Learning to listen to my body

As someone who has pushed my body pretty far at times, and learned so much about it in the process, this pregnancy journey has taught me even more.

For years I was a runner. I started running cross-country and track in grade 7 then joined a club and ran even more. I realized the longer the distance the better I did. So, I started running road races.

Then came the longer distances: my first half marathon when I was 18 and my first marathon at 20. I trained for my first 26.2, but not well, and body and heart carried me across that finish line.

RNR AZ 2004

RNR AZ 2004

Then I asked my body to do things that, many times, I never thought I could do.

I started to road bike and was talked into a half iron and full iron distance triathlon at 26-years-old.

Despite being on the course for over eight hours at this point, I was having FUN!

Ironman Arizona 2010

I trained, I hurt, I prepared as best I knew how. I fueled my body. I nourished it. And I took care of it when it needed special care.

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I also ignored it at times. (Ok, many times over the years I’ve ignored it and gone on that run or bike when it needed rest.)

I took these steps three more times at 28 and 29-years-old.

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Ironman Canada 2012

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Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013

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Ironman Canada – Whistler 2013

I asked it to bike in extreme heat, run in snow and windchills of -40, hold together for X more miles when it was tired, hungry, and hurting.

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My body answered me each time.

It has climbed many mountains. It has strength trained. It has carried me very long distances – up to 140 miles at a time. It has gone fast and it has gone slow.

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I’ve beaten it down and each time it rebuilt. It listened to me.

Just like any relationship should give and take, it sends signals to let me know when enough is enough.

It took nine months to conceive this baby, and over that nine months I had to listen really hard to what my body was asking. It wasn’t always easy to drop the miles lower and lower, and add some weight to my hard-earned muscles, without knowing how it would respond.

I hesitantly continued to listen to my body. It gave me so much when I pushed it to new limits for years.

Once I got pregnant, I realized I was good at listening to what my body needed. And most importantly, I knew I had to listen to it.

Run, but slower. Take a nap. Exercise to help ‘morning’ sickness, even though you’re tired. Keep up strength training. Drink more water. Do more yoga. Stop running. Stay active, whatever that means on any given day. Rest more.

My last run at 31 weeks.

My last run at 31 weeks.

I am now over nine months along, the same amount of time it took to get pregnant. I barely recognize myself physically, and I just don’t feel like….me. I crave a good sweat session but know that it will come in time.

I am tired. My back and my hips hurt, and this time it isn’t from going that extra mile, not refueling properly after a hard session, or being hunched over a bike for hours at a time.

This is my body preparing for something new, something it hasn’t done before, and something that scares me. (Sounds kind of like how I’ve felt before every new race distance and almost every race!)

It’s been refreshing to listen to my body, and truly listen to it. To let it tell me what it needs instead of my constant demands on it.

I have faith we’ll make it, just as we have done before. And next time I’m training for a race, I hope to take that time to stop and really listen to what my body needs. After all, it’s done some amazing things.

How good are you at listening to your body?

Well hello!

I never intend to fall off the face of the blogging world but it is so easy to just not write and not read other blogs.

When I got pregnant I didn’t want to become the blogger that goes from training and racing and going on fun travels to writing only bump updates. Although if you follow me on Instagram (search thechangeofpace) you’ll see those are basically the only photos I post.

However as I quickly learned, pregnancy takes over your whole life! Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just not what I intended to write about when I started a blog.

So here I am…

35 weeks pregnant and in the homestretch… six weeks since my last post… with not a lot to write!

I could recap the negatives: how brutal the end of 2014 was with house arrest and zero activity for nine days since I got so sick, or how I have chronic pain in my hips and now back that doesn’t allow for much sleep and has me waddling around in a constant state of agony.

I could talk about how I find pregnancy fascinating as a weekend warrior athlete: the weight gain (I think over 30 pounds so far?), how I miss simple things like being able to roll my IT bands (I’m too unsteady now!), and how despite staying fairly active I breath like an overweight, pack-a-day smoker when I walk upstairs.

Or, I could talk about the positives: how this babe is a mover and shaker with body parts sticking out left right and centre (Kelly thinks the baby is practicing ice and rock climbing), how excited we are to meet the little one, and how loved our baby is by so many…already! This is just scratching the surface of everything good.

Let’s stick with the positives and keep right on sailing into the final month of pregnancy. For now, I’m just grateful to be growing a healthy little being.

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I’m not sure what blogging will look like from now on, but I suppose that’s part of the reason my blog name is Change of Pace. Life changes, and along with it goals, priorities and focus change, too.

