Running at 20 weeks pregnant

I’m thinking about starting up a second blog.

There are a few things I want to write down about pregnancy and potentially baby musings after having the baby, but I don’t feel like this blog is the place to do that.  This blog is my current baby (along with Bella-cat of course!) where I can chat all things running and doing my best to fit in a healthy lifestyle around the madness that is my life.  I don’t want pregnancy or being a Mum (Uggg! That makes me sound old) to take over from that.  The second blog isn’t in place quite yet, but I very definitely do not want to change AHM from what it has become, so watch this space!…

Having said that, at times I know that pregnancy and baby will cross over into this blog, as they are quickly becoming more and more part of me and the madness that is my life at the moment.  (I have no desire to stand on the scales anytime soon, but when your belly struggles to fit under the desk at work anymore you know you can no longer deny your pregnancy!)
For example, today I want to write about running at 20 weeks pregnant.  That, to me, still fits in with where I see this blog.

Technically I’m actually in my 21st week now, with my final scan taking place next Monday morning, but for the purpose of this post, I am writing about week 20.
This is what I looked like at the start of my 20th week…

19 weeks pregnant


(Yes, the horrific wall colour in our dining room is one of the items on our current house-in-progress list!)

Week 20 was when I started to feel BIG.  Not just that my clothes no longer fit and I was a little tired, but big and incapable of completing silly little tasks that I had always taken for granted before.

On Saturday my parents came to visit for the day.  I say ‘visit’, but my Dad can never just ‘visit’.  His visits always have a purpose and this weekend, like the one a fortnight before was to help us sort out some of the jobs that needed doing on our house.  We moved here last July and although entirely liveable, there were lots of areas of the house that needed improvement.  The bathrooms being one.  We’ve had a plumber round on and off for the last month fitting a new boiler and replacing our old suites for new ones.  (It is so nice to finally have a bath that I can sit down in again…Simple things!)  Anyway, the plumber being in kickstarted a whole host of other jobs that needed doing, including the need for extractor fans, new light fittings and re-tiling of the bathroom.  It was some combination of those tasks that saw my parents arrive bright and early on Saturday morning at our doorstep.  Dan disappeared upstairs to help Dad and my Mum soon settled in the garden to pot up some of the flowers she had brought over for our garden.  My task was to make the drinks and fill the watering can.

Apparently I’m not supposed to put my hands in compost as it contains some element which is not very good for pregnant women.  I also couldn’t lift the heavy pots up to move them across the garden.  I felt a little guilty when I shot out at lunchtime to meet Steph at the Northampton Food Festival, but it was something I had told my parents about before they had arranged to visit.  And besides, several portions of tasty cheese and fudge could only cheer me up, right?!  I could be useful selecting tasty cheeses to bring home!

Lynn Bank Farm cheese from the Northampton Food FestivalI thought the Tomato & Basil was my favourite, but then I tried the Garden Herbs and Garlic one, was torn between the two and ended up coming home with four cheeses!

There was lots going on at the food festival (mainly cheese and fudge!) and Steph and I nibbled on lots of samples on our way round the event (again, mainly cheese and fudge!), stopping to watch a couple of demonstrations taking place.  Luckily, most of the cheese samples were cheddar, so I didn’t have to forgo too many of the offerings.  Although I did look rather longingly at the Prosseco and Baileys shots that were being handed out in one tent.

The weather was rather miserable which was a shame, but it didn’t rain whilst we were there.

On returning home I made another round of teas and offered out slices of fudge before scrubbing the garage door and then waving my parents off as they returned home to Norfolk.  I attempted to help Dan tidy the mess from the drilling upstairs but the task he set for me was to bend down to pick up items from the floor of the hallway, walk to the airing cupboard and place them on the floor inside the airing cupboard door.  Bending over and me haven’t been getting on very well this past fortnight and my belly is now at a size that makes bending over forwards incredibly difficult.  In the end I sat on the floor by the airing cupboard and Dan passed things down to me.  So I did play a part in tidying up, even if it was rather a small one!

