Spring has sprung

Yesterday we were treated to a day of blue skies and sunshine – I even had an ice cream in the park. Finally it feels that there is a glimmer of hope that, whisper it, winter might be over. Today wasn’t supposed to be quite so nice up north so after a considerable amount of faffing, I hauled myself out for a plod before the rain came.

It was more like 2.62 than 26.2 (and well done to everyone who ran London today – I treat you all with reverence and respect. Oh, and good luck with entering next year’s ballot!) but I did get to see some black lambs wearing white socks.


Initially the sheep were all quite far away, but while I took photos they started to trot over to me.


I’m not sure whether I simply caused a false alarm for breakfast time…


…or whether I’d triggered some kind of ovine uprising…

SAM_2215…I didn’t stick around to find out.

Reflection (part two of two)

So the last post was what happened when I found out. It turns out that my first trimester wasn’t as bad as I feared. Luckily I had no morning sickness, I can’t tell you how grateful I was about that. I work in the community and while I wasn’t too concerned about actually being sick, I was petrified by the social awkwardness of being on a home visit having to excuse myself to go and throw up in the garden. Or worse, not actually getting to the garden…

My symptoms have been a magnified version of the normal, unpregnant me – I’ve been hungry and sleepy. I say sleepy, I cannot express just how knackered I’ve been. The hunger (exacerbated by having to replace the calories I’ve used on a run) has had its moments. I particularly enjoyed the weekend when I went out for lunch with work and hoovered up a massive portion of fishcakes and chips with sticky toffee pudding to finish.


This was followed the day after with a pub tea of where I polished off a steak pudding and then had praise from the bar staff for putting away apple crumble and custard… I am trying to keep an eye on my excesses, I promise.


This next bit is my thoughts at the end of my first week of knowing. My midwife appointment was on Friday and I ran the Mad Dog 10k on the Sunday…

On Monday (the night before we found out) I entered the ballot for the Royal Parks Half. I think it was an act of defiance, a way of shaking my fist at the fates, but without going for the ‘pay now’ option (I’m not daft). Today the ballot results were out. Never have I been so pleased to get a race email with the subject “Sorry, it’s bad news”. There will be no squirrel chasing in the park for me this year.

Today was also the day of my first appointment with the midwives. My big question was whether or not I can carry on running. I’d done my reading (including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines) and knew that it shouldn’t be an issue, but I was all set for a heated discussion or disapproving looks from a non-runner. As it was, she couldn’t have been lovelier and more reassuring (though I didn’t mention the words half marathon), even telling me about a fitness instructor she had looked after who had gone on teaching all the way through her pregnancy, albeit at a lower intensity.

The other thing that I didn’t mention was the seven miler that I’d done before the appointment… It was an odd run. I set off feeling brilliant, but flagged on the hills, occasionally felt like I was shuffling along (even though when I checked with Miles, I was doing a pace that I would be chuffed with at the best of times. Ooops. Note to self, work on pacing) but finished up running and felt splendid afterwards. I carried water, which felt odd on this distance but seemed like the right thing to do. Oh, and I enjoyed the guilt-free spells of walking and the chocolate milk afterwards.

I am still narky about the tea.

Reflection (part one of two)

Aren’t you lot lovely? We’ve been a bit overwhelmed by everyone’s comments on my last blog (and I’m not even that hormonal yet) especially because I was quite nervous about coming out with our news so thank you for your responses. I hadn’t wanted to write about it before Blackpool in case (a) Blackpool didn’t happen and (b) anyone told me not to be so stupid or was mean to me. I really should have known that I was surrounded by like-minded people who have been there and done that, and would be supportive and encouraging about the whole thing. Even at work (where I keep my running pretty quiet because mentioning it is usually met with a response of either horror, amazement or just uncomprehending bewilderment) I have found a psychologist who ran through her pregnancy and didn’t bat an eyelid when I told her.