What’s new in your world?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistletoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
– Edward Pola & George Wyle

Hope you have a fabulous holiday season!

Wishing you lots of love, wonderful memories with family and friends, and time to reflect on the year that passed.

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Cheers to a happy, healthy 2015!

What are your holiday plans?

Running {and workouts} through pregnancy – second trimester

I realize I should kind of write these as time goes by instead of trying to remember after that fact (I’m just past 28 weeks/seven months). I did write some crib notes throughout the trimester, and I tracked all my workouts, so at least I can remember some of it properly!

The second trimester is from week 14-27. Man, does the beginning of that seem like a long time ago!

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I’ll keep the same outline as I did for the first trimester update. I’ll talk about running first and then the other exercise I kept up.

Of note, my longest run was 1:10 with most around 45 minutes. I haven’t used my Garmin since February, and that was just for holidays runs. Essentially I haven’t used it since Ironman Canada in summer 2013!

So needless to say I didn’t know my pace for a long time, which I think is the best way to run: by feel. On my treadmill runs as of late, I’ve definitely slowed but by less than expected.

What felt good?
In all honesty, not a lot felt good about running after week 19! I ran twice a week until week 17 and then dropped down to once a week, with some weeks of no running.

In week 17 I ran a 12km/7.5 mile trail race. I took it easy and barely breathed heavy. In retrospect, I’m sure I could’ve run a lot harder. But I wanted to play it safe with both the tripping factor and pushing it. I think my biggest success was that I didn’t stop to pee during the race :) Although I didn’t run hard, I was still pretty fatigued the next day.

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The race fell on our anniversary, and I hope we can make it an annual event!

The other thing that fits the ‘feeling good’ category is my Gabrialla support belt. I got it in week 21 and noticed a huge difference in comfort of my belly. It completely supported it and just felt right. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is running while pregnant. (Of note, I got a sized up and it fits really well.)

What was different?
There isn’t really anything new to add to this column. I still pee a lot more than normal, am a lot thirstier during and after, and need to eat before a morning run. (My record high is six pees on a six mile treadmill run!)

What didn’t feel good?
Week 19 was where running started to fall apart for me. I would get really bad hip flexor/groin pain at the end of a long run. It would last for the remainder of the day. Kelly and I went for a long trail run during week 19 and I had to walk the last km, and then I couldn’t walk for the rest of the day without serious limping.

Two weeks later I successfully ran but afterwards had bad back pain, and the next day my groin/pelvic area was extremely sore.

This is kind of how it’s been going ever since. I should really stop running but the stubborn part of me doesn’t want to yet.

During week 22 I knew I couldn’t run after a couple minutes and then the next week felt good. During week 24 I had to stop after 10 minutes because of serious back cramps (something totally new to me).

Week 25 was another upswing. I ran two days in a row, which I haven’t done in a really long time! They were both on the trails, so I went nice and slow. Surprisingly, I felt a lot better on the uphill than the down!

Since then running has been touch and go. I’ve limited my max run distance to 5 miles/8 km and that seems to be a sweet spot. Nothing hurts while running, and afterwards, at that distance, my groin/pelvic area doesn’t hurt.

I *may* try running once a week until it acts up again. At that point, I think I should force myself to stop.

I don’t want to continue running to stay in shape or to bounce back into running faster afterwards. I just honestly love it and don’t want to go so long without it (the remainder of pregnancy and then however long afterwards). But, if it’ll do me more harm than good I need to stop.

Everything else
I biked a lot this trimester, all on my trainer. I don’t remember exactly when, but we propped a foam roller on my handlebars when it started to get uncomfortable to lean over.

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Awesome solution, and essentially free since we already had it!

I ride a steady pace, and I still do some interval workouts too. It feels good to breathe a little! My longest bike ride has been 45 minutes this trimester. And that’s more than enough!

Other than that, I’m keeping up my strength training, incorporating some strength/cardio circuits into my routine each week, and doing Tracey Andersen prenatal DVDs every couple of weeks.

I got in a few awesome hikes, mostly at the beginning of the trimester. One weekend we hiked over 20 miles but that was absolutely all I did that weekend!

Floe Lake

On the last true hike we went on, I really tired on the way down and despite wearing my support belt, my stomach was very heavy.

I continued with yoga once a week, and in the last few weeks I practiced 2-3 times a week.

I’ve also been lucky enough to cross-country ski a few times!

