InsideTracker Progress through Pregnancy

Where do I even begin. Last November I was all over the map. I had a solid streak of training and racing in early fall before our family started the packing, (stressing- well me) and moving down to Arizona for the winter months. After 3 days of close to perfect behavior for a 2 year old on the long drive from Portland to Phoenix we made it. The weather was perfect and I had a month to get my body back in order before my USATF Club National race. Moving is something I should be used to by now, since in the past 7 years I have gone from Indy-Charlottesville-Reston (2 places)-Portland (2 places)-Charlottesville-Portland-Phoenix, but it never seems to get easier.

By fall I had also reached the busiest point in my life juggling coaching, seeking new job opportunities, being a mom (and of course training). To go along with the chaos I picked up some bad habits. My desired afternoon nap during Joanie’s had become non-existent, so to replace extra sleep I tried to fend off my cravings for my 2nd round of coffee and a sugary treat (think cookie or muffin) with little success. I also had fully adapted my diet to less vegetables to accommodate my frequent racing schedule. I found when I ate less fiber I had less time spent waiting in portopotty lines or having GI issues on hard workout days. I was still avoiding wheat going on year 2 after thinking this would be the key to absorbing more iron.mexicanfood

Typical Diet - Thai take out, white rice, gluten free bread, pasta, cereal, oats, chips
dairy, eggs, meat, fish, peanut butter
juice, coffee, Gatorade
fruits – banana, apple, orange, apple sauce, pineapple (in Pineapple Fried Rice)
vegetables – avocado, carrot, marinara sauce, salsa, small salad, ketchup
and of course – processed treats (gluten free cookies) or low fiber energy bars.

I believed I was getting at least 3-5 fruits/vegetables and never got fast food. I was doing good. I was an idiot. And still far from having constipation issues, so kept at it.

Once in Arizona, after some terrible workouts and runs trying to adjust to the “heat” of mid 70s and the dry air feeling like it was simulating the same affect of altitude training, I believed I was doomed for Club XC. One day, as I was exploring personal triathlete websites and educating myself on Alan’s competition. I started looking at their sponsorship pages and came across Jarrod Shoemakers. I was intrigued by InsideTracker. This was exactly what I wanted to find out. What was going on inside my body!? Beyond a simple ferritin and iron count which I regularly got tested and always getting the report of a less than desired result, (despite my supplementation and meat consumption)– what else was going on with me? I had never seen readings of my testosterone, cortisol, inflammation…


A screen shot from Jarrod’s sponsor page

So once I explored further, I was set for getting my first test! The results were embarrassing but definitely matched how poorly I was feeling. My “inner age” was calculated at 40.5 years old (and I was only 31)! What I didn’t realize is that one of the greatest benefits of the InsideTracker blood work was giving specific easy to follow dietary recommendations on how to improve all your weak areas. This was where I was way off – not missing another iron supplement – but missing entire foods that my body was desperately craving — a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains (including the forbidden GLUTEN!!!). So within 30 minutes of seeing my results, I had so many light bulb moments go off in my head and was determined to make lasting changes. I made a long list of groceries of foods I hadn’t ever purchased and also decided to include smoothies in my diet as a way to fuel up appropriately and hydrate.


Alan loved the change. I was cooking more, bringing in new foods and providing him half of my crazy smoothie concoctions and best of all feeling better!!! (Happy wife – happy life). Within a week of making some needed adjustments, my nap and 2nd coffee cravings were literally gone. Instead of coffee/cookie I would get an apple/dark chocolate square and nuts. The more I added in vegetables back in, the more I was desperately craving them at the next meal. My training saw huge improvements as well. Just after I took the blood test (and before I saw results) I attempted a 10K road race. It was miserable. I struggled to maintain a 5:52 per mile pace (36:31- a time I should be able to run in a workout), feeling like each step I was just barely getting off the ground. I didn’t even catch the turkey with the spatula (offering a free prize for the first male/female to pass after her 5 minute head start). Had I waited 2 more weeks to race, the result I believe would have been much more impressive.


Hoping for a miracle at the start of my 10K; finished 2nd feeling flat (overall winner – a guy- in blue)

A month of improvement, lead to me feeling invincible. Despite a very stressful few days and long travel the night before the Club Race, I still ran to a solid 39th place 6K in a personal best of 20:48 (5:34 per mile on grass) – finishing 4th on my team to lead to 5th overall finish. Given another night sleep and adjustment to East Coast I believe that would have been an even better result.


The workouts that followed were mind blowing. We headed back to Wisconsin for a couple weeks and I didn’t even mind the bitter cold. My energy was through the roof, my long runs felt like I could go forever and 5:40 pace felt like it was in the 6’s. I started dreaming and scheming my plans for 2015 which included a variety of obstacle races (Spartan, Atlas) and then hopefully back to USAs for the steeplechase in summer. Until the day I returned to Phoenix and it was as if November Julia had returned. Surprise surprise it was the pregnancy (see my last blog- due September 2015)- with my symptoms occurring right at 4 weeks in.

Let’s just say from January 10-early February the entire thought process involving food, consumption and preparation was pure misery. A trip to the grocery store was a horrid experience. I could barely shop, with waves of nausea hitting me hard as I passed by everything in the store except brats, cheese (and pie). Dang you Wisconsin girl. The ONLY food choices that actually looked appealing. I tried my best to stomach the greens, nuts, berries and whole grains, but even the thought of looking at them made me want to throw up. Most plates that I filled with healthy options remained untouched and I ended up eating buttered toast or a slice of pie to make up for lost calories. I resorted to “Alan I’m not cooking” and “can we please just do take out” or “you make something I will attempt to eat it” mode. This definitely did not help my test 2 InsideTracker results.fearthebratcraving

The good news, one day my nausea and food aversions started to ease up. I made a big salad with some creamy (unhealthy) Caesar dressing and it tasted amazing. ALLELUIA! The first time in almost a month and I handled it and wanted more. By week 9 the tiny “blob” had evolved into a tiny little baby and I had surpassed the most critical growing period and thankfully my body was back into more of an equilibrium. Vegetables tasted AMAZING!!

Follow up InsideTracker Test
February 26 – exactly 3 months after first test
– just shy 11 weeks pregnant

The vast change in my blood amazed me. It shows why all pregnant women deserve a huge break from all loved ones when they seem like they are about to fly off the handle (yes Alan and mom thank you for giving me mine). Your body goes through the ringer when a new life starts to form within you. Although I may not have started exactly “showing” til late first trimester, my mood and temperament took a big hit! Here were some of what the InsideTracker test revealed —

The Good —
The majority of my biomarkers were optimized. This includes inflammation, liver functioning, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, potassium, triglycerides… The big ones I struggled with saw improvements —

Cholesterol – Despite my struggle to eat healthy for a solid month with severe nausea and cravings, I still saw a solid drop in my LDL (lousy) levels, while my HDL (healthy) levels remained steady. I am still not in the “optimized zone” but chipping away at it and certain I’ll get there.

Glucose – 
You always hear about how your risk for diabetes increases while you are pregnant. So far so good for me! The 2 months of “good” canceled the month of bad, as I crept a notch closer to “optimal levels”, despite heavy use of Gatorade or processed sugar during my runs going beyond the 60 minute mark and pie as last resort for late night calorie consumption. I was the most nervous to see this result, as I know I had room for improvement on coping with the pregnancy. Progress to be made, yes, but aiming in the right direction! Glucose

Somewhere in the Middle —
Testosterone –
Not really a surprise here, but pregnancy definitely has an affect on your sex hormones.  With my testosterone going from non-existent to the optimal level; my sex hormone carrier shot to way beyond the normal end of high (which is actually not a good thing – it limits availability of actual testosterone, affecting energy levels, muscle development and sex drive) hmm. Why I am desperately needing a nap.  Their blog does a much better job explaining, but either way.. I like seeing a healthy green zone for testosterone after my test result in November. Especially if I want my little man to become a man 😉 (our prediction – a boy- no confirmation but high level of suspicion from early ultrasound visibility)

Iron Group- OverallIron
Horray for me! I set an officially measured PR in my highest recorded ferritin ever at 70! Previous best was in the 50s postpartum 2012 and not running.
Everything bumped up except…

Hemoglobin – Not so great. (below optimal levels at a pathetic 12- a .3 drop). So all that stored iron won’t go to much good if it doesn’t have anyone to transport oxygen. Big handicap if I want to continue to run fast and feel energized.

