• Shooting for 2016!

    This Blog will follow me as I try to become a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. The 2016 Trials "B" standard is sub 2:43 for women - let's get after it!

  • The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

    The best experience, EVER. Go Team Nichole!

  • Thank you!

    I can't thank Jerry enough for believing in me, and for my generous sponsors Brooks, Generation UCAN, Nutrilite, Anytime Fitness, Feetures!, Seven Sundays Muesli, Massage Geek, and Stunt Puppy!

  • Dare to dream

    ...and dare to fail

  • Stay in Contact!

    If you've seen me speak, we've connected at a race, or you just read this blog, feel free to reach out and stay in contact with me. I value my running connections and the personal stories behind them more than you know! Plus, comments here have really helped with my personal journey - so keep 'em coming!

My first week and a half as a mom!

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The last week and a half have come and gone with the blink of an eye. I can't believe it!

Especially since I spend most of my day 1) feeding Greta, 2) sleeping when she sleeps (key!), 3) pumping, 4) spending time with the numerous visitors, 5) burping Greta and changing diapers 6) and just staring at her beautiful face :) Where does the time go?

Oh... and I've started walking for my "workouts"!


Just cuz she's cute :)
First, Baby news! Greta is a pretty easy baby. We are so lucky! Most nights she will sleep 3-4 hours in a stretch and then start "talking" to let us know she wants to be fed. She doesn't cry very often, which I know will change all too soon :). There have been a couple of nights where feeding has been as frequent as every 1-1.5 hours, which has been tougher, but I consider us VERY lucky to have such an easy baby!


Our first walk!
She went to her first doctor's appointment the Tuesday after she was born (at 6 days old) and weighed in at 5 pounds, 13 ounces -- 1 ounce above her birth weight. They usually don't expect babies to be at their birth weight until 2 weeks old, so she's well ahead of schedule! Go, Greta!!


Before our first doc appointment!
Breastfeeding has been going great. I expected the worst based on the blogs and website information I read. Greta latches well, feeds great, and it's only hurt a few times - until the nurses at the hospital watched me feed several times and gave great advice. Since then, smooth sailing!

I've already started pumping. There are conflicting opinions on this: 1) wait until 4 weeks to pump so your body will produce to your baby's needs and not any more than needed or 2) pump earlier than that in case anything happens to your milk supply.

I've opted for #2. I don't expect anything to happen, but there's a definite chance that I won't be able to produce as well if I'm training harder so would rather have a back-up supply just in case. If I don't need it, great, I'm hopeful I could find a new mom that could use the supply!


Before our first longer walk!
I've had a ton of help the last week. Both Grandma's came to help at home while I recovered from surgery and adjusted to motherhood. The highlights were:


Making sweet potato baby food with Nate's mom. I hope to make as much of Greta's baby food as possible, and it was nice to see how easy it could be!
Now I'm holding Greta close in a K'Tan wrap while Nate creates order in Greta's closet. Although we sort of had it organized it before she was born, we quickly realized sizes between brands are NOT nearly the same -- plus the new "girly" stuff we've been gifted had just been added to drawers haphazardly.


YAY to organization!

Good thing both Nathan and I are a little OCD when it comes to organization! It'll make dressing her a lot easier.

Plus, what's more fun than dressing a newborn girl in fun clothes?!? :)

Second: Workout update!

I've been very careful to follow doctor's orders. I've started with short walks in the hospital, then increased my time/distance every day once I felt like it was safe to do so. It has felt great. It helps that the fall weather in MN has been awesome!

Mon 10/20 (Greta is 5 days old): 10 minutes up and down our street

Tues 10/21: off

Wed 10/22: 31 minutes to the park (2 loops) and back, 1.5 miles. Mesa loved this walk since Nate brought her favorite fetch toy and just threw it continuously while at the park. 


YAY, family time!

Thur 10/23: 45 minutes, 2 miles. With the MIL.

Fri 10/24: 53 minutes, 2.5 miles with the whole "family" again. I look forward to our walks!

Sat 10/25: 67 minutes, 3 miles. Nate and I drove to downtown to show Greta to Tom at Fit to Be Tri'd and then walk from there. It was a nice change of scenery - we walked a little in the arb (off-roading it!), through the Carleton campus, and through downtown Northfield. 

I *may* have jogged a couple of steps the last .25 miles. :) It felt great, even though it wasn't much faster than my walking pace. Note to self: I need to purchase a couple of larger bras to train in. 

