The Pregnant Athlete

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


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How to deal with pre-baby anxiety!

35 Weeks | +27 lbs

I thought it was bad enough that I’ve been waking up two to three times each night to pee this entire pregnancy, but, starting this week, I’ve been finding it challenging to fall and stay asleep too with pre-baby anxiety looming over my head!  The massive kicks and movement, in general, at night certainly doesn’t help my inability to sleep either.  Two nights ago, I went to bed at 10:30pm, my usual bedtime, and had planned to go for a 5-mile run before work at 6:00am. However, I found myself wide awake an hour later, was unable to fall back asleep for another two hours, and awoke every hour until 6:00am! I ultimately opted out of that early morning run, cranky and feeling defeated for the rest of the day. Tomorrow marks exactly one month before my expected due date–July 27th (already?)!

The only way I think I’ll be able to get some rest for the remainder of this pregnancy is to jot down (or type) my issues, and how best to overcome them:

Issue #1: I don’t have a nursery set up yet, or anything for our baby at our apartment for that matter. My husband and I thought it was a brilliant idea to take on a roommate to save funds for our daughter last year, but, out of respect for our roommate, all of our baby-related items are neatly stacked so as not to clutter our apartment.  Additionally, our roommate is currently living in our future nursery, which means we can’t set anything up until he moves out.  As each day passes and my urge to nest grows stronger, I become more fearful of running out of time! Solution: Our roommate’s agreement ends this coming Monday, so we’ll be able to set up the nursery in only four days, thankfully.

Issue #2: I own my own small business, a yoga studio in New York City, for which I need to find coverage when I’m on “maternity leave.”  “Maternity leave” is in parentheses because I’ll actually be working from home for six weeks, so it’s not truly maternity leave.  However, I’m not as worried about working from home as I am about the fact that I usually work at the front desk at the studio on Mondays through Thursdays, and will need to find staff members to cover my hours.  Unfortunately, I’m currently short staffed, and my employees are unable to cover all my hours, as many of them work multiple jobs. Solution: I’ve been taking my time to interview potential employees over the last two weeks, and have, thankfully, met a few great applicants, two of whom I hired today! I’ll be training them both this Monday, and they’ll start working at the studio in July. A flexible schedule was a major factor in the hiring process.

Issue #3: I’m carpooling with my husband and two friends tomorrow to the Toughman Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon, which is 5 hours up north. Will they stop for me when I need to pee (every hour)? What if I overheat while cheering during the race? What if I go into labor while we’re upstate? These were a few of the fears I stressed over earlier this week, to name a few!  Solution: We checked with our friends, and they promised to stop for me every hour, and I check with my doctor, who confirmed I was okay to go on the trip.  Instead of cheering for the entire race on the sidelines, I decided to run the half marathon portion of the half Ironman! Irregardless of what may potentially happen, I’ll be with my husband at least, which would be better than being at home by myself!

I should, hopefully, be able to overcome the bulk of my pre-baby anxiety over the next week, as I return from this weekend’s trip upstate, train my new employees and set up our nursery. More importantly, I have to remember to “let go.” Our daughter will arrive when she’s ready. And when she does, I’ll have my husband by my side, and we’ll be there for her.

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Week 33 (6/8-6/14) training: 26.7 miles 

Sunday: 10.5 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 6.2 miles

Week 34 (6/15-6/21) training: 14.5 miles 

Sunday: 5 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday: 5 miles


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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


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Nostalgia: A look back at my progress as a runner.

Week 24 | +18 lbs

We, endurance athletes, rarely mull over all of our previous race times.  We also usually do not correlate races with events in our lives.  We often only remember our personal records, or PRs, for our favorite race distances, and, once we beat a PR, that last PR time is forgotten, with a new time ingrained in our minds as the one to beat. For example, I can tell you that I ran my PR marathon at the 2011 Chicago Marathon in 3:44:15. However, I could not tell you what my marathon times were for the marathons before or after that significant race. Sadly, I often forget exactly how many marathons I’ve completed so far–was it 14 or 16? And I certainly cannot tell you off the top of my head what my best times were for my shorter races.

2011 Chicago Marathon, 10/9/11

2011 Chicago Marathon, 10/9/11

As a pregnant runner, however, it is truly nostalgic to look back at my progress as a runner, perhaps since I now could not care less about my PRs or how to beat them.  I only care about how running makes me feel each day–each day is certainly a different day.  I am excited about each run I accomplish these days, and each race IS correlated with an event in my life, my pregnancy–even the number of weeks, specifically–and my growing baby.

