Running for 2…

Well, I seem to have officially hit the point where running is a little harder. The good news is I don’t lament for marathon and ultra training right now, because I don’t think I could do it.

Things started getting a little tough about 6 weeks ago on my Olympic Nat. Park trip. I was a little winded on hikes, and the low abdominal pressure started. Runs kinda have continued down that path…it takes a little more effort each week, and the pressure increases ever so slightly each week.
In the last week, I’ve really noticed it. My starting miles are slow. The first couple miles of each run are 10 minute miles. I feel no shame in the slow down…as long as I can can keep running I am happy. But, I wonder how long I’ll have any company at this rate.
The challenges also extend to other activities. A couple weeks ago, I noticed how much harder yoga seemed. I used to do plank and the upper body moves with no trouble, suddenly a plank pushup was hard. And, I’ve been going 2-3 times a week…I should be getting stronger, not weaker.
Steve asked me if I thought if the perceived level of increase in difficultly was “due to all the weight gain”. Gee, thanks…. 🙂 No, the weight gain happens so slowly I don’t really notice it. I think it is all the extra blood that now my heart works twice as hard just to do normal stuff.
This morning, Mark was kind enough to run with me, and kept telling me it wasn’t that slow of a pace, but what I really notice is even though things are slower, they are just aren’t easier. I can see why folks quit running during pregnancy. It’s hard! Now, it’s still very doable for me, and once I get past the first couple miles it does get easier, and I feel more energy in the morning because of my runs, so it is still worth it. I just keep wondering if I will hit a point where I decide it’s just too hard, or if I can hold on just another 4-41/2 months (like the way I am trying to convince myself that is not that far off?!?)
I also have hit the point I just can’t fathom that I once ran a marathon, 50 miles, or even a 20 mile long run. It just doesn’t seem possible. I am really hoping at some point it seems like it could be reality again. I know my days of all day greenbelt runs are over, but just maybe a hard 3 hour training run will sound “fun” again at some point… Maybe someday I’ll have a run where I pack my mid run snacks and an icy Dr. Pepper to recharge, and instead of taking 3 bathroom breaks, I am taking fueling breaks again. Was I really doing 25 mile runs a year ago at this time? Yes, I was!
Also, to keep it all in perspective….I am running. I am not injured. And, even if I drop down to a pace not much quicker than a walk, so be it….until it becomes unbearable I will be out there!

Just got home from my Spec appt, and am about to head out on a walk with Pancake. Although we needed the rain desperately, Pancake has not enjoyed 3 days straight of rain!

I think I have officially hit the point of not being able to look when I get weighed. I know that makes me sound crazy and vain, but I am just being honest that I hate seeing that number creep up. I also got word I am allowed to stay at current running levels. Whoo-hoo!
Many folks have asked me about Spec’s real name. He does have a real name, but like a lot of folks we won’t reveal until he is born. I always wanted friends to tell me their babies names, but I understand now. I don’t want a less than enthusiastic reaction to a name I have my heart set on. Once the kid is born, most folks won’t say anything bad about the name to your face. I call Spec his real name now, but everyone else can keep calling him Spec!

Running with Spec the Giant…

Things are still going well. Spec seemed to have a major growth spurt and for the first time, a couple people have pointed out I’ve gained weight, so I had to reveal I am pregnant. I still hadn’t said much at work, but apparently, some people say they can tell. I still think I just look fat and not pregnant, but oh well. This week I officially ran out of clothes. I have ONE pair of pant I can wear to work zipped. I’ve had plenty of suggestions of where to get cute clothes, but I am already thinking of Spec first. I hate to spend a lot of money on maternity clothes when I would rather get things for Spec.