Last week at work was a busy one.  Friday was the deadline for the majority of GCSE and A level coursework marks to be sent off to the exam boards by.  Having taught 170 year 11s this year, along with a handful of A level students I had rather a lot of paperwork to be filled in towards the end of last week, meaning that I didn’t manage to slot any evening runs in at all.  With my parents down on the Saturday and the 25k walk on the Sunday I didn’t even get a run in over the weekend either.  This meant that most of Monday at school was spent thinking about where I planned on running that evening and planning some nice easy miles outside in the sun.  I changed into my running gear the second I got home, snapped my watch on my arm and tied my trail shoes in place.

As soon as I got out of the door I knew it wasn’t going to be a good run.  I felt big, I felt blundery and my stomach just felt uncomfortable.  It seemed like my stomach was moving all around inside yet the outside of it was still pretty solid.  I’m at the stage now where some people have started realising that I am pregnant, although nobody apart from one year 10 boy in my ICT option class has mentioned it to my face.  I just see the odd person glancing down to my belly from time to time, and the question silently pass over their face.

Knowing that some people are now aware of my pregnancy has meant that what runs I have gone on I have headed out on the trail or out-of-the-way roads, as I don’t want people to a) assume I am much slower because I am overweight or b) judge me as I have decided to run through my pregnancy.  Both very vain remarks I know, but that is what runs through my head when I’m out with my trainers on at the moment.  I had a few judgemental comments from people (non-running people!) that knew I was running the Milton Keynes half marathon the other week.  I am not someone that is able to just sit in the house and not get out and exercise.  I pity the poor women all those years ago when that was what was advised as best for them for 9 months!  There is every evidence now that in the majority of cases, it is better to be out and gently exercising than sat on your bum for 24 hours of the day!  My midwife even allowed me to start at the Thames Trot 50m event back in February!

So yeah, I managed to get about 3/4 mile on Monday before realising I needed to cut my losses, turn around and head for home.  I’d already walked by this point.  I wasn’t tired, or out of breath, it was just super uncomfortable in my belly and I knew that the walk would do me just as good, probably more so as I wouldn’t overstress my body on a day it clearly wasn’t ready to run.  I reckon my body is having a super workout every time I do run anyway, as it’s now carrying so much extra weight! 😉

Rubbish run

Like last time I posted, sometimes the running is fine and just like pre-pregnancy, but other days I have no chance of completing my planned session and really need to play it by ear.  Annoyingly I’ve felt like I’ve had to avoid my regular club and trail runs with friends for the past couple of weeks for this reason.  It’s frustrating, as I am already starting to miss my running buddies and there are several weeks to go yet!

May steps

To try and make up for my poor running days I have been trying to ensure that I hit 10,000 steps on my Vivofit every day.  I find that this target still gives me an achievable focus even if the baby is lying in an awkward position and making running near-impossible on that day.  There have only been one or two exceptions where I haven’t hit my target since very early on in my pregnancy and I find I feel so much better afterwards for having got out there and moving rather than curling up in a ball on the couch like I find I want to do on some days.

Bump at 20 weeks pregnantThis is me at the end of twenty weeks.  Squinting in the sun, with one foot missing and Dan’s shadow over the top of me.  I got Dan to take several photos for me and this was seriously the best one!

Have you ever chosen to run away from where people can be seen ‘judging’ you?
Do you feel lost when you have to miss out on running sessions with friends?

Waendal walk – 25k

Last weekend was the Waendel walk. Back in 2015 I ran the 25k distance with a group of friends from running club. This year I managed to persuade Dan to join me and we walked the distance instead.

Waendel Walk stamp card

Not only is there a 25k distance, but there are also options to complete a 5k, 10k, 15k, 25k (trail or road) or the 42k (also trail or road) distances. Dan was undecided between the 15 and 25k but I managed to convince him to cover the longer distance, knowing that he would enjoy the plenty of pub stops I knew were along the way!