6-mile run in Venice, Italy during which I ran over 29 bridges at 20 weeks! 3/14/14

6-mile run in Venice, Italy during which I ran over 29 bridges at 20 weeks! 3/14/14

A look back at a few significant races (and life events):*

  • 3/5/06 – First 5K – 27:02 (8:43/mi) – I had not yet met my husband, and worked at financial firm #1 post-college.
  • 5/4/08 – First marathon – 5:25:17 (12:24/mi) – My husband and my 6-month dating anniversary, and we both worked at financial firm #2.
  • 10/9/11 – PR marathon – 3:44:15 (8:33/mi) – 3 months after my husband and I got married, and less than a month before I opened my yoga studio. Also, notice that my pace per mile is faster than that for my first 5K!!
  • 11/17/12 – 50-mile ultramarathon – 10:44:14 (12:53/mi) –  5 years after my husband and I got together, and a year after I opened my yoga studio.
  • 8/18/13 – Ironman – 14:03:10, 4:31:36 marathon (10:21/mi) – My husband and I had always planned to start trying to start a family after this bucket list race.
  • 9/7/13 – Most recent marathon – 3:46:20 (8:38/mi) – I got injured during this race, and had to cancel my next two marathons in October and November. It worked out well that we got pregnant in October!

*It’s also significant to note that my husband has either volunteered or cheered me on at every one of my marathons, triathlons and ultramarathons I’ve ever completed!

On vacation in Jamaica just a month into our relationship, 12/07

On vacation in Jamaica just a month into our relationship, 12/07

I’ll be running the Delaware Marathon in 4.5 weeks at 29 weeks.  Although it may rival my first marathon as the slowest one, it will be the most special one yet. It will be my third marathon to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training in memory of my late grandmother, my husband’s first marathon ever, and my first running for two.  The race will be so much more than just a family affair.

Month 6 Belly Photo, 4/9/14

Month 6 Belly Photo, 4/9/14

Week 23 (3/30-4/5) training: 38 miles 

Sunday: 10 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 18 miles


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Comparing the first and second trimesters.

Week 17  | +10 lbs

It’s amazing that what people often say about the second trimester rings true–your energy level does return! As I detailed in my entry at Week 13, I found the fatigue I struggled with during the first few months of the pregnancy to be crippling.  The fog finally dissipated last week, and it has made a whirlwind of a difference in my abilities to handle work, training and even hanging out with friends.

Court Side Seats & All-You-Can-Eat at the Brooklyn Nets Game at the Barclays Center, 2/19/14

Court Side Seats & All-You-Can-Eat at the Brooklyn Nets Game at the Barclays Center, 2/19/14

To celebrate the changes in my body that have come with the fourth month of my pregnancy, I have compared the differences in my training during my first trimester and the present one below:

  • Biking. Although I stopped biking outside as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I continued to spin weekly with my favorite spin instructor, Holly Rilinger, at Flywheel Sports.   Just before getting pregnant, the Total Power, or measure of my speed and resistance, during my spin classes averaged 310, placing me near the top percentile for the region. During the first trimester, the reading dropped down to 260, but has since bounced back to 300.   I am still listening to my body–I simply have more energy to expend. I was especially excited this past Monday as I convinced my mom to come to class after her doctor suggested that she start participating in cardiovascular activity! It was her first spin class, and, in fact, the first class she’d taken where she “actually sweat,” as she informed me afterward.  She enjoyed it so much that she plans to join me every week, and I was excited by the notion that we had three generations of women in my family in class that day: Grandma, baby and me!
  • Running. I’ve be able to stick to my training schedule for the Delaware Marathon on May 11th. However, up until a week ago, I suffered from debilitating migraines after my weekend long runs.  I had never had migraines prior to becoming pregnant, and needed to nap for at least two hours after each long run, which helped a bit, but never made the headaches go away.  Though I did monitor my fluid and fuel intake a bit better, drinking water every 20 minutes and eating every 50 minutes, I didn’t get a migraine after this Sunday’s 14 mile run, a first in months! I can only chalk it up to the hormonal changes my body underwent during the first trimester, but the true test will be whether or not the migraines return this weekend.
  • Swimming.  Swimming was always my least favorite of the triathlon disciplines only because I dislike indoor swimming, and despise the smell of chlorine.  Considering the freezing temperatures we’ve been dealing with in New York City, the last I wanted to do was to go swimming and freeze afterward.  I’ll likely pick up swimming again when the weather warms, and my husband have ability to swim in the open water somewhere again.
  • Yoga. I was able to continue to take regular yoga classes during my first trimester and modify certain poses for myself, although I likely often confused other students when they noticed I was twisting in the opposite direction than they were or taking bridge pose instead of following the core sequence our teacher was teaching us. Since Week 14, I’ve transitioned from regular classes to prenatal yoga entirely. I love that I am able to learn techniques from my teacher Caprice Abowitt that I’ll be able to apply during child birth, connect with other moms-to-be and practice yoga in a safe and nurturing environment suited to our baby and me.
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Spin Class with Mom & Instructor Holly Rilinger at Flywheel Sports, 2/17/14

