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What Would Another Mother Runner Do?

Jessica, baby Samantha, and James before the local turkey trot last year.
Jessica, baby Samantha, and James before the local turkey trot last year.

In previous episodes of What Would Another Mother Runner Do (WWAMRD), we've debated with Megan whether she should run a marathon she's just not that into; we've grimaced with Kelin as she dislocated her hip at Mile 20 yet continued to run the Chicago Marathon; and we've marveled at the MacGyver-like cleverness of Ellison when a driver creeped her out mid-run. Now let us introduce you to Jessica, mother of one with another on the way. She wrote to us with a time-sensitive debate, thus the reason I am posting this even though Dimity is on vacation with her family. (This comes into play later.)

Jessica is currently seven weeks pregnant with a half-marathon scheduled for April 7. (I'll do the math for you: She'll be 8-9 weeks pregnant on race day.) She has trained diligently for this race. As she wrote, "I did hills, I did tempo runs, and I followed the training plan strictly. But now I just feel exhausted.  I am freaking out that I will not be able to do this race."

A bit more background: Jessica ran all during her first pregnancy, despite feeling tired and nauseous during that first trimester, too. (Didn't we all!?) During this training cycle, she's been taking it one day at a time. Over the weekend, she ran 10 miles with her husband, James, who is also registered for the April 7 half-marathon. Her doc has given her the go-ahead. It's just, as Jessica writes, "The race has just got me scared now instead of excited!"

What would you do?

Triumphant Jessica at the end of 2010 Rock 'N' Roll Philadelphia.
Triumphant Jessica at the end of 2010 Rock 'N' Roll Philadelphia.

Sarah answers: I'd continue to take it day by day. I vividly remember during my pregnancies that just because I felt great on Tuesday, it didn't mean I'd feel good on Saturday--let alone Wednesday or even Tuesday evening. I'd hydrate extra-well the day before the race (hit the nuun hard, Jessica!), try to get some good shut-eye in the days leading up to the race, but then on race-day morning, I'd just see how I felt when I woke up. If I had some pep in my step, I'd line up with my man and go from there; but if there was a hitch in my giddy-up, I'd go heavy on the cowbell and cheer from the sidelines. (Sitting on the curb as often as I felt like it.)

Kristin (our new mother runner sidekick in Portland) answers (in lieu of Dim): First of all, congrats for running through your pregnancy thus far. That's a huge accomplishment. I remember, as if it were yesterday, my inability to leave the couch in my first trimester. GO FOR IT. You will be swept up in the momentum of the race: All the energy, excitement, and adrenaline will help carry you through. You've already done all the hard work. Don't deny yourself the celebration. Yes, it will be a slightly different race than you originally planned, but what an amazing story this will be for baby #2. Make sure your husband snaps some special pictures for the baby book. How many women get to say they have completed a half-marathon while preggs?  You get to join a very special, courageous, and, yes, slightly crazy, group of women!

We'll have to stay tuned for Jessica's ultimate decision. But she's eager to hear from others. 

What would you, another mother runner, do?

Jessica even bought our, "This is not a speed bump. And I'm not slowing down." tee for motivation. (Love her!)
Jessica even bought our, "This is not a speed bump. And I'm not slowing down." tee for motivation. (Love her!)

And if you’ve got a running-related moment you’d like some clarity on, via WWAMRD, feel free to email us at runmother [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks!

45 responses to “What Would Another Mother Runner Do?

  1. Plan to run it, but take it easy, hydrate, honestly judge how you feel, don’t get hung up on the results and don’t feel bad if you decide to bail. I ran thru pregnancy, but I took it one day at a time. I remember on many occassions thinking that this would be my last day, but it never was …. best of luck.

  2. I’m in the minority here. My initial reaction when i read your story was that you need to listen to your heart…if you’re feeling apprehensive for some reason – then maybe your baby is trying to tell you something? While you’ve certainly paid your dues, you also don’t want to do something you will regret…listen to you body – ALL of it…a mom knows best!!
    Give it up to God – He will let you know what is the right thing to do!

