What a long, strange trip it’s been…

It has been a lifetime since I wrote a post, but, man, pregnancy is a monumental task.  I underestimated how physically challenging pregnancy is, and trying to keep my life in order and grow a human took up my blogging time and then some!

So here I sit, a few days shy of 38 weeks pregnant, and I’ve got a little time on my hands so I thought I would knock out an update…

Still in graduate school, still pregnant, and, yes, still running.  It hasn’t been as consistent as I would have liked, but I’m still going.  I even ran a 5k with my friend at the end of May, which was hot and hilly, but I felt like a rock star when I finished!

ImageThe bigger I’ve gotten, the harder it has been to run (big surprise, right?)  In the beginning it was sickness, and now it’s just uncomfortable.  No body tells you how sore your hips will be, and an extra 30 or so pounds really takes a toll on your legs no matter how strong they are.  

And then there was the sprained ankle around 23 weeks.  I was out trail running because of the shade it provided, stepped on a tree root while I wasn’t paying attention, and rolled my ankle.  The damn thing still isn’t healed right, and the doctor says it probably will be sore and swell until after the baby is born.  Uh, really!?!  Like this isn’t hard enough already?  That was my last pregnant trail run…:/

Fast forward to today.  I’m getting in at least a mile a day, and probably half of that is walking.  (And I honestly think I walk faster than I run at this point!)  I’ve gone four days in a row, and my goal is to go every day until the baby is born.  It may not be very far or very fast, but I’m training for birth, not a race.  I miss my long runs on Saturday mornings while it’s still dark.  I even find myself wishing I could run hills, but I’ll do those things again.  And I don’t care if it’s just a mile a day right now.  How many people can say they ran today, let alone when they were 9.5 months pregnant?

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Running recruits.

Since I started running I have recruited three people into the fold.  First one was my boyfriend.  He was terrified to run, and it took a long time to convince him that he wouldn’t die.  On our first run together we went to the park, and we did very short running intervals.  Afterwards he was surprised by how easy it was, and told me he felt like he could run a lot more than that.  I explained to him that this was the point, and that doing too much too soon is a reason why most people stop.  He kept it up for a little while, until the day he decided to do too much too soon.  We were running together, and he kept running ahead of me, saying, “I’m sorry, I just can’t run that slow.”  I warned him a couple times, but eventually I told him to just go ahead and go.  I watched him sprint away from me and eventually turn a corner.  Then I slowly watched him get closer and closer to me again as he walked, gasping, and I ran at my steady pace up to and past him.  He continued to try to sprint past me, only to have to walk shortly after.  He puked at the end of that run, and I haven’t been able to coax him back out yet.

Lesson learned, and on to recruit number 2.  My friend is a slightly overweight middle-aged man who decided to have a full blown mid-life crisis this past summer, complete with a new car and a spontaneous divorce.  In his lifestyle makeover he decided he wanted to start running.  We ran together one or two times a week through the summer and into the fall of this past year.  He even ran a 5K, and I thought he might stick with it.  I felt like running may help ground him a little.  And then he met a girl.  Bye bye running recruit number 2.

The third, my sister, I feel like has been a complete success.  She doesn’t run big miles or everyday, but she runs consistently.  She calls me and we talk about running.  We run together whenever we see each other now, which I have to admit is really nice.  I’m really close with my sister, and sharing running with her has been a great joy for me.  She complains when she can’t get out for a run, which makes me believe she’s a long term runner.  It’s gonna stick with her.

And now another one.  My best friend has been dieting for awhile now, and has lost over 50 pounds.  She has been walking, and a few months ago she started talking about running.  She wants to run a half next year, and asked if I would do it with her.  Um, YES!!  (Mind you, this is before I knew I was pregnant, and thought I would already have one or two under my belt).

Last month was rough for me, and I was pretty sick for a few weeks.  Needless to say, there wasn’t much running.  I tried a few times, but it made me want to puke, or pee, or generally just nap on the side of the road.  So I’ve been easing back into exercise, and I asked my friend to go with me a few times a week to help motivate me.

Fast forward to today.  She texted me this morning to see if I wanted to go for a walk tonight.  I was planning on a run today, so I asked her if we could do a little running.  She was terrified, but reluctantly agreed after I told her it was time for her to get started.  We met, and she was expecting to be covered in sweat and blood and be dying by the end.  We ran some really easy intervals, and did about 3.5 miles.  I felt great because it’s the first time I’ve been able to get in some running in a month.  My friend did awesome, and she commented several times on how it was much easier than she expected.  She asked if we could go again together next week!  Now, if I can just keep her from puking…

I’m wondering what other people’s experiences have been recruiting others into running.  Were you recruited by somebody else?  What was helpful in getting you to stick with it?

