Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Running in the 3rd Trimester

Well, baby and I are now 30 weeks along and I'm pleased to say that we're still running! I did a little stats check yesterday, and my mileage in my 1st trimester was about half what I was doing pre-pregnancy, and through the 2nd and 3rd trimester to date it has been cut further to about 1/3 what I was doing pre-pregnancy. I think the cut was more to do with my taking on other activities like dance, yoga, and swimming as I would argue running was easiest in the 2nd trimester. But anyway the stats are more for perspective, I don't run often or far, relative to what I'd normally do, but I still run. Oh, and there's nothing fast about it! I am running about 2-3 times a week, around 5-8km each time (more often 5km than anything). But my expectation was never to run at the same level as I had been, but to simply run to maintain fitness and for mental and physical well-being.

I would say that little has changed since the 2nd trimester so far. But I'm only a couple weeks into this 3rd and final trimester so it's a little premature to assume it will continue to be this easy. The main difference now is that the baby is now steadily gaining weight so my tummy will be growing in both girth and weight this next while, so running should get more difficult. My attitude remains the same though, that I'll only run as long as it's comfortable and makes sense. Whether that be another day, week, or 10 weeks, only time will tell.

Yesterday I was interviewed by Christine Blanchette who manages and hosts a show about running called Run With It. I was a guest of hers in her very first season, and it was a great honour to be asked to come back as a returning guest now that Run With It is in its 5th season.

Here's the video from season 1 

Christine and I bumped into one another at the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May when I crossed the finish line of the 8km race. The race was featured on the show for a brief segment and I made it into a brief soundbite (click here for the video). Christine then followed up with me to invite me to return as a featured guest in a future episode. So yesterday we met up for my interview and what a blast it was. Stay tuned for the episode which will air in September. We are talking about running through pregnancy which is a topic I'm currently journeying through and rather passionate about. Of course, there's a whole pile of stuff I wish I remembered to say in the interview, but I think I shared a lot of helpful tips. Look forward to sharing with you and getting your feedback.

Christine and I chatting and selfie-ing before the interview.
After our interview, I took advantage of being in the Coal Harbour area and ran a little 5km on the seawall before coming home.

So this weekend is a little free community event happening in Kitsilano - the KitsFest 5km - which I plan on running. I'm not planning too far ahead of that, except to continue to plan on running and to commit to at least giving it a try but with permission to walk if I wish.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Getting Large, But Still in Charge!

It's been approximately a month since my last post! I suppose I've had little to report on without any events or major developments in my running. I'm very pleasantly surprised to report that I am still running! I officially hit 6 months pregnant on Monday and the 3rd trimester is around the corner, starting in August.

When I first realized that running, while more difficult, is certainly possible in pregnancy, I decided to take running one month at a time. Or even one week at a time, allowing myself a pass to quit at any time. But quitting for real would always require a test of "are you sure about this?" I have indeed had a couple of bad runs here and there, but so does everyone, pregnant or not. If I quit because of one bad run, that wouldn't be very Zahida of me. So I tell myself, try one more time, and if that run also sucks, consider quitting. Or rather, taking a break from running until after baby.

I mentally set the goal to run through May. Then June came and running was still OK. I told myself, well, a hot summer is on its way and other sports might be more comfy. Now here we are in the latter half of July and I'm still showing no signs of slowing down. Sure, I do enjoy a nice cool swim and there was a week or so where I only ran a couple times, but in general, running is still fine and so is my pace.

Here I am in the sweaty afterglow of a 6km run with Monica yesterday - 6km for 6 months, bay-bee!

So with the 3rd trimester approaching, another trimester known for tiredness, baby will be growing larger and my bump will along with it. There's a lot of unknowns about how that might feel, let alone impact my running. Again, I'll take it one week at a time. If things haven't significantly changed for me already, it's hard to imagine when it will change, for real.

I have noticed one significant change the last month or so. Increased blood volume and heat leads to swelling! The two results of this have been some ulnar nerve restriction in my right arm (apparently this happens to about 12% of pregnant women) and some ankle swelling.

