And then life happens… literally…

“Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.”

It has been quite some time since I’ve updated everyone on where my running is at. To be honest, I am extremely superstitious so I really didn’t want to write anything until completely in the clear.

pregnant runner calgary

One week before Tessa came!

Unfortunately at about week 27 of my pregnancy (early August), we were camping in British Columbia and I started having pain in the middle of the night. Long story short, we headed back in Calgary the next day and I went to the RGH to get things checked out. Following that visit, I was treated for suspected pre-term labour, which involved resting and Netflix (which sounds awesome, but it’s not really.) It was at this point in my pregnancy that my OB recommended that I no longer run and to limit walking to a leisure pace (even 15 minutes brought on pain.) It was very disappointing for me as I had a laundry list of races I wanted to complete during my pregnancy; I felt failure in many ways. After spending a few weeks resting, I headed back to work in September. My intention was to work as long as I could, ut after having a fairly emotionally draining pregnancy, my husband and I decided that I would finish up work on Oct 21. I kind of felt guilty to be leaving the office at just about the 37 week mark, but it is a good thing I did.

BAM!

pregnant runner calgary 2

She’s finally here and we’re glad she is!

Our baby was born five days later in what I would describe as the most optimal delivery experience possible (literally pushed for five minutes.) October 26th we welcomed our perfect baby Tessa to the world. She was petite in stature but full of frigging personality and it certainly was love-at-first-sight. I was relieved that she arrived safe and sound – my new little running partner. We’ve got to wait a little while before she can hit the trails with me, but I’m so thrilled to get back at it!

 

Running gets more interesting as more time passes

“It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.”

This last week wasn’t too bad. I had some really great morning and lunch runs which I was tremendously thankful for. As time goes on it certainly feels like it takes me a wee bit longer to recover from runs, especially those that have me out longer than an hour. What I somewhat interesting is that my pace seems to be improving, so I don’t know if that’s because I’m becoming more comfortable and know when to dig in, or if this is just the calm before the storm! Either way, I’m happy to be out running and I’ll keep going as long as I can.

Glenmore Reservoir- pregnant running- multiple miles for myeloma calgaryThis weekend I also got to knock another race off my ‘To Do” list. I ran the 5km for ‘Multiple Miles for Myeloma.’ Overall, this was a pretty well organized race at the Glenmore Reservoir; they had to change the course last minute to accommodate the Regatta (yes, in landlocked Alberta they have regattas – who knew?) Anyway, the change in course made for some interesting twists in the race. For one, the marshals did not turn around all of us 5km racers and we ended up doing more distance, in fact, we ended up doing a big hill that most hadn’t expected. I wasn’t too miffed about it because I’ve run that hill a million times and I knew I would only have a very short amount of time before I’d be done, but this made the finish line interesting.

It felt like the Boston Marathon. The finish line marshals took their job ‘real serious.’ I was stopped several times on the way in (by marshals) telling me to continue onto the other course (at this point I had already run over 5km) so I stopped and explained what happened to the marshal… he let me go… then I got stopped again by another marshal who again tried to reroute me (this would have been the original course had I turned around where I was suppose to…) but again, I explained and showed them my RunKeeper so they could see that ‘yes indeed, I had run that distance’ — finally, I just said, I’m finished. I am not running anymore. I crossed the line. The reality: this is not a serious run, I didn’t truly care too much about my time. So obviously my finish was funny and so I chatted with people from the timing company to explain what had happened and had a laugh. Then I spoke to the organizer just to let her know what happened (truth-be-told, one of the marshals was pointing at me, so I felt like I probably had to defend myself, after all to them I looked like I just quit the race with a few km to go.)

When it was all said and done, just shy of six months pregnant, my official time was 39 minutes — so not bad considering I did more than the distance we were supposed to do. And I finished 80/272 overall – so I’ll take that!

Finally, to close the weekend I headed out to the reservoir again for an 8km run. The weather was perfect and there was a nice breeze. And despite the fact that I thought it would be a brutal run (my pelvis is sore from yesterday) it ended up being pretty good! Glad for a ‘rest’ day tomorrow and back at it again Tuesday.

Now the next race is a night race that I’m really looking forward to – I LOVE running at night!

Happy Trails!

Then there are runs that will be very humbling…

Spartan Canada Alberta Pregnant Runner“The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. And you don’t have to listen.”

