Friday, August 29, 2014

Postpartum Running: The First Two Months

Two months out from Baby #3's birth, and so much to report!  I have resumed 3-4 weekly runs after barely running at all the first month.  The runs are shorter and slower than before, but it feels so good to be running again!  How to fit it in?  Any way I can!!!  I sometimes go for between 10-20 minutes while Rick showers after his run.  Running in the mornings is hard right now, since I am nursing and pumping each morning and the baby is not on a scheduled wake up time yet.  I am aiming to get her sleeping through the night and waking at 7 a.m.  Then I will be able to run at 5 a.m. again.

I sometimes run during the day when my kids are home (they homeschool two days a week and go to school the other days).  I run a route that takes me within site of our house at all times, so they can see me from our windows.  It's basically a cul-de-sac, and then I turn and run the street in front of our house a bit, then turn around and run the entrance to our neighborhood.  It's very monotonous but it works!  And now I can take the baby out for short runs during the day in our single jogger.  She loves it and has never cried in the stroller!  I wonder if she "remembers" our runs when she was inside me?  

The 2 5Ks I did turned out well.  At the Twilight 5K on July 19, my son and I ran 25:04 (him) and 25:07 minutes, a 5 minute PR for him!  I shot off for the first mile but then we slowed down and ran the rest at a slower pace.  We both placed in our age groups!  He was the only one in his, and I got 3rd in mine!  Then two weeks later I ran the Race for Hope 5K with a comp entry.  I improved my 5K time to around 23:30 (can't find results) and placed 2nd overall female.  I was happy with that time and with my first 7 minute mile postpartum!  I have a long way to go and feel a little like Nicholas Cage's character in The Family Man when he bowls and knocks over a couple of pins and shouts "YES!!!!" while his teammates groan in the background.  I am celebrating my return to running and will celebrate each small step in that process even though they may appear insignificant to others!  

That reminds me of a favorite quote of mine about our "ultimate race."  See my previous entry about it here.  Last year when I was easily running a 20 minute 5K did I give it the "importance of something I may never do again?"  Running for me is now about fitness.  I want to get back into shape and stay in shape.  I have no other goals for the moment.  A 20 minute 5K sounds so unreachable for the moment.  The Rocket City Marathon was my goal before the baby came.  And now?  It just doesn't feel so important.  I HOPE to get there, but when I do it won't be with quite the drive I had before.  My focus is on this new little baby.  My energy is spent on taking care of her.  I look to the past and see my races as my "ultimate races," at least for now.  This is especially true of the marathon.  None of us know when our ultimate race will be.  Here's the quote:

"Take time to enjoy your accomplishments. They will have a lot more meaning later in life if you do. You ran a PR, or won a race, or won your age group and you had that feeling of accomplishment that you trained so hard for. Did you give it the importance of something you may never do again? Probably not. Everyone expects the next race, or one soon to follow, will be a new and better accomplishment. And early in your running that may very well happen, even frequently, but one day you will have run your ultimate race. Not until later will you realize that." (emphasis added)

Here I am 6 weeks postpartum in the Race for Hope 5K.




Saturday, July 12, 2014

She's Here!... and Benefits of Exercising Until the Very End (It's Hard But Worth It!)


Our baby girl made it safely into the world on Sunday, June 22 at 8:06 p.m.  What a whirlwind entrance she made!  After only a few hours of laboring at home, we rushed to the hospital and discovered I was already at 9 centimeters.  Needless to say, I was able to achieve my dream of a drug-free labor, but it was definitely a scary and painful experience for me.  Our daughter is now almost 3 weeks old, and we all love her so.

I have spent some of the last 3 weeks reflecting on the benefits of keeping up exercising (specifically running) until the very end of pregnancy.

I exercised throughout my pregnancy.  The day I had my daughter, I had walked 3 miles (chose not to run that day since I was feeling lots of pressure and some contractions, but walking felt great).  Two days before I had her, I had walked/jogged for 6 miles total, with 3 of those being a jog (lots of walking in between but 1.5 miles of continuous jogging!).  Running was something I wanted to keep up as long as I could.  I had run a marathon while early pregnant and ran a "long" run of 10 miles until around 32 weeks.  I also continued a couple 6 mile runs each week too and did the elliptical machine a couple times a week.  I noticed a significant drop in pace and desire to run around 34 weeks, but I kept up a few miles a week until the very end.  All in all, I did some form of exercise 5-7 days a week throughout the pregnancy, but at the end it was in the form of walking, jogging, and the elliptical machine.

