When I signed up for the Ringing in Spring 10K back in January, I originally to race it for a PR and possibly even top 3 women. I craved a hard, demanding training cycle and a gritty race. I had just healed my metatarsal stress fracture and dealt with a chemical pregnancy (early loss at ~4 weeks). I wanted to push my body again to feel like myself. Shortly after registering for that (and a fall marathon!), we found out I was pregnant. A gut-busting training cycle and a big PR were no longer appropriate goals.
But I still wanted to run my best for the day. I’m approaching pregnancy the way I plan approaching motherhood. My identity is still my identity and that includes being competitive. I’m not going to ever apologize for that or change that. For me, that means always giving my best on race day, whatever that best may be for the circumstances of the day.
Shortly before the race, I read an Instagram post from Mario Fraioli that resonated with me. “Competition, for me anyway, isn’t about beating other people or trying to be better than someone else. It’s about trying to get the best of out myself in any situation – running a race, spending time with someone I care about, working with an athlete, writing an article…Because competition isn’t a contest: It’s a vehicle for cultivating potential.”
That was what I sought this day: reaching my potential, whatever my potential was at 16 weeks pregnant. I knew it wasn’t going to be a PR and I didn’t care. But I wasn’t about to go out there and trot along easily, because that would not be my best for the day.
I will note that my pregnancy has been healthy so far. We had an appointment just a few days before the race. We heard a strong little heartbeat, my weight gain and measurements were appropriate, and I did not have any worrying symptoms. I am carrying small so my center of gravity has not yet been affected. I strength train and do Pilates, which minimize musculoskeletal pain as my body changes. I am also very mentally comfortable with my decision to push the pace; I know that I won’t harm my baby.
If you were to ask me what my favorite race distance is, I’d answer the half marathon. It’s certainly my strongest. But I have a love for the 10K that’s deepened each time I run one. It’s long enough to require pacing and strategy, but not depleting. In a sense, it demands more mental comfort with discomfort for me than the half marathon – and I like that. The 10K is also an enjoyable distance to race while pregnant – long enough to feel like a good effort, not so long you have to worry about hydration or nutrition as much.
About the Race
The Ringing in Spring 10K/5K is the largest springtime race in Northwest Indiana. It was also the first real road race I ever ran back in 2014. After running it again this year (our first spring back in Indiana), I plan on racing this event annually. It was well-organized, enjoyable for recreational and competitive age group runners alike, and featured an interesting course.
About the Race:
- All proceeds support the local Valparaiso Family YMCA.
- Free childcare during the race!
- 5K and 10K distance, both on relatively flat routes
- Starts at 9 AM, allowing for a relaxed race morning
- Frequent aid stations on course
- Good spectator support throughout
- Plenty of bathrooms at the start/finish
- Awards and refreshments indoors after the race
- Running tangents is difficult, due to several turns on the course (I ran 6.29 miles)
2019 Ringing in Spring Recap
In true Midwestern spring fashion, the weather warmed up significantly overnight. By the start of the race, it was 55 degrees and sunny. I spent most winter training in sub-freezing temperatures, but what really made the warmth tricky was pregnancy. I overheat so easily now.
We arrived at the race about 45 minute before the start. Ryan and I both completed a short warm-up jog and then waited at the start area. We chatted with some friends, enjoyed the sunny weather, and then soon it enough it was time to race!
My paces during pregnancy are unpredictable and gradually slowing. I had an idea of what I could sustain from workouts, but ultimately only my effort on that day mattered. I focused on holding a sustainable pace for the mile I was in.
I consciously held back in the first couple of miles and logged 7:46 and 7:45. Mile 3 felt good and I ran a 7:41. I grabbed water at each aid station and took a sip – something I never previously did in shorter races.
When the 5K split off around mile ~2.75, I briefly found myself alone on the course. I picked up my pace slightly to catch up with a pack of other runners.
“You look great!” a spectator shouted out at me somewhere after the third mile mark. Usually, by this point in a 10K, my face is contorted with a combination of discomfort and determination. This time, I was smiling and waving at spectators, cheering on other runners, and probably looking too comfortable for a race.
By mile 4, I started to feel my effort increase. The weird thing about pregnant running is that my effort level can only go so high – I can’t push much harder than a tempo effort. So I focused on holding that effort as best as I could. I ran a 7:47 for mile 4 and a 7:49 for mile 5. I wanted to speed up here, but the gear simply wasn’t there and I felt warm. Normally I would dig deep, but I reminded myself that today wasn’t the day to leave everything on the course.
In the final mile, I ran a 7:42 and passed several people. I kicked it up to a 7:07 pace for the home stretch and crossed the finish line in 48:37.
For reference, 5 minutes slower than my PR, which is what I anticipated for this point in pregnancy. I had been doing short tempo runs around a 7:30-7:45 and easy runs around an 8:30-9:00/mile pace in the weeks leading up to this race. I was elated with my performance and finish time!
I grabbed some water and briefly sat down almost out of habit. I had far more energy after this race than I was used and just bounced straight back up. I surveyed the final stretch of the 10K and waited for Ryan to appear. Soon he appeared, looking strong and pushing to the finish. I tried to snap some photos and cheered him through his finish time of 57:19.
Text notifications arrived shortly after we finished, and I saw that I had placed second in my age group and 8th woman overall. The race does not give out medals to all participants, but age group winners (top 3) do receive medals. Ryan placed 5th in his age group! One of my athletes won third in her age group for the 5K. No medal for Baby N, however, even though I suspect she/he might have been first in the in-utero age group.
Do you enjoy racing the 10K distance?
Did you race while pregnant?
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