Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Games I Play With Myself

It’s no secret that since I found out I was pregnant on January 17th my motivation has been seriously lacking. I’m not talking about motivation to run – that’s still there as strong as ever. I’m talking about motivation to do anything else: school work, grad work, daily household chores, errands, etc. The biggest struggle for me has been my grad work. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is sit down to read a textbook, work on a paper, or study. I find that I have the most energy in the morning, and when I get home from school at 4 p.m. I am pretty much DONE for the day and can kiss my productivity goodbye. It doesn’t help that I have a horrible attention span and get bored very easily.

Unfortunately, all of these responsibilities don’t just magically disappear and they must get done somehow. I have had to figure out creative ways to do this- including playing games with myself. This strategy is not new. I’ve talked before about how I play games during long runs to beat boredom. However, since then I have discovered that if I trick my mind and make deals with myself I am much more productive in getting things done as well!

I do this all the time in my daily life, and I just now realized that maybe I should share it on my blog because I’m not sure if I’m weird or other people do this too. Here is the most recent example. I had a research paper due this past Thursday and I had my Reading Specialist certification exam on Saturday. Last weekend I was consumed with my sister-in-law’s bridal shower and other responsibilities, and I didn’t have much time to work on the paper or study. Once the workweek began I was completely overwhelmed with having to work AND get these two huge tasks completed. I really tried to work diligently in the evenings after work but I wasn’t doing well and would end up falling asleep on the couch. Since I cannot use my normal trick (coffee) right now, I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t sleep at all Wednesday night because I was so stressed out about everything and woke up Thursday feeling sick. So I did something I NEVER do… I took the day off from work.

I was determined to make the most of my day off and not sleep all day like I really wanted to. This is where the mind games came into the picture. I am a planner and I work best when I know exactly what I’m doing and how long I need to do it for. I wrote myself a schedule and I planned breaks and rewards into it in between the hard stuff I had to do. Just like the little kids I teach, I need incentives to get stuff done! My schedule looked like this:

  • 8:00 – 10:30 Work on paper
  • 10: 30 – 11:30 Run
  • 11: 30 – 12:00 Lunch
  • 12:00 – 12:15 Shower
  • 12:15 – 12:30 Laundry
  • 12: 30 – 2:30 Study for test
  • 2:30 – 4:00 Target

I motivated myself to finish my paper by promising myself I could run afterwards. This worked really well and I was super productive. My paper was finished and submitted before 10:30 am! I went for my run and gave myself a little break to rest my brain. I ate lunch, showered, and got some laundry done. Then it was back to work to study for the test. I planned to study for two hours, and I was motivated by telling myself I could go to Target to pick up some new maternity clothes (!!!) and some birthday gifts for friends. Again, this worked beautifully and I got in two quality hours of study time before going to the store. After I got home from Target my brain was done for the day. We made dinner, I went to Body Pump, and then I crashed. I felt good knowing I was so productive and made the most of my day. And guess what? I slept like a baby that night, feeling relieved and stress-free. I also got a 100% on my paper and left my test feeling like I did well, although I won’t know my score for 4 weeks.

I guess the point of this post is that sometimes in order to get things done you have to play games and tricks on yourself. Rewards and incentives aren’t just for little kids – they work well for pregnant women (or pretty much everyone) too! 🙂

Do you play games and mind tricks with yourself to get things accomplished or am I the only one?

Baby K: 18 Weeks

I’m 18 weeks pregnant today! I have had an extremely busy week and I’m definitely feeling the effects of it. I have a final research paper due for my grad class that I’ve been working on, my Reading Specialist certification test this Saturday, and this past weekend I threw my sister-in-law her bridal shower. WHEW! Not to mention regular school responsibilities for my teaching job. That’s part of why my blogging has slowed down a bit, but I always make sure to write my weekly update. I just want to make sure I remember everything about my pregnancy journey!

What’s Happening With Baby?

This week the baby is the size of a bell pepper!

