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Am I Ready for a Marathon?

Am I Ready for a Marathon?

I’m one of those crazy plan ahead people. For BIG goals, I like to have details worked out months (ok, it is really years) in advance. For the past month, I’ve been contemplating running a marathon.

A marathon is a huge commitment as a runner and as a parent. I completed my first marathon in 2007 and even though I puked my guts from mile 11 until the finish, I still told anyone who would listen that it was the best day of my life.Life was different in 2007. I was single, living in a trendy downtown neighbourhood, and had landed my career job. Life was good. I could be selfish in my training because nobody was relying on me for anything. Now there are a lot of factors to consider in taking on another marathon.

Are you ready for a marathon? If 42.2 kilometres sounds like fun to you, you should also consider:

  • Family
  • Costs
  • Holiday plans
  • Work demands
  • Personal health and current stamina

A marathon requires an intense 3 month time commitment. More time would be required if you aren’t up to 15km long runs at the start of the 3 months. There is never a perfect time to train for a marathon, but if you make it a priority then you can do it!

Marathon training
First Marathon in 2007 versus training for a half marathon in 2019.

Family

If your family isn’t 100% supportive of your decision to run a marathon, then don’t do it. Aside from the 3 to 4 hour runs that you’ll need to complete, you are also going to be tired, sore, and dare I say more irritable.

I always try and complete my runs before my daughter’s Saturday morning sports. To continue this, I’ll need to find something that doesn’t start at 8am. And now with two kids, this will be more difficult.  Luckily swimming lessons start as late at 11am in the morning. I also check sunrise charts and plan the earliest time possible that I can run. I’ve even calculated a start time that has me run in the dark, but aligns sunrise to the time I hit the trail portion of my run.

  • Potential Issue: I can’t expect my husband to handle Saturday morning breakfasts,clean up, and activities when I’m out running AND have him do it again on Sunday morning because I’m tired from the day before that I need more sleep.
  • Potential Solution: The compromise that would work best for us is that I’d go to bed a bit earlier on Saturday nights to catch up on sleep.

When my mother wanted to do an Ironman Triathlon she had to consider timing and it was best to wait one year until I was a freshman in university since she wanted to be present for all the activities and events that happened in my final year of high school. Know yourself and how involved you want to be or know how much FOMO you suffer from and plan accordingly.

Costs

If you tell yourself running is a cheap sport then you’re delirious! Running only requires a pair of running shoes… Oh and don’t forget moisture wicking clothing, double layer socks, Bodyglide to prevent chafing, special water bottle belt, another pair of shoes since you’ll wear out the first pair before the race, a sports bra that costs more than dinner for two at the Keg, recovery electrolyte drinks, the grocery bill from that time you’ll go shopping after a long run and accidentally buy the entire store, race entry fee, hotel for the race, the kiddie pool you splurge on out of guilt for not spending enough time with the kids, 8 bags of ice for when you realize you can hijack the kiddie pool for your long run recovery ice bath….etc. 

Holiday Plans

If you are thinking of a fall marathon then you’ll be completing some of your long runs (3+ hours) over summer.  If you’re planing a vacation you also need to consider how you will complete your long run.  I’d say live a little and miss a weekday run, but those long runs are not to be messed with.

  • Potential Issue: Your family trip to Europe occurs during marathon training.
  • Potential Solution: Look for a half marathon to participate in at your holiday destination. Or can you find a run club that will be running similar distance? Maybe travel with your training partner and map a run where you are visiting. Adjust your dates and vacation over a recovery week when miles are shorter and could be run on a hotel treadmill.

Work Demands

Are you going to be able to find the time to run or are you working 12 hour days in the office? I actually find when I’m super busy at work that I need to get my runs in to keep my sanity. However, this could be a vicious cycle if work and running keep you away from your family. Long work hours can mean more fast food meals, which could impact how you feel in your workouts.  This could mean more meal planning in order to eat right, work long hours, and feel good in your runs.

Personal Health and Current Stamina

I personally believe that anyone can run a marathon. However, the journey to that marathon start line will be different for everyone.  I wouldn’t undertake a 3 month training plan until I was happy with my 5km and 10km race times. After all, I want to run the next marathon faster than my last. If you have been running through an injury or hoping a tinge in your knee will go away on its own – then maybe get that checked out before fooling yourself into a marathon.

