I did it. This past weekend, I ran (and walked) the Oakland half marathon 15 weeks pregnant. I signed up for this event last fall as a reason to keep training for eatblogrun*.
I had a lot of voices in my head, like the well-meaning guy in my extended family who asked if all that running would “shake the baby loose.” And my nurse midwife who assured me that running was not harmful for the baby (in fact, it could be helpful), but that I was at an increased risk for blowing out a knee or turning an ankle.
And of course my own. On a normal day, my head battles with me and tells me that I can’t do it or I should just stop. So, when I couple that with trying extra hard to listen to my body to be a good pregnant mama, it got downright confusing. Running is at least half mental anyway. I don’t love it, but once I’m done, I’m always so glad I did it. It takes me a while to settle in to a groove so I expect some aches and pains and internal whining. And I’m generally pretty slow (like 11 minute miles on a good day).
On the day of the race running event, I was feeling pretty mediocre. I woke up with a splitting headache, downed some Tylenol and had time for a real breakfast of Grape Nuts and a hard-boiled egg. Being a supermom, I irrationally signed my kids up for the fun run so they would have a race too. This added much chaos to our morning. The kiddos ran at 8:30. My race started at 9:00. I gulped down a Luna Bar at the starting line. Once I crossed the starting line, my cheering section headed off to a bouncy house birthday party. The timing was such that they might make it back in time to see me finish if traffic and parking weren’t too much of an issue.
The first few miles went by very easily. The course was well-marked and I was pleasantly surprised to see mile markers one, two, and three. Maybe I am a runner. I had some bikini-line joint pain (what IS that?!) but otherwise was feeling fine. I told my training partner and friend, Olivia, that we should pretend we were out for another ten miler like we had done two weeks ago. Let’s pretend that we’re doing a two-mile warm-up, a ten miler, and then a one-mile cool-down. Yeah, there’s some logic to that, but mostly I added a weird needless math problem to the voices in my head competing for attention.
Miles four, five, and six went by pretty smoothly too. I had looked at the course map and determined that miles two, five, and eight were good bail-out points because the figure-eights of the route looped back near the start. This special knowledge also served to frak with my head. I knew that mile ten was the furthest point and so I might as well finish the dang race if I made it to mile ten.
With all the voices in my head, I made it through the halfway point of the race feeling pretty fine. I can do this. I’m a runner. I’m a runner, right? I should stop. No, that’s silly. Keep on going. Listen to your body. What does that mean?
I saw a friend on the course around mile seven. I smiled, we high-fived. What am I doing out here? Walking feels soooo much better on my knees. I didn’t really hit my wall until mile nine. Just past the last bail-out point and heading toward the point of no return. It didn’t help me that we were running Lake Merritt, a training run that we had done dozens of times. It just felt longer. So I walked. I urged my friend to continue on without me. She stuck by me.
We walked through the markers for miles ten, eleven, and twelve. During the walking part, I texted our husbands our mile marker locations. Their morning plans were each over, and they were going to see us finish the run after all. Alec supposedly had the boys at the 12.5 mile point so I was determined to start running again when I saw them. I didn’t want my kids to think I skipped a friend’s birthday party just to walk for a long time. Mommy is a runner, kids!
But where was 12.5? C’mon, guys! Finally, we spotted them on the sidewalk heading toward the finish line. I picked up the pace with pain in my knees and in my right middle toe. I swear my run at that point was no faster than a walk but Alec assures me I was too fast to keep up with. I crossed the finish line in just about three hours.
Now for more funny math. I figured since I was running for two, I could either divide my time by half or double my distance. Somehow, saying that I did the race in 1.5 hours (as did the fetus) seemed like a great solution. I rock!
Afterward, I ate and ate. My fabulous husband surprised me with birthday cake from the party I missed. I wolfed it down and licked the plate in the car. I came home to a long hot shower and grilled cheese with a side of sloppy joe for lunch. After a loooong nap, I met some friends for afternoon snacks of garlic fries, pork slider, and apple crisp. I waddled home in time for a healthy dinner of salmon, broccoli, and couscous. After the kids were tucked in, I made a strawberry smoothie.
Pregnant much? Running for two and eating for two is a great excuse for a day of gluttony.
I know I’m not the first pregnant chick to run a half marathon. Kristen ran one last year (and just kicked butt in a post partum race last week). And Carrie ran our full relay AND a marathon. She’s amazing! These ladies inspired me with the positive voices in my head and the will to do it in the first place.
What about you? Have you? Would you?
* extra note about eatblogrun: now that my due date is within one week of the most excellent eat.blog.run relay in DC, I’m going to have to sit this year out. Boo.