BabyCenter says that this week the baby weighs 7 ounces and is 5.5 inches long. His or her sex is clearly visible at this point through ultrasound – but we’re not going to find out! The baby’s arms and legs are flexing like crazy and pretty soon I should be able to feel these little punches and kicks (I can’t wait!!!) The Bump also says that by now baby is yawning, hiccuping, swallowing, and sucking. My friend told me that a little later on in her pregnancy she was actually able to feel baby hiccuping inside of her!


How I’m Feeling

This week I had a lot of headaches. One day I had a terrible headache and felt shaky and dizzy. I thought I might be dehydrated but I wasn’t, so I thought I might need to eat- but that didn’t help either. I started to wonder if maybe my thyroid medication might be TOO high after they increased it last week, but then it didn’t happen again so maybe it was just my body adjusting to it? I do think I’m on the right level now because I have had a lot more energy and my backed-up digestive system is MUCH better, thank goodness!!!

At the same time I am also feeling like my body is definitely not my own anymore. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror sometimes because my belly is bigger. While I LOVE the fact that I’m looking more noticeable pregnant and I love my little bump, I have to be honest when I say that watching my body get bigger isn’t always easy, especially when parts are growing besides my belly. My clothes are definitely NOT fitting anymore which makes me feel super uncomfortable. The larger sized running shorts that I bought a few months back are already too small around the waist and my shirts are too tight, which makes me feel self-conscious. This is true for my regular clothes as well. Since they aren’t fitting correctly they aren’t flattering at all and it just makes me not feel so good about my body. That’s why I think it’s time to get some more better fitting maternity clothes, and an extra large pair of running shorts. I know I’ll feel better once I’m wearing clothes that are made especially for women with pregnant bodies and aren’t tight in all the wrong places.

    

I did buy an AMAZING pair of Pea in the Pod jeans last week with a gift card that I had, and I am already in love. They fit perfectly and are actually really cute. I wouldn’t have been able to afford them without a gift card and the fact that they were on sale (They were originally $95!!!), but I can tell they are better quality than my cheap Target ones and they are my new favorite.


How I’m Changing

The belly is getting bigger with each day, and the belly rubbing is in full effect! I find myself rubbing and touching my belly constantly, and what’s even stranger is that other people are touching it all the time too!  When I sleep on my side at night and then get up or lay on my back, everything has shifted to the one side. It’s so weird and creepy!!! It’s also very itchy. I guess that’s a sign that it’s growing and my skin is stretching.

    

Something else getting bigger: the boobs. They are so big and so heavy! I really need to get a new bra soon. Also, many of my old shirts are too small in the chest now which is giving me major cleavage. Not appropriate for working in an elementary school. I need to go shopping ASAP! I also have blue veins all over my chest which make me look like a road map. I read it is from increased blood volume and blood flow during pregnancy.

AND the nails!!! They are growing like weeds! I seriously cut them only a few days before taking this picture yesterday. My nails never used to grow at all, so this is a huge change for me. Thank you prenatal vitamins!

What I’m Eating/Not Eating

I think I OD’ed with the sweets last week with all the leftover Easter candy because this week I haven’t wanted sweets. It’s back to a salty, spicy, carb-fest over here. We actually did a ton of cooking this week and I ate really well. Lots of veggies, fruit, vegetarian proteins and whole grains, while still satisfying the cravings too of course. Dinners included: red lentil enchiladas, roasted tomato pesto pasta, homemade burrito bowls (copied from our favorite- Chipotle!), grilled paninis, veggie frittata with roasted potatoes, and chickpea-veggie stir fry with brown rice. Obviously everything is served with additional veggies on the side. Trying to get those nutrients in for the little one!!!

I’m also really paying attention to how MUCH I’m eating. I know that since I’m running and in my second trimester I need to increase how much I eat. I don’t really count calories but I can tell when I don’t eat enough because I get so hungry and feel nauseous sometimes. I have been bringing extra snacks to school (nuts, fruit, hard boiled eggs, larabars) and usually have a snack after dinner before bed like popcorn or cereal. I love to eat, so this is not an issue for me 🙂

One of many bowls of cereal!