You see, when I googled ‘running pregnancy’, the first page of results throws up a Daily Mail article with the headline “‘You selfish cow!’: One of the insults hurled at me by other mothers as I jogged… because I’m pregnant”. I should know better than to click on a link to the Fail, but I couldn’t resist (and then went one step further by going below the line to read the reader’s comments…) and it made me a bit apprehensive. At that time I couldn’t even blog about it – my family sometimes comment (mainly during January and June) that they only know what I’m up to by reading it here and I felt that this wasn’t an appropriate way to pass on such news…

So I blogged about it anyway. In secret. Only twice, but this was enough to get things straighter in my head. Anyway. This is what I wrote (well it’s part one of what I wrote).

It’s funny how things turn out. One night I’m looking at race pace calculator apps and discussing a sensible half marathon time that would be achievable with a realistic training plan, the next night (literally) I’m looking at a wee sodden stick that is saying in no uncertain terms “pregnant” (the digital tests actually say pregnant, it makes it a whole lot more real than just squinting at a blue cross…).

Yup. Pregnant. I know some of you read this blog at work, so I won’t go into detail about my initial response (just to say that the level of effing and jeffing wouldn’t get past anybody’s security features). To put it mildly, it was a bit of a shock. After the swearing came a bit of a cry, where I bawled that I am far too selfish to be a good mum and that the poor child would be better off being raised by wolves.

After not too long I started to think about running. I had just declared that this would be my best half training ever, I’ve signed up for more races than ever and now it just seemed….pointless. Lots of things seemed pointless. What was the point in even trying to run when I’ll have to stop soon? What was the point in knitting anything ever again? (I’m not sure what my logic was this one). I am going to be responsible for a tiny human being, I would have no time, no energy, no nothing. I was no longer going to be me. This lasted overnight and into the next morning –  poor Ginge had to endure my continued mithering that it was all bleak and hopeless. So he kicked me out for a run and I came back with a smile on my face.

Unable to go down my usual route of finding stuff out (ask twitter) I asked google about running during pregnancy and I have to say that I mostly liked what I saw. The general rule of thumb seems to be, if you’re already doing it you can keep doing it, don’t knacker yourself (I usually maintain the recommended conversational pace while running – with hindsight this might be why I’ve never really improved…) and listen to your body. Oh and drink lots, but be prepared to be shameless about nipping behind a hedge for a pee.

As I write this, I’m slightly fazed about the fact that I have no idea what my body has got in store for me over the next few weeks. It’s not like being injured where you know that you can’t necessarily mend yourself, but following advice about resting/icing/strapping/stretching/rolling might help the healing process along a bit. I know that my body has the potential to blindside me completely with tiredness, nausea and all sorts of things. I want to keep exercising for as long as possible (and am coming up with plans b and c in case the running isn’t a goer) but I’m realistic to acknowledge that it’s not as simple as just wanting this to happen.

Today I am mostly narky that my usual tea intake has been curbed.


Blackpool Half – 13 miles, 14 weeks

Whilst I like a half marathon, they don’t like me. Inevitably, something interferes with my training. Folkestone 2011? My ITB decided to play up. Royal Parks 2012? Dodgy back. Blackpool 2013? Found out that I’m pregnant.

Yup. It turns out that there were actually two of us completing the last couple of weeks of Janathon (I wonder if this gets me restrospective bonus points on the table of death?) and whilst I’ve been running (and have reacquainted myself with the gym) since getting the blessing off the midwife, I have been doing what feels comfortable rather than Serious Training (not that I ever do that much of that).

I’ve had races booked in since January (the moral of this story, don’t try to plan ahead – the gods will mock you) and have done two of the 10k’s that I had planned, but Blackpool was a different matter. I was inspired by the woman who set off (and I suspect finished) in front of me at the Royal Parks Half wearing a five months baby on board sign, but could I do the same? I did what has become my standard research procedure (googling whatever I want to know about + pregnant…) mostly to find uber-fit running moms (they were mostly American) who looked slimmer at 20 weeks pregnant than I did before I was pregnant. This did not fill me full of confidence.