Week 16 (2/9-15) training: 15 miles

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


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We’re pregnant!

Week: 7 | Weight: +4 lbs 

16 days ago, my husband and I discovered that we are expecting. The pregnancy was not entirely a surprise.  He and I had been actively trying for two months, and my period was already three weeks overdue.  Additionally, I had been feeling “odd” lately–my breasts were tender and sore, my entire body felt swollen, and I had become so tired that I would sometimes fall asleep immediately after dinner.  I had taken two pregnancy tests the week prior that had read negative.  My OB/GYN suggested that we wait a few more days, as pregnancy tests don’t show results until 10-14 days after conception–that certainly made the difference!  Our minds were immediately overwhelmed with a variety of questions, but there was one I knew many moms-to-be would not consider: Will I be able to continue to train?

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Positive, 11/25/13

Only three-and-a-half months ago, I had completed my first Ironman.  I had trained for eight months, six days a week, and sometimes twice a day to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles at the 2013 Ironman Mont Tremblant. It may have been my first Ironman, but it was certainly not my first endurance event–I had completed 13 marathons, one 50-mile ultramarathon and one century ride prior to the Ironman, and I was hooked! To counterbalance my endurance pursuits as well as find mental clarity, I also practiced yoga at the yoga studio I own in New York City, Sacred Sounds Yoga.

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Ironman Mont Tremblant, 8/18/13

Four days ago, my husband and I went for our first ultrasound, and laid our eyes on our baby his or her beating heart. Our baby was 6 weeks and 4 days old.  The fact that he and I created this being, currently the size of a blueberry and a week ago the size of a sesame seed, is profound.   In an effort to honor my changing pregnant body and celebrate my husband and my baby’s life, I realized it was time to make some changes to my active lifestyle.  Initial changes include:

  •  Biking.  As someone who, until now, commuted by bike to and from work, opting to bike only indoors during my pregnancy was still an easy decision to make.  Although bike accidents a few and far between, I was nearly hit by a car going the wrong direction in my lane while training for the Ironman this past summer, so I knew first-hand how traumatic accidents can be.  My road rash scars and tattered clothes serve as proof of the experience. In addition to cycling on my indoor trainer, I decided to take myself off the Flywheel Torque Board, which displays riders’ power during the class, when I spin, so that I don’t feel compelled to compete with other riders, something that I naturally feel inclined to do.
  • Running.  After checking with two different doctors, I will continue to run long distances, and will be training for the Delaware Marathon on May 11th, 2014.  My doctor noted that pregnant women can continue to do low-impact activities, such as running, but advised against anything high-impact.  She discouraged pregnant women from running marathons if they had never before, but asserted that I could if I wanted to because of my fitness level.  Gone are the days when pregnant women were told NOT to exercise!
  • Swimming.  I can continue to swim throughout my pregnancy.  However, I seriously dislike indoor swimming–I hate the ritual of having to commute to the pool, undress, shower and commute again as well as the lingering smell of chlorine on my skin.  I’ve also read that swimming become quite uncomfortable and awkward as the belly grows.
  • Yoga. I will be able to continue practicing yoga until my due date, provided I modify my practice.  I will continue to take regular yoga classes until I’m ready to let people know at Sacred Sounds Yoga, but our prenatal yoga teacher Caprice Abowitt has informed me that I should not twist or invert.  After week 13, I’ll be able to join our Prenatal Yoga classes!