I include current stamina as well because you should be able to run at least 15km comfortably prior to starting your training plan. I would also suggest having run a half marathon in the last year before taking on a marathon. This will prepare you for a build up in training mileage. I like to eliminate “surprises” during training and you start to learn about your body when you increase mileage for a race above 10km. To read more on half marathon training and how I balance it with work and family check out my previous post Balancing Half Marathon Training.

Marathon Considerations
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What is the Verdict?

Will you sign up for a marathon or run away screaming less than 42.2km in the opposite direction? I’ve considered these factors and I’m leaning towards YES! I’ve got my spreadsheets out and I’m starting to visualize how I can make this work. Tell me in the comments if you have a marathon or multiple marathons on your bucket list.

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Race Week Rituals

Race Week Rituals

With my half marathon on Sunday, my race week rituals are underway. I’m excited to step up to the start line and see what these mom-of-two legs of mine have in them.

My last two half marathons have been RunDisney races, where I run for fun photo ops instead of for time. This Sunday I’ve set a time goal of “under 2 hours”. I’ve had to rethink my time goals since having kids and maybe one day I’ll get back to speedier times, but that’s not my current focus.

The week before the race isn’t when you decide you need to start cross training or overhaul your nutrition. However, I have a few race week rituals you can follow to get to the start line feeling your best.

Below are my three race week rituals:

  • Strategize.
  • Visualize.
  • Eat wise.

By race week you should have already planned out your race day clothing. You ought to have tested it out to make sure it won’t rub you the wrong way (seriously, chafing sucks). Did you forget to do this? Just wear the clothes you normally wear on a long run.

Strategize

I am a planner so one of my race week rituals is to plan out my race strategy. While I’m not racing to win, I think a strategy is still helpful to try and achieve my goal.

Running under 2 hours is my goal and yours may be faster or slower. Either way, you need to understand how you are going to go from start to finish in that time. I get out my calculator and have some math fun to determine my required splits. If splits are new to you, it is basically the time you need to run (or will run) each kilometer. For my goal, I need to run my kilometers in 5 mins 41 seconds. I have known my goal splits for most of my training. I’m confident I’ll be able to blend my weekday speed sessions with my weekend long runs in order to meet my splits. If you realize your abilities, confidence, and goal are not realistic there is no shame in amending it or running without a time goal. I have run some half marathons with the mantra “no expectation, no limitation” and have let that carry me through.

In addition to splits, I always try to run the second half faster than the first (a negative split). If you’re running without a time goal, but want to finish the race having given it your all, then a negative split might be a good fit for you. In order to achieve a negative split I actually write out my first 10km anticipated time and then ponder how I can run the next 11.1km faster. I plan to run a couple seconds faster per kilometer and end the last few kilometers by increasing my speed to ensure I hit the negative split, the time goal, and the feeling of giving my all by the finish line.

Visualize

My second race week ritual is that I like to print the race map off and highlight the route by splitting it up into smaller chunks. I familiarize myself with where the major hills are on the course and other interesting features, such as where two races may collide. This weekend I’ll be finishing my last 5km with the last half of a 10km race. Knowing that I may suddenly start to get passed when I’m trying to kick it into high gear will help mentally prepare me for being among fresher-legged runners.

I like to give each chunk of the race it’s own mantra. When I want to hold back in the first few kilometers I’ll write the mantra “cool and calm”. On race day I can remind myself to stay cool and calm instead of “balls to the wall”, which is reserved for the last 3km chunk.

Preparing for race day is like studying for a test; learn the course, know it’s hard parts, visualize your success, and you won’t be in for a surprise on race day. It also helps me get rid of the negative thoughts about challenging parts of the route. If I know ahead of time that I’m prepared to run slower on the major hills and that won’t stop me from crushing my goal [because I’ve done the math already] then I’m better off for it.

Race Map Ready to Visualize
Race map action plan.

Eat Wise

I’m not a nutritionist, but based on how long foods take me to digest I follow a pre-race meal plan. For me this is more of a ritual than solid health advice. It keeps me focused and gives me a sense of control.

My plan below assumes a Sunday race day. Starting on the Wednesday before the race I give more thought to the foods I eat. You know the foods you love to eat, but might not always agree with your stomach? I try to avoid those in the lead up to the race.

