Monday, November 9, 2015

Running, Racing and Breastfeeding {Part 2}

This fall, I navigated a curious and sometimes tricky path of trying to run, race and feed Silas. While I have been successful on many levels, I've also faced my fair share of challenges. As such, I thought I would share my personal experiences for anyone who might find it helpful.

This post, Part 2, will address how I handled breastfeeding, pumping and racing. Part 1 focused on my general observations about breastfeeding and running.

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I participated in three distance events in September and October – the Fort4Fitness Double Play (10K at 7:30 a.m., 4-mile at 10:30 a.m.), Muncie Mini-Marathon and the Bourbon Chase. Each presented its own fun set of logistics to keep Si fed. 

Note: As I don't have a lot of confidence in my supply and Si was still eating fairly frequently, I might have worried more than I should have. 

Fort4Fitness. This race, being in Fort Wayne and close to home, was probably the easiest. Si was still sleeping decently at this point, and I nursed him around 4 a.m. I woke up around 5:45 a.m., got ready and pumped as much as I could before leaving at 6:30. I left the bottle in the fridge for Mark in the event that Si would actually accept it.

Alas, he didn't.

Mark met me at Parkview Field, the finish and staging area for the race, after I finished the 10K. I fed Si twice between races – immediately after reuniting and right before the 4-mile. He was sleeping when I finished the 4-mile so we booked it out of there to get breakfast at a local restaurant, where I fed him again.

Muncie-Mini Marathon. I was stupid. So, so stupid. We traveled to Muncie the night before the race, and I made sure to pack my pump, pump parts and bottles. The one thing I didn't pack was a backup stash of milk.

Actually, that's not where my mistake lied. It was that I never called the hotel to learn whether mini fridges were available in the rooms so that I could bring extra expressed milk in the event of an emergency. You know, like a race delay because of inclement weather ...

As such, race morning proved a bit stressful for me. I nursed Si per usual when we woke up and then I pumped immediately. I went to pick up my packet at the race start right when it opened and then returned to the hotel. I pumped again. I drank water, ate, and alternated between keeping Si on the boob and pumping. I wanted to have him and the bottle as full as possible before I left. Unfortunately, I only eked out about 4 ounces.

I was doing lots of math when I arrived at the start. If I run the half in 2:10 and Si sleeps for 45 minutes, he'll eat at 4 ounces at this time and be ready for long division by noon. If I ran the half in 2:15 and Si slept for 90 minutes, Mark would eat two donuts with 57 sprinkles at a cost of $1.67.

When the race got delayed a half hour because of torrential rain and lightning, I was worried. Not just about what the conditions on the course would be like but what the condition of the boys would be like when I got finished. I offered to run the 10K but Mark insisted they would be fine.

And they were.

Si had his bottle and had a nap. He was happy albeit ready for his next feeding.

The Bourbon Chase. The race might have taken 31 hours but I was away from home, from Si, for 72 hours. Figuring that Si was eating every three to four hours, that's 24 bottles I needed to produce while I was gone. Eight or 10 of those would be pumped in the back of a van.

Sounds like fun, right?

Let me assure you, it wasn't. But I had a plan. Pump every two to three hours during the day and get all the rest I could.

Here's how it went:

Even though Si does not sleep through the night, I made the decision to not set an alarm to pump. My sister-in-law who travels for work said she never got up in the middle of the night and to take advantage of a night's sleep. Given the circumstances of the race, I deemed it prudent. I got to sleep the first and third nights, the second night was in the van.

The mornings after a good rest, I woke up like Dolly Parton's ginger cousin. I pumped immediately for 20 minutes and then again, if possible, an hour and a half later for 15 minutes.

Our van had a power adapter in the back row, and it allowed me to pump discretely whenever I wanted. I tried to hook up every two to three hours and never more than 3.5. If I went longer than two or so, I tried to pump for 17 to 20 minutes. Even if I didn't express a lot, I wanted the stimulation.

Gah! Did I really just write that?

And so how did I store it?

The milk I pumped before the race was kept in the fridge at my captain's house. Easy peasy. On the road, milk was stored in Lansinoh bags in 5-ounce increments and stored in a small cooler in the van. The cooler had ice packs and ice so that the milk was always cool. After Van 1 runners finished their first legs, we checked into a hotel and I was able to keep my milk in the mini fridge. I had access to the room after my second leg, as well, so I was able to keep it stored there for a good eight hours. After that, it went back on ice then to a fridge again then back on ice.

It wasn't the best situation but it worked. The milk stayed at a relatively consistent temperature and, for the most part, I wasn't toting around 100 ounces (or whatever I pumped) from distillery to distillery.

Because that would be weird.

Any questions?


  1. No questions, just MAD respect! **bows down**

  2. "I woke up like Dolly Parton's ginger cousin" <-- Best. Line. Ever.

  3. you are one rockstar mama! I pretty much shied away from anything like this while I was breastfeeding (16 months with the first, and 18 months with the second). For me it was intensely stressful (neither took a bottle so I was basically ball and chained) so i APPLAUD your awesome efforts to feed your child. I'm glad you wrote it down, because i bet you will reread this someday and wonder how the hell you managed all that! congrats - not only on the running but the stellar mothering.

    1. Me? Stellar mothering? Ah, I give that to you. I am fairly certain that I will not make it beyond a year with Si. We'll see but I am very over pumping.

      It was probably a bit (or a lot) selfish to do the Chase. Even going to daycare, Si is not good with a bottle and he usually refuses to take one from Mark. He'll take it from others but not him. Mark has had to go to his parents house in some situations.