Last Trimester Running Things

Despite my promise to myself that I would document my pregnancy this time around and my pregnancy running routine, I haven’t posted anything here since a very belated post on Wharf to Wharf. Most of this is due to work and life things. In my real life, I work in college counseling at a high school, and the first semester is definitely a crazy time of year with teaching juniors about college and career pathways, and supporting seniors with their applications.

While I didn’t blog about my running, I did continue to at least post about running things on the ‘ole Instagram. After W2W, I skipped an August race. In general, I wasn’t particularly game to run in any events in the third trimester because of how uncomfortable I felt. This baby kicked a hell of a lot, and her head was really low and putting a ton of pressure on my pelvis, and my Braxton-Hicks contractions didn’t feel mild at all – much like in my first pregnancy. Around that time, my mileage was about 25-30 ish miles a week.

In September, however, I jumped into the Alameda Running Festival because I like supporting local running events, and because I had teammates running in the various distances. The festival features 5k, 10k, and a half marathon distances, and starts at the old Naval Air Station area at the Point. There were a few teammates that were coming from SF-Pen and Santa Cruz to test their legs in the 10k, and our East Bay chapter had a few people running the half marathon. I decided on the 5k because I could barely stand to run more than 30 minutes without feeling like there would be a pee-related emergency.

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Long story short, my teammates did very well. Katie bagged a half marathon PR, while the other women had solid runs as tune-ups and confidence boosters. As for the 5k, the course wasn’t marked very well, so I and a number of other runners missed the turn, and wound up running long. In fact, we basically ran the 10k race course, minus 0.2 of the start because we started at a different spot than the 10k race. I was pissed about it, because I really tried for a solid 5k tempo, and because omg did I have to pee! After pushing through the 5k mark by my watch in under 21 minutes, I just basically coasted through to the finish with a handful of other runners that were similarly peeved. I went straight to the porta-potty, and agonized over the too-long pressure that lingered on my bladder. I chugged cranberry juice like my urinary tract depended on it for the rest of the day and two days following, worried I had given myself a UTI (I didn’t). I submitted feedback to the organizer and wound up with a comped entry for next year, yay!

C6334245-12E8-40A9-9868-FA9EAFC32E4717FC8F2E-E4EF-4587-98A7-590D61C8EA94In October, I ran a 1 mile time trial 37 weeks into the pregnancy, or 2 weeks before I gave birth. I’m not a great miler, but I do often tell myself during races that I can push for anything for a measly mile. By then I was mostly treadmill running a couple of miles a week because there was less impact on the joints, but it was really nice to step out for a fast mile and a cool down mile. Though I hadn’t been running more than a couple of miles a day, I still felt strong and confident that I had some fast fitness in the legs. B753D272-0FFA-42B3-81FA-A73C2F0C7474

Here are all pregnant mile time-trial times:

Week 20: 5:58 (rubber track)
Week 22: 6:19 (road)
Week 32: 6:18 (road)
Week 37: 6:20 (road)

Why does this all matter to me and feel like it’s worth documenting? Well, it’s reassuring to me that despite running less and increasingly slower – I wound up running 10-15 miles per week for the last couple of weeks of pregnancy – I kept my road mile trial times pretty consistent with each other. In fact, there’s really negligible change in pace despite getting bigger and more uncomfortable as the pregnancy wore on. I’m a big fan of runstreaking, which generally keeps my daily mileages on the lower end, so there were many days when I ran a mile and felt good and called it. The day I went into active labor, I showed up at the track to run final couple of pregnancy miles with some teammates. It seemed very fitting that I started my pregnancy racing the Kaiser Half with teammates, and ended it running with teammates.

Now that I am 6 weeks postpartum, I take this all to mean that I have the very fun job ahead in 2019 to enjoy digging in to find what my paces are for everything from the mile to marathon. Stoked!

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Wharf to Wharf 2018 Recap

I am a Bay Area kid, born and raised. I grew up primarily in Cupertino, a less-than-hour drive from Santa Cruz, so I’ve known about Wharf to Wharf for the last decade and a half. Like Bay to Breakers, it’s one of those races that is a big deal for the Bay Area running community. While I knew of some teammates and parents that ran it, I never did. Back in high school, the thought of paying more than $25 to run a race was out of the question. Wharf to Wharf costs $45 (registration may have been a whopping $40 back in the early 2000s) AND would have required me to find a ride that my parents would inevitably veto, so of course that race never seriously made it on my radar.