From the first day we were out, I've been super motivated to get out everyday. I welcome that change, as the week before I delivered I told Nate and Craig that I didn't know what my mental state would be after baby. Running 6 minute miles, back to back for 26.2, seemed impossible (still does), and honestly, I just wasn't motivated to push as hard as I had before.

Now that Greta is here, I've found a renewed focus and dedication. I want to show her that mom can do it. I want to bring her to the start line at the '16 Trials. For '12, I wanted to prove to myself and those around me that I was a better runner than what I had shown in college. Now, I want to prove that to Greta :).


I love this picture. I'm burping her after feeding, and she is totally content :). Plus, I'm starting to look like myself after losing the crazy water-weight that the hospital pumped me full of!
I'll go in on Wednesday next week to get my incision checked and hopefully be cleared to do a little ellipticaling and potentially walk/running. I am so hopeful!! 


More snuggles. I am in love!!
Until next time, Run HAPPY!
~Nichole










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Meet Greta Margaret!

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I am so in love

People told me that your definition of love changes when you have a child, but until I held her perfect little self in my arms for the first time, watching her every facial expression and pouring over every detail about her, I didn't really know what they meant.

I do now. 

I teared up when I held her. I still do every so often. She is so perfect. She is, far and away, the best thing that I have ever done or accomplished. 

A few fun pictures:

The morning of the C-section. You can tell it's early and we're both tired
At the hospital. One last check of baby to see if she is still breech. Yup! So off to the OR I go!
And... it's a GIRL!!
Getting weighed. 5 pounds, 12 ounces! For some reason when I see this picture, I see Wallace Shawn.
Nate says maybe Wallace Shawn just looks like a giant man-baby. Inconceivable!
Getting measured. 18.5 inches long, head circumference 13.5 inches.
Happy and healthy! For not even weighing 6 pounds, she still has a very healthy looking double chin and plump belly. Go, Greta!
We've been so lucky to have so many visitors at the hospital. Here are Aunt Jessica (left) and Aunt Kristin (right), Nate's sisters
With Grandma Colleen!
With Great Grandma Ann. Love her expression!

My aunt and uncle. I like this picture because Greta's sort of smiling in it :)

And of course, a visit from a COW!!!! This was awesome. The cow suits come out for "A" races, and she was definitely my "A" race for the year!
Changing my first diaper
The first of very, very many
video

She has been such an easy and happy baby! She rarely cries (unless you're changing a diaper or bathing her - that's COLD!), and instead coo's contently most of the day. This is in stark contrast to the baby boy next door, who is constantly crying or screaming. I know there are plenty of those days coming, but in the mean time I'm loving the fact she has been such a great baby!

Daddy's girl!
I am so happy to be able to raise her with Nate, and cannot wait for the adventures to come!


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One last day...

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The hospital bags are packed, I'm working on a few last minute household chores and to-do list items... I have butterflies in my stomach much like I'm going to a huge race and am really nervous... 
but...

I am so ready! I can't wait to meet baby!

Just for fun, here are a few pictures from the pregnancy with links to the weekly recaps.

14 weeks. That seems so long ago! I'm surprised at how little the bump was at that point - mostly because of how big it is now :)
At this point I was over the hump of the first trimester so started back with some harder workouts and ran the GAC Alumni mile track race: 6:39

22 weeks

26 weeks - a 24:30 5k, one of the best "warm-ups" I've done for a race (which will be a fun story to tell baby when it's older!), 

33 weeks - my own version of Ab Ripper X and the Gustavus Alumni 5k!
36 weeks - and unsuccessful attempt to flip baby (version) and the final pre-baby to-do lists!
And now... 39 weeks!! I went for one last 5k run over noon today (Tuesday). It's been nice to be able to be able to run throughout this entire pregnancy!
And again! I've also been lucky to never feel "uncomfortable". I've heard a lot of women at this stage just want to baby to be OUT (there's no more room!), but I haven't had that feeling yet. YES, I can't wait for the heartburn and nausea to stop, but I really do consider myself lucky to have been fairly comfortable throughout!
The C-section is scheduled for early morning tomorrow (Wednesday 10/15). I'm not sure when I'll get around to posting here, but if you follow me on Twitter or are FB friends with me, you'll know very soon after baby arrives.

Here's hoping for an uneventful C-section, a healthy and happy baby, and the start of loving our little family! XXXOOO

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Pregnancy week 38, Body Image Comments, and To-Do List Progress!