Anyhow, when I run, Spec feels huge. He seems to like to kick his legs out quiet a bit now, he does this at the start of a run, as if to say, “Whoa, here we go again!”, and then he calms down and doesn’t move until the run is over.
I hit a new low running this week. It was pouring rain , and I forced myself out. Once I was out, it was doable. I ran my old road route I haven’t done in months, because I was scared of slipping on the trail at Mueller when it was wet. There were no bathrooms on the road route, but I thought: “Oh well, it’s pouring, if I end up peeing in my shorts, no one will know, and I’ll come home and drop them straight into the wash.” Seriously, what about that seems rational! Luckily on the way home I noticed a bathroom at the park, just in time. Whew! This am Mark was kind enough to to meet me, and assured me I am not that slow, but I have my doubts! It is nice to finally say good bye to summer though. I do feel a little faster now that it is not 90 degrees at 6am.
One thing everyone tells you about pregnancy is how tired you get. I am finding this to be true. The first trimester was the worst, where it was downright challenging to even work. Now, I am fine in the morning, and even have energy to burn, but come evenings, I get winded just walking around the house. I can see how it is easy to get deconditioned very quickly, so it all the more important to keep up exercise.
I admit it is nice to feel Spec all the time, and now that I have seen him, and am getting to know him, I am already thinking , “Gosh, I am going to hate to leave him at day care all day!” But, if Spec wants to go to college some day I need to work!

No surprise…

Spec is a boy. I was 99.9% sure. Mike told me I was overly confident in my declaration, but I just knew. Not much else to say. Although I was indifferent to a boy or girl, I was glad he remained as I had grown to know him.

Steve…I hope this picture doesn’t creep you out….

Comeback…

Well, I’ll never be this fast. This pic is from the Olympic marathon trials in 2008. Got to see them while in Boston for the marathon. One thing I’ve been looking for stories about is coming back to your prior level of fitness after having a baby. There are plenty of stories out there about elite runners. Now the huge advantage they have is running is their job. There is no up at 430 to squeeze in a run before a 10 hour work day that also includes taking a kid to daycare, and then spending time with them in the evening. But any story of coming back strong is encouraging.

Most runners are familiar with Paula Radcliffe‘s story of coming back a few months after having a baby to win the NY marathon. Once again though, she had a whole team to get her back: a coach, a nanny, a private physical therapist, etc. Plus the whole getting ultrasounds the whole pregnancy just to make sure the running isn’t doing any harm wouldn’t happen for us normal folks.
This interview sounds a little more “normal” Elite runner Shayne Culpepper talks about not running at all during her pregnancy and then coming right back. I am skeptical I could do this, and drop the weight right off too, but it is encouraging to read someone did it.
Here is another article about a completely normal trail runner. Not an elite, but similar to myself, just slightly obsessive about her hobby. While I do disagree with running on the rough trails while you are pregnant, I agree with her quote about it all being relative. When you are used to doing ultra marathons, cutting back to an hour of easy running and some walking is a huge decrease, while others may think an hour of running a day seems like a lot.
I think this was my favorite article I found. 44 year old Colleen DeReuck has her second baby, and doesn’t run at all during pregnancy. I know she came back to run in the 2008 Olympic trials, and I recently read in Runner’s World she won another national championship. She does mention it was hard to come back…that is a little scary, but it sounds like at some point it all comes back together.
So what’s the point? I am encouraged and excited to read there is running life after a baby. I am encouraged that I’ve had a lot of positive comments about coming back, but like any experience, I won’t know what it will be like until it happens to me. I already feel a difference in my running. It really started about a month ago. First the lower abdominal pressure, then the mild little burn in my low back. Now I feel like a big, heavy pendulum is swinging in lower abdomen when I run. Today I ran my entire run alone for the first time in awhile. It was dark the whole time, and I didn’t glance at my watch once. I had one of those mornings I felt a lot of weight inside me and I knew I would just skip along at a relaxed pace. My mind wandered, and the temperature actually felt good. I enjoyed watching the rest of the neighborhood slowly wake up, and lights flickered on, and folks staggered out sleepily to let the dog out. Despite the heavy feeling, the little burn it my back, and the extra weight, I felt good. I came home energized and happy to start the day after getting my run in, and I guess being able to keep that up is really what I am most hoping for.