It wasn’t until last year that I ran it for the first time. It was a spur of the moment sort of a thing. My bib was a Wave 1 bib, so I had a late start after the Elite Wave. My Arete Oakland chapter leader, Teresa, was at the head of the wave with me and told me to chase down the elite corral runners to claim a top 100 spot. Despite a chaotic and crowded start, I got off to a pretty decent aka unscathed start and ran the race as a progression run and finished a handful of people away from woman #100.

Because I had no firsthand experience with Wharf to Wharf, I didn’t know much about the Top 100 jacket business, which are awarded to the top 100 male and female finishers by gun time and not chip. Despite everything Meg and Teresa said about the jackets and earning one being a goal for many runners, I didn’t care about it initially and didn’t think it’d matter if I didn’t get one. After all, it was my first time running a 6 mile race, and I thought I debuted pretty well with a 38:21 despite not knowing the course at all (true to Connie fashion, I didn’t even look at a course map, and didn’t really pay attention to any of the descriptions from Meg and others), and probably could have run faster from the get-go. But of course, all the feelings of being SO CLOSE to the Top 100 finishers set in on the ride back home with Meg, and I realized that I wanted that thing that I didn’t even know I wanted.

This leads me to this April 2018, when our chapter got together for a goal-setting session, I announced to everyone that I wanted to run a sub 40-minute Wharf to Wharf to [hopefully] ensure I’d get a Top 100 jacket. Sure, I knew I was pregnant, but I sure as hell didn’t care. Furthermore, I wanted to name some ridiculous goal that I could potentially not reach during a time that I can’t be mad at myself for not reaching, because…pregnancy. I saw it as a sort of weird, good practice to fall short of goals sometimes to figure out how to reevaluate and readjust goals and expectations.

Meg drove us down to Santa Cruz the morning of the race. We congregated with some more teammates at our friend Kim’s house. Per usual, I had to pee what felt like a million times before we ran our 1-ish mile warm up to the starting line for the team picture. After a photo-op love fest in a sea of Arete race kits at the start, we all shuffled off to continue our warm ups. I went only a little further with Katie and Christina before we headed back to the portapotties at the start and where after one last potty break, I saw Wolfpackers Erin, Janet, Lisa, and my old high school teammate Matt nearby. We hugged, chatted, and made our ways to the corrals with minutes to spare.

In the elite corral, I put myself midway and off to the side, away from all of my other Arete teammates. As much as I wanted to start with them, I knew that A.) My April goal of a sub-40 minutes for a 6-mile race was probably not going to happen and I needed to run my fun run while my teammates ran their races, and B.) I was very frightened of the idea of getting pushed, tripped, and trampled at the start, which would be bad normally, and far more devastating as I was about 6 months pregnant. I made sure that all the runners around me saw that I had a round ‘ole belly, and they very politely gave me a little perimeter of safety.

Despite the mess of feet and a couple of too-close encounters with a few young men pushing past me once the gun went off, I wasn’t once tripped. In the first half mile alongside the Boardwalk, I spotted a couple of teammates and ran with them for about half a mile. The first mile concluded in 7:01, and I told Elise to run her pace while I eased back a bit to not get drawn into the pressure to race for time, and more comfortably take in the sights of the course.

I held a steady 7:02 pace for miles two and three which weren’t exactly flat, but not hilly either. The climbs starting mile 2 and at the end of mile 3-ish were inclines more than anything, and they wound in such a way that as a participant, you could really appreciate wonderful alternating glimpses of both the coastline and neighborhoods.

Going into the next couple of miles, it hit me that I was seeing and hearing bands every few turns or so on the course. I wondered to myself if there were this many bands performing the previous year (Uh, yea there were, and wow I really noticed nothing last year). However, because I was feeling really warm and steaming up my sunglasses like crazy, every few tenths of a mile I moved my sunglasses around so I could defog the lenses.  It was a little annoying, but more than worth it to take in all the bands, decorations, spectators and their signs, houses, and coastal views I had missed the previous year. Some spectators pointed at my belly as they cheered. That was kind of cool. Around mile 4, one woman yelled at me, “ARE YOU PREGNANT?” to which I responded, “YES! ABOUT 6 MONTHS!”. I kept smiling and waving at spectators and jiggling my foggy sunglasses as the course took us into a quiet stretch of neighborhood, and where I saw my friend Bob cheering to the side. It was also around miles 4-5.5 that I started catching up with some of people I had lost track of earlier in the course. I caught Elise and Janet. Miles 4 and 5 were 6:50 and 6:57 respectively.

