Observations on Unconventional Half Marathon Training

Hi there! I’m still here! And, by here, I mean the hospital, my apartment, SoulCycle or Flex Studios.

Way back when (alright January), I wrote about not training for a half marathon coming up. Then, I didn’t run that half because I wanted to sleep (#internproblems).

In the depths of the polar vortex, I had imagined the Miami Half would provide the kick in the butt to start training for May’s Brooklyn Half. And then after I didn’t run the Miami Half, I figured that the winter would turn around and I’d be doing long runs again in no time. Half marathon in May? No problem.

The weather sort of turned around, but my “training” didn’t. Of course, I will still exercising a fairly good bit, but long runs, tempos, even running in general? Well, it just didn’t quite pick up as the months went by.

Since November’s NYC Marathon, I’ve been on a huge spin kick. I love running and still do, but I just usually wasn’t feeling it. And spin? I was feeling it.

The last time I ran over 8 miles prior to Saturday….

The last time I ran over 8 miles prior to Saturday….

No good blog post would come without some analysis of largely unimportant details of a 20-something’s first world problems. Thus, I thought about why I was so spin crazy all winter/spring and not run drunk as usual. I think I spent what equates to a small wedding fund at SoulCycle this winter for three reasons: 1) indoor heating; 2) music; 3) community/people. In the throes of intern year, when you all you really want to do is drink some water and sleep, the thought of running in the cold alone is fairly bleak. Inside exercise? Check. Getting lost in music and forgetting about the labor floor? Check. Having some sort of unspoken peer pressure by those around to work hard? Check. Add more classes to that cart.

As May drew closer and closer, I did start to get slightly concerned that I might crash and burn in this half marathon, especially since I had told my co-resident, Meagan, that I would “pace” her through her first half, which would require me to be in some kind of shape.

Sure, I was exercising a lot. But, would it be enough? Since analysis is my middle name, I thought this through a little bit.

I estimated that my exercise/workouts were broken up as follows:

- 10% pilates (new obsession thanks to this power tool)

- 50% spin (including a lot of “doubles” and a few “triples”)

- 40% running (including a lot of run/spin or run/pilates combos)

I equate a 45 min spin class to be the cardiovascular equivalent of a 5 mile run. I also consider it like a “mini” track workout or tempo since its often high cadence against moderate resistance and potentially this evokes some sort of fast twitch neuromuscular stimulus or another equally fancy term.

If the above was true, then doing a double or triple spin was like a long run (double spins feel like a 12 miler to me and triples feel like a 16 miler in terms of my cardiovascular stimulus). Or doing a spin + 4-5 mile run was like getting in a 9 or 10 miler. Or so I hoped.

Pilates was a plus in the strength corner.

This left only one real variable, which was the one I was most worried about — time on your feet.

I learned from Steph that I lot of your long runs were just getting used to being on your feet and running for that long. It helps your muscles, tendons, and ligaments adapt to that stress and get stronger. And, that was the one very crucial thing that I was missing.

Slight oversight.

A little more of this may have been useful...

A little more of this may have been useful…

To sum up the analysis: 

General cardiovascular endurance + moderate strength from pilates – time on feet aspect + the square root of 20 =  Half Marathon?

Turns out, everything went well, as it usually does in these complicated first world problems for 20-somethings.

In fact, I had a lot of fun. Pacing someone in their first half was even better than running your own PR in a way.

To be fair, my legs did NOT feel used to running 13.1 miles and I started to feel a bit heavy legged by about 10 miles (pilates the night before also may have had something to do with this). But, I didn’t feel terrible either. Meagan and I finished in 1:53:43 (amazing first half marathon, right?!) which I thought was really great. Judging on how my legs felt at the end, I think that 1:53 was about the limit of my leg strength/power. They just weren’t quite used the pounding of 13 miles and the leg power needed for that, which I’m glad I now realize when I approach future races (NYC Marathon 2014!) with likely unconventional training plans.

Unconventional includes 18 x1 jumping selfie attempts. #nailedit

Unconventional includes 18 x1 jumping selfie attempts. #nailedit

After I wasted all that brain space analyzing whether I could physically run 13.1 miles (when my longest run since November’s NYC Marathon was 8 miles), I realize that what was really missing from the above equation and, perhaps, is the most important variable is this: your mind and attitude.

