The 2015 San Francisco Marathon 5k race report – at 36 weeks/9 months pregnant

The funny thing about The San Francisco Marathon’s weekend of events is that of the three years I’ve done it — in 2010 (marathon), 2014 (marathon), and 2015 (5k) — I’ve been pregnant (knowingly or otherwise) 2 of the 3 times. Weird how that happened. Both in 2014 and 2015, I was lucky enough to be a social media ambassador for the race, and this year, once I learned I’d be 36 weeks+ (that’s 9 months, for anyone counting) pregnant, I figured (read: hoped) that I’d be able to *at least* run the 5k. Fortunately, that was the case, and the weekend was a ton of fun, though I’m sure it would have been fun even if I wasn’t able to run. SF tends to put on a good show.

Saturday – shakeout, Dean Karnazes, expo, random interview, and lots of friends

At WTF o’clock I ventured up to Berkeley to fetch Meredith so the two of us could participate in TSFM’s shakeout run with Dean Karnazes and do all the prerequisite expo-ing. Another ambassador, Stephanie, and I were leading the shake-out run, so we had to get to Fort Mason shortly before 8 before our hundreds-strong new running BFFs arrived. I found cheap parking a couple miles away from FM, so Meredith and I just ran down there while carrying all our shit (looking amazing in the process, btw) and managed to make it in time. It was awesome to see so many other ambassadors, many whom I had met last year, as well as seeing other SF buddies like Travis, whom I had last seen at the SLO marathon weekend back in April.

ambassador friends! L-R Heather, May, Tricia, Jody, and Stephanie [PC: Jody]
ambassador friends! L-R Heather, May, Tricia, Jody, and Stephanie [PC: Jody]
more buddies! L-R Albert, Scott, Meredith, Jody, Keith, and Shokofeh [PC: Keith]
more buddies! L-R Travis (not realizing he’s in the pic!), Albert, Scott, Meredith, Jody, Keith, and Shokofeh [PC: Keith]

After some quick announcements from TSFM staff member and ambassador-corraller-extraordinaire Michael, our little parade of runners was off. People posted anywhere from 1-4ish miles along Crissy Field, and true to SF form, Karl the Fog even made an appearance. It was a lot of fun connecting with other ambassadors and meeting so many other runners, many who would be either running SF for the first time or running their first marathon the next day (talk about rockstars – TSFM has about 1,600′ of gain! That’s a killer first 26.2 in my book).

yay running! with TSFM staff Michael (yellow), Meredith, Stephanie, and more [PC: Keith]
yay running! with TSFM staff Michael (yellow), Meredith, Stephanie, and more [PC: Keith]
the beginning of the parade [PC: Keith]
the beginning of the parade. strangely, Meredith, Stephanie, and I all look like we’re wearing the same shoes [PC: Keith]
a little GGB and Karl the Fog action after the turn-around [PC: Keith]
a little GGB and Karl the Fog action after the turn-around [PC: Keith]

Following the shakeout, Meredith, Travis, and I met/chatted with Dean for a minute (who, by the way, was running 90+ miles that day… the shake-out run was merely the beginning for him) and got some pics before heading into the expo to pick up our goodies for the next day’s race. Travis was running 26.2, Meredith the second 13.1, and me the 5k, so it was cool to compare all the different swag items (particularly the shirts). Before long, Erin B from Chicago arrived at the expo, and Meredith and I got to catch up with her for about an hour before my shift at the expo began. Erin had also come into SF for the 2014 race and had run 26.2, so it was nice to see her here again. That’s the nice thing about living in California/the Bay Area — people generally don’t balk at the opportunity to come visit :)

with Travis, Dean, and Meredith after the shake-out run. Dean was super chill (as runners often are, right??).
with Travis, Dean, and Meredith after the shake-out run. Dean was super chill and cool (as runners often are, right??).

 

the Erins and Meredith [PC: Erin B]
the Erins and Meredith  :) [PC: Erin B]
expo fun with May, Heather, and Jody [PC: May]
expo fun with May, Heather, and Jody [PC: May]

While Erin, Meredith, and I were chatting, TSFM staff Michelle asked if I could be quickly interviewed for USL TV about the 5k race, so I agreed. I cringe when I watch this, but my four year-old thinks it’s the coolest thing ever, though she kept asking me afterward “who’s Erin?” :) but hey, whatever. It was fun. I’m always game to talk running.