Initially aiming to arrive by 10am it was probably closer to 10:45 by the time we signed up and were given our wristbands with emergency contacts on.  We were handed a map, along with written instructions and sent out of the back doors to find our own way in the countryside!  There were arrows at every turning anyway, although I think it would have made things even more fun if walkers had to rely on map reading and route directions alone.  The directions were very good to be fair.

The weather was perfect for a walk on Sunday. Beautiful sunshine, happy people and lots of burgers on BBQs at all of the checkpoints. We stopped for ice creams after about a mile! 😉

Dan and I on the Waendel Walk

Every year thousands of walkers come from all over the world to take part in the walk and it’s quite interesting to hear all of the different accents and languages babbling away at each of the pub stops. Several of the foreign entrants tend to display their home flag on their bodies or bags somewhere for all to see, so are fairly easy to pick out.

The first few miles were on road up until we reached checkpoint one at the Old Grammarians Sports field. From here our route took a more off-road path and headed off onto footpaths and bridleways through the surrounding villages of Wellingborough.
Dan got rather frustrated at this point as we became stuck mooching along behind a group of rather slow walkers whilst crossing a series of fields with rather narrow paths crossing through.

Dan and I on the Waendel WalkHe shot past them as soon as the track ended up out on the road again!

The next checkpoint wasn’t long after this, and so we stopped for a drink in the pub after getting our cards stamped.

Dan at The Lamb pub on the Waendel Walk

At each checkpoint you pass you receive an ink stamp in your checkpoint card.  Some of the checkpoints had tied in their stamps with their location.  Checkpoint two was at the sports ground, checkpoint three was at the pub called The Lamb, the fourth checkpoint was by the church and the seventh was run by the local scout group.

Waendel Walk stamp cardAfter the stop at The Lamb we started to lose walkers around us as some of the shorter distances turned off along a different path.  We had started towards the end of the 25k allowed starting time, so had probably begun as some of the back walkers at the event.  Dan and I are both fairly quick walkers though and we found ourselves overtaking others along the whole distance.  (We were probably overtaken back during our pub stops though!)

Dan and I on the Waendel WalkIt was nice being outside and having a route for our walk in the sun.  Since first finding out I was pregnant I’ve made it a mission to try and fit in at least 10,000 steps a day and Dan has been joining me on evening walks around town to make up my step count a couple of times a week.  I must admit I am feeling a little bored of my immediate walking routes now though and it was nice to have a change!

Dan and I on the Waendel WalkWhen we reached the village green at Orlingbury it was time for a burger stop.  Dan had been eyeing the burgers up at previous checkpoints, but we had both decided that it had been too early for lunch until this point.

Dan and I on the Waendel Walk

Checkpoint before last…

Dan and I on the Waendel Walk

It was hot out there.  I got a little burnt!

Several of the footpaths I had run with the trail group at club before, so I knew the majority of the route quite well.  I’d be interested to see where the 42k route took walkers.  Perhaps I’ll try that one next year and learn a few paths for some of my runs!

Just as we were arriving back at the walk HQ we realised that the board for the car park had read that the car park would be shutting at 4:30pm!  (WHY do I always do this?!)  We rushed through the finish, collecting our certificates before speeding back over the road to the public car park only to discover that drivers had 15 minutes grace to exit the car park after it shut.  Phew!

Waendel Walk certificate

Start time: 10:45am ish
Finish time: 4:35pm ish
Burgers consumed: 2 (between us)
Liquids consumed: 2 pints of beer, 2 pints of water, a glass of cranberry and one of apple juice.
Toilet stops taken: 5 (again, between us.  My pregnancy bladder isn’t quite that small yet!)

It was a lovely end to the week.  Shame work starts again on a Monday!