How I’m Staying Active

Well I officially dropped down to the half in both of the marathons I had signed up for before I was pregnant (Delaware and Seattle). I knew I was dropping to the half for Seattle since I’ll be 26 weeks 3 days pregnant, but I still wasn’t sure about Delaware, when I will be 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant. While I do believe that I COULD have done 26.2, I don’t think I could have done it without pushing myself too hard and while truly enjoying the race at the same time. Even though the stubbornness in me wanted to prove that I could do a marathon while pregnant and my endurance is clearly still there since I’m still doing long runs every weekend, it’s just not worth it. In order to run 26.2 miles I would have to push my body too hard no matter how ‘easy’ I take it, and I don’t think it would be fun. A big reason why I run is because it’s fun and enjoyable for me. I don’t want to force myself to do it when I know it won’t be that way. So instead I’ll run the half and enjoy myself and the fact that I’m able to run half marathons while pregnant, then watch Kevin finish the full!

  • Run: 24 miles
  • Strength Training: 1 Body Pump class (the new release was TOUGH!)

After our rainy 11 miler this past Sunday!

 Week 18 Summary:
  • Weight gained this week: +0.2 pounds
  • Total weight gained: +6.8 pounds
  • # of days until our 20 week anatomy ultrasound: 12!
  • # of school days until summer: 35!
  • # of people that have rubbed my belly: at LEAST 20 different people in the past week
  • Gender: I still feel like it’s a girl. Have thought that since Day 1!

For more pregnancy posts, visit the Baby K page!

Baby K: 17 Weeks

Lots of growing went on this week! I think it’s safe to say that the belly has popped. I can see it, other people notice it, and I definitely felt it as it was growing. I literally woke up last Friday morning with a bump that was twice as big as it was when I went to bed. So weird!!!

At school on Friday... it's grown more since then!

What’s Happening With Baby?

This week the baby is the size of an onion!

According to BabyCenter, “Baby’s skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. Your baby weighs 5 ounces now and she’s around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.

How I’m Feeling

Uncomfortable. I can tell baby’s growing because there’s a whole lot going on down there and I feel it all. Like last week I feel weird pulling, stretching, and pains, just a lot stronger now. I can’t get comfortable while sleeping either which is leading to my next feeling…

Tired. I just can’t sleep through the night! I even told my doctor it’s too early for me to not get sleep. My body just feels restless at night even though I am so tired. I had a super uncomfortable night last Thursday and was up all night with aches and pains in my belly. The next morning was the day that I woke up to a belly that was twice the size. So I assume it was growing pains? My friend told me she could actually feeling her stomach ‘popping’, so I’m thinking that was it.

Worried. This week I got the results of my thyroid levels from my bloodwork last week and my TSH level was all out of whack. My doctor likes to keep my level between 0.4 and 2.0. When I was tested at 8 weeks it was 0.5 – perfect. But when I got it tested last week at 16 weeks, it came back as 6.17! Whoa. However, this made perfect sense because I was experiencing a lot of the symptoms- I was just attributing them to pregnancy, not my hypothyroidism. For example, extreme fatigue, always freezing cold, muscle cramps and soreness (like my calf last week!), constipation and irritability. It is very hard to tell the hypothyroidism symptoms from normal pregnancy symptoms!

So I started to freak out worrying about how long my levels were off for, since it had been 8 weeks since they were last checked. I know that an uncontrolled thyroid can cause a lot of issues in babies and can even cause miscarriage. My doctor increased my Synthroid medication immediately and now they want me to see a perinatalogist for a consult about my ‘condition’ because the levels put me ‘at-risk’. Great! They also want the perinatalogist to do my 20 week ultrasound to make sure all is okay with the baby. All of this stressed me out a lot and led to a huge breakdown the other night. I was just so worried that something could be wrong with the baby. However, I am comforted by the fact that after the first trimester, the baby is able to make its own thyroid hormones. I know that my doctors just want me to see the perinatalogist as a precaution, but it still makes me nervous. One things for sure – I will be monitoring my levels every 4 weeks from now on!