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Twice was on holidays and then I went once here at home. Unfortunately I started to feel the same pain as when I run, so I cut my last ski short.

Overall I’ve been keeping up my weekly workout sessions (five or six days a week) but they are much shorter and with a lot less intensity.

I can tell you that in the third trimester this will definitely decrease as time goes on. I’m starting to feel more fatigued (not sleeping well…at all). And I’m really starting to notice the extra weight. I don’t really know what I weighed when I got pregnant, but I would estimate I’ve gained 20 pounds already. That feels like quite a difference with everything except biking and yoga!

 If you worked out/ran through pregnancy, feel free to chime in with tips, suggestions, how you felt, etc! 

If you have any questions, let me know!

How was your year of running?

This is the third year I’m linking up with Miss Zippy to look back at my year of running (see my 2013 and 2012 reviews). Head over to her website to check out a bunch of other people’s reviews!

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Best race experience?
I participated in four races this year and only three running races: a 10km race on my 30th birthday, a surprise 10 miler in Del Mar, California when we were on holidays, a SUP race this summer, and a trail race on our sixth anniversary.

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Del Mar, CA

I loved them all for different reasons, but since this is about my year of running I guess I’d have to say the race on my birthday. It was a small, local race, Kelly ran it with me (instead of ahead of me!), my parents walked the 5k, and my sister and her family unexpectedly came out to cheer!

Passing my parents!

Best run?
Any trail run from this summer was phenomenal.

But, I think my best run was a 10 miler I did in Laguna Beach, CA where I ran along the beaches of Crystal Cove State Park and came across this little cutie. IMG-20140222-00394I remember not wanting to turn back, but I didn’t want to worry Kelly by going for too much longer than I said!

Best new piece of gear?
Remember when I said I am indecisive? I think that comes out in this post! I have two answers for this one.

I bought my Gabrialla Maternity Support Belt at 21 weeks pregnant. It has seemed to really help with the heaviness of my belly as time goes on.

The second item is Japanese Mint Oil. My prenatal acupuncturist recommended it for my aching hips that keep me up at night. According to their site, it helps promote circulation, relieves tight muscles, and is useful in injury rehab among many other benefits. I’ll continue to use it post-pregnancy, too!

Best piece of running advice you received?
I really, really would love to run throughout pregnancy but I think I’m going to have to stop soon.

When I told my girlfriend this she reminded me that it’s such a small blip of time in my running life. I’ve been running for 18 years and hope to do it forever. In the grand scheme of things, taking a few months off  is far from the worst that could happen!

Most inspirational runner?
I have quite a list, but the most inspirational this year have been moms. I love seeing what women are capable of after their world has been completely changed, when they juggle a lot of balls, and still manage to run and stay fit.

A couple professional athletes that top that list are triathlete Beth Gerdes (returned to racing, an Ironman no less, four months after giving birth to her baby girl) and runner Stephanie Rothstein Bruce (who is so honest about her body and comeback, #journeywithsteph).

Beth's second Ironman stats…less than seven months after having a baby!

Beth’s second Ironman stats…less than seven months after having a baby!

Otherwise, I read a lot of running blogs written by moms who inspire me in almost every post they write. In no particular order, here are a few of my faves:

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Humbling, relaxed, and freeing.

Tell me about your year of running and link up with Miss Zippy! 

Rest and relaxation before the holidays

A couple weeks ago we took time off work and headed to the mountains for 10 wonderful days.

I wanted to relax and sleep as much as possible while getting in some good workouts, and Kelly wanted to have fun in the mountains!

We both got our wishes. We woke up on our first morning to tons of snow so busted out the cross-country skis for the first time this season.

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Kelly leashed Harold to his belt and we had a blast skiing for an hour and a half, and laughing at Harold running like a puppy through the snow!

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Sadly, all the snow melted by that night.

The bright side was that the trails were clear so I got in nice runs on the trails the next two days (also the first time I’ve ran two days in a row in months)!

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Meanwhile, Kelly went deeper into the mountains and got to enjoy non-pregnancy approved activities like downhill skiing and ice-climbing.

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It ended up snowing again, so we got out to xc ski one more time. It was a bluebird sky, temperatures were mild, and it felt so good to exercise in the fresh, mountain air.

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The R&R was just what I needed before the busy holiday season!

reading material

reading material

What’s your favourite winter activity?

I must admit I was envious the days Kelly went downhill skiing, but ice climbing scares me :) Cross country skiing definitely tops my list.