The Pregnant Athlete

Learning To Embrace My Changing Pregnant Body While Swimming, Biking, Running & Practicing Yoga


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First moments: A snapshot of Keira’s life.

Keira is 15 days old today. It still amazes me that I was running with her in my womb just over two weeks ago. Her arrival has completely changed Ray and my lives in the most wonderful way. I’m am grateful that she is healthy and strong, first and foremost. I’m also grateful that she has been been a really “easy” baby, as of now at least–she sleeps most of the time, complains only when she’s hungry or needs her diaper changed, and is a joy to talk to and play with for those few hours when she is awake.

With the amount of time and energy I dedicated to reading about labor and delivery to attain my ideal birth experience (and you can read my birth story here), it’s comical that I never considered doing research on how to actually take care of a newborn baby!  And I know I’m not the only mother who’s overlooked this important aspect of having a baby either. I’ve captured a few of Keira’s first moments since she arrived below as well as a few links to topics Ray and I have already Googled to make sure that some of these moments were nothing to be alarmed about!

Day 3. Keira finally arrived home with us! She also lifted her head off Ray’s chest while they were making skin-to-skin contact.

Skin-to-skin contact, 7/21/2014

Skin-to-skin contact, 7/21/14

Day 4. First visit to the pediatrician, and first walk outside, 0.6 miles roundtrip. Keira weighed 6 lbs. 14.5 oz., having lost 4.5 oz. since birth, and had developed a bit of jaundice, which develops in 60% of newborns 2-3 days after birth, and is especially common for Asian babies. Keira’s doctor informed me that more frequent breastfeeding, specifically feeding Keira at least every two hours, as well as daily phototherapy would treat the jaundice.  Random fun fact: We were the only non-Hasidic Jewish family at the pediatrician.  Apparently, the pediatrician rarely has non-Jewish families at her practice, and seemed bewildered at how we found her!

Day 5. First bath, a sponge bath! She didn’t cry or get startled, and seemed to enjoy the bath!

Keira's first bath, 7/23/2014

Keira’s first bath, 7/23/14

Day 6. Follow up visit to the pediatrician.  Keira surpassed her birth weight already, weighing in at 7 lbs. 4.5 oz, though newborns are expected to reach their birth weight 10 to 14 days after birth.  Her jaundice also diminished! Keira’s doctor told us we were doing a great job, and that I should continue to do whatever I was doing with respect to the feedings. Her remark was exactly what caused my confusion and exhaustion, unfortunately, as I took it literally–I continued to set my alarm every two hours to nurse Keira, as I had been doing since her birth.

Content after breastfeeding and above her birth weight, 7/24/14

Content after breastfeeding and above her birth weight, 7/24/14

Day 7. Ray and I panicked for a moment when Keira’s umbilical cord fell off, as we didn’t expect it to so soon. After some Googling, we realized it was perfectly okay, as long as there weren’t any signs of infection.

Day 10. First tummy time! Keira has strong neck and back muscles, and was able to start moving around on her tummy quickly and without cries.

Day 11.  First smiles! Granted, these are reflex smiles, I read, but it was exciting to witness them, nonetheless.

Day 12. First feedings based on hunger, not on my alarm! I received a phone call from a lactation consultant at the hospital where I had delivered Keira who informed me that, since Keira had reached her birth weight and was moving her bowels regularly, I should be feeding her based on demand, not on a schedule! She noted that the rule of thumb for newborns is that they nurse at least eight to 12 times per day.  I was confused, as this information was completely different from what Keira’s pediatrician had shared with me.  Thankfully, I found KellyMom, which offers evidence-based breastfeeding and parenting insight, and an amazing La Leche League Facebook group, both of which confirmed the lactation consultant’s advice.

Day 13. First visit with her only cousin on my side of the family, Sophia, who drove up to New York City from Northern Virginia with my sister Catherine and her husband Mark.