Spec, the rainstorm, and the magical pants…

Today was Spec’s first race. Stephanie says technically his first race was the Lavender 10K, when later that day I found out I was pregnant, but since he was really just a clump of cells then, I’m counting today as his first.

Stephanie and I left in the dark, pouring rain to head south to San Marcos. When the last real rain was in April, you don’t complain about a down pour on a race day. We arrived at the race site and I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice, older country subdivision. Lots of oaks and prickly pears, and everything was green from our rain that morning. Plus it couldn’t have been more than 70 degrees at the most. We got really nice tech shirts, and didn’t have to waste too much time before we were off.
Earlier this week I had a couple fantastic runs without major pressure from Spec’s position. It was true good to be true as yesterday I noticed he moved back, and when I run I have the sensation of lots of pressure. It is most uncomfortable on my bladder. Today started with the same pressure. I’ve just learned to run through it, and sometimes a quick bathroom stop helps a little. Stephanie and I ran together for 4 miles and she decided to walk a bit so I went on. Immediately I realized I was just too uncomfortable not to stop at a bathroom, but there were none. And the only bushes and trees were on someone’s property, so not an option. I only had about 2 miles to run, but I didn’t think I could do it with this amount of discomfort. I considered my options. 1. Pee in my running shorts. It was raining, I would rinse off some from that, and I had a full change of clothes for after the race. They would probably smell too bad to keep in the car while we shopped, so I would have to toss them. An awesome pair of Nike shorts ending up trashed. Was it worth it? 2. Pee in some one’s yard and pray no one notices. I would feel like a big jerk doing this. It’s gross, but I guess no grosser than peeing in my shorts. 3. Run like hell to the finish. I chose option 3. Suddenly my pace dipped below 8 minutes a mile. I know, not too impressive, but I am now 4 1/2 months pregnant with double the blood to pump around that I had a few months ago, and extra pounds. I felt like I was flying. I felt like a jerk sprinting past all kinds of folks at the end, like I was trying to put on some big show, but they didn’t know the full story. I sprinted straight to the bathroom, and was relieved option 3 worked (just barely), and I still am the owner of some very nice Nike shorts. Thanks for keeping up my training, Spec.
Next we hit breakfast and the outlet mall. Outlet malls typically are about as much fun for me as sitting in I-35 traffic and about as productive. I’ll go with a list of things I need and leave with nothing, exhausted, hot, and cursing that I wasted a whole afternoon trekking from store to store to find nothing that fits, and nothing that is a true deal. Today’s mission was pants that fit and a new purse. Anything else would be gravy. We hit a couple stores and I had my usual issues…nothing fit, the prices weren’t really that good. We checked out a slightly sad looking maternity store, and miracle of miracles I found jeans. They fit perfect. They were $24. They were coming home with me… I also found a purse. I am a little ashamed to admit I have a thing for fancy designer purses. I found some bonus clothing items I can wear to work. Success….and a very rare productive outlet mall trip.
So, Spec’s first race is in the history books. I really need to find more. Normally these little short, small races aren’t that big of a deal to me, but given the mileage decrease, and the new physical challenges that come up each week it was a lot of fun.

Thumper…

Yet another picture from Washington. Mike took this one when we were up on Hurricane Ridge, which is the mountain alpine section of Olympic National Park. Turns out Spec is quite the thumper. I’ve been feeling him move around for a little over a week, and I notice it more and more. He is very active when I am sitting at work and in the evenings. He gets pissed off if I lay on my stomach and I picture him kicking his legs out. He’s still too small for me to feel strong jabs, but there is no doubt for me now that he’s moving. I don’t feel him when I run, but since I feel so much bladder pressure, I imagine he’s stomping his feet. Mike says he just thinks of it as a waterbed.

