April Runs

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Archive for the tag “pregnancy”

Preggo running II.

16-18 weeks: Contrary to my expectations these two weeks passed rather well. As we were impatiently awaiting the amniocentesis results, I was running around as usually and participated in the Dam tot Damloop at the gestation age of 17 weeks + 4 days. Despite the fact that those 10 miles represented my longest run after the 1/2M in May, I was not too nervous about it. During the past several months I have kept my mileage quite high and tried to include a 10 km run at least once a week. Indeed, the race went well (see the report here).

Total weight gain: 4 kg.

But enough about insignificant racing: Yesterday the GOOD NEWS from the hospital finally arrived. The research of 200 of the baby cells showed no chromosomal abnormality. In other words, as of today, we can start enjoying the pregnancy and look forward to what may come. I will continue running as long as I can although my pace and mileage will be decreasing now – my belly grows, breasts are filling up and moving independently from my core…

Dam tot Damloop

I have heard about this race many years ago: the biggest Dutch running event with thousands of runners and even more supporters along the way, great atmosphere and interesting  10 mile course… No wonder that the start numbers were sold out 12 minutes after the online registration opened. Luckily we managed to ‘sneak in’ by combining pleasant and useful and joined a small charity project to run (and collect funds) for them.

This was all long before I got pregnant…

Saturday night: Here I am, the night before the race, feeding myself with spaghetti like crazy, feeling quite good but sadly realizing I have to do this on my own as V caught some stomach bug and looks like she will be spending the whole weekend hanging above the toilet.

Sunday 8 am: I am dressed in my (summer) running gear, drinking my coffee, eating cereals, watching the mercury in the outside thermometer – it keeps shrinking around 8 Celsius. It looks like it will start raining soon, too. The last quick look to the website of Dutch railways does not fill me with optimism either – the shortest railroad between Leiden and Amsterdam (where I have to be at the start) is closed for rail works all day today. I decided to take my bike to the station, just in case I need to quickly get to another station for an alternative route.

10 am: Finally I am in the train. It is packed with runners (recognizable by white plastic bags with numbered stickers that match their start number and running shoes hiding under the winter gear) and tourists (recognizable by huge question marks in their faces with: ‘People, where the hell are you all going??”), so finding a seat is out of the question but at least the train moves in the right direction.

11 am: Amsterdam Central Station, the first obstacle of the trip is behind me.  Now digging a map from my plastic bag and trying to find the spot where our charity meets. Since the principal color of our logo is purple, I am happy to fix purple balloons with my right eye and walk towards them. Ehm, wrong charity (at this point, there are 4.000 charity runners around). Several minutes later I am on the spot, right on time for the group picture.

11.30: It is still dry and actually even sunny, the temperature raised to rather comfortable 13 degrees so I am undressing (wearing the charity T-shirt today rather than my own Team AprilRuns), stuffing my plastic bag and throwing it to a truck number 8 (they say I will find it later on 10 miles further, in Zaandam…). The queue in front of the toilets makes me want to pee again and again and again. Luckily I am not too shy to use the facilities of 2 pubs nearby.

11.45: I am quickly calling V to tell her we are moving towards the start corridor. She says “don’t rush, the fastest Kenyan guy has already finished”. The official race started at 10.59 and I will only find out later that there are 50.000 runners today starting practically continuously between 11 am and 3 pm (out of 20 start corridors)! Leonard Komon (‘the Kenyan guy’) finished at 44:48, highly disappointed as he stayed some 20 seconds behind Haile Gebrselassie’s world record.

11:50: Our charity group hears the gun shot from Ronald de Boer, a Dutch iconic ex soccer prof. Little do I care, I am pre-programmed to run so I run. The sun is shining, the crowd along the route is huge (later I hear it counts 250.000 people!), I hear music, drums, people clapping their hands and I feel good.    

1st km: The first bit along the city centre (Prins Hendrikkade) quickly turns down to the Ij tunnel, about 1 km long tunnel under the river Ij. This is the biggest descend and ascend of the race (about 25 meters). The crowd speeds down to the dark mouth of the tunnel accompanied by African drummers who unpacked their huge drums in the middle. Half way through the tunnel some runners already stop running and walk. I keep my pace around 6 minutes per kilometer, smiling, enjoying, singing along. As we climb out of the tunnel (yes, in Holland the 25 m are qualified as climbing), I am happy with my pace. As of now, my GPS dependent Garmin is only useful for the time, not for the distance. Tunnels don’t do him good.

2nd km:  Luckily there are markers on the road each kilometer. We are running through Amsterdam North now – many locals around the path, kids, music groups, BBQ parties, beer… oh no wait, I am here to race.

