Running at 18 weeks pregnant

It’s been nice over the last few weeks to have some of my energy levels returning.  I was completely wiped out during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy and barely made it out of the house for runs as all I wanted to do in the evenings after work was sleep.

Now that things have started to vaguely return to normal – sickness and tiredness wise – I’m eager to get back out again.  More specifically, out on the trails whilst I’m still able to do so.  Over the past few weeks my staple runs have included the Wednesday night club trail run and parkrun on a Saturday.  I am so, so grateful that I have been able to continue running as I know that many are unable to do so.  Two runs a week isn’t enough to keep me sane though, so I’ve started to gradually introduce more runs again now, although I’ve been keeping the majority of my runs under 10k in distance.

After I run my belly seems to ‘pop out’ and be more noticeable.  Maybe just because I’m tired and can no longer hold my upper body together?!

Running at 16w 4d pregnantThis was me at 16w 4d pregnant following a 4 mile run.

Since returning to school following the Easter holidays at the start of April, none of my school trousers have fitted, neither have the shirts that I used to wear daily for work.  I’ve purchased a few new maternity tops to wear to get round this.

17w 1d pregnantThis was during the middle of changing into sports kit for a run!  So – maternity top teamed with running shorts!  Taken at 17w 1d pregnant.

My saviour for work though has been a set of two belly bands I bought from Mothercare the week following the Easter break.

Belly band at 17w 4d pregnant(Picture taken at 17w 4d pregnant)

Basically, you wear the band over your undone-because-they-no-longer-do-up trousers which a) hides the fact you are unable to do your trousers up and b) helps them to stay in place!  A long top over the top hides the button silhouette poking through the band and the effect is kind of like when you wear a vest top as an extra layer underneath your main top.  These bands have been a lifesaver!  It was only a tenner for two.  You can see through this white band how far away my button is from doing up now!

My pregnancy weight seems to be all bump really at the moment.  I hope that baby isn’t getting too big in there!  Nice small baby please!  The bump has actually begun to make sitting upright on the sofa a little uncomfortable after a while now, and I have to put the car seat back slightly on long car journeys.  Oh, and travel sickness was not a fun pregnancy symptom to add to the list earlier this week.  I have a 45 minute commute to work each way!

I seem to have good days and not-so-good days with running now.  Although, as a friend pointed out at the weekend, this is always the case as a runner anyway.  A couple of weeks back I was really lagging behind on the trail run, with runners two club groups below me storming off up ahead on the hills.  Last week though I was passing people from the group I had been running with before falling pregnant.  I think it makes a difference the way the baby is laying, even though it is incredibly small still.  Well, not baby-sized yet anyway.  It’s still more than 14cms from head to bum and the size of a sweet potato.  Some days running feels just like it did before pregnancy and other days I am really conscious of something being in there!

One of the parts of a run I struggle with most is actually the downhills.  If I lean too far back, I think perhaps with my hips thrusted forwards the pressure is all on baby and it’s very uncomfortable.  I’ve had to walk a few downhills over the past fortnight which was rather mortifying to begin with, especially when I would then be fine running the uphill the other side again!

I’m not too worried about my speed at the moment.  Most of my running buddies now know that I am pregnant so I have a ready-made-reason as to why my pace drops off on some days.  I did run a trail run a few days back where the runners were much quicker though.  None of the usual crowd I run with turned up, and so the pace was much faster than I have been running.  I stressed myself out in the first couple of miles worrying that I was holding people up but in the end I could only run what felt comfortable to me and so I made sure to concentrate on what felt comfortable instead.

Normally, I would have raced at least five or six times by this point in the year.  I am missing the race atmosphere and the buzz that comes with crossing the finish line, although I have booked in to the Milton Keynes 5k and half marathon this weekend.  Tomorrow’s half marathon is the furthest I plan on running during pregnancy, and this will be at a fairly sedate pace.  I’m hoping there will still be plenty of time for races post October though.  I’m already debating which my first marathon back will be!  (Although too scared to book anything until after the birth.)

The weather is perfect for evening running at the moment.  Still nice and warm and as we haven’t had too much rain just lately the ground is fairly mud-free.  I know I won’t be able to run trail right the way through until the end, as there is more chance of falling on the uneven ground, so I am trying to get in as much trail as possible now.Spring trail run in the rape field

Lots and lots of people have recommended getting a bump band for running just lately, but when I spoke to the midwife about it at my appointment last week she couldn’t really give me much information about them.  If anyone has one that they recommend, please let me know.  I don’t feel like I’m lacking support too much at the moment, but I’m sure that will change soon.