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Heyo!

The last mile inclines a bit up subtly with lots of turns for the first half, and then pitches runners down towards the beach in Capitola pretty quickly in the second half mile. I picked up the pace with the incline and let gravity do its thing, taking care to also pick up my feet. I saw Teresa’s family, Sara and her family cheering to the side (I waved or fist pumped the air or something I think), and rolled through the finish with a 6:26 split for the final mile, and a cheesy big smile.

As I went through the finish chute, a volunteer handed me a little pink slip with the number 100 on it. It was the biggest surprise. I had snagged the final spot and jacket, #100! I regrouped with my friends and teammates in the Top 100 section for a photo and to gush at other Top 100 runners. I also snuck embarrassed but awed looks at Stephanie Rothstein, who had finished top American and #4. (I was way too nervous to say hi.)

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Check out those safety pins I didn’t need!

After picking up my swag bag (LOVE the bags this year) and taking more pictures at the beach, I headed back up the hill with part of the team to Teresa’s parents’ place for mimosas, bagels, and the best hummus I’ve ever had. Afterwards, Meredith and I headed to Beer 30 to hang with the larger Arete group for beer (ok, maybe not for me) and even more food and feel-good hangs.

Overall, it was an incredible morning. The race itself was so much fun, and I was so glad I could really appreciate it for how cool this gem of a local race (is it really a “little road race” if there are 16k participants?) it is. Snagging the #100 spot with my little girl was just the unexpected icing on the cake.

 

 

Time Trials and Pregnant Running

Last month, my team had two mile time trials: one local one for the chapter, and the other as a larger Bay Area meet up at Kezar Stadium. I ran the first with my Oakland gals on a rubber track near home at 20 weeks of pregnancy. Two weeks later, I ran the second trial as a road mile some 1200′ further up in the Mt. Hood Village region of Oregon since I was on vacation with my family during the meetup at Kezar.  Though I ran the second mile alone, I wanted that solidarity with my teammates a state away before I commenced vacay-touristy activities for the day with the family.

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Mile Time Trial with My ‘Mates!
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While everyone trial-partied at Kezar, I hit the road solo in Mt. Hood Village, OR.

The track mile was a 5:58 and the road mile was a 6:19. Both miles felt just challenging enough for me to feel like both miles were good efforts. Per what feels the norm now during pregnancy, during both trials I was mentally very uncomfortable pushing beyond 85-90%, the baby kept churning but didn’t ball up and hit my bladder, and each time trial I kept counting down the tenths of the mile until I was done.  To give a sense of how out of whack my heart rate continues to be, on the track it peaked at 186, while during the road mile it was a peak of 142.

Both of these were PRs for pregnancy running, especially since I didn’t do any time trials during my first pregnancy. While I’m sometimes frustrated with what my body won’t do now during easy runs and in any kind of effort, I also know that it’s important to remind myself that my body is just different and will always be. To me, pregnancy like a long test of patience, and one that doesn’t have a clear end because postpartum care and rehabilitation is so vital. However, I remind myself often in those moments of frustration that there’s a time to be fast – whatever that may mean for me – and a time to coast. This would be a time to coast.

When I re-applied to be a RADrabbit – brand ambassador for running apparel company rabbit – I explicitly stated that I would be documenting this pregnancy on social media to contribute to the normalization of women continuing to be active throughout their pregnancies. I know I am far from someone like Alysia Montaño, racing high profile 800m races during pregnancy (btw I met her in person recently and she’s so awesome and easy to talk to) and utilizing her visibility to share the gospel of women doing hard things – especially exercise. Like many in the online community I’m plugged into, I’m a self-coached recreational runner that uses running to decompress, stay physically and mentally healthy, and connect with others. It’s my hope that my posts on IG and occasional write-ups here encourage women to continue doing what feels right for their mental and physical health, as well as that of their babies. (It should go without saying, always consult your physician.)

If by chance you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’ve not had the most fun with pregnancy, and I’m always in awe of people who have a great time while they’re expecting. This pregnancy I’ve had frequent tension headaches and developed a brand new cat allergy, which is especially unfortunate because I think cats are wonderful. I get bad charlie horse calf cramps a couple of times a week. To top it all off, as of just over a week ago, I’ve been plagued with extremely bad insomnia, which means I’m getting anywhere between 2 and 5 hours of sleep a night in fragments.