I also resumed exercise shortly after the birth.  I know this is not typical, but I did a 3 mile run just a little under a week after having her, putting only 8 days in between my runs before having her and after having her.  Again, I don't endorse this or think it's typical, but I'm listening to my body and slowly easing back into things.  Nothing major yet.  Most days I don't do any form of exercise except our nightly 1 mile walk (which we resumed the 2nd day home from the hospital).  So short walks with 3-6 mile easy jogs are all I've done so far.

What benefits have I noticed? (I will also make comparisons to my other two pregnancies here.  Though I did exercise in both of them, I did not run until the end with either pregnancy.)

*Complication-free pregnancy.  No backaches, no gestational diabetes, no high blood pressure, etc.  In fact, I felt very good until near the end.  I didn't tolerate the heat well and felt uncomfortable being outside.  Being "advanced maternal age" (I'll be 37 next month), I felt like exercise helped me to be healthy throughout my pregnancy and to avoid some of the conditions that sometimes plague "older" mothers.

*Easy natural labor.  Of course, I had read up on natural labor and done stretches to prepare, but I feel like being in good physical condition also helped me achieve this.  My labor was 5.5 hours long, from first contraction to delivery.  My awesome husband coached me through the tough spots.  I think it helped that we are both marathoners and know our bodies well.  Labor is just another way God designed our bodies to work, and the uterus is just another muscle doing its job.  Also note that I had epidurals with both of my other babies, so this whole experience was new to me and opened my eyes to what I am capable of if I try.

*Smaller baby. I had no idea if exercise would affect my baby's size, but I do feel like it had an impact (although a small one).  My other babies were 8 lb. 3 oz. (born on due date) and 8 lb. 8 oz. (born 1 day early).  This baby was 7 lb. 14 oz. (born 3 days early).  My family has babies in the 9-10 lb. range, and I feared a larger baby was inevitable for me.  So this baby's size, though not much smaller, was a pleasant surprise for me.

*Possible earlier labor?  This was something I was really wanting to cause...going on my own without an induction.  It's common for 3rd pregnancies to have a slightly early labor (around a week early), but it is with 2nd pregnancies too and that wasn't true for me.  I initially was worried about preterm labor, but exercise did not cause that!

Around 37 weeks, I started trying an herbal raspberry tea to help start contractions, and I eventually drank the whole box without any real labor!  I was very discouraged because I thought all of the walking I was doing the last few weeks (7 days a week of daily walks of 3-7 miles total with some jogging OR elliptical machine for the equivalent number of miles) had to do something.  I knew my doctor didn't want me to go past 41 weeks, so I was really trying to start labor on my own.  I didn't want an induction (I had one with my 2nd pregnancy, but this time I wanted to experience the surprise of labor starting on its own).  I was 3 cm for a week before I went into labor on my own 3 days before her due date.  I'll never know if the exercising helped, but I did lose my mucus plug the morning I went into labor, right after I did my walk and morning stretches.  Since this was the earliest labor of all 3 of my pregnancies, I guess I can say that exercise may have helped that a little.

*Less weight gain and quicker weight loss. With my son, I gained 31 lb. and had lost 25 by 6 weeks postpartum.  With my first daughter, I had gained 37 lb. and lost 18 lb. 6 weeks postpartum.  Here is where I am really surprised at the difference.  With this pregnancy I gained 28 lb. and have lost 25 lb. already!  I only lost 11 lb. with the delivery, but once home I dropped another 14 lb. in the first week or so (I noticed sweating at night and lots of peeing!!).  This was (of course) without any type of dieting or any exercise except the nightly walking and one 3 mile run during that week.  I am nursing, but I did with the other two also, so I attribute the weight loss to the exercising I did during pregnancy.  Although while pregnant I had some discouraging months of large weight gain (I put on 13 lb. in a month!), I now realize how quickly this weight would drop once not needed.