I had my second midwife appointment at 17w 2d so got to hear the heartbeat for the first time then which was quite surreal.  I’d been feeling the baby for about a week, so I knew that my midwife would be able to find a heartbeat but I still held my breath until we could hear the regular rhythm beating away.  This actually ended up taking quite some time as the baby was wriggling around everywhere.  Every time the midwife found the heartbeat, the baby would squirm and move away to a different spot!  I have supervised six hours of Computing mock exams this past week at school and it seemed that every time I would say the line ‘You may open your paper now’ to the students, the baby would start to wriggle, which made me smile.  Having to sit really still and quietly for the exams meant that I was much more aware of any movements taking place.

I have my next scan booked in for 23rd May when Dan and I will get to see the baby for one last time before it arrives sometime in October.  May until October seems like a really long time!


Cheering everyone on in London

Sunday was of course, London marathon day.  Even my non-running friends knew what was taking place down in London at the weekend.

I headed down to support in person for the first time last year and loved the atmosphere and excitement of hunting people out in the crowds of runners.  Last year I headed down on the bus with Tom who had got himself a place in the ballot, and his sister.  This year, Tom decided that he wanted to see what the atmosphere was like from the other side of the barrier.  So, along with Kev, we caught an early train down from Wellingborough to St Pancras on Sunday morning.

Dan has always been the one to organise our travel.  In fact, when I went down to support last year he printed off maps, wrote down train times and highlighted tube lines for me beforehand!  This year I was on my own when it came to navigation.  Especially when both Tom and Kev confessed beforehand to not knowing how to book train tickets online and asking if I would book for the three of us!  I literally checked the date and times on the tickets repeatedly for days to make sure I hadn’t gotten anything wrong.  Luckily, we made it to London just as the wheelchairs were then setting off, so still with lots of time to spare to get to Tower Bridge, our first vantage point.

Tom and I split off from Kev here, who had decided to head straight towards the finish line.  We did point out that he would be enduring rather a long wait before he saw the first runners coming through!

So Tom and I caught the tube down to Tower Hill and then had to ask a policeman for directions to the bridge!  (I know…I just don’t visit London very often.  I don’t know where anything is!)  We arrived just as the wheelchairs were coming through, and headed a little way down the turning on the far side of the road to secure our spot before the elites made their way past.

When you see the elites go through it seems as though they are not going that fast to begin with.  Then you glance at their leg turnover, see how long their stride is, realise that they are ticking off every mile in less than five minutes…I could never even run one mile in that time, never mind continuously for 26 and a bit of them!

It’s generally fairly easy to spot our club runners at races as our luminous green vest can usually be picked out from a distance.  At London, with such a variety of charity vests and other tops, it is much, much harder to recognise our club vests in time though.

Last year I took just one photo of our runners out on the course.

Jon at London marathonJon is a sub three hour marathon runner and a good head height above most others, so even easier to spot than most.  Even then, I only just managed to get this one shot of him, with a supporter’s hand in the way.  As the volume of runners increased, it became impossible to take any more photos.  It was tough enough spotting runners before they reached us in time to shout encouragement out as they passed.  Therefore, I decided that this year I wouldn’t bother taking my camera and just concentrated on the cheering instead.

Tom and me were a good team though, and between us we managed to spot everybody from our list who had been wearing a Welly green vest and some of our club who were out running in their charity tops as well.  We definitely would not be able to spot as many as we did had it not been for the tracking system on the marathon website though.  Apparently the actual tracking app is only available for Apple users, but I heard several reports about it not really being very reliable both last year and this.

We stayed at the bridge for about two hours before heading back down onto the underground and popping back out again at St James’s Park.  We knew by this point (thanks to Twitter!) that the men’s race had been won in an almost world record time and I was eager to see find out how close it had been in the final stages.  As they had passed back in front of us at mile 18 on the course the front two runners were a long, long way ahead of the rest of the pack.

Kev was waiting for us by the ‘600m to the finish’ sign.  We heard him before we saw him.  Tom and I arrived in time to see the first of our runners go through, who then went on to run a 2:56:44.  Jon went by a few minutes later, another one of the guys from our club and then our first lady, Kelly, went by to finish in 3:12:42 for her marathon debut.  What a time!  She even ran a portion of the race with Dame Kelly Holmes, so made it onto TV for a few seconds as well.

Kelly and Kelly at the London marathonAfter Kelly came through it became more and more difficult to scan the crowds for our runners and we relied more and more on the website tracking to help us predict when runners would be coming through.  The crowd were amazing and so supportive of the runners out on the course.  Every time a runner slowed or broke into a walk, the crowd became deafening, urging them to continue for the final 600 metres of the race.

