Twenty six and then some

No, not a marathon but where I’m at in pregnancy right now.  I’m in the twenty sixth week and it seems like my body changed drastically from last week to this.  Almost overnight, my pre-pregnancy athletic clothes, which fit well enough that I expected to get at least another month out of them, stopped covering my expanding abdomen.  And today, the velcro straps on the maternity support belt I wear while running bust open several steps into my run!  Not surprisingly, last Thursday’s appointment with my midwife revealed rapid weight gain: four pounds within the past three weeks.  In recent months, I’d been gaining less than a pound a week, so this sense of suddenly becoming way bigger than I have been wasn’t my imagination.

My increasing size necessitated a small shopping trip to buy some new shirts to wear for the next few months.  There are surprisingly few athletic clothing items designed specifically for pregnant women, so I decided to experiment with simply buying a larger size of what I usually wear.  I own and like Lululemon’s Cool Racerback tank and thought this shirt would be a good option because it’s long.  Success!  Going one size up from my normal size fit worked great and has meant for more pleasurable runs because I wasn’t constantly pulling my shirt down over my gut.

In the past few days I’ve started to feel the burden of carrying around all this extra weight.  The stairs in my apartment building are getting harder, as is bending over to pick things up off the ground.  I feel weighted down, literally, and I have growing pains.  Late last week I started experiencing round ligament pain, a jabbing sensation in the abdomen caused by the uterus expanding to accommodate the growing baby.  I’ve been getting round ligament pain while walking and running.  It’s pretty unpleasant but my midwife assured me pushing through the round ligament pain (which goes away about fifteen minutes into my walks and runs) poses no harm to myself or the baby.

With the round ligament pain and the constant feeling that I need to use the bathroom, running is getting pretty uncomfortable.  How much longer will I keep on running?  Barring an unforeseen pregnancy complication that will make the decision for me, it’s all going to depend on how much physical discomfort I’m willing to put up with. Right now I feel like I can’t really put up with much more than I’ve been experiencing in recent days.   If I were to quit running now, I wouldn’t be able to run again for three and a half months, minimum; I have three more months of pregnancy to go, plus at least two weeks postpartum for recovery from childbirth.  The thought of not running for three and a half months makes me a little crazy, so I’m going to stick with it… for now.

 

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Twenty Five weeks

Sometimes you just have to admit defeat, as I did last week, when New York baked and scorched for days on end.  My bedroom got too hot for comfort, even with the air conditioner blasting, so I tried sleeping on the futon in my living room.  That was a little better, but still not so great.  Enter the floor of my living room, the coolest spot in my apartment, albeit not so comfortable for sleeping.   The end result is that I didn’t sleep more than a few hours each night during the heatwave.  I hadn’t experienced comparable sleep deprivation since the first month of Taiho’s life.  I guess I should look at all those sleepless nights last week as practice for what’s to come this fall, once baby number two makes her arrival.

I was too tired and hot last week to do much running.  On Thursday night I mustered up the energy to run on the treadmill at the gym.  The run was horrible from the very beginning- I felt lightheaded and depleted.  After a mile and a half, I decided it would be wise not to push it, so I called it a day and hit up the exercise bike and weight room.  No more running until the weekend, when the heatwave finally broke.

Post-run, post-heatwave

I’m still able to fit into many of my pre-pregnancy running clothes, like the ones in which I’m pictured above.  We’ll see how much longer that lasts.  Today I am officially twenty five weeks pregnant.  Just two more weeks left until I hit the third trimester.  This is exciting for me, because it means I am so so close to meeting my goal of running up to the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy.  Every so often I’ve questioned whether I’ll be able to make it. No run during pregnancy is easy, and you always have to be open to the possibility that some discomfort or complication could materialize that will force you to throw in the towel until the baby has arrived.  Just a little over a month ago, I was sure my pregnancy running days were coming to a close.  But I haven’t put my running shoes away yet.  In fact, I ran five miles this morning.  That run, uncomfortable as it was due to the weight of the baby bearing down on my bladder, was awesome, because I was just grateful I could pull the run, any run, off.