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Taking it in stride.

Things have been a little crazy in the past few months.  I went to PA for Thanksgiving, and my sister and I ran our first Turkey Trot together.  We weren’t sure where the race was, and we left a little late.  We weren’t registered, either, and we both had to pee…We found the race, we were the last people to register, and the bathrooms were like the holy grail.  We got in and out (with our numbers on even) just in time for the race to start.  Not the greatest 5K time I ever put up, but I had been having some motivation issues (see my last post) so it was good to just get a race in.  The end was grueling.  My sister was racing me, I was racing her, and we were both trying to pass the girl we had traded positions with the whole race.  I had that feeling right at the end that I may puke, which let me know I was really working hard.  If you’ve never run so hard you puked, well, you’re just not doing it right.  It was also a great way for us to escape our family for a few hours together before a huge dinner with about 14 adults and a baby.  I love my family, but…well, you get it.

 

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That’s me on the right! Good times 🙂

After that is was on to preparations for my niece’s first birthday that Saturday.  Let me just tell you, mothers are crazy!!  My sister went all out for this thing, complete with personalized gift bags for the children and about 50 guests.  And then the baby wouldn’t even eat the cake.  Priceless.  Exhausting, but all in all a great holiday with family.

After all the guests had gone, I got a few quiet days with my niece, sister, and brother in-law.  We went hiking, and my sister and I put in a few miles at a lake at one of the state parks.  Then it was time to head back to Florida and try to get my training back on track.

But that was just not meant to be, as my life took a different stride when I got back.  My boyfriend and I were running some errands, and I was thinking about all the homework I needed to finish that I didn’t get done in PA.  After a look at my calendar I realized some things were not in order.  A few hours later I had the answer  to what had been making everything seem so difficult.  A positive pregnancy test.

I have quickly found that pregnancy is not something you fit into your life, but something you change your life for.  I tried to run, it made me puke.  I tried to run again, I had to pee the whole time.  I wanted to run, but I really needed a nap.  The tiredness is amazing.

But I’m committed to run, and I know it will be a different kind.  Before I would push my body past where it was comfortable to get better.  Now, I’m training for something different.  Where before a run would help a sore leg or back, now it makes it worse.  But I’m committed to run, however much and however far I can.  The blog will be a little different now, as I’m training for a different kind of marathon.

I contacted the registration people for my half this weekend, and they agreed to apply my registration fees to next year’s race.  That gives me about 5 months after the baby is born to train for my first half.  It’ll be a good motivator.

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Dear Motivation…

Dear Motivation,

I know I haven’t always appreciated you like I should over the years.  There have been times when I barely needed you, and I treated you like you weren’t important to me.  I minimized how much you were there for me, and sometimes I pretended like you didn’t even exist.  I know when I said things like, “I have no motivation,” it must have really hurt you.  I’m sorry for that.

You and will power seem to be at odds with each other, and it may seem like I love him more than you.  I talk about him like he’s some amazing gift.  “My will power got me through that,” and, “Thank God for my strong will.”  But I almost never have nice things to say about you.  I talk about you like you are never enough, never worthy.  “I just don’t have enough motivation to get this done.  I wish I had more motivation.”  I never really considered how that must make you feel.

So now you and my other very important love, who rarely gets any attention at all (good or bad) sustained attention, have gone on strike, and without the two of you I’m lost.  At first, it seemed okay.  You have left for short times before, but never for very long, and you usually leave a note.  Not this time.  The longer you’ve been gone, the more I need you.  Will power seems a little strung out, and he’s really been failing on the “refuse the ice cream and cake” side of business.  But I only have a limited amount of resources, and with you and sustained attention in Cabo he’s trying to do it all.  I’m tired, I’m stressed, I can’t focus, I’m starving, I want to nap all the time, and I can’t seem to get anything done.  I just look at lists of things I have to do and sigh, wishing you were here to help me with it all.  I tried more coffee, but not even that is helping anymore.  I guess it’s true, you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.

So this is my plea to you and sustained attention.  I know I’ve taken you for granted and treated you like the ugly step-sisters, but I need you.  I’m lost without you two.  We are the best when we all work together, as a family.  I can’t promise I will never take you for granted again, I am only human, but I certainly will try.  Please come back.  I miss you, and I’ll do whatever you want me to, to make this right.

Oh, a cookie…

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Attack of the killer duck.

When my semester started I was intent on keeping my training schedule and staying on top of my school work.  Ha!  I guess you need goals, right?  At first I couldn’t get all my runs in and I was stressed.  Then I felt guilty.  And then it occurred to me…I started running to help me de-stress from school.  ITS NOT SUPPOSED TO ADD STRESS!!