Nothing much to discuss in the running dept. Doing my “allowed” amount, lots of walking, lots of yoga. Spec’s first race is this weekend. Just a 10K. I hope to run/ walk some stuff this fall when it cools a little. I don’t think there are any trail runs that aren’t ultras, but I’ll poke around and see what is out there. Well, I am almost to the halfway point in the pregnancy and soon enough will be planning what race Mike will be taking Spec to to watch me in.

We need green…

Mike and I took Pancake to the greenbelt today where I accepted yes, it is cooler (only 95 today!), but still a little steamy to hike and not drip sweat like crazy. I put this lovely photo of mosses up, because I think even more than cooler weather, I long for things to get green again. I had not been on the greenbelt in 3 months, and the dead trees, and dust were downright disturbing. The trail was so, so dusty and eroded from a rainless summer. Even the decent rain we got Friday evening did not put one drop into the long dry creek bed. Mike and I talked about when I will go hiking with Spec. I anticipate at least returning to walking quickly after I deliver, and I really want to make a habit of taking Spec and Pancake on regular outings. I want to get a baby carrier, and I’ll start looking into ones I can carry a baby ,and some of the extras you need to haul, but not quite an all out backpacking carrier.

I just got back from having dinner with Melissa and her family and one thing we talked about, that I have been wondering about is getting it all in once Spec is here. I feel like I am busy all the time now….I can’t imagine adding another HUGE element to the day. A typical weekday for me goes: wake up at 430, out the door by 515 to run, home by 630-645, shower, coffee, to work between 730-800. Work roughly 9-10 hours. Sometimes yoga after work and home by 700. If not, walk Pancake or something, cook dinner, clean up, fold laundry while watching a show, or iron work clothes while watching a show, and around 930-1000 start thinking of bed. Now where do a squeeze in infant care and quality time with baby too? Well, I probably don’t…something has got to give. Melissa assured me somehow you find a way to make most of your life work. Yes, some things will go, but maybe I am just not as efficient as I think I am, and I’ll learn to manage my time better? Who knows. Maybe I’ll never sleep? Maybe I’ll give in and take my work clothes to the dry cleaner instead of doing them myself? Time will tell. All I can do is be positive I’ll find a way to do what I value the most and not get too crazy.
Not much pregnancy news. Friends ask me all the time what is new in the Spec world, but the thing no one really tells you about being pregnant is you find out you are pregnant, you have a period of feeling really crappy for awhile, and nothing much noticeable really happens for weeks and weeks. Until the 20 week ultrasound, there is not much to tell folks. I guess no news is good news in this case.

Cookie monster…

Quick post before I dash off to work. A few years ago when I ran the Vermont 100, Stephanie and Meredith got me the most incredible peanut butter brownie. I ate it at mile 68, with tears running down my face saying I had enough of this adventure in the woods of Vermont and what kind of idiot runs 100 miles! Somehow Steph got me to to on, but I think the brownie had some part in it as well.

This morning I was leaving my front door to run a mile up to Mueller to meet Steph, and to my surprise there she was parked in front of my house with Vermont brownies! She had gone over the weekend with her mom for a belated Mother’s Day trip, and I jokingly had mentioned to get me a brownie. So, yeah, I got a couple extra yoga classes in my future this weekend, because I am eating these… She also got me a really cute baby chili pepper snuggly thingie. Very cute.

A good friend emailed me and slapped some sense into me. She has struggled with a foot injury all summer, and kindly reminded me how frustrating a running injury can be. At least I am running and I have a date for coming back, with an injury you just don’t know. So, I am sure she will read this, and I’d like to say thank you. Of all people, as a nurse, I should know never take your health for granted. I really cannot complain that I am doing great, and running daily at 4 months pregnant.

Off to work….I think I’ll be packing a brownie with my lunch.