How I’m Changing

Umm I think this is pretty obvious. I cannot get over these comparison pictures from week 5 to week 17.

Holy stomach and boobs! It really looks like I have gained much more than I have! It’s crazy how much 6 and a half pounds has changed my body.  But I’m happy that the belly is looking more like a pregnant bump than a jiggly beer belly. It’s getting harder and more round.

What I’m Eating/Not Eating

Lately I have been really craving food that I used to eat when I was little. Macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese with tomato soup, eggs made by my dad, childhood cereal, peanut butter and jelly/peanut butter and honey sandwiches, mashed potatoes… I could go on and on. I think it’s because I’ve been thinking about my own childhood lately and how I was raised, since soon I will have a little one to raise myself!

How I’m Staying Active

Back to feeling great on my runs after the one weird run last week where I felt super uncomfortable. I had an amazing 14 mile (slow) long run and really felt like I could have done more, but it was getting too warm. I did modify some things in Body Pump this week, like using less weight for some tracks and putting the bench on an incline rather than flat for the tracks where I’m on my back (chest and triceps). I also don’t do the abs if they involve crunches, but the instructor told me I can do planks and any exercise that works the obliques rather than the middle.

  • Run: 29 miles
  • Strength Training: 1 Body Pump class, 1 day of 30-ish pushups (better than nothing!)

    

Week 17 Summary:

  • Weight gained this week: +1.4 pounds
  • Total weight gained: + 6.6 pounds
  • # of days until our 20 week ultrasound: 19
  • # of school days until summer: 40! (Yes, I’m definitely counting)
  • Gender predictions: Everyone is telling me boy, but we did the wedding ring gender prediction test and the ring spun around in circles first (girl) then swayed back and forth like a pendulum (boy)… so baby is confused, or wants to keep us guessing until his or her birthday!
  • The best part of this week: Putting together our new Storkcraft glider! We still have to do the crib and dresser/changing table, but we don’t really have anywhere to put it right now so we’re holding off.

    

For more pregnancy posts, visit the Baby K page!

Long Runs While Pregnant: Come Along With Me!

For the last 4 years I have loved my weekend long runs. I looked forward to them each week and they brought me a lot of happiness and feelings of accomplishment. I loved them even more once I met Kevin and he started running with me. It is truly the best part of my week! When I got pregnant I knew I wanted to keep running, but I wasn’t sure if I would have the endurance to continue with my beloved long runs. But I have really surprised myself with what I have been able to do so far. However, my long runs are definitely not the same as they used to be!

    

I am 16 weeks and 3 days pregnant and I ran 14 miles today 🙂

    

Kevin and I woke up this morning with plans to run on the Mount Vernon Trail. He is running the Pittsburgh Marathon in a couple of weeks, so this was going to be his last long run. He was going to run ahead and since I’m slower now, I planned to run behind him and turn back when I felt like it.

It was a beautiful day and I was excited to get out there. One of the biggest changes in my long runs these days is that I go into them feeling no pressure whatsoever as far as speed or distance. It’s great!

    

We set off on our run and Kevin and I ran together… for about a quarter mile.

And here’s where things start to get very different than my pre-pregnancy long run days. I watched Kevin as he ran ahead of me at his own pace. So strange because it used to be the other way around!

Eventually he disappeared from my sight and I settled into my own slower pace. What pace was it? I have no idea! I was running naked 🙂 I never would have considered doing a long run without my Garmin before pregnancy!

Where's my Garmin??!