The arm swelling hasn't been so bad. It was when it first occurred and my entire arm went numb when I was trying to sleep. The achiness was so unbearable, I could not sleep, and I could not shake the arm back to life. For some reason, I ran the next morning, hoping that would kickstart my circulation and make my arm feel better. It didn't, and I had a really difficult run (a quit-worthy run). I didn't let it discourage me as it was only one bad run, and it came on the heels of one of my worst sleeps thus far in pregnancy. What has helped my arm is chiropractic and wearing K tape on my arm. I don't know how long I'll have to keep my arm taped, but I know it's working and I'm sleeping soundly again.

The other issue has been the swollen ankles. I have been smart to note under what circumstances they swell. Typically it's with the hot summer heat (a daily occurrence now) if I don't get enough regular exercise. What I mean with this is that one afternoon workout isn't enough any more. If I wake up and go straight to work and don't get real exercise until my afternoon workout, I'll go into it with swollen ankles. The ankles have ruined a couple of runs and a ballet class. But I think I've figured out the trick. I should run first thing in the morning to kickstart my circulation, and I'll likely be good to go the rest of the day. Or, if I have a scheduled afternoon workout, I need to make sure I get in a good walk in the morning first. So yesterday, I walked 30min before work, and so my feet and ankles felt good and fresh for my 6km afternoon run.

So when it comes to running, I'll be playing it by ear, but I know the next few months will include more swimming, more yoga, and unfortunately, no more ballet. It's getting hard to keep myself on my toes!

Thanks for reading, for encouraging, and for following my journey!

love Z

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Race Report: Longest Day 5K - June 16, 2017

Friday evening was an awesome evening for running. For the 5th year in a row, I participated in the Longest Day 5K out at UBC. It's one of my faves because of its uniqueness, being an evening run to celebrate the arrival of summer and more daylight hours, always falling on the Friday evening before the solstice. After the race is the most epic of after parties with more food than you could possibly want, allowing for a post-race picnic with friends. And as always, the weather was simply perfect!

This was my 7th race with "baby-on-board" (the bump is rather obvious in the photo above) and I was a little unsure how I'd do as my last race was about a month ago. A month can make a difference when there's a growing belly as part of the equation. Of course, I've been running consistently 3x per week, minimum 5K at a time, but training runs are always a bit slower, even if the intention at a race is to take it slow and easy. There's something about the energy of a crowd and event that makes you go a wee bit faster, even when you're not approaching it with a racing mentality.

I set a mental goal of getting in under 35 minutes, but I didn't track pace or commit myself to the idea that I had to achieve this. At this stage, I don't really care how fast I go, as I long as I continue to just move forward and maintain some level of fitness. I kept my watch on the "distance and heart rate" screen so I'd have no idea how fast I was going, only how far I had left to go, and how hard I was working. I also decided before the race started that any uphill section, I'd shorten my stride and go easy, but gave myself permission to power walk up the one steeper hill I remembered from past years' participation. I followed the plan exactly and surprised myself crossing the finish line at 34:45. It felt good, both for the body and the ego!

I'm rather unsure about my running plans moving forward. I know of a lot of women who gave up running at around 4.5 to 5 months pregnant. Me on the other hand, at 5 months, I'm currently showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I imagine it will get harder as baby gets larger and heavier. But for now, at least, I'll keep on going. My goal before was to run through May with June being a question mark. Now I think I should be able to keep going through July too. Let's see though - I have permission from myself to stop anytime it starts to get uncomfortable. I ran 8K this morning, my longest run in about a month, and it was surprisingly easy, and at a good pace too. I don't feel short on energy now either so I don't think I overdid it in any way. Perhaps I'll be one who runs throughout pregnancy. Perhaps I only have a few more weeks before I stop. Whichever way it goes, I'm fine with. We'll just wait and see! :)

In terms of races, there aren't that many 5-10K races over the summer. I'm out of town when Summerfast is on next month, and it's a bit too early to commit to any of the August races. When I realized I had done 7 races with baby already, I was thinking how awesome it would be to reach 10 events. But no need to overdo it for some arbitrary statistic. If you have any suggestions on a great event I need to check out in the next little while, do let me know!

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Halfway There!