*State of Mind.  Exercise helps me to relax, to sort things out in my mind.  Without it, I find it hard to feel like "me."  So even though I wasn't doing crazy miles, I still was able to get up and have that time to myself.  In fact, when I would walk (usually for an hour), I would not bring music.  I was alone in my thoughts.  It was good for me to have this time.

In my sleep-deprived state of mind, this is all I have to offer right now.  I hope it makes sense and can possibly encourage someone else out there to continue running during pregnancy.  It's good for you and baby!

Next up...my son and I plan to complete the Twilight 5K a week from today.  He's been training with me and I love it!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Late in Third Trimester Running!


I am 38 weeks and 1 day.  Yes, definitely counting each day now!  We've had a really mild summer so far with many cloudy and rainy days and highs in the low 80s.  This makes it easier for me, but I do hope we get some hot, sunny days soon so the kids can enjoy the pool!

As I enter the homestretch, I am blown away by the amazing adaptability of a woman's body.  This 30-time marathoner's body has changed into the home of a little, delicate baby all in the span of less than 9 months!    






And am I still a runner?  Yes!  This is something else that has amazed me.  Since about 34 weeks, I have made a steady decrease in running while increasing my walking.  That's totally fine.  I had gotten to where I was walking probably 95% of my walk/runs, totaling 3-7 miles each time.  I would run little bits here and there.  But I noticed on Saturday that I could actually still run a 1/2 mile without stopping! And today I felt so good that I ran over 2 miles!  Granted, I walked nearly a mile first to warm up, then I ran a 1/2 mile, walked a 1/2, and continued that pattern for a total of over 5 miles in 1:18.  But still!  I do the elliptical too on the days I don't walk/run.  And I feel good enough to walk with my family for another mile at night too.  I am happy with any exercise at this point and feel good with what I've been able to keep up.

You may think these activities would help me start labor, but so far they have not.  This baby is hanging out for now.  She's very active and strong, giving me and Rick a big show at night as she changes positions and moves around.  We hope she'll make an appearance in a week or less, and we feel ready for the big day!

Monday, June 2, 2014

35 Weeks Pregnant Update

35 weeks pregnant

"There's nothing wrong with walking, it's just that is takes SOOOO long!"  This is something I've found myself saying almost daily as I head outside.  I am giving myself permission to "give up," and quickly!  Running has become very unpleasant and requires a Herculean effort.  So that leaves walking and the elliptical machine.  Some days are a combination (I will walk 3 miles, then come inside for 2 miles on the elliptical).  Some are just walks with a tiny bit of running.  I can usually work up the stamina for a short burst of running, so I will do a few laps on the track or a game of "run to that mailbox" a few times in the neighborhood while walking the rest of the time.  My doctor has advised me to keep on exercising, stressing that it leads to an easier labor.  So even though it's taking me a lot longer to cover a lot less ground, I will keep it up for the next few weeks!

Cotton Row Run 2014

 Volunteering--Packet Pickup Sunday, May 25, 2014

I volunteered at packet pickup for the Cotton Row Run on Sunday from 3-6 p.m.  If you are looking to volunteer but are worried it may be too hard, let me promise you that this is a great spot to volunteer at.  I usually serve at one of the various pickup tables, so my job is to get the person's name and then find their bib number and get them a T-shirt.  Today, I was assigned to the "T-Shirt Swap" table.  All I had to do was take the shirt that the person didn't want and call back to a "runner" who would get the correct shirt size and hand it to me!  No standing up required (I was given this easier job on purpose by a kind friend)!  I brought along my daughter, and we were treated to free volunteer shirts, free snacks while we served, and THEN a free dinner from Nothing But Noodles!  At 35.5 weeks pregnant, I needed a job that was physically very easy, but this job also proved to be very full of fun free surprises!  An added bonus was getting to catch up with many friends who were also serving or picking up their packets and to encourage new runners.  This position is just a super easy and fun way to give back!