I also need to stop for frequent bathroom breaks now (thanks to a squashed bladder)…

And I actually listen to music on my long runs! I haven’t done this since I trained for my first marathon and weaned myself off of NEEDING music to run. But now I am loving it again because it keeps my mind off my slower pace and makes me feel good 🙂

Oh, and when I look down at my feet, there’s this strange little bump there now that wasn’t there before!

So back to the run. After my first bathroom break I settled into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and weather.

Until mile 3, where I ran into Kevin on the side of the trail. He’s had knee issues on and off for a while. Last week he had a perfect 18.5 mile run, but this week he was struggling. He decided to turn around and told me to go ahead since I was feeling good. I didn’t want to, but I listened to him because I knew I should take advantage of these good runs. I don’t know how many more I will get! But I was sad for Kevin. This is my sad face 😦

So I continued on, stopping occasionally to eat Honey Stingers and to rest for a minute. Walking breaks are my friend now!

Before I knew it I was at mile 7 and I decided I was ready to turn around.

As I headed back the other way I felt so happy. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true – I was loving everything about this run and the trail. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. How could I not love running through this?

I told you I was happy! Haha!

Time flew by and soon I only had 2 miles left. I knew from running on this trail that it gets very hilly as you get closer to Mount Vernon. Before I was pregnant I would force myself to painfully run up these long hills that never seem to end. Today, I walked up them 🙂

I finished off the run with a final sprint back to the car and then I was done! 14 miles in the books. I was all smiles and so proud of myself.

I saw the clock when I got back and knew that it had taken me about 2 hours and 40 minutes, which is about an 11:30 pace. That makes sense with all the stopping and breaks that I took. I know it was probably my slowest 14 miler ever, but that doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that I got out there and did it. I love running so much and I love what it does for me mentally and physically. It is making me a healthier mommy-to-be and it is going to give me a strong and healthy baby. So I don’t care that my long runs aren’t what they used to be. I know I’ll get back there some day. For now, I’m enjoying this new chapter in my running story 🙂

Baby K: 16 Weeks

I’m 16 weeks today! Time is finally starting to go more quickly, and I definitely feel pregnant at this point. We had a lot of things happen this past week, including 2 doctors appointments! One was scheduled and one was at the last minute due to an issue I was having. More about that later…

What’s Happening With Baby?

Baby is the size of an avocado this week! One of my favorite foods!

According to BabyCenter, he or she measures 4.5 inches from crown to butt and weighs 3.5 ounces. The most exciting thing to happen this week is that the baby can now hear sounds [Source]!!! That means Kevin and I need to start being more careful with what we talk about… just kidding. We’re not that psycho. Baby is also starting to grow hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. I wonder what color it will be? Kevin and I were both blonde babies!

How I’m Feeling

I am feeling like there’s a lot going on inside my body! I definitely feel things all the time in my pelvic region and where my uterus is – stretching, aching, little twinges of pain, and a heaviness in my uterus that I haven’t felt before. It feels like it’s pressing on my bladder and making me feel like I have to pee even when I don’t.

I’m also feeling like a big crybaby. I cried so many times this past week for no reason really. Sometimes I felt happy, sometimes I was upset or worried, or overwhelmed … too many emotions for my brain to handle!!!

Despite the crazy emotions and feeling overwhelmed at times, we are also starting to feel more in control and prepared. We’re slowly accumulating things that we need for the baby, and we took another big step this week- registering for childbirth classes! We decided to go with the Bradley Method because we are hoping to have a natural, medication-free childbirth. The class is 12 weeks long, pretty intense, and is every Tuesday from May 22 – August 7. I’m going to write about our decision to go with Bradley in another post- but we are very excited about our choice!

How I’m Changing

The doctor told me that by this point my uterus has grown upward to halfway between my belly button and my pubic bone. I couldn’t feel it until she showed me how, by starting in my upper abdomen where it’s softer and squishier and working my way downwards until I feel where it gets hard- that’s my uterus! It was so weird to feel it there and know there’s a little baby inside of it. I feel like I went through a little growth spurt or something. I feel bigger in my belly this week and my skin is really itchy, which means it’s probably starting to stretch. Time to use that shea butter! In the picture below from this past Sunday you can kind of see how the bump is starting to show in regular clothes!

