My Home Birth Experience – Paula Vivienne Webb

About midway through this pregnancy we made the decision to have a home birth. It ended up being an awesome choice – no regrets and feel it was the best decision that matched exactly what we wanted. Thankful to have a very low risk pregnancy and a successful labor/delivery in a birthing center with Joanie in Virginia (outside the hospital), I knew that I could handle another drug-free, natural birth. 

A home birth did not mean Alan would be the one delivering. I had a midwife and 2 doulas with a back up plan to head to St Vincent hospital in case of any emergency (a 5 min drive). It also did not mean I would be having my baby in my bathtub. Ha. (Those are the 2 most frequently asked questions). I had the option to get a birthing tub brought into our house, but based on my experience chilling in the water during labor #1 (and bringing minimal relief); I opted to just save the bath for some other time.

 It also meant that I had no plans to “induce” even if I had gone past the 42 week mark. I trusted my body knew when the timing would be right when baby wanted to arrive. (A healthy pregnancy range is between 38-43 weeks; yet most Drs/women get extremely anxious at any point after 40 weeks and most babies are planned to be induced before 41 weeks; which in my opinion leads to more c-sections and less than fully cooked babies coming into the world). Either way, I’ll hold off on sharing any more opinions and get to the point of this blog – – the day I went into labor and how another human is now part of our family!!


I woke up on Thursday, September 24 feeling ready to take on the world. The day before I had a dramatic drop in energy, and huge increase in appetite. With work responsibilities slowing down and the obvious fact that any day would be the DAY this baby would be here, I happily listened to my body.. sleep, eat, repeat and took a nice fat day off from exercise. It was one of those extremely rare days I had little desire/urge to work out. I took that as sign number 1 the end of pregnancy 2 was near.

This day however, my energy was sky high! At 11:30 a.m. I headed to the backyard to get in a little mix of cardio and weights. My number one cardio activity of choice had recently become the jump rope, which surprised a lot of people thinking about a 40 week pregnant woman “jumping” around. A typical session – jump up to 10 min in a row, do 3-4 other weight activities or a set of a minute burpees; cut down the next interval to 8 min- 6 min-4 min-2 min; varying from 2 styles of jumps- double leg and “running” – sometimes actually going forward and running (went up to the half mile mark and back at Leif a week prior). My body would get a huge cardio workout and the equivalent of the “running” portion was as if I was going 12 min miles with the added challenge on my arms from turning the rope. The double leg jumps then made it more plyometric and giving my calves a good burn.

4 hours before I went into labor, my workout looked like this–workoutlaborDuring the jump rope portion I was feeling VERY crampy and was pretty excited/confident these cramps were basically the start of the real thing. I only did a total of 10 minutes jump rope broken up as 4 min/2 min intervals in between weights. I had plenty of energy for more, but told myself to chill out knowing I need to “save my energy”. The entire session took me 35 minutes.

A little TMI but labor as you know entitles a baby coming out of your body, so if you’re reading this hopefully you likely have some maturity to know the steps that typically happen before the baby comes out.. Right after the workout headed into the bathroom and happily saw the mucus plug – thank you jump rope -(yes there’s the TMI part and grossest thing I’ll ever say on this blog; well no promises I’m talking about a birth here) but I was like, YEP this is FINALLY happening!!!  Stronger Braxton Hicks (pre-labor cramps) were occurring, but nothing that I considered “labor” as I showered and headed out for a massage with my amazing friend Karlee Coffey (highly recommended for athletes in Portland area!)


Early in labor , handling this stage just fine

At 3:00 I drove to the high school xc practice and immediately got the suspicion that labor had started. By 3:30 I started my watch to time these “light/semi uncomfortable” but regular contractions and found they were coming between 5-6 minutes. Head coach Rebecca laughed as she found out I was timing what I thought was the start of labor and was like “Go home!” I didn’t argue and headed out. My last minute nesting instincts must have kicked in (which I felt were really lacking the last few months with the amount of other activities/distractions going on) – that I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some last minute items, and by 4:30 as I was checking out – with the intensity amplifying – knew I was going to have a baby by my 41 week date (Friday September 25) – which happened to be within the same day of when I had Joanie! I only underestimated how much faster this labor would progress. My first one lasted 16 hours; I figured it I was lucky I’d go no less than 10.

