Saturday, June 22, 2013

What's a running blog when you don't run?

...a walking blog?

I'm not even sure! But I haven't been able to run since the North Shore Half; not related to the half, but I'm now 25 weeks pregnant and babyboy is growth-spurting in a huge way. I'm not going to turn this into a solely pregnancy blog by any means, but let me just say...ouch. My abdominal muscles ache when I /walk/ right now - running is not my friend at the moment.

I miss it. I really, really do miss it. I look wistfully at races I'd love to run and get jealous when my friends run or my husband logs one more training run for the Chicago Marathon.

But at the same time, after having talked with my OB about what's going on, he said I'm at a point where a lot of women find they can't pick it back up. He said after the growth spurt ends and my abs get a slight break it's completely feasible I might be able to pick it back up. But...some women can't.

And knowing that, knowing how supportive he is of my just is what it is. I can't change it and even with a support belt my stomach aches. If the North Shore Half was my farewell to pregnant was a helluva high not to go out on. I'm even happier that I went out on a limb and went for it, undertrained or not, because it was SO much fun and was proof that my body is still mine, that I can still do things that I couldn't before - even pregnant.

Despite my fears, I'm not turning into a sloth either; in the past week I've walked over 30 miles. So I'm still moving. If we can figure out how to budget a gym pass I'll be able to swim and bike this summer. And if not I'll walk. And walk. And walk :)

The biggest difference between a year ago, when I had never yet run, and today, when I can't run, is that now - I know what I'm missing. And I can't wait until I can do it again.

But until then...I'll probably be a pretty quiet blogger.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

5 by the 5th - completed! Recap and sum of pregnant running..

Another milestone, it seems. Wayyyyy back in December I signed up for the 5 by the 5th Virtual Run Series run by Laura of Mommy Run Fast. The premise is exactly what it sounds like - run 5K or 5M by the 5th of the month, January through June. There's a finisher medal you can opt into too as long as you complete one of the six races, and not surprisingly, I opted in.

At the time I signed up I thought it was perfect - 5 mile was a normal weekday run for me and it would be nooooo problem to finish at all.

And January's run really was no issue - a slow 5K because I did a 13.1mile training run the day before, but no issue.

Running my first chip-timed half and LOVING it - no idea how much this race would change my life!

February wasn't a problem either - a very typical 5 mile run. Felt totally fine, a totally normal 13mm pace. The day after though...oh, the day after. The day after for the first time I did an 8 mile run, running with my husband - not that I hadn't run 8 miles before, but I usually don't run two days in a row. But my 5 mile had felt easy and how could I pass up a chance to run with my husband? I had thought my last opportunity would be at the Polar Dash, my very first half marathon. So we ran. And man - it was hard. It was so hard, it was slow, and just...I felt in over my head. Yeah, I had taken a week off after my half, but surely I hadn't lost that much fitness had I?! I thought it was a combo of no rest day, still recovering, and the cold, but I just couldn't seem to warm up.

Coming in at the finish line at my Cupid 10K, 6 weeks pregnant

Little did I know...3 days after that run, after wracking my brain trying to figure out why it was SO hard (harder than my half only 3 weeks earlier)...a random pregnancy test explained why that run was so tough. Pregnancy was supposed to be impossible and after going through hell to have my daughter, I believed that. It turned out we conceived at my very first half marathon...which is somehow both amazing and appropriate, as well as spawning the nickname of "Marathon" for the baby. A few days later I ran the Cupid 10K - my first race with baby :)

March's 5 miler ended up a normal pace but running was getting harder. I wasn't throwing up but morning sickness and fatigue were cutting miles out of my week and making the miles I got in harder. I did run a 5K race at the end of March that ended up going really well - not quite a PR but close, and as I began to close in on the end of the first trimester, morning sickness was going away. In a surprise to me, my running clothes stopped fitting though as my belly popped. Oops! I also managed to work in a virtual half marathon, the Shamrocks 4 Shannon, which I was pretty pleased with and predicted a finish time of around 3 for my half coming up the first week of April.