All that aside, I really like a run in my daily routine, whether it’s 1 mile or 12, because it just makes me feel good and as normal as normal can be when everything feels like it is constantly changing. Since Boston, my weekly mileage has stayed at about 30-35 miles, which is around what it normally would be after a big race. This breaks down to:

1-2 really short active rest days of 1-3 easy miles
3-5 days of 4-ish -6 miles – one of which miiiggghhhtttt be a workout with the team
1  long run of 8-10 miles.

I run 3 to 4 of my runs per week on the treadmill to keep the impact lighter on my hips and lower back, where I can tend to feel the most jarring and tension (also cuz of where I’m carrying the baby). As I get bigger and am more affected by symptoms of pregnancy, I’m taking more easy days, and dropping more and more mileage as time goes on. I am just fine shuffling a mile a day for however long for that little bit of release and calm in my day.

By no means does this mean that I believe that running during pregnancy is the gospel, nor do I recommend it above all other forms of staying active. I simply like the running thing and feel good doing it! The health bonus is simply that – a happy bonus!

Recap: Across the Bay 12k 2018

Two days before the Across the Bay 12k, I saw that the race was something like 90% sold out. I got sucked into the marketing ploy. Weather was supposed to be nice, and it felt like everyone was telling me that it was so much fun to run a race across the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite being born and raised in the Bay Area, I’ve never raced across the Golden Gate, and it took me until the age of 29 – so, last year – to simply run across it. I didn’t think I could survive the FOMO, so I signed up close to last minute.

The morning of, I grabbed Meg (isn’t that how a lot of these stories start? or Meg picks me up, yaddayadda) and we headed into the city. We wanted to make it in time to 1. get reasonable parking, 2. to get to the shuttles that would take us from Ghirardelli Square to the start in Sausalito, 3. say hi to Represent Running and Wolfpack people we know, and 4. allow for me to pee 20349845 times, because pregnant.

Right before we jumped on the shuttle with our teammate Sheridan and her friend Kaila, I grabbed a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks, which I slathered with sriracha and munched on the bus ride across the Bay. *This isn’t a pregnancy thing. I forgot to eat breakfast, and my hanger was bad.

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Arete Oakland, represent!

I refused to warm up with a jog, since I was letting my food settle. I was also very cranky the morning of for reasons I no longer remember. I do remember being pissed about the porta potty situation though. For some reason, people weren’t really understanding that the fastest way to get through portapotties is to create multiple lines. But noooooooo, both portapotty sections each had one lonnnnngggg inefficient line. Rather than try to fix the problem because I was cranky and didn’t want to talk to strangers, I decided to simply chase a coyote (i.e. pee by a tree) for the millionth time off to the side of the trail while teammates Meg and Sheridan kept vigil. Apparently some man headed towards my direction so they made some weird noises and yelled about Bigfoot or something generally unintelligible around the time I finished, making the walk to the start a little more interesting.

Since Across the Bay is a PAUSATF race, there were a bunch of club teams, including Wolfpack and Impala at the start. Meg and I got right up there in the front, and were soon off running the thing.

The first mile wound down for a good chunk, before bottoming out right by the water. Towards the end of the first mile, the elevation begins to pick up into a 1.5-ish mile climb up to the midpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge, the highest elevation point of the race. On a normal, not-pregnant day, it would have been a fun challenge. However, on a 19-weeks-pregnant (half-way to full term!) kind of day, it felt extremely uncomfortable.

The best way to describe running with a baby inside of you, in my opinion, is to think of your lower abdomen as a gyroscope with a mind of its own. This gyroscope spins in whatever direction it wants, when it wants, and you can feel the inertia working against you at times. My sweet baby especially during uphill climbs and any kind of shift up or down in speed or direction, deliberately works against me, and likes to move in a direction that hits my bladder and towards my pelvic floor and lower back with increasing pressure. If I try to speed up when she’s (oh yea, it’s a girl!) working against me, my body stiffens up in response to the discomfort, and it feels impossible to not slow down. Sos you knows, these days, running by effort usually means that my heart rate is anywhere from 150 to 180 for a tempo, which is high, even if I generally don’t feel fatigued.

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“It’s Half Baked!” as in, half-way to full-term.

During this uphill climb, I slowed progressively from 6:45 pace to 8:40 or so. Coming downhill on the latter half of the bridge wasn’t much better since that shift in elevation also gave way to some resistance from the baby, though gravity helped me deepen my breathing and open my stride as the course once again flattened out. I saw and cheered for a number of  Wolfpack and Arete runners as they zoomed in the other direction after the turnaround at Fort Point.