Once home I was craving a bowl of cereal, so I dominated some Frosted Mini Wheats mixed with Trader Joe’s version of Froot Loops (all natural people!) and a banana. 5:30 Alan returned from practice after picking up Joanie at daycare. I made Joanie some chicken and mac n cheese with peas for dinner and then went on to vacuum the entire house. The timing had increased to less than 3 minutes between contractions, and the pain factor up to a 6 of 10. I basically wasn’t hungry for dinner now and figured I’d have plenty of time for that later to give me energy for the anticipated long night ahead of me. 6 hours into my other labor I remember eating a bagel with peanut butter and jelly, an energy drink and chips.


Last only child hug from JoJo definitely scared because I was in labor

by 7:30 I was hoping Alan could hustle up with helping me get Joanie to bed as the intensity went from a 6 to an 8 when the contractions hit; to the point I had to hide in the other room so Joanie wouldn’t freak out as I braced myself for the 60 seconds of intense pain. I then opted for eating my dinner; and managed to eat a bowl of that mac n cheese and a coconut water in between the contractions.  I told Joanie we all had to go to bed early because “mommy needs to get a lot of rest because her tummy hurts and the baby is going to come out by morning”. I got my supplies set and texted the midwife that my contractions were now coming every 2 minutes.

8:00 I was then on the 9 of 10 for pain/twisting a knife in me as I braced myself on the yoga ball/ hurt zone. Alan finished up baths and began books. I told him make sure they were short books because I needed him!!! I called the midwife and told her she should DEFINITELY come now. Joanie was scared as she caught sight of me during the start of a contraction as she wanted a hug and story from me. Wasn’t gonna happen, so Alan knew she needed to be in bed/door closed now. She missed her nap at daycare that day, so was pretty wiped and didn’t argue that it was bed time. Head coach Rebecca had offered to come get Joanie but with this labor conveniently progressing as Joanie was about to crash for 10+ hours, we opted to keep her home.

By 8:30 the team had arrived, Joanie’s door was shut with white noise makers blasting in her room and outside of her door. The pain factor 10 of 10; calling on God to have mercy on all women in labor and forgive my lack of effort for being a slacking Christian. Now with my support team here and Alan ready to give me all the attention needed, I was so in-comprehensive I couldn’t even tell who was who. Last labor, I had been able to listen to music, go for walks, try some squatting, bouncing on the birth ball and just being present with Alan cheering me on. Now less than a minute between intervals, the only thing that I could do was bend over gripping a pillow face down trying not to scream or curse. I was successful on that until about 9:30; then it was just a world of pain and intensity of my body shaking, no “break” between the contractions.

My doula Amanda was able to successfully get the baby’s heart rate ONE time; it would have been virtually impossible for me to be still to get checked on how dilated I was at any point after their late arrival. 9:45 I started to have the strong feeling that I had to go to the bathroom (not number 1)…. I finally got myself to sit on the toilet between contractions, tried to “push”; and instead of going to the bathroom — it was then when my water that broke – which happened to be so convenient! While in the bathroom I took a GU ready to get onto the final stage of labor. 10:16 I headed back to my room- this was it; go time- time to push this baby out. On hands and knees, during next strong contractions I pushed with all of my strength… thinking the sooner you get this over with, the sooner the absolute most uncomfortable/painful part will happen – having a baby pass thru your you-know-what. I had heard in a hypnobirthing class, that some women actually found pleasure when the baby was passing thru. WHAT?! How big was their you-know- what?! It was by far the most unnatural/intensely painful things I have ever experienced on both occasions. In 14 minutes of pushing (10:31), she was here. She looks a lot like Joanie did in her first week (a little old man) 😉