Over the 5 years I’ve been running and racing, I’ve gone from seeing running as a thing I “needed to do” or “have to do” to now something that I get to do. Running, going to spin, taking pilates – it really is a privilege. Not everyone gets to do it. And I do. And, I’m really thankful that my body is able to do it and that I have the time and resources to do so.

Can't talk about my running roots without mentioning my running buddy OG, Erika. Thanks for inviting me to run that time. It worked out ok.

Can’t talk about my running roots without mentioning my running buddy OG, Erika. Thanks for inviting me to run that time. It worked out ok.

What I learned from the Brooklyn Half was this: When you run from a place of joy and appreciation,the result is so much sweeter, no matter the time on the clock. 

This only took me about 5 years and half a billion races to learn.

On a final note, don’t underestimate your power. Even a lowly intern can convince her senior residents to run a half marathon.

NYU OB/GYN - excellent surgeons in excellent shape

NYU OB/GYN – excellent surgeons in excellent shape

TELL ME: WHAT YOUR SPORT HAS TAUGHT YOUR ABOUT ATTITUDE, MENTAL TOUGHNESS, OR SOMETHING RELATED TO THE BIG ORGAN BETWEEN YOUR EARS. 

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Friday Finds and Reads

I’m contemplating writing a “What to Expect: Labor and Delivery #keepingitreal” post, but, in the mean time, here are some good reads related to OB/GYN, a little something I spend some time doing. 80 hours a week that is. 

“When a Placenta Tries To Kill A Mother.” - A piece from The Atlantic highlighting C-sections and the risk of placenta accreta (i.e. when the placenta attaches into parts of the uterus that it shouldn’t). Why our national C-section rate of approximately 30% shouldn’t be ignored…

A string of beautiful, brave posts from my friend, Gia, on her fertility story, in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle leading to beautiful now 3 year old twins, and her recent frozen embryo transfer leading to a heartbreaking “biochemical” pregnancy (i.e. positive pregnancy test but never a pregnancy in the uterus): 

     Infertility and the Choice for IVF

     The IVF Cycles: A Fail and a Success

     The Choice for Twins, Frozen Embryos, and OHSS

    My Journey 3 Years Later: Let’s Thaw Some Embryos

    And then there wasn’t…

The Obesity and Pregnancy Dilemma - highlighting our fast food nation is affecting everything from fertility to C-section rates (and see sequelae from that above!)

Posts from an ER chief resident who, at 24 weeks pregnant, finds out she has a shortened cervix  (i.e. the cervix is what must shorten and dilate in labor to have a baby, not something you want to have at 24 weeks) and is put on bed rest. 

Finally, if you want to really know what it’s like to be an OB/GYN resident… look no further than this :) –> http://whatshouldwecallobgynresidency.tumblr.com/page/2

To balance out the obstetrics, lady-parts heavy talk above, here are a few of my favorite things lately that have nothing to do with a uterus or cervix. 

The Lux Side Zip Top from Oiselle : The fabric is like butter and I like the cut. 

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Maria Castelli Handbags  : A company founded by one of my friends (since 4th grade) and her mom! Made from Argentinian leather (they’re from Argentina) and made by hand in Brooklyn. 

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Heidi Klum for New Balance 420s: They look good to walk around in this summer, if summer ever arrives. 

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TELL ME: FAVE ARTICLES YOU’VE FOUND RECENTLY? FAVE FINDS?

And, now, it is bedtime…

Until next time…

Humbled: Pilates

I like to think that I’m in good shape.

I’ve run some marathons. Qualified for Boston. I can do 3 spin classes in a day (although not a regular thing). Maybe throw in a barre class here and there.

Yeah! Running! I can do that!

Yeah! Running! I can do that!

And, then I took pilates with Elizabeth (aka Chainsaw? Just go with it) at Flex today.

It was humbling, slightly embarrassing, and I’d probably now just consider myself in “good cardiovascular shape.”

I pride myself on being really tough and able to handle really hard classes because, you know, I’ve run marathons! I’m a resident! What’s harder than a marathon?! Or harder than a day on the labor floor?! Nothing! I should be able to handle anything, right?

Pilates. Pilates can be harder than a marathon.