Longwood Gardens on Easter with my little sister

Another weird change this week is that I woke up on Thursday morning with intense and painful soreness in my left calf. I thought maybe I had a charlie horse in my sleep and that’s why it was sore, but I didn’t remember anything and I was up most of the night. I ignored it for a while but I started to worry when it bothered me that night while I was trying to sleep, and it was even worse when I woke up on Friday and couldn’t walk without limping. I started googling it and freaked out when I saw that pregnant women can get blood clots in their calves. I don’t know why I would get a blood clot since I’m so active, but I called my doctor and he wanted me to come in. He felt it and said he wanted me to get it checked out with an ultrasound at the hospital, just to make sure it wasn’t Deep Vein Thrombosis, which is a serious type of blood clot that can occur during pregnancy. So I went to the hospital and got the test done and all was clear in there. It was probably just a cramp that I didn’t remember or some type of strain. I took a day off running and it was pretty much gone by Saturday. Weird! But I was glad I got it checked out. Better safe than sorry! I went back for my real prenatal appointment yesterday and it went well. We got to talk to one of the midwives, ask questions, get blood work done to check my thyroid, and schedule our 20 week ultrasound on May 8th 🙂 Exciting stuff!

    

What I’m Eating/Not Eating

Basically I’m eating a lot of Easter Candy. I just started craving sweet stuff. Still wanting the salty, spicy, crunchy stuff too! And baked potatoes- we had them for a school luncheon one day and then I wanted them all the time after that. I honestly expected to gain much more than 1.2 pounds this week based on what I ate but I think all the running is helping me balance things out.

Baby's first Easter baskets from Mamaw! There's candy underneath 🙂

My Easter basket from Kevin. I'm spoiled!

How I’m Staying Active

I had some highs and lows in the exercise department this week. I had a really great 12 mile long run on Sunday while I was home for Easter. I didn’t wear my Garmin and took it nice and slow, and felt great the entire time. Didn’t have to stop once! Then this morning I went out for an ‘easy’ 4 miler and I struggled the whole time. I felt like my uterus was so heavy and there was a lot of pressure down there. It felt like it was pushing against my bladder and my pelvic region and it was very uncomfortable. I stopped and walked at least 3 times. I have a feeling I’m going to go through these types of highs and lows. I did before I was pregnant too! However, I have noticed that whether the run feels easy or hard, I always I feel GREAT when I’m finished. It puts me in a good mood and gives me energy that lasts the entire day.  I love running 🙂

  • Run: 22 miles
  • Strength Training: 1 Body Pump class

    

Week 16 Summary:

  • Weight gained this week: +1.2 pounds
  • Total weight gained: +5.2 pounds.
  • Gifts for baby: cute onesies from my friend Sandy, a Baby Bjorn baby carrier (!!!) from my friend Nicole, and an awesome Easter basket filled with diapers and baby supplies from Kevin’s mom 🙂
  • Things we bought for baby: lots of great stuff from the thrift store!
  • # of mini Reese’s cups eaten: you don’t even want to know.
  • The best part of this week: hearing baby’s heartbeat again- this time the heartbeat was in the 140s!

For more pregnancy posts, visit the Baby K page!

The Things People Say, Part 1

I’m only 15 weeks into this pregnancy thing, but already I have noticed that people will say some crazy things to you when they learn you have a bun in the oven. It’s like announcing you are pregnant gives them permission to ask inappropriate things and make weird comments. At first the things people said really bothered me because I am a very sensitive person, then I realized I need to grow a thicker skin. I learned that people are always going to share their opinions and tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, especially since I’m pretty open with our plans and my personal life in general. I know this will only get worse as I go through pregnancy and parenthood. So instead of feeling bad, I decided to laugh about it. I started to write these comments and questions down so I could look back on them, and of course share them on my blog 🙂

Little bump!