And then, before I knew it, I had to say my “see you tomorrows” to Erin and Meredith because it was my turn to go volunteer at the expo for a few hours. Some people find expos to be pretty draining, and if I’m racing, I think I’m one of those people; I want to get in, grab my stuff, and get out as quickly as possible. If the race isn’t an A-game thing for me, though, I find expos to be super energizing and dare I say, a lot of fun. Thus, even the tediousness that comes with talking to people about the race day runner tracking app (and showing people how to use their smartphones) became pretty fun. Fortunately, the tracking app actually worked really well on race day, so I was relieved that all the people I helped on Saturday wasn’t for naught. Once my shift concluded, I chatted with more ambassador buddies and eventually returned home to SJ.

Sunday – 5k race, lululemon party, and cowbelling at 12.0/25.0

Another WTF wake-up to head back into SF and before long, I was at the lovely SENS restaurant, site of the Lululemon pre- and post-race party. I dropped my stuff and headed out to the starting area for the 5k, more or less the same place where the 26.2/52.4/first 13.1 racers began hours prior, and got in a 2-mile-and-change warm-up along the Embarcadero, dodging the other ~2k 5k runners and the piles of discarded clothing from the earlier racers. I was impressed with how sweaty I was in a tank, shorts, hat, and a LS and began to consider just racing in a too-small-for-being-9-months-pregnant tank with my LS tied around my waist (winning tons of fashion points in the process, no doubt) because I was seriously dripping after slogging for not even 20 minutes. I found Erin and her husband, Tim, in the starting corrals, and we chatted for a bit before the race got underway after a slight delay due to some MUNI issue.

Like pretty much any other marathoner, I tend to despise, if not avoid, 5ks, because when I run them, I generally feel like death; I start out too quickly and just faaaaaaade. My pacing is nonexistent, I feel like I’m red-lining as soon as I’m out of the gate, and I so rarely tap my 5k speed that when I do, surely my body gets all what the hell are you doing to me, Erin?! and promptly tries to shut that shit down straightaway; it’s gotta be a defense mechanism or something. Running/”racing” a 5k at 9 months pregnant, however, is  an entirely different ball game because there’s absolutely no way that I can redline or finish feeling like I was knocking on death’s door; my body, my huge midsection, the extra pregnancy weight I’m carrying, common sense, my central governor–everything precludes it. I didn’t have any particular time goals for the day (and honestly, it wasn’t until at least 25% into my warm-up that I began to feel comfortable and that a fetal appendage wasn’t jabbing some internal organ or another), so I figured that, pretty much like 99.9% of my running during this pregnancy, it would be exclusively on feel and not determined by clock-watching. Knowing that this 5k wouldn’t kill me, then, I was actually kinda looking forward to the thing and to seeing what was “there” at 9 months pregnant. Probably at no other time in my life will I ever say that I look forward to a 5k.

Anyway, the race — good time. The course was mostly on the Embarcadero, although with a few turns thrown in for good measure, so it made for some great opportunities to see other runners on the out-and-backs. Like I said, any semblance of speed or pacing I could muster was exclusively on feel, and when my watch beeped with each mile marker, I tried to look at the time, but since my Garmin and the mile markers were just slightly off (thanks, no doubt, to some weaving I had to do in the first .2 of the race), I really didn’t pay my splits much mind. It was really cool to yell for the other runners on the OAB portions, and likewise, it was cool to get so much “go mama!” or “go baby!” support from the other runners who saw me running along.  I never felt like I was redlining — only that I was running faster than what I have been running lately — but even with a harder effort, I don’t recall feeling like the effort was impossible or unimaginable; I just had to be present. I’d later come home and tell C that running a 5k at 9 months pregnant gave me an unexpected opportunity to practice some serious focus, surprisingly a similar type of focus that comes with the territory of labor and delivery (or as much as I can recall, anyway). A 5k at 9 months pregnant isn’t impossible, but it’s also not a walk in the park, necessarily; like labor and delivery, you’ve just gotta be “present” for the thing.

focus. also, umbilical hernia. (ugh)
focus. also, umbilical hernia. (ugh) … but thanks for the free pics, Hoka and TSFM!