So, I'm halfway through my pregnancy! Officially 20 weeks as of yesterday, and today I have my detailed ultrasound appointment.

Yesterday I posted this fun little graphic on my personal Facebook page.

It's funny but for the past 20 weeks, I feel like time has somewhat dragged on by. Now that I've reached the halfway point, the end seems very near and it's all starting to feel a bit real. A lot of it could be because I feel the baby moving around frequently. The last week or so, I feel the baby moving pretty much all the time while I'm at rest and awake to notice, including right now as I type. I hear that's normal - when I'm moving around, the natural rocking I'm causing can lull baby to sleep. When I'm at rest though, baby may want to create its own motion and because it's still rather small, there's a lot of room inside me for it to do its acrobatics. I'll find out today for certain how big it is, but it should measure about 6" from head to bum, or 10" if you include the legs :) Awww!

The moment I realized I hit the halfway point, I couldn't help but make the analogy to running. I remember in my marathoning days, that people told me the stress of a marathon is like labour, and I heard many other marathon/pregnancy analogies. The thing is though that in any race, any training run even, the moment I reach the halfway point, I manage to relax mentally and tackle the second half with confidence. The moment after the halfway point means that I'm more than halfway there. It means that whatever I have endured already is all I have to do moving forward. The second half may be harder to complete, but the successful first half is proof that I have the ability to endure. At a marathon, I celebrate at the half marathon mark - I mean one should celebrate reaching 21.1km anyway, so why not pat yourself on the back at that point in a race. But I do this at the 10.55km mark of half too, or in a 10K, 5K, or any training run too. It's my way of slicing the distance in half mentally. I just have to deal with half of the distance, and the rest after that is the home stretch.

So yesterday, in the spirit of  reaching the halfway point in my pregnancy, I ran an out-and-back training run of 6km along the seawall in Vancouver. I started in Yaletown and turned around when I reached 3km on my watch, at 2nd Beach in Stanley Park. I made a point of stopping to celebrate that I'd reached my halfway point of this training run and took a few photos to mark the occasion. My pregnancy support belt has a pocket in the back just big enough for my phone :) The location and the weather couldn't have been more perfectly beautiful to take in!

Another cool thing happened the other day while I was working a shift at the Running Room. A woman came in to look at shoes and told me she's 20 weeks pregnant. I was wearing a very baggy shirt so I pointed out that I was too!  Our due dates are a few days apart, but it was so lovely to have another pregnant runner to share experiences with. She too has been running consistently like I have been, and she too had been experiencing the dull achy abdominal discomfort post running. I felt like a hero by telling her about my research into this and how I discovered the pregnancy support belt. Since buying the belt, every run I have done wearing the belt has meant zero discomfort after. I recommended she consider it for herself and she was thankful. We both agreed that it seems like running this far into pregnancy has us a bit of a minority. We're both the same age and in our first pregnancy too and talked about how being active is the best thing we could be doing for our unborn children. I didn't take her name or info, but I will be thinking of her in the coming 20 weeks!

So that's all for now. Gotta get myself ready for the ultrasound :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pregnancy, Weight Gain, and Body Image

It's been a little while so thought I'd start with a little update, before I launch into today's topic. I'm almost 19 weeks along, so in other words, almost halfway through this pregnancy! Now it's starting to feel like time is flying and perhaps it's time to start getting organized at home, etc. But I know there's still lots of time yet. I still have time to nest and get my home ready for baby.

I certainly look pregnant now - no denying it! And I finally really feel it too because of my bump and because I feel movement from my tiny dancer too (who's not so tiny anymore at the size of a bell pepper!). I'm finally at the stage where I can enjoy being pregnant. I'm no longer exhausted all the time. I'm tired yes, but I now know my limits and have learned how to say "no" when I find myself overdoing it. And because my bump is kind of cute, I'm getting some positive attention too which doesn't hurt. I am sure that things will get challenging later on as it gets hotter outside and I get larger and more uncomfortable.