Keira and cousin Sophia, 2014-08-01

Keira and cousin Sophia, 8/1/14

Day 14. First day outside, aside from our short walks! We visited Brooklyn Bridge Park and Jane’s Carousel, and dined at Olea with my parents, sisters, brother-in-law, cousins, and niece. Aside from waking once to nurse and have her diaper changed, Keira slept the entire time.

Keira's first day out, 8/2/14

Keira’s first day out, 8/2/14

In addition to sharing a few first moments, I also wanted to provide links to insight online resources for moms that have helped me so far:

  • KellyMom. Truly offers everything you’ll need to know regarding breastfeeding, and plenty of other non-breastfeeding related information too!
  • La Leche League. Look up your local LLL for meetings with other moms that are breastfeeding or check Facebook for their online groups, if you don’t feel comfortable bring your newborn to meetings, and I don’t yet.
  • The Alpha Parent.  Look up the insightful timelines this blog provides to get a better sense of what to expect from your baby during different stages of life.
  • What to Expect the First Year.  Not an online resource, but I’d recommend buying this book for all their “how tos”–from changing diapers to bathing to feedings!


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What to do running-wise for the remaining weeks of my pregnancy now that my goal race has been completed?

Week 33 | +26 lbs

I had been so fixated on my training for the 2014 Delaware Marathon, that I had not even considered what I would do running-wise for the 11 weeks after my goal race until the end of my pregnancy! Since I started running marathons in 2008, completing a spring or fall marathon season usually meant that I would enjoy easy runs and cross training for a few weeks before diving back into the next marathon season.  In 2012 and 2013, there were no breaks between seasons, as spring season was actually a precursor to the summer triathlon season, and fall season would begin immediately after the triathlon season ended. Realizing that the road to recovery from childbirth can be long and arduous, as can adjusting to my new life as a mom, I had already decided to not sign up for a fall marathon, so that I could focus on nursing and spending a lot of quality time with my husband and my daughter.  Next year, I plan to test the theory behind Performance Enhancing Babies (PEBs), and aim to qualify for Boston!

The important question still remains: What DO I do running-wise for the remaining weeks of my pregnancy now that my goal race has been completed? Here are a few things I have been doing over the past four weeks since my goal race that I suggest other pregnant runners struggling with the post-goal race blues take part in!

Suggestion #1: Volunteer for local races. The much-anticipated Brooklyn Half Marathon took place 6 days after my marathon, and, since I live in Brooklyn, had a lot of friends running this race, and still needed to volunteer for a New York Road Runner race, as part of my 9+1 for entry into the 2015 NYC Marathon, I jumped at the chance to volunteer for it! I helped out at the start corrals, which was no easy feat, as the race had over 25,000 runners and a two-wave start! I was also asked to hold the orange starting line tape, certainly the closest I’d get to the front of the line of a large race! After both waves started, I helped discard GU packets, water bottles and other trash as well as pick up articles of clothes for donations, which was the most challenging part of volunteering, as my belly made it really hard to bend down to pick up items. While I do not litter when I run solo, I’ll now also always make a concerned effort to discard trash in trash bins during races too–remember that someone has to pick up the trash after you!

Brooklyn Half Marathon Start Line, 5/18/14

Brooklyn Half Marathon Start Line, 5/18/14

Suggestion #2: Map out fun runs for yourself in your town or city. On some weekdays, I still run 5 miles home in Brooklyn from work in Manhattan, changing the bridge I run over depending on the day.  On weekends, I will usually go for a 10-mile long run, either opting to run a few loops of Prospect Park, along the water in Brooklyn, into Manhattan and back. The weather has been so perfect for running in New York City recently!

Clockwise from bottom left: Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown from Manhattan Bridge, National Running Day swag, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Williamsburg Bridge, Hudson River Park and National Running Day swag!

Clockwise from bottom left: Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown from Manhattan Bridge, National Running Day swag, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Williamsburg Bridge, Hudson River Park and National Running Day swag!