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Perhaps one of my more random blog posts... maybe random = mildly entertaining/worth your time... or maybe random = complete waste of your time and my corner of the internet. Guess you'll have to read to decide.

At my 38 week appointment this week the doctor took a look at baby to see if it had flipped. It hadn't. Bummer.

OH MY
She also looked at it more closely, taking measurements of baby's head, abdomen, and femur to make sure it's been growing the way it should. The doctor was a little concerned because I've lost a little weight over the last 4 weeks and I'm supposed to be gaining a pound a week at this point (since baby is supposed to be gaining 1/2 pound a week). Turns out nightly vomiting is not an effective weight gain strategy...

The good news is that baby looked great! Per the ultrasound machine, baby is right around 5 pounds, 6 ounces so should be a healthy 6 pounder when it meets the world next week. The other fun thing was to see a ton of HAIR.

Not our picture, but this was pretty representative of what I saw, except that the hair was a little longer and up and down the whole head.  How fun! Obviously, this kid inherited MY hair genes, not Nate's :)
Speaking of weight: so far I've gained about 19 pounds. I'd actually love for that number to be higher, but haven't been able to keep down a lot of evening meals. I'm not as strong or fit either, so perhaps the actual weight gain is more (losing muscle, replaced with fat/fluid/etc).

The #s don't matter, I explain that only to put context to my first somewhat-odd-weight-related comment at the grocery store yesterday. An old acquaintance came up to me, and the conversation went something like this:
...
Anonymous: I had heard you were pregnant! [Then a belly touch... Anonymous came from really far away and moved so quickly! It was like they couldn't help themselves but be drawn into my belly's gravitational pull. So awkward]
Me: Yep! Less than a week to go!
... some other chit-chat
A: How have you been feeling?
Me: Great! I've still been able to run, and have been fairly comfortable throughout!
A: That's good. I had to do a double-take when I first saw you! Since you're so short, you don't just gain around the middle, you gain everywhere!
...
Uhh, thanks? I walked away, but the comment stuck with me. I don't consider myself to be super self-conscious about body image, but with professional running, weight, body composition, and strength ARE important so I've always had an eye on myself.

With the pregnancy, I only freaked out once about the changes happening: expanding rib cage and hips, a chest that's a full cup size bigger, becoming softer all over in general, etc (blog post here). The rest of the pregnancy I've embraced the changes.

Perhaps I do look much different than I used to? I notice it sometimes, especially in my face (yay for going back to my old round-face-with-chubby-cheeks). Will I be able to earn my pre-pregnancy body back? If so, will it take a long time? I don't know why Anonymous' comment struck me like it did... because when I started to think about getting back in shape, asking myself the questions above, I immediately stopped myself. I could tell that I really DIDN'T care about how I looked now, and am actually proud of how much fitness I've been able to maintain. I'm excited for the slow road back to my old self. But, for some STUPID reason, that comment is just stuck in my brain.

There's really no point to this other than I felt the need to say something (body image is something that just isn't talked about!). So, thanks for listening :)
--

I'm working diligently on my to-do list! So far:

Car work: oil change and replace belt on Subaru, change insurance coverage, warranty claim on Subaru, program second key fob for Prius

Running/Sponsorships/Coaching: Work with Boom! Nutrition on team sponsorship, [Yep, that's right! The entire TNC crew has Boom!'s support!] Reapply for Nutrilite sponsorship [I should find out next week!], buy a new Garmin, 5 more athletes I need to work ahead on training plans for

I've been really thankful for their supplements throughout this pregnancy, since I KNOW that without them I would have been severely deficient!
Get stuff out of the garage (sell/donate): TV, TV stand, Teak Table, Sewing Machine, Garage Sale stuff crap that didn't sell
[Anyone need a TV stand or a sewing machine?]

Our old basement TV found a new home with my SIL - enjoy, Jess! Very happy to get it out of our garage, that thing was huge!
Baby stuff: get flu shot, call insurance to check on C-section coverage, submit a zillion receipts to FSA (UGGG), make cloth wipes, pin newborn pictures for my brother to try to take (he's offered to try to take newborn pictures!), dowel rod for Pack N Play, buy nice camera?