Last week was crazy with midterms and presentations and clients and papers…you get the point.  Somehow the entire week got away from me and I realized Saturday I hadn’t gotten a single run in.

Alright, alright. I know. Stay on schedule and don’t make excuses.

Monday morning I went out, dog in tow, intent on just getting in a few miles.  Done.  Wednesday morning, up at 5:30 for the first time this semester, few more miles done.

Today was like running motivation day.  My sister, the one I visited this summer in Pennsylvania, has started running on the regular and has done a couple 5k’s.  (My other newbie running buddy did his first 5k last week, so I’m feeling a little bit like a guru leading my people to the promised land.)  I told her about Turkey Trots, and we registered today to run our first race together when I go there for Thanksgiving.  Exciting, I just hope it isn’t snowy and the course is relatively flat.  After that, I finally registered for my first half.  I’ve been putting it off because I’m terrified, but that 15k really gave me a confidence boost.  January 27th, here I come.

And then this afternoon I met my newbie running buddy for a run.  I got there early because he only wanted to do two miles and I wanted to get in at least four.  I parked by the lake and got out of my car.  I was on the passenger side taking off my sweatpants when I saw him:  duck assassin.  He was sauntering towards me, and when he got close enough I got in the car and shut the door.  I have had a run in with fowl many times: as a teen I was chased by geese into a field while out running; I was pecked by the reportedly friendly Tom the Turkey while purchasing a Christmas tree with my family; others are too tragic to mention.  Needless to say, I was not going to underestimate this duck.

I thought maybe if I sat in the car he would go back across the street with the other various birds.  I lost sight of him, and I slid over to the driver’s seat to check around.  He came creeping around the front of my car, looking me straight in the eye through the window.  He had murder in his eyes, that duck.  His head feathers went up, and he began pecking my door.  I tried to reason with him.  I tapped back and told him, “no, no, no!” but he would not be deterred.  He went from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side.  Peck, peck, peck, all the while looking at me in the window.  I heard him pecking at my bumper and squawking, and I knew he had won.  I started my car, and I could hear him behind me pecking and squawking.  I pulled away, and saw the duck standing triumphantly, daring me to return.

I’m not going to lie, I was afraid when I ran around that lake.  When I came to the spot where the confrontation happened I was frantically scanning for the duck, but he was no where to be found.  Probably out celebrating his victory, that cheeky bastard.

I got in a little over two miles before my friend showed up, and then we did two more.  He recounted his race last week, complained about the cold weather (which isn’t really cold because we live in Florida), and talked about the holidays.

I watched for the duck.

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Just keep your pace.

ImageI stood looking over the water on Saturday, watching the last of the triathlon swimmers come in.  It was a beautiful morning, about 72 degrees with a nice breeze coming off the lake.  The water was really choppy, and it occurred to me how it was a perfect day for running and a terrible day for swimming.  I watched, amazed, and cheered as they dragged themselves one-by-one from the water and ran towards the racks of bicycles.  Amazing.

I watched the bicycles go by, riders with serious looks of determination.  Admidst it all the 15K runners were starting to congregate near the starting line.  I was nervous and ready to run all at the same time.  I looked at my boyfriend and said, “I’m gonna run too fast.  I’m too excited.”

I was really worried that I wouldn’t finish.  I had done so many things over the past few weeks that every training program tells you not to.  It’s not a secret that my ambitions for balancing my school and my running have far exceeded my reality so far.  The last two weeks I got a serious flu, was running about two days a week, and I took a week off.  I had never run more than 8 miles, and here I was entering a race that was 9.3.  It was 10:15 in the morning, I knew it would take me at least two hours, and the sun was just going to keep getting hotter.  I hate the sun.  The course had some hills, including a monster one up to the turn around, and I always run my long miles on flat ground.  I had been trying out some different fuels, but I hadn’t found one that worked right yet.  Hence, I had a new bar in my pack.

My boyfriend looked at me and said, “Just keep your pace and you’ll be fine.”  And I knew it was true.

The race was smaller than I expected, but that was okay.  I hate the big 5k’s with all the runners and barely room to move.  I started in the back, and when the race started I watched the majority of the group quickly jump in front.  I was by no means last, but I watched this flexible wood-nymph looking guy, shirtless with flowing blond hair, almost immediately disappear from view.  Just keep your pace I thought.  Don’t start too fast, you want to run your fastest miles last.

Before the end of the second mile I saw a woman who had started too fast almost fainted.  I passed her as she was being escorted by two people to a nearby bench.  I felt bad for her, but there was a small part of me that felt a little relief.  No matter what, I wouldn’t finish last.  (I saw her later, she took a break and then ran the rest of the race a better pace for her.)