You know a class is hard when you’re going to the 5K pain place, sweating to death, and actively thinking of ways to possibly cheat (yep, I went there). In fact, at one point I tried to some something on my knees rather than in plank position and Elizabeth every so sweetly came over and said, “honey that’s not going to do anything for you.” No slacking allowed. I was getting my money’s worth. [PS: Thanks, Elizabeth!]

As a bonus, the whole reformer thing makes it not so easy to take breaks. One wrong move and I was afraid I might plummet 3 feet straight down into the well of the reformer into Pilates hades.

I was shaking. I was sweating. Like all those laboring patients I see, except I wasn’t birthing a child.

And, for some reason, I loved it.

It was extremely humbling. I knew I lacked core strength but this class really drove the point home.

I only wish I had known about this class when I was training for marathons and trying to do anything (acupuncture!) and everything (chiropractor!) not to get injured.

Elizabeth was super sweet, gave great technical corrections (the former gymnast in me always loves this), and doesn’t allow you to give up (even if you try, like me).

So, moral of the story — Go! Take her class! Bring your A game! Moreover, bring your abs.

TELL ME: YOUR FAVE NYC FITNESS CLASSES AND/OR INSTRUCTORS.

Currently, I’m loving Jaws and Akin at SoulCycle and just took a class at Chaise 23 with Rachel and loved her, too.

Until next time….

A “Typical” Day In the Life

While there is no one “typical” day for me, here’s a little glimpse into life as the intern on labor and delivery.

*day to day routine varies based on what rotation/service you are on…variety is the spice of life, right?*

Here goes:

4:45-5 am: ALARM!

[Thankfully, “getting” ready takes all of 10-15 min given I wear scrubs every day. I eat breakfast on the way – a Picky Bar and a green juice, usually. And coffee #1 of day.]

5:15-6 am: Get to the hospital somewhere in this time frame depending upon the number of postpartum patients to round on that morning. Get sign out on post partums from night resident.

[Sign Out = Running through the list of patients and active issues with them. Ie Ms X had a fever last night and x,y,z was done. Or Ms A has severe pre-eclampsia, is on magnesium until 5 pm today, tox labs q 6 hours, blood pressures have ranged X to X…or something like that]

Until 7 am: Round on the post partum patients. Write notes.  Usually ranges between 10-20 patients.

How best to describe post partum rounds?

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.45.57 PM

7 am: Get sign out on the “board” (triage and laboring patients) and antepartum patients from the night resident. Give sign out on post partums to nurse practitioner (aka the intern’s God send).

7:30 am: Didactics (educational activity)

8 am: Sign out “the board” to all of the staff on labor and delivery

8:45 am to 5:59 pm: “Run the floor”

There are four basic things you do as an intern in a day on labor and delivery.

***Intern = first year resident***

1. C-SECTIONS: There are always scheduled C-sections each morning, usually at least two and sometimes three. Interns do all primary C-sections, meaning the first C-section anyone has ever had. Repeat C-sections or those on people with prior abdominal surgery usually get bumped up to the second year resident, unless they are in clinic. Really complicated patients may get bumped up to a chief. In general, the labor and delivery intern ends up with at least a few sections every day.

All residents bow down to the holy check box so I’ll include that in this post as to neglect the check box in a post about “the day in the life” would basically be leaving out the meat of my day.

In “check box” terms, C-sections get five check boxes: history/physical exam, consent form, pre op orders, cross for blood products, post op orders, baby orders.

2. TRIAGE: Triage is like our OB emergency room. Anyone over a certain number of weeks pregnancy gets sent to our triage. Usually, it is people who are coming in to determine if they are in labor, if they broke their water, etc etc.

Triage patients get four check boxes: history/physical exam, consent form, triage orders, call attending to discuss plan for patient.

3. LABORING PATIENTS: This entails watching the “tracings”, checking in on them, monitoring or managing their labor course/starting an induction, and, hopefully, delivering them!

*Tracings = external fetal heart rate monitor and contraction monitor*

Laboring patients get the following check boxes: history/physical, consent form, admission orders, cross for blood, baby orders, post partum orders.

4. PAGES: It beeps (a lot). You answer it. Pages can be for anything – from a colace order to someone with severe range blood pressures who needs to be evaluated for pre-eclampsia to a post partum hemorrhage.