House stuff: Landscaping, Paint door (if time), finish home theater install, put up TV in workout room for when I'll be USING the workout room again!!!!!, cleaning basement

Flu shot at Walgreens! The Northfield hospital didn't have the vaccine in yet. How does this happen? Walgreens has been advertising flu shots for weeks (months?), and the Northfield HOSPITAL doesn't have them in yet?!????
Thanks to Amy and the Scenic Spaces crew, landscaping is done! Our house needed a little "curb appeal" work, and she was able to design and put in exactly that. She and her crew worked super quick, and I could NOT be happier with how things turned out!

Plus, it was just neat to hire one of my athletes for the job. Not only is she a crazy fast marathoner, but is super creative as well!

Before

Nate taking out the half-dead bushes, tree, and rock
After!!

Mesa is proud to show off her new curb-appeal enhanced home

Evergreens near the front of the home. I WISH I had a "before" picture. There were some sad looking plants in between the evergreens, and the entire thing was an overgrown, ugly weed patch. Now it looks so clean and professional! What a difference.

They took out the existing sidewalk and instead installed a curved paver path. The darker colors really help add interest to our otherwise all-beige exterior.

And last, to complete the random-ness of this post: FALL is here! Temps have cooled significantly and it gets really dark by 7:30. NOOOOOO!!!

 Nate and Mesa are suited up in reflective gear for their run tonight - it's that time of year!

I found this Brooks hat for Nate. Not only is it florescent yellow and has a lot of reflectivity all around the hat, but you can have the back of it light up! Very, very cool. I'm all about safety. Clearly, he's excited about it as well.
Alright, enough rambling from me! Have a great rest of the week!

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So excited: 1.5 weeks until baby, and thinking about training again!

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Now that I've accepted the upcoming C-section, I've gone between being super excited to meet baby and thinking that I should just continue to remain pregnant FOREVER. I can keep it in, right? Baby is safe in there, I know what it's eating/drinking, it's quiet, and well... life hasn't changed for us much since I became pregnant, other than having to clean out a puke bucket every night. Welcoming baby into the world can only mean chaos, sleeplessness, and constant challenges as it grows.

I warned Nate that the morning of the 15th (C-section date) that I'll likely try to convince him we should just stay home... that I could wait another week or two... or years...

He just smiled back at me. Perhaps it's because he is beyond tired of cleaning out my "bucket" (let's get this pregnancy over with!), or perhaps it's just because he is the most rational and calm person I know and doesn't have irrational mood swings/fears. I am lucky I can count on him to get me into the car in a week and a half, walk me slowly into the hospital, hold my hand and distract me while they put the IV and spinal block in (I am SO scared of the spinal injection... I'm not good with needles to begin with, much less one that's going into my spine... I'm almost in a cold sweat now as I write about it), and will be my voice of reason through the whole thing.



Looking more and more like I'm smuggling a basketball under my shirt wherever I go!
We'll then welcome baby P into the world together.

Again, on one hand I can't wait. I can't wait to meet him/her. I hope it is healthy and strong. I can't wait to see what baby looks like.

But on the other hand, I will cherish these last few days...

A belly shot. Sorry to blind you with my paleness. But, it's fun to see how much of an actual baby/basketball this little one is! 
---

On to less emotional things: today I was lucky enough to be on a panel for a Sport Performance Research Group on elite marathon training and racing. My coach is co-teaching the class, so not only was it a great opportunity to tell my story, but it was great to chat 1-1 with him.

First: the panel. I offered a very different perspective. Meghan Peyton was the other elite runner on the panel, and she has always had incredible running success: think 6x state champion, 8x D1 All-American, now a National Champion (she is so talented!). My story is one of just WANTING something crazy & doing all I could to get it. I don't know if I truly understood how crazy my dream was when I first started dreaming of it (1:24:xx 1/2 marathoner wanting to try for an OTQ... ummm, crazy) and how dedicated & in love with the dream I was.

I hope the class found my perspective interesting. If the # of questions after my presentation is representative of their interest level, then I think I'd call my presentation a success!

There were also a lot of pregnancy questions - they couldn't believe that I was there when I was due to deliver in a week and a half :).

The presentation also allowed me to touch base in person with Chris. The coach-athlete relationship is very important to me, and it's been harder than I thought to move from Jerry's coaching to Chris'. There's a lot that goes into this, but Jerry and I had something special... both blue-collar, in a way, both believing in something crazy... plus Jerry got to know me better than I knew myself through 3+ years of crazy email updates and ramblings :). Starting over with Chris was... well, different.