I am bumping up my supplements and happy to be craving red meat and lots of greens and mushrooms to help boost my levels.

The Bad –
Cortisol – Mowie Wowie. Not at all surprised to see this bad boy go up, but not at all a fun time experiencing high levels of stress. Thanks to this huge red flag InsideTracker waved at me with my out of range levels, I am vowing to chill out and seek things that will give me joy and peace! This means regular massage, getting my butt into a prenatal yoga class, getting into Confession, running more with friends, spending more time watching comedy, prioritizing sleep and getting out on more dates with Alan. That first month I was a stressed out wreck and have seen vast improvements in my overall mood and demeanor. It still doesn’t get easy with Alan being away for another 3 full weeks. Looking back at pregnancy #1 I had it made. Being a mom to a very strong willed 2 year old Joanie has been tough at times. Recently she has increased tempers and screaming to get her way. I thankfully have support with some wise mentors and 3 days a week of part time hours at Tutor Time. I still love her, but will easily admit, my kid is not even close to perfect!




Today marks the final day of my 1st Trimester for baby #2. (14 weeks as of 3/21) The nutrition side of things is just one piece of the picture. Overall goal – return to a high level of running within my baby’s first year. In the mean time continue to strive for optimal health through good lifestyle and food choices, exercise and run at appropriate levels, enjoy life to the fullest, stress less and be a better mom and wife!

There is excitement but definite nervousness of knowing the growth of my belly is about to fully launch into “good bye normal jeans” and “see you later feet” when I look down… Along with that also comes the indigestion, unknown aches and increased risk of injury with running as I go through the extreme changes in my hips. This baby being 1/3 of the way done with his relaxing quiet place before he has a real voice is another. I have 2 more trimesters to ready another Webb into the world (hopefully a little less stubborn than that of Joanie!). My goal get my mind right for putting my own hopes and dreams (literally) to the side with the lack of sleep and becoming once again a human milk machine. The joys of meeting my guy will strengthen me in the challenging times and end result of having another person in our family will be well worth the journey!!

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Round 2 of Pregnancy and Racing

Crushing it while Pregnant = 1:18:07 for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half


10 week ultrasound pic

On the starting line early Sunday morning on January 18, my head was spinning with excitement entering the known, yet unknown of a 13.1 mile race at the early 5 week mark of my pregnancy. History was repeating itself. Another baby due during the same week of the Olympic Trials (Joanie was born in Virginia, 2 days after Alan’s 5000m race; this baby is due September 19, 2015- exactly 1 day before the trials race set for ITU Triathlon this summer in Chicago).

**Baby and I have have connected at a deep level and have both agreed to extend the time spent incubating to a full 41 weeks, just like sibling Joanie to ensure dad will be present during entrance into the world.**

Yes I know. Can that SERIOUSLY happen to a family twice? I swear there was NO premeditation on anyone’s part, it was NOT planned and the chance that we “blew it” AGAIN blows my mind. Once the discovery that baby #2 was in the making, our “no we don’t plan to have more for a while” mindset immediately shifted to, “alright, we can do this, this is definitely exciting and Joanie could use a pal”. So when plans change you adapt. I wasn’t planning to race a half marathon but the Rock ‘n’ Roll series was coming to town and I had amazing memories from racing my last half pregnant. 


In Fall of 2011 I had been getting in the best shape of my life, only to be “surprised” by our first pregnancy, and opted at 7 weeks to jump in the Richmond Half with no expectations. With a very conservative start (6:20’s first 3 miles, then I dropped it down to ave 6:02 on cruise control the last 10- and ran 1:20:17).  Now again, Just 5 days after discovering on Alan’s birthday I was on the long haul to getting Webb baby #2 in the world, I was going to attempt it again. Every pregnancy is different so my expectations for my race result were really unknown.

I had some big goals for the spring and fall. Being pregnant has definitely put a huge curve ball in my plans (obstacle racing, steeplechase, professional career.. not to mention our housing situation and timing of baby due date during Alan’s racing schedule)…. But honestly the chance at bringing in another life into the world, regardless of timing, is an easy thing to prioritize above everything else. It was time to adjust my attitude and embrace the present. I wasn’t ready to just head to the sidelines to cheer on runners. I was definitely fit and ready for a long aerobic test. In the Rock ‘n’ Roll half there would be no times goals or pressure, just run by feel and play it safe (following my “rules” below).


Just after finishing the Richmond Half at 7 weeks pregnant in 2011

For the women who have not yet been pregnant, it may seem very unimpressive that I was able to run in the ball park of my fitness levels at just 5 weeks pregnant. I had gained 0 extra pounds and just a few weeks ago had what I’d consider one of the best track workouts of my life. So really in my book I had only been “pregnant” aka “noticing symptoms” for about 10 days.

But when they did hit, my body felt far far from the race ready “me”. The hormones, mood changes, nausea and extreme fatigue doesn’t wait til you start showing. In my book it’s at its ultimate worst at the very beginning.

Warming up the morning before Rock ‘n’ Roll was no treat. Like most runs early in pregnancy, I felt like a zombie space case as I attempted to ready myself for a pregnant me half marathon. I felt so bad I believe I stopped 5 times before I made it 1.5 miles, then resorted to sipping my Gatorade before I changed my flats and said a prayer (my only hope). I skipped the typical warm up routine of doing drills, ran a stride or two to make it to the starting line coral with thoughts of “lets aim for 6:15-25 pace”. Only then with the addition of quickly digestible sugars and the crowd of runners, I started to feel joy, excitement and hope; forgetting my predicament of “pregnant” and feeling alive and ready. rocknrollAZstart

The gun went off, and it was as if I was changed. I felt strong, fluid, fast and in control. I was shocked but reminded myself “hold back, hold back”. First mile flew by getting in a rhythm just under 6:00. I was feeling great. A pack of girls were running together (3-6th places that I knew of).. until Loring Crowing broke away. We started cresting a small gradual incline and I started pushing a little more. The next 2 miles, 5:45, 5:46. Oops. I definitely was not confident I could “comfortably” hold this pace. I did not want it to turn ugly, so I backed off slightly and remembered to hit up all the Gatorade I could get.

I had a moment of “uh oh” this might be too aggressive around 5, when Anna Corrigan crept up and ran ahead of me (former UVA runner coming off injury). I latched on and we ran just about side my side the next 4 miles. The second half of the course gave us the right blend of uphill and downhill; and by mile 10 I used it to my advantage putting a surge in and dropping Anna and the pack of 2 guys.

I felt like I was flying and on cruise control. The extra carbs may definitely have helped as I had literally taken a swig or more at EVERY SINGLE Gatorade stop offered. I underestimated the finish being so close and thought I hadn’t reached mile 11 when really I was about to hit 12 (the one mile mark unseen to many on the course). I crested the final bridge and just like that the finish was in sight and I coasted in to an outright non-pregnant PR of 1:18:07, 5th overall and way way far from Amy Hastings win of 1:12:04. (My best had been way back in 2009 at Indy Mini in 1:19:05). Even without the new pregnancy I would have still been likely 4+ minutes behind, so no bragging there!!


  1. Amy Hastings 1:12:04 (5:29/mile pace)
  2. Natasha Wodak 1:12:23 (5:31 pace)
  3. Molly Watcke 1:15:59 (5:47 pace)
  4. Loring Crowley 1:17:16 (5:53 pace)
  5. Julia Webb + mini human 1:18:07 (5:57 pace)
  6. Anna Corrigan 1:18:23 (5:58 pace)
  7. Dorota Gruca 1:18:31 (5:59 pace)

4.5 years after saying “I Do”, still love my man more than ever!!! Ready or not.. We’ll take on baby #2 Fall 2015

For me, in 2011 I had some great experiences racing early (weeks 4-16) before it turned ugly when I ignored hip pain discomfort which eventually led to a year long injury (likely torn ligament in hip). This time I am vowing to be ultra careful, proactive in strengthening my weak areas (glutes/hip flexors) and seeking cross training options early (biking, swimming, yoga – top 3 choices).

