Running Whilst Pregnant Part 2

Yes!  Am pregnant!  20 weeks with a girl, yahoo!!

Over the last year I began running for the first time in my life a’la Couch-2-5k.  In 7 months time I ran my first 10k (56:00), half marathon with an injury (2:14:53), and finally a 5k at 27:18.  By the end of Spring my body was beaten down from all the road miles and I shifted gears into triathlons over the summer.  I was in love.

I competed in 3 sprint distance races in which I placed in my registered category in each event.  The 3rd of which I was actually pregnant and didn’t yet know it.  I learned how to swim (I only thought i knew how to swim prior) and actually liked it, began improving my bike speed, and my brick runs & speed workouts were making me a faster short distance runner.  Needless to say, I felt strong, energized, and pretty much an all around – Mother Truckin’ Bad Ass.

My first trimester was exhausting and nauseating.  It was a good week if I could get 9 miles in.  My run times were a good minute slower and I just didn’t have the energy to get out very often.  Things began to pick up around week 10 as the nausea began to subside.  Weeks 10-14 were AMAZING.  I felt great, I was regaining some of my speed and averaging about a 9:40 pace, logging about 15 miles a week.  Weeks 14-17 were also awesome because I began working a long-run back into my routine, and while my pace slowed a bit, I was thrilled to pack on those weekend miles.

I discovered quickly how little information there is online for women, who are pregnant and running.  It’s crazy.  What little I did find, seemed more discouraging than anything.  I decided it made the most sense to me to continue to run until it just didn’t feel right anymore.  I had hoped that would carry me through the end of my pregnancy – but also realized that it was not likely.  I suppose I expected to at least make it through to the 3rd trimester.  Or not.

Week 18 hit and things just started feeling harder.  I began getting more regular braxton hicks contractions accompanied by some mild cramping.  My bones felt heavy and ached.  I ran much slower.  I just hurt.  I tried for a week every other day to see if perhaps the run before was a fluke – with the same awful results.  So I’ve thrown in the towel here at week 20.  Boo.

All this to say I’m going to try and move to swimming and biking and hope that I can keep up some routine and stay in quasi-shape.  Hopefully when I make my return to running it wont suck so bad.  But I know it will.  😦


Running Whilst Pregnant

There isn’t nearly enough information and support out there for women who want to continue running through their pregnancies.  I’m just now 20 weeks along and am afraid I’ve reached the end of my run.  Literally.  I’m hoping to take some time tonight and post a bit about my journey.  Maybe it will help offer some comfort to another in my shoes.

But not now.  I’m savoring my blissful hour ‘nap’ time.  Tonight…

My First Tri: Race Report

Yesterday I competed in my first sprint distance triathlon race, “My First Tri”, at Lake Lanier Islands in Georgia.  The race includes first timers competing in a “My First Tri” category, and another group “My Next Tri” which is open to everyone.   There were 252 participants and 3 swim wave starts.   There were 3 minutes between each group and I was in the 3rd.

The swim was along the shore so that anyone who needed to could stand at any point.  I positioned myself on the outside towards the deep to avoid getting caught up in any shoreline messes.  The swim was 1/4mile (400m = 16, 25m pool lengths).  My partner and I had done a few time-trials and were swimming about 2min per 100m in the pool.  We expected to do very well at that rate, however the open water + cluster F of people is not exactly swimming pool laps.  The water was warm and my partner and I swam alongside eachother the entire time and sighting wasn’t really a big issue.  I felt pretty relaxed until a swimmer cut over my path which kinda sucked and threw me off for a bit.  The distance felt much longer than it had in the pool – I think pushing off and catching an extra breath at the end of each lap had been a huge advantage.  I was anxious to be done sooner than I had anticipated and felt much more tired coming out of the water than I wanted.  There was probably almost a 1/3 mile between the swim exit and transition and it was all uphill.  While others had pep in their step – I walked, I was really out of breath and couldn’t run.  I felt I needed the break to get ready for the bike.  Swim time:  11:36 (although I’m betting my actual swim time, not including walk to transition was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 10.)

