I just finished the hardest 2.5 mile run of my life.

I just finished the hardest 2.5 mile run of my life.

Pregnancy sure feels like I’m doing fitness in reverse. My runs are getting shorter, not longer. I post status updates and before and after pictures showing my tummy getting bigger, not smaller. I celebrate milestones where my normal activity is getting harder, not easier. When I started running three and a half years ago, people would tell me how great and different I looked. Those compliments stopped after awhile, not because I wasn’t still looking great, but because the fact that Pattie Runs wasn’t a novelty any more.

Me at my first 5K in November of 2010.

Me at my first 5K in November of 2010.

Then my friends and family forgot. I started to get comments, even from old friends, that were like, “I could never run like you do. You’re amazing. I just don’t have the [insert roadblock here].” I know they’re being nice, but I would want to throw my hands up in the air and say, “Really?! Don’t you remember me in 2009? I couldn’t run to the end of my driveway!”

On the Left, July 2010, 195 pounds, on the right, July 2011, 159 pounds.

On the Left, July 2010, 195 pounds, on the right, July 2011, 159 pounds.

And then, I think, I forgot. I forgot what it was like to be a beginner. I strapped on my running shoes and went out there because I knew it would feel good and I knew I could do it. I forgot what it felt like when it was a challenge every. single. step. The 24th week of pregnancy — last week — hit me like a freight train. It came with exciting things, like our second 3D ultrasound (she’s a girl). But it was, to use that really tired phrase, the straw that broke the camel’s back. I gained 3 pounds that week, about 30% of my overall weight gain this pregnancy. Every run takes so much mental focus and effort now.

Me, racing towards the finish at the 2012 Maine Marathon

Me, racing towards the finish at the 2012 Maine Marathon. I swear the last two miles of this marathon were easier than the two miles I ran today.

(Aside: Now I know plenty of women who ran all the way to the end. Joan Benoit Samuelson won 9th place in the Boston Marathon at 3 months pregnant and all that. I’m trying really hard not to compare myself to them.) So it reminds me of what it feels like to be a beginner again. Fortunately I have some tools in my toolbox that I didn’t have then:

  • I know to listen to my body. I keep my breaths to three breaths out, two breaths in rhythm. If I have to breathe faster than that, I slow down … no matter how slow that is.
  • I know to focus on my posture. It’s easy to absent-mindedly slack over because it’s a lot of effort to pull my belly in … but the effort to pull my belly in is less than the effort it takes to run in an inefficient manner.
  • I know that every step counts. Running even a little bit today means I’ll be able to do it again tomorrow.
  • I know that as hard as it is, it wasn’t as hard as before. I still weigh 20 pounds less than I did the day I started running.

So my victory this week was running those 2 and a half miles today. And it was not a little one. :)

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

By day, I'm the User Experience and Audience Manager for the Bangor Daily News. By night, I'm a soon-to-be first-time mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.