  3. I would say, go with how you feel that morning. I know it’s hard, but with pregnancies you don’t know how you’ll feel day to day. I would say just go for it; making sure you’re well hydrated, and of course, don’t push yourself. But if you wake up that day feeling off you should be willing to let it go.

    I hope it works out, and you are able to do the race!

  4. I was going to run one at 7 weeks this past weekend, but the race was cancelled. As long as you have the docs all clear and you aren’t out to win it, I say go for it! 🙂

  5. Go for it! As others have said, just do it by how you feel. I’ll be doing one at 22 weeks preggers and enlisted a friend to run (more like run/waddle) with me. That’s my plan of attack!

  6. My last race was a half and I was 7 weeks pregnant back in November, also with my second. My training got a late start due to an early summer injury. The morning sickness started two weeks before my race and I had trouble with my last few short runs. I never considered not running as its a local race I’ve done the last several years and I really enjoy it (and seeing the differences in my times from pre-kid to out of shape, post baby #1 and then to respectable again) but I was nervous. I had a tough time that morning, which I’m usually measuring the peanut butter two hours pre race. All I could eat was half a Luna bar at the start line and I had some hard candies in my pocket. But once I started and got thru the first mile, it wasn’t too bad. I had to stop twice around mile 9 and 11 to dry heave but I made sure to pick Gatorade when available and suck on the hard candies if I felt too light headed. Luckily no one seemed to consider this bad etiquette! I had no idea what my time would be (the year before it was 1:57) but it was a respectable 2:15 and i was really happy with that. I felt like it should’ve been much slower with my lack of fuel and stopping but it was good. And oddly, I wasn’t even that sore the next few days. I didn’t get to partake in the post race munches as much as usual but I am glad I did it. It ended being a crappy day that was cold and rainy so I could’ve backed out and would’ve been fine with that but I am really happy I went and finished. I think throwing my expectations out was key and knowing that the worst I could do was walk the whole thing and maybe get sick every few miles… and really, I see more experienced runners have bad races where stuff happens and I’m guessing they weren’t even pregnant!! And now that I’m further along, much bigger, and have to deal with a stubborn toddler all at the same, I am even prouder if myself for going ahead with that race. Little victories, you have to savor all of them!

  7. Go for it! It might not be the race you imagined so now is the time to change your expectations. Incredible story running in the first trimester – really inspiring and as the RLAMers have said – great story for bub no.2. Hope it is a girl and inspires her to do the same when she is older. Enjoy every minute of the half marathon and book in some serious naptime for afterwards. 🙂

  8. I’m 8 weeks pregnant too, and freaking exhausted. Congrats for even thinking about it! If I even get through 3-4 miles I feel victorious. You rock whether you do it or not!

  9. I completed half-marathons while pregnant with both of my girls. I ran the first but mainly walked the second. I was disappointed that I didn’t feel like running; I was tired and felt so heavy- I just went the pace my body would allow. I am glad I finished both races.

  10. If you are ok with the possibility that your race might not be the race you envisioned, I say, DO IT! Have fun, run, stop at the water stops. If your too tired, walk…..but I would be so angry with myself if I did all the training ( hill workouts! Tempo runs!) and then didn’t get to enjoy the energy and joy of a race and finish.

  11. I say run it. It sounds like more of a mental thing than a physical thing. I am 25 weeks pregnant and dealing with some issues myself. Numbness from the calf down all the way through to my feet once I hit about 2 miles. I pushed myself to get through a 10k this weekend and it took absolutely everything I had mentally, emotionally and physically. If you are good to go physically, then DO it! I am at the point where I think my body is forcing me to slow down and I only WISH it was just a mental hurdle and not a physical one. Way to go mama! Best of luck!!!

  12. I would absolutely take it a day at a time. And I would also remember that even if you line up and start the race, you don’t *have* to finish it. Listen to your body. If you feel great or even good and can do it, then do it! But if you start and feel like it isn’t “right,” by all means throw in the towel. And congrats on bambino number two!