So far my discomfort comes mostly at night when I'm trying to sleep. My hips ache from lying on my side (the only position that's comfortable at this stage). I seem to be combating this now with some exercises my chiropractor gave me and from an RMT friend who recently gave me a pre-natal massage. I do the exercises before bed in hopes I go to sleep in alignment with everything limbered up. It's not perfect but it's helping. I have feared that my hips would give me issues while running as I'd had hip issues pre-pregnancy, but so far so good (touch wood). All that relaxin hormone in my body that's preparing my body for childbirth can also cause some discomforts during pregnancy! Things are moving around or looser than usual and it isn't always a good thing.

But I did mention previously about some dull achiness I'd feel in the abdomen, or round ligament pain that would sometimes last for hours after running if I either went too fast or too long. I did a bit of reading into it and learned that wearing a pregnancy support belt might help; the one most recommended for pregnant runners was the Gabrialla belt so I ordered it on Amazon. It's sort of like wearing a bra for your belly, so it helps minimize bounce while you're active. While I'm certainly not far along enough to need to wear the belt regularly, I've worn it on my last two runs and have noticed it's made running that much more comfortable and I have had no discomfort at all after running. Hopefully this means I made the right choice and this belt will continue to help me as the pregnancy progresses. I'll certainly let you know.

Alright, so onto today's topic - weight gain during pregnancy. Oh, and body image.

First of all, weight gain during pregnancy is absolutely expected, normal, and healthy. There are specific guidelines out there for how much weight a woman should gain depending on her pre-pregnancy weight and how many babies she is carrying. It takes into account that if you were overweight beforehand, you don't need to gain as much. Underweight women should gain more. And healthy-weight women should gain somewhere in the middle. The guidelines further break things down into how much weight should be gained in each trimester in order to ensure you stay on track and gain the right amount over the course of the 40 weeks. There's guidelines on how many extra calories to consume each trimester as you "eat for two"; this amount varies in each trimester too. So much math to think about. And while I have tried not to stress, it sometimes gets to me.

The thing is that I have had this story of remarkable weight loss that changed my life. After losing 130lbs, I became a runner and have maintained a healthy, active, athletic lifestyle. The journey because almost 10 years ago and the weight loss has been sustained long term.

So it's weird to somehow be OK with seeing the numbers go up on the scale. I have stayed off the scale for the most part over the years, but I started monitoring again once I realized I was pregnant. The numbers started going up almost right away and itt got to me because in the first trimester, many women don't put on any weight. Some even lose weight because of morning sickness. I on the other hand, put on about 8lbs rather quickly as I had such crazy hunger and snacking was the best way to keep my nausea away. Maybe I overdid it? But I also know that I started retaining water real fast too so it wasn't all a "food baby".  And up top where I'm usually not very endowed, things got large and heavy fast in preparation for nursing. Because I didn't look pregnant and nobody really knew I was pregnant, it got to me. I was slow and tired and adding extra weight to that equation meant extra sluggishness to go with it. I looked like I had "let myself go". Truth is, I probably only felt that way, but I assumed it was visible. I made the mistake of going on some pregnancy forums (which I've now unsubscribed from!) and as women do, there was a lot of comparing going on. Perhaps there was a bit of body image induced comparing, or perhaps people just wanted to see if their experience was normal compared to others. "How much weight have you lost in the first trimester?" would be a common question. I'd roll my eyes and grumble.

It's not that I don't expect weight gain in pregnancy, I just want the gain to be healthy and have it so I can bounce back to my pre-pregnancy self shortly after I give birth. I don't want to gain too much and have a hard time losing it later.

But really, why give in to the comparison game? Do I know anything about these women who are asking the questions? And seriously, my experience doesn't have to match theirs. I am not them. When I went to my first doctor's appointment, she assured me that I was doing just fine and had no concerns. My weight gain was healthy and normal. Her opinion is what should matter.

But I didn't listen, and I kept looking at the scale and seeing the numbers creep up every week. Duh, they're supposed to go up! But it drove me crazy to see it. By my next prenatal checkup, my weight gain was exactly where it needed to be and I felt OK about things. I finally stopped getting on my scale at home. And doing so was positively reinforced at my next doctor's appointment too; my weight gain was still on track. If I am making healthy eating choices, not overdoing it at any one meal, eating based on hunger cues, giving in to cravings within moderation, and keeping active, I have nothing to worry about whatsoever. My body will do what it's designed to do.