The satisfaction of running five miles with just one 30 second walk break is sticking with me as I got about my day.  In contrast, many days I feel sad and frustrated because I focus on what I can’t do right now: train for a fall marathon, run with other people (because I find myself in need of too many walk breaks when I run outside in the summer heat), push the pace on my runs, do tempo and runs and track workouts.  Slogging through 3-6 miles on the treadmill day after day, without any company, without any goal other than to make it through the run in one piece, gets very lonely and tedious.  When I start to feel sorry for myself, I’m going to re-read today’s post to remind myself I have much to be grateful for.  I get to run.  I’m still running, and will continue to do so, at least for a little while longer.  There will be more long runs and races in my future.  And while I may not have a fall race in the works, I will be welcoming a new baby right around the time many people are gearing up for their goal marathons.  The prospect of the birth of my baby excites me more than any race I could be running.

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Still in the running

Taiho and I were in Santa Fe, New Mexico for much of last week.  The difficulties of traveling with a toddler and the difficulties of adjusting to the higher altitude, during a heatwave, no less, meant that the running shoes I’d packed got no use.

After many days of not running, by Saturday, my first full day back in New York, I was dying to run.  As much as I prefer running outdoors in the summer, I headed to the treadmill at my gym because I didn’t get out the door until the afternoon, when it was too hot to run outside.  My expectations for the run were low, given how laborious running has been recently and how tired I was from the arduous trip home that involved a four and a half hour delay at the airport in Chicago.  I figured I was going to have to walk a lot, and I told myself I could stop after three miles.

Instead of the crappy walk/jog I was expecting, I had the best run in weeks.  Five miles of just… running.  No walk breaks!  No any kind of breaks!  Just pure, unadulterated running at a pace that slowly picked up from 10:40 minutes per mile to start, and ended at a sub 10 minutes per mile pace, with an average pace of 10:09 per mile for the entire run.  The next day, Sunday, I ditched the park loop again and hopped on the treadmill, hoping my run the day before wasn’t a fluke.  It wasn’t.  Another five miles,  slower than I ran before I got pregnant, of course, but not stopping once to catch my breath or slowing to a walk.  When I finished, I felt the so-called runner’s high- that blissful feeling I don’t get so often these days.

I don’t know how or why these awesome runs happened. They’re the first runs I’ve done on the treadmill in a while.  Maybe running inside for now is key?  All I know is that the last time I posted, I was convinced I’d have to stop running any day now, because I couldn’t run for more than a few minutes without feeling like the life had been sucked out of me.  Saturday and Sunday’s treadmill runs showed me that the runner in me doesn’t need a hiatus… yet. She just may need to take it indoors!

I once read somewhere that one of the cardinal rules of running during pregnancy is that you have to accept a certain amount of discomfort on the run.  I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve started feeling like I constantly have to use the bathroom when I run.  The growing baby is putting more and more pressure on my pelvis.  Also, I’m suddenly dealing with some lower-back pain, which makes running tough.  And as I’ve said before, it’s taking my body longer to recover from my runs.  My legs, glutes and lower back were sore for two days from those back to back runs.  But my heart?  Happy and grateful for a few good runs.

 

 

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Winding down

I thought I would’ve updated my blog before now, but the days have just been flying by.  I’m now just over halfway through my pregnancy and midway through the second trimester.  The second trimester is the so-called “golden” stretch of pregnancy- when the intense fatigue and morning sickness so characteristic of the first trimester have abated, when you’re not yet SO big that your growing size doesn’t pose too many hardships.