I suspected and confirmed pregnancy with a test after I had a miserable run during the “heat” on my first day back from Wisconsin to Arizona. During that 12 mile run (See Instagram photo below). It was warm and I definitely wasn’t optimally hydrated after a long day of travel (and an extra dose of coffee). Yet the effects were extreme. My muscles literally felt like they were completely shut off. I was so frustrated I started doing drills/burpees and added some hill strides mid run to try to “wake up”. It didn’t do much and by 50 minutes (despite drinking my 12 oz of water I had carried) I could not think of anything except how good water would taste. I survived and made it back then checked my calendar and noticed I was past due for my next period. Uh oh. The following day I bought a test, started texting way too many people my concerns before finding out.. then took it and proceeded to scare the crap out of Alan on his birthday with the words “PREGNANT” on the stick.

pregnantconfirmedEarly Signs (was not feeling nauseous or having any weird cravings unlike VERY early last pregnancy):

  1. My miserable long run
  2. Felt sort of like a space case (best way to describe easy runs while pregnant)
  3. My resting heart rate when I woke at 48. I had never seen a reading over 40.
  4. Sudden desire to want to nap. The fatigue (like my previous 1st trimester) was back
  5. Coma level sleep – comparable to the middle school 12 hour stretches with intense dreaming
  6. Increased appetite – ravenous hunger after workouts and active days
  7. Weird ability to recover.. hard to pinpoint but could tell my recovery was on a higher level, less soreness.. made sense since I’m surging w/ Human Growth Hormone since that’s what I’m doing “Growing a Human”
  8. Intolerance for heat. Its bad. If its 80 it feels like 100. 60s I typically feel like i can fly!
  9. (LATER) Severe nausea, 99% of food looking disgusting and the nonstop thoughts of 1 specific meal that might taste good (only to have it and realize it tastes terrible just like the 99% other foods) followed by indigestion, more nausea and “please don’t throw up” thoughts

Self Made Rules to “racing” pregnant (I am far from an expert so these are only suggestions):

1) Stay hydrated and have access to fluids – I took at least 3-4 oz of Gatorade at EVERY single aid station. Overkill – probably. I didn’t want to chance feeling depleted or dehydrated. It definitely didn’t help my time, slowing to drink, but gave me peace of mind, and the ability to put a good hard surge in with 3 miles to go.

2) Overcompensate w/ abundance of carbs – see above. I had an extra meal sized snack before bed (well, that’s typical for me), and had ~10 oz of Gatorade post warm up up til the gun went off. (I used Gatorade b/c I know it works well for me and even when I’m not pregnant, I never have any digestive issues drinking during workouts/pre-race).

3) Use the comparison of Labor Pain as a gauge.. No it was not a completely comfortable effort, but on a whole, I said to myself when it got harder – “At no point does any of this compare to a minute in labor”.. if it had, that’s when I knew I would need to back off.

4) Keep breathing/effort in control – at no point do I ever plan to get to the feeling you get in the 3rd lap of a 1500, a K to go in a steeple, or a mile to go in a 5K- the point – stick to threshold effort.

5) Heed to warning signs – your body will tell you if you need to back off – If there would ever be a point when I felt dizzy, out of it, or “gone” that’s when I wouldn’t have had a problem backing off, even to the point of walking. Hey I walked in a cross country race even when I wasn’t pregnant and blogged about it. Ain’t no shame.

6) Once my belly starts growing (aka 2nd Trimester– April and beyond), time to find some other athletic endeavors (I don’t want to put any races on my calendar far in advance to put pressure on myself to continue training at a higher level) – not saying I may not jump in another, but once your body starts going through the extreme physical changes, racing isn’t a great addition to the picture- adding stress of running hard as my ligaments are already getting stretched- not smart and risk for injury.


Last hurrah with having abs in 2015. Not quite “showing” at 11.5 weeks on a trail run with Joanie… but don’t be fooled- all my jeans don’t button quite as easily. My appetite and food consumption thanks to running and growing a baby is through the roof!

So you like to run, but what’s the point of RACING??

For non-runners when they hear I am pregnant and “racing” or doing anything beyond jogging, it is largely frowned upon. Even with avid runners, I am surprised to find some are discouraging and disapproving when I tell them I raced the half or Spartan* (did that at 7 weeks- see previous post - didn’t mention but totally sandbagged the run portion because I wanted to be ultraconservative to give me additional strength on obstacles/expected burpees). Thankfully there are other mothers out there beyond myself who still continue to “train hard” while pregnant. Check out these blogs and stories–

Clara Peterson – Pregnant with her 4th and defying odds running fast late into her 3rd trimester

Amazing stories from so many elite women runners going through pregnancy/motherhood shared in this Facebook group – Mothers on Track – owned by Olympian Roisin McGettigan-Dumas


For this workout on a warm day, I had access to a gallon of cold water I continuously dumped on my head throughout the workout to ensure optimal cooling!

 Here’s my reasoning to RACE PREGNANT:

  1. I love racing. I am one of those people who jumps at any chance to race regardless of the stage of my training, completely fine with racing when I’m “out of shape”. Even at my worst I am better than most people out there and admit it feels really good to do something many people cannot. A memory from one of those races- 2008 Run for the Door 5K. I wasn’t training for crap after my awful attempt (and miss at qualifying for the Trials steeplechase). I ran a pedestrian 18:55, won it, getting nonstop comments from other participants about how “amazing I did”, etc.. It was 3.1 miles at 6:05 pace but just what my bruised non-Olympic Trials qualifier ego needed! A large color photo of me crossing the tape ended up in the local D.C running publication which helped ease my transition into becoming well-known at the local shoe stores under my new job at Saucony.
  2. Pregnancy is not a weight bearing injury that requires me to sit the sideline! I am not forced to sit out from my favorite activities and as long as I do so in an intelligent manner. This means I’ll be less competitive to others and more in tune to myself, yet I should be allowed to do what I love! My body outside pregnancy is completely used to going to the well and in all of this intensity of training I have never even skipped a single menstrual cycle. I know pregnancy is a whole different story involving a much greater toll requiring the effort to back off, still doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good tempo run! TEMPO PACE – STILL GETTING OXYGEN!!
  3. Without my daily dose of exercise (including some harder efforts every few days) I turn into a bad version of me. Crabby, depressed, and surging with bad stress which likely would lead to the baby feeling “my mom sucks” vibes.. therefore I will continue on running (or cycling, or swimming) and get really sweaty doing so! I need endorphins to function at my optimal level of living!
  4. No pressure racing – encouraging me to look at the scene of racing with a whole different set of eyes and appreciate the experience to an even greater degree (no time/place goals- run by feel and just let it happen!)
  5. No post menstrual cycle dip in iron. I always struggle with ferritin levels outside pregnancy. I feel terrible and am typically in a pretty worthless-to-race-state post period for up to a week (despite supplements/diet recommendations). This does not happen when I’m pregnant. I feel tired most of the time pregnant, but if I’m rested enough my body is pretty predictably the same (if the temps are cool!!) At 10 weeks into my pregnancy a blood test revealed I had a personal best ferritin level of 70!!! My typical levels top off in the 30s and have been known to dip in the teens by the end of each month.
  6. Adrenaline Rush – The whole process of racing – from the preparation, race day logistics of getting up early, having your ritual coffee, warming up… to the upbeat atmosphere, crowds, thousands of other runners pushing themselves…  You can’t duplicate that amazing experience. The fact that I’m likely going to run a slower than non-pregnant time or not have a shot at my usual competition isn’t going to stop me. Races are fun!!! I promise I won’t run a marathon on my due date. 😉
  7. I have found that whether I run slow or “fast” during pregnancy, you only rarely catch a break of feeling “great” or “normal”.  I have actually found that most instances the best I feel comes during the tempo portions, racing, OR the day after a hard effort. It seems completely backwards, but the slower I run, the more I start feeling like I want to stop and walk or even worse, lay on the trail (haven’t tried that yet but looks tempting more often than I want to admit!) So on with my racing!!!

Post 18:14 5K at 11 weeks finishing 2nd to Priscilla Schultz. No blazing times today but tons of fun getting to toe the line!

