Thursday, September 20, 2012

Running a Half Marathon at 25 Weeks Pregnant

When a friend of mine asked about six weeks ago if I wanted her entry to a half marathon she originally planned on doing my initial answer was "no."  I didn't know how I would feel at 25 weeks, how big my stomach would be and was a little nervous about how my body would react.  Another friend of ours was planning on running and I was doing a lot of her long runs with her but decided to take it week by week.  Ever since I came out of the first trimester where I had one outstanding week that I ran a total of 2 miles, I have run 25-30 miles per week with at least one run above 8 miles if not 10.  I basically run every day that I feel like it and overall I have been a much happier pregnant person.  When I was pregnant with Ben with all of the hills in Morgantown I felt like I had a good run if I made it three or four miles.

This pregnancy however, things are different.  I am not working, I can take a nap if I want every afternoon and I am teaching a bodypump class which is really helping my core stay strong.  When a week before the half marathon arrived and I had a really good 10 mile run I thought, "why not run the half?"  I ran my decision by Andrew and a couple of other runners and decided to do it.  They all cautioned me to listen to my body and to run smart.  I put in way more training for this half than I did the one I ran a few months after Ben was born.

The morning of the run (not so much a race for me) arrived and I was tired.  My head felt cloudy, my throat was a little sore and I felt like I was getting a cold.  Initially I thought there was no way I would run more than a couple of miles with my friend who was running her first but I hoped once I drank some tea, woke up and walked around I would feel better.  I did.  By the time we lined up I wasn't feeling as great as I wanted but good enough to give it a shot.  I appropriately wore my favorite race t-shirt from the 50 miler I attempted a few years back--it is huge and only fits me when I am pregnant.

The first four miles went by pretty quickly.  My friend Erin and I chatted along, were passed by people who didn't want to get beaten by a pregnant woman and enjoyed the beauty of the day.  It was a gorgeous cool morning at Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie.  Around mile 4 there was a bathroom stop which I needed to take advantage of so I sent Erin ahead and took my first of five bathroom breaks.  I drank at least a cup of water at each water station in an effort to stay hydrated (so as to not cause any contractions) and relaxed into my own pace.  Around mile five or six I saw Andrew's cousins who were there to cheer on his aunt and uncle who were running that day.  I stopped and talked for a few minutes (evidence again it was not a race) before continuing on my pregnant way.

At mile 7 I ate my squeezy fruit that I brought along and continued to plug.  I didn't wear a watch or bring my Ipod because I really wanted to focus on how I was feeling.  I wish that more people would have left their Ipods behind because it really cuts down on conversation when everyone is in their own little world.  I felt like I was stalking people without headphones in an effort to make some conversation and help the miles to tick by faster.  I made it to mile 10 without any walk breaks but by then my scratchy throat was coming back, a bit of a headache was coming on and oh yeah, I am pregnant.  The water stops were a little before each mile marker so I decided to walk between the water and mile marker.  It was a good way to give myself little breaks, especially since I didn't have a watch to tell me how long I was walking.

By mile 12 I really wanted to be finished, but at that point I was nearly there.  My lower back was starting to get sore and I was just plain tired.  I took a few more walk breaks and was encouraged by those around me to "push through," "keep running," and "you're almost there."  All of these comments people made as they ran up behind me but once the saw the load up front they quickly changed their tune to "you're pregnant? walk all you want!"    As I neared the finish line my natural instinct was to pick it up, pass as many people a I could and sprint it in.  I squelched my normal end kick and continued to take it easy.  I posed at the end for the camera with my belly sticking out, grabbed as much food as I could carry and found my friend who finished ahead of me.

My pregnant half was a good experience but not one I am sure I will do again.  The baby and I came through just fine but I don't know if I would actually pay to do it.  It was fun to run a race without any goals or pressure (besides the pressure on my bladder).  I was simply able to enjoy the day.  I hoped I helped a few people PR as they took one look at my stomach and picked up their own pace.  Next year I hope to do the same race again with Baby B2 and Ben hanging out at the finish waiting for me.