One older guy dropped down just infront of us with really bad cramp.  Immediately, another runner pulled over and without even exchanging words picked the guy’s leg up, pushing into it with his palm to try and relieve the pain.  He remained with him until two people near to us on the supporting side jumped the barrier and took over so that the selfless man could continue with his own race.  There were several runners who had teamed up to offer support either side of runners with failing legs and one guy was even picked up and carried in a fireman’s lift when his legs gave way completely.  It was amazing watching all of the fast runners storm past on their way to the finish line, but it was so humbling to see so many selfless people stop to check on the wellbeing of other runners so close to the end of their own race.

The weather just started to turn as the last of our runners came in to the finish and we felt a few drops of rain.  Time for pizza and to head home.  It’s pretty knackering supporting all day!  😉

London supporter

Now to spend the next few evenings catching up on the TV coverage through iPlayer…

Did you watch the London marathon this year?
If you attend a televised event, do you still turn around and watch it on TV afterwards?

Celebrating my 50th

So I finally became a member of the elusive  parkrun 50 club last weekend!

50 parkruns

I feel like I’ve been working towards number 50 for ages now. It’s not even a whole year of Saturdays though, and when I think about the fact that I fitted five parkruns into a week over Christmas it seems like I should have ticked my 50th run off ages ago!  I can’t even imagine how chuffed I will be when I reach the 50 marathon target on my way to 100 (currently sat on 16 marathon and above distances so still a fair way to get yet!)

Does anyone know when I will be able to claim my t-shirt though?  I logged into my parkrun account on Sunday and received this message…

50 parkrun tshirt

Hopefully soon, before my belly gets too big to wear it!

It was Northampton parkrun that I headed to on Saturday morning. I put a shoutout on my running club Facebook page to announce that I would be bringing cake along if anyone wanted to join me for the run or just come along and support.  I was a little nervous that either nobody would turn up from the club or everybody would and I would run out of cake!

Luckily the situation was neither scenario.  So, following an evening of cake decorating with my Mum the night before, I arrived super early to the car park, along with 30 parkrun decorated slices of chocolate traybake.

parkrun traybake cake

It was horrible drizzly weather outside but there was a good turnout from club, including some members who aren’t regular parkrunners. The lure of cake(!)  Our club membership secretary even turned up to take a couple of photos and he had made me a sign to hold.  I also got to hold his massive umbrella whilst under the sign.  Winner!50th parkrun in NorthamptonBecause the weather was so awful, I was yet to warm up and knowing that I would not be running particularly quickly I decided to keep my hoodie on during the run – something I never do!  Who can run in a hoodie?!…Turns out I can when I’m just heading out on an easy chatty run.

Several of the runners from club stuck together in a little group at the back and we had a long chat all the way round.  It was one of the most chilled out and enjoyable runs I’ve had in a long while!  One of the members was preparing for London marathon this coming weekend, another is planning an epic series of marathons across Iceland during the Summer and another I just hadn’t seen in a very long while!

50th parkrun in Northampton(I’m in the middle of the above photo wearing shorts and my hoodie!)

As I am no longer hiding my pregnancy, as and when people are asking about my race plans I am now letting them know the reason why I have no race plans for this year.  I’m not someone who feels like I have to announce my pregnancy to people amongst other things.  In fact, if I am friends with you in real life, you will probably spot that nothing has appeared on my personal Facebook regarding my pregnancy at all.  It would make me uncomfortable ‘announcing’ something or being very ‘me, me, me’ on Facebook.  I’ve really struggled to tell people at all to be honest – the hardest people to tell being my parents and also my boss.  I’ve found it marginally easier to mention the pregnancy on the blog, purely because I really want to talk about running and training through pregnancy and to have something to look back on from that respect.  I haven’t found a huge amount of bloggers who do continue to run any real amount of miles through their pregnancies so want to document my experiences of hopefully continuing to do so.

Anyway, one of the ladies I was running with on Saturday morning asked why I didn’t have a marathon booked in for this Spring, so I thought it only fair to tell the truth – that I was four months pregnant.  She went on to congratulate me, and so did two or three other runners around her who had also heard my admission!  As we went to scan our barcodes at the end, it came up in conversation with another runner as to why my times had been dropping.  Again, I shared my news and an older gentleman turned and said ‘But you beat me!…and you’re pregnant?!’  I laughed and said that it was still early days and that I was only four months pregnant.  He told me that the time I want to watch out for is when my future children start beating me at parkrun!

Mile 1: 11:28
Mile 2:
Mile 3: 10:25
Nubbin (0.17m): 9:35mm pace

A mouth full of cake alongside some of the cookies that Laura had made and it was time for a very wet photo!