Transition 1 went very smooth.  There was nothing speedy about my transitions, but they were without complication and I needed the breaks.  The bike was a VERY hilly 12 miles.  In training I spent about 1/2 my time on a trainer and 1/2 outside.  For the most part my outside rides were fairly smooth.  I was riding somewhere in the realm of 13-15mph.  My heartrate on my trainer rides were always about 130ish.  Hot, sweaty, boring as hell – but controlled.  My heartrate was through the roof at the race and I could never get it down until after the finish.   I was pretty miserable within the first 3 miles of the bike.  It seemed like one hill after another and they were brutal.  I never got off my bike or had to walk – but there were times I passed folks who did and I thought it sure looked like a good idea.  It was all I could do to stay on top of my breathing.  Bike time:  45:44 (16mph – 49th overall on the bike)

As I entered Transition 2 and hopped off my bike I felt like total crap.  I had NO ENERGY.  I was zapped.  My partner looked in such better shape, I was incredibly envious that she seemed so…alert.  So ready to go.  I felt like I was going to pass out or puke.  My body felt terrible – its not even that my legs were stiff or sore, I just couldn’t move.  In training I had been running 8:45 pace runs off the bike.  I had actually planned to be holding myself back for the first mile so as not to ‘burn out’.  HA!  Hardly.  My partner kept looking back at me as I was dragging myself forward and I told her to go on without me.  I really believed I would just quit.  So I spent a good solid minute walking and cursing and trying to convince myself that all was lost and I should just bail.  And then a I looked up and saw Zack and Oban squatting down with camera and all waving and yelling at me.  Oh for Christ Sakes!  I couldn’t quit then.  I jogged by and yelled out about how terrible I felt and Zack said “Slow and easy, slow and easy”.  So that was my mantra.  I just had to keep forward momentum and finish.  So I walked/jogged it.  It was awful.  Those 3.1 miles hurt worse than my half marathon hurt.  Run time:  33:07

My expectations for the race were that I would have a solid swim, a challenging but slow bike, and a strong run finish.  I consider myself a runner.  What I ended up with was a solid swim, a kick-ass bike time that kicked my ass, and a horrible run.  After the swim it was all pretty much downhill.  My heartrate was high 170’s through the bike and run – REALLY high for me.  I felt weak and tired, and as though I struggled through most of it.  So here is what I learned:

1)  I was dehydrated.  When I returned to transition to pick up my bike after the race – my water bottle that I had filled with gatorade for some calories – was practically full.  I had taken two swigs on the bike and was so wrapped up in my breathing I didn’t feel like I could concentrate on hydration.  That morning I had a bowl of oatmeal and a banana.  I skipped my regular morning coffee.  I had a RAGING headache the entire day/night after the race.  Next time I will have my morning coffee.  Dammit.

2) Riding a steel-framed bike on a relatively hilly 12 mile bike course as hard as I did, worked me.  Without adequate hydration it worked me so good, I literally had nothing left to keep me going through the run.  There is a running/biking term for this hitting the wall from lack of calories – its called BONKING (i love that word), and I was on my way to Bonkerville fo sure.

3) In light of facts 1 and 2, I should have paced myself on the bike.  Had I taken a few minutes longer on the bike and finished my water bottle during the ride, I’d have had something to give on the run.  It may not have affected my overall time all that much, but it would have made for a much more efficient and controlled race experience.

My race time was 1:33:37.  Overall (My First Tri & My Next Tri participants combined) 98/252.  Women 25/132.  Age Group “My First Tri” 1/16.