Suggestion #3: Support your friends and family at their races. My husband kicked off the start of his triathlon season at the Black Bear Half Ironman two weeks ago.  He has been so supportive of my races since we started dating, and has either volunteered or cheered me on at every marathon or triathlon I have ever completed, so there was no way I would miss his race! We awoke at 3:45am that morning, packed up the car, and headed to the race, which started at 7:00am in the Poconos. I was grateful that my husband brought me a folding chair to sit on for the day, and that there were plenty of trees to lounge under, as the temperatures reached the mid-80s! However, my husband couldn’t find any places for me to pick up food on the way to the race, and they didn’t sell any food or drinks at the race either, which left me parched and starving until he was finished at 3:30pm! As he entered transition after the bike leg and before his half marathon, I had to holler at him to toss me any GU he didn’t need and water because I was THAT  hungry and thirsty (Who willing ingests GU if not for training or a race?). He said he thought of our baby and me during the entire run, and was running to us to get us food and drinks. I ended up sick with a sore throat, fever and cold that week–no surprise!! Supporting friends and family is always a great thing to do, but definitely pack your own food and drinks, just in case, when you’re pregnant!

My husband and me at the start of the Black Bear Half Ironman, where he finished a really tough course with the steepest bike climbs and a technical half in 6:24:29, a 10th place AG and a PR, 6/1/14!

My husband and me at the start of the Black Bear Half Ironman, where he finished a really tough course with the steepest bike climbs and a technical half in 6:24:29, a 10th place AG and a PR, 6/1/14!

Suggestion #4: Run with fellow pregnant friends. Who better to have as running buddies when you’ve slowed down significantly and your pace is unpredictable due to pregnancy but other pregnant women?! Last Saturday, two of my pregnant friends and I planned to meet at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and go for an 8-mile run and post-run brunch. One of my friends was 10 days away from her due date! We ended up cutting the run short at 4.5 miles, which certainly happens on pregnant runs, sipped fresh lemonade infused with different fruit and herbs (I had one with watermelon and mint!) as we strolled along the water, and enjoyed a yummy brunch at AIMar, a charming restaurant in the area. The best part of the run and brunch date was the ability to discuss any and all topics related to our pregnancies and babies! So much fun!

From left to right, weeks 38, 19 and 31, 6/7/14

From left to right, weeks 38, 19 and 31, 6/7/14races, two of the three last official races I’ll be running for a while, since and I’ll be busy in July! Best of luck to the ‘s Moms In Training at the New York Mini 10K, for which was a partner. They’re an inspiring group of superwomen.

Suggestion #5: Continue to run shorter distance races! In addition to continuing to run regularly, I’ve signed up for a number of shorter races in New York City through the end of June, and will look for more to motivate me in July as I approached my expected due date.  This weekend, I’ll be running two races back-to-back, namely the Oakley Women’s Mini 10K on Saturday and the Portugal Day 5-miler on Sunday! I’m excited to cheer on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Moms In Training while I’m running too at tomorrow’s race, for which my yoga studio was a partner. I had the opportunity to attend the Moms In Training Inspiration Dinner earlier this week, with my own mom as my date, and they had me in a teary mess! The moms that are members of the group are truly an inspiring group of superwomen! 

Shirts and bibs from this weekend's Oakley Women's Mini 10K and Portugal Day 5-miler as we ll as a onesie with Sacred Sounds Yoga's logo printed, 6/13/14

Shirts and bibs for this weekend’s Oakley Women’s Mini 10K and Portugal Day 5-miler as we ll as a onesie with Sacred Sounds Yoga’s logo, 6/13/14

Month 8 Belly Photo, 6/1/14

Month 8 Belly Photo, 6/1/14

Week 30 (5/18-24) training: 15 miles

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 4.5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 10.5 miles

Week 31 (5/25-31) training: 25 miles 

Sunday: 5 miles
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Spin, Yoga
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: Rest

Week 32 (6/1-6/7) training: 10.5 miles 

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 4.5 miles