Sunday, November 24, 2013

Benjamin Lawrence LeDuff


Those names didn't make the cut.

Introducing Benjamin Lawrence LeDuff.

Weighing in at an earth shattering 5 pounds, 7 ounces at a height of 18 1/8 inches at 2:58pm on November 14th, 2013, he made his way into the world by c-section. After some rapid breathing in the observation nursery, he was brought to the NICU. Clearly, he just wanted to see where his daddy works and make his momma and grandmothers anxious. :)

Any amount of time spent in any NICU is too much. But in the grand scheme of NICU time, eleven days is quite short. Fortunately, my leadership and teammates were amazing in letting me take time to see him while still being at work.

Thank you to all the nurses who took care of him directly. And thank you to all the nurses who came to visit him and to hold him when they had a few extra minutes. Thank you to the NICU NNP and medical teams for all your smart decisions in his care. Thank you to Katie for taking care of both our boys. You're definitely a huge part of our family. Christy and I can't thank the NICU team enough for the two times that they've been part of our pregnancy and parenting experience.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Round Two

I imagine that any pregnancy is terrifying in its own way for each individual involved. I also imagine that in general, each pregnancy is easier than the last. You know what to expect and how you handled it the last time. For the mother, she knows how she felt before and has something to compare it to the second time. For the father/partner, they know what worked or didn't work to support the mother. For us, it's got to end up easier than the last one. Needless to say, we are mildly terrified but extremely excited to be pregnant again.

I'm a boy
Today, Christy is 19+4 weeks into this pregnancy. After a previously complicated pregnancy, military healthcare is very diligent with testing, imaging, lab work, and consultations. It's okay though. We like the attention in this case. And just for clarification, they were extremely diligent during our last one. We have no complaints whatsoever with the care we received last time or with the care we're receiving this time. We had our anatomy scan yesterday which showed us we're having another boy. The ultrasound picture shows the round baby bottom on the right, two legs facing the left, and baby boy parts in between the legs. When we had our first ultrasound at 13+3 weeks, we saw what looked liked boy parts on the screen. The ultrasound tech and pediatric cardiologist would neither confirm nor deny what it might be, but they both giggled while they were saying it. They said it was too early to tell. Christy and I knew what it looked like, and the only thing I could think is that I didn't want my baby girl to have what I saw. I'm actually getting fairly decent at recognizing anatomy in ultrasound pictures.

Christy looks longingly
at my margarita
Christy is doing well. Her blood pressure is still nice and low, and she doesn't have any significant sickness. She's taking daily baby aspirin and prenatal vitamins. She gets weekly progesterone shots to prevent pre-term labor, and we're having tons of imaging done along the way. It gives our doctors frequent updates of what's going on with him and gives us plenty of ultrasound pictures to show. She's also done a bit of prenatal yoga at Studio Bamboo. As you can see from the picture on the right, she's quite sad that she can't have a refreshing margarita.

She had some coupon codes for Gymboree which allowed her to get 300 dollars worth of baby clothes for 150 dollars. The plan is to go with a sailboat themed nursery which was the plan last time. We already have some sailor/sailboat stuff, so we figured we'd keep with that theme. Maybe it will help in my efforts to convince her that we should buy a boat in the future.

Four heart chambers
The doctors and the ultrasound technician said they didn't think ToF would be an issue in the pregnancy based on what they saw yesterday. The anatomy scan from the last pregnancy was where they initially noticed that something wasn't quite right with Lawrence's heart. We'll have a fetal echocardiogram done within the next few weeks to give us a better confirmation that nothing is wrong. The lab work that was sent a few weeks ago came back negative for things like Down's Syndrome, Trisomy 18, anencephaly, and spina bifida. We did a more detailed test this time around, so the chances of not having these are even higher than before.

Much like Kate and William yesterday, we're still deciding on names. We have a couple in mind. We may take a nick name vote like we did last time. Hopefully, the vote can take place someplace besides the white board in Christy's hospital room. While it was fun to have people come in and place their vote, no one wants to be in the hospital for two months.

Thank you for your support as Christy, Lawrence Bear, Tricksy, and I embark on another attempt at expanding our family. We'll keep you updated as things progress.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Single Track Maniac 50K

Finisher's Medal and T-shirt
This was the first year of the Single Track Maniac 50K in Williamsburg, VA. Race director Ellen Womeldorf and her race crew did a fantastic job at every aspect of the race. It was well organized, had a great selection of food, much needed motivators at the aid stations, awesome ceramic medal (my first legit 50K medal), and no ridiculously priced race photos (photos were free to download). The race was really a great deal when you think about the price paid for the mileage run. With big races, you pay so much for all the additional hoopla like bands, the expo, crazy elaborate medals, etc. This race, like it's course, got down to the roots (pun intended) of just being out there for the thrill of running.


