Liza Howard

Liza Howard

Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100 mile trail races.

July 2013
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New Balance Team Pregnancy Blog Part 6: Tragedy, Course Records, and Fried Oreos


Liza: My friends just lost their baby girl during labor and delivery.  Normal pregnancy with only expectations for joy, a new life as a family, and some fine sleep deprivation after a bit of laboring.  My heart and thoughts have been with them them these past days.  It’s too easy to imagine something like that happening to Eliot and me now that I’m in my third trimester with the baby practicing her floor routine daily.  And it’s impossible to really imagine their agony.  And there’s just nothing more I should write about their heartache –except to ask you to please keep them in your prayers.

I’m in week 28 now and officially in the third trimester.  Mile 8o of the ultra.  And my stomach is upset, my legs are cramping, and I should have put on more Body Glide at the last aid station.  I’m also peeing every twenty minutes and my rings don’t fit on my fingers anymore.  Who knew hyponatremia and pregnancy had similar symptoms?  “Well ma’am, it’s either hyponatremia or you’re very pregnant and the baby is the size of a large eggplant.”

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I’ve gained about twenty pounds, and I just want to say, Oh My Gosh!  that’s a load to carry.  I mean, that’s about a fifth of my pre-pregnancy body weight.  I have a new appreciation for how hard it is to run — and be excited about going out for a run — when you’re carrying extra weight.  I mean, I had a 5 to 7 pound weight gain appreciation for it before — and I’ve read everything you all have about racing weight, — but carrying 5% extra is nothing next to 20% extra.  Nothing.  (Go ahead and do some math about how much weight that would mean for you.)  As a runner and a coach, I’ve always been impressed with people who are carrying extra weight when they’re exercising, or who are running in order to lose weight.  Running as hard work, or as a means to an end, rather than running for pleasure… well, that obviously takes willpower.  That’s tough.  But I think this new 20% of extra body weight empathy will serve me better as a coach.  It’ll certainly make body weight a greater discussion point than it has been with the athletes I’m working with.

Anyway, that was one of my pregnancy epiphanies since the last blog installment.  The other one was that there is a use for the word “bump.”  I think I mentioned my hatred for that word to refer as a pregnant woman’s belly?  Asa gets a bump when he hits his head on something.  The 20 pounds around my abdomen?  Not a bump.  But a few weeks ago Eliot and I saw a very pregnant woman at a picnic and he asked if I ever had an urge to bump bellies with fellow pregnant women.  “You know, as solidarity greeting?”  I told him no.  (I might not have used a pleasant tone.)  But now whenever I see a pregnant lady, I chuckle a bit imagining a bump greeting.  “Hey there!  (Bump.)  Have a good day.  Stay strong.”

And finally, crazy pumpers.  I think I told you about a woman at the Rocky Raccoon 100 this year who used a breast pump while she was running.  While.  A friend sent me a note tonight about how he’d seen a woman doing the same thing  out at the Tahoe 100 this past weekend.  Is this a thing now?  And how is this different from guys peeing while they’re running during a 100-mile race?  (Besides requiring infinitely more skill.)  I mean, I’m all about being efficient and not letting little stops add up during an ultra, but well, it’s going to take some real convincing for me to try to run with a pump attached to my boob.  Though there are bras out there that’d facilitate that…

Here’s my running plan this week:  (The temperatures are in upper 90s all week, so everything will be at a nice easy pace.)

Tuesday: 10 miles easy

Wednesday: 7 miles easy

Thursday: 6 miles hill repeats

Friday: off

Saturday: 15 miles easy

Sunday: 5 miles easy

And now some saner words from Brandy who set a course record at a 5k over the 4th of July and took the overall win too — at 22-weeks pregnant.

Summer is flying by!
Brandy at Shovel Point on Lake Superior
“Where we got married. We’ll be celebrating 11 years on the 13th!”
We’ve spent the last 10 days in Northern Minnesota, and it’s funny you bring up the “issue” of weight gain.  As we all know, a majority of our country is overweight. Sometimes, living in Colorado, I forget this because it seems like most people are hiking up 14ers on weekends, riding 100 mile races, skinning up mountains, etc. However, in Northern Minnesota, I was reminded of the sedentary problem and poor nutritional habits of many Americans.  I saw people putting pats of butter on cinnamon rolls on the 4th of July, and I watched vendors selling deep fried Oreos.  (Liza here: OK, the buttered cinnamon buns sound gross, but I’d be hard pressed not to eat a deep fried Oreo right now.)  And when I asked for a side salad at a local pizza joint, my salad consisted of iceberg lettuce with tomatoes—that was it! Seriously?!  And yet, we continue to cut PE/Health classes from our schools!
I’ve never been one to weigh myself regularly. My mom has always been really thin (just over 100 lbs). I remember hitting puberty and developing a “complex” because I was approaching my mom’s weight which made me “fat.”  I struggled internally with weight issues for a couple of years, but finally decided it wasn’t worth it.  A number on a scale doesn’t define who you are as a person. That said, maintaining a healthy weight is important.  And as a competitive athlete, I’ve learned to “know” my body by how my clothes fit. During my base building phase, my body naturally holds onto a few pounds—probably to protect me from injury. As my intensity/race season picks up, I get leaner.  I can tell this by how my clothes fit.
Being pregnant, however, I have no choice but to be weighed once a month.  I am trying to just embrace it because I know gaining weight is necessary to grow a healthy baby.   Still, I don’t want to gain unnecessary weight and use my pregnancy as an excuse to eat deep fried Oreos, Long Johns, etc.  With my own running, I am noticing the weight gain primarily when I run uphill—which I like to do often.  So I notice the weight most days. It is a good reminder why being at a healthy racing weight does allow us to compete at top levels.
Working with high schools girls, weight is a touchy issue. To be completely honest, I would rather have a high school girl who is fit, but a little “fat” rather than too skinny and/or anorexic.  As a coach and a teacher, I find it important to teach athletes/students how to make healthy choices for lifelong health/fitness and lifelong enjoyment of the sport. I often pose the question—can you be “fit but fat”, or “skinny but fat”—it always provokes interesting discussions.  Being too thin can put one at risk for eating disorders, stress fractures, and many other injuries. I think it is important to teach athletes to become aware of their eating habits, but not put too much emphasis on a number on the scale.  Over time, staying healthy/injury free will trump natural talent, or an anorexic season in terms of reaching one’s full potential.
Have you seen this video about Ben Davis who lost 120 lbs? Pretty inspirational—it made me cry the first couple of times I watched it. 
My 120lb Journey
Nothing too exciting with training this week as I may need to re-acclimatize to the altitude after being at sea level for 10+ days! I am happy to be away from the humidity!
I did run a 5k over the 4th of July. I actually convinced my mom and aunts to walk the race as well. My grandma and cousin came to watch, so it was an entire family affair!  (You can see why I need a medium jersey…)
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“Being 22 weeks pregnant didn’t prevent Brandy Erholtz from setting the women’s course record and being the overall winner in Thursday’s Bronco 5K Run/Walk.”
On Thursday (July 25thth), I will be 25 weeks pregnant and the baby will be the size of a cauliflower! Now that we are home, we have about 3 weeks until school starts. Time to seriously start preparing for the baby!



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