This week was a tough one for running, I really had to push myself to get up early and get out. On Tuesday I did my regular loops around the neighbourhood before work. I usually make this a speed training workout, but this week I took it easier on myself than usual. I find the loops extremely boring but I hate going too far in the mornings because I’m up way ahead of my husband and I’m scared that if something happens while I’m out I won’t be able to get ahold of him… so I play it safe! Thursday morning I did the same thing, though it was more enjoyable (it’s funny how some days are mildly better than others.) The hardest thing right now is pushing myself out the door – my mind is all game, but my body is definitely pushing back some. I don’t usually find the running itself tough, but afterward my joints are definitely tender (so it’s nice having a ‘hot’ tub to relax in.) I use ‘hot’ in quotes because my husband lowered the temperature significantly (85-90) so that I could get in and cool down because I know pregnant people are not supposed to get in if they’re hotter than 102.

photo 5-1Also – not really part of my training at all (more ‘spur of the moment’ type thing) I spent some time out at Canada Olympic Park doing some work stuff, so I got to treat myself to a steep uphill walk. It was hot and awful – it confirmed that I will not be participating in the Spartan out there this year!

pregnant runner calgary - reservoir running- albertaYesterday was a long run for me. I had intended to do 10km but to be honest, I got out there and it was really warm so I ended up cutting it to 9km. Typically I would push myself through it (I’m stubborn like that…) however, earlier this week I got to spend time with my favourite Olympic ski jumpers (Taylor & Matt) and Taylor (and her mom) told me not to run too hard… and proceeded to tell me a tragic story about a pregnant lady who had been out running, had a heart attack, ended up passing away and the doctors barely saved the baby. My mouth was agape whilst they told the story, so you might say I was ‘scared straight.’ But I also have a feeling that there were many things to contribute to a heart attack.

I have been really good not to push myself too hard. I watch my heart rate and I also take water every time I go out. I really try hard to go in the early mornings before it gets too warm, but if you’re in Southern Alberta now, you know that it’s somewhat impossible to find a cool time of day (we’re experiencing another heatwave!) So the temperature during my run yesterday was around 27 degrees, but felt as if it was about 30 (plus humid as heck!) I finished and was extremely grateful to be done. As hard as it is for me not to push myself, I realize that it’s more important to be safe, so I alternated my running with walking on the second half of the run, just to give myself a break. It was good.

pregnant-runner-alberta-running-fish-creek-parkToday was a shorter run for me (6km) – it was slow and steady. I broke in my new sneaks in on the trails – needless to say, they are no longer white. It was a tad slippery, so there was some wicked maneuvering out there. I should also mention that the humidity is at 94% right now, it is awful. There is nothing worse than humidity in my opinion – I’d take the dry heat any day! As I sit here writing this I am probably sweating more than I did my entire run. But at any rate, the run was pretty comfortable and much more enjoyable than yesterday.The only thing that has changed significantly is my speed. I’m not into week 23 and I feel slower. I realize not every pregnant runner slows down this fast, but I also notice my loose and shifty joints – such a weird feeling! To be frank, it feels like my knees/pelvis are slipping. So weird.

Anyway – the plan is to keep trekking as long as I can. After all, I still have a few races left this season!

Happy Trails!

Running the @SpartanRace @SpartanCanada race this season? Here’s what you need to know

Kat Macaulay Calgary Running Spartan race pregnant

“Victory is paid for in sweat, courage, and preparation.”

As the running season really kicks into full-swing, lots of people are signing up for road races; 10k’s, half-marathons, relays and marathons but for those of you who have signed up for an obstacle race (like Spartan Race) here are some recommendations:

Sneakers you don’t care about ruining. 

You should only run in the sneaks you train in, so if you’re wearing your favourite sneakers be prepared to completely destroy them. Ok. It may not be that bad, but after a Spartan race (mud + water + unknown crap) they will never be the same again.

Socks that are not cotton.

In most obstacle races like Spartan, it seems like they want you to be as uncomfortable as possible for the maximum amount of time. For example, at my last race we hit the mud within the first few hundred metres, so expect to have saturated feet. I would recommend acrylic running socks (pretty much every big sports brand sells them, I’ve got a pair of Asics.)

Tank top/shirt that wicks moisture.

I usually wear a tight tank top under another tank top because I’m a prude like that. But UA sells a really cool tank top that wicks moisture away so that when you get soaked you’re not hauling around extra pounds (which is amazing during a race when you’re tired!)

Capris. 

I see people wearing shorts, but having had flesh eating disease I would never risk exposing more of my lower limbs than necessary because the reality is that you’re going to get scratched, bruised and you’ll probably get some dirt in there. I just like wearing capris because they’re also comfortable too. Whatever you wear, you’re going to want them to be tight. Shorts that are loose will be a pain-in-the-ass.