Official Stats:
Name: Paula Vivienne (yes some influence from Paula Radcliffe; middle name Alan’s dad’s grandma)
Date: September 24, 2015 (40 weeks, 6 days)
Time of birth: 10:31 p.m. (labor 7 hours)
Weight: 8 lbs, 14 oz (90%)
Height: 21.5 inches (95%)
Head: 14.5 inches (90%)- thanks Alan 😉
*Joanie – 7 lbs 15, 20.5 inches, head 13.5; 41 weeks; labor 16 hours

Pregnancy Weight gain: 25 lbs
Weight loss as of September 25, 2015 (8 hour post labor): 14 lbs
Belly measurement 2 days prior to labor: 35 centimeters (interesting because usually this equals the weeks you are pregnant); both Joanie and her relatively same measurement.



30 minutes after Paula’s birth


Paula 2 days old


Joanie 2 days old


Joanie meets Paula!

Most surprising for me was how fast I bounced back and lack of wear and tear compared to the first labor experience. I was WRECKED after Joanie’s birth. Hip pain (6 months limiting running) and pubic bone pain (over a year). I could barely walk for up to a week.  Immediately after delivering, I could walk around, like nothing had happened. 5 days postpartum I definitely don’t feel like I’m up for running, but doing functional strength exercises and walking I am having no problems! The hardest challenge now has not been my recovery, but baby Paula’s digestive system. Long story short, she has been constantly struggling to digest after every single meal, so its been a long long 3 days since my milk supply has changed and she has been coping to handle it. Any time she is not in an upright/pressed against you position within 3 hours of eating (even then) it is almost guaranteed cramping and crying. Prayers definitely appreciated as it has been painful to watch her struggle. I’ve been looking at diet, and so far going on day 2 of no dairy, no beans (including soy), limited acidic foods, and definitely nothing spicy. The sacrifice of that feels like nothing compared to hearing her cry. On to round 2 of parenting.. wish us luck!

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Stay As Long As You Can


Big time life changing status is about to happen. We are ~11 weeks away from adding another life form into the family. Sleep as I now know it will abruptly end and a cuteness/instinctual factor will take over my heart and power me through the long nights and tiring days. My admittedly selfish habits will have to take a back seat to being mom to 2, notably one who cannot even hold its own head up and likely cause me a very sore arm. I also will admit, I’m not really ready.

I never thought I’d say this, but in round 2 I am honestly semi- enjoying the fact that pregnancy takes so dang long. Had I been on the injury/non-running status like last pregnancy, my feelings would likely change, but with being able to enjoy some quality workouts and runs at least 3 times a week up until now (granted at far less than I’d ideally like), helps my balloon belly situation tremendously.


What I’m most afraid of isn’t coming back into shape or getting back into running after pregnancy, but how I will handle being a mom of a newborn once again. I know my priorities will completely shift and regardless of my drive and desire to train, compete, or be a force in the workplace, I will get pulled hard by mother nature in putting all my priorities into this new baby and my current 3 year old Joanie. (Which obviously and rightfully should happen!) That does not mean, however, that I will become a slave to being mom and have to pull all the weight. I fully intend to continue to do what I do, with the big time support of my husband Alan.

First pregnancy, you have no idea what to expect with a newborn, regardless of how much self-educating and research you do; and assume that you will somehow figure it out and “learn as you go”. My mom always said, “God only gives you what you can handle.” I guess those statements are true, but it is a swift butt whooping and at some points extremely painful process as it is happening. If first time pregnant moms could experience some of that pain, they might cherish their quiet, feeling fat and awkward time to a much greater degree. Overall message: being a new parent can be ROUGH.

