Pointers for successful races during pregnancy

Last weekend, I ran my 4th timed race of the pregnancy – the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K. While I ran this race two other times before, this year’s experience was much different from previous years.

As each week progresses in the pregnancy, my speed decreases. I am very careful and always monitoring my heart rate and feel and as soon as I feel like anything is too strenuous I pull back. While I ran three other races prior to this one, all of those experiences are very different as they were earlier in the pregnancy.

While I am not a doctor (and be sure to consult with your doctor before engaging in any activity during pregnancy), I compiled some helpful pointers to make any race experience during pregnancy more successful:

img_4618—Do not focus on time. This is not the time to set a new PR but rather a time to enjoy the run.

—Eat a fairly sized breakfast about 2 hours before the run regardless of distance. I used to eat a much smaller breakfast before races but now I am very careful to make sure I eat something more substantial.

—Carry fuel with you even if it is a short race. For this 5K, I carried a Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle with me just in case I got hungry before, during, or after the race.

—Don’t be afraid to grab water at the water stations even if it is within the first mile of a 5K. Staying hydrated is much more important!

—Do not start the race in your normal or assigned corral (based on previous times). I took my time getting to the start line of this race. It was very crowded and I was not afraid to start in one of the very last corrals. I did not want to feel the pressure of others going faster than me and I also didn’t want to be a bottleneck for those who were running faster than I was.

img_4617—Dress more warmly than usual. Depending on the weather on race day, dress more warmly than you would used to pre-pregnancy. While your body temperature is more elevated during pregnancy, you will be running slower and as a result out on the course longer. It’s important to be prepared for the elements and worst case is you can shed layers.

—Do not be afraid to walk or stop. There is no shame in walking or stopping EVER, before, during, or after pregnancy! It’s an accomplishment to be out there.

—Meet up with friends. If you have other friends running the race, meet up with them before and/or after the race. It’s a great way to make the race feel more social but they’re also amazing cheerleaders!

—Make sure emergency contact information is on you at all times. Whether you write emergency contact information on the back of your bib, wear a Road ID, or carry ID and phone with you, it is important to have at least one or two of these handy in case something were to happen. I have a Road ID on my shoe and always my phone and ID on me during all races.

—Enjoy the experience. This course was hilly and in the past, I cursed every hill and did not appreciate the scenery. This year, I slowly trucked up the hills and enjoyed the hillier parts by The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park.

There will always be good days and bad ones but I am very thankful for the days that I am able to get out there and exercise. Be proud of your accomplishments and even if the distance and time is much shorter and slower than you expect, your body, mind, and baby will thank you for just getting out there!

Important day, France Run recap, and runner’s high

Before I start the post I want to write, I need to note that today is a very important day. Aside from my birthday, this is probably a close second to the most important day in a year (just kidding, well, not really, but maybe). Happy Birthday, Josh!

It’s no secret that over the last month (good thing the month is ending soon), I haven’t been too good about finding time to blog or run. I announced in July my NYC Marathon plans but even though my heart wasn’t into training, not running regularly or not joining as many team runs was never part of the plan.

IMG_3579Since coming back from vacation, I made it more of a priority to get out as much as possible this week. With the great weather, I managed to fit in two barre classes, and 4 runs so far (still hoping my recovery run happens later today). Waking up with the sun is therapeutic and being able to make it out to cheer on my team during hill repeats reminds me of why I do this in the first place.

Yesterday, I ran my first long run in weeks. I was signed up to run the inaugural France Run 8K in Central Park so the plan was to fit in a couple miles as warm-up beforehand, run the race at marathon goal pace, and run a couple more miles as cool down. I wanted to reach at least 11 miles by the end. When the alarm went off in the morning, I cursed myself for doing this and after 10 minutes of snoozing, I made it out of bed. By the time I made it to Central Park in one of the cooler summer mornings, I was excited to get this done.

IMG_3580I was able to fit in 2.5 miles at true warm-up pace (around 10:05), watch the set-up of the start line and was in my corral with 10 minutes to spare and enough time to eat a Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle while waiting for the start. I’ve found that when I get really hungry right before a run, the waffles do the trick. My stomach can handle these unlike with other foods. The goal of the race was not to race but to get some quicker miles in my legs. I haven’t done any speed work in weeks and knew I just needed faster leg turnover to remind myself I can still do it. An 8K as I learned this week is around 4.97 miles. My splits according to my Garmin:

Mile 1: 9:26 – The race wasn’t too crowded, at least in my corral but with the attempt of starting conservative and Cat Hill, this was my slowest mile.
Mile 2: 8:48 – The flatter part of the race and I started to feel pretty strong.
Mile 3: 9:02 – Then Harlem Hill came, so I naturally slowed down.
Mile 4: 9:07 – By this point my hand started tingling and since I hadn’t had any water since I got into Central Park (almost 7 miles earlier), I walked through one of the water stations to hydrate.
Mile 5: 8:21 – My favorite stretch of Central Park’s outer loop is from around 85th Street to 72nd Street on West Drive. I love the shade from the trees, Delacorte Theater, and The Lake. I pushed harder this mile and left enough gas in the tank to sprint into the finish line. When I was crossing the finish, my watch was showing 6:55 pace.
Official finish time: 45:04; Pace: 9:05

IMG_3586I felt so strong that I wished the race hadn’t just ended but it was the perfect time to run into Amanda and Libby. We caught up quickly (man, I wish we had more time to chat) and took a quick picture. They were off to run another 6 miles and I was aiming to get a little over 3 (at a much slower pace) to cool down. The cool down felt great. I ran into another teammate, Fred who also ran the race, and then my cousin, Norman who just completed his +1 volunteer. He biked the course at the front with the winners. After quick stops to chat, I was off to finish the rest of the cool down. Instead of 3, I ended up with 4 (at 9:36 pace) to put my total mileage at 11.5. Breaking up the run into the three segments really helped. I ran each piece at the times I wanted, built confidence in my fitness level, and more importantly soaked in the endorphins around me.

IMG_3587Yesterday was the runner’s high I needed and missed. It reminded me that running is more than marathon training, the races I’ve completed, or how fast I am going, but more about being with the community. Running has introduced me to so many great people and friends and a sense of happiness, satisfaction and belonging. Thank You Running!

Your turn – share with me your runner’s high from the weekend!