If you follow my Instagram you may think I’m a hypocrite [the ice cream churro sandwhich was heavenly before my race] and I’ll admit that when I’m doing a RunDisney race I eat what I want, when I want. However, if I’m not planning to stop mid-race for a photo with Mickey Mouse then I take my nutrition more seriously.

I’ve only focused on dinners in the lead up to the race. From Wednesday on, I try to always eat balanced meals of meat, starchy-carbs, and vegetables. Below are the meats I choose to eat in this order since I find it works best with my digestion:

  • Wednesday: steak
  • Thursday: chicken
  • Friday: salmon
  • Saturday: pasta in tomato sauce. No meat. No cheese.

My pre-race breakfast is typically eaten at least 1 hour before race start and it is a half banana and oatmeal with extra brown sugar. I also have about half a cup of coffee if it is a late start to the race. If you’re running a half marathon or more then I suggest you eat what you ate before your long runs and don’t mess with it now.

I suggest you find what works for you, but it is nice going into a race knowing that I have a formula that works well for me.

3 Race Week Rituals: Strategize. Visualize. Eat Wise.
Feel free to share my Race Week Rituals on Pinterest!

Good Night and Good Racing

I hope this helps you have an amazing race day filled with joy and high-fives. Or maybe you’re more of an introvert and you just want to cross that finish line, breath a sigh of relief, and get out of there. Either way, have fun!

For more on how to balance half marathon training check out my earlier post here. I’m already looking ahead to September where I’ll be running another half marathon.

10 Reasons It Will Be Easier With Baby #2

10 Reasons It Will Be Easier With Baby #2

Below are 10 reasons I’m telling myself it will be easier with baby #2. With only a few more months to go until baby #2 arrives, I’m getting nervous for how I’ll adapt to parenting two kiddos instead of one.

1. I’ve already seen every shade of poo.

I’ll never forget Googling baby poo colours and being really scared for what the results might yield. It wasn’t just the colour it was frequency, consistency, etc. Having seen it all before I think I won’t be such a worry wart.

2. After 2.5 years of breastfeeding I feel like I know how it works.

This was a major challenge as a first time mom, but I relied on our Public Health Unit nurses to help me through it and in the end I got the hang of it.

3. I’ve got mad diapering skills.

Before my daughter I had only changed 1 diaper and that was 1 diaper more than my husband’s record.

4. No need to watch YouTube videos to figure out how to swaddle.

Maternity ward nurses can swaddle like pros, but it took me and the hubby a bit longer to figure it out on our own. Now we can turn my daughter’s dolls into burritos with their blankets in a flash.

5. Sleep deprivation isn’t something new – that’s old hat the past 3 years.

I was a 10 hour per night sleeper before kids and the sudden reduction was probably the biggest shock to my system.

6. I now have Netflix installed in my bedroom.

This has nothing to do with baby #2 other than I can lounge in bed with a good show while baby #2 naps in the bassinet.

7. I can put my Ergo Baby Carrier on with my eyes closed.

Wearing your baby means freedom for you. While I won’t fry bacon in my Ergo (or in the nude), I will vacuum, grocery shop, and maneuver airports like a boss. It’s not just freedom, it’s a close intimate cuddle with your love bug!

8. As freak-out first time mom, I bought every 0-3 month style sleep sack so I’m ready with options.

My daughter ended up liking one sleep sack (free leg style), but that didn’t stop me from buying every style out there while we searched for the holy grail.

9. Car seats no longer scare me.

I’ve joined multiple Facebook groups on Car Seat Safety and consulted Car Seat Techs and manuals.  I know the do’s and don’ts and follow them religiously.

10. My toddler is happy and healthy.

 I didn’t totally screw up the first one so I must be doing something right and this is giving me confidence I never had the first time.

Mouse House Mom's 10 Reasons why it will be easier with Baby #2
Mouse House Mom’s 10 Reasons why it will be easier with Baby #2

Thanks friends for reading! Do you have any tips on how to balance a toddler and a baby? Please let me know in the comments below.
Taking a Toddler To Europe

Taking a Toddler To Europe

When my daughter (the Munchkin) was 16 months old we made a spontaneous decision and went to Europe for a week.  My husband and I had booked 1 week off work and had planned to enjoy a few days at home and a few days a few hours away in Parksville, BC.  About two weeks before this was to occur, we checked flight prices and found a deal too good to pass up.  Soon we were off as a family of three to Europe for one week.