What I’ve found is that I typically “figured out” Joanie just as she was finishing that stage and moving on to the next challenging unknown parental territory. Hopefully this is where “your second kid is always easier” statement comes in.. but then again I’ve also heard 2 is twice as hard. So who’s right?29weeks

There’s a reason why being pregnant is so unfair to your body. You lose most control, in a parallel way of how you’ll lose control of your life once baby enters. As awesome it is to create more life and have a family, you take on a massive responsibility that limits so much of the freedom you once had. I definitely have jealousy moments of my former self or my friends who don’t have this addition yet to their relationships or lifestyle. But I am also thankful about the fact I that I am able to accomplish so much more and multitask at an astronomical rate compared to my former self. I really feel I under performed in many categories, first as an athlete and mostly with my career. Before kids, I remember being bored. Since June 27, 2012, I have yet to have a single moment in a day really that I have experienced that feeling. I never have enough hours in a day, and each week flies by.. including while being pregnant, which seems crazy to me (thinking back to how slowly the first one dragged on).

So with baby number 2 making an entrance soon, maybe I need to readjust my attitude (a likely reason of why I’m writing this blog- to refresh my memory and get my mom mojo back up to par). I need to drop the fear that my second time around parenting won’t match up to baby’s needs. I WILL use all this real time experience and knowledge from recent baby #1 that can help eliminate some of the struggles I experienced from Joanie. While my first pregnancy was mentally tough to sit out from running and dealing with chronic throbbing hip pain day and night, it almost may not have compared to the mental and physical exhaustion I endured during Joanie’s 3-7 month age span.
Beyond that with Joanie, the past 2 years I have been semi spoiled. She still naps. I repeat. She still naps. Long and hard. She loves to sleep and rarely disputes bedtime (I promise you this was FAR FROM THE CASE her first year). Enter nanny Jan (please email me if you’d like her contact, as she works with families from afar). Beyond that I definitely do not have a perfect kid, but her toddler fits and fights are much easier to cope with when I am able to get consistent breaks and regular uninterrupted sleep.joanie3

Cute until she starts screaming (for demo click here and scroll to :45 sec in Dumb and Dumber annoying sound clip; “Bum and Bummer” according to Joanie)

Now I am nervous that with sleep taken away, even at best case scenario=a normal perfectly adjusted to the world infant who needs to eat every 3 hours round the clock; I will struggle to fit it all in. Next week I will find out if I am starting to take on new work (in the interview process), with the additional intent to put in quality training towards my 2016 run goals. My drive and desire to run my personal bests has not waned; and I will admit at this point some of these goals are lofty, as I am being optimistic. However, I am fully ready to adapt these goals if need be.  I do know, there will definitely be setbacks, less than ideal conditions to recover appropriately, and an even greater crunch to my free time, but I am vowing to approach my training intelligently. With all that I have on my plate, I have to prioritize the respect of my constraints and adapt. It is unrealistic to believe I can train like a professional athlete. I am going to train like the best me. For example: this will never equal 80-100 mile weeks; a better number to expect if I’m lucky will be the 40-50s.


No matter what happens; return to the top of my game running or not, I am going to go in with a grateful attitude of enjoying the process of the training/racing that I can do, and make the most of it. I run because I love to do so, not out there to prove the world that I am the next great athlete. The only way I know how to run, is pushing myself hard, so why not race with the intent to get the best out of myself and enjoy it along the way.

