Around this time 2 years ago I decided it was about time I got myself back into shape after giving birth to my son 8 months earlier. I had been a bit of a runner a few years before, mainly to help with my 1st grade hockey training but I had never really considered myself an ‘actual runner’. My husband bought me my first GPS watch for Christmas and that lit my competitive fire. I slowly progressed from running with the pram around my 3km block to my first event – 5km at the Canberra Australian Running Festival in April – I was pretty proud of my time (25.34) and decided that I would try for a 10km distance next month at the Mother’s Day classic. I hadn’t attempted the distance before the day so I would be happy just to cross the line – but to my surprise I finished in a reasonable time (52.23) I was proud of how far I had come and I LOVED this running thing!
I saw lots of women at both of these events and I was interested to know how many of them were mums like me and whether there was a community where ideas, stories and tips could be exchanged. I came home and searched the internet for blogs and came across RMA (about 1,000 to 2,000 members at the time) I noticed the FB page and decided to check it out – I had to go against my no social media brain and set up a profile for myself just to follow the RMA chatter. Shortly after I purchased an RMA singlet and felt like I was part of a community.
After conquering the 5km and 10km distance I decided to move on to the next challenge and started training for my first half marathon – the ACT Veteran’s half marathon (I was old enough to run with the Vets 🙂 I donned my RMA singlet and lined up with the 120 minute plus start group. My race didn’t go to plan, like many I got caught up in the excitement and went out way too hard – I lead the females until 19kms and then was slowly taken down, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to hold on but was super proud that I had completed my first half a year after starting my running journey (1.53.59). A couple of days later I received a letter in the mail from the ACT Veterans Association with something hard inside? To my surprise it was a medal – I had placed third in the W35 age group! Now I was really feeling the competitive fire – what would I try to achieve next?!
I wasn’t sure what my next challenge would be but I entered the Canberra Times fun run and met my first real life RMA (Emma Munro) I was excited to see another running mum in the flesh and wondered if there was a community of ACT running mums. Shortly after through the power of the RMA FB page, a small group of ACT mums got together and ran around the lake, it was so lovely to run and chat with other like-minded women. Friendships blossomed (I had met my biggest partner in running crime, Debbie Acland) and soon training runs were being organised weekly. I probably should have mentioned that about 80% of my runs are with the pram even the longer distance runs, so my son (Willoughby) also came along for the ride, like me he now has a couple of very close running girlfriends :).
Next up was another crack at the half marathon, Debbie and I set our sights on the Lifeline Half marathon on what happened to be one of the most scorching November days Canberra had experienced in a long time. The course was along a new stretch of highway yet to be opened to traffic. There was no shade and very little scenery – it was going to be a challenge – oh and I would be pushing the pram!! We met the very speedy Kelly-Ann Varey (another soon to be amazing friendship) and she told Debbie she would help pace her – I was kind of glad I was pushing the pram as there was no way I would have kept up! Along the course I received so much encouragement and respect from other competitors as I was the only one (brave/stupid/strong/strange) enough to push a pram, it was overwhelming. It was a hot tough run but I couldn’t be prouder, Willoughby and I crossed the line in 2.12.05. But I was also proud to have represented running mums and was so excited to have met even more local RMA ladies.
Now it was time to set my sights on the next challenge and this time it would be big – I convinced Debbie that we should run the 50km ultra at the Canberra 100 Challenge in March 2015 (she didn’t need a lot of convincing 🙂 We set about training hard for the next months (and so did Willoughby). This was when I developed an injury (later diagnosed as Metatarsalgia) that would take 7 months before coming close to being resolved, which included copious physio appointments, sports physician, cortisone injection, podiatrist and orthotics. I decided during this time that once we had completed the ultra, I would hang up my competitive shoes, rest, stop breastfeeding and hey why not try for a baby too!
The ultra was the most challenging running experience of my life – I may have mentioned that I would be happier to give birth again (I think I may detract that statement in a few months 🙂 We ran for 7 hours, 53kms and 6 significant Canberra mountains and ridges. I was so proud and a also a little relieved – I needed to rest, I was in agony (literally) and I wouldn’t get any improvement until I took some time off. I had always pushed through the pain, I heard what my body was trying to tell me but I didn’t listen – now it was time to wise up. I spent the next few months flying the RMA banner volunteering at the ANZAC Ultra (meeting Sam Post and Rachel Frearson) and supporting and meeting lots of RMA ladies at the Australian Running Festival and YMCA half marathon (way too many to mention – but all amazing and inspiring).
Now it was time to concentrate on me. I was about to take 8 weeks off running or even walking by order of my podiatrist and I knew this would be the perfect time to help my body fall pregnant. I have PCOS and falling pregnant doesn’t come naturally for me. I required 8 months of ovulation induction (OI) to fall pregnant with Willoughby – months of injections, blood tests, internal ultrasounds, tracking and cysts. So I was prepared to go through the same again – I think my body was in a better place this time, as was my mental state and low and behold we fell pregnant after the first round of injections! My husband and I still can’t quite believe it.
So now I’m PREGNANT and trying to return to running slowly from an injury – the timing is perfect really. I’m not pushing myself at all, I’m enjoying getting back out there, enjoying the fact I don’t have a PB to break or distance I must run, it is really nice to run for the freedom and just for the feel. I am running about 2 mins slower per km and have only managed to run 3kms at a time so far, I have invested in a belly band and am considering some SRC pregnancy leggings. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t a little bit nervous to run again, particularly while carrying precious cargo but I also know I can trust my body and that all I have to do is listen to it. I am excited by this new running challenge – running for two and I hope to train for as long as my body would like to. Oh and the reason why I titled this blog post the P files – well obviously I Pregnant but I also have a very weak pelvic floor from my first pregnancy so you can just imagine what it’s like this time around 🙂
The P files will be a monthly post into the life of Mel as she travels her pregnant running journey 🙂