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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Running Bellies - guest blog by Krs10

Ok, I cannot believe I am sharing this photo as I look like a big fatty, but Gabby thought it would be good to share the adventures of a pregnant runner for posterity. My friend Becca, on the far right, and I, on the far left, were both about six months pregnant for the Manhattan Mini 10K, June 7th, in Central Park. She decided to get a small shirt so that she would have it for the longterm; I decided I might need more XL’s for the summer, so I look like a blimp. All through the race people were cheering Becca on for being pregnant and probably just feeling bad for me that I was so fat and slow. I wouldn’t mind that much if a really hot and fit looking Aaron Eckhart of In the Company of Men fame hadn’t run right by at the end of the race as we were milling about and made eye contact (well, maybe he made eye contact because I was staring at him and scaring him.)

For some reason it isn’t that strange to be at the beginning of a NYRR race with thousands of women and no men. It is a good testament to how many women run in NYC that it doesn’t feel odd when it is just women. I was nervous before the race, much like I might be before a half marathon rather than a 10K. Five and a half miles is about the limit of my general running these days and sometimes I walk a little then, and for some reason a 10K in a public race was intimidating. I felt nauseous and dizzy before the start. But, once we started it is just so fun to run with other people (yay, Joes!) and we went a nice slow pace with a particularly slow start from the crowds so that I felt fine and peppy the whole way. Unusually, the race starts up Central Park West starting from Columbus Circle before entering the park in the 90’s and it did feel empowering to see a beautiful avenue lined with towering buildings filled with women running. That they would shut down a whole road for us was flattering. Our group hung together and chatted the whole way and the park is so nice and cool under the canopy in the shade that it was really a pleasant experience. All five of us finished together – a lovely women’s outing. Hopefully, the NYRR’s will start age-group categories for pregnant women like four months, six, months, eight months, so we could maybe win something for once, but I guess that would be ill-advised as it would encourage women to push it and compete, which is not recommended.

Given no other contraindications and if you are a regular runner, running is fine all through pregnancy and can provide a number of benefits to mother and baby. (See Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James F. Clapp III) Pregnant women even have certain competitive advantages like higher blood volume and better heat radiation. Apparently, the East Germans tried to cheat in one of the Olympics by making sure their athletes were 12 weeks pregnant, which is supposedly like blood doping. Nobody I have spoken with, though, has felt like a superior athlete at 12 weeks, but hey.

The hard part is knowing your body, which is changing every day. As a runner, you generally know good and bad pain, when to push it if you are tired and flat and when not to. When you are pregnant it is much harder to gauge all that especially since the general population is expecting you to stop running; you feel a much greater burden of responsibility. There is always the nagging fear that you overdid it and did something bad. In some ways being pregnant is probably similar to being an older runner. You have to be very regular and keep it up or it is hard both mentally and physically to get back into it. So I try not to take more than a couple days off doing other activities because otherwise I lose confidence that I will be able to keep this up throughout, which I hope to do for all the health benefits, both mental and physical for me and the hanger on and because running rules.

So hope to see you all along the West Side Highway Park this summer. I’ll be the bulging one in the giant t-shirts.

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