What’s the furthest distance you have covered by walking?
Have you ever taken part in a walking event before?
Do you like to explore the countryside where you live?



Milton Keynes half marathon – the race for the cow

The weekend before last was a double whammy of races with the Rocket 5k on the Sunday, followed by the Milton Keynes half marathon on the Monday morning.

When I had signed up for the race several weeks earlier, I had agreed to run round with Laura, who was recovering from injury.  Laura at the time optimistically hoped for 10 minute miles, but I was doubtful she would return to full fitness in time for this, knowing also that I would no longer be able to run at 10mm pace for 13.1 miles, especially if the weather turned nice during the morning, as it seems to have done on all but the first of the Milton Keynes marathon days!

With limited long run training taking place beforehand, Laura opted for a run-walk technique for the race on the day with the aim of running for as long as possible before having to take walking breaks out on the course.

Having either raced or driven over for the race on each of the MK event days since 2012 when they first started up I knew just the sidestreet to park down so shared my insider information with Laura. Turns out though that the event organisers had shared my secret sidestreet in the race information booklet though and despite arriving with plenty of time to spare when we arrived there was no longer any spaces left!  Laura and I followed the convoy of cars which eventually led into a business estate, a short walk from the stadium start.

The weather did end up being ridiculously warm on race morning  and I was glad that shorts and a t-shirt had been my chosen race outfit.  I would have preferred just a vest rather than having to wear my club vest over my chosen t-shirt, but it wasn’t to be!  I had thought ahead, knowing that my regular fitted ladies club vest was getting rather snug over my growing pregnancy belly and boobs.  It was fine for purpose for the 5k on the Sunday but for longer distances I knew it would a) not look very attractive and b) potentially start to rub under my arms.  Therefore, I purchased a new male vest the week before the race.  The male vests have larger arm holes and are less fitted around the stomach.  I was hoping it would allow me to run without having to wear a top underneath, but on testing my new piece of race kit out a few days before the half marathon I realised that I would not be able to wear the vest on it’s own – unless I wanted the world to see the majority of my bright blue bra!

T-shirt underneath required!  I figured that with the run-walk strategy I probably wouldn’t overheat anyway, so would be fine with two layers.

We hung around for quite a while at the start.  Usually there are lots of Wellingborough runners at the Milton Keynes marathon/half, but it seems that quite a few of the regular MK runners had managed to get a slot at London instead this time round, so our numbers were much less this year.

Yasmin, Laura and Me at MK half marathonWe seemed to wait at the start for quite a while before crossing the line.  (Looking at my official start time it apparently took nearly 13 minutes!)  The advice had been to start queuing a half hour before the race start, but Laura and I cut it closer to the start time before heading over.Waiting to start Milton Keynes half marathon

The route had changed again for 2016, and whereas in previous years the first six miles were a series of out and backs along parts of dual carriageway, this section was largely condensed for the fifth year.  The heat was tough though and I was feeling the power of the sun.  If only I had remembered to lather on some suncream before setting off!

Laura set off at a fair pace and I reminded her a couple of times to slow down as she had been running at the pace of some of her most recent parkruns!  In previous weeks the furthest she had run non-stop was just over 4 miles and the furthest distance she had covered (using a run-walk technique) was the 10k of the Stanwick route we had run on Easter Monday.  Her initial aim was to try and run continuously for longer than she had done since returning from injury.  After passing the 4mile mark her target was upped to running the first 10k distance.

At mile 5 I could feel that my trainers were too tight over the top of my foot.  Something I’ve never experienced with my running trainers before, despite having super wide feet.  I told Laura to carry on and I would just nip off to the side to loosen the lace before jogging to catch her up.  Loosening the laces seemed to help, but I had to leap off the track a few miles further up the road to do the same thing again.

Laura started to drop off after getting past the 10k mark.  She was quite good at setting herself targets to get running again though, so after every walk break she would declare the next visual marker along the path where we were going to begin running again and that’s where we would break into another jog.  I favour this technique when I am finding long races tough too.

