My third trimester half marathon adventure

It turns out, running a half marathon seven months pregnant is about as easy as it sounds. With 25 extra pounds to lug around, I managed to finish a half marathon recently, only to have my “bun in the oven” wake me up after her long nap to kick me, as if to say, “You’re only doing a half marathon, Mom, not a full marathon? Slacker.” She’s a tough coach!

After doing a ten mile training run at 9 min/mile pace, I remember thinking I could possibly run under 2 hours, but decided instead to put my ego aside and take this opportunity, after 20 years of racing, to focus on truly enjoying this experience, with no goal time in mind, especially since this race was on cement rather than trail, with each footstrike taxing my lower back, hips, and knees far more than trail running, pregnant or not. I decided to stay very chill, really listen to my body (in case my growing baby, who loves it when I run, decides she doesn’t want to go that far or fast that day far any reason and sends even the slightest signal since she’s in charge), run when I felt like it, walk when I felt like it, stop at all water stations and port-a-potties, thank all volunteers, and cheer on fellow racers. Success! According to my watch, my finishing time was 2:32, though I stopped it while waiting in line for my bathroom stops, so my official time would be a few minutes more. I started out at 7:30 pace for the first two (downhill) miles, and even though I felt good, made myself slow down to 8:30/9 min mile for the next few miles, hit the halfway point at around 1 hour, walked a couple miles when indigestion settled in nowhere near a bathroom, and then did a jog/walk combo for the last half as the indigestion went away but my lower back and hips inevitably started to get sore under the added weight. Although indigestion is common during pregnancy, in retrospect, I probably got it simply from not sticking with my usual strict pre-race meal. I figured I wasn’t running hard, so It wouldn’t matter, but it turns out it did. It’s okay, though, because I wasn’t worried about time, and walking allowed me to engage in conversation with the people around me, soak in some waterfront views, and enjoy a sense of accomplishment not only in finishing, but in feeling pretty good the rest of the day, injury-free and not too terribly sore, either.

I’d be lying if I said a part of me isn’t itchin’ to race hard again, blasting off the starting line with a rush of adrenaline, pushing myself to the max throughout a race, chasing after competitors, and sprinting home all-out, but for now, I’m embracing this phase of my life, a passage of time where my top priority is to be a healthy, fit mama for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Besides, deep down, I’ll know I’ll back out there before long, more excited to run fast and race hard than ever!

Redefining the Definition of a “Runner’s Body”

Let’s move past what people currently think a “runner’s body” should look like, shall we? Let’s define a “runner’s body” by a body’s ability to run rather than a body’s appearance. Have you ever watched a local 5k road race or even a marathon? All kinds of body shapes come cruising across that finish line – it’s inspiring!

As Sally Bergesen, founder of Oiselle (a popular women’s running gear company) said in a recent tweet, “Can’t tell you how many times women tell me, ‘I don’t have a runner’s body.’ STOP. If you have a body, you can have a runner’s body.” In other words, if you have a body (outside of certain physical/medical exceptions, of course, though I know a crutching athlete and an athlete who “runs” with his arms), you have the tools needed to run/move athletically, no matter your weight or size. By defining a “runner’s body” as lean, small, thin, toned, etc., we send a message to people without a naturally slight build or lean, toned body that they are “not meant to be runners.” How terrible it is that we inadvertently then close doors on people who could otherwise be encouraged to join in this fantastic, healthy, simple activity countless humans love to participate in on a regular basis. Running endorphins boost mood, improve energy, and improve sleep. When done on a regular basis, running can prevent certain diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. With the high rates of obesity in the US, let’s use language to encourage everyone to lace up and head outside for a run, no matter how fast or slow, or large or small they are.

These pictures represent different time periods in my life. In each one of these periods, I ran 7 days a week, outside of an occassional day off for recovery. My size/shape/weight has changed quite a bit in my adult life, but through it all, I’ve never thought of myself as not having a “runner’s body.” Why? Because a body that runs is a runner’s body, and when this body, in all of its phases, runs quickly on tracks or leisurely on trails, it feels happy and free. So please, if you feel a desire to run, take that amazing body of yours out for a spin, and don’t let preconceptions about shape or size ever stop you.

