So my running has been really slow since about 6 weeks, when I began feeling sick. And I am not exaggerating. I know that runners who downplay their running can be as annoying as stick thin women who pinch their belly buttons and claim to be obese. I don’t want to be one of those runners. I feel like I have adequate knowledge of how I run though to know that I promptly got slower when the all-the-time-nausea set in. If I do a run where I average a 9 minute pace I am doing really well. Which means that there are substantially more runs during which I run even slower. I have not done tempo runs, I have not done speed work, I have just gotten out and run slowly every week.
Last Saturday was the Free2Run 5K, a race that raises money for and awareness about human trafficking. I decided to do for the third year in a row when I realized that I would be about 15.5 weeks and should at least be feeling okay-ish. The first year I did the race I was pregnant, had not run in 2 months because of being injured, and ran it in just under 27 minutes – my slowest 5K ever. Last year I ran 20:20 and missed being the first woman by about 20 seconds. This year my goal was to hopefully finish faster than last time I was pregnant, since I am not as far along as I was then and have also been running regularly, which seemed like it should count for something. I was a little sad to find that the old course had be re-imagined, this time with a hill involved, but since I was pregnant and not chasing a PR it didn’t bother me too much. Okay, let’s be real. It bothered me.
It’s hard to say no to a race that begins right out your kitchen window. And it was such a beautiful day!
The day of the race I prepped my t-shirt. And then I did a 2 mile warm up. My goal was to get to 8 miles for the day (31 for the week) by piecing together my warm up, the 5K, and my cool down. If you are not a runner, I realize that sounds dumb. If you are a runner and accustomed to at least getting in a long-ish weekend run, you understand.
Husband decided to walk with the boys and the stroller while I ran. There were about 130 or so runners and walkers and we all lined up, the gun went off, and we ran.
As I began to run I remembered something important. I HATE being crowded in by other people. I sort of feel this way about driving too, which is why I think it is fortunate that I have only received one speeding ticket in my life. My goal, both in running and driving, is not not be near people while doing either activity. This is one of the reasons that I love the idea of the Boston Marathon but have the feeling I would hate it in actuality. I like to run races by myself. Logical, no?
So I took off running. And as I watched my Garmin hit 6:30 I had that sweet and glorious feeling. The feeling you get when you slip into cold water on a hot day. Or sink onto a soft couch when you’ve been on your feet for hours. Or that first bite of a smooth and silky chocolate dessert. Those moments where you think, truly: Oh. My. God. Except there I was equating those blissful feelings with running a 6:30 pace, which I held for all of a minute. But this was the fastest I’d run in 13 weeks and, oh my, the endorphin high from that moment was incredible!
After that, I just ran. I ran a pace that felt good and comfortable and sustainable. I hit mile 1 at just over a 7 minute pace and mile 2 (even with the hill) was a 7:15. I never paid attention to mile 3. It was such a good feeling to be out there and running harder than I had in forever and feeling good that I actually thought someone was making fun of me when they yelled that I was the first woman. Maybe I would have run a bit faster if I believed them, but I didn’t. The only category I knew I was capable of winning was the “Expectant Mothers” category. Plus I knew that I’d seen women start ahead of me and I didn’t really remember passing any of them.
So I hit the finish line at 22:47, the 16th person to finish, feeling good, like I hadn’t really raced and wasn’t totally spent, to find out that I really was the first woman to finish (all the cross country girls and fast women must have been elsewhere that morning!). So I took off and ran another 2.9 miles to get to my 8 mile goal. I felt like the Energizer Bunny – there’s the crazy pregnant lady again, still running! Did she ever make it to the finish line? The guy who came in first finished in 17:45, so you see the discrepancy in times! I just think it is crazy how the specific field of runners totally dictates the end results (which I know sounds obvious). But I ran so hard last year and barely got second and then this year I am pregnant, run so much slower and without really racing, end up first. Whatever. I got a fun plaque and a free road ID out of it, which I appreciate!
I am also thinking that I may need to start doing some speed work at the track because running fast felt so good. Maybe I am just crazy. But I will also admit that I took a 2+ hour nap in the afternoon and was tired (though not really sore) the following
morning entire day.
I leave you with this helpful quotation from Dr. Miriam Stoppard from Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth. “Jogging: This is very hard on your breasts and jarring for your back, spine, pelvis, hips, and knees. Don’t jog while pregnant.”
That’s right, my pregnant friends. Don’t jog. RUN.
Inspirational 5K running song: Hall of Fame