Follow me on my journey through my second pregnancy on the blog… No guarantee on the amount of updates due to severe fatigue (hopefully ending soon as I’m creeping up to the 2nd trimester) and being a single mom for the next 6 weeks as Alan kicks off his racing season overseas.. I hope to report some good news to encourage other pregnant runners to continue doing what they love while of course looking out for #1 (their baby).


(12 weeks) – Mountain to Fountain 15K

(13 weeks) – Shamrock 15K – I still have hopes to stock up on my beer supply!!! 😉


6 more months until we get our 2nd member of our DMR team

Apology to the blog followers who got this rough draft sent to their inbox a few weeks in advance. This was NOT a planned action! (Blaming pregnancy brain). A sincere appreciation for keeping the pregnancy off of social media til I announced at 12 weeks!! 

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I am a Spartan!!

Reflecting on my first Spartan Race experience, I have a billion thoughts going through my head. My first thought being “I had a blast” then second thought “You completely blew it!!” Reality was my fun ended very early. A disappointing (distant) 4th place for female was not what I had showed up for. Yes it was my first time, but I expected much more from myself. I heard about being haunted by failed obstacles in your dreams by friend Brakken Kraker but didn’t get to experience it first hand until the early AM hours into Saturday and Sunday. This past weekend on February 7, I took part in the Arizona Spartan Sprint. It ended up being the longest “sprint” of my life, with over an hour spent on the course.


Left to Right on the front line – KK Paul, Ashley Seeger, unknown, Kate Cramer, me…

Rewind back to Saturday morning- 14 minutes into the race I was chasing close behind leader KK Paul. We had just gone thru a 300m section of sloppy sand where I had thrived with my signature shuffle stride. Entering into the festival grounds I joyfully hear Alan and Joanie cheering me up the rope climb. The 3 previous obstacles were relatively easy, but my lack of experience was clear and all I could think of was “she’s good” – referring to KK’s expertise. For every 2 seconds I took going up some swaying cargo net, she took 1.


KK dominating the field

On the rope I had no problem getting the bell, but KK dominated me easily gaining a good 8 seconds (video to prove that stat) until I regained some ground on the run. The next one should have been relatively easy. The transverse wall – one I had practiced recently at the one of the coolest gyms on the planet- Phoenix Evolution. It consisted of small wooden blocks to place your hands and feet with the goal no touching the ground.

I was not expecting my feet to be wet and I felt the nervousness creep in that this was not going to be as easy. I also saw that the wall wrapped around and another doubt hit me. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, my stupid mind got ahead of me and I began to wonder how fast KK would be on this, and could I keep up…Before I knew it in one split second my foot slipped off the wooden wall block landing less than a foot to touch ground, to hear the bell ding for KK as she dashed off (the last I’d hear/see of her all day) and I was sent to the penalty box for my first round of 30 burpees, costing a solid 2 minutes as another 2 women passed to get a good solid 90 second lead. I knew my chances for the win were likely crushed, but still assumed I could possibly make up that ground over the next long 3 + miles.Spartan AZ Course Map

Long story short it didn’t happen and I ended up blowing another “easy” obstacle early on, one requiring zero skill and all brain power. .

You can run fast… but you can’t can’t until you do these burpees!!!! 

After fail 1 my mind was set on 2nd place. I was happy to be successful through the giant hurdles, plate drag, monkey bars and a bunch of others I don’t even recall. One obstacle I thought I nailed was the Memory Test. At the top of the hilly section we came to a giant board with numbers. I didn’t even take the time to know my own race number, so this added one more thing for me to remember. The board read the last 2 digits and matched a name, 3 digits and another 4 digits. Your job- remember these a mile later and recite them to avoid another penalty. I was confident I had it. I was closing behind the 3rd girl and passed her up in a series of 3 (quicksand like) mud pits. People were literally getting stuck trying to climb the sides and it almost happened to me.

I get to the crest of the next hill and confidently stated – #92 – OSCAR 139 (a world record 800 time) 69 74. (Easy number to remember 😉 74 times).. only it wasn’t (69) It was 61. I failed to see that and when I went to recite I was WRONG. 30 more burpees and from that point I knew I was toast. 3rd place flew ahead of me and my frustration only increased knowing I hadn’t even hit the “spear throw” or the “multibar”- the one obstacle my weak-ass distance runner arms could only conquer if God himself came down and provided a miracle. What place was I in? For all I knew I could have been 10th. My running abilities meant absolutely nothing at this point and I was getting a severe beating rightfully by women who if put in a boxing ring, most likely would have completely knocked me out.FullSizeRender (4)

The obstacles came more frequently as the finish approached. I actually enjoyed the bucket carry because I was passing guys left and right (women carry less rocks). It reminded me of carrying a not willing to cooperate Joanie across a big parking lot. Little did I know Alan was doing that exact activity simultaneously so he could go to the bathroom (his fault he didn’t look in his trunk to see I packed him the stroller!!) After his “bucket carry” Alan was watching the top girls emerge into the final sequence of obstacles all just outside the festival area (multibar, rock crate drag, hercule hoist, spear throw, rope swing, barbed wire, fire and final mud pit).. as I was no where to be seen. His thought- I got injured and dropped out. Post race he even doubted my 4th place finish and texted my mom “I think she was 10th”. Still high into the desert hills I wasn’t seeing the end in sight.  I started feeling bad that Alan had gotten up early to watch in a race I wasn’t even remotely competitive. I had let JoJo down as well!!

The Final Ring of Obstacle Hell


A view of the course – the feared multibars

When I emerged to the finish area, I tried to think positive but my gut knew I had more burpees waiting for me. 5th and 6th place women were within sight… but if they failed too, I could possibly hold my place. And failed I did.

The multibar consisted of a wobbly bar leading to 3 hanging rope knots to another wobbly bar. Even in a fresh state the day before I got a sneak peak at this and my amazon woman-acrobatic Tarzan skills were definitely not up to par. I made it a little over halfway, my wimpy grip slipped and submitted to 30 more burpees. The next 2 women came and also were sent to burpees. Next came the Hercules Hoist (pulling a weight down and then returning it to the top). Success.

The spear throw was next. What I believed would be the last possibility for burpees. I nailed the target with the spear going straight in, and then falling out. Not enough muscle which isn’t surprising considering all I had done. 30 more burpees and somehow no one had passed me. A 50 m run to the next “double up” obstacle – 2 thick high bars you had to get over. I loved it as I used the years I had played on the bars in gymnastics and swung up, climbed over and ran down. 50 more meters and I was at the rope swing. Alan, Joanie and Shane (my athlete who had finished the men’s race 5:44 faster than me) were cheering and yelling advice. In my fatigue I couldn’t even comprehend anything, but thought all I had to do was land on the other side. My feet hit the water. (Buzzer noise) That was against the rules, so 100m from the finish line with the barbed wire next, I was ordered down for 30 more of the ugliest set of burpees I hope I ever do in my life.IMG_2184

The final mud rolling and crawling was a highlight passing under the bridge where I waved to Joanie cheering me on. Some how I must have failed just as miserably as the next few girls, and crossed the finish in the 4th spot, far far from the top 3. I had been out there for over an hour, about 10 minutes longer than I had estimated. Wow.


This race left me so hungry for more, yet also humbled me knowing that running is only a small factor in these races. This ain’t no Warrior Dash, where I’d say any person who can do a single pull up and a set of maybe 10 pushups could likely succeed without a “fail”. This definitely exposes all weaknesses and glaring obviousness that I don’t spend enough time in a weight room. (For the record, my typical lifting schedule is nil, I do all body weight strength stuff mostly in my living room). I know I have a ton of room for growth (a high rate of improvement I would hope after hitting the ground 150+ times for burpees (I say + because I was too tired to even count accurately on some and likely did a few extra).
Final results as shown I ended up a whopping 10:42 behind winner KK Paul (pretty certain she did her homework preparing and it paid off as she completed 0 burpees). 150 burpees (my rate of 2:00+ for each set)= 10 minutes of penalty plus extra fatigue. 😁

I would have loved to come back the next day for a redo with so much gained wisdom (even in my fatigued state, I’m certain I could have at least nailed 3 of the 5 fails) …. but I had business to take care of. Alan had a local race and Shane needed to get back to the airport. Now I have months and months to wait til I get another shot. And months and months to get my butt in the weight room. (Note – 3 of the top 6 girls returned on day 2 and all improved their time the following day!)SpartanFinish2

The take away is that I couldn’t have asked for a better challenge. That’s what runners love and need. Challenge. If I continued to run the same races with 5 second improvements here and there, I really wouldn’t experience as much growth as what the whole sport of obstacle racing is all about. Sure, many runners look down upon it as a joke, but don’t knock what you don’t try. It definitely isn’t easy and just that statement alone makes me want to see how good I could get. I know I can’t get by on my lack of gym time. I’m not going to go cross fit on anyone but I definitely plan to put some energy into getting better at pullups!!