Yet I still catch myself looking myself up and down in the mirror. Is my different looking body just because of the baby? If the baby wasn't there, would I look like me? How quickly will I bounce back post-partum. Why am I asking these questions? The thing is, that's what women do often. We're constantly told that even if we are slim or athletic, we need to be thinner. And because I've been the opposite, it's my biggest fear in life that I will revert to my old overweight / obese ways. I need to remind myself that I'm in no risk of this happening any time soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Let's Set the Record Straight!

One thing I've noticed reading about pregnancy and parenthood is there are a number of differing opinions about certain big issues and therefore, a lot of judgement for those who do things a little differently. I'm tired of it, and I'm barely in this game. For example, women who are unable to breast feed their child may be faced with judgement from others who say "breast is best" and the mother who desperately wants to feed their child but can't is left feeling really bad about themselves. Meanwhile the child is healthy and happy, eating formula and growing and thriving. Or those who have no option but to deliver by C-section are sometimes judged as "not having really delivered" or having the baby "the easy way". Meanwhile, they've had MAJOR surgery and there was absolutely nothing easy about it physically or emotionally. I'm tired of reading about stories like this and I'm months away from delivering or feeding my child.

The thing is that what unites us, as parents or parents-to-be, is a desire to do the best thing for our children. For the most part, every woman, every mother, is on that very same page.

So this is why I get really upset when I hear about judgement that women face for running whilst pregnant. In fact, I wonder if I'll start to get that judgement for myself. I have a feeling it might happen more from onlookers who see me running while sporting a bump, rather than from anyone who actually knows me personally. I recently ran the False Creek seawall and the way my clothes hug my preggo belly, it is pretty obvious I am pregnant if you really look at me. I was greeted with eyes looking at my belly for sure, but thankfully it usually came with a smile. It might be because the tummy makes me look possibly just pudgy rather than pregnant to those who are unsure. I hope this positivity continues while my bump becomes more obviously pregnant. And while I'm excited to rock my bump, part of me fears judgement or rude comments from those who don't get it.

For the longest time, running was considered to be harmful to women. Women were considered too weak and fragile for this sport. This was, of course, absolutely absurd and inaccurate. This is the basis for Katrine Switzer's famous first Boston Marathon where men chased after her, trying to disqualify her. You may recall this very famous image.

Women are strong. We're strong as heck. We may look small, but we're fierce. Ever wonder why in some species, the women do the hunting? Ever wonder why it's the women always who birth the children? Exactly, we are strong!

So it bugs me in when people judge a woman for running while pregnant. Is it fear that we're too weak and fragile to do two big physical tasks at once? Oh come on! Every woman I know is excellent at multi-tasking, and doing each task at high quality!

I've heard people argue that a woman who runs pregnant is doing so for vanity, because she can't handle the idea of weight gain. I will also tell those people to shut up! Every woman gains weight while pregnant. It's a fact and a natural, normal, healthy part of pregnancy.

The recent Boston Marathon had a lot of newsworthy moments including Katrine Switzer's return 50 years after her famous debut noted above, as well as the story of Julie McGivery who ran the marathon 8 months pregnant. While most were very much wowed by Julie's achievement, she also faced a lot of criticism. People on the course and the finish line were gasping in disbelief. The trolls online sure commented about how "selfish" her actions were. I didn't want to fall into the trap of judging her myself for enduring the exertion of a marathon while pregnant - as your recall, I opted out of a half marathon because of being pregnant and not wanting to exert myself over a long distance on my feet. I was looking at a half marathon, and this was a full marathon that Julie ran. So I decided to read further about her journey and think critically about my own opinion and examine why people were being such trolls!

First of all, what you do while you're pregnant has so much to do with what you were doing before you were pregnant. My most recent half marathon before my pregnancy was in October 2016. So while I was maintaining a base mileage and a high level of fitness, I would have had to train up to longer runs to be ready for my half in April. Given the low level of energy I had in my first trimester and the large amount of ice on the roads, I wasn't prepared for that. Julie on the other hand, was more than equipped for Boston.