50th parkrun in NorthamptonI always say it, but I do love my club and the level of support that they give.

Garmin time: 34:16
Official time: 34:17
Position: 289/368
Gender position: 94/149
Age category position: 15/22

As much as I’ve enjoyed having some very easy going and chatty parkruns just lately I think I might see what I can comfortably still run on my own next time, just to see where my fitness level is currently at.

How long did it take (or do you intend it to take!) for you to reach your 50th parkrun?
Do you take cake to events?!
Can you recommend any blogs with bloggers who continued to run throughout their pregnancy?

The first trimester

Firstly, – many, many thanks for all the lovely blog comments, messages I received on social media and even emails since posting my announcement at the start of the week.  I have been really touched at just how lovely everyone has been, offering loads of advice and best wishes for the months ahead.  And well done for all those who spotted the odd clue I’ve been dropping into various blog posts over the last few months! 😉  I’ve been told by those that knew that I have a ‘pregnancy face’ (fat face perhaps?!) and that the recent Peterborough parkrun photo I shared on my blog/Instagram shows off my pregnant belly and boobs…

Peterborough parkrun

(I was 12 weeks 4 days in this photo.)

Although I’ve never been a ‘baby’ person, (not interacting with my nieces and nephew until they were at the moving-around-on-their-own stage!) I am very much a child-friendly person, and Dan and I are both really looking forward to sharing everything we have with a little person sometime around the 4th October later this year.

I am sixteen weeks pregnant now, and having kept this secret for longer than most do, it really feels like I can no longer remember a time before I was pregnant and going to bed at a ‘normal’ time.

I knew very early on that I was pregnant, just one or two days after I would have been three weeks.  I experienced very strong cramps for a couple of days and just generally didn’t feel great in the lower tummy department.  I had three pregnancy test sticks so took them on consecutive days.  Each day the little pink line got a little darker, confirming the pregnancy I knew by this point existed.

Unsure of what to do I rang the doctor to ‘ask to speak to someone as I thought I might be pregnant’, – only to be told no-one would speak to me until I reached eight weeks.  Apparently there is a large chance of miscarriage in the first eight weeks, so you don’t sit on the midwife radar until then in case something does happen.  Four weeks is a really long time to wait when you can’t explain to anyone why you are feeling so rubbish!

At six weeks I ran the first 20 miles of the Thames Trot and also my first fell race.  Earlier that week I had spoken to the midwife team at Kettering Hospital who reassured me that I would be fine to run at the ultra event, so long as I didn’t feel in pain and there was not any bleeding.  Despite this, I felt a little niggle in the pit of my stomach that if something did happen it would have been down to my stubbornness to complete the event and this played a large part on the reason why I pulled from the race before reaching halfway.  In comparison, I felt great running the 14 miles at Charnwood Hills the following day.  The only problem being that by week six my breasts had really started to grow and my sports bra was becoming increasingly uncomfortable by this point!  I had made the decision to share my news with the friend I was running with that day and she had suggested that lots of runners seem to wear two bras whilst pregnant.  I pointed out that I could barely fit into just the one now!

From the week following Thames Trot I began to get morning sickness – although it hit me hardest in the evenings.  I would have to snack throughout the day every few hours in order to feel relatively normal.  An empty stomach was a sure-fire way to feel awful.  I was lucky in that I never actually threw up, although at times I thought that throwing up might make things better as I felt so bad!  I took lots of pre-packaged things like croissants, crisps and apples to work so that I could open them/start them as and when I began to feel iffy.  Dan also began bringing me a sandwich home from work each night so that I could take it in with me the following day which was a godsend.  By this point I was so tired there were some nights it was pushing 8:30pm and I was ready for bed.  he combination of gradually feeling worse throughout the afternoon and being sapped of all energy meant that I just wanted the day to be over with as soon as possible!  That, and my three-four nightly loo visits keeping me up at least!  😉  I had to really prioritise with my school work.  Luckily, I had already completed most of the essential year 11 marking before the sickness began, but my early morning starts became no earlier than 5:15-5:30am starts at this point.  My body really seemed to need that regular rest!  Running took a real hit for a few weeks, as most of my running sessions tend to take place in the evenings after work – and I just really did not feel like it after a full day of faking feeling fine for staff and children at school.