IMG_2108Thank you Spartan race for giving “runners” like me the ultimate challenge and butt kicking. I accept a lack of respect from fellow runners who think I’m just trying to cherry pick a much less competitive sport. My challenge is to any runner with that attitude (and without a shoe contract that doesn’t restrict them from participating) is to try it! You might be like me and totally get hooked. And likely you might just end up doing just as many burpees than me (and see someone with a 21:00 5K PR fly by you)!

Prize money offered or not, I loved every second of this competition. The total exhaustion and challenges to jump a 9 foot wall after you’ve already just gone over a 6 and 8 ft  and recently carried a 30 pound bucket of rocks up and down a hill before running up a steep hill is AWESOME. The last time my body soreness hit that level was day 4 at summer basketball camp in high school. So thank you! There will be a next time and all the strong girls better watch out … I got my homework to do and plan to get to it.


At least someone in the family came out on top – witnessing Alan win his 5K/10K double at the Pancake Run Sunday #DoubleStackChamp


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“What? That’s Crap. You Eat So healthy!?”

That has been the typical reaction from many close friends/family when I shared the results of my blood test from my experience with InsideTracker last month. As I shared in my earlier blog posts, I recently got an inside look of what the heck is going on inside my body, and some obvious reasons as to why my running performances and health have frequently taken nose dives the past few years.  Thankfully I didn’t have to be an expert in nutrition or go to an expert to find out what to do from here. Each biomarker tested (IE: Iron Group, Calcium, Vitamin D, Testosterone, Glucose, Cholesterol…) had specific easy to follow recommendations on how to boost (or lower) your levels if you happen to really suck in that category (as I did in several…) 

Wheat Free- Unnecessary and sorta Crazy 

Since then, I’ve been extremely motivated and inspired to these easy to follow changes, which in turn have done wonders for my body’s ability to handle my demanding schedule an2012Juliad intense running regiment I willingly undergo as my hobby each week. In the past, much of my nutrition has just been a guessing game, and in some ways I took drastic measures.

In 2012 I heard gluten was poison and the reason why I my iron wasn’t being absorped. I was also nursing a very fussy baby who seemed to have a reaction to my milk, which also prompted me to try the gluten free route (as well as limiting dairy, spicy food and soy). My reaction – pretend to be a Celiac and deal with annoyingly requesting gluten free items at restaurants or events, or avoiding eating dinner at people’s houses and spending WAY too much money on gluten free substitutes. I truly have sympathy for people who do indeed suffer with Celiac, but playing pretend was not much fun either.

Thankfully I could just opt out of my gluten free diet and still have a life outside sticking by the toilet. With no tests to confirm wheat was messing with me, I completely restricted to my diet to less than 1-2 servings a week for over a year, with a few splurges up until the past few months (This was typically in the form of a rare beer, a bite or two of Dave’s Killer Bread or accidental ingestion of soy sauce in Thai food).


Originally I had set my preferences to exclude gluten. Since i had so many tasty recommendations, I am now adding it back slowly and feeling positive results

The result, I definitely dropped the baby weight in 2012 due to limiting one of my favorite food source (see scrawny me photo w/ very young Joanie), but my iron levels still remained on borderline anemic status, with a significant drop in my abilities at the end of each month’s menstrual cycle. Since adding healthy sources of gluten back into my diet (as recommended by InsideTracker) my energy and ability to recover has skyrocketed. Wheat has only been a small part of the picture this last month, and actually the least amount of change. What I have been doing is upping my nuts, beans, fruit and vegetable game with the right kind of stuff. Feeling dehydrated – not happening with the addition of crazy smoothie concoctions. My nap cravings have completely ended, which is something that is a completely foreign concept since discovering the luxury of the hour nap in college.  Naps =utilizing its power at any chance possible since 2001.

purplefruit“Is Purple a Fruit?”

Berries have been high on my list of InsideTracker recommendations and my body seems to really be enjoying the addition. Instead of my basic fruit intake typically in the form of apple, pineapple, orange, banana and purple drink; I now have made blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries all staples. I’m finally reversing the damage of life stresses- being a parent, training, moving, etc. I’m also confident I am making a dent in my high cholesterol. My favorite way to eat more fruit has been buying frozen fruit in bulk and adding to smoothies. I have also been adventurous in the produce department trying to add much more variety. reagan_ketchup_bumper_sticker

“Ketchup is a Vegetable”  

I have always been conscious of having vegetables at each meal, but got in the rut of the usuals (carrots, tomato sauce, salad, etc), and scaled way back on total amount in the days leading up to races due to fear of mass fiber consumption and accelerating the affect  of any pre-race nerves. Eventually the less veggies thing became a habit and before I knew it I was counting ketchup as one of my 6 vegetables of the day. Since adding more veggies back I have noticed my body’s reaction has been intense vegetable cravings for more in the form of soups, salads and my own form of a healthy stir fry.


Seeking healthy options out to eat (Liberty Market in Gilbert AZ pictured)- and trying to replicate them back home

In every Biomarker category I failed, there seemed to be a nut that was a good source of whatever I was lacking. Although I put peanut butter on just about everything, I wasn’t giving the other guys a chance. So now I am adding walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and pistachios to name some. This is typically in the early afternoon when I was previously eating some high carb sugary snack to fight the urge to nap. My nightly sugar cravings have also dropped due to adding more calories in the form of nutrient dense smoothies, as well as my energy levels outside of my workouts. The effects from these small changes have been very noticeable….


Afternoon snack to successfully replace severe coffee, sugar and nap cravings

REAL TRAINING RESULTS!! Not just another blood test 


Finishing a cold 15 mile run over Christmas break feeling great

I have only one race under my belt (last blog – XC Nationals) since I started striving with direction for positive change, but the true measure that on my way to another break thru has been what has followed. My consistency since that positive race has been a solid streak of 2 quality intense workouts a week, 6-7 days running, lifting; and the ability not to be fazed when my daily mileage totals over 12. Even getting over the 15 mile mark in single runs, I have the feeling like my last mile as strong as my first. (My past life, all miles over 10 I was looking forward to stopping!!)

Only a year ago, I was avoiding double digit days thinking I could still run fast without the meat and potatoes of long runs. It worked temporarily, but I crumbled in the late spring 2014 when the races really counted. I’m ready to bring on 2015 armed with knowledge and information of what I need to get faster, stronger and recover smarter thanks to InsideTracker. I am excited to continue sharing my success and wanted to get the word out. juliajojo Interested in seeing what InsideTracker can do for you? Contact me for more information, I’d love to hear if I could help you out !!

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My Resurgence Back to My A Game

2014 Club XC Nationals for me ended up being all I could hope/dream for. For how terrible my body handled the transition from Portland to Phoenix, where just recently a good 3 weeks of my running was toilet bowl quality, I ROCKED it!  No I didn’t win, or come in top 25, but I did compete to the best of my current ability, walking away with a solid 39th with a personal best for 6K xc (3rd runner for our BTC team which gave us a 5th pace overall finish despite missing 2 of our top runners).