If you read further, she completed the race in almost 7 hours. All of us know, to qualify for the elite Boston race, you need to be much much faster than that. Her qualification time was indeed much much faster (about half that time). So Julie clearly made the necessary adjustments to her pace and likely walked a bunch of the course too in order to complete the 42.2km distance. She didn't run at high intensity. She knew her limits, and distance wasn't one of them. She adapted to her condition, took it slow, and took care of her baby.

I think there are some people who assume that we run for selfish achievement reasons. Sure, Julie didn't want her Boston Marathon opportunity to go out the window after working hard to qualify. This is a race every marathoner dreams of doing at least once in their lifetime. So maybe she had a feeling of "I need to do Boston, this is my chance" and it was a little selfish. I say, WHO CARES? When we take care of ourselves, we're better at taking care of others. When we make choices for ourselves that make us happy, we're indirectly making choices for those directly in our care. A confident mother equals a confident role model for her children.

Running or exercise in general during pregnancy have nothing to do with vanity, nothing to do selfishness, and nothing to do with a fear of weight gain. In fact, it's all about a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Today, the standard medical advice that encourages pregnant women to work out is a very sharp contrast to the recommendations given to women only about 20 years ago. The idea that women should put their feet up for 9 months is outdated. Yes, we should not overexert, and yes we should limit heavy lifting and high risk activities that might involve falling. And no, we should not try anything new or start a new workout routine. But doing what we're already used to and taking the intensity down a notch, is absolutely encouraged, with the doctor's clearance of course. And for you, if you too are pregnant and unsure about being active, talk to your doctor and discuss what's safe for you:

Here are some of the benefits to staying active while pregnant. Read them and be wow'ed! For me it's incentive to keep going:
  1. Labour and delivery may be easier (Amen to that!)
  2. Lower risk of gestational diabetes.
  3. Less likely to experience back pain.
  4. More likely to gain only the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.
  5. Less likely to be constipated.
  6. Exercise relieves stress and anxiety.
  7. Exercise encourages you to be outside, get fresh air, absorb Vitamin D naturally which is essential for baby's development.
  8. More likely to deliver a baby of healthy birth weight.
  9. Maintain or improve flexibility and muscle strength.
  10. More likely to avoid forceps, c-section or other intervention at delivery.
  11. Experience that confident feeling of a hot mama rocking her bump (rather than a beached whale)!
  12. Less likely to experience leg swelling.
  13. Less prone to (or gain relief from) morning sickness.
  14. Encourages healthy habits and allows easier transition to active lifestyle and loss of "baby weight" post-partum.
  15. Improves sleep quality.
  16. Social opportunity to meet other pregnant moms (I'd met some amazing women at my prenatal yoga classes)
  17. Less prone to prenatal depression
  18. Helps give you that pregnancy glow :)
  19. Boosts your immune system.
  20. Inspires others and gains you positive attention! 
So there you have it! Fit mamas rock.

<3 Z

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The second trimester is here! (April 27th)

April 27th

Well, I’ve been there a little while (the 2nd trimester, that is) being in my 15th week. All I have heard from other moms and from my reading has indicated that energy will come back. Essentially the placenta has taken over the hormonal load, relieving me from that pressure. The baby's organs are all developed and the little one is rather complex already. Just a small lemon-sized baby, needing to grow large and strong.

In case you're wondering, there are a few logistical things I've had to contend with now to make running possible. I've always joked about how the last thing I need is more work out clothing. I have an abundance of it given how many race shirts I have and that I work at the Running Room part time. But quite quickly, I have had to re-think my running wardrobe. I have been wearing maternity running capri pants the last couple weeks as the waist bands on my regular ones are too restrictive for my new bump and I wouldn't want to stretch them out anyway (so I can wear them post-partum). I found some inexpensive ones at Old Navy (online) and they are suiting me fine. I just need to find an option for running shorts. I also have been ordering all my race shirts in a size XL to give room for a growing belly. I'm already starting to wear the larger shirts too, again for comfort over necessity. I'm wearing the same few shirts over and over again. No big deal, just laundry more often. Oh, and then there's the sports bra! Nobody told me I'd need to upsize that so quickly. I thought that would be later in pregnancy, but no, preparation for nursing happens early. I had to splurge and buy new sports bras. Now I'm kitted out. Just have to make sure I have shorts soon as it's getting warm outside!

