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2015: a look back

2015: a look back

New years is one of my favorite times of the year — it’s in my top 3! — in no small part because it makes me purposefully take stock of what has happened in my life. Obviously, I can (and should) do this all year round, but I think there’s sometimes some sort of calendar magic that comes with some year-end reflection.

All told, I got super lucky with my running in 2015. Going into this year, I was coming hot off the highest mileage I had ever posted in a calendar year — something just shy of 2,620 (easy to remember). I thought that maybe I’d be able to top that this year as I went after a 26.2 PR and my first 50 miler, but right after I ran the 50k in December, I learned I was pregnant, so I quickly put those big mileage and PR plans on hold. Concurrent with the pregnancy announcement were some shitty first trimester annoyances like incessant dizziness, mind-splitting headaches, and the desire to lie horizontally in a cold, dark room, void of any life, with my eyes closed — annoyances that aren’t super conducive to being human, generally speaking, much less to running. Needless to say, though the year began pretty rough in terms of running (and who am I kidding, in terms of feeling like myself), fortunately those shitty annoyances passed, and it seemed like the more pregnant I got, more often than not, the more comfortable running felt. So weird how that worked out.

TSFM shakeout before TSFM’s 5k at 36 weeks pregnant. SO FUN (PC: Keith)

Suffice it to say that 2015 wasn’t the year for chasing mileage or race PRs; instead, more than anything, it was about running because I wanted to, because I felt like it, and because I enjoyed how it made me feel (pregnant or postpartum). I’ve been doing this stuff long enough now that I don’t expect to PR year after year; it’s just not realistic. Honestly, sometimes running just for the sake of running is pretty damn awesome. 2015 reminded me of that repeatedly.

For the curious ones out there, here’s how each month’s mileage fared. In a few of these months, the mileage includes a few walking miles, but by and large, these numbers are all running. Right, now we’re sitting at over 1,100 for the year. The shakeout:

January: 30.54

February: 70.87

March: 90.75

April: 97.46

May: 128.18

June: 122.99

July: 123.85

August: 36.20 – had the baby early in the month

September: 50.76 – had surgery about a month postpartum

October: 123.02 – yet another surgery about a month after the first

November: 140.34

I was also lucky to be able to run throughout my pregnancy, virtually up until the day I delivered, and I consider myself stupidly fortunate to have been able to resume running as quickly as I have postpartum. Pregnancy is such a game-changer, and the same goes for postpartum; in fact, NPR even recently wrote a story on how childbirth can be considered a type of “extreme” sport and even likened it to marathon running (of course). You really have no idea what it’s (pregnancy and birth, specifically) going to be like, so you also have no idea of how you’re going to feel in the days, weeks, or months (years?) afterward. That said, I am so happy that my postpartum running has been coming along as smoothly as it has and that my body handled an intervention-less labor and delivery as well as it did.

Throughout the pregnancy, I pregnant-raced in a handful of comped races, thanks to various social media ambassador hats I was wearing, and I enjoyed all of them, especially the races where Big Sis participated. The races included the Race to the Row 408k here in San Jose; the baby mama stroller 5k, wherein I pushed A and we won the stroller division; the AAUW Wildflower 5k stroller run again with A, wherein she actually got out and ran parts of the race herself (her first time doing that!); the San Luis Obispo half marathon; the ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon; the SF marathon’s 5k; and postpartum, the Let’s Go 510 10k up in Berkeley; the Mermaid Series’ Sirena 10 miler in SF; and the Berkeley Half Marathon.

When it comes to this year’s running lowlights, only one thing comes to mind – virtually the entire month of January. The aforementioned first trimester stuff knocked me on my ass for a lot of that month, and even thinking about running was dreadful. I was so relieved when that shitty stage passed! All the races I did pregnant or postpartum were for fun, so it’s hard to say that any of them had any low moments. I’m mildly disappointed that ZOOMA won’t be returning to Napa next year, since I kinda vowed to dominate that race next year after blowing up on it in 2014 and running it pregnant this year (and obviously not racing it), but c’est la vie. Out of my control. I’ll find another race to dominate. 🙂

Really, I think I can say every race I ran this year gave me something to be happy about, some sort of highlight, if you will. Since I didn’t race race anything this year, I genuinely enjoyed myself at each race and walked away from each experience with something that made me happy. I generally don’t purchase races and decide to just run for fun because that can get expensive quickly, but this year, I feel like pregnant-racing gave me tons of opportunities to still be in the thick of the running community, even though I had taken a step back from the racing one (if that makes any sense). It just feels good to be part of something bigger, I guess. The pics from the races in each linked RR speak for themselves; I’m generally just happy to be out there in the first place.