You can only imagine my shock to discover that despite my having to walk half the run course I had placed 1st in my age group.  And yet…when I went to pick up my medal they were ‘out’.  As in “We’re sorry, it seems that some of the medals have been swiped.  Would you like a bronze instead?”  Umm, no thanks.  I am awaiting my little gold nugget in the mail.  It may be the only one I ever get as I won’t ever be competing against a bunch of first-timers again.  I got lucky 😉

Soooo, all in all.  It kicked my ass.  I’ve been able to recover more quickly physically then when I ran the Half Marathon in March – but I’d say that the effort of a triathlon is more intense.  Hence the ‘sprint’ bit.  So I’d say for me, because I have so much to learn about this type of racing, that it was harder both mentally and physically.  But I’m totally ready to do it again…and I need a road bike.

Zack’s got it right – Tri’s in the summer, Runs for the winter.  I’m hooked on the training for races bit – it’s totally addicting.

Breastfeeding Through The Pain

August 9, 2010

When Oban was just several weeks old I wrote – very authentically (as per usual) – about our struggles with breastfeeding.  In fact, so that there would be no confusion I titled the post,  ‘Breastfeeding Sucks’.  And I meant it.  Almost a year later I have some different thoughts to share.

I never saw a single woman breastfeed her baby until I was 30.  I didn’t grow up around it – I didn’t know anything about it.  It was so far off my radar that it wasn’t until meeting my husband and entertaining the idea of children that I ever even considered breastfeeding.  Because I have never been all that comfortable with my body, I spent a good deal of time leading up to Oban’s birth thinking that it would probably never work out.  That I would ‘give it a shot’ and if it just made me miserable – I’d go to the bottle.  Well.  Boy did it ever make me miserable.  The shocker was that I had such a strong desire to make it work that I was willing to endure just about every challenge in the book.  And some that weren’t.  Have a looksee:

Overactive letdown, Oversupply, Tongue-Tie, Inverted Nipples, Hole-In-Nipple, Teeny Baby with Teeny Mouth, Plugged Ducts, and bouts of suspected Thrush.

I cried for 10 weeks almost daily.  I cried out of frustration, anger, desperation, pain, and total exhaustion.  No one ever told me what to do.  I did not have anyone else’s expectations to deal with (thank god).  I felt no pressure to continue, or to bottle feed.  But I had this feeling about breastfeeding that was very similar to how I came to feel about my labor.  I am a woman – a mammal – with all the functions and capacity I need in order to grow and deliver and nurture my offspring.  It felt (it feels), like a very basic and primal component of my being.  Not succeeding in either an un-medicated labor or breastfeeding would not have meant defeat, however, there was an incredibly intense force driving me to test the bounds of my physical limitations before throwing in the towel.  And amen for it.  Because honestly?  I can’t believe I survived either event.  They were both epic.

I’d often hear the whole: 8 weeks!!!Just 8 weeks and life gets better.  You begin to love your baby a little more.  Breastfeeding gets better.  They start to smile.  Hmm.  Well, 8 weeks came and went.  He did start smiling (which saved his life), but I still had a hole in my nipple and I did NOT look like those women on the cover of Mothering magazine.

8 + 2 weeks of more hell, and it did get better.  I hadn’t even realized it, but it did.  Slowly – day after day – we just finally fell into it and it was a little less work and pain each time.  So lets get to the best part shall we?

The way I feel about breastfeeding Oban now, almost 11 months later, makes me emotional and weepy every time I think about it.  It is so much like his delivery.  I ran the gauntlet.  There aren’t many occasions in my life where the reward is compelling enough to entice me through pain and suffering.  I like my journeys relatively uneventful and uncomplicated.  Easy.  Fun.  Or rather, easy fun.

Example:  While in Montana this summer we took a hike up a mountain.  About 3 miles up, 3 miles down.  The elevation gain kicked my ass.  I cried lots.  Oban and I both.  We cried.  (Poor, poor, husband).  The view was stunning, but I was more interested in going back down.  I hated it.  I was hot.  With a miserable baby who had boycotted his first nap and didn’t want to be strapped into a Moby on his sweaty miserable mama.  It was just a bad scene.  (Poor, poor, husband)  I just don’t have that gene.  I don’t like to do much of anything that makes me uncomfortable in the name of all that carpe diem shit.  Thats for people like my husband.  And he’s REALLY GOOD AT IT.  Let him have it!  See don’t be fooled – I may wear Birkenstocks and drive an Outback and climb some boulders, but I’m a whiny bitch when it comes to roughing it up.