The Monday before race day, I started coming down with a bit of a snuffle. As the week went on, I became more and more snot-filled before it moved on to my chest and by Friday, I was doubting whether I would even make it to the start line. When I packed my bag on Saturday I was feeling better but still I packed for running and not running (just in case). After I checked in at the incredibly lovely and friendly New Bond Hotel, I met up with Ian aka runningman856 (who was my designated responsible adult), collected our race numbers, went for a pint (of blackcurrant in my case) and then went carb-loading at a rather nice little Thai restaurant (where I think the chillis helped clear my lurgy).

I went to bed with everything crossed that I would wake up feeling well enough to run.

Sunday morning came, I took a deep breath…and didn’t cough, rattle or wheeze. I could breathe and felt as human as you can do at half six in the morning when you know there’s a 13 mile run in the offing. After collecting a somewhat grumpy Ian from his hotel (apparently someone didn’t have a good a night’s sleep as I did…), we mooched down the front to meet Carla*(aka Fortnight Flo) who had ventured up north with her somewhat bonkers mates from Stopsley Striders. I had pre-warned Carla about me having a bun in the oven and she had very kindly offered to run with me doing 11.30/12 minute miles. Perfect.

There was a somewhat chaotic start to the race and Miles didn’t manage to get a signal until about a third of a mile into the race, but it wasn’t long until we were heading south down the promenade, inhaling the smell of doughnuts, eyeing up the roller coasters and pondering on the health and safety issues involved with staging burlesque on ice. I’m not used to running with company anymore, but running with Carla and Christa was an absolute joy and I don’t think I stopped grinning for at least the first five miles (their performance of Staying Alive as we ran past a giant glitterball was simply amazing).

The route is traffic-free and took us along either on the closed prom or the pedestrian-only sea front. The sea front nearly did for me. At first, it’s very nice running right beside the sea, but soon the endless sight of sea-to-the-left, sea-wall-to-the-right became somewhat dull. I say somewhat dull, if it wasn’t for Carla’s company and encouragement, I think I would have found a reason to give up at this point. Luckily, the turn-around took us back up into civilisation and gave us plenty of landmarks to keep us going. When we passed the hotel where I stay during Janathon, I knew that I really was on the home stretch and convinced myself that because I had run the route before, I could certainly do it again (although I haven’t usually run 10 miles when I set off from there).

Soon we were passing North Pier and the tower was looming closer into view. I’d already clocked the 12 mile marker the day before and knew exactly which shop it was in front of – never in my life have I been so pleased to see a Poundland… By this time, it was midday and the prom was much more filled with holiday makers and bleary-eyed stag do’s (some of who gave encouraging cheers and applause to the idiot runners) and I found it much easier than the previous quiet stretch. Coming into Bloomfield Road for a stadium finish, I couldn’t see Carla for dust as she pulled an amazing sprint-finish out of the bag and I came in slighty behind her in a not too shabby 2 hours 39 minutes 05 seconds on my chip time (about ten minutes slower than my previous half results).

Ian did his duty by handing me my bottle of chocolate milk and I collected my bling and goodie bag, before we collapsed onto the refreshingly cold concrete floor (to get up, I had to use the technique that I used to teach to older people who had fallen…). My ankles and right hip were complaining bitterly yesterday afternoon and I swore every time I had to go up or down a kerb (luckily this has now passed and I have been left with the normal post-race sore quads).

I’d stuck to my my basic rules – stay hydrated (carrying water between stations rather than taking a swig and chucking the bottle away), listen to my body (and hearing only the usual whinging from it) and don’t do anything bloody stupid. Could I have done it without the support that I had from Ginge (whose encouragement gave me the confidence to even consider the whole enterprise) and my on the day Athoner friends? Probably not. I really can’t say enough about how Carla’s pacing and company lifted me through the race – I would highly recommend her if anyone needs a running buddy!


I am also reassured that by the end of Sunday afternoon, I was already thinking about when I might do it all again – Autumn half in 2014 anyone?

(*Carla’s race review is here)