Race Day!

I am happy to report that Rowan and I had a very successful race day on Saturday! I had several concerns going into the race, from nagging aches and pains on my part to questions regarding how Row would do. Gratefully, things were smooth sailing. No pain or injuries, and Row loved it!

We woke up quite early to get ready for the race, and as expected, it was raining outside. I wondered how Row would do, especially if I couldn’t keep him dry. Gratefully, the stroller worked really well keeping the water out, and I wrapped Rowan’s lower body in a soft blanket and a garbage bag. Both stayed on him throughout the race, and he stayed warm and dry. We made it to the Fargodome about 30min. prior to race time, I gave Rowan a big bottle, and we lined up in the rain.

Shortly after the start, Rowan’s big bottle kicked in and he fell asleep, as he so often does in the stroller. He slept for the first 5 or 6 miles I suppose, despite the many sounds along the race route. I kept a pretty easy pace (maybe too easy, in retrospect) during the first half of the race. The crowds were fantastic–one of the reasons I love running races in Fargo. I started increasing my pace as Rowan woke up. As we ran past the noisy crowds and live bands, Rowan would let out loud, enthusiastic laughs and sounds–he’s such a social butterfly! We kind of fed off of each other’s energy, I think, talking back and forth. That’s one of the things I love most about running with my kids–time to talk with one another.

As the race neared an end, I felt great, and increased my pace alongside Rowan’s increase in enthusiasm and interaction. We finished the half marathon in 1:43, just under our 1:45 goal. Even at the end of the race, Rowan was so happy. It was such a wonderful day we spent together. We celebrated with Erin, Lily, as well as Erin’s sister, Tessa and her wife Ashleigh (who also ran the half marathon). What a wonderful day.

I was so glad we did this race together, and I suspect there are more races in our immediate future.

Just a week left…

This is, without a doubt, the least prepared I’ve been for a race. Race day is just over a week away and I’m doing a lot of finger crossing. I’m healthy, injury-free, and in surprisingly good condition, so I’m not terribly worried about finishing in a reasonable (for me) time. I just haven’t done enough training with the stroller, with Rowan. He loves going for runs, but will he be in a good mood on Saturday? Will the weather be kind? Will he get sick if it’s cold and rainy? He’s already got a bit of a cough, and I’d hate for him to get sick.

It’s strange, worrying about a race. I’ve been nervous before, about getting a PR or something. But running has never been a social affair for me, so I’m feeling out of control just a bit. Then again, it’ll work out, I’m sure of it.

I hope he loves it. Since it finally reached spring-like weather, Rowan has absolutely loved to be outside. He’s a lot like me in that way (and lots of other ways as well)–he needs sunshine, fresh air. He is also a hopeless extrovert like his dad. He loves being around people, he loves gatherings and parties. So I think he’ll get a kick out of the race–lots of air, lots of people and noises and sights.

That’s it for now, the last week will involve some more stroller runs, keeping Rowan healthy and happy, and gearing up for the big day!

Our first real training run!

Well, spring has finally sprung, so to speak. What a relief.

Saturday was quite warm, in the low 70s, and most of the snow had melted, so I was finally able to take Rowan out for a long run in the stroller. It was quite windy, and I wasn’t sure how he’d like that, but we went out anyway.

 

It turned out that the wind was much more of a problem for me than it was for Rowan. Not only did it not bother him much, but he did a lot of laughing when the wind gusted. It was really fun to see Rowan so calm and happy. I originally planned to take him on a 5 mile run, about half of my 10 miler, but he did so well that we did the whole run together. He didn’t complain once. What a trooper!

We got home and he was still happy, calm, and comfortable. The new jogging stroller worked perfectly, and Row seemed really comfortable. All in all, a success!!!

Post-run

Even better news, I seem to be relatively free of injury, aches, and pains. Frankly, I attribute this to escaping the treadmill. Treadmills seem to cause problems for me for some reason. Anyway, it was a nice long run this weekend, and even though I will be far from the racing condition I’d like, the race should be pretty manageable, and most of all, a fun experience to share with Rowan. I’m really looking forward to it.

Check Engine Lights + The Love of Rowing

I wish I had more to report lately. For some reason, I’ve kind of been in a perpetual state of injury. They’ve all been minor, and probably due to a familiar issue for me, overtraining. The difference lately, though, is that I’m finding ways to deal with injury other than complete rest and running injured. Enter the rowing machine.

I found the rowing machines at my gym, and decided it might be a good way to get cardio + core strength building while staying off of my feet. My issues, by the way, have ranged from a sore ankle to IT band discomfort, so at times, biking wasn’t helpful. As it turns out, rowing is a fantastic and challenging cross training activity–I’ve continued it once a week and think it’s having a positive impact.