I wear my pager on my ID necklace/lanyard along with looping my four color pen. Suffice it to say I look super cool when I’m at work.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.05.23 PM

During the day, our nurse practitioner covers the post partum pager and patients. This probably saves the intern at least a billion pages per day.

The antepartum service (i.e. those admitted prior to labor)  is covered by the second year resident. However, they are sometimes in clinic and you hold the pager at all times and, therefore, are also responsible for the antepartums in some capacity each day.

6 pm: Sing out the entire service to the night resident. Hand off the pager to said resident.

6:30-7 pm: Leave hospital!

***There is, of course, always the possibility of the 5-5:30 pm high acuity situation in which you get a bit delayed on the 6 pm sign out or you may need to catch up on note writing or some aspect of patient care from the day and stay a bit later than what is listed above.***

At some point, you eat lunch and, hopefully, drink water. I drink at least two coffees a day, minimum and sometimes shove down a Picky Bar in the afternoon, especially if I’m going to run or spin that evening.

I was on a huge diet ginger ale kick during my last month on labor and delivery. There’s something so satisfying about the little mini cans of diet Shasta (ginger ale) apparently only available at hospitals. Combined with hospital ice (the soft ice like they have at football games), its heaven in a small styrofoam cup.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.10.44 PM

I usually crash by 10 pm. Sometimes earlier. And hopefully not any later than that.

And then you get up again and do it the next day!

So, that’s it.

Until next time…

[And if you have any questions, ask! Not sure if what I wrote is common knowledge or jargon…]

Race Rebellion

You know what’s awesome?

Doing what you want to do.

Most of my time is spent doing what I’m supposed to be doing when I am supposed to be doing it – you know, discipline. Getting to work at 5:30 am to round on post partum patients is my job. Like many of you, I spend most of my time crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s, on a relentless little journey to figure out how to be good, better, and, ultimately, best at what I do. I’d say for most of us, they aren’t many occasions where you get to say “You know what? I don’t want to to this today so I’m not going to.”

So, it’s pretty liberating when you can do that – decide exactly what you want to do that will make you happy and do just that.

I went to Miami this weekend with Gia, KScott, and Theodora for a girl’s trip, including a half marathon. At 6 am. In 70+/humid weather (not that I’m complaining). Undertrained. Sleep deprived (as usual). And not really all that amped up to run 13 miles.

What did I really want to do? Sleep in til a luxurious 7 o’clock (my how times have changed from med school!), run when I want to and how far I felt like, do a few Canyon Ranch classes (yoga! zumba! ballet!), get more steps on my fitbit, drink a green juice, soak up some vitamin D….

So, that’s what I did. And, it was fantastic!

My approach to exercise has drastically changed since starting residency and very much mirrors this weekend.

Last year, I used this race as a training run for Eugene [marathon]. I wanted to get up at 3 am for a 6 am race. I wanted to run 13.1 miles. It was all a part of “the training plan.”

Now, there is no plan. And, its perfect for this part of my life. I only get a few precious hours a day that are totally and completely mine so I typically pick whatever exercise (or non-exercise) will make me happiest. Sometimes its SoulCycle. Sometimes its running. Sometimes its catching up on my DVR.

This time last year I was logging all of these miles, splits for crazy workouts, honing my marathon mental game. Now, I’m logging work hours, cases, and figuring out how best to stay sane and how to afford my SoulCycle classes, new Oiselle gear, and green juices.

Before residency, I was really scared I was going to miss training and racing like I did in med school. I had fear of fear of missing out big time. I’m happy to stay I don’t at all. I push myself hard enough at work that I don’t really miss track workouts and race day early mornings. My biggest goal is to figure out how to relax my shoulders in SoulCycle (I tend to carry my shoulders up near my ears — comes with the uptight, stressed out territory) and that’s just fine by me.

I don’t really know what the point of this post is. Do blogs have to have points or lessons like Full House episodes do? I guess its be open to change, do what makes you happy if you have the opportunity to, and skipping a race can be very liberating (even if you’re out the race fee which is the equivalent of a few SoulCycle classes). And that sleep is very important.

Lose a race entry fee. Gain some freedom.