As Bruce Springsteen sings, “Baby, we were born to run.”

Preggo: Here We Go!

MatisseLBPhotography-1332p(1) Growing up in a big Catholic family, I was told I had two options: to become a mother or a nun.

Right then and there I knew I wanted to be a mom; convent life was NOT for me – haha. Plus, I love kids! For starters, I can relate to them. (Haha, what can I say? I like to play)! Also, while there are many ways for women and men to contribute to leaving a legacy and “making the world a better place,” I’ve always liked the old adage, “Have a kid, plant a tree, write a book.” (I’m pretty sure I planted a tree in 3rd grade, and I’m writing a blog that at least one person, you, is reading – thank you, so having a kid is next up.) For anyone curious about my pregnancy journey, especially as it pertains to fitness, here ya go…  #nofilter

I’ll be 35 by the time this baby pops out, and Tim, my partner/hubby, will be 50.

Though we’ve been married for over four years and have always intended to have children, things kept coming up: athletic opportunities for me and a bout of cancer for him. (He’s a year cancer-free now, so phew, but it took him awhile to recover. He’s still working to build up his in-person and online personal training/wellness coaching business after a long recovery following his intense 12-hour surgery, but like they say, “No time is perfect to have a baby – you have to just go for it.”) So we did. And it worked! And we’re very grateful for that, especially at our ages. I mean, years ago, just two days after I got married, at age 30, my mom (a 1950s mother of nine kids) kindly reminded me that my “uterus is not young”. (Thanks, Mom.)

Now that I know I’ve been pregnant for a few months, I can look back and play the fun game of, “Oh! I’m not going crazy – it’s just pregnancy!”

Sometime mid-October, my body unknowingly flooded me with prego hormones, and though I remember feeling a bit different, with so much going on, it never dawned on me that I could be pregnant. The two weeks prior, I’d just competed in the long, grueling Spartan World Championship in Tahoe on my way home moving road trip-style from Colorado to Seattle before whisking off to my in-laws in Nebraska to celebrate Tim’s 50th birthday. Between two road-trips, a fantastic wedding in CA, the sad death of two people I knew, two fun 50th birthday parties for my hubby, the election, another 13-mile Spartan Beast, one big move from Colorado to Seattle, and two micro-moves while apartment searching, mid-October to mid-November was quite the fast-paced rollercoaster, so yeah, I was a bit distracted, (not to mention extra emotional, dealing with pregnancy hormones I didn’t know I had in me). Yet somehow somewhere near the beginning of this chaotic period, we got pregnant (woohoo!) and unknowingly brought our little peanut along for the ride.

We aren’t the only ones unsure about exactly when we got pregnant…

The first doctor pinned October 13th (Tim’s 50th birthday!) and another doctor thinks it was a week and a half before, (which is possible but not as likely), which means I would’ve raced the Spartan World Championship pregnant by a few days! I doubt I did, though, because I felt great during that race, yet in the Seattle Spartan Beast I raced three weeks after, I felt tired. In fact, I felt so “off” that week that I almost didn’t race the Beast, but I didn’t seem to be sick, so I decided to just go for it to get some practice for long races in. I didn’t fail any obstacles, thank goodness (baby bump or not, pregnant burpees do not sound fun), though my running sections felt uncharacteristically slow, and when it was time for an exciting battle sprint in to the finish line for first place, a strong competitor right with me, (my favorite scenario, especially as an 800 meter runner!), I just didn’t have any juice left in the tank, but in an odd way I’d never in 20 years of competing felt before. (I’d felt way better just three weeks prior finishing a Beast up a mountain, at altitude!) Rats – another intense photo-finish opportunity missed! Clueless, I still didn’t suspect pregnancy, however; I just hoped it was end-of-season burnout rather than my two decades of speed training out the window from training for long races all summer. I’m not sure why pregnancy didn’t dawn on me as a possibility then, but all I can say is that weeks later, when I found out the exciting pregnancy news, my doctor confirmed that energy-wise, pregnancy is like operating with “one less battery,” so that made it all make more sense – phew!

