On May 18, at 20 weeks pregnant, I ran the NY East Hero Rush. I blogged about it, and it was neat to hear back from Hero Rush about their use of my blog post to encourage other pregnant women who were considering the race. Of course, as I try to say in all my running during pregnancy posts, I am not a doctor, and I am blessed by having a rather easy pregnancy (I’m in the 3rdtrimester, and I still find myself checking my belly in the morning to be sure I’m still pregnant.) but let me share with you another great pregnancy running experience: the Spartan Sprint.
preparing for the race mentally with some friends. :)
Last year, after Adam ran his first Spartan race, I was inspired to give obstacle course racing a try. I love running—all running, but the longer I lift (one year next month!) the more I can appreciate strength training and the visible differences it’s made in my body. The concept of blending these two loves and a little water and mud sounds divine. (No, I guess I’m not your typical woman; if you’re just learning this, you don’t know me very well.) So, when Adam registered to run this year’s PA Spartan Sprint, I signed up as well. Now, if you know anything about these races, the longer you wait to register the more expensive they get. I had registered pretty late but prior to finding out that I was pregnant. Once I found out I was pregnant, all my research showed that once registered, it was tough luck if you canceled. So, I figured at least giving this race a shot was worth the money that I had put into registration, and I told Adam and our family that I would be willing to stop if it were too hard and it was too dangerous to continue.
(Fast-forward to the end of June, and I was doing some research and accidentally found I would have been able to postpone/transfer my registration because I was pregnant. Oh, well. This story is cooler.)
So, last Saturday, July 13, in the first week of my 3rd trimester, Adam and I drove down to
Adam hoisting a 80-pound weight.
Palmerton, PA, for the Spartan Sprint. Adam was running in the elite wave (‘cause he’s awesome like that), so he started at 8am. He ran the whole obstacle course in 59 minutes and only did one set of burpees (if you fail an obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees before proceeding with the race) and that only because Spartan had mixed in a 700-lb tire with the regular tires, and Adam accidentally chose that one and of course, couldn’t flip it the 4 required times. (Lamesauce, Spartan. Get on that.) That cost Adam a good 5 minutes, or he would have finished about 21st place out of 280 runners in the elite wave. His official time, mess-up included, left him at 43rd place. Yes, I know, still amazing.
Having Adam run the race first allowed for him to run the race again with me “for fun” and to go along with me to make sure that Titus and I were ok. What a blessing! From the first half-mile to the last dash to the finish, having my husband at my side was a joy and a blessing that I did not realize I would want need nor did I realize how much I would appreciate.
We started off headed up the ski hill at a decent clip. I told myself to start off slow, but it’s hard to do that when there’s a whole group around you rushing the hill. I realized pretty quickly that my ability to breathe was quite hindered by my belly and the steep hill, so I had to stop running and walk most of it. I found myself talking a lot as we did, and it was the first few minutes when I couldn’t get a whole sentence out that had me slightly worried that I might be in over my head. Of course, I didn’t admit that out loud; we kept going, and I forced myself to slow my pace to a steady walk and found that most people around me needed to slow down as well.
The first obstacles we hit didn’t seem so bad. We had to go over a short wall, under another and through another. Not too shabby… in fact, I made it pretty far without having to do any burpees, and that made me so proud. My goal was to do as much as I possibly could without having to do avoid an obstacle, and if I did have to avoid an obstacle, I would take the time to do the burpees I had “earned”. I am so glad I stuck to that but by the end of the race, when I had completed 180 burpees, I hated the thought of even 1 more.
I only failed five obstacles out twenty: the spear throw (I didn’t really even expect to getthat one even without being pregnant!), the monkey bars (I suck at those normally anyway), the traverse wall (most people fail that), the log jumps (I made it halfway!), and the vertical rope climb (I was too weak to make it up and back down without falling). I was pretty proud of myself! If I had to fail any obstacles, those five would be the ones I would have failed before being pregnant, so that was comforting to me.
carrying a sand bag to the top of the ski slope
We took our time and didn’t push the running part. Unlike the Tough Mudder and Hero Rush, where there’s a lot of flat running, this race was either headed up the hill or down the slope. So, with all slippery trails, rocks, and bumps along the way, I took my time and didn’t do as much running as I would have liked. I’m really okay with it, but this is definitely more of an endurance, obstacle race than a runner’s first choice. Unfortunately, it’s not really the great runners who are winning these courses as much as those who have strong cardio and a strong strength training program.
There was only one obstacle I had to skip intentionally. Near the end of the course, there was a diagonal wall to climb and the other side to climb down. If you can picture this with me, the runner had to climb the under side of the diagonal wall and pull himself over the top, which is really impossible when you have a belly like me. I had considered trying to find a way to get myself over without squishing Titus when I saw that the other side was simply a free fall down to the ground on the other side. Runners were gliding down in all manner, near each other, hard on their backs, etc., and it wasn’t worth the risk at all. So, with 30 more burpees, I was on my way. (I make that sound easy, but they’re not…. add pregnancy and the way it’s killed my arm strength, and it was a crazy delay for me.)
Adam stayed with me faithfully and made sure I was okay throughout every step. He went before me on some obstacles to help me if needed, stood by others to catch me if I fell, and swam by me to make sure I was feeling fine. Then, at the end, he took my hand and we ran and jumped over the burning fire before hitting the finish line.
heading down the water slide into the short swimming section
I think one of the most-fun parts of this race (besides racing it with Adam –that was the best part) was the constant comments we got as we ran. Even before I was pregnant, I have loved the “Running for Two” shirts that you can buy online. However, after looking at them again in preparation for Spartan, my practical side won out, and I knew if I wanted a shirt like this, I was going to have to make it myself. So, I did.
The looks, the comments, the cheers, and the conversations started by this shirt was hilarious and encouraging along the way. People gave us high fives, told us they were inspired (and crazy!), cut off their complaining, and shook their heads as we ran along with my baby belly.
At the top of the ski slope, where the spectators could get close and watch us perform some obstacles, some guy I’d never spoken to came up to me and said, “I heard a baby crying, and I thought you had had him!”
Overall, running the Pennsylvania Spartan was an awesome experience. I will definitely run it again when I’m not so pregnant and fight for a better time, but as a 28-week pregnant woman, I’ll take my time of 2:34:32 as a success and add another finisher’s medal to Titus’s ever-growing wall. Thank you, Spartan, for an awesome race!
Side Note: I thought I would be ridiculously sore from this race, because I had just run a 5k and a relay race on Thursday night with the Broome County Corporate Challenge. However, my legs were tired but not really sore after both races and the only soreness I did have was in my arms/shoulders, and that lasted about a day and a half.
Final Note: Spartan just posted their pictures today, and my biggest disappointment is that the photos are not impressive. Oh well.