For the next 3.5 miles, I just tried to stay relaxed and not anger the beast in my womb. When the baby was not having it, she would squirm around uncomfortably and knock against all of my insides. My heart rate was a little high at about 175, but the effort felt like a 6 out of 10. My breathing was fine and I kept my shoulders and arms relaxed, Since I wasn’t really racing, I looked around at all the sights and continued cheering for people that ran past me, or that I passed. The day really was so beautiful – the sun was shining and the sky was so blue, it was hard not to be super grateful to be out there. My earlier cantankerous mood was gone by the second half of the race.

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Relax, Smile, Repeat.

There was a little quarter of a mile climb right around mile 7 that pitched us down just as quickly towards the finish by Aquatic Park. My splits were 7:03/8:07/7:22/6:49/7:01/7:05/7:01/6:59 for a total time of 53:46 for the 7.5 miles. This is about a 7:10 per mile pace, which is fine for where I am. Sometimes I wish I could run faster paces (meaning more “normal”, non-pregnant paces) on all terrains and courses, but now obviously isn’t the time to push.

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It’s not the breakfast sandwich bloat, just pregnant.

Meg had run a great effort and finished about 2 minutes ahead of me, and was waiting by the finish with SC teammate Margaret and Wolfpack friends Erin and Sam for other athletes to come through. We walked back to Ghirardelli Square to get our gear and stuff, take some pictures, and Meg went to jog her cool-down. By then, Sheridan had joined up with me, and we decided to forgo the traditional cool-down in favor of cold treats from Ghirardelli and a platonic but leisurely stroll around the park.

BTW: As you can tell from my pictures, I wrote “It’s Half-Baked!” on my stomach, because I was officially halfway through the pregnancy (full term is roughly 38+ weeks). Most teenage race volunteers at the water stations didn’t understand what my message meant, since I overheard a lot of murmurs about me being possibly being high/stoned. It wasn’t until the last water station at near mile 7 that one of the volunteers yelled in triumph to her comrades, “Oh! I get it, she’s pregnant!” That was definitely additional cause for my smiling.

The Deltas: There’s gotta be signage or volunteers that can direct people towards better porta potty usage. I’d also love if instead of finishers medals and shirts, more races including this one could have free race photos instead. I purchased a photo package, because the pictures turned out great – especially because Karl the Fog was nowhere to be seen. However, at $19 per single photo download, the pricing feels a little steep, and I can imagine that it can put off people that run multiple races every year and want great race photos.

The Pros: The weather held up and the day was so beautiful. The course is fun! I loved how much the course varied in elevation. I do like point-to-point races so that you’re running somewhere, which is a great trick to motivate yourself when you’re starting to mentally check out a bit from the effort and fatigue of racing. The medal is a bottle opener, which I found out from Erin (I’m clearly opening tons of beer bottles recently). You’re finishing in Aquatic Park where there’s GHIRARDELLI to buy and guzzle treats from.

Overall verdict: I want to come back next year and really race it!

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Meg, Margaret, and me with our bottle openers!

 

 

 

Alameda Hospital Run Recap

Oh man, because I delay on recaps, everything I write here seems to be at least 1 month late! Well, for some old news, here’s how a local 10k I didn’t know I signed up for up went: I took the W.

At the end of April, the Alameda Hospital Foundation hosted a 5k, 10k, and children’s 3/4 mile running event in the Bay Farm area of Alameda to raise funds for the hospital system on the island.

When I signed up for the race months ago, I thought I was signing up my son for the 3/4  mile race, his second since the Holiday Run last November. About a month prior to the event he was game for going on rides on his tricycle and running/walking around in 10 to 15 second intervals to train for his race with the “big kids”. The week leading up, however, he lost all of his enthusiasm. I’m not quite sure what happened there, but I chalked it up to legendary toddler moods and whims.

A couple of days before the race, however, I realized that I didn’t actually sign my son up. I had signed myself up. See, RunSignUp had all of our old Boston information saved by default, and it was kind of a pain of the ass to change if you were in the middle of registration as I was. I believe in my haste to change the information, it defaulted to select me as the athlete, and erased my son’s information from the registration process. I didn’t bother to check the confirmation until months later, and just a couple of days before the race. It wasn’t the worst thing as D no longer wanted to run with the big kids.