Ultimately, I fared 23:26 for 3.1 (23:28 by my watch for 3.17, because a) weaving, and b) I started it on the first mat I crossed), which was enough for 22/1,2237 women and 87/1,989 overall.  Sweet. This will probably be the only time in my life I negative-split a 5k, too.

Shortly after I finished, I went back to SENS, grabbed some food and a massage, and ran over to mile 25.0/25.5ish, near AT&T Park, to cowbell and cheer my little heart out for the many runners whom I had been tracking all morning. I managed to see nearly everyone I was following — including Travis, Kevin, Keith, Chris, Meredith, my pacer buddies Albert and Linh — which was a blast. I’m unfortunately not sufficiently coordinated to track runners on my phone, spot them in real-life, and take pictures of them as they approach, but suffice it to say that it was awesome to see everyone on their final homestretches of the race.

Once I saw all my runners, I ran back to the finishing area to meet up with Meredith before the two of us returned to the post-party, ate more food, and posted yet another granny-style cool-down (carrying all our stuff), putting her at 17+ for the day and me just shy of 10. It was an awesome morning that capped off an awesome weekend and another awesome year of reppin’ my love for TSFM.

This year’s TSFM weekend did not disappoint, and I’m so glad to have been able to participate in the capacities that I did. I’m already looking forward to the 2016 iteration and intend on running 26.2 — though of course, we’ll have to see where I’m at with postpartum running and such by then. Time will tell. If nothing else, I strongly urge you to consider running SF next year — at whatever distance you’d like — because the race is a well-oiled and more importantly, SUPER FUN!, machine. :) Thanks for the opportunity, TSFM!

an overdue ‘life, in a nutshell’ post

Had to do some searching for the last time I wrote one of these not-really-running-related posts, and yeah… it has been a while — a many month while, in fact. I’m going to break my rule and include some running-related banter in here because it’s timely, but heeeeeeere’s what’s been going on.

It’s The San Francisco Marathon race week! nope, I’m not running SF’s awesome marathon on Sunday (tear) or either of its half marathons or ultra, but I am running the 5k! Friday will be 36 weeks for me — that’s 9 months! — and most likely, as far as I can tell anyway, TSFM’s 5k will be my last “race” of this pregnancy. I’m looking forward to race weekend, seeing and spending time with Erin (coming in from Chicago!) and possibly Meredith (who left Chicago for the Bay Area earlier this year and might be doing the second half this weekend–yay!), working at the expo with all the other lovely social media ambassadors on Saturday, and oh yea, leading a community shake-out run on Saturday morning with the one and only Dean Karnazes! I last saw him during the Oakland Marathon ’14 (I think he lives in Oakland or SF… somewhere in the Bay Area), and he’s a badass. This weekend should be a lot of fun between seeing new and old friends there to race/pace the events, meeting and running with Dean, and 9-months-pregnant “racing.” And hey! come see me at the expo on Saturday, and/or come to the shakeout that morning! (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-san-francisco-marathon-shakeout-run-with-fitbit-ambassador-dean-karnazes-registration-17446880088)

excited to see Erin B again this year in SF!
excited to see Erin B again this year in SF!

 

and yay for possibly seeing Meredith again over event weekend!
and yay for possibly seeing Meredith again over event weekend!

 

1000 books before kindergarten. The little one still has another year before beginning kinder, and when we learned about this program that the SJ public libraries are sponsoring, we (mostly me, ha) were totally excited. It’s no secret that it’s critical to read to kiddos, starting as young as possible, and fortunately for us, A really likes to read; she likes to be read to, she likes to “read” her stories to whoever will listen, she likes to tell her own stories… you get the idea. Over the past few months that we’ve been participating in this program from our library, she has gotten really into it and even insists that after we read books together, C or I go write down the books’ titles on our tracking notebook :)  It’s very sweet, and it’s so awesome to see her so excited about reading and books. I just think it’s an awesome idea and hope that other libraries nationwide are doing something similar.