When I was in my eighth week of pregnancy I caught a bug and it really knocked me sideways.  I was up with coughing fits for over an hour every night and I felt increasingly worse and weak on a daily basis.  I could barely eat anything, yet at the same time, felt so ill when I didn’t.  I ended up having the Monday and Tuesday off from work, returning on the Wednesday only because I had top set classes, so hoped they would be fairly easy to lead, and to try and regain some strength for parent’s evening the following day.  There were two points across Wednesday where I just had to lean against the wall as I felt so weak.  I ran a few odd miles through these two weeks but my energy had dropped completely and I really struggled to not break out into a full-blown coughing fit when pausing during a run.  During one seven mile trail run with friends during the second week I ended up coughing so badly that I gave myself the worst migraine I have ever experienced and sent myself straight to bed on arriving home.

February 2015 miles…

February 2015


…vs February 2016 miles…

February 2016

As you can see, most of my running during the lowest times was taking place on the weekends.

My parkrun visits became more frequent during the last few months (with my 50th parkrun taking place yesterday!) and, as Laura was returning from injury it made sense to run with her to catch up with the gossip, and also have a reason for my times beginning to drop.  Although to anybody that questioned my times/lack of running with club I mentioned how ill I had been, – a genuine reason that seemed to be accepted by most for why I hadn’t been clocking my usual miles each week.

Luckily, my energy started to return and my cough began to disappear by week ten and it was the end of this week that I finally saw the midwife for the first time.  Initially booked in for when I had been eight weeks pregnant, I had rung to rearrange when I had already missed two days of school that week due to illness.  I thought I would begin to feel more at ease following my midwife appointment, but to be honest, all she really did was write down all my details, along with details about Dan’s medical history and give me my pregnancy packs of samples and information.

12 weeks 5 days pregnantPlease ignore the hair – this was that incredibly windy day we had a few weeks back!  As you can see, I do have a few maternity tops now.  Mainly because the work shirts I own no longer fit around my chest!  My tummy hadn’t grown loads by this point, although by week 12, the baby was apparently the size of a clementine.

Luckily, the scan date we had been sent in the post fell during the first week of the school Easter holidays so there was no need to try and get a day off work when I had not yet shared my news.  For your first scan you have to drink two pints of water an hour before arriving at hospital.  For someone whose bladder has already shrunk to the size of a small sprout this was a feat!  I managed it…Only to receive a phone call a few minutes later to say that my scan would have to be rearranged as the sonographer had been sent home ill!  Luckily, we managed to rearrange the appointment to that coming Friday instead.

Neither of us clicked the date of the Friday until we woke up and April Fools Day messages were popping up everywhere.  I’d already told my parents on Mother’s Day at the start of March.  We hadn’t planned on sharing the pregnancy with others immediately after the scan, but Dan decided that the opportunity of April Fools Day was just too good to pass up when it came to telling his friends.  He had received a message from a friend in a group chat that morning stating that their upcoming wedding was being called off as him and the bride-to-be had been arguing for a while now.  The other guys immediately called April Fools on him.  We waited until we had been to our scan before Dan also added a comment to the group chat, – ‘Guys, I have some news…I’m going to be a Dad!’  Dan’s message was met with more April Fools calling, followed by a couple of the guys pointing out that Dan was supposed to have made his attempt before midday (it was now close to tea time).  Dan remained silent in the conversation as the others began to doubt themselves that it was a ‘joke’ and it was rather entertaining watching the messages scroll as the others weighed up whether or not Dan had been telling them the truth before he put them out of their misery by sending over the scan photo.  Even then one of them thought that Dan might have photoshopped the image to contain my name!

The very hungry caterpillar sleepsuit^ The very cute sleepsuit my brother bought for us.  Although I was a little alarmed when my Mum said that she hopes it fits and the baby isn’t too big!  This suit is most of my torso in length!

It’s been this week that I’ve really begun to notice my pace dropping on runs.  I’ve been lucky up until now that a sub 10 minute mile still felt fairly comfortable.  I haven’t attended many trail runs since finding out that I was pregnant as I have been worried about falling whilst out in the dark.  Now that the clocks have changed though and it’s light outside until I’m almost heading for bed I decided to head out on a trail run with the usual crew on Wednesday evening this week.
I was hanging off the back of the run.  Something which has never been an issue for me before on the Wednesday evening trail runs.  A couple of friends hung back with me for most of the run and it was almost a relief that I am now able to tell people and explain my sudden desire to walk the steepest of hills and why my pace has dropped so significantly.

I fully intend on continuing to blog throughout my pregnancy, although the blog will remain as it always has – about running and remaining fit and healthy.  Part of that will obviously now include working my life around the pregnancy and, in the future, a child!  I also intend on running for as long as is possible whilst pregnant and reporting back on any challenges I face (of which there have already been plenty!)

Did/will you run/exercise throughout your pregnancies?