When I arrived the morning of, I felt pretty terrible. Not because of nerves. Mostly because my stomach was doing its hey-hormones-let’s-stir-some-sh*t-up dance. I grabbed my bib and beelined for the restroom like 3 times. I washed out my mouth as best I could with other runners in the bathroom, and hustled back to my car to find some gum to mask my vomit-breath. I didn’t find gum, but I did find lipstick. So I put on some lipstick for a morale booster and headed back out to see my teammates gathering to cheer and warm up for the 5k near the start.

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Lipstick masks vomit just fine, right?
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Pre-start photo between dry-heaving

Because the 10k starts before the 5k, I had time for 1 very quick snap, courtesy of my father-in-law. I dry-heaved a bit, but my mother-in-law came to the rescue with some gum. Feeling minty-fresh, I went to the start where a small crowd had gathered and some nervous local high school track and xc studs stood right behind the line. I sidled up right beside them and mentally set my sights on not letting a single one of them pass me. I thought, I may be a tired and pukey mess, but I’ve got pride dammit. I really just needed a goal for a race I was basically jumping into.

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Running with the dudes and ahead of the kids

The stretch of Alameda we were on is just about always very windy no matter what direction you go, since the pathway is right by the water and in a part of the island where it juts right out towards the Bay. From the moment the race started, I told myself to stay relaxed and to run tall as possible, and to keep the breathing and heart rate down. Given that Boston was barely 2 weeks prior, the gusts of wind – though not nearly as strong – brought back a little bit of apprehension. I tried not to think about the wind, and focused on breathing instead. After Boston, my heart rate hadn’t been spiking oddly as much as long as I could keep my breathing controlled.

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Can’t beat a day like this!

I stayed ahead of the group of teens and tailed two men the entire race. I had been vaguely worried that their bodies would feel fresher than mine. I didn’t think I could catch the leaders, and ultimately didn’t. However, at the 3.1 mile turnaround I felt strong despite running right into the wind again. At less than two miles to go, I saw the 5k runners on the path, and caught as many high fives from my teammates as possible as I headed towards the finish, while also speeding up a bit to finish strong. Paces were 6:37/6:35/6:27/6:38/6:32/6:12/5:31 for a time of 39:35. Then, with the 10k out of the way, I went back to the home stretch to see my 5k teammates kick in their finishes, and cheer with D for the children pounding the pavement in their race.

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Hustling to the finish

It was a good impromptu effort, and I was pretty happy to head home with the win – especially considering the timing after Boston, and being about 1/3 of the way through the pregnancy. The better summary of the race was: Puke, Rally, Win. What a way to usher in the second trimester!

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Overdue Boston Marathon 2018

“Don’t do anything stupid,” my husband told me some 3495809 times leading up to our Boston trip.

My mom jumped on the caution bandwagon immediately after we broke the news of the pregnancy to her in early March. She told me about a million times the week before Boston to “be careful” when running. She also reminded me every day, including while driving us to the airport on Saturday morning, that I shouldn’t push myself to finish the marathon and that I might do well to not run it at all. Despite all the warnings and the forecast for Marathon Monday  –  heavy rain and forceful gusts of wind promised – I never entertained not running Boston.

I turned 30 on the day before, known now as One Boston Day in remembrance of the victims and heroes of the 2013 marathon bombings. In the morning, Meg and I walked from our families’ shared airbnb in Somerville to Flour on Mass Ave to meet Shiloh from Arete Sacramento and my friend Grace for a 3.0 shakeout run. We cruised around and through MIT’s campus, and ended at Flour again. To my delight, they surprised me with a candle on a sticky bun (actually, Meg blew the surprise, but it was still mostly a surprise). After breakfast I headed to the expo to grab my bib, say hello to fellow marathoner friends Danh and Lucas, and then to the Mandarin Oriental for an annual birthday massage.

That night, I struggled to hold down my pasta & pizza dinner, and lost that battle repeatedly. By 8pm, the rain had blown in, with strong gusts shrieking against the windows of our airbnb. This woke the children up a couple of times in the middle of the night, which woke me a couple of times. I was up for good by 5 and out the door not much later with Meg, feeling groggy and heavy. Since I never sleep well before marathons, this was pretty much the usual.

The bus ride was the bus ride, but much damper than other years I’ve run Boston, namely 2015. I noticed some snow still on the ground as we approached Hopkinton (there were some snow flurries the day before) and outside the big Athlete’s Village tents set up in Hopkinton High School. I carefully traversed the muddy slush that was the field to claim a spot of ground inside the tent, shielded from the wind and rain. As I slowly ate my second breakfast, I watched the sides of the tents being whipped up by the wind, and tried not to think about how cold I already felt.