We’re still waiting for spring in Fargo, which means I haven’t logged significant outdoor miles, let alone training with the stroller. It’s supposed to reach the mid-60s this weekend, so I plan to take Rowan out for an 11 miler. Fingers crossed!

 

Updates: New Wheels, Melting Snow, and Expectations

With only 5 weeks remaining until the race, snow is finally beginning to melt in Fargo, yielding more outside running. I cannot describe how much that helps, especially considering that I have done no real training with the stroller. Much of my running has been on the treadmill, and I find a way to get into trouble on treadmills. The latest trouble was a strained calf from doing speedwork, and kept me out of my running shoes for a week. Anyway, I expect to be out with the new stroller soon, and I’m excited for it.

Speaking of the new stroller, we did get a new jogging stroller at Scheels in Fargo–the Babyjogger City Elite. Though it lacks some features that comprise a “serious” running stroller (according to its website and a few forums I found), it is a really nice stroller: it runs really straight and smooth, has lots of nice features, and is quite portable. I’ll give a more complete review once I do a few runs with it, but so far, so good.

In terms of training, I am feeling fine. Just fine. I am far from in top condition due to some injuries in the last two months, as well as just not having the kind of time serious racing requires. Between my work (getting busier as I approach the last year of my Ph.D. studies) and the kids (Rowan recently had surgery), it’s really difficult to log serious miles. I’m finding myself having to be less competitive than usual, looking to this race not as a means to PR or to reach some goal, instead looking to have fun and experience it with my family and friends, especially Rowan. This is pretty strange for me, but maybe it’s healthy.

My long runs are about 10 miles, and I’m doing two other runs per week, both pretty hard tempo runs. Off days consist of core exercises, primarily.

I’m hopeful that this week will be free of aches and pains, and that I can log some meaningful miles outside with the stroller.

Surgery for Rowan

I took Rowan to Gillette Children’s Hospital for surgery this week. He had a Vagal Nerve Stimulator implanted in his chest in hopes it will help lower his seizures and we can also lower his medications.

He is doing well and his home. We will turn on the device in a few weeks once he is all healed up.

I took his new jogging stroller with to the hospital. It was the first time I’d used it with him. I really wanted to see how it worked and to make sure he started to get used to being in it. When he’d get fussy in his room, I’d put him in it and we would walk around the building. Once moving, he’d turn into zen-baby and I was so glad for him.

Here’s our boy on a wee bit of morphine…

 

Goals, Strollers, and Ankles

Seven weeks to go!

Despite a persistently sore ankle (from a bad sprain last spring), training is going well. In fact, I feel ahead of schedule in terms of miles and speedwork. As I’ve been preparing for the race, I’ve tried to set a goal pace/time. This has been difficult, though, because of the variables. Will Rowan be in a good mood, or will I have to stop? How significantly will the stroller affect my pace? I only have limited experience with stroller running with Rowan; last summer we’d do short (3-4 miles) runs in the afternoon and he loved it. Plus, I found that my pace wasn’t significantly slower. I’ve read elsewhere that you can count on a 10-15% slower pace, and that rings true with experience. How will stroller running be when in a relatively crowded race? Should I start slow (as I usually do in races), or should I start with a faster mile or two to get out of the traffic and avoid a race full of passing other runners?

As you can tell, I have more questions than answers.

I think I’ve decided on a new running stroller, at least. I visited Scheels yesterday and looked at the Baby Jogger City Elite. It seems really well-constructed and sturdy. I’ve previously used a jogger from Target, and while it worked well for a summer, it quickly lost its ability to go straight down the path. Anyway, I’m anxious for warmer weather so I can get started training with the jogger and Rowan.

In terms of a goal, I’m not sure how aggressive to be. My previous time for a 1/2 marathon in Fargo is 1:27 or so, which was about a 6:44 pace. I’m thinking more conservatively for this race, obviously, due to so many unknowns. Tentatively, I think I am aiming for about 1:45, or just under 8:00/mile. We’ll see, though…

I already miss New Orleans (we visited last week), if for no other reason than outdoor running. I’ve been outside in Fargo a few times, but all the snow and ice makes my fragile ankle really nervous. So, I’ve been logging miles on the treadmill, for better or worse. Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll check in after a few more days–thanks for reading!

Steven

Meet Rowan

From Erin:

I guess I haven’t yet introduced you to our Rowan, have I?

Well, here he is. 

 

 

Rowan Reginald is now just over two years old. We learned when he was 9 months old his brain hadn’t developed normally. He has what’s called DCX X linked Lissencephaly. The ‘X-liked’ part of the long name means that, unbeknownst to me, I am a carrier of the Lissencephaly gene.