Here are some of the things that real people have actually said to me. Most of these comments and questions have been said by more than one person!

  1. “Wow, you two don’t waste any time,” “That was quick,” “You work fast!” etc… This is one of the top comments! Yes, I am aware that we got married in November and are already having a baby. No, we didn’t wait long and that’s what we wanted.
  2. “Was this planned?” This was said by a coworker immediately after I shared the news at a staff meeting. Why is this any of your business and why do you feel the need to ask it in front of 40 other people?!
  3. “Was this a honeymoon baby?” Um, no. Baby is due late September. We got married in November. Do the math. This is another one of the top questions that people ask us.
  4. “Oh, must have been a New Years baby then!” Nope, wrong again.
  5. “I thought you were just getting fat!” Said by a fourth grader, but still funny!
  6. “You know this is going to be a miserable summer for you, right?” Yes, I know it will be hot, but I am actually really looking forward to this summer. I’ll be off for summer break for most of my third trimester. Pretty good deal!
  7. “You are growing just like I did when I was pregnant. I didn’t just get bigger in the middle, I grew in the boobs and butt too!” Another coworker, apparently looking too closely at my growing body parts.
  8. “Are you going to stop running? Another top question, and when I say no, it’s always followed by, “Doesn’t it hurt the baby?” Like I would continue to do it if it wasn’t safe! I know people are just concerned for the baby and my well being when they ask those questions. I always explain that my doctor encourages it as long as I scale back the intensity and listen to my body.
  9. “Are you still a vegetarian?” or “Do you have to start eating meat now?” I am very careful with what I eat and making sure I get enough calories and nutrients. I don’t need meat to make my diet balanced and healthy and neither does the baby.
  10. “Will you make the baby vegetarian too?” Yes, until he or she is old enough to make the decision for him or herself. Kevin and I have talked about this a lot, and this is what we both want. We don’t cook meat or have it in the house, and having a baby won’t change that for us. I will talk about this more in another post.
  11. “You better run/sleep/have fun/etc. now because you won’t have time for that once the baby is born!” Thanks for the positive advice!
  12. “You’ll be so unprepared if you don’t find out the sex of the baby.” The only thing we won’t be prepared with is gender-specific clothing. I didn’t really understand this comment. Knowing the sex doesn’t change anything for us.
  13. “Natural unmedicated childbirth? Ha! Good luck with that. You’ll be begging for an epidural and drugs once you realize what it’s really like.” Actually, I won’t. We just signed up for 12 weeks of Bradley method childbirth classes. More than 86% of people who take these classes go on to have natural and unmedicated labor and delivery. Unless an emergency comes up, this is the plan. More about this later!

I fully expect that there will be more of these types of comments and questions over the next 25 weeks, especially as I continue to get bigger and my due date approaches. That’s why I am calling this “Part One”. There will most definitely be a Part Two in the future!

Whether you have been pregnant or not, what types of weird comments and questions have you heard from people? 

Large Races vs. Small Races

It has taken me a long time to gather my thoughts on this topic. I have run a total of 30 races, from the 5K distance to the marathon. Some of these races have been small, local races and some have been huge, big-name events. I go back and forth on my feelings as to which type of race is better. I’ve experienced some really great large races and some really terrible ones. The same goes with the smaller races – there have been some that were amazing and some that were less than impressive. No matter the size of the race, I believe a quality race really all comes down to good planning and organization. However, there are definitely some pros and cons of large and small races in general.

Large Races

Pros

  • There is usually good spectator support along the course.
  • Entertainment may be provided along the course and sometimes before and after the race as well.
  • A variety of amenities are offered (plenty of bathrooms, shuttles to and from races, discounted hotel prices, pre and post-race food/water/gatorade, post-race parties, medals, etc.)
  • Being surrounded by people while running can be very motivating and fun!
  • These races tend to use chip timing and timing mats at certain race splits for accurate results. Results are up quickly and may even go online live so your friends and family can track you.
  • Many large races have corrals that organize runners by predicted finish time, and release them in waves – if done correctly this helps spread the field out so that it’s not too crowded.
  • Large races usually offer expos that are free and open to the public with many brand name retailers, guest speakers, free samples, and other activities.
  • Large races that I loved: The New York City Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon.