9:50am couldn’t have come quickly enough, since I just wanted to run to get out of the cold. I swapped my running shoes and discarded the pair that I had used to wade through slush and mud, and walk/jogged from Athlete’s Village to my wave to warm up. Despite changing into dry shoes, those were soon soaked from freezing puddles, and I could not feel my toes by the time I got into my wave. I didn’t take off my two sweatshirts and sweatpants until the very last couple of minutes before the start, so as to stay as warm as possible. I elected, just while in the tent, to put a long sleeve underneath the Arete singlet for some warmth but not a jacket, because I didn’t feel confident I’d like the drag from a jacket in that wind.

I was soaked through by the second mile, but at least I was no longer cold. Even though I was completely wet, the shirt and singlet were at least warmed by my body heat, but also kept me from overheating – something that happens more now that I’m expecting. The feeling came back to my feet. I squeezed rainwater at fairly regular intervals from my sleeves that I had wrapped around my hands. This kept the feeling in my fingers.

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Smile for the spectators!

Thanks to the baby starting to crowd the bladder, I stopped to pee every couple of miles, but maintained a pretty even pace mostly in the low 7s the first half of the marathon. There were a few miles that dipped sub-7 in the first 10k, and I started pulling back a bit immediately after I saw the split, knowing that my husband would be watching and I really didn’t want him to worry. I told myself to coast, and focused on smiling for the next 3-ish hours. As always, I enjoyed the Wellesley Scream Tunnel – sound not at all damped by the nasty weather – , and Oiselle’s cowbell corner, where I saw some friendly and familiar faces.

I slowed in the second half of the marathon not because the hills hurt or felt hard, but to maintain my heart rate at sub-170bpm, which normally feels high, but at that point of the pregnancy had become my barometer for whether or not I took it easy enough. My legs and feet felt fine, if red from the pounding wind and rain, and I continued to smile and wave at the spectators who were so game for showing up for the runners.

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One mile to go!

As I passed the Citgo sign, I started to pick the pace up again a bit, buoyed by the crowds and the memories of passing that sign in other years. That last mile always feels short because there’s so much energy to take in from the crowd.  I continued to accelerate, up that last little bit of uphill on Hereford to the left on Boylston, and crossed the finish in 3:14:08.

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Turn, baby, turn – Left onto Boylston!

I went straight through the chute to get to the gear check tents, and that’s when the cold and wet of my clothes caught up with me. After ten minutes of not moving, I began to fear for how the cold might affect the baby. I nervously explained to other teeth-chattering runners that I was pregnant and needed to grab my things and get to medical, and the [mostly] men immediately parted for me, while gallantly screaming at each other to “move for the pregnant lady”. Ah, chivalry. A volunteer handed my things over and then a medical volunteer wheeled me in a wheelchair to the medical tent near the family meeting area.

It was a good thing I got to the tent when I did, since my body temp was definitely hovering around hypothermia territory. The medical staff stripped off my wet things, and helped me put my dry things on, burrito-ed me with warm cloth and mylar blankets, and gave me a steaming hot broth to bring my temperature up. My temp was back to normal and I was reunited with my soggy husband and dry, sleeping son, and Meg and her family within an hour.

Despite the nasty weather and what has been less-than awesome first few months of pregnancy with major fatigue and nausea issues, I had really wanted to “BQ like a man” at Boston 2018 with the men’s standard of at least a 3:05 or faster, and come back in 2019 with a red bib a second year in a row. I wrestled with a lot of mixed emotions about my body not being just mine anymore leading up to Marathon Monday and after, and even now. After years of running, I know my stubborn self and the Boston course well enough now that if it was just about where my fitness was at, that 3:05 could have happened. However, the weather made me more cautious than I would have been had it not been a gnarly storm of a day, and that’s a very, very good thing after 1.5 months of begrudging hindsight and more not-fun pregnancy symptoms.

TLDR version: It was wet and cold, but Baby #2 got its own BQ and medal, which was really the whole point of seeing this run through anyway. (Well, that, and I still kind of want to join the Boston Marathon Quarter Century Club.) I’ll be back in Athlete’s Village and with a breast pump next year.

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Overdue She.Is.Beautiful 10K Recap

If you follow me on IG, then you already know my husband and I are expecting baby #2. If not, then, SURPRISE. Now you know.

