Being the mom of two kiddos is just a little bit of work—especially when you are nursing your newborn and trying to potty train your 2-year old! Between only a little sleep at night (still on the every 2 hour cycle with nursing) and non-stop running around chasing a high energy toddler while constantly nagging her to go sit on the potty, I have REALLY itchy legs that are dying to go on a run! I should be waiting until my 6-week post partum appointment before heading out for any kind of a run, but in all honesty, physically I feel great in terms of recovery. The thought of being out of running for 10-weeks is maddening to me. I was hopeful that this weekend was going to be decent so that I could test my legs and fitness on a short, non-stress run of 2-3 miles. However, as per my luck, we received 8-inches of snow. While that would not normally deter me from going for a run, my lack of fitness and also the amount of gear I’d put on for a 2 or 3 mile shake out really just isn’t appealing.
Now that Baby Bro is 1-month old today, I am starting to reflect on my time as a running preggo. I am beyond grateful that I was able to run for as long as I did. When I found out I was (finally) pregnant again, I can’t lie about my concern for what that meant to my running. Since I started running after the birth of Lil One, it had become so much a part of me. I was nervous that I would be sitting on the sidelines for 9-months. Thankfully, I had a supportive husband who recognized my need to not only maintain my running as long as possible, but also a supportive and understanding OB (who was also a runner). After seeking out the advice of some ladies who blogs that I follow who have had experience running during pregnancy, TMB and Heather, I came up with my own plan for running throughout my pregnancy.
My first trimester definitely saw a decrease in my mileage thanks to a combination of coming off both a marathon and half marathon. Throw in a trip to HUMID Aruba (though I did run one morning while on vacation), and general 1st trimester tiredness and you can probably understand why my mileage was so low. But by the time July and the 2nd trimester rolled around I was feeling much more energetic and ready to get my run on. My average weekday run was in the 3-4 mile range with a “long run” on the weekend. I’m not sure why I joke about “long” runs because they were in preparation for a ½ marathon in August.
My BFF, Beanie, was coming to town with her husband so that they could both run their first ½ marathons at the inaugural Providence Rock n’ Roll ½ Marathon. I had signed up for it before I was pregnant and decided that I wasn’t about to bag it, so instead of gunning for a PR as I had initially anticipated, I planned on running alongside Beanie in support. I will admit that it was hard to give up on a PR dream and to run at a slower pace than what I was accustomed. However, it was something that I was OK with doing because this race was about two things for me—1) to say I ran a half marathon pregnant, and 2) the most important reason, to be there and support my best friend! We shared so many wonderful memories and experiences together, a half marathon (PG with her godson as a side note) would be added to those memories. As it turned out, there was a monsoon that day which made for less than ideal race conditions. Shoes weighed you down; puddles became dangerous because you didn’t know if they were a few inches deep or hid a giant pothole! We ran side by side the whole race, except for the break where I told Beanie to go on—the preggo bladder couldn’t hold much more at the 10K mark on the course and a pit stop was needed. I caught up with Beanie just in time for the race photographer to take an awesome photo of us—looking pretty fab and fierce, making it work in the rain if I do say so myself.
That ½ was supposed to be the last of my races during my pregnancy and I was supposed to start slowing down. I realized that I still had more in me and I needed to keep running. After another discussion with my OB, I was cleared to continue running into my 3rd trimester as long as I was being smart—I needed to listen to my body and not push through things I normally would push through. If my breathing felt hard, I needed to slow down or stop. If I had a cramp I needed to stop and stretch (not to be confused with a contraction which would have stopped my running altogether for the rest of the pregnancy). Not pushing was a hard lesson to learn, especially when I felt like I had so much in me. Seeing my running buddies go for long runs in preparation for the Chicago Marathon was hard. Having my husband, who I usually pass easily, pass me as I completed an 8-mile run while he was finishing up a 12-mi marathon training run was down right demoralizing. I admit it—I cried. I yelled. I pouted. I felt SORRY for myself. The competitive person within me couldn’t be silenced—I didn’t listen to her and push on, but I did listen to her and her words hurt.