Today I’m giving an overview as to how we planned for this spontaneous trip and why we thought flying 11 hours with a 16 month old was a good idea.

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock travels to Rome with a toddler
Enjoying the views in Rome

Upcoming Posts on Rome

This post is the first in a series of posts about travelling with a toddler in Rome.  Upcoming blog posts will include key highlights from our trip and cover how to successfully tour the Coliseum and Forum. I’ll also share how to use Rome’s public transit system instead of the hop-on-hop-off busses.  We also had a successful beach day that I’ll discuss. Stay tuned for these posts in the weeks ahead.  Also, if you have any specific questions please email me and I’ll try to address them.

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock travels to Europe with a toddler

Past Toddler Travels

We had traveled six months earlier with our Munchkin to Florida for a two week trip in three different cities. I had also taken her for a weekend to Ohio.  On both trips the Munchkin enjoyed airplane rides and was in a pleasant mood most of the time.  She could sleep in her baby carrier and never had any issues with time zone changes.  Given her successful track record with flying and time zones we thought we could handle the trip.  Also, the departing flight was scheduled for 1  hour after her usual bedtime so we had hopes that she’d sleep.

Toddler Readiness

Our Munchkin had a couple months of walking under her belt.  She also had a few teeth and was a good eater. The Munchkin loved pasta, bread, and tomatoes, which was a good match for Rome! Naps made us worrisome as she was still at the two naps a day stage with a 9:30am nap and a 2pm nap.

Packing for a Week in Europe

We filled our suitcases with summer clothes and focused on bringing as many outfits for our Munchkin as possible.  We knew she may go through double the outfits as us. After all, she was a messy eater and known to get herself really dirty!  We also estimated 7 diapers a day and were able to pack enough diapers into the folds of our clothes and the crevices of our bags. We know what diapers we like and since we had space we decided to bring them along.  I also packed food pouches so she could have a snack on something familiar.  Our daycare suggested we bring any and all drugs from home so we had baby Advil, baby Tylenol, baby Benadryl, teething gel, and a super duty diaper rash cream.  We never used any of it, but it did give me piece of mine knowing we had it just in case.

As for Mom and Dad packing, we each packed one nice outfit that would be suitable for the Vatican – you know, in case Pope Francis wanted to chat over coffee…

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock travels to Rome with a toddler
Sometimes you need to nap while on vacation…

Baby Gear

I called our travel company (Transat) to inquire about our airport transfers.  I was advised it was a bus transfer and based on this advice I did not pack a car seat. We found out in Rome that it was a minivan and they didn’t care we had no car seat.  That was pretty stressful, but we had a safe ride.

We decided to bring a hand-me-down umbrella stroller.  The stroller had seen better days, but it still worked!  From all of my pre-trip research we heard that the cobble stones of Europe could wreck a stroller. So from this research I then researched baby stores and found PreNatal chain of baby stores.  They had a great selection of umbrella strollers so the plan was to buy a brand new umbrella stroller when ours broke.  Fortunately/unfortunately (?) our stroller never broke so it returned home with us.

We also traveled with our Ergo Baby Carrier. Recognizing it was above 34 degrees Celsius most days we also bought cooling towels that could go around our necks, over the Munchkin’s legs in the stroller, or in between our body and the Munchkin’s body when in the carrier.

 

Thanks for reading! If you’re planning a family vacation to Europe, I’d love to hear your comments.

Hello Weekend Fun: RecycleFest

Hello Weekend Fun: RecycleFest

My Weekend Festivals and Local Fun blog posts are my favourite part of Wednesdays and today I’m sharing about (1) RecycleFest and (2) Ice Cream.
  • Weekend Festival:  RecycleFest at Trout Lake Park on Saturday, July 22
  • Local Fun: Go for ice cream as a family!
While completely different activities for you to participate in this weekend, both are fantastically family oriented.