The lead pack of fast and furious women and the sea of runners following (Photo credit Michael Scott)

Women’s Open results here - (top 10 listed below; plus my team)
1 Laura Thweatt 25 Boulder Track Club 19:15 5:10
2 Tara Erdmann 25 Nike 19:25 5:13
3 Angela Bizzarri 26 19:34 5:15
4 Alisha Williams 32 Boulder Running Comp/adidas A 19:35 5:15
5 Brianne Nelson 34 Boulder Running Comp/adidas A 19:35 5:16 👶👶
6 Sarah Pagano 23 Boston Athleic Assoc. A 19:41 5:17
7 Rochelle Kanuho 24 Boulder Running Comp/adidas A 19:42 5:17
8 Frances Koons 28 The Georgetown Running Company A 19:42 5:17
9 Juliet Bottorff 23 Boston Athleic Assoc. A 19:43 5:18
10 Elaina Balouris 22 Boston Athleic Assoc. A 19:47 5:19
27 Carrie Dimoff 31 Bowerman Track Club 20:30 5:30 👶👶
32 Lindsey Drake 25 Bowerman Track Club 20:34 5:31
39 Julia Webb 31 Bowerman Track Club 20:47 5:35  👶
55 Olivia Mickle 23 Bowerman Track Club 21:08 5:40
85 Anna Connor 28 Bowerman Track Club 21:35 5:48
Total = 343 finishers; 38 complete teams
👶 = moms who beat me (2 that I know of; each 2 kids)


As always, you can bank on Sky Mall providing endless entertainment on long flights (For only $85,000 you can get your own Shark Boat that jumps out of water like a real shark!!)

I touched ground in Philly with 18 hours to spare before the gun went off, giving me a much greater cushion than the Bowerman Track Club’s 5th man German Fernandez, who arrived after numerous cancellations/delays into NYC on a redeye only 6 hours to race time (in which he ended up 3rd= different league – he’s BTC pro runner, never the less amazing how he pulled that off). My 5 other teammates gave me the 4-11 on the course preview as I missed my original flight due to my failure to heed to my alarm.

Somehow I magically awoke 90 minutes later, and only fell 10 minutes short to getting into the gate for take off on original flight. Thankfully I was rebooked 3 hours later on the next direct flight, giving me just enough time to head back to the shuttle to parking, find my car (to keep my backpack), and go for a run in my airport attire. Thankfully I never dress for fashion when I travel. I was wearing mostly run-friendly apparel as I headed for my 3 mile trek around the airport to catch some beautiful views of downtown Phoenix area and some much needed fresh air after my frustrating error. I could have opted for my actual race day uniform I had packed in my carry-on, but decided it might be nice to smell great come Saturday.IMG_0750

Thankfully sport bras for me feel no different than regular bra…(sad confession of someone with typical runner chick body) and the breathable hoody and ability to convert it into a crop top while running helped minimize my excessive sweating. A shirt change and ditching hoody and my presentation was decent for flight status (see photo of “dork” airport stretching). The only important news I was hoping for – the extra rest turned out to be a good thing- I felt AMAZING and confident my running was in a MUCH better place than a few weeks ago.


Back on the East Coast.. the true feel of December chill in the air in downtown Bethlehem, PA

Arriving at the hotel 9pm, I was mostly bummed I missed a solid 4 hours of chill time WITH humans I already knew, and missing the run with my team. I live for this kind of stuff. Instead of a nice relaxing dinner at a restaurant, I relied on Alan’s Yelp search skills to phone in some Thai take out. By 10, I was wiped and didn’t get to sleep til after midnight. Either way I made it and my awesome mom was back in Phoenix with Joanie to cover while Alan was at Footlocker Nationals.

IMG_0760The BTC Ladies were complete with 5 scoring members and the pressure was on to represent after last year our women’s count dropped from 8 down to 4 on race day. We were all ready to muscle our way into “Playing with the real players” This meant top 50. My goal – be realistic, work with the fitness I currently had and run MY race.. bottom line, get to the finish as fast as possible and don’t run the first 400 like an idiot. I knew I was coming around but I had no chance against someone like Tara Erdmann or any women who were under 20 min for the day. (I know from experience attempting to keep up on easy days with Tara- they aren’t easy for me as I experienced this morning!) I also know she’s likely sleeping at 10,000 feet, and I can only spend about 30 minutes in that before I get light headed. “She’s good.” IMG_0818

A few blogs ago I mentioned my “life goal” would be to make a XC world team, trust me, I know that was a HUGE statement not to be taken lightly, and by December 1st, I knew that would NOT be a possibility this year (and may never be.. but its on a lofty goal list like someone saying “Climb Mt Everest”). My excitement for competing didn’t wane, and I was just as hungry to improve upon my 53rd spot from last fall. I ain’t ashamed, I put a statement in and ended up 60 seconds off the top 10. Yes a minute is a long time, but this is still a better result than when I got dusted by over 2 minutes by Kimber Mattox in a 3.2 mile race at Warrior Dash World Champs in October. And that race I won enough to pay off my student loans. Here there wouldn’t be any individual prize money but a true test of where you stand against some of the best Club runners in the nation (professional and non).


The fastest woman to run a mile and drink 4 beers in the world (6:17!!!!!); former D3 competitor at Wash U back in the 2000s

The course was about as tame of a cross country course you could ask for. For every uphill section there was a nice relaxing downhill that followed. The “mud” covered a 10 foot section in which I took about 3 steps. The ground was firm, footing was great, no snow, the conditions were pretty calm, and the cold wasn’t nearly as miserable as it could have been. (37 and partly sunny). I told myself if I didn’t PR today, I never will. My PR was set 9 years ago at the 2005 Regional XC Champs in 21:04. It had been that long since I had run on a PR friendly course such as this. The great part, near the mile in this race I was side by side for a good 400m running against my former competitor in that ’05 race – the now known by all running nerds – Elizabeth Herndon (yeah, the girl who just won the Beer Mile Championships-see link; she came closer to beating me today than ’05 race-20:47/ 21:00 vs 21:04/21:34).


First half of the race, pack of BTC ladies led by Carrie Dimoff, Lindsey Drake and Olivia Mickle (photo by amazing photographer Michael Scott)


Moving up on the field mid-race going after Deliliah (former Club XC Champ)and Esther Erb (US Marathon Champ) photo by Michael Scott

My race plan unfolded as so ……I used my old lady race tactics by not getting passed by a single runner.. only got semi- dropped after pulling up to Delilah Dicrescezno and Maggie Callahan in the last K. That is the best way to run. It always feels amazing to be moving up. Especially having something to give after feeling like I had NOTHING in my legs at my last race.

TweetI ended up going from 60’s in the first 400 to about 39th with a 1.5 K to go , holding my spot getting that sub 21 PR of 20:47. I read the course may have been short, but if so I believe my old PR could have been on a short course, and besides … its CROSS COUNTRY! No one actually cares what the times were. My pipe dream goal for the day was top 30- and ran well enough to keep our top runners in my sight. YES I did brag to Alan about placing 6th in my age group. In the over 30 crew (including 40 year old Olympian Jen Rhines – who beat me) – only 5  were ahead of me. That AND only 2 moms beat me (if my sources were accurate). So yes more bragging in which I will stop right now. Thank you Alan for your support, because that’s the only way moms really can get it done. With a great husband. All this means that most over 30 years (minus professionals) actually have a life outside of running. I still get most of my thrills from this sport so I am not quite ready to give it up.IMG_0777 (1)

Post race, if you happened to be a witness, it was clear: I don’t get out much…. I went hard… a little too hard which resulted in a fever/exhaustion from 2am Saturday night until I woke up Monday AM.

Here is the timeline post race that led to this:

  • 7 mile post race cool down with various friends (to get in a solid 14 mile day)
    Why so long? it was A) outside (if you follow me on Instagram you know I spend way too much time on treadmills in perfectly awesome running weather B) for once I didn’t have to rush back to retrieve Joanie C) my old club team – Ragged Mountain Running decided to go a full loop, even this being my 3rd round of cool down, I of course didn’t care
  • A rushed shower to enjoy ONE beer and a massive plate of nachos w/ the NATIONAL CHAMPS (BTC Master’s guys) then headed straight for the post race banquet
  • IMG_0781Excessive running of my mouth.  I engaged in way too much talking and likely not enough listening with all the Portland peeps and others I hadn’t seen since last year’s race or longer ago
  • My dancing. Anyone who ever attended Wisconsin Camp of Champs between the years 2001-2009 knows what I’m talking about.
  • A half cup of free beer (most of it was foam) The rest of the time I was dancing I was eating fruit snacks. I swear ask Ryan McGrath… until I had
  • Another SINGLE beer (to challenge the Beer Mile World Record holder in chugging since she is the pro and I’ve never practiced since college.  (Total drink count in 6 hours – 2.5; not enough for hang over)


    Being excessively social; I don’t even really know this guy

  • Final great decision at the Sheetz Gas station ended up with numerous people suggest, “Milk was a bad choice” with their foresight correct. This in combo with post race stomach, too many jalapenos, some beer, a massively large salad overloaded w/ insoluble fiber to try to make up for my lack of vegetables pre-race and the tipping point- random gas station “rice bowl” which looked more like a soupy sauce bowl..
    EQUALED  =
  • Spending more time by the toilet than in bed that night and being a complete waste of space traveling home the next day. Alan claimed I was just hung over… Really? 2 beers?! Maybe a socialization hang over. No regrets, I came for 2 reasons- to run and to hang w/ runners! I wasn’t backing off of either. Thank you teammate Kristen Rohde for being great travel companion while I almost threw up.