At roughly mile 8 Laura began to struggle a little, so we took a walking mile, snapping a few pics along the way.  Something you don’t often get the chance to do during a half marathon race!

Mile 8 of Milton Keynes half marathonI took advantage of the water bottles handed out every three miles and stayed well hydrated the whole way round.  This, combined with an eighteen week pregnancy bladder meant that I needed the loo by the final water station though, so again, told Laura to continue without me and that I would catch her up.  There wasn’t a queue for the portaloos so I nipped in, squirting a generous dollop of what I thought was hand sanitiser onto my hands before exiting the cubicle.  Only it wasn’t hand sanitiser.  It was very thick, gloopy soap, and there seemed to be no water left in the cubicle taps.  I had to waste most of my remaining water bottle washing off my hands before they became too itchy from the unwashed soap!

Laura was adamant that she was going to run the stadium for the finish and I convinced her that she also needed to run the car park as there would be lots of people out here cheering us round still.  Convinced, she did run from entering the car park the rest of the way to the finish line.

There was music blaring out in the car park and several people out cheering.  The atmosphere was fab and it’s not often I feel as fresh as I did at the end of 13.1miles, so I definitely picked my pace up unintentionally here.  It really made me want to run another race properly again soon.

As we entered the stadium we heard a few ‘Go Wellingborough!’ cheers and enjoyed our lap of honour before the crowds started to get really loud as we reached the finish line.  Certain the cheering was no longer for us, I turned immediately on crossing the line to be able to cheer the winning marathon lady over the finish.

Although the half marathon was by far the slowest I’ve run, it was nice for a race to feel super easy, to take several pictures and to have someone to chat to the whole way round!  Up until race day I had unofficially decided not to run another distance of more than a half marathon again before having the baby at the start of October.  Following the MK half though I was ready to sign up to another straight away and see what I could actually still run.  I’d like to think I would probably run somewhere around a 2:20-2:30 mark fairly comfortably, although time obviously isn’t important at the moment.  I just really miss the feeling of racing!

Gun time: 3:03:34
Chip time:
Official position:
Gender position:
Age category position:

MK medals

Not only did I get the awesome green half marathon medal for running the race, I also got the fantastic blue cow medal for having run the 5k the day before followed by the half.  Definitely worth two days of running!  :)

Not quite the same, but did you ever decide that you were just going to run one half marathon/marathon but then decide to enter a few more?!
Any portaloo disasters before?  I think I’ve been fairly lucky to be honest!

The Milton Keynes Rocket 5k

Dan has spent the last two weekends away from home.  Two weeks ago it was the Stafford Uni reunion, something he has attended each year since we moved away from the area back in 2010.  Then last week, it was the stag of one of his best friends.  I spent most of the first weekend incredibly bored and lonely, despite having a million things to do.  Luckily though, for the bank holiday weekend I had already booked up to run the Milton Keynes 5k on the Sunday morning, followed by the half marathon on the Monday.

In the last four years of running I have only entered four 5k races in total.  I tend to get my 5k fix from parkrun on a Saturday morning instead.  This time though, the medals were too good to pass up…

MK marathon medalsThe medal on the left is for running the 5k on the Sunday, the medal in the middle is for the half marathon on the Monday and the cow medal on the right is for people that ran both of the events!

We didn’t have huge numbers from our club heading over for the 5k, but having introduced me to the beautiful medals originally, Laura was heading over for the race, along with Pete, a runner from her office.  Because the race was point to point, and Laura and I were running the half marathon the following day, Pete the full, we decided not to walk back to the cars at the start line following the race.  Instead, we planned to meet up beforehand at the stadium (finish), leaving my car at the stadium so that following the race we would be able to jump in for instant warmth on the chilly morning, before driving back to pick up Laura’s car which we would drive to the start line.  Precision planning.  We even each brought two hoodies along – one for each car!