RecycleFest

RecycleFest is a local festival taking place at Trout Lake Park (Vancouver) on Saturday, July 22 from 10am to 3pm.  The main purpose of this family-fun event is to drop off any of  old or unwanted small appliances and power tools so they can be recycled properly.  However, this good-for-the-earth event is also good for families as it features:
  • Bouncy Castle.
  • Hot dog BBQ (good if you miss National Hot Dog Day on July 19).
  • Photo Booth.
  • Games and prizes.
RecycleFest caught my eye because it starts in the morning, meaning you could check it out before toddler nap-time.
I also like that it supports a cause I believe in.  I’m already teaching my toddler how to recycle. She knows we separate our waste and she takes yogurt containers to our blue bin for me.
Another perk of RecycleFest is that it fulfills a need. I seem to replace my hairdryer every couple years and I have a stack that I need to recycle – finally an easy opportunity to get these unwanted hairdryers out of my house.
To find more info on RecycleFest click here.

Mouse House Mom shares RecycleFest info
This is the poster for RecycleFest

Local Fun: Go for Ice Cream

I apologize, if you read my Summer Bucket List Check In post then you’ll know I still haven’t gone out for ice cream this summer.  If you get your ice cream in a cone then there’s no container to waste and you can keep with the reduce, reuse, recycle theme.
Weekly Meal Plans for Working Parents

Weekly Meal Plans for Working Parents

I am happiest when I have solved a problem with the use of a spreadsheet. A few years ago, I began using a spreadsheet to make my weekly meal plans. Having weekly meal plans keeps me focused and efficient.  Also, my husband and I both arrive home from work between 5:30 and 6 PM and that doesn’t give us much time to boil water, let alone make an entire meal.

Why I do Weekly Meal Plans:

  • Holds me accountable to eat better.
  • Reduces food waste.
  • Saves money on one-off grocery trips or eating out.
  • Saves time as I can prepare food in advance.
  • Reminds me to use freezer food.

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
Dinners planned out and enjoyed as a family.

Easing into Meal Planning

If meal planning is going to be a shock to your system, then start out slowly with only planning weeknight dinners and plan to make more than you need so you can eat leftovers during the week. I know leftovers are a polarizing subject, but let it be known I’m #TeamLeftovers.

Below is a sample week for my family:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Dinner Leftovers Veggie Stir-fry with chicken and rice Leftovers Pasta with microwaved meatballs Crock pot Chicken w/root veggies.
Next Day Prep Measure rice.

Take chicken out of freezer.

Boil pasta + assemble.

Take whole chicken out of freezer.

Chop veggies and get crock pot ready.
Evening Activity 8pm Run 8pm Run

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
One of our weeknight dinners.

The Extra Rows

I find it very useful to add additional rows to my weekly meal plans to include “next day prep” and “evening activity”.  As a result of “next day prep”,  you don’t forget to take food out of the freezer. This allows freezer food time to defrost and you can also plan more evening prep when you anticipate a more hectic next day. The above example shows that I take my chicken out of the freezer and into the fridge on Wednesday night.  Come Friday, I can put the thawed chicken into the crock pot.

Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner each day, you can adjust the amount of next day prep to do and move some to the day of. For me, it is useful to have my rice and water measured the night before so that it is ready – all I have to do the day of is rinse the rice and turn on my rice cooker and in 15 minutes, I’ll have my carbs!

Adapting for Children’s Eating Habits

I add rows to my weekly meal plans for my daughter (the Munchkin), to indicate who will pick her up from daycare (e.g., my husband or the grandparents) and on what night she needs a bath.  If my husband and I are eating perogies or potatoes then I need to plan a meal for the Munchkin that is different from ours. She’s usually a good eater, but has always refused potatoes.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Pick Ups Dad Grandma Dad Grandpa Dad
Bath Night? Yes Yes

 

You can expand the weekly meal plans to include weekends and all other meals. I’ll be sure to blog about some of my favourite quick and easy week day meals.

 

Mouse House Mom gives an overview on how to start weekly meal planning for working parents.
Mouse House Mom gives an overview on how to start weekly meal planning for working parents.

 

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
Roasted cauliflower is her signature dish.

Mickey’s Printable Weekly Meal Plans

My family likes that I use the Mickey’s Printable Weekly Menu [pdf] found on the Disney Family site here: https://family.disney.com/activity/mickeys-printable-weekly-menu/

I can quickly write in what our dinner is for each night and post it on the fridge. Alternatively, you can start with this if it is your first foray into meal planning. Posting the printable Mickey menu on the fridge helps us keep Disney alive all year in our home!

 

Related

If you’ve survived a busy week, then treat yourself to my Churro Treats at Home Recipe for a weekend family brunch.