  13. I’ve run through both my pregnancies. In the first one I ran a half at 13 weeks, and during my second I ran a half at 21 weeks. I also ran a 10k at 37 weeks during my second. I’m a big advocate of running and staying active during pregnancy, as log as you feel good and have the support of your dr.

    Just take it easy on race day, hydrate well, run an easy pace and enjoy yourself. Congrats!!

  14. I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant and ran a half at 5 weeks (without knowing I was pregnant and got a PR!) also ran a 5k at 28 weeks.I’d say do it! Especially because you’ve been training for it. You will be fine, just watch your hydration and fueling and just go by how you feel. Good luck!! If you do run make sure to take some pics so you can brag about it later!!

  15. I was in the same situation in the summer of 2011. Eight weeks pregnant with my first babe. Trained to run my second 1/2 marathon of the year, only this one was at 9000′ in Vail, CO. My doctor said to ease up a bit because of the altitude (I train in Denver, CO so only about a 3k increase), but to trust my judgement on race day. I laced up and toed the start line feeling like I was 8 weeks pregnant. Slow, a little barfy, and a little swollen. I had to pull over around mile 3 because the morning sickness got the best of me (gross). Thankfully, the medics were very nice, and quite handsome (Ryan Suter!), gave me a little o2, and let me head back out there after hearing my story. I picked it back up to a super slow pace for about 3 miles when I found a group of speed walkers and hung with them for the next two miles. Then I pulled out my phone and peeked at the course map, found a short cut to mile marker 13, and watched my BRF on her approach. I joined her and ran her across the finish line. I, of course, did not accept the finishers medal or the post-race photos. It was still a secret that I was pregnant so I needed to have official times. It made for a great laugh when we told our families about my lie!

    In a nutshell. If you think you might want to run the race, train today and decide about tomorrow tomorrow. Most half marathons these days have cutoff times that are generous enough that a 16-minute/mile walker can still race. If, on race day you just don’t have it in you, then don’t do it. You’ll want to ask yourself how you will feel tomorrow if you made it to race day and cheered from the sidelines. You can’t change regret. But you can change your mind mid-race! Good luck, and congratulations!

  16. I’ve run three half marathons and been pregnant for each of them (8 weeks in pregnancy number one and weeks 4 and 9 in pregnancy number two), so I obviously would run it. I’ll be running my first-ever solo half in a few weeks and have a feeling it’ll be a tad less fun than the pregnancy ones, if only because there was no pressure then! LOL

  17. First, congratulations!!
    I would run it. Some can run while pregnant, some decide not to. I played basketball and ran during both of my pregnancies because my fitness level could handle it and with doctor’s approval. I was just more careful and didn’t go all out which was fine with me. It kept me mentally happy throughout the pregnancies and had little recovery times post-deliveries. I’ve always been active so it wasn’t a much of a problem. So, that being said, I wouldn’t train for any race if I found out I was pregnant and have not been active prior, and have unrealistic expectations. I would just be setting myself up for disappointments. More damaging than physical, so to speak. Training runs of 10 strong miles is plenty for a good HM finish. Listen to your body the day of the race and adjust accordingly. You know you can finish!! Good luck and enjoy the event!!

  18. I ran the AF half marathon when I was 11 weeks pregnant. It was zero pressure for me as I’m just proud to say I did one while preggers. I was extra careful about fuel and hydration since I was in the throws of morning sickness. But it was one of the best runs that I finished; I felt great afterwards! And I had to get my docs permission especially since I’ve had several miscarriages in my past.

  19. I did a triathlon while ~12 weeks preganant with my older daughter and had a blast. It was a zero-pressure race – if I didn’t feel good, I gave myself permission to just stop and DNF. So I just trotted along at the back, waved to the volunteers and enjoyed the fun of racing. Not only that, my daughter almost certainly won her age group 🙂 Good luck, and have fun!

