My friend Sarah gets the award for the Most Astute Blog Reader. She posted this on my Facebook wall right after we announced our baby on the way.
I already wrote a post about what I did differently for this race, but I failed to mention one enormous detail: I was 10 weeks pregnant on race day.
Let’s start at the beginning. Pregnancy and the half marathon were both things Tom and I were planning on, but I didn’t know they were going to intersect when they did.
Tom and I became open to the idea of getting pregnant with #2 in May. If that had happened I would be due next month. Yikes. I was still nursing a lot back in May, so we didn’t really expect it to happen immediately, and it didn’t.
I was only nursing once a day, in June and July, but it still didn’t happen. I started to stress a little. We got pregnant immediately with David, so I didn’t understand the concept of waiting a few months.
Meanwhile, I was also considering running the half marathon. I started training in July but was nervous about it so I didn’t talk about the race until September. By then I’d started doing long runs, David had been weaned for two months, and I still wasn’t pregnant. I’d started running a lot, and realizing the demands I was putting on my body, I decided to focus on the race and chill on the whole “I’m not getting pregnant immediately” freak out.
So I started to focus on the race. I was doing lots of speed work, tempo runs, strength training, and cross training. My training partner Sharon and I worked really, really hard, and we were nailing our times. It started looking like we were on our way to a PR race.
Then on October 9 I found out I was pregnant.
It wasn’t a surprise, but the timing was. When I planned to do the half, I thought I’d either be something like 16 weeks pregnant, and I’d run/walk it easily, or I’d be like four weeks pregnant and either wouldn’t know yet or it wouldn’t affect my running.
But 10 weeks!? I started worrying immediately. I started dreading my long runs and speed work, and felt ill when I thought about the race (I talk about my dread here, pregnancy is the biggest reason why). First trimesters are tough, relentless and unpredictable. I don’t get morning sickness, but I am e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d the whole time. Tom and I also like to tell friends and family about our pregnancy late in the game, so no one would know about the baby. I like having excuses when it comes to running, and pregnancy is a pretty valid excuse…unless no one knows about it.
I decided to go forward with the race for these reasons:
- I ran until I was 37 weeks pregnant with David, including a 5k and a 10k race, so I already had a good idea of how my body/pregnancy would respond to running.
- I did a LOT of research about running and health during pregnancy when I was pregnant with David, and felt it would be safe.
- THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT — I talked to my doctor. I asked about running in general, I asked about the race and I asked about whether it was safe to push myself. He said it was all safe, but to be smart and make sure to hydrate. Before you run, make sure to talk to your doctor.
But this still wasn’t a normal race. When I started training, my priority was to run a great race. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my only priority was to my unborn child.
At 10 weeks you don’t need maternity clothes or anything, but pregnancy did change my training for the last month and a half, and race day. This is how:
- I got really, really nervous. This is why I got so nervous: even though I ran through pregnancy with David, I never really pushed myself. I even did some long runs with friends training for a half, but I never ran 14 sub-9-minute miles. I started talking about my nervousness to my running partner, and worried that it made her more nervous, which I wish I hadn’t done.
In hindsight, the nervousness was for naught. Not only did I run a PR, but I felt great the whole time. Sure, I was exhausted, but pregnant ladies: I promise, exercise will make you feel better.
- I couldn’t take Ibuprofen. I’m a runner who gets sore easily, is injury-prone, and needs a lot of recovery time. Because of that, I love Ibuprofen after runs. But Ibuprofen is a big no-no during pregnancy, so I was forced to deal with post-running aches and pains the way the cavemen did: by taking it easy and complaining to my husband.
- I stopped running so much. Before I found out I was pregnant, I was running six days a week (sometimes twice a day) and doing strength training two times a week. As soon as I got pregnant, I cut back on the madness. I started running four days a week (including one tempo run and one long run), and made those runs count. When I was really tired, I’d just run three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), because that’s what I needed to do in order to give it my all on the days I was running.
- I prioritized rest. When first trimester exhaustion hit me, I knew I couldn’t run and have energy to take care of David all day if I was going to bed after 10 p.m. So that’s what I started doing: I’d go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. That’s nine hours of sleep a night, and I needed every minute of it. Sometimes I’d even nap during the day.
- I started eating everything in sight. At the height of half marathon training, I was really watching what I was eating and I lost a little weight. (This isn’t abnormal. Actually, that’s how weight loss works: eat less, move more = weight loss.) When I found out about the pregnancy, I was hungrier and started eating more. I gained back a few pounds, and didn’t care.
- My digestive system started acting up. Like I said, I don’t get morning sickness, but like most runners, I worry what my stomach will do on long runs. After a particularly tough long run, I started being very, very regimented about what I ate on Friday nights. But pregnancy does crazy things to your body. You don’t just get a big middle, your skin, teeth, attitude, and feet all change, too. And my digestive system started acting up. Big time. So I took an Imodium before the race (and I asked my doctor for an ok). I’ve never done that, but it worked.
- I ate more during the race. I think this is a good idea anyway, but I started fueling at mile 5. Baby and I needed the fuel, and it got us to the finish line feeling strong.
- I drank mid-race. I never, never, NEVER drink in races. The most I ever do is take water, swish it in my mouth and spit it out. Especially in shorter races, because you’ll be done running by the time the water starts to hydrate your body. And I’m worried about having to pee mid-race. But the doctor told me to stay hydrated, so I did. I took water at mile 6, 8, and 10. And then I drank like a camel after the race.
- I didn’t celebrate with a post-run margarita. We decided to celebrate the race with Mexican for lunch. It was delicious. I gorged on chips and licked my plate. And drooled watching my parents suck down margaritas. I can still taste the salt. And tequila.
I think that’s all? I think? I probably forgot something, it’s been a while and I’m pregnant so the only thing I remember these days is meals.
Now I’m almost 21 weeks pregnant, still exhausted, still eating everything in sight, and still running when I can.
And this girl? I don’t even recognize this girl anymore.
But I sure can’t wait to run past her. In like a year.
Any other running moms out there? How did pregnancy change running and racing for you?