I’ve had small seizures since I was in my early twenties. They have never really bothered me, but discovering his diagnosis put the puzzle pieces together, so to speak. Each child I have has a 50% chance of being affected. If my children aren’t affected, they could be carriers of the gene. Boys are more affected as they only have one X chromosome to get from the mother, which is damaged. Lily, our daughter is doing very well. We don’t know yet if she is a carrier, but she currently does not have any seizures and doesn’t seem to be affected.

I digress, though…

This is how Rowan looked on the day I took him to the walk-in and they took us right over to the hospital. He was having seizures and had disappeared. I thought perhaps he had autism or a tumor.

We had an MRI that evening and learned the following day he had Lissencephaly.

Here is Rowan a couple of weeks later in the PICU. We were trying to get his seizures under control. At this point he was having three every ten seconds. In this photo, he was pretty sedated.

 

And here is a video of Rowan from a while back. We were so very proud of him this day.

 

 

And finally one of him and his big sister, Lily. Lily knows Rowan has ‘boo boos on his brain’ and that he needs extra help and love. She’s a typical big sister in that she gets jealous and can be impatient, but she is also learning empathy and is very sweet to her brother. My hope is that they have a wonderful bond as they age.

I want to write more about our sweet boy, but I’ve run out of time.  Thanks a lot for reading and for taking the time to get to know Rowan.

He’ll change your heart.

 

Post-vacation thoughts

From Erin: I think I may be more excited for Steve to do this run with Rowan than he is. Of course, I am not a runner and will not have to do any of the training, so this half marathon will be a breeze for me! Steve’s been a runner since he was in high school. When we began dating, he wasn’t running. He denies it to this day, but he was pretty scrawny and wasn’t nearly as muscular as he is now. Anyway, one afternoon he said he wanted to go for a run. He came back energized having run eight miles. Who does that? He’s been running off and on since.

Most of Steve’s training this year has been indoor running for obvious reasons. I’m excited for the spring to come so he can get outside and so we can see what Rowan will think of the jogging stroller and of the whole process. We haven’t even selected a stroller yet, in fact. I received word a few days ago that the Fargo Marathon along with Sheels will provide us with a functional jogger for Rowan that will give him the support he needs to be comfortable. How generous. We thank them both very much. I’m curious to see how he will feel in it and whether he’ll enjoy being outside in the spring and summer as much as we do. I’ll be sure to post photos as soon as we select one.

Because of Rowan’s Lissencephaly, he hasn’t gotten out much. We’ve only recently gotten a wheelchair specially fitted to him. It is sitting in our closet. With so much snow outside, it doesn’t make much sense to put him in it on his short trips to the car. Instead, we’ve been lugging him here and there- but most of his life has been spent at home or at his caregiver, Janet’s, house. I don’t even think I’ve really thought about that- and it makes me terribly sad. He cannot get too hot in the summer- he isn’t as able to regulate his temperature as we are. He cannot play out in the snow, so there goes any fresh air in the wintertime. I think what I want most for him in the next couple of months is for him to feel what it’s like to go fast. I want him to feel the warm air on his face and to see as much as he can see the flickers of sunlight through the green leaves. I want him to hear birds chirp and kids play and to have a little while each day when he is as close to a typical kid as possible.

I’m not sure if he’s aware that he isn’t typical. What I do know is that he is trapped in a growing body with very weak muscles, poor vision, and a brain that isn’t capable of keeping up. He cannot sit, he often times cannot hold his own head up, he has Cortical Visual Impairment, so only he knows what he can and cannot see. He cannot eat normal foods, he cannot hold his own bottle, he cannot talk. The list of cannots goes on and on. This run, though, is something he can do- with his dad’s help. He can get out and feel the crispness of spring, the heat of summer, the constant North Dakota winds.

This will be good for him. It will probably be better for me, though. Steve and I are in the Denver airport right now waiting for our flight home to Fargo. We got married a few days ago right outside of Jackson Square and have spent the last 5 days eating everything in sight.

I went for a couple of walks and Steve a couple of runs. I think we’re both sitting here feeling pretty darned chubby. He’ll get out running again and will be back to normal in no time. I, on the other hand, need to get to work, too. I’m terribly out of shape and constantly have backaches and issues with all of the muscles I use to care for Rowan. I need to take much better care of myself physically.

So here’s my plan, folks: I’m starting yoga and walking when we get home. That way the boys won’t be the only ones getting exercise. Who knows, maybe I’ll get Lily in on some yoga with me. I bet she’ll really like that! I’ll keep you all in the loop.