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!

Running whilst pregnant comes with little surprises.

“Running slow isn’t a character flaw, quitting is.” 

This week was a good one, in terms of getting some runs in.

Pregnant_running_calgary_Alberta_canadaI did an easy run and some hill training. The hill training was tough. It was a very steep grade and I was feeling tired (up early to cram it in before work!) I did 5 repeats on the hill which took me to about 3km of hills (pretty low considering I was doing about 18km of just hill repeats at one point in time!) But I’m trying not to compare these runs to the good old days (hah!) I’m just enjoying the time I can get out because I know that before too long it will be miserable.

Today I did a 9running slow isn't a character flaw quitting is.5km run (which was great.) The weather was perfect, the trail wasn’t too busy and I had a fresh Social Media Examiner recording to listen to. However, I wasn’t very far in to my run when I realized that I needed to pee. Real bad. You all know that horrible feeling when you really have to pee, but you know you’ve got to wait? It is complete, frigging agony. (Side note: I can only compare it to the university days when you drank your beer too fast at the pub, but the line up was so long that you knew that there was no way you could hold it so you used the mens washroom instead.)

I had no such options.

And naturally, it was the only thing I could think about.

The only light at the end of the dark tunnel was the fact that I knew there were bathrooms at about the 4km mark, so I focused on just making it there and knew it’d be fine. Which would have been exactly how things would’ve gone had I not arrived there (hopeful) and guess what? THEY WERE CLOSED!

Annoyed, I kept going and at about 4.5km I came across an outhouse. It wasn’t pretty but I got to relieve myself and it was glorious. I ran a wee bit further and then turned around. I met lots of other runners and cyclists. That is one thing that is becoming somewhat annoying about running the trail in Fish Creek Park – the cyclists. I bet at least one hundred or so passed me and probably only a handful used their bell to warn me. It’s hard to explain, but you know when someone comes up behind you and startles you and you jump a bit? I did that about 95 times. I probably peed a little. Just kidding. I didn’t (because I just used the bathroom) but seriously annoying.

At any rate, when I got to the 7km mark, I had that oh-so-familiar-feeling again. I knew that there were no bathrooms until I got back to the main lot so I basically pep talked myself the entire way. How ridiculous does that sound? I had to pep talk myself just to keep going to get to a bathroom… most people pep talk themselves to keep running… not me. I need the extra boost so I don’t pee my pants.

At the end of it, I guess this run was a bit of a learning experience. I think I need to invest in the support belt because my bladder is angry with me. Anyone out there try one? I just don’t know if I can bare many more longish runs feeling like I have to pee for most of it.

But in other news, I’ve signed up for a few races to keep me busy:

  • Spartan Race – June 27 (20 wks) COMPLETE! (Finished 1073/4000+)
  • Heroes for Heroes – July 1  (20 wks) COMPLETE! (Finished 39/109)
  • Multiple Miles for Myeloma – July 25 (23 weeks, 6 days) COMPLETE! (Finished 80/272)
  • Night Race – August 8 (26 wks, 6 days)
  • Run through the Meadows – August 16 (28 wks)
  • Springbank Park Race  – Sept 12 (32 wks)
  • Ambulance Chaser – Oct 2 (35 wks)

I realize that these will not be pretty, but the goal is to stay active and at least finish.

For my running friends out there: if you’ve run while pregnant, feel free to send me your tips and recommendations — I barely remember my first pregnancy let alone how to stay active! 🙂

Happy Trails!

kat

p.s.: It is a miracle I even got out today at all. Is anyone else binge watching OITNB? Holy good.

And then you’re running for two.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must – just never give up!”

runningkattales_runningfortwoIt’s been quite some time since I spilled my guts here. Is anyone still out there?

Much has happened since I wrote last. For one, I’m now running for two. Yep. You read that right. Our family is expecting a new addition some time in November.

Needless to say, this has been an interesting ride so far, as I totally forgot what it was like to be pregnant. At my first appointment, my doc asked if I was as nauseous with my son. I couldn’t remember. But I suspect that I must have been, hence why we waited so long to have another! Aside from the incredible sickness that comes in the first trimester, I was also lazy-as-heck. I beat myself up a lot for not pushing myself to get out and run (something I had been doing 3-4x a week at that point) but I literally could not make myself run (and we know how stubborn I am…) I got out walking instead, which was good but not the same when you’re a runner. It took almost the entire first trimester of pushing myself to get back out there – but I’m glad I did!

Now I’m closing in on the half-way mark and I’m feeling great. I’ve been doing longer runs on the weekend and short runs (one or two) through the week. The only complaint I really have is that I need to pee every few kilometres, which makes it a little challenging out on the trails. However, I’m really not minding it for the most part. I take my camel bak, fill it with water and ice, make sure my iPhone is fully charged and off I go. Today I wore my tank top that says “I’m not slow, I’m pregnant” for the first time… there was a lot of laughing and support on the trail. I especially want to thank the woman who yelled out: ‘That is a great shirt! Good job!” and another man who yelled at me from his bike saying: “You go girl!”  Oh and can’t forget the old lady who was trying to read it: “I’m … not… slow…. I’m…. what does that say? I can’t see.. What does that?” and her husband awkwardly jumped in with: “I’m pregnant.”

I think the worst part about being pregnant at this point in the season is that it’s race season and I’m envious of those people who get to do all the fun trail runs and obstacle courses. I so wish I could participate in Spartan, Mud Hero and Tough Mudder this year, but I guess I’ll have to skip a season as I’ve been told it would be reckless to do so. However, I want to keep going as long as I can… even if I have to crawl!

Oh and the one real issue I feel I could possibly have in the future is tights. I love wearing my capri running tights but the bands are really starting to irritate me. Friends: if you have been pregnant and ran OR know someone who was pregnant and ran, can you give me some recommendations? Also – wondering about the belt that is supposed to support your belly? Apparently it supports your belly so your bladder doesn’t take quite the beating. As much as I LOVED my sisters suggestion of just throwing on a depends… I’d like to investigate this further.

But that’s it for now. Tomorrow is another long run and I’m quite looking forward to it!