Good bra. 

If you’re female (or male…) and you need support when you’re not soaked, consider doubling up for the Spartan Race. I wear two bras (I don’t like ANY jiggle…) I also don’t want to risk having any ‘fall outs’ during the obstacles. Awkward.

Headband. 

The Spartan headbands are kind of cheesy, but they do help keep hair out of your face. I usually run with a hat, but again, when you’re getting soaked and muddy you may just want to stick to something simple.

Sunglasses/Sunscreen. 

For obvious reasons. But don’t wear your most expensive sunglasses – they could get broken, scratched, misplaced or heaven-forbid, stolen.

CamelBak.

Depending on the length of race (or in my case, if you’re pregnant or not) you may want to consider wearing a CamelBak. I LOVE mine and I don’t leave without it, whether there are water stops or not, especially now that I am pregnant. If you’ve never run a Spartan Race or obstacle course before, you may not realize how much water you will lose sweating – much more than if it were just a straight-forward road race. To make sure you’re hydrated, especially during the hot summer months, it’s definitely something to consider.*

Watch.

Again, if you’re fussy about your garmin, don’t wear it because chances are it won’t ever be the same afterward. I stopped at Walmart the night before the race and picked up a cheap little digital watch and it did the trick. Basically all I wanted to know was the time and how long I had been on the course for my own sanity.

Bring a towel & extra clothes/shoes. 

You will definitely want a towel, extra clothes, shoes and some garbage bags because you will likely be saturated if you completed the course in its entirety. I would also make sure to invest in some good laundry detergent because you’re going to need it if you want to salvage your race clothes!

Things not to carry:

Your cell phone.

You will likely be submerged. Definitely not a good idea to carry electronics.

Cotton anything. 

Running in cotton is asking for trouble for a few reasons. (1) it doesn’t allow you to cool down like a proper running shirt, (2) realistically you will get soaked and cool down, but then you’re stuck hauling around a heavy shirt, (3) they’re uncomfortable. I know running clothes can look ridiculous and not everyone has a ‘runners body’ (point in case) but it really makes a difference.

With everything I’ve said, the biggest thing to remember is that you should have fun. This is not the Olympics. Not even close. But if you’re like most people, you want to finish it. Take it all in. It’s a huge challenge – in my opinion, completing an obstacle course can be more rewarding and satisfying than running a half-marathon. But enjoy it. Race for yourself. Enjoy it, it may not feel like it but it’ll be done before you know it. Seriously!

But that’s it for my recommendations! If you’ve got suggestions, fire them to me in the comments section.

*I wore my CamelBak this year and it was stolen from the race site. I made a suggestion to the organizers that they have two volunteers at the particular obstacle (crawl through barbed wire/mud)  so people could drop their stuff and not worry about an asshole stealing it but was shot down with: “I recommend not wearing a camel back at your next event.”

So be aware that an already expensive race can turn into a SUPER expensive race if you lose gear or have it stolen. Just a reminder that there are assholes everywhere!

Good luck!

Canada Day @Spruce_Meadows ‘Heroes behind the heroes’ obstacle course

“A lot of people run a race to see who’s the fastest.  I run to see who has the most guts.” 

On Canheroes behind the heroes obstacle course at spruce meadowsada Day I started the day with an obstacle course at Spruce Meadows (it’s part of their running series to celebrate forty years.) I have to say it was a very-well organized event (kudos to organizers.) They had Up!97.7 broadcasting (Grant Buchanan), the military were present, they had a pancake breakfast, kit pick up was easy, there were lots of port-a-potties (yay!) and everything was well-marked.

Kat Macaulay Running while Pregnant Race Results heroes behind heroesThe race started on time (which is fantastic because I was feeling nauseous and wasn’t sure how long I would make it.) The had military personnel at every obstacle and had them yelling at everyone which was entertaining. They sent people who were participating in the obstacle course out in waves of 20 and I was in the third wave. I met our MLA for the first time (Dave Rodney) who was there with his wife and two boys (as it turns out we have some mutual friends that I didn’t realize – small world!)

