About this time last year I put a reminder on my calendar for Sept. 8, 10am EST to register for the 2015 Boston Marathon. As luck would have it, I was out on maternity leave when 09/08/14 rolled around and had nothing much to do other than watch the calendar for registration to open. In preparation I visited baa.org to make sure I knew the process. Continue reading
For well over a year now, Wednesday nights have been my “me” nights. It started because I played beach volleyball with work friends on Wednesdays last summer and then over the winter it turned into my night to get drinks or dinner or work late, whatever I wanted to do. In January my best friend forwarded me an email of a new spin studio opening in Baltimore. So when we decided to check out the new Rev Cycle Studio, Wednesday was the natural night to go. Continue reading
It was a couple hours after my second piece of red velvet cake at a friend’s birthday dinner that I started to feel guilty. I had started the day with an invigorating rooftop yoga class and slowly throughout the day cancelled out the benefits of my morning fitness session simply by making stupid food choices. Pregnant or not, one piece of cake is totally fulfilling and sufficient. Post-birthday dinner I vowed to start over on Sunday and start the day with a ride. Continue reading
I hit 30 weeks yesterday, on July 4. A day when I can distinctly recall running in early morning shaded routes to get the run in before the big party. Last year I remember running in 100% humidity and high heat doing track work as part of marathon training. I remember Fourth of July runs just for fun, because its a holiday, and why not? This year, there was no run for me. Continue reading
On May 3 I joined colleagues and a few hundred other cyclists in Howard County for a challenging but totally gorgeous ride. After four months of as much training as I could, I decided at essentially the last minute to ride 32 instead of 22 miles. I felt ready. No doubt it was the right decision. This event was the first athletic event I’ve done that wasn’t a race and I can genuinely say it was just as rewarding. Part of the reward was in being part of something bigger. And part of the reward was the feeling of accomplishment at the end.
Riding in packs is always a hair intimidating at first; a lot of people in a small space going at a relatively decent speed means you have to really have situational awareness of your surroundings and confidence in your ability to control your bike. We headed out around 8:30am on a brisk but beautiful morning with a group of about 100. Our team from r2i was divided between a 32 mile group and a 10 mile group. Within the first three miles things started to space out which was helpful as we were on roads without much shoulder, but at that hour also without much traffic.
By mile 10 or so my co-hort had taken off ahead of me and I kept up as best I could. The course was pretty darn hilly–much hillier than I expected–so while I could cruise at 25mph downhill there were plenty of uphill moments where my GPS read a depressing 6mph. We reunited at the well placed rest stop at mile 21 and finished the rest of the course together. At 21+ weeks pregnant during the ride, I was much more comfortable than I anticipated I would be. Most of my training rides had been midday while our son naps and I think midday pregnant work-outs are just not for me. I’m full and bloated and generally uncomfortable. So doing this ride at the start of the day was perfectly enjoyable.
As we made our way up the final hill within site of the finish line we could hear the music and festivities of the finish line. The volunteers of the day made for an awesome “welcome back” committee and the music made all the difference for having a powerful finish. We reunited with the rest of our r2i team for a group photo and to celebrate the accomplishment.
Riding for a Cause
This event was also one of the first where I’ve ever had to seriously fundraise prior to the event. I set a goal for myself of $500 which would go toward our team’s goal of $5000. I ended up raising $706 and am incredibly grateful to each person–family and friends–who donated toward my ride and the cure for diabetes. Our team made it 88% of the way to our goal which is darn impressive in my opinion. I’m proud of what we did as a team and I am humbled to have been able to ride for a cause.
I started spin class in January in part as training for the May 3 Tour de Cure ride but also to give myself some cross-training focus. I added in a weekend outside ride when the weather started to allow it and with this routine have been riding on average two days a week all through pregnancy.
For the first trimester it was mostly fine and I was spinning/cycling as normal. I found outside riding a tad easier to “monitor” than spin class but I think the reason I go harder in spin class is because I love being pushed by the Rev instructor, Esther Collinetti. I asked Esther at one point what she’d recommend for spinning pregnant and much like my doctor suggested, she said to follow my own comfort level. Technically the doc said I should be able to hold a conversation and I know that in spin I go harder than that level but it’s for short bursts as much of the class is in a form of interval training. Esther’s other suggestion was to simply raise the handlebars a little as the belly gets bigger to make leaning forward more comfortable.
I’ve been trying to ride between 15-20 miles outside in prep to ride 22 miles in hilly Howard County on May 3. For the most part, it’s been ok but as I’ve made my way to the 20+ week mark of pregnancy I’m noticing that any decent speed is definitely harder to maintain, aero position is comfortable and effective for about a whopping 20 seconds and I need to really stay hydrated.