13 weeks pregnant and running the Egg Shell Shuffle 5K

April though...despite running a half that month, this is the only month of 5 by the 5th I had to skip. The fatigue was getting better but was hitting me so hard the first part of the day that I just didn't get many runs in! It's the black spot on my series record and while participating in all 6 wasn't mandatory, I had planned on it, darn it. -glares at blackspot- The half I ran in April wasn't much fun either because I set my expectations high and felt like my body let me down when I had to walk the last 3 miles. That unfortunately would set the tone for much of the next two months...I felt let down by my running. On a positive note, we found out that our little Marathon was a boy - hello, Miles Alexander!*

Okay, not really running, but a quick pause during the Lincoln HM at 14 weeks pregnant.

May continued the running slump, but I did work in both a 5K and a 5 miler at my normal pace & time. At least now being officially in the second trimester my energy levels were better, although my 5 mile race brought the news that I was anemic and needed an iron supplement - or I was going to be short of breath! Happily, one extra vitamin fixed this issue. Really, I didn't run much because of the battle in my head, not my body. I was both afraid that I was no longer a "runner" because I was slowing down and would soon not even be able to imitate a runner because runs were - while easier to get to because I wasn't tired - harder to do as my belly continued to grow. While I was still running at 5months pregnant, I felt like I was staring at the end - and I wasn't happy about it. I was making my peace with it, but I was regretful, too.

Crossing the finish line at the Cinco, 18 weeks pregnant. Race photo, all rights reserved to photographer.
And now it's June! Almost 6 months pregnant, I walked the 5K for 5 by the 5th this month, but only because on 6/2 I ran my second half marathon while pregnant (and had a blast!). I was hoping to get a 5K run in at least but I usually take a week off after a half, so wasn't surprised that I didn't. It's still early in the month, so who knows how I'll feel at the end, but right now I feel good. 23 weeks pregnant, still running - slowing down, but renewing my commitment to run while it feels good and walk while it doesn't. Being active is healthy, and I'm not going to let myself forget that again. I'm sad 5 by the 5th is over and hope Laura does it again in the future - I really liked it. Despite the April blemish, I feel like I earned the medal and can't wait to hang it :)

Okay - not actually running, but right after finishing the North Shore Half at 22 weeks pregnant

*And no, we didn't choose Miles because I run - we just knew it was his name!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

North Shore Half recap

Let me start out short and sweet: Finished, loved it, feel great - so glad I did this!

Longer version:

I wouldn't have been doing this race, but a friend of mine offered me her bib when she accidentally double booked herself for both the North Shore Half and a half out in San Diego. Unsurprisingly she opted for San Diego (and did awesome!) which left her bib for the North Shore Half open. This just seemed like fate - it was a race I really wanted to do but couldn't justify full price for because ... well... I couldn't run it competitively. I couldn't try for a PR. And I just felt like with as expensive as the race is, if I can't give it my all..we just couldn't justify paying for it :( I hated that because I really wanted to do it, but it made sense. My husband chose, after we decided that I couldn't, to run the race (...after not being interested in before? ....) and so I never really stopped obsessing over it - so when she offered her bib I just...felt like fate. Even though I was undertrained, I knew I could finish it - and I really wanted to go out on a more positive note than Lincoln. (So Jennifer - again, thank you. REALLY really grateful!)

After arranging childcare and confirming I could run I started planning and really thinking about what went wrong at Lincoln. I decided that my problems were two-fold:

1) Pacing - I overestimated my pregnant body's abilities and paced myself in a way that caused me to short circuit after 10 miles. This wasn't intentional, of course - when your body changes fast, your capabilities change fast too and sometimes your capability changes before you've caught on. But adapting was going to require taking a VERY realistic look at what I can do hauling a much bigger pregnant belly than I did last time.
2) Attitude - when I realized my body wasn't capable of 13.1 that day, instead of accepting that I still completed a half and that by itself, I got mad at myself. I got angsty and felt like I failed. And in retrospect - this wasn't true. I didn't fail - I finished. I'm pregnant and my body can't currently do everything it did before in the same way it used to. But because my head wasn't in the right space, I robbed myself of fun - which is really unfortunate, because it was my last run with my husband (he's ramping up marathon training, and pregnancy is slowing me down) and I didn't get to enjoy it like I wish I had.

So going into this, I planned to start at 3:2 run/walk intervals - running the run intervals comfortably so as not to stress my body, and drop down to 1:1 when that started to feel like work, with the caveat of dropping down further if that proved to start feeling like work too.

