I’m in (hopefully) the last 2-3 weeks of my pregnancy. I feel at times like a balloon; you could hang a basket off my feet, gas me up and I could take you on a lovely trip over the Moselle valley in Luxembourg and Germany. Other times I feel like a walrus, struggling to turn over in bed or get out of the bath; cumbersome and heavy. I have put on roughly 13kg during this pregnancy and I seriously can’t understand how people permanently live with this kind of extra weight, and more.
The most important thing to me during this time is that, as well as getting enough rest, I have also kept active. Don’t get me wrong, there are some afternoons where I don’t feel guilty at all about two hours on the couch watching BBC iPlayer. But I also need to move and do things and stretch.
My main activity has been power-walking. I’ve had some great company on many of these walks from a pregnant friend who lives just down the river – another runner like me. She’s due this week, so has paused the power-walking, but I am still heading out every other day. It helps me sleep better, keeps my appetite up, allows ‘Plum’ and I to enjoy the remaining days of summer. I also think it has contributed to the fact that my legs haven’t swollen and my ankles haven’t disappeared.
Last week I also did some yoga, which I hadn’t done for a while. I followed a 20-minute routine from my book. It felt slow compared to swimming and power-walking, but it was calming and relaxing, opening out my body in a way that my other forms of exercise don’t. “I am connected to the circle of life.” As Plum continues to kick his/her way out, I can only agree with that!
Day One: There is blue sky and everyone, at first, is squinting. We look east, we look west. There is not a cloud in sight. And we smile and enjoy it.
Day Two: It’s here again. Pure sunshine without a cloud in the sky. It’s too good to be true. After work, I don my trainers and, for the first time this year, my running sunglasses. I feel like I run faster, powered by that glowing yellow ball in the sky. A great start to the weekend.
Day Three: Martin goes running and sweats too much in long jogging bottoms and a fleece top. Why? It’s still sunny. It’s warm. We fling open the windows at the front of the house and let in spring. I sit in the window and wait for him to run past, clapping when I see him. Afterwards, we make a picnic and visit Bernkastel, sitting at the top of the hill by the ruins lazing in the first real warmth of the year. We are surrounded by vineyards and the river glimmers below us.
Day Four: We do still live in Luxembourg, right? We haven’t suddenly moved to a Caribbean island? Another warm day and another sunny river run. I head west, following the river to the next village and do a loop around. Martin heads east. The paths are full of Nordic walkers with their poles, runners smiling, families on bikes, families with strollers, couples with heads tilted upwards. I run in shorts and t-shirt for the first time in 2014 and when I get back there is that joyous line across of the top of my thighs. A running tan line.
Day Five: Commuters look different. It’s the sunglasses and the lack of gloves and hats. I cross the street and walk on the sunny side to my classes. I enjoy wearing pumps with no tights; in class with bare feet.
Day Six: It’s time for the pool. After swimming a mile, I head to the relax terrace to read a bit. It’s inside, but the wall of windows lets in the late afternoon sun. I’m soon dry; my skin is warm.
Day Seven: We are getting too used to this. I open the blinds each morning and expect the rays to hit me and, again, they do. I take a walk along the river and then head to Trier for some shopping. It hits 21 degrees in the afternoon and I sit in the main square with a bratwurst and mustard. My toes cold on the cobbles are warmed in the afternoon sunshine.
Day Eight: A long teaching day, but we still have blue sky. I ignore the bus and walk to the station, again on the sunny side of the street. All the restaurants and cafes have dug out their outside eating furniture and the plazas are humming with early diners, keen to take advantage of the al fresco temperatures. I’m tired when I get home, but change into my running gear straight away and head out for a quick 5km. Again in shorts and t-shirt; again the blue sky brings me home.
Day Nine: Teaching in an office with no windows sucks, but at least I’m only there for a couple of hours. My students have to stay all day. I tell them to get outside for lunch after class. Spring still shows no signs of leaving us. I walk back from the station, the sun behind me highlighting the pink blossom trees lining the path. As I go to meet friends for dinner that night, I drive into the burnt orange sunset, the sky aglow with streaks of pink and red. I turn on the radio. U2 is playing. It’s A Beautiful Day.