5th km: 30:48. As planned, I make a quick pause to drink and ‘feel’ my body and let it speak. I feel surprisingly good even though on paper, the first third of the race was too fast for me. I decide to keep the current pace till km 8 and see how it goes from there.

8th km: 49:19. There is a fruit station here. I grab 2 halves of a banana, walk for 10 seconds and still feel really good. Suddenly my Racing Me comes up with an idea: back in spring (while registering) I set a goal of running this race under 1:40, under 100 minutes. If I keep my current pace I could actually still make it. Hmmm, once the little worm of an idea crawls in my head, I am not to be stopped anymore.

10th km: (second 5 km bit ran in 30:58) I have to pee. Well – I ALWAYS have to pee when running so lets neglect the urge and plod on. I am checking my pace by singing along with the street musicians and/or with my mp3 player. All still going good, keeping my pace right around 6 min per km.

11th km: The weather is changing, it is getting colder and windier but what the hell – it is just 3 more miles to go. I will be warm in half an hour!

14th km: I have to admit, the last mile is getting longer. Luckily we are entering the city of Zaandam, the last bit will lead us through the city centre with yet another amazing crowd (although the picture does not show that many people).

16th km: I do not have any ambition to speed up, my legs would not allow me and even though I am racing, I am still very aware of the fact that I am carrying a little passenger with me. My breath is easy and regular, and yet I manage the third 5 km piece in 31 minutes. The cobble stones are okay today, my knee is holding excellent. We have to pass 2 bridges and then turn to the finish line on Peperstraat. I quickly check the time board. My mind is unable to do the maths but I have good hope I actually managed to stay within my time limit.

Finish: Happy and tired but not breathless or exhausted. It was a good race, I ran very flat splits (you hear me talking as if I were a professional, haha) and this all is rewarded by my Garmin showing 1:39:41. Later on, this very time will be confirmed online as well. I am halfway the 18th week of pregnancy and I just ran 10 miles under 100 minutes. And – the charity has collected some EUR 5.700 so far!

3 pm: Sitting in the train home, chewing on a banana, smiling and every now and then reaching towards the medal to check it is still hanging around my neck.

4 pm: Home sweet home, hugging V and finishing the bowl of pasta (I love leftovers from the fridge) and doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.

Preggo running I.

First of all my apology for the pregnancy/baby ramblings – I do understand that people in general are not interested in the endless talks of pregnant women and vaguely I remember that 4 months ago I couldn’t care less myself – but it is the hormones in me talking today…

After several years of more less unsuccessful attempts I became pregnant in June. Moreover, this time my pregnancy survived the 8, 10 and 12 weeks and I actually just started my 17th week now. This is a quick attempt to note down some of the ‘pregnant running’ thoughts.

Did running help me to conceive?

First of all, I like to believe that running (and sporting in general) contributed to the fact that this pregnancy so far is developing well. I shaved off my overweight, gained a lot of strength and returned some healthy eating habits to my diet.

What do the docs say?

As I am 38 years old, of course I am being closely monitored by the medical world. As the matter of fact, after the somewhat disturbing CVS results in wk 12 (karyotype so wild with mosaic 3 and 4 (!) chromosomes that it is beyond comprehension that any baby would survive the first trimester), I am now consulting 2 gynecologists in 2 different hospitals, a midwife and a clinical genetic doc. All 4 of them were unanimous in their conclusions: If you were running before the pregnancy and if you are able to take it easy, the best thing to do is continue running as long as you can.

How do I feel?

Well, pretty good actually. Throughout the last weeks, while waiting for the results of the CVS, and this week while waiting for the amniocentesis results, I am actually very focused on my running routine. Yes, I have to build a break of several days every time somebody sticks a needle to my belly so it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain the forecasted 40 km a week (struggling with 30 km this week, actually) but other than that, I am really good. The 40 minutes outside with running shoes make my day better.

How is my body doing?

So far so good. My breasts obviously grew and a firm sports bra is a must. So are shoes with good cushioning (currently I am very happy with my Asics Nimbus). During my runs, I often feel thirsty (which is new to me as I usually drink very little) so a bottle of water is a new addition to my runs. The bottle belt is not that comfortable anymore while for a camel bag my distances are too funny, so I carry the bottle in my hand. Also, I have to pee quite often which pretty much eliminates the city center runs haha. So I am adding toilette paper to my pocket. Last but not least, I learned to carry a cell phone with me all the time and some money, just in case.

How is the baby doing?