But more importantly, I planned to eke every bit of fun out of this I could. Funny signs? I wanted pictures.

Sadly, it rained almost the entire race, so this group was the only one holding signs not meant for a specific person (like the ones that read, Go Mommy!). But I laughed with them and said they were the only ones holding signs, could I get a pic? They were excited - I was the only one who asked them to get one!

Kids who wanted high fives? They were gonna get them. Volunteers and course directors? I chatted and joked. I talked to runners around me. And more importantly - I don't think the smile slipped off my face except at the mega hill around 7.25ish. I literally grinned, as rain poured, as it drizzled, as the miles ticked by. I was happy to be out there, and it showed. Photographers even commented on it, because each time I saw one I threw my arms in the air as I ran past; I was already grinning, but probably grinned even wider.

I won't bother breaking down how the miles passed - my time wasn't a goal (although I suspected if I planned it carefully I could beat my Lincoln time - that wasn't a goal, just a hunch - if I hadn't done it I wouldn't have cared). I will offer these awesome highlights:

  • The course was awesomely supported - aid/potty/water-gatorade stops every 1.5-2miles mostly. The bathroom stops made this pregnant woman VERY happy - I thought I'd need each one and was never so happy to see a portopotty in my life than I was at mile 1.75ish. That was awkwardly worded, but you get the idea. Props to RAM racing!
  • Mile 5.5 was the best part of the first half. You know why? I got to see Kim! I didn't notice her at first - she was helping direct racers on the course, and while I knew she was volunteering I for some reason thought she'd be at a water stop so wasn't looking for her there. I had a present for her, but was so caught off guard that I forgot it until about a quarter mile after I passed her! :( Sorry Kim but it was so cool to see you - I have NO idea why but as soon as you called my name I totally knew your voice, it sounded just like you. (I don't know what that means, but my brain totally recognized your voice!) And let me say - she was pretty rad with the cowbell. MOAR COWBELL PLZ.
  • I ran 3:2 intervals the first hour, and 1:1 the second. Into the third I did a mix - mostly 1:1, but towards the end I did some 30 second walks and runs, and then some 1:2s - I could have run longer but it was more important to me to run to the end, so I added more walking. I'm glad I did; it let me finish the race running, which is something I hadn't managed at Lincoln. It was important to me to never stress during this race - I wanted it to be fun. If I was starting to huff and puff, that's not fun - so I didn't do it. Period. And it worked out perfectly :) 
  • I felt bad when I passed people....there were a couple people who groaned out loud when I'd pass them and I knew it was the obvious baby belly causing that reaction. There was one guy who kept glancing between my face and my stomach when I'd be next to him and groan when I passed - I don't know if he even realized he was doing it out loud. He tried so hard to run past me but...he was clearly out of gas :( I did take a bathroom break at the end so he might have passed me then, but he sure caused some guilt, haha!

I ended up finishing in 3:10:31, which is about 2:15 faster than Lincoln. Not intentional, but didn't surprise me either - my attitude was better and I was a lot more careful AND mindful of my body. I had an absolute blast, smiling until the end. (Except the monster hill. I did walk most of the uphills that were more than gentle and smiled, but that monster - even walking it had me out of breath! Rude!) The course was awesome and so well supported, and I couldn't have asked for better weather - mid 50s and drizzly. Rain is usually not something to hiope for but I really think it helped me manage my temps better - I overheat really easily right now, which is why heat running hasn't been happening, and it helped keep me cool.

If I have a negative, it's that I ran under a friend's bib. I didn't realize until the day before that you're not allowed to transfer your bib - I'd heard of other runners using a friend's bib and it didn't really occur to me until I came across the tidbit on the website when I was looking up packet pickup info. I feel bad about that in retrospect; I'm not a rule breaker by nature and I am a little uncomfortable with it. Totally my fault and nothing to do with the race itself, but I do feel bad that I did that.

But, I'm overall very glad I did this race. I proved that I haven't lost all my fitness, and I got to go out for distance racing on a -fun- note, with a positive attitude. I felt very very accomplished at that finish line :)

Awkward belt is awkward, but there's no where else for it to go - it's wear it like this or go without! 

Very obviously pregnant, 22w2d in these pictures, but can you tell how happy I was? And I have to say - all the rain made my hair look a lot nicer post race than it usually does, since it was damp! :P