Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Pregnant Half Marathon Running Journey.

On October 12, at The Showdown, I had the honor of pacing a half for the first time.  Little did I know I had company.  A tiny zygote was swimming inside of me.  And so began my adventure.  After I got home from my next pacing gig two weeks later my husband saw my distended belly and asked if I was pregnant.  This infuriated me since I had lost my first pregnancy in February and we had not been able to get pregnant again yet, or so I thought.  I was convinced my protruding belly was the typical post-race refueling food baby.  As the day wore on my breasts felt sore, I felt strange, and I got curious.  The next morning I got my big fat positive.
With two halves under our belt I considered running a full before giving birth but after researching the dos and don’ts of pregnancy exercise I learned the golden standard.  Continue doing what your body is conditioned to.  Mine was conditioned to half marathons on a whim but definitely not for 26.2.  So I loaded up.  I took every opportunity to pace and added a few I just had to do. 
The first half I ran knowing my little one was on board was a little nerve wracking. You see, I had paced those first two halves 45 minutes slower than my race pace. Now I was free to run my own pace but I didn’t know what that was.  So I just ran comfortably and it worked like a charm.  I finished feeling accomplished but not exhausted and not worried in the slightest about over taxing my system and harming my passenger.
Next up was The New Year’s Double.  13.1 miles on New Year’s Eve and 13.1 on New Year’s Day. A whole new beast.  The most significant challenge was the training.  Between half #3 and New Year’s exhaustion and morning sickness took their toll.  My cross training became virtually nonexistent as I honed in on my training plan determined to stick to it as closely as possible. And in all honesty, I fell short.  But I didn’t have a problem with that because I had a new sense of importance. My focus was no longer on running my best and fastest; my focus was on completing these events with a smile on my face and a healthy baby in my belly.  And I did.  With two friends by my side crossing the finish line on New Year’s Day.  5 down, 5 to go!
There was a long break between 5 and 6 but as I entered my second trimester my energy levels rose and my cross training returned.  I was on top of the world and had an absolute blast pacing Cowtown for #6.  For the first time I had the honor of pacing friends, who actually crossed the line ahead of me (and their goals) and I met some pretty wonderful new friends.  But one thing became apparent.  I was obviously pregnant.  Every five minutes I’d hear a comment as someone new would spot my passenger.  I’m sure they meant well and everything they said was absolutely positive but my goal as a pacer is to encourage others, not to steal the show.  It didn’t dampen the magic of the day in the end.  I didn’t get to cross the finish line with the people I had gotten there with but I did get to push them on.  Every single one of them finished ahead of me.  Awesome.  When I crossed the finish line and was heading down the chute to the medals and water I looked to my left and there was a girl wearing the same For Two Fitness tank in yellow. It was wonderful to see a fellow pregnant runner. To share a similar path.

The following week I took on another solo adventure, The Xpress, in my hometown and blew my personal pace goal out of the water.  Baby Boy (did I mention that my passenger is a boy?) and I pushed hard and “raced” again.  It felt amazing to run for the feeling of freedom and strength again.  It was another beautiful day full of accomplishment and a sense that I was doing everything right.  You see, there is no more supportive group of people on this journey than runners.  Every time I’m out on a course people are somehow amazed at what I am doing.  They say the kindest, most encouraging things and never cease to amaze me.

Next up was another solo event.  My 5th Runniversary, Rock N Roll Dallas.  Again, I ran much faster than I expected to comfortably run.  That’s the beauty of these huge events, the excitement never ends and you always have company.  Somehow running through the sea of people you don’t feel so exhausted and the same pace feels like a stroll through the park. I enjoyed every moment of it because I knew 9 and 10 were both pacing events.  This might be my last opportunity to just run.  Just me and my son.  And it was beautiful.  Not a worry in the world, just floating along enjoying the day and soaking up the joy of running and pregnancy.

Then came Women Rock Texas, my first all-female event.  I have to admit I was skeptical, but it was wonderful too!  The weird part was before the race started half a dozen women approached me and told me that they had read about me online and wanted to run with me.  That they had come with the goal of beating the pregnant lady.  Another half a dozen repeated similar stories on the course.  I still have no idea what they are talking about.  How on Earth did they hear my story?  Regardless, that day was magical.  I felt like I got to bond more with these runners.  There was something special about this event.  Be it that people felt a special connection to me knowing my story, or that it was a looped course so we had more interaction as we passed each other, or maybe it was the Black Girls Run club on the course supporting their runners.  They were the happiest, most encouraging spectators ever.  Or maybe I’m biased because they gave me a popsicle in a tube.  Again, I met amazing women, made wonderful new friends, heard inspiring stories and crossed the finish line on cloud 9.

The grand finale, number 10, The Fairview started in the exact same place my pregnant half running journey began.  The Fairview is The Showdown’s sister event.  That day I paced a group 5 minutes slower than my first pacing gig 6 months earlier only this time I was six and a half months pregnant.  That day I got to run with the most inspiring runners of my entire journey.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record it was magical and beautiful.  It was the perfect end to such a meaningful journey. 
In the end I hope that I have inspired women to stay active throughout their pregnancies. That no matter what we are going through we should take care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally, first and foremost.  That pregnancy is not a disease or a disability.  That a woman can be strong and active throughout her pregnancy.  That exercise is not detrimental to a baby, that in fact it is healthy!  I hope that I did not discourage anyone, that I helped to inspire someone to follow their dreams, to push a little harder, not to give up.

1The Showdown10/12/201302:28:322:30 Pacer1 week, 6 days pregnant
2No Limits Wild Asphault Run10/26/1302:29:002:30 Pacer3 weeks, 6 days pregnant
3DRC Half Marathon11/02/201301:55:104 weeks, 6 days pregnant
4New Year's Double12/31/1302:07:4113 weeks, 2 days pregnant
5New Year's Double01/01/201402:10:4813 weeks,3 days pregnant
6Cowtown Half Marathon02/23/1402:39:372:40 Pacer21 weeks pregnant
7Xpress Half Marathon03/01/201402:05:0321 weeks, 6 days pregnant
8Rock N Roll Dallas03/23/1402:07:5225 weeks pregnant
9Women Rock Texas03/29/1402:44:242:45 Pacer25 weeks, 6 days pregnant
10The Fairview04/05/201402:34:532:35 Pacer26 weeks, 6 days pregnant

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