Without a doubt, 2015 has been excellent, and I’m looking forward to 2016. Though I have big goals and plans in mind, I’m also very patient with this process and know that it took me a lot of time to get to where I was pre-pregnancy; with that in mind, I don’t expect to be back where I was anytime soon. At the risk of sounding like a shitty new ager, I don’t believe in comebacks, in a linear process of advancement; I guess you could say that I believe in something more recursive, in a non-linear journey wherein each “bump” or “setback” is just part of the process: an “opportunity,” if you will. It’s how I write, so I guess it makes sense that it’s also how I run.

To 2016!

900+ pregnant miles and postpartum running plans

900+ pregnant miles and postpartum running plans

We are  very much homestretchin’, everyone. This little (big!) fetus’s officially-unofficial gestational age is 37 weeks and change — soon to be 38 weeks, as of Friday — which means that most medical circles would consider me/us somewhere in the “term” department. At this point, theoretically speaking, the kiddo could come any day now (though, truth be told, they kinda arrive whenever they want to anyway), or I could be pregnant for up to two weeks postpartum, well into the beginning part of September. It’s a little odd to go to bed each night wondering if I’ll be pregnant for only hours more or nearly another month. A was six days post-due date, so I’m kinda banking on this one not coming “on time,” too.

At any rate, I figured it was high time to update my little running-while-pregnant mileage chart, now that I completed my final race of this pregnancy (TSFM’s 5k), and because this pregnancy could conclude any day now. Here’s how we stand:

Gestational Week Mileage Notes
0-1 75.35 peak of 50k training
1-2 53.1  
2-3 36.5  
3-4 44.87 50k race unknowingly pregnant, though I had a hunch…
4-5 27.51  
5-6 0 feeling like ass – hi, first trimester!
6-7 0 feeling like ass/family in town
7-8 0 feeling like ass/in the Caribbean with my family
8-9 16.8  
9-10 0 feeling like ass
10-11 5.1  
11-12 11.32  
12-13 20.61  
13-14 19.8  
14-15 20.8  
15-16 13.58 408k race
16-17 0 feeling like ass
17-18 25.41  
18-19 21.27 5k s.i.b. race win pushing A!
19-20 28.36 5k wildflower race running/pushing A
20-21 9.1  
21-22 31.51  
22-23 12.3 in Disneyland most of the week with family
23-24 33.15 San Luis Obispo half marathon with a bunch of super awesome people!
 24-25 22.91  
25-26 40.53 13+ mi Long Run with RA in Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale — first time running with the gang since the autumn!
26-27 11.1  forced down week for some recovery
27-28 25.86 in Disneyland for Memorial Day
28-29* 32.16  
29-30 22.51  
30-31 37.3 Ran 7 consecutive days (rare even for when I’m not pregnant), primarily because I was visiting family in Ohio and always had childcare available
31-32 38.52 ZOOMA Napa Valley 13.1 race
32-33 14.06 planned down week
33-34 28.53  
34-35 21.2 10+ mile LR with Saurabh, first one with him in a while!
35-36 30.67 Random 17+ mile LR with Mere; was hoping for 10-12 and felt great and just went with it
36-37 32.69 TSFM weekend, including TSFM 5k race
37-38 33.08 finished July as my highest volume month of this pregnancy (and being nearly as pregnant as I’m gonna get)
38-39 7.36 (as of 8/4)  
total: 904.92 (ish) miles!  

Like I’ve said before, this is all more or less accurate, but because of the way practitioners calculate gestational age versus how I organize my training weeks, there’s a little buffer zone (which is why the chart makes it look like I’m already between week 38-39 of the pregnancy, whereas I’ll be 38 weeks on Friday). No matter; it’s all details. This stuff is all for entertainment and edification purposes anyway.