The course was hillier than I had anticipated, and it was pretty warm even in the mid-70’s.  I had my belt, and I had thought I wouldn’t use the water stations.  I was wrong.  I passed the first one, but by the second I felt I needed some gatoraide.  I was sweating.  A lot.  Half a cup down, and I was good to go.  I alternated at each station, water then gatoraide.  Half the water went down my back,  All the time I kept thinking, “Stay hydrated, cool your core, and keep your pace.”  It became like a mantra.

I was running a little fast, but it is bound to happen in a race.  The first turn around was at the top of what looked like Mt. Everest from the bottom.  I told myself, “You’ve ran hills.  Shorten your stride, slow down, and keep the same effort.  Get it.”  Before I knew it hill done, through the first turn around, and 1/3 done.  A little while later: half my fuel, and more water.

It was about that time that I started to see the triathletes running the marathon leg of their race.  And this is why I love runners.  No matter what, they always encourage each other.  I heard so many good jobs and keep up the good work from others.  It was great.  Some of those marathon runners passed me twice, and they cheered me on every pass.  I have a lot of respect for those people.  For all you marathoners out there, I hope you realize what an inspiration you are to newbies like me.  And thanks for the cheers, they really did help.

Anyway, around mile 5 I started running with a woman who I had been playing leap frog with most of the race.  Having another person to run with makes the time go by faster, and I needed a little motivation for those boring middle miles.

It was around mile 6 that the toes of my left foot started to involuntarily curl in my shoe.  It was just a little, and it didn’t really hurt so I didn’t really pay attention.  More gatoraide and keep going.  2/3 done, just a 5k left.

I was doing great, and at this point there was no way I wasn’t going to finish.  I would walk the rest of it if I had to, but I was feeling pretty good.  Down a sand path, around the other turn around, and I was almost there.

One mile left, and I told my running partner I was going to run the last mile.  I had fallen a little off my pace and I wanted to finish strong.  A few minutes in and BAM!  My left lower calf cramped up, and my toes felt permanently curled in my shoe.  I hobbled, and walked until it let up.  I ran that last half mile, sweaty, sore, and with terror that the cramp would return and ruin my life.

Nope.  I finished in 2:13.  It may seem long, but the first one is always a PR.  My GPS also said I ran the best distance in 1 hour and my fastest 10K.  They called my name over a loud-speaker as I crossed under that magical arch, arms in the air, and wonderful men were waiting with my medal and ice cold water.  The wood-nymph had finished at least an hour earlier, and he was stretched out, reclining in the shade.  Go figure.

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My first medal!

What an amazing feeling, and I’m reinvigorated.  One of my two running goals this year was to run a 10K, and I mark it as accomplished.  My run this morning felt inspired, and I’m hoping the race high can take me through a few more weeks.  I’m capable of more than I think.

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Finding balance

After all these years, I still surprise myself sometimes.  It’s hard.  I’ve known me for years.  I know all my tricks, my moods, my thoughts, my feelings.  I know that as soon as I get the thought in my head that I don’t want to do something I will find a good reason not to do it.  I know that I can push myself too hard at other times, and accomplish almost anything I am determined to.  Sappy commercials make me cry, and I have to say I am one of the funniest people I know.  I crack myself up.

Last week’s slump turned into this weekend’s illness, which turned into Tuesday at the doctor.  My throat was swollen enough that I was having a hard time swallowing, and I was feeling pretty miserable.  So with a great amount of guilt and trepidation I called in to my practicum and sought medical attention.  Luckily I have a very articulate doctor who, after a quick examination, said, “You’re sick.  You’re gonna need antibiotics for that.  You should have come five days ago.”  Glad I have that doctor or I never would have figured that out :/

But I knew I had to get miles in this week regardless.  So I took my dogs and went for a walk Tuesday night.  Just a few miles, just to keep moving.  And tonight I did five miles.  I walked some, but less than I thought I would have to.  Normally I would feel guilt about walking, and feel like I’m not pushing myself hard enough.  Not tonight, though.  I was proud of myself for pushing just hard enough without overdoing it.  I’m surprised by my ability to balance these, especially since balance isn’t usually my specialty.  Balance to me is like tree pose in a hurricane.  It’s impossible when you’re being pushed and pulled in every direction.

But it occurs to me I could use a little more balance.  I don’t have to do everything all or nothing.  I don’t know where I learned that from, but now that I notice it it needs to be different.  And I know me, and I can accomplish just about anything I put my mind to.

It’s funny the wisdom you find on a random Thursday evening.  As with most things, it comes when you stop trying to force it.

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