Purple Spartan

Trying to smile at the end of the October Spartan Beast since I love racing, but also trying to figure out why I felt so “off.” Little did I know I had a wonderful little energy-sucking “bun in the oven” along for the ride!


It’s kind of fun to think my little peanut finished a Beast and went up on the podium with me!

How did I finally figure it out? The boobs.

Even though I always gain some weight during my off-season and the holidays (and have fun doing it!), my boobs started to feel big, and full, and sore. I’ve been running with these sistahs for nearly two decades, and even during a brief time of significant weight gain after college, during my “quarter life crisis,” they’d always come willingly along for the ride, no prob. But suddenly, they stopped cooperating so nicely and started bouncing up and down while I ran, like a toddler stomping their feet. How odd. Not knowing it was a sign of pregnancy, I figured I was just PMSing more than usual, and when I got some spotting the following day, I wrote it off as my period. The sore boobie syndrome continued to persist, however, though I had too much going on to think much of it, until a few weeks later, when I noticed just how different they felt. Then I realized I was a little late for my period (which isn’t unusual for me, but still), and thought, “What if?!” Hmm… I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I thought I’d just search the web for “signs of pregnancy,” just in case, and sure enough, there it was, the #1 sign: sore boobs! I quickly scrolled through the article, and as soon as I saw the part about how easy it is to mistake a little implantation bleeding for one’s period, I realized that’s very possibly what I’d done. I had figured it could take us awhile to get pregnant, since I had just finished an intense season, and even though, to keep my period regular, I’d purposefully kept a couple pounds on all season (which was easy to do, thanks to my CO housemates’ amazing banana bread), I still figured these things take awhile. I mean, some of the healthiest, most amazing and loving couples I know have taken years to conceive, so I know it’s not something to take for granted.

“Let’s go buy some groceries for dinner,” I suggested to Tim. While at the store, I went ninja and sneakily purchased a pregnancy test without Tim noticing (and by ninja, I mean, after years in high school and college as a grocery checker, I still got stuck at the self-checkout, needing help from the overseeing checker while Tim waited just far enough away to not spot the test, among my other purchases – phew!) Test hidden in my jacket, we made a pit stop at the drug store, only to have the security alarm go off right as I entered! Oh no, did my hidden test set it off? If it did, nobody seemed to care, as the person walking out at the same time I walked in, who could’ve been the culprit, kept on walking with nobody stopping them. I exited without sounding the alarm, relieved I didn’t have to spill the beans to Tim while being frisked by a security guard, and wrongfully accused of stealing a pregnancy test.

Once home, I did the dirty work and within seconds, BOOM! A plus for prego! Could it be? Was I really pregnant? I mean, I knew it was possible, but it didn’t really hit me that 1 + 1 could equal 3, in the right circumstances, (or more than 3)! I looked in the mirror, stick in hand, walked up to Tim, and blurted out through a stream of tears, “We’re pregnant!” It wasn’t exactly romantic, but it got the message across, and we hugged and kissed, and sat in shock, and giggled, and freaked out, and wondered what our life would look like next. With my twisted sense of humor, at one point, I looked Tim in the eye with a straight face and said, “It’s definitely yours,” to which he classically shook his head and rolled his eyes, tying not to smile too much and thus encourage my off-color humor.

Here we are, 3 months later, halfway through the 40-week pregnancy time frame, and especially now that we’ve heard a heatbeat and we know the sex (a girl!), it’s really starting to sink in; we’re going to have a wittle baby!! We feel thrilled, a bit terrified, supremely grateful, and though, like most first-time parents, we’re not really sure what we’re doing, we do know this baby of ours will be loved to pieces!