From what the ultrasound shows, the baby likes to sleep while I move. The ultimate evidence being one recent medical check: I biked to see the midwife and she was ready to examine me right after I parked the bike. The baby was asleep and it took us some coughing and laughing to wake him/her up. Of course once he/she was awake, there was no way to stop him/her from kicking around anymore.A brief chronology:

0-6 weeks: I did not think I could be pregnant. Ran around quite actively (Juneathon, holiday in France with some trails and hill work), a beer/wine here and there…

6-8 weeks: after a positive test I deliberately slowed down my running pace – they say your body will give you signals… hmm, not quite…

8-12 weeks: The body signals came after all: my regular easy running pace slowed with half a minute or so (from 6:15 min p/km to 6:45 min p/km) and I started feeling tired during the day. Running funny enough chased the tiredness away and it helped a lot to maintain the regular ‘number 2’ routine (nobody ever warned me and constipation + a lot of gas are really the biggest problems right now). Morning sickness hit me in the afternoon. Gained 1 kg.

12-16 weeks: It was getting harder to maintain my running schedule, also due to medical checks (CVS in week 12, amnio in week 16). Less tired, not sick anymore. Ran a 10 km race in 15+3. So far gained 3 kg in total.

So to cut a long story short: although we don’t know where this pregnancy is going, I am feeling good and running definitely contributes to it. It helps me to get through the long and tiresome days well (and sane).

To be continued.

Prague by night

When planning our ‘racing autumn’, my eyes fell on the Nike Run first. One quick remark of 12Honza (“Prague by night is unforgettable, V will love it!”) made me change my mind and so we registered for the Mattoni Grand Prix Prague on September 8 instead. Of course we combined the race with a long weekend trip to Czech rep. to see my mother so the 1.5 day before the start shot, we were working in her garden, harvesting plums,

hiking around and enjoying the good old Czech cuisine. (Turns our V. loves my mum’s homemade meat loaf). Oh yes – not to forget: we had a great dinner with the whole family on Friday and finally announced my pregnancy. Surprisingly, nobody made any remark regarding the pregnant woman racing. Both my mum and my brother know that there is no chance to change my mind once I set my goal…  On Saturday afternoon, we went down town to pick the start numbers and to breathe some of the ‘racing air’. The starting area looked like this:

We walked around with ice coffee, did some shopping and returned to my mum’s house. For the last time we tried to persuade her to join our friends along the race in Parizska street and to see us running. And at the end, she agreed to come with us! After a series of telephone calls we managed to get a camping chair and 2 friends to accompany mum to the best spot to watch us. We equipped them with a bottle of Becherovka as one never knows when the traditional liquid medicine will come handy. Both the liquor and the camping gear turned out to be unnecessary as we picked a perfect spot at a terrace in front of a fancy café. Mum could see us easily from her place!

Slowly we walked to the start area on Staromestske square that now looked like this:

We found the toilet (twice) and our D corridor and then all of the sudden I spotted attributes that unmistakably belonged to 12Honza (design glasses, black Asics running shoes ‘for formal occasions’, big smile, running pants with a hole on the right knee,…) with his daughter

and he spotted us.

A bit of a surreal moment to shake Honza’s hand, I was so happy we met there! We wished each other good luck and an enjoyable evening and shortly after that the famous Moldau from Smetana’s My Country brought me to tears and made us running.

The evening city was amazing. Yes, it took a bit of an extra focus to avoid the curbs and uneven cobblestones in darker areas but hey, we are urban people and this 10 km track showed Prague at its best. Especially the long stretches at the embankment were not to be missed. Funny enough, we passed pretty much all ‘important’ areas of my young student years and as our pace was moderate, I could show V all of them and even comment on ’what happened here and there…’

Before we knew, we were half way through, keeping the pace at a comfortable 6:15 or so per km. We drank some water from the bottle that V was carrying with her and ran on. Every time as we were passing Parizska street (4x in total) we waved to my mum. Then as we were passing Manesuv bridge on our way to finish, the fireworks above the river exploded!

At Ovocny market, 12Honza with his daughter ran over us in a mighty finish pace and soon we were passing the finish line as well. The race was fantastic as the atmosphere of medieval city by night cannot be substituted by anything else in the world. Our time 1:03:44 was way below what we predicted and I am very happy with it considering the fact I am almost 16 weeks pregnant.

With the golden medals hanging around our necks we walked to Parizska street again and joined our support team at the terrace. It was great to chat with them some more while drinking huge glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and chewing cheesecake. I saw the twinkle in my mum’s eyes. She was so happy and proud of us! We talked and talked and if it was not for the public transport that we were depending on, we would have stayed over the midnight…

On Sunday morning we went to my mum’s cottage again to enjoy some more sun and hike a bit and also to finish some garden works.And then it was time to head home. A perfect weekend if you ask me – and I am sure we will be back!

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