I realized early on that I would miss the running scene. As soon as I started trying to get pregnant, I missed competing and suffering through the hard workouts beforehand. I missed the anticipation of race day, the excitement of the start, the enthusiastic spectators, the spilled Gatorade, the joy (and guilt-free food fest) at the end. I knew jogging a half marathon mid-pregnancy would not satisfy all those longings, but at least I’d experience the fun of race day and be around fellow runners (including my GRC teammates who were actually racing).
I didn’t have any plan for the race itself; pregnancy has a way of keeping you on your toes: some days you feel like a runner, some days like a balloon filled with lead. With a take-whatever-I-get attitude, I wasn’t at all nervous (an unheard-of race morning experience). I was just out to enjoy a long run with a few thousand people.
My only concern was how many times I’d need to stop to use the bathroom. General nervousness may be down, but the pre-race pee anxiety was increased by an order of magnitude. After one Porta Potty trip, I needed another but the line was too long and I had to skip it to make it to the start. Heading off to run 13 miles, nearly 5 months pregnant, already needing to pee? This is sure to go well.
I decided 8 minute pace was probably fair, which had the immense bonus of allowing me to run with Husband, something that never happens and made the race a lot more enjoyable. I’m used to pushing myself and fighting to beat those around me, but this race had an entirely different flavor and I wasn’t sure what I’d focus on. My focus (albeit a cheesy one) became how special it would be to run this race as a family.
We settled in the first few miles, trying to shake off the chilly air and savoring every sunny stretch. I giggled to myself listening to two runners discussing the crazy people ahead who could run 6-minute pace. Sigh, I used to be one of those crazies.
By mile four, there was no denying a bathroom break was imminent. I picked it up a bit in the hope that I’d be able to catch back up to Husband not long after. Amazingly/luckily/fortunately I’ve never had to stop in a race before, so the pee-and-dash was another new experience. I was in and out of that Porta Potty so fast I thought I was forgetting something. Are my shorts around my ankles? Is there TP on my shoe? But all seemed fine and before long I spotted Husband ahead. (An advantage of his height: he’s easy to find in races.) I picked it up to catch him and was shocked I felt good at that pace, but was also happily relieved to slow it down again when we reunited. I was reminded of Brother and his valiant effort in Boston 2011, but was well aware my own quick stop and catch up after having jogged a few miles is not exactly the same as what he did 17 miles into running a marathon at PR pace.
After that I felt better and was determined to stay with Husband. We knocked off shockingly even splits and, to my immense surprise, I didn’t have to stop to pee again. The course was autumn perfection, with gorgeous colors and leaves falling. But by mile 9 or so, I was getting a little bored; shocker: races go by slower when you’re going slower. I wasn’t used to not racing and I had to accept people passing me, something else new. (Ohh, I get passed all the time. I just usually hate it.) I thought about how someday, post-baby, I’d like to race this course for real and get back to being one of those 6-minute crazies. I started doing recon, thinking about what it’d feel like at this point, turn, etc. I may not be racing now, but one day…
With about half a mile to go, we made a turn to head down a long hill to the finish. I’d heard about this hill (and even seen part of it while spectating a few years back) but I was not prepared for how extreme the drop was. We were flying. And of course, husband, with his legs that are approximately the length of my body, was cruising down it at what seemed like world record pace (a disadvantage—for me anyway—of his height). I tried to keep up without falling over and rolling down the thing (a serious achievement while pregnant) and we finished side by side.
Mom and Dad might not have PRed, but Baby did.
No matter how much you’ve run, there are always new experiences.