LOGO,-jpg,-horizontal---1000-Books-Before-Kindergarten

 

cord blood donation. This is more of a PSA than anything, I suppose. When I first began all this marathoning stuff with Team in Training, I learned about the Be the Match marrow registry, got on the registry, and eventually, when we got pregnant with A, C and I learned about cord blood banking. The two of us researched and eventually decided that we preferred to donate my cord blood to a public bank instead of storing it in a private bank accessible only to us. (Tangent: if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can get a little primer on the subject here. Like pretty much anything else related to health and pregnancy, how you choose to proceed is a personal decision. For many reasons, we believed [and still do] that public donation was best for us). Annyyyyyway! After we had A in Chicago, we donated the cord blood to a public bank — which was a pretty straightforward process, just one riddled with lots of paperwork — so this time around, that was our intention here in CA as well. We had to do some hoop-jumping to get the paperwork in order (just due to some hospital red-tape issues), but unfortunately, apparently in California my autoimmune disorder renders me ineligible for donating … even though I had it when I was pregnant four years ago, I’ve been medicated for it since 2010, and I publicly donated my cord blood in 2011 while being medicated/treated. Ugh. Not gonna lie, I was kinda heartbroken that we aren’t able to donate this time around; it just kills me because I know that our donation could make a huge difference to someone and, more importantly, so many pregnant women and their partners don’t realize that donating their cord blood to a public bank is an option. If you take nothing away from this little tirade, take this: if you’re pregnant — or are planning to become pregnant, or know someone who is — know that you can donate your cord blood and that it can make a difference in someone’s life. Otherwise, it’ll literally end up as medical waste … and that sucks :(  (and for more info on the donation process, start here).

books! Oh my, lots of books since our last little update together. I was on a fiction kick for a while but have since returned to my usual nonfiction preferences.

The “mehs” include:

  • Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music — a fun vacation read but kinda “eh” overall
  • Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl — same as above, except less fun
  • Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura’s Joyous Childbirth Changes the World — interesting point of view, good information and resources, but kinda “out there” and definitely not for everyone
  • Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl — a pretty fun and easy vacation read but kinda lackluster toward the end

The “don’t bother”s include:

The “absolutely!”s (and naturally, three of the four are nonfiction):

  • Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, which could probably make for a good movie or mini-series
  • Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, which, no joke, I cried every.single.time I read, and even bought a copy for my dad to read so we could talk about it
  • Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, which will probably make you judge me a bit, but honestly, I thought she had some really interesting stuff to say and some really good perspectives on how a tidied/in-order house can affect our moods and, honestly, how much shit we all probably have in our homes that we actually don’t need. I read a lot of scathing reviews about this book from people who thought Kondo was a little left-of-center for some of the stuff she said — and I’ll concede that her techniques can be a little weird — but again, I think the crux of her message is important and worth considering. It’s a quick read, anyway.
  • Ina May Gaskin’s Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta.  No surprise that I liked this. I mean, c’mon, captive audience.

And finally, I’m in the throes of reading Sapiens, and so far, so good. This one might take me a while.

Family outing at Levi’s Stadium. C’s work sponsored their annual summer shindig at Levi’s Stadium (where the 49ers play) this year, so we dropped a few hours there on Saturday morning so A could get her face painted (which, if it were up to her, we’d have a live-in face-painting artist), her hair braided, her arm airbrushed, and many, many opportunities to bounce to her heart’s content at one of the many bounce houses. It was a lot of fun, and the stadium is really, really nice.

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family cheesin’

 

Ohio!! and finally, in early June, A and I ventured out to northeast Ohio to see my family for a couple weeks. It was amazing because not only did we get to see my parents, my also-pregnant sister and her family (my brother-in-law and my three nephews), but we also ended up being able to see my brother plus his family (his wife and another nephew), who had flown in from Houston; a great aunt; another aunt, uncle, and my cousin’s newborn daughter; my also-pregnant BFF; and my in-laws, who drove in from IL for a quick visit. It was all very awesome. We were in Ohio for 13 days, and while it rained probably 12.5 of those 13 days we were there — and hello, oppressive humidity! — dammit, it was just great. The photo dump can speak for itself.

pregnant for days with Shannon
pregnant for days with Shannon
my bro, SIL Lisa, and their little guy Riley
my bro, SIL Lisa, and their little guy Riley
A reading to my mom :)
A reading to my mom :)
cousin Brian on a boat!
cousin Brian on a boat!
Drew, Trae, and A
Drew, Trae, and A
almost all the cousins - A is the only girl!
almost all the cousins – A is the only girl!

collage

 

That’s about it these days! Hope all is well with you these days!

Ruminating on my love of the run