The obstacle course itself was not bad at all (See legend). The only obstacle I would not do was the wall – I am too scared of slipping and falling on my belly; everything else was great. The very last obstacle was the “polar bear dunk” whereby you had to submerge yourself in freezing cold water. It was cold. And uncomfortable. After having lost my Cakat macaulay running while pregnant calgary at heroes for heroes at spruce meadowsmelBak at the Spartan Race in Edmonton, I handed off my brand-new bag to one of the military guys who graciously held it for me as I gingerly eased myself into the tank (despite them yelling at me to do a canon ball… I told them to ‘get real’.) The only bummer was that I didn’t bring a towel, so I had to use our reusable grocery bags on the seat of the car so I wouldn’t soak right through.

I didn’t stay long after the race to enjoy the pancake breakfast (despite the MC making a comment that I would be eating for two and ‘there goes their budget’) All-in-all, I would recommend the race to anyone who doesn’t mind pavement. For me, I enjoy trails so it wasn’t my favourite race but next year I plan to bring Felix because I know he will love it!

@SpartanCanada: Northern Alberta Sprint at Tawatinaw Valley Ski Hill

“Become one of the rare people who don’t know how to quit.”

It’s almost ironic that I could only think of this popular quote by Robin Sharma while getting ready for this race while people told me I was crazy for participating. The ironic part is that he too has roots in Cape Breton, therefore I felt like he was talking right to me, eh!

At any rate, all last week I was not feeling great. I was sick pretty much every day (I forgot what that was like… it’s been a while!) So needless to say, I didn’t do much of anything leading up to the Spartan Race. The family made the trek out to Westlock (four hours from Calgary) so I would only have a quick 20 minute drive to the race in the morning on Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning I felt like absolute rubbish, there was actually a moment I thought I was too sick to run. With Spartan Races they ask you to arrive approPregnant Spartan Race Runner Albertax 90 minutes before your race just because it can be an absolute zoo to find parking and also the lines can get pretty long to pick up your race kit, so the 90 minutes + a 20 minute drive meant I needed to get my shit together pretty quickly. However, being a morning person I was up at around 4:30 a.m. so I decided to start my pre-race routine anyway to see if I could get myself mobile (it would be a game time decision.) By 6:15 I was feeling better and decided that I would be alright to give it a go (after all, it was a 5k obstacle course – last September I had done the Super…)

It was a beautiful morning – for anyone not living in Alberta right now, we’re experiencing a bit of a heatwave (alright, it some parts of the province were supposed to get as hot as 40 degrees!) When I got to the site it was around 18 degrees and by race time it was just over 20. It’s difficult to explain the energy at these races in comparison to regular races but it’s pretty incredible. What I like the most is how friendly and encouraging people are – they’re a very supportive crew (and we’re all strangers!)

I wore my newest “I’m not slow, I’m pregnant” tank top and had lots of comments from people wondering if I was being serious to people high-fiving me, and still others calling me nuts. I’m not going to lie, it’s nice not having any pressure and being able to blame being slow on pregnant (when I damn-well know I’d be slow even if I wasn’t!)

When we got called to the start for the second heat of the day, people were all ready full of adrenaline – there were lots of guys bouncing around – I saw a few doing push ups and pull ups ahead of time wondering what-in-the-hell they were thinking wasting their energy… I mean… it’s one thing to get a proper warm-up in and another to burn out ahead of time. At any rate, as any runner could hope for, we started right on time. We made it 50m and hit the first bit of mud and slop. Then the first obstacle was a mud pit…some people went around it (which I think is technically cheating) but I dove right in – we were going to get muddy anyway! For the next 5km we were tested mentally and physically.

What I love about Spartan is that it’s not just about whether you can run (because a lot of it is actually walking up hill) but it’s about your mental willpower and whether or not you will push yourself to keep going. In fact, at about the half-way point I found myself pep-talking a young woman (who, strictly based on appearances looked extremely fit.) She was exhausted and wanted to quit. But that’s what makes iPregnant Spartan Runner Finisher Albertat so neat – every shape and size is out on the course and everyone is good to support one-another. I ran with two women for a bit and we had a lot of laughs. We were joking about the fact that I had to go through all this and I couldn’t even have a real beer afterward… anything to keep your mind off of your burning muscles and nagging mind! Of all the obstacles, the most challenging for me are always the walls. This year, I didn’t even bother attempt them because last year I fell and my doctor told me she was O.K. with me doing the course so-long as I didn’t put myself in those sorts of situations. Therefore, I took the burpees. In total, I think I took burpees on nine obstacles, so I did a lot of burpees and squats! (I want to thank the volunteers who were incredibly supporting and looked out for me on the course… you guys are the best!) There were a lot of hills, it actually made MacKenzie Mountain look like a joke. I kept reminding myself “You ran a mountain, you ran a mountain, keep going, you ran a mountain.” But when I got to the top of the umpteenth hill and looked down I thought, there’s no way MacKenzie was that damn steep! It felt great.

