I had every intention of keeping the blog going once I finished my 2011 project of donating a dollar for every mile I ran to organizations that use running as a tool to help people toward a better life.
But in 2012 my life got really busy – and exciting. Following Tim’s December 2011 proposal, we shared in my sister’s wonderful wedding in May 2012, planned our own July 2012 wedding and honeymooned in St. John. And then things really got interesting when I became pregnant with our daughter shortly thereafter.
I thought I would be one of those women who ran throughout her pregnancy. Before I knew I was pregnant, Tim and I were training for the Marine Corps Marathon and I was still having some good runs. In fact, the day before I found out we were going to have a baby, I went on a great eight mile run before work. It was a beautiful summer day – sunny but not too hot – and it was one of those runs where everything was just clicking. I was in the zone and felt like I could run forever.
But about two weeks later, the first trimester yuckiness hit. I woke up each morning feeling like I had been run over by a truck. I subsisted on a diet of Granny Smith apples, graham crackers, pasta, bread, Taco Bell, and Jolly Rancher candies – the only things that appealed to me. And unfortunately, running made me feel dizzy and winded. I made an effort to get out for short runs on the mornings when I could drag myself out of bed early enough, but I simply wasn’t enjoying it anymore. So, with the marathon off the table, I decided not to force things and to wait until my second trimester – when I was sure I would feel better – to start running again.
Once I was 12 weeks into my pregnancy, I felt a lot better and started to venture out for runs. But it was not the experience I had hoped it would be. I had lost a lot of fitness and my body just felt different. Short runs at a much slower than normal pace felt like challenging tempo runs. No matter how easy I took it, I became out of breath and could feel my heart racing, which made me nervous. So I scaled back and started doing run/walks, which was really frustrating and made me feel weak, even though I knew I needed to listen to my body and not push it. Finally, as my belly started to expand, round ligament pain made me call uncle. I couldn’t walk more than a mile on the treadmill – let alone run – without debilitating pain in my abdomen forcing me to stop.
I was extremely disappointed. Running is my “me time,” my stress relief, my sanity. And as my belly became rounder, I yearned for exercise to help me feel strong, in control and more like myself during a time when my body felt foreign and my mind ricocheted between euphoria and fear over how my life was about to change.
I started to feel stir crazy, so I decided to try a prenatal yoga class at Charm City Yoga. That class changed my whole pregnancy for the better. It was gentle enough that I wasn’t in any pain but challenging enough to give me a good strength workout. It helped reduce my stress and clear my mind while making me feel connected to my baby and proud of what my body was accomplishing. I went home exhilarated and immediately signed up for a 30-day pass to the studio. I continued to take classes twice a week as my schedule allowed up until the week my daughter was born.
Today, Isabelle is five weeks old. Later this week I have my postpartum appointment with my doctor, and I am hoping she will clear me to resume running. I have already signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November and am beyond excited to start training again, though I know that I’m probably in for a rude awakening after taking a nine-month running hiatus.
I also plan to continue practicing yoga. Sometimes when life throws an obstacle in your path, it takes a little while to realize that you may be staring a new opportunity right in the face. When my pregnant body “failed” me as a runner, yoga opened a door – giving me an entirely new way to challenge myself and feel strong, physically and mentally. I learned a lesson that I will try to take with me as I chart my path as a new mother, as well as in other areas of my life: roadblocks are not always what they seem. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Look around. See that there may be another way and a new experience ahead.