The route to the start line was an almost straight 5k distance away to the local Wetherspoons.  Only interrupted by the many, many roundabouts and turn-off just before reaching the pub.

Milton Keynes 5k route

To be fair, the conditions were raceday perfect.  The weather was chilly enough to wear a t-shirt underneath my club vest, but to still feel comfortable in shorts.  My ideal raceday outfit!  We had arrived fairly early, but there was still a large queue for the toilets.  Luckily we had anticipated this so headed over quite early before returning to the warmth of the car to fill out the emergency details on our race numbers, which were also pretty awesome!  Laura and Pete came up with witty ‘Pilot names’ but it was too early in the morning for me to feel inspired!

IMG_20160501_190228The race started on time, although we weren’t aware of the actual start happening, just of people moving gradually forward towards the start line.  Laura and I had agreed beforehand that we would run our own races.  I wanted to see what my 18 week pregnant body was capable of running a 5k in and Laura was hoping for a post-injury PB.

The first road up until the turn was rather congested, and I found myself battling to pass several people.  Used to running 5ks at Northampton racecourse for the parkrun, I tend to be able to work out where to place myself, now being familiar with many of the runners who turn up week after week.  Travelling that little bit further over to Milton Keynes, I barely recognised anybody.  Although not a narrow road, the road was much narrower than when we turned and I found myself having to keep jumping up onto the pavement to be able to stretch my legs in the way they wanted to run.  Having been sold as a ‘downhill race’, the first section was very definitely uphill as well!

After the turn the road became wider, the field of runners spread out and I was able to settle into my stride a little better.  I’ve mentioned it before on the blog but when the baby is lying in a certain position it is rather uncomfortable to run and this was the case last Sunday morning.  Not painful, just, it makes me very aware that I am carrying a baby!  After about a mile and a half it must have moved though, because I felt much more relaxed and comfortable again.

The first mile went by in 9:13.  I had worried initially after seeing Laura shoot off at the start.  I wanted to think I was still capable of a fairly comfortable sub 30min 5k time, something Laura hadn’t yet achieved since her injury, but she soon disappeared into the distance.  I guessed she must have been feeling good though, and I could only run what I could run comfortably.  I had no intention of pushing things at his stage.

The second mile went by in 9:36, having slowed slightly at the beginning so I could prod my belly to try and make the baby move into a more comfortable position!  It was at the end of this mile that I realised Laura was now just in front of me, and I slowly closed the gap until I went past her.  She said she had gone out too quickly and was now just holding on.

Mile three and things were fully comfortable again by now so I was able to pick the pace back up again, passing lots of runners and finishing the mile in 9:14.  I still had a fair amount of energy and so decided to pick the pace up for a sprint finish to the finish line upon reaching the car park.  As I turned in off from the main road I let my legs extend further and increased turnover to run the final 0.15m at 7:57mm pace.

Milton Keynes Rocket 5k

Garmin time: 29:15
Gun time: 30:51
Chip time: 29:09
Position: 807/1244
Category position: 163/322

Literally as I crossed the finish line I realised that my car keys were hidden on the floor of Laura’s car…all the way back at the start! Oops!  Best laid plans and all that!

Laura finished less than a minute behind me, giving her her first sub 30min 5k since injury last year.  Pete also PBd, so at least everyone was in a fairly good mood when I told them that I had carefully tucked my keys under one of Laura’s shoes in her car so that no passers-by would be able to see them!

We hunted around for other runners from our club to see if we could beg a lift, but after cheering us over the line, they had all headed home and the runners from Pete’s club all intended on running back to their cars left at the start, some of them, whilst carrying winning trophies!  In the end, we bravely stepped towards members of another local club and they took pity on us, taking Laura with them to go collect her car, and my keys!

Have you ever had race logistics problems?!
Ever lost/forgot your keys whilst out on a run?  
This event wasn’t unusual for me!  :(