The after party.. As Carrie D and I boasted we partied til 10:30pm!

What’s Next…..

My next athletic endeavor includes conquering a rope climb. I’m so excited my coach is on par with my goals to get fit and serious about some OCR business. To save you a google search -OCR = Obstacle Course Racing. It’s to the point I have been seeking out a large climbing rope, and may have to either enroll Joanie in her first gymnastics class if that means they’ll let me have at it OR purchase one and hang from nearby tree. (Seriously up to this point I had to use google, “How to train to climb a rope if you don’t have access to one) and my enthusiasm is so great I woke up very happy the other morning in a dream ending with me successfully climbing the rope.


This is the kind of mud I’m hoping for….

My current regiment is getting some quality “threshold lowering” workouts in, building up my base from my wishy washy fall, while seeking to get my upper body as sore and fatigued as possible so I won’t just fall pathetically into the mud pits. I want to actually be competitive enough to hang with the obstacle experts…. So racing plan in correct order: outrun obstacle chicks, then try not too blow my lead too much by bombing the rope climb or have to do excessive penalty burpees. Or if Kimber Mattox happens to be in my race….I’m toast.

Next blog…. sharing more about how I’m a changed woman! No more hiding behind my “C- diet” and thanks to InsideTracker for motivating me to get with the picture and get the most from the endless food sources I have access to. (And of course thank you coach Jon Marcus for consistently pointing this out as well). This means…. WAY MORE vegetables, smoothies, nuts, crazy vegan type stuff ….LESS crap. My choice in packing my Baby Bullet (baby food blender) has been a wise one. I now can drink my greens, hydrate and consume a whole container of berries without even chewing!! IMG_0908


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So I’m Definitely Not Doping…

Results from my blood work from InsideTracker are in!! It was like Christmas when I received the notification in my inbox. Then the nerves kicked in. How messed up am I? As expected due to recent fatigue, the results showed – you have work to do if you want to kick some butt running. The awesome news- I’m relatively normal!! All that talk in my previous blog about the potential damage I’ve done to my immune system over the years is now a non-factor according to my results.  😄 😃 😀 😊 ☺ I have not had a cold in over a month, so my white blood cell count was low. Maybe the recent sun exposure could be of help? My D count was great and cortisol levels normal. Getting enough fat. Check.

The green lights on most of the tested biomarkers was a big sigh of relief, but the red/yellow have given me a clear picture of what I am lacking without excuses not to improve. InsideTracker gives you a ton of recommendations based on your food preferences or dietary restrictions. It’s calling me out that recently my diet must really suck, so here are ways to help you change. No more just going with the flow of what’s left over in my cupboard or giving into another cookie craving when I really should be eating some greens! Time to get some discipline and form a plan!


The Red Flags

Low on Ferritin, Hematocrit and Testosterone.

My consistent poor levels that I’ve tested in the iron group are the main limiting factor for getting the most of my potential. Without iron- less oxygen transport and you can’t run as fast! I suspected ferritin and hematocrit were low due to feeling wiped and an off feeling when I was really trying to run hard. In 2 of my recent races, my feet actually went numb, as if there wasn’t enough oxygen circulating in my body. My reading – 27 for ferritin (50-150 is ideal) and a pathetic 12.3 for hemotocrit (13 is the bare minimum you want). Let’s just say it’s obvious I don’t take EPO.

Once again hearing these low levels- I have to keep searching for a way to get them up! First I’m going back to the supplement Proferrin. I recently switched to Ultimate Iron (a friend’s recommendation) and not sure if it worked for my body.

I am also going to start back on liquid ferrous sulfate (unless others have suggestions). I need to be aggressive (but also know the limit and not go into iron intoxication) – because I once experienced that after being way crazy in the supplement and food category. Back in 2011 while I was trying to function at altitude, after getting an 18 ferritin reading on a blood test, I thought it was time to suck it up and focus on getting iron in whatever form I could. In a 12 hour period I took multiple liquid iron doses, cooked liver for din, had iron pills and ended up dizzy, unable to hear or fully control my legs on my run. I called poison control only to be asked why I was trying to kill myself! Nice try, but I know this takes time and only at an absorpable rate.  I am also seeking to purchase some of the “iron rich” foods they list, although many I already consume.


This next reading I was contemplating if I wanted to share. I’ve never been tested, but my testosterone levels were ridiculously low. This means “athletic performance suffers big time” (as well as other things). I have been taking an SSRI medication (antidepressant) for over 16 years and long story short, whether I need it or not, I am heavily addicted and unable to wean off of it without feeling extreme physical and emotional side affects. The proven side affect – low testosterone.


At a young age I was PAINFULLY shy through middle school; post meds I was literally a different person; free from crippling anxiety

When I was 15, the medication helped tremendously and thank it for changing my life. Now I feel stable and most of the time confident I likely don’t need it to fully function, but my brain has been fed a steady supply of dopamine that gets me on par with feeling normal. I do believe my lack of seratonin is likely hereditary condition, as I can relate to many close relatives. I’m not ashamed of this, it’s just something I was born with. The paralyzing shyness, fear and low self-esteem starting at an early age was very hard to deal with. Can you out-grow something and overcome this without medication? Possibly.

Either way, just cutting off the entire supply has been extremely tough and debilitating. I would compare it to getting off crack, experiencing the withdrawal numerous times over the past 10 years, even at a very slow rate. First its the physical side affects – shakes, nausea, weakness and then later comes the agonizingly painful mental part.  It’s not as easy as “suck it up”, but seeing these numbers has given me another  reason to seek a way to cut my current dose in half once more, or strive to live life without it. For my daughter’s pregnancy, I was on my lowest dose, and consequently ran my best times, still on that same dose the following year. Other runners dealing with competing on SSRI’s- I’d love to hear from you!


High on Cholesterol and Glucose

Can you say pre-diabetes!? Not completely surprised by this, since I hadn’t been making the smartest choices and my weight on the scale was also creeping up (normal racing weight 122-124, recent weeks 128). To combat fatigue in the afternoons, I replaced rest with sugary snacks, only to add to my problems. During the transition of packing and getting set for Arizona as well as the actual driving time, my unhealthy snack and meal options increased. Even if you are running 50 mile weeks and don’t yet resemble the average American, you can’t use it as an excuse to eat crap!cholesterol

My glucose levels… Looks like I need to cut back on the simple carbs. In the past when I have strived to eat the low GI foods which include tons of fiber, it has sent me to the bathroom way too often on race or workout days. I have to find the balance of backing off on the fiber before a race, but switch back to the good stuff on other days. I am also tempted to get some runs in the AM without eating before, because my body does not know how to operate without its steady supply of food. I am heavily reliant on my morning meal to fuel me through my morning runs. I typically don’t run until noon, so this wouldn’t apply unless I switched my schedule.

Fernhill XC 003-L

BTC lining up for some XC at Fernhill Park (photo by Angela Lindbo)

So now due to whatever nutritional/lifestyle choices I made (aka dealing with life’s stresses), I’m stuck with more weight to carry and less capacity to get oxygen to my working muscles. It could be a much worse sentence, but this was definitely a wake up call to clean up my act and diet or continually deal with the consequences!

The next few weeks I will do my best and then put this in the back of my mind and put my game face on ready to push whatever oxygen I can into my lungs and legs and onto the course at Lehigh University for US Club Nationals on December 13. My heart will be on the line to give it my all and am very excited to join a very strong Bowerman Track Club team led by our very own pro runner Emily Infeld! My running career doesn’t end here so I am excited to continually strive to get the best of myself working with InsideTracker’s info and recommendations.