Here are a few things I’ve learned to make spinning and cycling more manageable during pregnancy:
- Expect to maintain the same level of comfort or speed
- Force into tight cycling gear if you don’t have to–I’m not sure yet how to deal with a growing belly and tight cycling shorts but it is definitely uncomfortable
- Ride too far without enough hydration or snacks–I’ve found that by the end of a 20 mile ride I’ve gone through a full water bottle and am hungry; to ride further will require more fuel
- Keep doing what you’re doing–as frustrating as it may be, keep cycling, keep spinning, keep running
- When riding outside: wear a helmet, ride with your cell phone, water, spare tubes, etc (all things you’d ideally normally do)
- Work to maintain cadence; use your gears–speed may get slower but at least you can maintain turnover
- Invest in clip-ins at least for your road bike (I still use the cages in spin class and one day might invest in spin clip-ins)
Focus on your form and breathing
- Sing along or count with the instructor; it helps you know if you’re in “conversation mode” or pushing too hard
- Raise your handlebars to accommodate for a growing belly (I have yet to try this on my road bike and plan on at least removing the aero bars so I can use the middle part of the handle bar in a more upright position)
- Take the time to stretch properly post ride; hip flexors seem to get even tighter with pregnancy so compressing them in a riding position requires extra attention
At the end of 15 weeks I went out for a three mile run and didn’t pay too much attention to my pace though I could feel that it was slow. I thought for sure I’d average out at 9:30 for that short run. It was an early run, before sunrise, and there is no doubt the morning run is still the way to go (vs running midday). I was pleasantly surprised to find that my average pace for that run was 8:58/mile, just squeaking in below 9 minutes.
My new weekend routine is now that I go for a bike ride on Saturday afternoon while our son naps and then an early long run on Sunday. I like this routine quite a bit. The cycling is helping me train for Tour de Cure in May where I’m really hoping I can hang for 32 miles. The Sunday run is a 6.8 route with a flat stretch until the halfway point where there also happens to be a ranger station along the B&A trail with restrooms. Enough said. The second half of the loop is a perfect hilly mix and for probably any number of reasons is typically faster than my first half. Pregnant or not, I usually need a couple miles to warm up so I inevitably end up with negative splits more often than not. This makes for a very satisfying run.
Slow and Steady
Even though that recent 3 miler was a hair under 9 minutes, I have a feeling that may be the last time that happens for the next 5 months. My long run averaged out at a 9:38/mile pace. I proclaimed a few weeks ago that I wanted to maintain sub-9s for as long as possible, at least on the shorter runs. I now know what “as long as possible” equates to. At 16 weeks pregnant, my new pace is slow and steady. I am hoping, however, that I can still finish the next 10k race in under an hour. At the 6.2 mark on the long run my time was 58:38, so we’ll see. Two more weeks could make a big difference in how I perform, even in the spirit of race day.
I got curious though to compare my distances and paces from this current pregnancy with round one. The biggest difference is that I went into that pregnancy marathon ready and into this one barely half marathon ready but with speed like I’d not had before. In 2011 I finished the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of my first trimester. From there I kept up with 3-6 mile runs until about week 18 but I was averaging 10+ minutes per mile. In comparison, I’m currently only running 2-3 days a week, with those runs also 3-6ish miles (plus 2 days per week spin/cycle and cross-train), but I’m a solid minute faster at the same point in pregnancy than the first time. Just interesting.
And regardless, the point is to stay fit, keep exercising, keep running and keep moving. One week at a time.
The last week of my first trimester was the type of week where whether I was pregnant or not I would’ve been frustrated with my work-outs, or lack thereof. It was a week that started with yet another snowstorm and super cold days; followed by lack of motivation to get up early and do the basement workout; followed by a late event at work that also hindered motivation for a run the next morning. I managed a 30 min cross-training session Monday and a 3 mile treadmill run with a little bit of strength work on Tuesday. I was banking on the weekend to round it all out and a 3 mile run on what was finally a spring day on Saturday got me out of the slump of feeling like I’d ruined any fitness progress for the week. What I’d really been hanging my hat on was the 10k race I’d registered for on Sunday which happened to coincide with a few days past the first week of the second trimester. Continue reading
This winter I have taken up the most balanced mix of running, cross-training, strength training and stretching as I ever have before. Probably because it’s just been too damn cold to run outside as often as I normally might. Nonetheless, I have found myself trying to nail some of the basics of building a strong core and pelvic floor.The root of this seems to be grounded in mastering the kegel, something I’ve tried before. After reading, and re-reading certain sections, of The Whole Body Fix in the current issue of RW I am feeling even more motivated to figure out this basic move and also kicking myself for not having been doing certain things all along (which will be the topic of a whole separate post). Continue reading
I love to compete, usually in the form of running. This spring I’m doing something totally different. I’m cycling and it’s NOT a race. One of the co-founders of the Baltimore digital agency where I work, r2i, is on the board of the ADA Maryland chapter and his son suffers from type I diabetes which is an auto-immune disease in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. He has rallied a team in our office to ride in the Tour de Cure.
So, on May 3 I will be riding somewhere in the neighborhood of 22-36 miles for FUN to show my support of the ADA’s efforts to advocate, support and find a cure for the more than 26 million people in the US who have diabetes.
Part of the responsibility of being on the team is of course fundraising. If you or someone you know is affected by diabetes, can you please consider making a donation and/or if you’re local to Howard County Maryland, consider joining my team? The easiest donation is $26 which represents those 26 million people living in the US with diabetes. My total goal is $500 so a little bit will go a long way!
Thank you in advance for any donation you can make and for sharing this with others who may be willing to contribute.