When I trained for my first marathon in 2007, the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon Hot Marathon Year from Hell, from start to finish, it was about a nine-month journey. In January of that year, I began incorporating running into my workout routine, and probably by late January or early February, I had signed-up with Team in Training‘s Early Bird Chicago Marathon program.
Most Chicago Marathon TNT participants don’t begin training with Team until May(ish), but I had the time and energy and wanted to start sooner rather than later. In retrospect, doing so gave me a great foundation and a lot of time to build-up my running strength, since I was able to start on a treadmill (in the cold winter months) using something of a run-walk ratio (though I didn’t know at the time what a run-walk ratio or routine actually was). Thus, by the time “full-blown” Chicago Marathon training began in May, I was sufficiently strong, in terms of muscular capacity, endurance, and mental capacity/state of mind (if that makes any sense) to be able to exclusively run for all of my running workouts. Of course, I had to take baby steps to get from Points A to B, but I got there–in due time.
Come race day, even though my first time wasn’t the performance I wanted it to be (thank you, random hot day in October of 2007!), I knew, going into the event, that I was beyond prepared. I had been waiting for the day, and dreaming about it, and visualizing it, and been scared or anxious or nervous or excited even thinking about it, for months. And the day finally came!
You can probably tell where I’m going with this. Today marks 36 weeks–nine months–of the pregnancy. Practitioners call 36-40 weeks being “full term,” so in theory, if Yoda came today, s/he would be “at term” and not a preemie, though s/he might still have some slightly underdeveloped organs. It’s crazy, and really, pretty surreal, to think that we’re already at this milestone. I’m hoping that Yoda “bakes” for a little bit longer because as excited as C and I are (as well as our family and friends) to welcome Yoda into the great wide world, I think I’d sleep a little more soundly at night knowing that s/he held out until my 4/28 due date 🙂
I have been finding myself thinking about this pregnancy and the big day–the big labor and delivery (L&D) day–increasingly in terms of running and marathon metaphors. In fact, others have even expressed the same sentiment. At last week’s L&D class, a mother of a four-month old came in and described her L&D process and remarked that at the end of it, your body is so tired that “you honestly feel like you just ran a marathon. Every ounce of you is tired.” C poked me and grinned–most likely reassuring me that “hey, if she says L&D is like a marathon, this should be a cakewalk for you!”–though of course, I couldn’t help but wonder if this lady had ever run a marathon in her life 🙂 (skeptic that I am).
Regardless, going into this final stretch of pregnancy is making me think a lot about the “final stretch”–taper madness–that comes in advance of a marathon (or any endurance event). Suddenly, the volume of workouts decreases, as might also their intensity, and getting ample rest becomes of paramount importance. Moreover, staying active is still important, but activity becomes more focused on just making sure your muscles remember how to move moreso than an actual intentional stressing or straining of them. And of course, nutrition remains as important now as it was early on and throughout the training cycle (or pregnancy, in my case).
Though the last two weeks have found me not running at all, thanks to the lower back pain that seems to be part and parcel of the later stages of pregnancy, I have gotten back into a “routine” and have become one of those regular lunchtime walkers on the lakefront during the work week. (Between walking on my lunch break, visiting a chiropractor, and constantly icing or heating my lower back, I feel like I’ve become a glorified elderly lady, but that’s a topic for another post). 🙂
So what happens from here until the big day? I guess lots of “dress rehearsals” – lots of visualization, positive thinking, and preparation; anything C and I can do to prepare ourselves, we’re doing (or have already done). That has amounted to taking infant-care 101 classes at the hospital and L&D classes, maintaining good activity and sleep and nutritional habits, and constantly reminding ourselves (moreso me than C) that even in what will likely be the toughest part of L&D–the transition part, the part where many mothers will admit that they felt like they had nothing left in them to give and felt like they could not, for the life of them, soldier on in the L&D process–that transition is just like the dreaded “wall” in a marathon. It might (or might not) rear its ugly head, but I’ve “trained” to get through it. And really, by the time the “wall” in L&D arises, we will be so close to the ultimate finish line that, just like in a marathon, that will be my cue to “dig deep” and get to that otherworldly place that I (usually) manage to find in the toughest parts of the race, when I really feel like I have nothing left to give. Granted, I’ve never run more than a four-hour marathon in my life, so here’s hoping that my L&D is relatively quick; otherwise, I might be singing a different tune 🙂 (cautious optimist here!)
I don’t dare say “bring it on, L&D” out of sheer fear and superstition, but suffice it to say that I’m not nearly as nervous about thebig day that could, in theory, come any time now, as I was nine months ago. I’m trained, I feel pretty ready, I know it will be a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing (since we always remember our first times, right??); it’s just the waiting game now.
Pregnancy taper madness is ON!