When we got to the end and I saw the barbed wire I was so relieved, I knew I was out-of-steam and I could hear my mom saying: “Don’t overdo it.” (Which was in an em

This morning, I woke up with tight quads but otherwise feeling great. However, I realized that the Canada Race I signed up for is actually an obstacle course (I thought it was a straight road race) so I headed to the gym first thing and started stretching out. Then I spent about two hours in our cooled down hot tub so I could stretch some more. So that’s it faPregnant Spartan Runner Stretching at the Gym Albertail she sent just before I left for the race in the morning.)  Again, I just dove right in there. Slopped, crawled, pulled, kicked and inched my way through the thick, smelly mud. When I jumped through the fire, I thought I would cry. But I didn’t. I had absolutely no idea what time I had actually finished in, where I placed or anything else I was just so happy that I didn’t quit and I got my finisher medal. The rest of the day was spent eating celebratory food which included Miss Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips, pizza, pasta and orange julius (excellent combo) plus a dip in the pool.or my Spartan season – I was really hoping to get my Trifecta this year but I guess I will have to wait.

For anyone else out there, how did your Spartan Race go? I want to hear the muddy details, leave them in the comments 🙂

So here it is: I’m in my 21st week of pregnancy, I finished the Spartan Sprint (5+km and 21 obstacles) in 1:45:00 AND I found out today that I finished 1073 out of 4000 participants – this made me really happy!

AROO! AROO! AROO! 

Happy Trails!

 

Getting ready for @SpartanRaceCanada in Edmonton

“Run by my side; live in my heartbeat;
give strength to my steps.
As the cold surrounds, as the wind pushes me,
I know you surround me.
As the sun warms me, as the rain cleanses me,
I know you are touching me, challenging me, loving me.
And so I give you this run.
Thank you for matching my stride.
Amen.”

bridge-collapse-fish-creek-park-2013-alberta-flood-pregnant-runnerToday I woke up not really feeling like I wanted to run, which sucks, because I knew I had a 10k to do. Which, if it were at any other time I probably would have skipped it (I’m pregnant and therefore, allowed to make excuses.)

But next weekend is the Spartan Race and I’m not feeling overly ready for it.

For one: my pace is much slower than it has ever been (which is not just due to pregnancy but because I am just old… and slow…)

For two: I haven’t been doing a ton of upper body lifting. But I did start incorporating burpees into my day and let me just tell you that if you thought they hurt when you’re not pregnant, they hurt a LOT more when you are. Burpees are awful at the best of times and this only confirms why you need a damn good sports bra if you’re going to do any number of them!

But at any rate, I got up about 6am, ate breakfast, watched ‘my shows’ and then headed out for Fish Creek for a 10k trail run.

pregnant-running-in-fish-creek-park-alberta-pregnant-runnerI got to the park and decided I wanted to test out the old path I used to do half training on (much of it had been washed away by the 2013 flood.) It was very nostalgic as I could remember the many miles I put on during training and how that June (just a few weeks before my very first half-marathon race) it was all washed away in a matter of hours. It was somewhat ironic as we’re also getting so close to the anniversary of the flooding in Calgary.

The path itself was awesome. I forgot how much I loved that trail. I started out very easy and before I could get my shit together I ended up eating a mouthful of bugs (which is an ongoing joke with one of my other runner friends.) It was pretty horrendous. I should never have laughed at her for having to go through the same ordeal, only at the reservoir. I can only imagine that I was the picture of sophistication as I spit them out. So gross.

Anyway… There was lots of shade on the trail and it’s mostly flat, so I made it to my 5k turnaround point with no trouble at all and felt great. Some other notable things along the way: people fishing (Note: what are they fishing there?) lots of bikers and other runners and walkers. Also, just after the 5.5k mark I saw three deer boot-it across the trail really fast. Like, they were moving. Real fast. As if being chased. For a minute I thought I might have been in some Discovery Channel documentary about deer being chased by prey, only for the prey to see the slow, pregnant lady and attack her instead. So naturally I panicked until I saw other people. [Note to self: stop watching reality shows like ‘I survived being attacked’] At any rate, the rest of the run was terrific. I felt really strong and it was apparently my 35th fastest 10k! (I’ve done a lot of 10ks so I feel like this was a win.)

So now I’m home and carb-loading with salt and vinegar chips. Life is good.

Happy Trails!