My first pregnancy wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I didn’t know I was pregnant for a while. I thought my symptoms were from a nasty flu that made repeated rounds through my family and my husband’s family the months leading up to our wedding. Those symptoms never abated after the first trimester, as many promised me, and I continued to struggle with vomiting until the day I delivered. I did run throughout the pregnancy, including the day I delivered. But after the Boston Marathon at about 6 weeks (and unknowingly pregnant), I didn’t race. I only ran one other event later that year, a very slow turkey trot in Boston about a month from delivery and dealing with painful Braxton-Hicks contractions the whole hilly 5k distance.

This time around, I knew everything was off from week 3 of the pregnancy, and felt far worse. By She.Is.Beautiful Santa Cruz weekend, I had been fighting the good fight against nausea, dry heaving, and hot/cold sweats for nearly a month. But like during the first pregnancy, I didn’t even think about not running. It made me feel semi-normal. It’s part of my daily routine, and how I process my day. In order to keep running, I knew I had to make some adjustments.

I normally never pay attention to heart rate during my runs, regardless of type: easy/recovery run, speed workout, or hill and trail. However, during the early weeks, I started noticing that my pulse would sudden spike at random times. I began paying attention to my heart rate during training during the last couple of months, trying to find the sweet spots in long runs for what felt like reasonable steady states. While I adjusted to all of this, I also noticed my stride changing constantly, which also made all of my steps feel very weird and wobbly. More days during the week on the treadmill helped take some of the pressure off of my hips and knees, especially on the days I felt like a baby deer.

Race weekend for She.Is.Beautiful, Santa Cruz, took place on a fairly gusty St. Patrick’s Day. I jogged from my hotel to the start, and had a great reunion with friends and teammates I don’t see as often as I would like , and some teammates from other chapters that I never or have never seen. With how woozy I was already feeling, I felt really comforted by looking around at all these spectacularly strong women and feeling like I had an army of badasses who have my back. In general, it was just damn cool to be at a sporting event celebrating our girl power.

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Part of our huge team showing!

At the start, some asked me what I was going to try for, and I replied, “Whatever feels good.” As I wasn’t showing and not telling too many people that I was expecting, I simply explained that I was coming off of a cold. Since I was holding back the desire to throw up, I elected to not bother with strides. I was also trying really hard to focus on anything but the hot/cold sweats that kept bothering me.

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Kinda chasing the Strava/rabbit group

I started out faster than I ended, with a small group of runners that started off chasing the Strava Track Club leaders. I ran with teammates Becky and Erin for the first couple of miles, and then backed off after the 2 mile mark a bit to be a little more conservative with my efforts. Erin pulled ahead, and then so did Wolfpacker Jenn with a woman dressed as Wonder Woman. I gave them words of encouragement and then set myself to try to find some pocket of ease, because I simply didn’t feel good. The cold/hot sweats came in waves when big gusts of wind weren’t, so I  didn’t feel like I could physically catch a break. The end result was that I felt more and more nauseated as the race progressed.

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Thinking to myself that if I smiled enough, everything would be okay

Miles 4 and 5 were basically about smiling for others and bracing myself against strong wind gusts coming off of the water. The last mile or so was spent mostly dodging people – 5k finishers – while yelling, “Excuse us, 10k finishers coming through!” and “Thank you!” as I passed. These last three miles, I stayed roughly 10 meters behind Jenn and Wonder Woman, thinking that if I couldn’t kick to catch them, I could at least help clear the way for them. In the end, my splits were 6:02, 6:09, 6:08, 6:18, 6:17, 6:27, 5:46, which led to a 5th place 38:03 finish and roughly 2 minute PR since Fall of 2015.

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This is confirmed by Legally Blonde.

There were three really bright spots during the race: The first was seeing all of the women and girls running on the other side of West Cliff after the turnaround point. Everyone looked so happy and there was this really awesome culture of cheering each other on. The second were all of the signs dotting the entire course with amazing messages like, “I love the girly things like ambition, making the calls, and crushing goals”. I couldn’t help but smile reading those signs. The third was the fact that D saw me finish. He spotted me before my husband did and shrieked at anyone who would listen, “Momma! That’s my momma!”. He’s seen me in a handful of events now, and with this particular race, he thinks that only women run really freaking fast – “More faster than daddies and boys”. I won’t correct him for the time being.

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Overall, I loved the She.Is.Beautiful experience. It was a truly feel-good sort of event. The race effort was a decent one, despite running into headwinds for about half of the race (which I don’t really mind) , and feeling so very, very blah for most of it (that’s just out of my control). It was great workout prep for Boston. I was very glad to have shown up, seen my friends do amazing things, and picked up a PR when I don’t expect too many of those running ones the rest of this year!