So as for this 2nd trimester energy, I think it’s coming back, but not 100% sure if it’s mind over matter or not. What I’ve noticed so far is sleep quality is improving. Instead of waking up half a dozen times to use the bathroom, it’s down to 2-3 visits. The baby is moving up in my body as it grows and taking some of the pressure off down below. Or something (I’m not a scientist). Also, I am no longer falling asleep at 8pm but can stay up until my usual 10 or 11pm like a proper grown-up. Naps in the afternoon are no longer a necessity. This is helpful since I work full time and can’t exactly nap at my desk. So not feeling the afternoon fade recently has been particularly helpful to my productivity.

I’m just kinda waiting to see if this new stage of my pregnancy has impacted my running. I think it has, but I’m not sure. The thing is, it still feels more sluggish than the normal me, but my pace seems to be a bit more respectable than it has been in recent weeks. I haven’t been looking at pace while running to keep my confidence on the positive side – I don’t want to see how slow I am while in action. What I have been monitoring is distance and heart rate. But regardless of what stats I choose to look at, my watch still tracks all the other stats. At the end of my run, I can scroll through my stats and I have noted that my completion times for the workouts are steadily improving. I also know that a lot of the reason for my slowness generally is that I often walk hilly sections or when I find myself out of breath. The usual me would push through that discomfort. But I’m taking it easy, knowing that when I deny myself oxygen, I also deny that of my baby. So the time spent actually running vs walking, I’m running at a pretty decent pace, and it’s improving.

So I will side-track for a moment since I mentioned heart rate above. If you google exercise while pregnant, you’re bound to find a whole lot of useless outdated information in addition to the good information. One of the common myths that has been recently proven wrong is that a pregnant woman should not let her heart rate go above 140bpm. When I first read this I thought it was absolutely absurd as no two women or two hearts are the same. I’m quite fit so my resting heart rate is very low. I have trained a fair bit at high intensity so I can comfortably get my heart rate quite high as well. I max at around 200bpm, and see HRs in interval training go pretty close to that. This is high for someone my age, but because I’ve been running a while, my heart has a large range. Even though generally my heart rate has gone up since pregnancy, for me, 140 bpm is still the equivalent of barely moving. Sure, I’m getting exercise, but it’s not at all taxing, it’s like granny-jogging?

The real truth about how hard to work running is all about your perceived level of exertion. I wear my heart rate monitor so I can see how hard I’m working, but I don’t stress keeping it under a particular number as a number of variables impact heart rate. I like seeing the HR just because it’s useful information on how I’m feeling that day vs how my heart responds. Running right up to 170bpm has been still quite comfortable for me even though it is a little higher than it normally would be at the pace I go these day. But some days that doesn’t feel good and I slow down even slower. Some days it feels fine and I keep going at that pace or let it creep higher by going faster without stressing. The important thing is that comfy talking pace and not getting to a point where I’m gasping for air, that anerobic feeling, or being absolutely exhausted after. Recently my runs have been easier, my HR is averaging in the 150-165bpm range even though my pace is improving. So that’s something! Yay for 2nd trimester. I hope soon I feel like Superwoman.

So I’m quite excited to see how things continue to progress, although I still have minimal expectations of myself. I run 3 times a week at minimum, one longish effort, typically on the weekend (8-10km) and two shorter ones, during the week after the workday (4-6km). The weekday runs are a struggle as I’m usually rather pooped by the time I get home from work, but morning runs during the week are not an option right now as I need a hearty breakfast and don’t want to run fasted. Again, it’s not only my nutrition at stake. The weekends allow the extra time to eat, wait, run, eat again. I plan on running through the month of May, but will play the summer months and beyond by ear. I might not be comfy in the heat, and after the summer, well, I’ll be large. I am hopeful for June, but again, no pressure.

Coming up is the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 7th, and I’ll be running the 8km. Then the following weekend is the Run For Women, where I’ll be doing the 5km. Then we’ll see!