Course Map
I've run a lot of races in the past, but this was the toughest course I've ever run. Since this is only my second 50K experience, I only have Seashore Nature Trail 50K to compare it to for the distance. The terrain of this course was much, MUCH harder than the first. The course is a series of single track mountain bike trails of varying difficulty levels. From what I remember, each of the trails is run twice. The D course was the toughest, and with such a small participant field, you wonder if you're going the right way. Looking back on the fact that it's a single track course, there really isn't any place else to be, and the course was very well marked. But when you're out there for hours alone in the woods, you have your doubts about whether or not you're headed in the right direction...and everything else...

Weather and Wardrobe

The weather was perfect for this distance. About 52 at the start of the race. Being so deep in the woods, there was no wind to deal with. I didn't shed or add any layers that day. Started with sleeves down on a very lightweight Brooks Equilibrium shirt. Pulled them up after about 3 miles. Wore my favorite pair of Brooks shorts - Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project red, yellow, and black shorts. Got many compliments on my shoe choice (The Launch) from some of the volunteers. Had a very short conversation while on the move about The Launch being the best shoe in the universe and how the people are happy that it's back. Conversations are very short and choppy during an ultramarathon.

Food and Hydration

SJ Ultra Vest
There was a varied assortment of food. Honey Stinger Waffles were an awesome selection! I love those things. (Thanks MaryBeth!) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were also a big hit since I failed to eat some at an aid station on the last 50K. My favorite thing though was Fig Newtons covered in Nutella. They were so tasty, and I'll have to remember that for the next super long race. My only criticism of the entire race is the sports drink choice. The drink was Lemon-Lime Heed. I don't think necessarily that the drink itself didn't taste good. I think it may not have been mixed well enough in the big coolers. I'd never heard of Heed before. I'll have to buy my own to give it a try and assess whether or not it was just not very well mixed.

My SJ Ultra Vest by Ultimate Direction definitely came in handy. On my last 50K, I didn't carry a pack. Thusly, I didn't carry my phone, and I wished I did because of the awesome ultramarathon sign at 26.2 miles. Fortunately, someone else had taken a picture of it, and I was able to get it.  I was able to carry gel, phone, water, and Aleve with me. I barely noticed it was on, and I was quite happy to have everything with me on the go. It's very lightweight, has plenty of easily accessible pockets, lots of reflection, and most importantly, it has a built in whistle in case of an emergency - which is always a big possibility when you're alone in the woods.

At The Finish


This was a difficult course, but I do think I'll be doing it again next year. Ellen put on a really good show, and I hope more people show up next year for the race. It's always exciting to be part of a race that's run for the first time - especially when it goes really well. And next year, I'll already be familiar with the terrain.


In other news, the Color Me Rad 5K the next day was painful, and the race was more annoying than fun. Christy and I talked about it, and we've decided that we're done with gimmick races like that. Now, to focus on my yoga instructor course and general streak running over the summer. More races to come in the fall, including the Marine Corps Marathon.

Run Happy, folks!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Four Years of Streak Running...

Yesterday, I woke up to the following e-mail in my inbox:

Hi Chip,

On behalf of the United States Running Streak Association (USRSA), I want to congratulate you on completing 4 years of your current running streak! Great job! We would love to include an update on you and your running in our next newsletter of The Streak Registry. Please send update along with any changes in your streak running status in the last year to me.

For more information on USRSA, please visit our website at:  

Please also visit us on Facebook at:

Good luck on another year of streak running!

Best wishes,
Mark Washburne

As with every day, I'm amazed that I've been able to go this long. I'm thankful my body has been able to keep up. I'm thankful that my wife is on board with it. (She started it.) I'm thankful for the running partners I've had along the way who have kept me motivated and put in the miles with me. I'm thankful for the quiet reflection the solitary miles have given me...especially since November.

RunningAHEAD Summary
In the past year, I haven't done too many races or run nearly as many miles as I had the previous three years. Hoping to get more miles this year. The biggest running milestone over the past year was the completion of the 50K. Honestly, the only training that I had for that race was the barebones minimum to keep my streak alive. Looking back at the month of December, I ran 65.3 miles for the month. 31 of them were in that race. 

So mileage for the past year was 709 miles run over 96 hours, 54 minutes, 59 seconds. Including today's run, I've done 3,727 streak miles over the past 1,462 days of streaking. Even though this is day one of the next year of streaking, I'm looking forward to making it into "The Proficient" category (5+ years) on the Active Streak List.

As always, I'm looking forward to another of streak running with Brooks Sports as my sponsor. I mean, really, if I'm going to be running every day, I should be running in the best running shoes and attire and spreading the Run Happy Spirit with every run.

Start of year five...go!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beyond the Marathon...

50K t-shirt
On December 15th, 2012, I met a long time running goal of mine. I became an ultramarathoner. I participated in the Seashore Nature Trail 50K at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA. I volunteered at this race last year. I wasn't at all ready to run it when we first moved here. I had the job of taking off people's timing chips from their ankles, and Christy was working the time clock at the finish line.