My running buddy Scary knows my competitive spirit and told me that if a) The Hubs was on board, and b) that my OB was on board, she would run the Amica ½ Marathon with me in Newport, RI—I’d be 28-weeks pregnant. I was beyond grateful to her—she was willing to essentially throw away a race just so that I had someone to run with. Scary is a certified personal trainer so she was the perfect person to run with me—she knew what to watch for and how to help me if I started to get uncomfortable. The only thing that made that offer even better was the fact that my other best running buddy, K. also offered to run with me. To have my two running-BFF’s out there supporting me was a gift that I will forever be thankful for!
Everything was on track for me in terms of training for the ½ marathon, and then the Chicago Marathon happened the week prior…and the pregnant marathoner. To say that I was not nervous or concerned about the reception that I would receive the next week as I chugged along with my big giant pregnant belly would be a lie. I was afraid that people would think I was careless or that I was doing it to be like the PG marathoner. In reality, I had been signed up and training for this ½ well before the PG marathoner, and I had received medical clearance, and I was running with a trainer. But when you are on the race course people don’t know that or understand that and it was a perception with which I would have to deal. Come race day, the nervousness over what others would think went away as I realized I was with RUNNERS! Runners support each other and encourage each other—even when you are total strangers. I have pushed others on and been pushed by others during races because that’s what runners do. As I ran along the course, both men and women cheered me and my Posse on—I was PROUD to be running while 28-weeks pregnant. As the finish line approached, I saw The Hubs, Lil One, and my in-laws cheering for me and it was the final boost I needed to cross the line. I was proud of myself and for going out there and doing what I knew I cold do—safely! I didn’t push the pace; I ran what I felt I could run; I walked up a steep hill and stopped at water stops and for multiple potty breaks. I finished; I beat my previous PG ½ marathon time; and I was proud of my accomplishment. It was more of a mental accomplishment than a physical one for me—I beat myself. I told the voice in my head that had been telling me I was weak the entire time I was running while pregnant to take a hike. That day I was victorious!
After that race, I started to taper my runs back. Long weekend runs started to be dropped, and my times for my mid-week runs started to slip, as did my mileage. The month of November saw a 20-mile decrease for the month, and by December, I stopped running.
My last run was at about 35-weeks. It coincided when we started renovations for our basement, where we keep the treadmill. But it also was time for me to stop—I was getting home from work really late due to trying to wrap things up before I went out on maternity leave. As a result of more time at work, I had less time at home with my daughter, and with the quickly approaching holidays I had more and more to-dos being added to my list before Baby Bro made his arrival. Sure I didn’t run until I gave birth, but I ran as long as I could. I remained true to myself and my need for running, but I also remained healthy, still gaining almost 30-pounds during my pregnancy.
In looking back, I have realized that I’m pretty bada$$–there are people out there who don’t exercise at all, never mind, run 3 ½-marathons while pregnant. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean that you need to be immobile. You have to be smart and listen to your body. Most importantly, you need to listen to your OB or midwife!!!! If I had talked to my OB and she told me no way you BET I would have sucked it up and not run!!! While maintaining m fitness level and running ability was important to me, the health and wellbeing of my unborn baby was MOST important. I never would have doe something knowingly or willingly putting that baby in harms way. That being said, if your medical staff and significant other is on board, then by all means, know that you can still be a bada$$ while pregnant. I am so excited to share these experiences with Baby Bro when he gets older and can appreciate them!
In the meantime, I can’t wait to get back out there and start to run with my ERP (Elite Running Posse) ladies soon!! Race season is approaching and I have me some pavement to pound!
Please note that I am NOT a medical professional and I do NOT advocate my training or running plan for others. Please consult a medical professional before starting any exercise program—whether pregnant or not pregnant. While this may have worked for me, it may not work for all people and you should be monitored according to your personal health history and circumstances.