Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Heck with my Satin Pillow

The recent news story about Amber Miller has sparked many joyful memories for me.  In case you haven't read about Amber's story, she's the mom who finished the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and delivered a baby girl a few hours later.  Amber caught slack from some people, runners and non runners, alike.  I get that.  To someone who has never been in her Brooks, they probably think she's certifiable.  This is because in our culture, we tend to think that pregnant women have no business participating in athletic events.  However, as someone who managed to run through my third pregnancy, I think she rocks.

Listen, I don't advocate that everyone who is pregnant go out and run a marathon.  I'm not hailing Amber, myself, or other pregnant runners as idols that the general population should aspire to.  But if a woman's been running for a long time, is in great shape, and their doctor, Amber's, like mine, gives her the green light, go for it. 

It's also important to know that she wasn't running through the desert of Nevada, where there was no medical support.  She ran the Chicago Marathon race course, where medics line the street.  To me, the proof is in the pudding.  Amber had a 2 hour long labor and delivered a healthy baby.

In my five year career as a runner, my most enjoyable running period was that of my pregnancy.  I loved, and I mean LOVED running when I was pregnant.  People would, and still ask, "how could you do that?".  To me, it was natural.  I wasn't doing anything special, just what I loved.  Like many other mother runners, I found pregnancy to enhance my training.  The increased blood volume increases your oxygen levels.  While I didn't notice that fact during my second-trimester marathon, I definitely felt that benefit during my half-marathon (third trimester).  I remember at one point during that race feeling as if I no longer needed to take the additional breaths I typically did as I increased my pace.  My body felt as if it was performing on autopilot.  At the finish line I felt incredible, a high like any other.

 Lucky for me, both my OB and perinatologist are also marathon runners.  So when I asked for their guidance, I was given a double thumbs up to run as much as I felt like, for as long as I felt healthy.  Marathon?  Sure!  Half Marathon?  Absolutely!

Now, unlike Amber, I wasn't running a marathon at 39 weeks pregnant, I didn't make it that far into the pregnancy.   My mileage decreased significantly after my half marathon.  I did, however, manage to complete a final 5K, just before having her, and the heat of Texas Summer kicked in.  having completed a 5k at the beginning of the Texas Summer heat. And I remember the searing pain in my round ligaments, every step I took, the baby's feet kicking into my bladder.  It was some really good times.  I can't imagine how she made it 26.2 miles. 
Last 5K, she came very shortly after this!

Running after the baby has been born isn't quite as easy.  People that ask me, "How could you have RUN when you were PREGNANT" typically get the answer, "it was easier then than it is now."  When you're pregnant you're not dealing with the sleepless night fatigue, or the dehydration from nursing, or the gummy joints thanks to hormones.  I've found it harder to accumulate mileage now, as a nursing mom, than I did then, as a pregnant mom.  For that reason, I say, if you're pregnant, and a runner, if your doctor lets you, enjoy it.  There's many benefits and perks to running through those months.  Once the baby comes, it's a little more challenging, so take it when ya can get it!