  20. All I have to say is Jessica, YOU ARE A HUGE INSPIRATION TO ME! I am not currently preggs (someday 😉 ) however, I just hope and pray that I will be doing the same thing through my pregnancies! For you to do it gives me inspiration now to stick with it. No excuses! I hope you feel ready to go on race day and if so, GOOD LUCK! 🙂

  21. I would totally run it — unless you have reason not to that day (which should always be true.) Time, of course, should not be the focus.

    Congrats on running through pregnancy! It was one of the best experiences of my life and super-excited for you and other mama runners doing it.

  22. I was not a runner until after I was done having kids, which is just as well because I could barely walk with the last one (carried so low I thought he was either going to fall out or stick an arm out and wave at me). I also remember being super sick with kiddo #2. However, if I were in my first trimester where it didn’t hurt to walk yet, I would probably run through the bone weary exhaustion, just to say I did it because that is just how I am…I like to be a tough girl! Just be prepared mentally to forgive yourself if the time goal wasn’t exactly what you were hoping for when you started training!

  23. I ran through my pregnancy (up till 37 weeks) and, like SBS said, some days were great and others were miserable. I nearly threw in the towel half-way in after a particularly grueling run. As fate would have it, I had some of my best runs in my third trimester when I was just happy to waddle at a faster pace.

    I definitely say go for it! And though I ran through my pregnancy, one of my regrets was cutting back on my mileage because it seemed like what others thought I should do. You wouldn’t want to look back and wish you had done it. I wouldn’t pull back until she was absolutely certain that it wasn’t right – on race day.

  24. I ran through all three of my pregnancies(back in the stone age,youngest is 16). I say go for it. I f you have to bail, so what? Listen to your body and enjoy the day.

    Good luck!

  25. I am 8 1/2 weeks pregnant and I just ran my first half marathon on Sunday. It was tough to finish up the training through the morning sickness and I definitely was MUCH slower than I had expected to be during the race. I also had some unexpected pelvic pressure around mile 9 that carried through to the end. That being said, I ran the whole thing, albeit slowly 🙂 I would do it again. It took an extra couple days of rest and recuperation but I so glad I stuck to it!

  26. I wouldn’t let worry/nerves make your decision for you or write off the race just yet. Go day by day and mile by mile. See if you can just show up to the race; then see if you want to run, or walk, or cheer, or do all of the above and then leave halfway through and go get pancakes. Remember to be kind to yourself no matter what you do. Regardless the outcome, accept your decision(s) and have no regrets. Don’t beat yourself up about it- you are, after all, growing somebody a heart and some ears, and that’s a pretty good day’s work in and of itself. Best wishes for you in the race and in life!

  27. You’ve gotten some great advice! I think the key thing is to take it easy. I just ran 5 half marathons in 5 days, slightly undertrained (no, I’m not pregnant). I found that as long as I kept my heart rate down and took it mile by mile, I was fine. Start out slow and let your body tell you if you need to go slower or have a little bit to pick it up in the later miles.

    Don’t worry about time, just enjoy the experience and be proud! Also, at this point, if you’ve run a recent 10 miler, slacking on the training won’t hurt. Good luck and have fun!

  28. I agree with those who say to wait and see how you feel the morning of the race. There’s no reason why you can’t walk it if you don’t feel like running it, or if you start running it but then get halfway through and feel awful, there’s no shame in pulling out, either. No one will blame you no matter what you decide. Ultimately you have to make the best decision for you and your baby. Good luck!

  29. I would see how you feel the morning of the race, could your drop down and do a 10k or 5k. I remember when I was pregnant with my son I could only run until about 10 weeks and then I kept getting dizzy spells. When I was pregnant with my daughter(6weeks) I ran the Moab half, I didn’t actually realize I was pregnant until I got back from Utah. Just listen to your body and good luck! With the race and with two kids!

  30. I will share this with you that was once told to me while preggers….”Girl, who says you gotta run it? Race walk it like you own it…”
    I have met many pregger mamas who trained for a half run and the morning of race walked it. They were still happy, safe, and satisfied!