The original plan was to train for it - as is always the plan. A year was plenty of time to train for a December ultramarathon, and with no Texas heat, it should go pretty well. Then, the original plan changed when we found out that Christy was pregnant and our baby was going to have a complicated birth. With that news, I figured that I wouldn't do the race since the plan was that we would deliver in December at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Grossly undertrained for a 50K
Then, as always, when I think I've got it all figured out...plans changed again. All of a sudden, the lengthy stay in Philadelphia wasn't happening anymore. With all that was going on with Christy and the baby, I wasn't training at all. At best, I was barely hanging on to my running streak with my daily one milers. Every now and then, I'd feel brave and do three miles. I did a couple half marathons during Christy's hospital stay - none with spectacular times. But after the whole situation settled down, I needed to do something for me. I needed to run for a long time.

As a certified running coach, running 50 kilometers (31 miles) of rooted trails is not...I NOT something I would recommend to anyone. In fact, it's not even something I would jokingly say to someone considering it. It's really not a smart idea. I talked to Christy about it. She was against it until next year. Before the baby was born, I ran the idea by a trusted running friend, MaryBeth. She was against it until next year. After everything settled down, I ran the idea by MaryBeth again.

Me: MaryBeth...should I sign up for this 50K?

MaryBeth: No. But with what you've been through, you've pretty much reserved the right to do whatever you want for at least the next month or so.

Thus, I was able to get one of the last spots before the race sold out.

Brooks Pure Grit
So...I met up with my running partner, Jessica, at the start of the race. The weather was clear and 43 at the start of the race. I started with a jersey, a long sleeved tech shirt, a very light jacket, hat, and gloves. There was a bag drop off where they would take your bag to 64th St. which is 5 1/2 miles in. We'd end up passing 64th St. four times throughout the course, so you could bring whatever you wanted or drop off things along the way. I ditched the jacket, gloves, and hat the first time we passed it.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have huge feet. They're abnormally big for my height. I'm only 5'9". I shouldn't have a size 13 foot. I should either be taller with this size foot or stay my current height with a smaller foot. I would prefer to stay my current height and have a size 10 foot. Unfortunately, that's not going to change. Big feet + tree roots = imminent opportunities to fall. I tripped two times before the flat out horizontal fall. Somehow, I didn't scrape anything or bleed. Aside from a small bruise on my right knee, I ended up being okay from it. Fortunately for me, my running partner was quite supportive and refrained from pointing and laughing.

Aside from the fall, the majority of the race was relatively incident free until I was a fool and didn't eat and PB&J at the second to last aid station of the course. It was the last time we would pass our bag. I filled up on sports drink and ate a few chips for the sodium, but I should have taken more. Lesson learned.

Totally worth it
We passed the marathon point together. It was a HUGE milestone. The course was basically a double loop, so we passed the marathon point sign on the first loop. On the first pass, it was both demoralizing and motivating at the same time. We had SO far left to go. But on the second time around, we gave each other a well deserved high five and knew, no matter what, even if we didn't finish, that we were now ultramarathoners just for taking one step past that sign. It was a fantastic feeling of accomplishment.

I was holding my well trained partner back. I knew that I was. Before we started, we had discussed the possibility of a 5:30:00 to a 6:00:00 finish. At 28.5 miles, the trail in front of me was spinning from lack of training and lack of nutrition. I knew I was going to finish the race even if I walked the last 2.5 miles. The time limit for the course was 8.5 hours. But I didn't want to hold her back from a sub 6 hour finish like we had discussed. I told her to go on. There was no way I could have gotten to 28.5 miles without her. And there was no way I could have finished without the volunteers who provided nourishment, motivation, and smiling faces.

I struggled with the last 2.5 miles, but it was a good time of reflection on the past weeks and months. Christy fought hard for all those weeks in the hospital. Our baby fought hard for 3 hours while he was alive. The NICU staff fought hard for him. I felt that I needed to fight hard for those 31 miles. I would have had an easier time if I would have prepared. But so many people struggled to help our little man, and no one was prepared for the outcome. rationale is probably a little different than most people who might choose a different way to grieve, but it works for me. I made some peace with some things on that trail in First Landing State Park.

Christy was there to see my finish. Knowing how grossly undertrained I was, she was worried that I might not make it, and it probably scared her a little to see Jessica finish without me. I'm happy she was there for my first ultra finish. Seeing her there was the perfect finish to the perfect race.

Am I physically suffering from it? Yes. Do my quads feel like they're being stabbed by the blades of a thousand hot knives? Sho do! I wouldn't trade that feeling of aliveness for anything right now.

In other news, the day before the race, I found out that I was selected to represent Brooks Running for my fourth year as a member of the Brooks I.D. Program. I'm looking forward to another year of inspiration and Running Happy with my Brooks family across the globe.