Counting down – the effect of looming deadlines

I’ve had another of my “similarities between running and pregnancy” moments.

Just as Jogblog wrote last week, I love training plans. They fill me with optimism as I visualise myself sprinting gazelle-like during my interval sessions, watching the mileage clock up on my long runs and this time definitely sticking to the plan so I finally reach my sub-<insert possibly unrealistic time here> distance. I love looking at all the similar but different plans on the internet and filling in apps with my previous times to predict my finish times and training paces. And then there’s the joy in ticking off the perfect first week’s training.

Unfortunately training plans tend to have a deadline and to quote the wise words of Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”. At the end of the plan is usually a race and this fills me with panic and dread. It’s not unknown for me to sabotage myself by simply abandoning running for a couple of weeks because I’m so freaked out by the whole thing. It’s the counting down that gets me. One minute the future race is a tiny elephant in the distance and then the clock starts ticking and before I know it, there’s a whiff of dung on the air and I’m being poked in the bum by a tusk.

I’m finding that pregnancy has a similar effect on me. It doesn’t seem five minutes since we found out and since then it’s been one countdown after the other. First midwife appointment, 12 week scan, next midwife appointment, 20 week scan, next midwife appointment, four weeks between midwife appointments, three weeks between midwife appointments, antenatal classes… Chuck in the usual counting down to paydays, holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Athons and the new series of CSI:NY and time flies by in a terrifying way.

I am writing this the night before the countdown flips over into single figures – 9 weeks to go and apparently this is one event where I can’t defer til next year.

Water water everywhere…

It’s been a bit weird since I stopped running. I’m not sure what to write about. I know not everyone wants to read about me being pregnant, which is absolutely fine, but it is taking up rather a lot of my existence at the moment (my bump is now at a size where complete strangers strike up conversations with me; most recently I went to the shop for a bacon and black pudding baton and ended up having a proper good chat with two blokes in full bright orange hi-vis who were working on the railway…).

So I have to apologise, there might be some more pregnancy-related posts and probably some knitted stuff as well, but I’ll try not to go on too much (I’ve only got 11 weeeks to go now anyway).

Anyway, being increasingly bumpy has made be aware of a couple of things recently. Firstly, stopping running made me realise just how sedentary I am when I don’t have regular exercise built into my week. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I work in community healthcare, which means that I spend a lot of time sitting down – I’m either at my desk, in my car or sitting on someone’s settee. It’s even worse at the moment because everyone is being helpful to the pregnant lady, so the only thing that I really have to get up for is to go to the loo…

On a related note, I have also realised that I’m even more rubbish than I thought at managing my hydration. I’ve definitely written before about my bearpaw hands that swell up when I run in the slightest bit of warmth and the recent hot weather has certainly proved that.  The Department of Health recommends that we should drink about 1.2 litres of fluid every day, the World Health Organisation says 1.5 to 2 litres (I think some this is to cover all bases climate-wise), and there seems to be agreement that you should drink more during pregnancy, especially during hot weather.

Now I’m not very good at keeping track of these things (I can barely remember how many lengths I’m up to when I go swimming and I only do 20-odd) so I have out-sourced that part of my brain to an iPhone app…

Usually contains water or squash. It's been a while since this glass has seen beer.

Usually contains water or squash.      It’s been a while since this glass has seen beer.

It’s a very simple, free thing called Waterlogged, but I’m finding it really useful to make a quick note of what I’m drinking (whilst also listening to my body so I don’t drink too much) (alright, so by ‘listening to my body’ I actually mean ‘looking at the colour of my wee‘) (that links to a colour chart, not anything to do with my specific wee. And mine has never been green…).

Basically, I click on ‘Record a Drink’, flick through the pictures of all of my regular drinking vessels (favourite mug, water bottle, normal glass, pint glass) and then ‘Record Glass’. Job done. AND when I do reach my target, it congratulates me and suggests that I tell someone my good news (mostly I tell Ginge, I suspect that no one else would be interested. Or as tolerant).

Thinking about it, you could also use it to keep track of how many pints you have on a night out or keep a pictorial record of what you’ve drunk at a beer festival, but that’s probably going against the spirit of the thing.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

Last night I dreamt that I was running through the countryside. I felt light and free and the running was easy.

I remember that I ran 9 miles (well it was 8 point something when I checked my Garmin, but I rounded up…) and that I thought “that felt so easy it probably wasn’t real”.

I like to think that my legs were going like a spaniel dreaming of chasing cats.

(My running stopped four weeks ago when I was 24 weeks pregnant. It was a natural conclusion after our holidays; a few more aches and pains, growing increasingly bumpy and, most of all, I hadn’t run for two weeks – I find it hard enough to get back after a fortnight’s break at the best of times. I have spent the last four weeks envious of other runners).

On borrowed time…

Due to a combination of holidays (more on that to follow), recovering from holidays and (if I’m honest) just generally slacking a bit, I hadn’t run since the Liverpool 10k. That’s two and a bit weeks of postponing my glorious return to action because I wasn’t sure just how glorious it would be. I’m now halfway through this pregnancy lark, finally starting to show a bit, but also noticing a general change in my fitness. It might just be that I haven’t been doing enough exercise, but I’ve skived off plenty of times in the past and not noticed this big a change.