All of this just to illustrate how poignant sticking out an incredibly torturous 10 weeks of breastfeeding was.  Because it was sooooo worth it.

I believe that through the bond of breastfeeding, I have been able to experience an understanding of LIFE that is beyond words.   I believe that through breastfeeding I feel a level of connection to my son that would otherwise not exist.  It is true bliss.  If I had to die tomorrow – I’d do it while breastfeeding.  It is that sublime.  It is a peace that I treasure, one that fills me with a love for my child unlike any other exchange.  It is calm, and healing, and a privilege that I do not take for granted.  It is perfect.  If anything can be perfect…breastfeeding is perfect.  It is exactly how it is supposed to be.  It is nurture.  Pure, and simple.

It was not easy, enjoyable, or even remotely rewarding in the beginning.  It was hell in a hole in my nipple – that transformed into perfection.  How great is that?  It’s pretty great.

Breastfeeding Sucks

October 11, 2009 – Me and my 3week old nursling.

I have a child who grinded on what little nipple he could get in his little bird mouth for the first 5 days of his life.  As a result, I was blistered and bleeding. After his first ped appt the doctor referred an ENT for a suspected ‘short tongue’.  The ENT diagnosed he had a Posterior Tongue Tie, and we had his frenulum clipped johnny-on-the-spot.  I took my new baby home with great hopes our next feeding would be smooth like buttah to my wounded tatas.  Not only was it not like buttah, it was a complete failure – he couldn’t latch AT ALL.  That night I spent on the phone in tears with a Lactation Consultant who talked me through what I needed to do as my breasts morphed into yoga balls and my baby was missing feedings.  I didn’t even have a breast pump or know what to do with one.

She walked me through how to hand express and we attempted to feed Oban with a shot glass.  He thought we were smoking crack.  Zack ran to the store and bought me all the pumping accouterments and I spent that whole night pumping and bottle feeding.  I cried all night long – Oban on the other hand was blissfully unaware of my feelings of failure and inadequacy, and could care less that my little 2 hour window of feeding ritual had just become shortened by having to pump and sterilize.  I was not happy about this.

The next morning I called the LC and told her I would happily sell all our stocks if she’d kindly (and quickly) come over and get my baby latched on to ME.  2 days prior I had bellyached over the $200+ home consultation fee.  So she came.  A 70’ish year old woman came into my home, did her thing, and left me with a pair of ‘bionic nipples’ from which my baby was happily sucking ON ME from.  She told us that Oban has a really high palate and that it was contributing to our difficulties getting a proper latch.  I cried with relief.  That $200 had just bought me some ‘hope’.  And it was worth every penny.

2 weeks later and I have spent nearly every day (obsessively) trying to wean Oban from these fuckers.  I hate them.  I loved them for that one day, but by the next I was ready to ditch them.  While they were getting my baby on the breast, they were a HUGE pain in the ass.  You have to sterilize them after every feeding – they pop off easily – they make the prospect of having to breastfeed in public a ‘discreet’ impossibility.  Plus I just don’t have enough hands to support a 7lb wiggle worm who is insistent on swatting the shields OFF at every feeding.

I’ve watched every video – I’ve been to kellymom – I’ve done the ice on the nipples, the nipple sandwich, the hand expressing beforehand, I’ve tried “Latch Assist”, I’ve attempted every position in the book and this is where it has gotten me today:

(I’ve attempted all the ‘games’, Im holding him the correct way behind the shoulders/neck and NOT the head…) – and it takes us 10 minutes of me pinching the hell out of my nip to get it more elongated and attempts of shoving my breast through the gauntlet that is his frantic lobster claw hands that insist on being in front of his face – to get a quasi suitable latch.  That is, one that allows him to swallow something.  Which I am happy to take the pain for. This of course is all bad bad form.  We are not paving the way for a healthy breastfeeding future here.