Plus, it didn't help that I became pregnant a few months after switching coaches :).

But, I digress. Seeing Chris in person and being able to talk about training schedules after delivery, potentially chasing Grandma's and a fall marathon next year, AHHHH! It got me so excited and solidified the fact that I'll fully trust in what he will write for me & follow it as blindly as I did with Jerry, believing in the impossible again.

I cannot wait. For baby (well...). To train and chase dreams again (well, once things heal...).

*Dream Big, Run Happy!*
~Nichole

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Pregnancy weeks 36-37

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So... the version done to flip baby didn't work :(. I had prepared myself to endure whatever the doctors wanted to put me though (marathon/training mental prep works for other things as well!), but with no avail. It was painful, I'll give it that, but not as bad as it could have been. I was pretty bruised for a while, and even running two days later hurt since the bruised/swollen area didn't like being jostled.

I have a scheduled C-section for the 15th of October, unless baby decides to turn on his/her own before then! The doctors will check at each of my appointments and also right before the C-section is performed.

At first, I was bummed. A tear or two quietly rolled down my cheeks in the hospital after the doctors had left and it was just Nate and I in the room. 

I had always pictured having a natural birth: having my water break, looking at Nate with "Can this be real?" eyes, feeling contractions, etc. Now instead I'd pack my bags the night before the 15th, and the morning of the 15th I'd be holding our little one by about 8 am. No suspense.

36 weeks
After a day or so of thinking about it, though, I am much more accepting of what will happen. First, there's nothing I can do about it, so I had better accept it! :) Second, it has been really nice to plan things out. Nate knows when he'll take off from work, my mom and mother-in-law have dates on their calendars when they'll come down to help with the baby/housework/cooking/etc. Nate has done a wonderful job in planning out everything for me - I asked him to - and I'm really thankful.

I am a little bummed that the recovery back to running will be a little slower with a C-section, but my doctors have been great. They've said that they think that 2 weeks out I'll be able to hop on an elliptical (well, probably more like "step slowly onto"), and that I can try run/walk workouts shortly thereafter. I am very hopeful...

So -- that's the plan! That means there are just 2 weeks until baby arrives. That just doesn't seem right! Time crawled by for the longest time, and now it seems like it's flying by. Both Nate and I have "Before the baby comes" to-do lists.

Non-pregnancy related picture: Nate and I at my brother's wedding last weekend. 

Mine includes:
-Working ahead on my athlete's training plans, a TNC newsletter and other team promos, so that I can take a little downtime immediately after baby is born.

-Oil changes and minor fixes on vehicles

-Selling a few things that are cluttering up our garage. Yeah, Craigslist!

-Making re-useable wipes from old fleece sheets

-Finishing my Irish Chain quilt. My mom gifted me professional quilting for this quilt, and it turned out just awesome. Now I just need to sew on the binding and then blind-stitch it!

My Irish Chain quilt! Just waiting for a binding! Didn't it turn out awesome?
-Making some meals and freezing them. Does anyone have good ideas for healthy freeze-ahead meals?

-Communicating with Chris about training when baby comes, solidifying sponsorship contracts, and all-around getting excited about trying to get back into shape!

-Organize a few piles of stuff/areas of our house that still need it

-Run as much as my heart feels like. So far I've been feeling great, and last week I had two great runs just under 5 miles each. I know I'm lucky that I'm not having any pregnancy-related running issues!

Nate's includes:
-Finish taking out the plants in front so that the landscaping company can do its thing in the next week. That meant that last night he cut down a beautiful hibiscus tree that was in front of our house. The new sidewalk will curve to where the tree was, so it had to go :(

Sad day...
And... it's gone
-Buying or making a rod for the Pack N Play that we bought at a garage sale. It's in wonderful shape (and apparently a really nice model, per my MIL), but was just missing a support bar. Hence the $15 price tag. 

-Keeping an eye on me :)

Both of our lists include:
-ENJOY THESE LAST TWO WEEKS!

I have been so lucky that this pregnancy has gone well, other than frequent vomiting. I don't have back-aches, my energy is fairly good, I have no trouble sleeping, I'm not uncomfortable, and I've been able to run without hip/joint/other pain throughout. I'd say I'm lucky!

Questions for all of you devoted readers:
Anything else to put on the 2-week to go to-do list?

Freezer-friendly, healthy meal ideas?

If you have experience coming back to running after a C-section, I'd love to hear it. 



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