Saturday I ran my first and probably only 10k while pregnant, and it was a huge success! The course is along several of my regular running routes (or at least they were before I got pregnant) and goes over one major hill (mile 5.4-5.8) with several smaller climbs as well. It is a really tough course, but that is what makes it so great.
Going in, I really had no idea what I'd be able to do. I hadn't raced anything more than a 5k, and while those had been fun and turned out wonderfully, I wasn't sure what it would be like to race double that distance at 26 weeks pregnant. I knew I could slow up whenever I needed, and I even had a few possible pit stop options planned if I needed them, so race morning I awoke excited about the challenge before me.
The morning was warm, but not overly so. Mile 1-3 was pretty flat and I kept a good pace. Mom stayed with me for most of this first half and that was fun. She fell back around mile 3, although I kept expecting her to catch me once I began to slow my pace on the hills. When we reached mile 4 the climbs began. I took it slow and easy on the hills, monitoring my breathing. My steps were small and quick, which makes shimmying up a hill a little easier.
I did not end up taking any pit stops. Not because I didn't need them, but what I realized was when in a race, I was not as willing to stop as I am when I am running around my neighborhood. When I have the option and it would make me more comfortable, of course I am going to take it. But when racing, even when pregnant, I was not willing to waste those minutes on a bathroom break. By mile 5 it became somewhat insistent but I was able to ignore it, too excited about finishing to care much.
I grabbed one sip of water at two aid stations and threw the rest
down my front. I did get hot and at one point worried about
overheating, but then the course took us into the shade and I felt
better. As we approached the last and final hill, I got slightly choked up because I realized I was going to do it. I wasn't sure about the under-an-hour goal, but I knew I was finishing this thing and finishing strong. I whispered, "We did it, little girl," as if she could hear me and approached the last big hill with excitment.
Just like in the previous 5ks, starting near the back of the pack meant I passed a lot of people. When I hit the climbs and then the big hill at the end, I prepared myself mentally to be passed, knowing I wouldn't be running up that thing. Well, everyone as far as I could see in front of me was walking it. The same went for those behind as I glanced back to see if I could find Mom. I ran up the lesser parts and marched up the steepest incline. Arms pumping, legs pushing (probably a somewhat comical sight as I marched with inhibited vigor) I eventually got up that thing and started to run once I reached the top. The decline is a steep one too, but I ran carefully, holding my belly so it wouldn't bounce around too much. It usually doesn't bounce at all, but I don't usually run down steep hills either.
I finished the 10k in 59:53, just barely under my 1 hour goal. I was ecstatic. I'd had no idea what kind of "race pace" I'd be able to run in a 10k while pregnant, but running sub 10 minute pace sounded reasonable to me. I was thrilled with the race and my experience as I waited for Mom to run through and cheered for her.
After that I quickly made my way to the water table to rehydrate and I also grabbed half of a banana. I paid close attention to any movement in my tummy and sure enough, my baby girl moved as I stood in the shade sipping my water. I have read in two places that the baby should move at least 30 minutes after exercise and so I always pay close attention every time I get out and run.
I looked for Jason who had couched the 10k into his 20 miler and he found me shortly after. I was excited to tell him about my race and he was proud (also asking if his little girl was moving around). I visited with a few friends before Jason and I walked back home. My car was parked in the section of the course that was closed, so I couldn't drive away until after the 5k, which had 30 more minutes before it would start. Mom was running it with my sister, so she said she'd drive the car home when they were finished.
Jason and I enjoyed a leisurely mile walk home. I think it was good for both of us to stretch out a little after our runs. We quickly showered and then enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and toast. By that point it was the most delicious breakfast I'd ever had!
If it weren't May and if the summer weren't already upon us down here in Alabama, I could probably run another 10k or two. The concerning factor isn't so much the distance but the heat, and since I was borderline too hot in the 10k, I don't want to chance it again later. I feel extremely blessed to have been able to run a race at 26 weeks pregnant, however, and so I am content with how things have played out. I may enter another 5k should one come around, but until then I will stick to my early morning runs in the coolest part of the day, remaining grateful for every step this baby girl and I take together.