  31. I’d see how you feel the morning of the race. With both of my pregnancies, I felt great some days and awful the next. It was so unpredictable. Give yourself a free pass to skip the race totally guilt-free if you’re not feeling up to it the morning of the race!

  32. At the half-marathon I ran on Sunday, there was a pregnant woman — looking close to full term, at least seven MONTHS along — who nearly outpaced me. I was so proud of her even though I didn’t know her. I told my husband and kids at the finish, “For a couple of miles there, I let a hugely pregnant woman be my pacer.” 😉
    If her doctor has signed off and she’s trained, I’d encourage her to do it. If she has serious concerns about her healrh or the baby’s health, that’d be the only time I’d say to take a seat.

  33. I ran a half marathon while 13 weeks pregnant. I went really SLOW but I’m so happy I did it. It was fun to brag to people about doing it.
    Just take it easier, you’ve obviously put in the training so you should be fine. Just hydrate and listen to your body. Good Luck!!

  34. I had a half marathon on St. Paddy’s day and was psyching myself out of the race beforehand, but I went though the motions anyway and when the gun went off I felt good about the whole thing. Now I have no comments on the pregnancy issue as I was only doing step aerobics 20 years ago when I was preggo with kids.

  35. Go for it Jessica! You’re a smart mother runner and you’ll pay attention to how you feel.
    If it helps, I was in the same position in 2010. I’d trained diligently all summer for a half marathon in September and was on track to meet my goal of running my first sub-2 hour half marathon. And then I found out I was pregnant with #2 and would be about 8 weeks along on race day. I was hit with very bad morning sickness but I decided I would see how I felt on race day.
    I continued to take things day-by-day but it meant not running very much in the two weeks leading up to the race. I remember standing in my corral at the start, feeling queasy and tired, but excited knowing that I WOULD finish the race – just not in the time I’d hoped for. I’ll admit that I did shed a few tears during the first quarter mile or so for my lost goal, but I quickly snapped out of my funk. I was going to enjoy this race – it was a beautiful day and I knew my husband and son were out there cheering for me.
    I ended up having a really fun (slow) race and cute photos for the baby book of my daughter as a newborn wearing the medal we earned together 🙂
    Good luck!

  36. See how you feel closer to race day. If you feel overall ok then go for it. Just run slowly and walk if you need to. This race is not about time!! It’s about having fun.

  37. I ran a half marathon at 17.5 weeks pregnant! They are right, the excitement if the day and the bragging rights pull you through! Plus, it is quite fun to watch the reaction of people when they find out just how strong you are when they hear of this feat! If you have the strength, line it up!

  38. Go with what your body tells you. I rode – not just around the neighborhood but lots of miles – my bike through month 8 of my first pregnancy. I stopped then because I was having balance issues and fell off the bike. Ooops!

    I also will say that I was passed, on a hill, in marathon #3 by a woman who was easily 6 months pregnant. She was booking right along.

  39. Given the fact she has registered, and trained, and the doc has given the OK, I’d definitely line up. She can always change plans mid-race, to slow her pace or integrate walk intervals, or even drop out if need be. Pregnancy trumps the race for sure. It doesn’t hurt to try, but just be accepting if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out as desired.

  40. Agree with Kristin- this will be a different race but given the fact that you are already prepared to run, the adrenaline will totally carry you. I did 5 full marathons pregnant & did not always feel my best at the start (who does – pregnant or not ?!?) but I felt AWESOME at the end. Good luck!!

  41. Oh I feel for you! I’m 23.5 weeks along (with #3) and because of where we live (Wisconsin) & our family’s schedule I couldn’t register for a half until April 20. My head was there but during last weekend’s long run it was clear that my body was not. It’s been terribly disappointing. I wanted to be one of those runners who got a medal while pregnant but alas it’s time for me to concentrate on swimming, walking, Zumba. Probably not the most helpful advice, but maybe you’ll just know?? On the other hand it has been kinda nice to take training off the to do list. Good luck to you! Hope you’ll let us know what you end up doing!!

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