I didn’t take weekly “bump” pictures for this pregnancy (or with my first), but here’s a visual of what the pregnancy has looked like for me, a la (most) of the races I’ve run during since I’ve been at +1 status:

50k'ing at about 4-5w preg
50k’ing at about 4-5w preg; can’t tell I’m pregnant. I remember thinking around mile 18 “I’m kinda tired, more than I should be by now… I bet I’m pregnant,” though I didn’t take any tests for a couple days thereafter


408k at about 12 weeks? 14 weeks? Obviously not remembering that smiling + running = grimace-looking
408k at about 16 weeks and obviously not remembering that smiling + running = grimace-looking


winning the 5k stroller division with A was a highlight of this pregnancy (sometime around 19 weeks?)
winning the 5k stroller division with A was a highlight of this pregnancy (sometime around 19 weeks?)


with Erica and also-pregnant pro runner Steph Bruce at the SLO Half in April at about 6 months (24 weeks) pregnant. I was blown away by how good I felt running 13.1 on a not-easy course this far along
with Erica and also-pregnant pro runner Steph Bruce at the SLO Half in April at about 6 months (24 weeks) pregnant. I was blown away by how good I felt running 13.1 on a not-easy course this far along. Noticeably pregnant by now, but the bib is kinda blocking it here.


queen-waving to Linh. PC: him/RA
blurrily queen-waving to my pacing friends during the ZOOMA Napa Valley half at almost 8 months/32 weeks pregnant. This race was rough in parts for me again this year (as it was in 2014), but it was only a tad slower than the SLO half… though I was almost 8 weeks more pregnant by the time I ran ZNV.


a little GGB and Karl the Fog action after the turn-around [PC: Keith]
36 weeks pregnant – 9 months – for The San Francisco Marathon’s 5k (shake-out run pictured here). Pretty sure it looks like there’s a basketball shoved under my shirt. The 5k was a blast though (again, something I thought I’d never say!).

Looking back at these pics and at the mileage log I’ve kept, I’m honestly so amused by it all simply because, as I’ve said before, going into this pregnancy, I had no expectations for how I envisioned my running to look. Pregnancy is such a weird, unpredictable, literally life-altering metamorphosis, and though I have been here before and ran through most of my first pregnancy, there were times during this pregnancy when I felt so shitty that even the mere *thought* of running would have me running to the bathroom; I couldn’t even think about running a mile, much less run one. Things changed though — pregnancy keeps us on our toes — and more often than not, I have felt/continue to feel great and more-than well enough to run, and so I do. The mileage is arbitrary, the pace is comfortable and conversational, and like I’ve written before, I damn near end each run with a silly shit-eating grin on my face because I’m just so stinkin’ happy to be out there doing what I love. I know many pregnant women who run who can’t do it during their pregnancy for one reason or another, and I get how lucky I am. To be able to run at all — regardless of pregnancy status — is a gift. I treasure this shit. A lot.

With this pregnancy coming to a close — whenever it does — I’ve got some postpartum ideas and big goals floating around in my noggin, but few things are hard-and-fast plans. I have some final races on the calendar to close out 2015: the 10k at the Let’s Go 510k in Berkeley in late October, the Mermaid Series’ Sirena 10 miler in SF in early November, and probably the Berkeley Half Marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving. In no way am I expecting PR performances or even strong performances at any of these races; I’m thinking they’ll more likely be (lack of) fitness indicators (or just GA runs). Plus, I would absolutely LOVE to get in strong-enough shape to be able to pace Saurabh for his last ~20ish miles of his 50 miler at TNFEC in December, but we’ll see.

Ultimately, I’ve written all this immediate postpartum running business in pencil, if not feather (if one can write in feather) simply because postpartum running is tough work. Even the smoothest, complication-less childbirth takes a toll on your body — speaking from experience — and I am absolutely *not* planning on running anytime before my 6-week postpartum period ends; the risks just far outweigh the benefits. More importantly, Kiddo Dos will only be that tiny once in his or her life, and I have every intention of relishing and revelling in those fleeting moments while I have the opportunity.  Running can wait. And, speaking from experience, I think my very-gingerly return-to-running postpartum with my first pregnancy really allowed me to lay the groundwork to get (relatively speaking) strong and fast again, which ultimately resulted in me basically blowing all of my PRs out of the water in the process. I didn’t plan for that to happen, but you can bank on my excitement when nearly every PR I had set pre-pregnancy fell — shattered — in the 18 or so months after I gave birth. Being intentional and methodical with this business is the name of the game.

So, that’s where I am these days. I’ll continue to run for the remainder of the pregnancy as long as my midwife blesses the idea and as long as I feel well doing it. Truth be told, I am more comfortable running than I am doing anything else, including sitting, lying down, or even walking around. I never thought I’d say that at 9+ months pregnant, but then again, I also never thought I’d still be happily and eagerly running along at 9+ months pregnant, either… but hey, I’ll take it (and thank my lucky stars for it).