Potential 2016 Goals (thru July): listed in order of greatest to least focus

I somehow get it done; training/recovering and balancing family/work
B GOALS (if healthy enough to compete) Inadequate training due to time constraints/setbacks greater than foreseen; not going to cry about it!
Compete at steeplechase Olympic Trials; qualify for final; race my brains out Watch Olympic Trials, kick back, enjoy and cheer loudly for friends
Qualify for Olympic Trials (Portland Track Festival or late spring event) ~ sub 9:50 (pr is 9:55 – 11 months postpartum) Portland Track Festival-(if coach who is race director lets me in) steeplechase; season best (whatever that may be)
Outdoor- Oregon Relays, Oregon Twilight, Willamette Invite… find local races to compete at steeple (sub 10:20 opener) and go after 1500m/5000m PRs (4:31/16:49) Enter local Oregon track meets to run steeplechase; have fun; hopefully break 10:30; enjoyingly embarrass myself in the 1500 or 5000m
Spartan Sprint – late winter (Phoenix?)- get on podium (or win); do no more than 30 burpees (1 failed obstacle; vs the 5 I failed my first/only attempt which led to 4th place finish) Get over the 3 massive walls with authority. Smile as I’m doing burpees after blowing the crazy swinging monkey bar apparatus, still get in top 5. Compete fearlessly knowing I won’t have to worry about landing on baby (2015 race 7 weeks pregnant)
Reclaim Stroller 10K record with new baby (37:29 by Maggie Yount)- 6:01/mile pace (my first/only attempt was 38:15 – 6:15 mile pace)–find race in early spring Run it anyways sucking wind and see if I can beat my previous time; maybe I won’t even come close but try to stroller-chick as many “legit” looking male runners are possible.
Club XC Nationals in San Francisco- top 50-75 finish; (race is mid December; only 6 weeks after I resumed training if my body is ready to begin running 6 weeks postpartum) Die hard going up any hills (thankfully not at altitude – Bend race is in Feb!), finish last lap of course in what looks like me running in slow motion, get muddy and enjoy the weekend off baby duty with the team!


Summary on Pregnancy #2
-Enjoying my summer despite body being taken over (up 17 lbs at 29 weeks; vs up 30 lbs at 29 weeks** first pregnancy) and greatly limited run training (but HEY I am still running; no need to remind me of what a gift that is in any shape/form)

-Running very limited mileage 3 days a week and most at a brisk pace to alleviate pelvic discomfort by getting more from my glutes/hamstrings/calves; definitely includes walk/stretch breaks (2 miles without stopping is my current record the last 6 weeks).

-Still jumping in low key run races (but unfortunately no steeplechase or obstacle races 😉)

-Supplementing my training with swimming, biking, and weights; intent to start doing more yoga

-Far less indigestion than previous pregnancy this late into game (but I could be eating my words; it got really bad last 10 weeks with Joanie- to the point I was only able to comfortably sleep sitting up .. that will be here very soon); no huge physical complaints beyond hip status when running

-Feeling less “fat” in round 2 and more appreciation for my body’s ability to take on another pregnancy; with the relief of knowing how easy it was to bounce back to pre-pregnancy fitness and size

-Vow to get my attitude in check for taking on a newborn and start getting excited to meet girl #2

**weight note- I did however end up gaining only a total of 30 lbs; I am on track to be the same at baby’s due date. Just doing so in a more gradual appropriate manner.

So there you have it…  follow me on Instagram to see my weekly ability to run progress, current workouts, baby belly updates, Alan’s post injury status and more!!


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Need for Speed

I’m happy to report that 19 weeks into a ~41 week pregnancy I am still happily running strong. I’ve hit up a lot of local races, with some mediocre times but all walking away satisfied with the effort brought forth. The limiting factor in overall speed in my longer 15-20K endeavors definitely had to be the overly hot Phoenix sun factor. 2 of my long races, I ended up walking at certain points, and felt my energy start to fade as I began to feel overheated past the midway points. The water stop soaking helped for some, but kept me at a 6:20-40 average on these hilly courses.

FlagstaffJoanie Now that I’m closing in on the halfway point, where my baby’s size has literally doubled in the last month alone and the temperatures continue to increase, I am getting away from longer stuff and zeroing in on the track. After 4 months of being track-less, I finally found an incredible facility at Scottsdale Community College. Well worth the 25 minute drive and close to some sweet coffee/breakfast shops.

About weeks 14-16 I was experiencing flashback to 2012 run-pregnancy feelings in my hips as my ability to fit in my jeans went out the window. I then went to purchase a support belt and since have backed off on running only 3-4 times a week (I swim, jump rope, elliptical and bike other days). I now rarely have pubic bone and other hip discomfort as I believe I’m getting used to my new body. I can still tell that with my body’s changes, I am running different with my center of gravity off, ineffective lower abs and added weight (up 9 pounds which may not seem impressive, but to me definitely noticeably heavy). To be safe I’m still sticking to running no more than 2 days in a row. I can definitely live with that.


