Happy December 2016!
To close out the year and provide a few insights from the last few months of longrunergy-life this blog post includes a race re-cap from the Xterra Trail Champs and also a quick summary of my personal experience of running during the first trimester of pregnancy. I hope it inspires a few people to take to the trails – and provides an insight to what health and fitness can look like during a pregnancy.
Trail running and races on Oahu are always exhilarating, and definitely challenging. And the big Xterra event held each December at Kualoa Ranch does not disappoint. As the grand finale of a year of qualifying trail races held around the US, the Hawaii race acts as the defining ‘Trail Run World Championship’ for Xterra competitors. Runners arrive from across Hawaii, around the States and the rest of the world to vie for coveted titles, podium places and prizes!
This year I had been eagerly anticipating the event, not only because the course takes you back into the usually inaccessible but stunning Ka’a’awa Valley, but also because I had not planned to run in the Honolulu Marathon – Xterra Trail champs would be my last race for the year. With the addition of a growing baby onboard, my original goal to run competitively in the 21km race had completely shifted but everything health-wise indicated I would still be able to run and have fun on the trails and so I signed up for the 10km race.
The day before the main races Xterra held a yoga clinic for runners, which I co-led along with my fellow yogi and trail runner friend, Lindsay Annis Bliss. After listening to a great, informative talk from Ryan Hall – who’s best advice was about the pace of easy runs (big hint – they should be easy!) – we rolled out our mats and prepped for the clinic. We spent the next 45 mins with a lovely group of eager yogi-runners focusing on yoga to suit the pre-race runners’ mind, body & breath.
Sunday morning rolled around. At Kualoa Ranch the weather was almost ideal – cloudy with no rain but the humidity was just slightly higher than normal due to southerly Kona Winds. I’d focused on hydration prior to the race in anticipation of running whilst pregnant – and had been sipping nuun all morning. Warming up with an easy jog I watched the start of the main race – the 21km championship – and it was inspiring to see everyone sprint off from the gun. Ten minutes later the 10km runners lined up, and I filed in behind the main front pack – seeing some friendly faces in the crowd. I felt relaxed and excited for the race that was about to start, no nerves – how revelatory! With no pressure to perform at any level, I knew the next 10 kms were just about moving, being outside, feeling good and having fun.
The races all include a mixture of hilly dirt roads, steep and slippery yet fun downhills, and long stretches of single track. The climbs were completely knocking the wind out of my sails but I took it steady and slowed my pace whenever I needed to, allowing my heart and breathing rate to stay at a very comfortable level. I’d been expecting to feel winded but was surprised at how strong my legs felt, which gave me some confidence and so I started to pick my way through the field, focusing on staying upright whilst tip-toeing over mud, rocks and roots. Making sure to drink water at every aid station, I also splashed my face to stay cool whenever I could. By the final mile of the race, having no idea where I was within the field of 10km runners – I had settled into a comfortable pace – not going hell for leather towards the finish as in previous years at this event, but just enjoying the scenery and atmosphere. As I crossed the line I felt great and energised by the whole experience!
Overall it was a great day and Xterra put on an awesome event. It was fantastic to see so many local runners rubbing shoulders with people from around the US and the entire globe! Hawaii based pro-runner (Brooks) and former longrunergy interviewee Polina Carlson won the women’s title in the 21km race, and Joe Gray cruised to the men’s. Ryan Hall also took part and finished 18th overall. 3 additional members of the local Hawaii Oiselle Volée took part – and all had a blast! And I snuck into 4th women’s place in the 10km, 1st in my age-group!! Full race report from Xterra HERE.
Being pregnant is definitely amazing&scary&beautiful&exhausting all at the same time! The last 4 months have flown by, and even though at times they have been seriously tiring, it’s incredible to know that a new tiny human is taking shape. Nausea and fatigue started to show up at around 5-6 weeks (think 4am stomach-growling alarm calls requiring Saltine crackers & water only) which didn’t fully subside until week 15/16 – just in time for Xterra!! Thanks to the onslaught of hormones I actually lost weight, some of which was probably a decrease in muscle mass due to lower mileage – but it’s now coming back thankfully!
My trusty Believe I Am training journal has been a good friend, and I’ve been able to keep a fairly accurate record of what I’ve been able to do with regards to running and overall health & fitness – which has been useful to reflect on.
For the most part, I focused on saving energy for my main jobs this fall: teaching yoga at the YMCA, being part of a coaching staff for a high school cross-country team, and coaching runners locally and online. Running with varsity girls was a new challenge I was excited to embrace. The team this year were a group of wonderful individuals, who will go far in life, and despite not knowing I was pregnant, they kept me buoyant on days when I could have easily just lay on the floor (e.g singing Disney songs on easy runs). Teaching yoga was also great – but after a few dizzy spells I cut back to just teaching Gentle Yoga, and as of now – I’ve given up my post until next year. We also had a great Windward Training Freaks marathon group going that I tried to help out with and coach as much as possible. It’s amounted to running anywhere from 15-25 miles per week, but I’ve also been trying to maintain 2x strength & core conditioning workouts per week, 1x swim, 1-2x easy bike rides, 2-3x gentle yoga practices and walking the dog!!
Overall I have managed to keep moving but with these two key factors constantly on my mind: no mileage goals and no pace worries.
So far this is what I’ve found helps:
- Snacking and hydration are key – good nutrients (nuts, dried fruit, carrots, fig bars, yoghurt, whole wheat crackers or toast & almond butter) for energy, lots of water and tea!
- Probiotic yoghurt & kefir drinks.
- Rest days are even more essential than normal.
- Naps really help – even if just 5 mins is all you have.
- Don’t over-schedule! Your body is growing and for now, can’t do everything it used to!
- Swimming feels great.
- Keeping up with gentle yoga and core strength workouts (& kegels) 2-3x week helps!!
I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by a network of family, friends, colleagues and peers who between them have many years of experience to share. My husband Jesse has been a great support, as always, and it’s fun to talk through the various stages with him. And it’s been great to chat with 2 fellow ‘preggo-runners’ at the Windward Training Freaks – ‘Pregnant Club’ as somebody called us…
A few people online who have also provided inspiration and advice include:
- Oiselle Haute Volée pro runner Steph Bruce. “Things are changing, loosening, expanding, and the female body is amazing at adapting.”
- Free Lifestyle posts about health & fitness during pregnancy by Mariane Uehara.
- Jojo’s Blog: running and being pregnant in Hawaii by Jo-Anna Syverson.
- And numerous posts on Womens Running.
To sum up – it’s been a rollercoaster but we’re still hanging on tight for the rest of the ride!!
**Disclaimer** No two women have the same experience of pregnancy! This is a personal post that in no way makes up for suggestions from your OB or Doctor. Listen to all expert advice from professionals before beginning any new activity when pregnant. Stay happy & healthy first!
Next up for longrunergy online – a coaching resources and services re-boot in the New Year – and personally, lots more yoga & swimming!
Thanks for continuing to read longrunergy! Wishing you all the best for a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and wonderful New Year!