Tomorrow…its back to the early wake ups and the post partum rounds (and, the best part, delivering babies!)

Bring it on!

Living On The Wild Side

Almost – 28 years and I’ve finally found that wild streak that I was supposed to have in my teens…

[Of note, I've always been a general homebody and fear a "bad reputation" or "getting in trouble" like the plague or Ebola virus. My parents never set a curfew for me in high school because they knew I'd be home by a decent hour because I like to sleep. Always a schedule to maintain! Because being 17 was really tough with that "homework" done while watching TV….]

I’m taking a test next week that I haven’t studied for.

Step 1 studying…the good ol' days...

Step 1 studying…the good ol’ days…

I’m running a half marathon in two weeks and haven’t run over 7 miles at one time since…the marathon!

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[I am, however, experimenting with what I'm calling the SoulCycle training plan. I'll report back about how well that worked. ]

Next, I plan on doing something really crazy – like trying unpasteurized cheese.

For a brief overview of the SoulCycle “training plan,” suffice it to say I’ve done a lot of classes and done a good bit of “doubles” to count as “long runs.” It remains to be seen if this helps maintain running fitness. I really just trying to make it through this half marathon (Miami! With Gia! And KScott!) rather than race it so I think my “training” should work for that purpose.  I do think SoulCycle helps maintain aerobic fitness, stimulates the neuromuscular system because the pace is usually quick, and is a good core workout because you have to support yourself out of the saddle so much.

I'm pretty sure the grapefruit candle  has some sort addictive scent that keeps you coming back...

I’m pretty sure the grapefruit candle has some sort addictive scent that keeps you coming back…

If you’re curious, my fave instructors as of late (there are many I like) are Jaws, Sydney, and Bethany.

Jaws’ class is full of really good technical corrections so you get the most out of it and has a good baseline level of resistance so you always feel like you’re working. She usually has one song that you jog the whole time and its feels like 1k repeats to me. She also rides the whole class (which is super tough) so I’m always very inspired to keep working really hard since she’s doing the same thing AND talking.

Sydney’s class usually has something new and different (big hill with a sprint in it and then using the weights on the hill) and her energy is fantastic. She’s having so much fun that you’re having fun. She’ll push you really hard but you’ll be smiling the entire time. It’s awesome.

Bethany’s classes are always emotionally on point. One time she played Kris Allen’s “Live Like You’re Dying” and I’ve never felt more inspired to like…live life…and stuff. Maybe I was just really tired and hit me. Regardless, Bethany’s classes are hard, the cues are on point, and one time I wanted to scream “I LOVE EXERCISE” after her class I was on such an endorphin high. I refrained.

[On another note, being on nights for a month will make you super emotional and want to scream things like "I LOVE EXERCISE" in a room full of strangers.]

[For the public record, I've taken one of Akin's classes and it was the hardest arm series ever. I'm also a big Danny, Ben T, and Madison but haven't taken them in a while.]

Plus, during a polar vortex, SoulCycle is warm!

Anyways, that’s all for now.

TELL ME: HOMEBODY? WILD CHILD? FAVE SPIN CLASS AND INSTRUCTOR

Until next time..

 

 

New Year’s Goals

I’m not really into resolutions because I like to think you can resolve to change something your life that you don’t like at any point in time. Plus, I like most things in my life and resolving to “eat less ice cream” or “waste less time on the internet” has a 99% probability of leading to failure.

So, here are goals…things I think I can actually work on and achieve in the next year.

RUNNING: Run the Brooklyn Half with my co-resident Meagan (and others), Run the NYC Marathon. Because running is fun and running with friends is even better.

OTHER FITNESS: Play tennis. Just for kicks.

OTHER FITNESS: Stop feeling guilty about spending money at SoulCycle. 2 years in and it appears I’m more addicted than ever. It makes me happy. I’d rather spend my money on that than….I’m not sure. But, I should just stop pretending like I can stop taking classes there, especially in the winter.

PROFESSIONAL: Economy of motion in the OR. Because taking 3 million hours in between steps screams “intern.”

PERSONAL: Learn to put my contacts in. I’ve got 365 days to overcome my own instinct to slam shut my eyes whenever I try.

Dreaming big this year, folks!

TELL ME: A GOAL FOR YOURSELF THIS YEAR.

Until next time…