Race Day Monday, May 26

This was not a typical Cotton Row Run race morning for me.  Usually our racing team takes our annual team picture this morning, but today I did not go to that.  I did not have a uniform that fit, so the kids and I slept in and headed over later.  I was fully prepared to pay $5 to park in the very conveniently located parking garage, but when I arrived to pay I saw that is was free to park there!  If you look behind me in the picture below, you can see the garage was practically empty.  Many people parked far away and walked, not knowing of this garage being open and free!  I needed to save my energy for the 5K run.  Rick finished the 10K and had just finished cooling down when he took these pictures.



Running a 5K at 35.5 weeks

My running has slowed and almost stopped since about 34 weeks.  I did have a great run (for me) on Friday, May 23.  I did 3 miles of running (10:57, 8:54, and 8:46) with 1 mile in between consisting of a .5 mile walk and then a .5 mile jog, so the miles of running were separated and not consecutive.  I rested on Saturday, and then on Sunday I only walked since running did not feel good. With running being so spotty lately, I did not know what to expect in the 5K today.  I told Rick I could be anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. Well, I was able to run 10ish minute miles for a chip time of 30:46.  It was warm (70s--race started at 9 a.m.), and I played it safe.  My legs burn and feel heavy when I run, and the entire effort feels so hard.  



After the 5K, the kids had their 1 mile run to do.  I decided to run/jog it, hoping I could be there for my daughter when she slowed down to walk.  Well, my son finished in 7:45 (approx.--it is not officially timed), and Rick and our daughter were 9:15...and I was 11:30.  I could not keep up with them so I just finished alone.

Thoughts on Cotton Row 2014

It was fun to be able to experience the 5K race today in a very different manner than I usually do.  I enjoyed just being out there and loved the big crowds of runners.  I also loved being able to celebrate Memorial Day with other runners.  There is always a nice presentation before each race to honor the men and women who have fought for our freedoms.  Honestly though, I was a little bummed to miss the team picture and the fun of the 10K (my usual race, and Rick usually runs the 5K).  I also really missed the challenge of running my usual pace.  Running is so much harder now.  I feel so encumbered as I strap on my big sports bra, running belt, and spybelt with cell phone under a huge shirt for each run.  It's not really fun at all anymore.  I don't say any of this to complain---I am happy that I am still able to exercise!!  I am saying this in case someone else has been here or will be here.  I think it's okay to feel all of these things.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Third Trimester Thoughts

I am almost 34 weeks, and things are still going well.  My blood pressure, the baby's heart rate, and my measurements look good.  I am seeing my doctor every two weeks now.  Once the craziness of the end of the year is over, I will go weekly.  What good timing!  

Weight Gain
I am really starting to believe that we really don't have a whole lot of control over this.  I've had 2 months of big weight gain (13 pounds and 7 pounds), but the rest have been pretty small, so that indicates the lack of control I have in this department!  I certainly didn't do anything drastic from month to month.  All in all, I am at 24 pounds total right now. 

Running
Today was the last day of running with my group.  They average around 10 minute miles for 6+ miles.  I attempted a 6 mile run with them last Monday and could not keep up, but a sweet friend stayed back with me at the end.  Today, same thing.  I knew once I started having trouble keeping up, I would have to say good-bye for now.  I'll be back before long!

On my own, I can keep an 11-12 minute mile pace and plan to continue running 4-5 miles 2-3 times a week with the elliptical for the other 3-4 days and with one rest day.  While running, I sometimes feel pressure in my groin, and I back off the pace when this happens.  I have found that the weight belt helps, as does just walking.  My Saturday run turned into a walk with a couple of short runs thrown in.  I listen to my body and know when to back off.

Last Double Digit Run?
My last weekly 10 miler was at 33.5 weeks in 1:46.  It was done with Rick in laps around the neighborhood early Friday morning!  I was a little slow getting going but found a good grove as we chatted and caught up on life.  It was almost like a free date and felt so nice to have time to talk!  He was very sweet to stay with me the whole time at a pace that is much slower than his normal pace.  

I wore compression socks since sometimes my legs feel very full and heavy, and they felt good with the socks on.  The problem I face is in the recovery after these longer runs.  I am very tired the rest of the day and a little achy.  This may have been my last one of these.  Even 6 mile runs are starting to seem too far for me.  

