of other women have maintained this balance successfully, but that knowledge didn’t help me in the tough early days of my own experience, when I felt many doubts. One of those days happened last week. Colt was awake and crying all night and I couldn’t figure out why. I got no sleep, felt terrible in the next day’s run and had to cancel a lunch date with friends that I’d really been looking forward to. But the next night Colt slept like a champ and so did I. My morning run went much better and I thought, I can do this!
When I take a step back to look at my situation objectively I recognize that I’ve come along faster than I expected to. I ran 70 miles last week and added (very short) afternoon runs back into my schedule this week. I’m feeling stronger and stronger. A few days ago I did a 5-mile tempo run on the turf at Nike, averaging 5:45 per mile, and it felt easy. That performance is nothing to write home about compared to what I’m able to do when I’m in peak shape, but again, it’s better than I expected to be able to do at this point.
The piece of my fitness that is coming along most stubbornly is my speed. I ran a set of 400-meter intervals not long ago and struggled to hit 77-second splits, which is sad and pathetic by my personal standards. But I understand that by patiently slogging through sad and pathetic speed sessions and not forcing anything I will get my snap back eventually. Baby steps.
I’m still not ready to race, but my race plans are taking shape. I think I will run an indoor 5000m in Seattle next month, and although I won’t be terribly sharp for it, I want to run the U.S. Cross Country Championships on February 5 in San Diego. I will also have an announcement to make about my first road race very soon!
I’m feeling pulled in two different directions lately. The strongest pull comes from my new baby boy, Colt. I’m so infatuated with him that I don’t want to miss a single moment of his life—at least not any waking moments. The weaker pull that’s still very strong comes from running. Now that pregnancy and childbirth are behind me, there’s nothing to physically prevent me from throwing myself back into running and getting ready to race again, which I miss more than I can say. I haven’t quite yet figured out how to balance the two.
The crux of the issue is that I’m not comfortable leaving Colt in someone else’s care when he’s awake. I’ll get there, but I first need to build a little more confidence and see Colt develop another step or two. Fortunately, the little guy has fallen into a routine where he falls asleep at midmorning and doesn’t wake up for a couple of hours. I take that opportunity to leave him with a sitter and go to Nike for a 45-to-60-minute run and a weightlifting session. When I’m in the full flow of training I run a second time in the afternoon, but right now Colt’s always awake then, so I couldn’t (or couldn’t let myself) run at that time even if my body were ready for it, which it’s not.
I’m still a little sore from my labor, but overall my body is feeling very good. I gained 35 pounds during the pre-pregnancy and pregnancy period and I’ve lost all but seven or eight pounds of that weight. It’s amazing how much 27 pounds of weight loss makes in running—especially on hills! My chiropractor and ART practitioner says he’s very impressed by how sound my body is structurally at this stage.
Last week I ran 42 miles. This week I’ll run closer to 50. It’s all been pretty slow, but this morning I did run some 200’s at about 6:00/mile pace. That’s still not very fast, but it felt good to open up my stride a bit. Normally Alberto is a very aggressive coach, but he is intent on bringing my training along cautiously, which I appreciate. Although I am doing well, I would probably go off the rails pretty quickly if I pushed the running too hard too soon.
I’m also fortunate that Colt’s a pretty easy baby. He doesn’t sleep through the night but he does sleep for about eight hours in total between the time Adam and I hit the sack and the time we have to leave bed for good in the morning. The middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes still leave me feeling tired during the day, but other mothers have assured me it could be a lot worse. The only time Colt gets fussy is when his diaper’s dirty, which was six times in a one-hour period a few days ago! His health is perfect except for some acid reflux, which got a lot better after we got some medicine for it.
Adam is still hovering on cloud 9 as a father. He has a magical ability to quiet Colt and get him to go back to sleep after he wakes up in the night. I call him the Baby Whisperer!