Let me set up a little visual for you.  It goes a little something like this ‘hey you little shit!  MOVE YOUR FRIGGIN HANDS!!’.  This is not the image of tender loving mother-gives-nutrition-and-life to her ‘dear son’ – act of blissful feeding I see in my breastfeeding books.  What the hell.

So at 3 weeks Oban has learned to suck for all his life until he gets a little shred of a milk duct that can squirt him a shot or two of milk.  He has learned that he can’t count on anything to be consistent for more than a day or two.  He never knows what the hell will be shoved into his mouth next (firm, soft, wet, dry, nibbly, smooth etc etc).  We both scream at eachother at every feeding.  He is miserable, I am miserable – my nipples are miserable…and I absolutely DREAD every feeding.  And forget about it if I am engorged or my milk has not yet let-down.  Then even WITH the nipple shield we are struggling.

Insert copious amounts of guilt.  Are we having fun yet?

On a positive note – Oban has wet shitty mustard-seed diapers all the time.  He is gaining weight.  He is thriving.  This is most important.

Sometimes, you just have to do what works and to hell with the rest.  This is my first moment of overcoming my own interest for what is best for my child.  I’m just here to say, this isn’t easy.  It sucks.  And while I should find more compassionate words to implore my child than FUCKER, LITTLE SHIT, and YOU SUCK – I can give myself a pass that he will not remember any of this 10 years from now.  Thank god.  It also needs to be said that while, as my mother-in-law says, I could ‘bite a plug out of him’ 99% of time (okay maybe more like 75%) – the other 1% I am wondering how any infant makes it to its first birthday.

I’m just saying.

And if I read one more comment about ‘air your nipples out to dry’ – i am going to scream.  this assumes that you aren’t constantly dripping milk – how is this possible!!!???  there are milk droplets all over this friggin house.  the new bed zack built us, the hardwoods, the couch, the pillows…the dogs.  Fortunately, I have no supply issues.

Birth of a 13.1

On Sunday March 20th, 2011 – I painfully labored (read: no orgasmic birth) 13.1 miles of pavement with 16,000 other crazy fools.  I hurt with every single step.  I attempted on several occasions to draw strength from the memory of 14 hours of unmedicated labor and delivery (of actual human being) thinking that would be helpful – I didn’t need energy gel or naproxen, I had a baby without drugs for christ sakes!   Only, at any moment I had the power to stop my forward momentum and end the pain whereas with baby labor there was no option of quitting.  In theory, an inspirational analogy, in practice – totally useless.

It all began in the spring of 2010.  Oban was about 6 months old and we had a couple friend of ours over for a visit.  She was very pregnant and the topic of running came up as my husband had been running through that previous winter and was getting into triathlon races.  My friend mentioned that after her baby was born she wanted to train for a half-marathon.  I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather NOT do than run.  And yet, what came out of my mouth was “That sounds cool.  Maybe I should do that too?”.  Maybe I should do that? My husband had a very amused look on his face.  I decided it would be a worthy goal if I could impress him.

I started with couch-to-5k and skipped over the actual running of 5k race bit.  Moved on to a pre-half marathon training program that Zack and I worked out to get my weekly mileage up.  Went from 4 to 5 days of running and did so religiously for 5 months straight (which I do not recommend).  The only times I ever missed a run were when I was injured, and possibly one day of a bad cold.

I sustained three injuries in this time.  The first a deep tissue bruise to my heal that put me out for almost 3 weeks.  It occurred right around the time I was really kicking ass, of course.  I had been watching my speed increase and was occasionally running sub 9 minute miles.  That was pretty cool.  After recovering from my foot injury I didn’t have time left in my training program to mess with getting faster – I had to reclaim the miles I’d lost.  So I focused on increasing mileage over a short period of time (which i also do not recommend) so I could get back on schedule.