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My Battle for Running Healthy

Photo by Win Goodbody |

Feeling fresh or train thru (as pictured) I race frequently and give it all I have – good, bad or ugly…Stumptown XC #2 photo by StoneAndSteel

I have been a lucky runner gal who rarely has injuries to stop me from participating in my favorite sport. I’ve had to cross train a total of 1 month in college for a minor hip injury I sustained from being too aggressive in a yoga session, and my 2nd and only running related injury occurred when I was pregnant and too aggressive with speed work/mileage. I ignorantly ran through what I believed was an everyday “ache” which eventually led to me sitting the bench for 6 months of my pregnancy and another 6 months of minimal mileage with major pain. With 14.2 years of consistent 50+ mile weeks, I have 13.1 of those injury free, and 1 year of that time completely related to carrying a watermelon sized object. That should equate to smooth sailing, consistent improvements…Not so much the case for me as I have been extremely limited in my potential from another side of the health picture – My dreaded immune system.


Enjoying personal bests in ferritin levels- with baby Joanie

Despite my best efforts I always find a random way to get sick (or overcome with poison ivy). I have a major problem with an illness streak. Despite what I’d consider living an extremely healthy balanced lifestyle, it has been rare that I don’t run into a major speed bump with my health. My iron levels have also been the bane of my running career. With consistent ferritin testing, wheat eliminating, meat eating and multiple daily regimented supplementing, I have yet to get a reading over 40. The exception was a 59 when I was still benefiting from pregnancy hormones a few months after Joanie was born. I don’t have the luxury to get iron infusions but I try my best to find sneaky ways to get my iron to be at an acceptable level for performance, with limited success.

I realize I fit the mold of being “too skinny” and perhaps this could be a factor contributing to my immune system being compromised, but I am definitely mindful to match or exceed the number of calories I’m expending. I in fact, do not ever count my calories, but listen to my body’s hunger cues and eat what I’m craving accordingly. This includes occasional stops through a drive thru, cookies, ice cream, or you name it to go along with the mass quantities of whole grain, fruits, veggies etc. And no I’m not vegan or even close to it. And no, I have NEVER missed a period, a guarantee to get it every single month within 28 days. If that were to go, it would be the first sign that I was truly doing damage to my body. (LOVE THIS blog post from elite Stephanie Rothstein Bruce- nickname “Tiny”) – Weight…What About Your Period – must read for aspiring female runners.

My theory is that I’ve beat down my immune system to the point that it doesn’t take much until it fails on me again. Even knowing I have this limiting factor I often times ignore signs and try to do too much. Not only in running, but in my every day life. When I add running in a way to continually push my body to the limit as an athlete, it keeps me riding on the edge. Only recently do I feel that my coach and I have really made a push to continually hold me back to somewhat err on the side of caution. My drive and ability to push and push are there. The voice that I frequently ignored calling me to slow down now needs to be heard. Accepting my limitations has been very challenging, but I can’t just toughen up, suck it up and push on. I need to be high maintenance in scheduling my workouts, letting my “toughness” ego go and really ask honestly if I’m ready before putting myself on the line in an attempt to boost fitness. If I can’t stay healthy, aside from gaining mental strength, it would have been better off to sleep for that 2 hours than subject myself to gut churning intervals.


Enjoying the reward for a healthy fall of xc racing. 2nd at NCAAs in 2005

Just in 2014 alone, with my daughter at her first year of daycare, I averaged a new cold every 3 weeks until the weather cleared up. This was just as often as my 18+ month old, only to return to frequent cold status once the Portland summer ended. The beginning of my illness streak all started in college. As a child-teen I rarely was sick. In 2002, 2 years into my running career I picked up mono just before the college conference meet. After winning by only a narrow margin and feeling absolutely terrible, I was diagnosed, laid in bed a few weeks and then made the decision to lace em up at nationals (as my team qualified without me at regionals). Pre-mono I had hopes for a top 3 finish, but still sick as a dog, I finished in 23rd very proud of my abilities to race sick. I got greedy and thought, I must be ok to begin real training again, and might as well since indoor is only 2 months away.

The training paid off and I got fit and fast quick. I clocked a 64 second best in the 5000m (17:26) on our small tight 200m track – lapping the entire field. A week later, I started feeling exhausted. I shook it off and continued to race, getting slower and slower. By conference I just about blacked out during the 5000m with a dismal 17:59. By nationals, I was toast and ran on guts and fumes finishing DFL* (dead f&#Ing last) in 18:04.

Despite constant sleep, the fatigue was beyond extreme and made my first bout with mono in fall seem to be a minor issue. It was time to sit out for outdoor and heal. Not only did it affect my running, but my performance in school as well. I was so tired, I couldn’t fathom becoming a Physical Ed teacher and later changed my major to Sport Management so I wouldn’t have to expend any extra energy during the day. Long story short, I struggled on/off with this diagnosed “Chronic Epstein Barr” fatigue until I finally broke free from this in the fall of 2005. Even with my struggles I did have a successful racing streak for a few months during the spring of 2004 when I won the NCAA III steeplechase.


Racing at the peak of marathon training in 2009

Aside from iron, I was relatively healthy until Fall 2009. I experienced a mind blowing increase of fitness after briefly joining Scott Raczko’s training over the summer with Samia Akbar. I had my sights set on a Trials Qualifier in the marathon with great hope due to workout evidence. Unfortunately it all took a nosedive when I woke up to do an easy run just a month before Twin Cities. Just like that it was as if the mono returned with vengeance.

I was back to being a vegetable and feeling like I would pass out a mile into my runs. I ended up walking most runs and crying from frustration. 4 days after this mysterious fatigue occurred, I still opted to race my tune up half at Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach. The sub 6 minute pace I could easily attain in my long run workouts was gone. I strained to hit 6:15s, only to finish the race on endless Hail Mary’s and sincere thankfulness that I had all 5 senses (passing a blind runner with their guide runner kept me going). No marathon to experience and 3 months of endless struggle to operate I finally got my diagnosis: Lymes Disease. (And yes even with the debilitating disease I still maintained training in some shape/form). I could go on about other illnesses, but have already expressed some of this in previous blogs so I will save the drama, (specifically referring to recently -fall of 2013; after my most successful spring track season).

This leads me to the week of November 24, 2014. This week I stumbled across the website and found a shining light of hope in finding a tool that can give me some guidance and keep me from crossing the line and maximizing my athletic performance. I got my blood tested today and by next week will get a clear picture of what’s going on within my body in ways I would never understand without these biomarkers. From this experience I plan to share via my blog. If you are like me and want to get the most of your training check it out today!! I’m so excited to share ways I can seek to better my chance at staying healthy. I plan to share real results (if it does indeed help or be honest if it does not) I am ready and willing to make the changes they recommend.  I’m PUMPED!!! Check out runner Jonathan Levitt’s recent improvements thanks to AthleteTracker and learn more info real runner experience here

Up next Turkey Day 10K here in Phoenix. I’m taking a crack at my modest 10K PR of 35:48. If I can push a stroller at 6:09 pace, I would like to stay true to my word that a stroller costs about 30 seconds per mile (this would be ~ 35:08). A month ago, I would have said yes. Since the move, I’m not quite as confident based on recent workouts but all I can give is my best effort, and I am confident I don’t ever give anything less than that when a gun goes off. Here’s to hope for a PR. Thanks for reading!

turkeyDay**UPDATE** Ran 36:31 for the win. I knew I was being a little ambitious suggesting I could PR based on how I’ve been feeling the last 3+ weeks. I ran by feel (the goal medium effort 2 miles, medium-hard 2 miles, hard 2 miles). No mile splits, hit about 18:22 for the first 5K loop – off my initial 18:00 goal. I pushed it but came up short – only ran 18:09 the next lap (My goal was 17:40). About 4 miles in I ran into the wall of 5K runners. I had my sights set on a guy and followed his lead weaving in, out and around runners. The toughest part was finding any space to kick the final 200m. Not gonna lie, I’ve been pretty fatigued lately and excited to see what my results say Monday. Despite the results, I’m glad I raced now to give me a reality check on what’s to expect in the upcoming weeks.  On tap – rest, recovery and more rest. What a great time to do so on Thanksgiving weekend!!

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