Oh, Baby… Another Plot Twist!

I have some exciting news to share in this entry! A few months ago, I had to put my Boston qualifying goals on the back burner due to a tibial stress fracture. I took six weeks completely off running and have been gradually building my fitness back up since that time. After my comeback triathlon which I blogged about at the end of the summer, I trained consistently and raced three 5k’s, a 10k, two half marathons, and a one hour track race (a unique experience where you run as many laps as you can in one hour around a standard quarter mile track.)

You’ll notice that even though it has been over seven months since my injury, there still aren’t any marathons on that list of races. And though I gave all these shorter races a strong effort, none of them were PR’s. You see, in November, I had another little plot twist that completely changed my running plans for the upcoming year. This time, it wasn’t an injury… but a much happier surprise of a positive pregnancy test!

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White River Half Marathon with Charlie and Jessica – 4 weeks pregnant! They were two of the very first people to hear my big news!

I decided when I found out that I was pregnant that I would continue to run for as long as I could. But marathon training would again have to take its place on the back burner. Could I physically build back up to a marathon distance while pregnant? Sure, people have done it. But for me personally, I couldn’t see the benefit of pushing my body so hard when it is already devoting so many resources towards growing a human life. There will be time for more marathons after this baby comes. Until then, my primary goal will be to keep me and my little running partner healthy.

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Turkey Trot 5k – almost 5 weeks pregnant! It was really fun winning this small race with my tiny little secret turkey in the oven!

I have dreamed of having a baby of my own for as long as I can remember. And my husband and I are absolutely thrilled to be welcoming this little one into our family. But being pregnant has not been without its challenges.

The first challenge came in the form of first trimester morning sickness. I was fortunate to never actually lose my breakfast. But I suffered constant nausea. I tried all the remedies in the book… ginger, special morning sickness candies, acupressure bands, you name it. But the only thing that really gave me relief was to constantly munch on carbs. I couldn’t stand the thought of my usual protein shakes and balanced meals that have helped me stay lean and healthy for so long. More often than not, dinner was several slices of cheese pizza.

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CASA Half Marathon at 7 weeks pregnant! The fatigue and nausea were really starting to hit me by this point, and it wasn’t my best race. But I’m still so thankful that baby and I had the health and strength to complete it!

So the pounds started packing on, earlier than they’re really supposed to in a pregnancy. Many mornings, it was really hard to get out the door for a run. But I kept doing the best I could, working in a healthy meal here and there when I could stomach it, still logging around 30 miles a week, even powering through my speed workouts and long runs. Strangely enough, even though they were hard, my daily runs were the times that I felt the most normal. I loved the feeling of strength and health that running gave me, a short time of relief from the nausea and exhaustion that were my constant companions the rest of the day.

By the time I reached this second trimester, the nausea started to ease, and I gratefully began to make healthier eating choices again. But now, I barely recognized myself in pictures. There was the beginning of a cute little baby bump that I expected to see… but there was also a lot of extra weight in other places: boobs, butt, thighs. I can’t remember the last time I saw myself looking so out of shape.

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One Hour Track run at 13 weeks pregnant! By this point, I was really starting to notice the weight gain throwing off my balance a bit and making my legs much more tired and heavy than usual. But baby and I found the right pace and rhythm for us, and we still had a very good race!

And it made me a lot more upset than I’d like to admit. I have a long history of struggling with body image issues. In high school, I developed an eating disorder and lost my menstrual cycle for over a year. (I actually wondered back then if this would affect my ability to get pregnant in the future… and I’m so grateful that it didn’t.) I’ve come a long way since then in learning how to appreciate and care for my body instead of deprive it, but it’s still hard sometimes not to measure my self worth by what I look like. The media doesn’t help. Even when you’re pregnant, you’re bombarded with unrealistic images of what an ultra-fit, “bump only” pregnancy is supposed to look like… and let me tell you, those images don’t look anything like me! I knew I hadn’t had the greatest diet over the past couple months, but I HAD worked really hard to stay on top of my running. And it didn’t seem fair that the physical evidence of all my hard-earned training was slowly disappearing behind new layers of fat.

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Valentine’s Day 5k at 16 weeks pregnant – no hiding that baby bump now!

But here’s the thing. Getting to carry a child is a BLESSING. A blessing so much bigger than setting PR’s or having a “perfect” body. I have so many close friends and family members who have longed to have a baby and can’t… or who have gotten pregnant, only to experience the heartbreak of miscarriage. So many people would give anything for the privilege which I now have, extra layers of fluff and all.

 

Learning to love and be proud of this body that is doing so many amazing things!

 

The upcoming months will be like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. And I’ll never have this exact experience again. It’s a special time of making once-in-a-lifetime memories with our unborn child. And I don’t want to waste another moment of this amazing time of pregnancy worrying about trivial things such as how much weight I’m gaining, how fast I’m running, and what other people may be thinking about my appearance during these fleeting few months of my life.

Pregnancy is hard… harder than I thought it would be. My emotions are at an all time high with these raging hormones. When my identity has become so closely tied with my athleticism, it’s hard not to worry about the future. Will I be able to trim back down after the baby? Will I ever be as fast as I was before? Will Boston always be a distant dream?

But worrying about the future accomplishes nothing; it simply robs you of the joy of today. So my goal for the upcoming months is to choose to live in joy and gratitude for what I have right now. It’s actually a relief when you realize that you truly have very little control over the changes your body is undergoing to support this little baby growing inside you. You simply have to relax, make the best decisions you can TODAY to keep the two of you healthy, and trust God with all the worries of tomorrow.

So here’s to a healthy and joyful pregnancy for me and my precious little running buddy, whatever that happens to look like on the outside! I plan to continue to share my experience as a pregnant runner as the months go on. And I hope that by being real about my own pregnancy, maybe I can be an encouragement to some other amazing mamas-to-be out there.

It really is incredible what our bodies can do… the brand new challenges they can rise to, unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Sometimes that challenge is a marathon, and sometimes it’s growing a human life. I didn’t think anything could be as hard as running a marathon, but I stand corrected! I have so much admiration for all the amazing women who have run this race of motherhood before me. It’s a tough course with lots of ups and downs, and sometimes it scares me to death thinking about all the challenges I have yet to face before reaching the finish line (or is it really just the starting line?) in July. But the two of us are going to make it… one mile at a time!

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