It really hit home on holiday in Boston. We walked for miles (which was fine) but I started to notice that climbing stairs was starting to leave me feeling out of breath and a bit wonky. Deciding to climb the Bunker Hill Monument (294 steps…) probably wasn’t my best idea. To be fair, initially I did say that Ginge should go up on his own and I’d look at the photos, but I hate the idea of missing out on something exciting. So I climbed it, eventually reaching the top red-faced and glowing like a shire horse.

What I climbed.

What I climbed.

I was not a happy bunny. “You wouldn’t believe I ran a half-marathon last month” I muttered, “look at me”. The realisation dawned that I might be on borrowed time as far as running is concerned.

Today’s effort confirmed that run-walking is now the order of the day.  Ginge joined me on a canal run on which I chose the route (up hill through a series of locks) and then announced “I’m not very good with hills. Or inclines. Or slopes. Or bridges”.  There was a lot of run-walking on the way out, but I was chuffed to discover that on the return downhill, I managed it all in one go (albeit at a much slower pace and with a much redder face than normal). My plan is to stop running when it’s either too uncomfortable or I don’t enjoy it (and presumably, if it’s too uncomfortable I won’t enjoy it anyway…). I suppose technically I have had my Last Run (managing any kind of distance without walking) but if you don’t mind, I’ll keep calling my run-walking ‘running’ because it’s easier and makes me feel better.

In the meantime, I have renewed my gym membership (with an option to take a break for a few months) and I’ve (foolishly) signed up for Juneathon so that’s some more motivation to keep myself active.

Liverpool Spring 10k

Today I ran the Liverpool Spring 10k. I decided to run this at about 8.30 this morning (about half an hour before we’d planned to leave) after a week of umming and ahhing. My running hasn’t been particularly consistent recently – the cold that stalked me in the run up to Blackpool decided to hang around for a couple more weeks and although I’ve now hit the second trimester when I should be blooming and full of energy, I’m still blooming tired at times. The runs that I’ve done have been enjoyable, but harder work than ever. Having said all that, I know what I’m like and if I’d weaselled out of it and didn’t finished what I’d started I would have been sulky and miserable all day.

We set off and halfway down the M6 I realised that I’d forgotten my Garmin (which had been specially charged the night before). Slightly further down the M6 I realised that I’d forgotten my shuffle. By the time we reached Sephton Park and I totted up everything I’d forgotten, I realised that I was quite pleased that I had managed to be fully dressed. We timed our arrival well for the queue for the loos and had time for a quick hello with Runningman856 before I headed off to the start line and Ginge headed off to find food (unfortunately for Ginge, my last minute decision meant that he was ripped from his bed with little or no warning. Sorry Ginge).

photo(9)

I had no plan for the race other than getting round in one piece. I had no Garmin so I had no idea what pace I was running and I had no shuffle so I had nothing to distract me. I did have a bottle of water and my camera though, both of which turned out to be quite essential. Even when I’m well hydrated, I’m finding that I’m quite thirsty at the start of a run and today was unexpectedly warm. Having been promised overcast and cool, the sun was shining and I set off wondering if Hels (who has a knack of bringing sunshine and high temperatures to every race she attends) had snuck up North.

photo(10)

I’m rubbish at running in the warm at the best of times and was sensible enough to realise that today was a day to just take it easy and enjoy myself. Which is just what I did.

I had time to take in the scenery and watch a small dog debate the wisdom of chasing a large football into a river (sadly I missed the final outcome).

SAM_2232

I smiled and “thank you-ed” all of the lovely marshalls who lined the course cheering us on.

SAM_2234

I didn’t feel my heart sink as I was overtaken by the front-running gazelles peeling off to the finish line as I hit the 5k mark, instead I let the cheers that were clearly not meant for me carry me through. I did a lot of run/walking and didn’t stress about it. I enjoyed a short-lived second wind at the 6k mark.

photo(12)

I didn’t worry that I didn’t have a cap for my water bottle, but I did take the opportunity to decant my water station bottle into the bottle I had set off with.

SAM_2233

I bounced past the official drummers and the chap who was beating out some skillful tunes on what looked like pots and pans…

photo(11)

I also enjoyed spotting Ginge as he popped up unexpectedly around the course.

If you look closely, you can see a blurry figure lounging in the tree like an over-grown squirred. This is Ginge.

If you look closely, you can see a blurry figure lounging in a tree like an over-grown squirrel. This is Ginge.

The race was organised by the same people as last year’s Port Sunlight 10k which I loved and I had high expectations about the organisation of the race. I wasn’t disappointed. Everything ran like clockwork, there were pens based on finishing time, the course was well signposted and well marshalled, my time was texted to me within minutes of crossing the finish and (probably most importantly) there the bling was splendid. So splendid that I had the back engraved to mark my last race until bump becomes baby. There’s actually quite a nice symmetry to today. A few years ago, when I wasn’t bothered about racing (basically before I discovered my inner Muttley) I ran the Liverpool Women’s 10k as my first ever race and today’s race has replaced the Women’s 10k in the Merseyside race calendar.

So this is it for me and racing for a bit, I’ve finished today with a few more aches and pains than I would usually have after a 10k and I think my ligaments are telling me that I should keep the distance down from now on. From this point on, I will run my races vicariously on twitter, plot my comeback for 2014 and cast longing looks at medal monkey and his hoard of bling.

20130506-012242.jpg