16 weeks pregnant and racing 5000m on the track (18:20)

 The one thing I haven’t dropped is the speed work sessions. I find that I enjoy these much more than a straight up run. I usually don’t have a workout really planned out until I am brainstorming on the car ride to the track. Most of the time it involves 400s because I honestly am cutting myself some slack training solo and pregnant;  and one lap at a time sounds the most fun. I feel I can go pretty hard and feel great knowing I can stop in less than 90 seconds to take all the recovery I need before I gear up for another.

Solo mile repeats on a hot track sound miserable right now, so I use my stroller running days to do “longer” hard efforts. The perk there is spending time with Joanie and always having a water/electrolyte source available right at my finger tips while not having the pressure to try to match my pre-pregnant times. These stroller runs, I mix it up, but a typical one may be – picking it up a mile (~6:45 pace) then jog a quarter- half mile and repeat for up to as long as I feel necessary for a good run (as long of course as Joanie is willing to participate). Joanie seems to enjoy this more and is always saying “faster Mommy, can we go really fast again?” She’s becoming more like a run partner as well with interesting conversations and tons of songs. The dirt surface slows us down some as well, so anything sub 7 feels like I’m hauling.

The quicker workouts have been helpful in recruiting more of my calves/hamstrings and less reliant on my tendency to overstride and overuse my hip flexors. My energy continues to be stable at an all time high (beyond levels outside of pregnancy) with a noticeable ability to quickly recover. I would have to say that sadly I feel better running pregnant than often I do when I’m just in a normal state training hard. The limited mileage no doubt helps, and lack of truly intense all out efforts as well. My blood test a few months ago revealed that my ferritin levels were at an all time high. I am so proud of the changes I’ve made in my diet after having a turn around point discovering InsideTracker last fall and this also has been a helping factor in the turn around in my energy. These are all reasons I have continued to put so much emphasis on running quality efforts through the pregnancy. I don’t even have any run related race goals until 2016, yet it is not a question whether or not I want to continue to push it on runs 2-3x/week.


I have some dreams for when I return to competition in 2016, but know its a long road and will be much more challenging with my ultimate focus being on taking care of new baby and supporting my current family.

Immediate goal coming up in less than 5 months = healthy baby via natural birth, no drugs with a bring it-on pain attitude

If it’s anything like my experience with Joanie, birth #2 will likely will be incredibly tough making my little interval sessions I’ve been doing a complete joke. I actually don’t want the easy “almost had the baby in the car” labor. I know I will call upon the experience every time I start getting doubts when the lung burning sets in during my workouts and races- allowing me to push through to a greater degree I believed is possible. My last birth (Blog here) was something I never could have anticipated doing or completing. Yet without choice julia_webband with my husband’s support, I survived and it made me so much stronger. It took more than a year to even consider “if I could do it again” just based on the labor intensity factor. Yet I was completely thankful I got through it because I emerged with a new appreciation for what true pain is (and from that point on never got worked up about “can I handle” the upcoming interval session or race). I had break thrus not only in performances but also in my pre and mid-race mindset . So yes, with a good long final trimester of likely being half as active (or less) as I would like, I will hopefully be mentally and physically ready to test my limits through the event of giving birth.

In 2 weeks we will be back in Oregon and I plan to finally reunite with my teammates on runs and “workouts” (this may be keeping up with them for a 400 of their miles, etc). I may find one day I just can’t do what I did this week and am mentally prepared for the day my body says, “stop and stick to the pool”. Either way, I am embracing the present, enjoying the blood boosting benefits, extra sleep and testing my abilities of the 1 lapper one workout at a time!


I’ve been posting much more detailed workouts and race reports on my Instagram (yes I admitted I have been bragging because I am as shocked that I’m still able to do ANY that resemble the former non-pregnant running me)- so if there’s any interest in further details, check there to see my progression through this pregnancy.  

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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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