In fact, I am feeling pretty good.  My energy level is high, I haven’t had any more eczema outbreaks on my hands (or anywhere else, for that matter), and with the exception of mild heartburn, I feel pretty much like my usual self.  So you’d think running would be going well, right?  Wrong.  Even though I feel fine, running has become ridiculously hard in the past few weeks.   My lungs just don’t have it.  Most days I can’t run for more than five minutes at a time without needing a walk break, because I feel so out of breath.  I’ve tried slowing the pace down to a very slow jog, averaging about 2 minutes a mile slower than my pre-pregnancy “easy” pace but I can’t even handle a slow jog for more than a few minutes without feeling like my lungs are going to burst.  It’s funny how quickly these things can change.  A few weeks ago I ran the New York Roadrunners Mini 10k in just under an hour and two minutes.  I only took two walk breaks during the 10k, and my 9:57 pace felt easy; not wanting to push myself to run hard,  I held back on purpose.  Now?  Running ten minute miles feels like sprinting.

I so badly want to meet my goal of running through the end of the second trimester.  However, I have six more weeks to go.  If running is almost impossible now, I can’t imagine what it will be like a few weeks from now.  So I’m trying to make peace with the realization that my  pregnant running days may be over much sooner.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing what I can.  So far this week, I’ve been able to do two walk/run sessions of four miles a piece.  Last weekend my “long” run was five miles with the jogging stroller.  If I can do five tomorrow, I’ll be thrilled!

In non-running related news,  I found out yesterday I’ll be having a girl.  Having spent the past three years immersed in life with a boy, the idea of raising a girl seems so foreign.  I’m sure though I’ll figure it out!  After all, I wasn’t exactly an expert on babies PERIOD when Taiho was born, but I found my way pretty quickly once he arrived.

 

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They’re back and a recipe

They’re back!  No, not the cicadas (though they should be making their appearance any day now in New York), but hot, humid runs.  I love the heat and would much rather run outside in 80 or 90 degree heat than 30 degree weather.  As long as I stay well-hydrated and slow the pace down a bit, I can run in the heat with few problems.

All that has changed with pregnancy.  I’m finding that I’m much more sensitive to the heat.  That doesn’t bode well for running.  The few runs I’ve done outside in warmer weather have been brutal.  When I started my AM run today, it was only 63 degrees.  The 100 percent humidity, however, made it feel like a steam oven outside.  I felt winded within a few minutes of starting my four mile run and had to take a bunch of walk breaks.  I’ve been lucky so far.  Spring in NY has actually felt like spring, with mild, temperate weather being the norm.  Most days have been comfortably mild- in the 60s and 70s and low humidity.  The running has been relatively easy.  But maybe not for much longer, if today’s walk/run is a taste of what’s to come.  I’m preparing myself for the possibility that increasingly warmer and and humid days will mean more walking and a lot less running in the near future.  Or maybe I’ll just have to take the runs to the treadmill.  And if the eczema on my hands clears up (it’s gotten much better in the past few days), maybe I’ll trade my running shoes for goggles and a swim cap.

I haven’t been cooking much because of my skin problems, but I wanted to share with you  a recipe for Mexican Tortilla Bake, one of my favorite dishes, which I last made right before this current eczema flareup worsened.  Think nachos, but somewhat more nutritious!

Mexican Tortilla Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch greens of your choice, e.g. kale or spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 14 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 large bag baked tortilla chips
  • 2 16 oz. jars salsa
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar
  • 8 oz. reduced fat sour cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Saute greens with 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper; set aside.

3.  Saute onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 8 minutes, until translucent.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, and continue to saute for another 5 to 10 minutes, until just heated through.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.

4.  In a 9 x 13 pan, spoon a thin layer of salsa onto the bottom to prevent sticking.  Top with a single layer of tortilla chips.  Over this, spoon a layer of the bean, corn and tomato mixture, and smooth out.

5.  Add a layer of greens.  Top with salsa, a thin layer of sour cream, and a layer of cheese.

6.  Repeat.  End with cheese on top.

7.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, then uncover and turn up heat for another 10 minutes or so, until cheese is bubbling and begins to brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Mexican Tortilla Bake

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