I had lost a good 15 seconds on average, and was holding steady around 9:30 minute miles in my training runs post-injury.  I figured this was about as good as it was going to get for me.  I ran a 56 minute 10k (9 min pace) despite totally pissing myself (oh just a little bout of stress incontinence, GOOD TIMES!), and while humiliated, I was beginning to regain confidence.  I took long runs with the friend and they all felt pretty good – we were averaging about 9:45.  Until 2 weeks ago when around mile 8 of a 11 miler, my knee (ITBS) and the top of my foot on the same leg totally crapped out.  I ran a few miles through it (another un-recommendation).  I done fuct myself.

Spent the last 2 weeks in physical therapy, on the couch, icing, resting, and baking cookies every other night.  I gained 4 pounds.  I had no idea if I would be able to run the race.  Four days before race day I went for a practice run with my father-in-law.  I ran maybe a 13 minute mile pace for almost 4 miles.  I had pain in both my knee and my foot but the knee pain disappeared around mile 2 and the foot pain was only nagging.  For the first time since my injury I thought maybe I had a fighting chance to stay in the race.  Best case scenario I would have nagging foot pain for 13.1 miles – but be able to reach my goal of completing a half marathon and put this thing to bed.  Worse case scenario, I have a metatarsal stress fracture that is going to get worse AND/OR my knee won’t hold out  and I will be forced to stop running.  I decided to roll the dice.

I am tired and I need a break.  I decided the risk of fracture and being in a boot for 6-8weeks was worth it.  I did not want to schedule another half marathon.  I did not want to run any more long runs.  I did not want to deal with any more aches and pains.  My body was shot.  Check please.

So the gun fired off, the crowd cheered, and at 7am in downtown Atlanta I ran.  I ran slow.  I ran heavy.  I ran with pain in my foot from the very first step.  I ran with numbness.  I ran with uncertainty.  There was never a point at which I felt remotely ‘great’, but I didn’t need to – I just needed to finish.  I just needed to keep moving my body along.  The first 5 miles were a blur.  Miles 6-8 felt really crappy.  I was tired, my body hurt, my heart rate was through the roof, and people were passing me left and right.  I ran through Piedmont Park in a blur, I knew what was ahead.  The final 3.5 miles would be total carnage.  All uphill.  Every turn was more elevation gain.  I cranked through.  People all over were walking – I kept moving.  I felt quasi-strong.

Just around the last mile and at the top of the last hill my body was just throbbing.  I noticed there were several walk/runners – I figured maybe they were on to something.  I tried.  I stopped.  I nearly passed out.  It became clear to me that the only way I would cross the finish line is if I didn’t STOP.  I thought about my dad who died of cancer.  It didn’t make me feel stronger, it just made me cry.  I tried to stop again around the .5 mile remaining mark.  A girl beside me looked behind her and I watched the eyes roll into the back of her head as she collapsed.  I kept moving.  I thought I’d have to walk the finish but I managed to roll through.  It felt so awesome to be done.

2:14:andsomechangebutwhocaresaboutsecondsanyways?  This is no better or worse than I could have expected.  It is exactly what it is.  I gave it all my compromised body could.  It was hard.  There were no enjoyable moments.  I just wanted so badly to complete it – running.  And I did.

For the last 24 hours I have been talking about how ridiculously stupid half (and full) marathon distances are.  Then, around 2pm today – this thought entered my brain “Maybe I could do just ONE more before baby 2”.  HA!  Its like mommy amnesia.  Only it took me a solid 8 weeks after the birth of my son before I suddenly began to refer to the labor as magical and awesome and not like I had been delivered to Hell and another 10months before I could even contemplate having another newborn.  But you get there.  That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

It’s a pretty incredible experience to push your body to its limits, manage through something painful – get to the other side – and want to do it all over again.  This is essentially my husbands life mantra.  It’s what makes him feel alive.  I get it.

I’ll be enjoying some overdue rest – healing my body – and then getting back into another race.  I think running is a new part of what makes me feel good.  How about that?

Tater Skater

A good friend sent some pics to me recently from our trip to Tampa around Oban’s 1st birthday.

Love this guy.