Running Girls' Shower
My group hosted a fun Girls' Night Out and Baby Shower for me back in April.  I love it when we get together and can talk face-to-face instead of side-by-side!  The baby got some great things, a nice balance of "essentials" and also some fun outfits.  We are starting to feel more ready for her arrival each day!  I'm so glad I got to celebrate with these friends.



Good-bye, Old Friend
With an almost 8 year old and 7 year old, the time had come to say good-bye to a big part of my days of early motherhood--the double jogging stroller.  I listed it on an on-line site, and it sold very quickly.  My kids ride bikes, run with me, or can even stay at home as I run laps around the neighborhood now.  We are in a different stage of life (though of course I am keeping my single!).  It didn't make sense to keep this stroller anymore, but it was still hard to see it go.  This stroller represented freedom and the strong will I had to keep running even when it was hard.  I am so glad I made my "comeback" to running with this stroller.  It made me stronger, both mentally and physically.  And I will always believe that our kids do better when they know that we make time for ourselves and our interests too.  My kids spent time in here, yes, but they were enjoying fresh air, having conversations and snacks together, and learning that Mommy matters too.  I hope it will bless the next family as much as it did ours.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spectating--My Latest "Sport"

I am 31 weeks pregnant tomorrow and still running!  Because I'd started to feel discomfort below my belly when I ran, I opted to buy a pregnancy weight belt.  I tried it out for a 10-miler this past Saturday.  It works great!  I am able to run without really feeling the weight of my stomach.  It is really comfortable too.  I forgot to wear it when I ran today (4 miles), and I could really tell the difference.  I was tempted to run with a hand under my stomach!

Third trimester running and exercising is going well.  My pregnancy has slowed my pace to roughly 10-12 minute miles, and just this past week I dropped from mainly 60 minutes of elliptical or 6 miles of road running a day to 40-50 minutes or 4-5 miles.  An unfortunate side effort of my bigger body has been chaffing in my armpits (of all places!).  The bigger bra and my swollen glands just rub in ways that I do not rub normally.  These are the main changes I've noticed running while pregnant.   Dropping pace and distance, feeling tired and needing weight support for my stomach, and strange chaffing!  I can't complain.

Spectating  
So I haven't entered a race in months.  It's mostly a financial decision.  I can run for free, so why enter a race just to get my run in?  We are trying to save for Baby #3.  It's just been easier to run alone, with Rick and the kids, and with my running group.  I have missed racing, but I will be back.

Not racing has given me opportunities to volunteer and to spectate!  I went to the For Life Ministries 5K on Saturday, March 29 to watch Rick run.  The race was super small (50 finishers), and my kids and I set up the water station (visited twice by runners on the out-and-back course).  It was a drizzly, slightly chilly morning.  We met some nice people also volunteering at the water station with us that day.  I could tell they were new to running when one called the Powerade "juice" (which I quickly corrected, knowing that runners would not understand why juice was offered on the course!).

Pictures were taken by Gregg Gelmis.


Race start

Rick finishes 2nd overall!

After the race, we went back to the start/finish.  There was a one mile race getting started, but since we had not paid I did not intend for us to run.  Then the director of the race said, "Anyone who wants to run the one mile, please come to the start line!"  My kids both really wanted to run.  Rick lined up with my son, and I decided to stay with my daughter.  Nevermind the fact that I was in jeans and a raincoat or that my daughter was in flip-flops and tending to a cup of busy snails!  It led to a first for me--first time running a race pregnant and in jeans!  Surprisingly, we finished around 11 minutes!  Both kids wanted another mile and went back out with Rick.  So my daughter finished 2 miles in flip-flops!  By her picture, you can tell it didn't bother her a bit!





Five Points of Life Kids Marathon was the following weekend on Saturday, April 5.  This event is free for kids to enter, but they have to log 25 miles prior to the event day's 1.2 miles.  My kids participated last year and wanted to again this year.  They love finishing on the baseball field, getting a medal, and having pizza and popsicles afterwards.  

Pictures from Five Points Facebook page


Will I run any more races this pregnancy?  Well, I signed up for the Cotton Row Run 5K, but I'll be almost 36 weeks pregnant then, and heat might be a factor.  I have really learned to enjoy my easier runs and the joy I get as a spectator to my husband and kids as they run.  That's enough for me right now!