Friday, February 22, 2008

News and plans

Welcome back to the blog! I'm aware that I've been on hiatus since sometime late in the fall, making this my most overdue posting ever. Consequently, I have several big updates, so bear with me if this gets a bit long. I'm going to use sub-headings because I like structure just a little bit too much.

Some mandatory changes to the schedule
In September I told my fabulous friend and running partner to expect some changes in my running habits...because I am pregnant! We didn't tell family or friends about the pregnancy until Thanksgiving, but I did tell Meg because she's fabulous and she needed to know, for her sanity and my safety. Before I get into the implications of this development, let me first say that she's been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about the impending birth.

At first I was very aware of my heart rate and tried to keep it in check. I was unsure what was safe and what was too much, and consequently probably veered into the over-cautious in my attempts to be mindful of baby. I also started limiting my long runs to 4-5 miles, again in an effort to keep my calories balanced and keep myself and the baby hydrated enough. Then for a while eating became difficult. I just wasn't taking in enough calories in a day to warrant burning a few hundred by running. So even initially, before many people knew I was pregnant, it had some impact on my life as a runner, but I kept running. I didn't keep a log of miles through most of the late fall, so I can't say with any certainty how regular my runs were.

Over winter break I transitioned to walking several days a week (which I've been doing with a great walking partner since last spring) and doing more cross-training. When Meg got back from winter break I started to work running back into the mix one day per week. So far that combination has worked well for me. I feel like I've been able to maintain a reasonable level of cardiovascular health (my pulse on Monday was 64!!) and have controlled my weight gain fairly well. For the purposes of a church project, not this blog, I've kept a record of my activity since the end of December. I'm hesitant about posting it here but I'm going to. Here goes:

12/30/2007, Walking, 2 miles
1/3/2008, Walking, 25 minutes
1/4/2008, Walking, 2 miles
1/8/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
1/10/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
1/12/2008, Running, 3.7 miles
1/14/2008, Yoga, 60 minutes (prenatal yoga is hard!)
1/17/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
1/19/2008, Elliptical/Biking, 32 minutes
1/22/2008, Walking, 30 minutes; Elliptical, 24 minutes; Weight lifting, 10-15 minutes
1/24/2008, Running, 35 minutes + 5 min cool down
1/25/3008, Running, 35 minutes + 5 min cool down
1/28/2008, Elliptical, 20 minutes; Weight lifting, 10-15 minutes
1/31/2008, Walking, 25 minutes
2/7/2008, Walking, 30 minutes; Running, 45 minutes
2/9/2008, Yoga, 45 minutes
2/12/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
2/14/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
2/15/2008, Running, 40 minutes
2/21/2008, Walking, 30 minutes
2/22/2008, Running, 20 minutes; Walking, 20 minutes

Clearly I ran earlier today. In general, running still feels good. It's easier now to run than it is to walk quickly. People definitely stare at me when I run, but that's ok. People seem surprised when I tell them I'm still running. I have two lines of commentary on this. First, pregnant women need to be physically active! I keep meeting women who say they ate what they wanted during their pregnancies and used pregnancy as an excuse to do nothing. Not cool. Second, people need to understand that it isn't 1950 anymore. It's perfectly safe for pregnant women to work out. That said, there are some catches. For instance, it is not recommended that pregnant women run if they weren't runners before the pregnancy. Certainly there can be complicating physical factors with any pregnancy. I'm not advocating that any pregnant woman work out without first discussing it with her OB, but in general, it's pretty safe. It is also possible to take it too far. Running too much late in pregnancy can result in low birth weight babies, so caution is required. I was just told, for instance, to keep my runs to 3 miles each and no more than 3 times per week. So even for healthy runners, there are limitations as the baby grows. For those of you who are concerned, my winter running has been almost exclusively on an indoor track, for safety's sake.

I thought about renaming this blog "Running Round" but decided that frequent name changes aren't my style. Anyway, for the time being I'll keep chuckling about the responses I get, and will continue to direct naysayers to an article in this month's Runners' World. Paula Radcliffe is officially my current running hero.

An education in winter running
As we got into the winter season in earnest I saw a whole new side of running. It started out with an innocent looking runners' catalog in my mailbox. I thought it would sell a wider range of clothing, but similar in its nature, to what I saw in the local Target and Dick's. Not so. I had no idea how much gear is made for serious winter running. For example, you can buy cleats, essentially, so facilitate running on the snow or ice. Special high-end runners' shoes are made with less mesh, to protect your feet from the cold. There are special gloves, made out of technical fabric. Who knew? Then of course the catalog did sell the range of products I expected: tights, vests, hats, etc. Basically, if you like to run in the cold, there are companies out there that can outfit you (for a hefty price, I might add) for any weather condition. Going into the winter, Runners' World also published a guide to dressing for the elements. It outlined how many layers you should have on your upper and lower body for various temperature ranges. They also host a bulletin board on the topic, for those of you who are interested.

I also learned that among people willing to run in extremely cold weather, there is an appreciable range of education, common sense, and experience. On the high end is my TNT coach. I see him on a fairly regular basis, geared up and leaving for his noon run. Even on days when I'm grumbling about walking from my office to the gym to walk on the indoor track, he has a huge grin on his face as he begins his outdoor run. On the other end of the spectrum are the college-aged guys who run in 15-20 degree weather (I live in the Midwest--it's cold) in shorts and cotton t-shirts. Granted, sometimes they are running very quickly (probably for survival, upon realizing the folly of their ways), but there is no excuse. I watch them and hope that if they keep up with running enough to take it seriously, one day they'll discover the running catalog described in the previous paragraph.

The next race
At some point this winter Meg and I started to discuss our next race. I briefly considered doing the Chicago Distance Classic again, but decided that it is too close to my due date to adequately prepare. A more realistic race has been chosen: the Indianapolis Half-Marathon in October. Having a race on the horizon keeps me motivated. It will also help me transition back into running with more enthusiasm once the baby is born. I've heard great things about this course. Plus, the entry fee is pretty low. I'm already excited about it!! I know it's only February, but I'm excited. At the moment I don't feel like much of a runner. Even if I weren't pregnant, I've done only one race and I'm not currently training. I think training for Indy will help me feel more like a real runner again.

Team in Training News
Finally, I'm VERY happy to report that a friend of mine has decided to train for the Chicago Distance Classic with Team in Training!! She will begin training in early May. She thought I put her on a TNT mailing list to encourage her to sign up. Not the case, as I told her! I didn't even have her correct address at the time. Even after discovering that I didn't sign her up for the team information session, she decided to attend anyway. I'm proud of her for making this commitment, to herself and to a great cause. Yay Erin!!