NYC Marathon

Cons

  • Large races are usually expensive and are only getting more expensive each year. Some of the big name race companies seem to be $$$ hungry and will charge you for every little thing – parking, packet pick-up fees, and more (Rock & Roll and Hot Chocolate did this).
  • They can be super crowded, which makes it hard to run fast and not get super irritated. This is what happened to me most recently in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I think this is also sometimes another money hungry tactic for some race companies (Like the Hot Chocolate 15K). They just want as many runners as possible to make money, regardless of runner safety and organization!
  • Large races tend to bring with them traffic headaches- especially because they are usually located in some type of city or urban area.
  • Sometimes logistics aren’t managed properly when there are large groups of people to organize (i.e. timing the corrals, finishing areas, narrow courses that lead to bottlenecking, etc.)
  • They tend to sell out quickly.
  • Sometimes they do not have ENOUGH amenities for amount of people that are running. I’ve been to races where they have run out of food, water, even medals!
  • Usually you need to go pick up race materials the day before the race, which can be tough to do with busy schedules and if you are traveling from out of town.
  •  Large races that I didn’t love: Hot Chocolate 15K, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, some aspects of the Rock & Roll series

Hot Chocolate 15K - I was not happy! Read the recap (linked above) to find out why.

Small Races

Pros

  • They are usually much less expensive than larger races.
  • These races usually support things in your local community, so your registration fee is going towards something good and not to a large corporation that is trying to make money off of you 🙂
  • You may have a chance to place in your age group, or even win! This is what happened to me in my town’s local Run for Autism 5K. It was amazing!
  • They are much less crowded so you may actually be able to RACE and not weave through people the whole time.
  • You are usually not required to pick up any race materials the day before the race.
  • You are able to sign up at last minute if you want to and they rarely sell out.
  • Great small races that I loved: The Air Force Marathon, Marine Corps 17.75K, Run for Autism 5K, The Veterans Day 10K

Autism 5K

Cons

  • There are not as many spectators out on the course, and not as much entertainment (if any at all).
  • These races are not always chip-timed, depending on the race. You may be timed based off when the start gun goes off, even if you don’t cross the start line for another minute or so.
  • Runners are not usually put into corrals and there aren’t any wave starts.
  • Sometimes the courses for small races are not great. This may be because they don’t have as much money for police support and road closures as larger races do. There tend to be a lot of simple out and back or loops. The NJ marathon was two identical loops and I really didn’t like it.
  • Since there aren’t as many people, you may run alone for part of the race. This doesn’t really happen in a shorter distance like a 5K or 10K, but it is really disheartening in a marathon to be running all alone at mile 20 (see photo below!)
  • Small races that I didn’t love: The New Jersey Marathon … that’s about it! I have really enjoyed all the small races I have participated in.

NJ Marathon - Running ALL alone!

These pros and cons are not true for every large and small race, but they are the patterns I’ve noticed in my experience running 30 races. Again, I really believe whether a race is great or not comes down to good planning and organization, no matter its size. I have had tons of fun at both types! That’s why I can’t really say what I prefer. I love them both for different reasons and I will continue to run both large and small races. However, I am definitely going to be more selective with the large races that I choose to run, because of my recent frustrations. The next few months will be interesting, because Kevin and I are signed up to run a variety of both large and small races… the Pittsburgh Marathon (large), the Delaware Marathon (small), Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon (relatively small), Rock & Roll Seattle Marathon (large), and a local 5K on the 4th of July (small). I guess we’ll see if I come up with anything new to add to these lists!

What do you think? Do you prefer large or small races? What has been the best and worst small race you have ever run? What about the best and worst large race?