I finally have chance to sit down and write. Sorry we’ve been missing. I wish I could tell you it’s because we’ve been traversing mountain passes and running through wind torn valleys. But no.
Ouch, actually. I’m feeling a bit tight in the quads. I guess that’s what happens when you put all your training for an up-and-coming 10 km into the six days beforehand.
Last Sunday we (the royal married ‘we’, not Maria and I together unfortunately) ran the Grand East Anglia Race (GEAR), a nice and flat 10 km around King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Here was my training plan:
Monday: Go for a fast 1.5-mile run to remind legs what running is and how it feels. It had been 12 days.
Tuesday: Run 4-mile route through fields, along cliffs and up little hills. Nothing like King’s Lynn.
Wednesday: Marvel as legs don’t feel too bad. WooHoo!
Thursday: Run the 4-mile route the other way round and with sun on my face do it in under 33 minutes. That hasn’t happened for a while! So chuffed with myself, I deserve a glass of husband’s home-brewed beer.
Friday: Fannying about at work means don’t get to the pool in time. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.
Saturday: Get up and swim 1 km in the pool. Imagine it’s the sea and I’m on a tropical island. Leave the pool and need a coat.
Sunday: Run 10 km in 52 minutes and 14 seconds. The route sidles along the river, through the park and finishes in a flourish with a samba band motivating us through the final 400m. Celebrate with eggs, beans and bacon.
And, having got through it all swimmingly, running is back as its own thread of my week. I went out yesterday to keep the legs working, but I know I didn’t stretch enough, hence the tightness.
It feels good though. My mum is also back to her training for the Cambridge Race for Life (you might remember her being a running virgin last year) so our hallway is full of trainers. The sun has been shining and the wind is blowing at less than 80 mph. This bodes well; it makes us want to get out there.
The first race is out of the way. Nerves shivered through our bodies on the start line. The sun has arrived on the scene. Summer is not long – what can we squeeze out of it? How many runs do we have to reduce our times/actually get a new pair of running shoes and test them out/simply keep going? I remember last summer we started our half marathon training and squeezed as much out of the longer days as possible. We are starting to do that again. But what next? (Apart from a massage and some yoga stretches?)
There are so many options for summer running: trails, fun runs, marathons. I spoke to a very old school friend on Sunday who is off to try out the Edinburgh marathon at the end of this month. And a couple of weeks ago we had the runners shining on our television screens as they pounded the streets of London for their chosen charities; a warming sight, especially after the tragic events just days before in Boston. It is inspiring. Should I sign up? Should we sign up? Should we pledge our winter to training and have a fun summer just… running?
I’m not sure I can even plan that far in advance, but there’s no harm enquiring is there, via the charities I’ve already worked with (the ballot has already opened and closed!)? It’s just one email.
Blimey, one beautiful, sunny run quicker than expected and the need to squeeze in more is palpable. But that’s what summer is about.
So, Maria and I are both back into our groove and I just wanted to share three things which have boosted my running this week. They are simple things which came along and made running moments better. What have been yours?
My friend Jenny who lives in Spain, also runs and has followed our Cruce adventure with mountain lover envy sent me a wonderful package this week and inside was this delightful surprise for my feet.
I’ve already written about how wearing pro gear instead of pyjamas and someone else’s hand-me-downs makes you feel better when you’re out there. But there is nothing better than the feeling of running in something groovy that your friend saw and thought of you. And something orange. But that goes without saying.
We have officially turned the corner. Spring is here and we’re on British summer time: warmer and longer days full of garden time and barbecues. Martín my boyfriend said to me this week that when the sun comes out after winter, everyone seems to wake up and feel happier. It’s true.
And as the sun gets weaker in Maria’s part of the woods, so it gets stronger here in London (though we’re never reaching a humid Buenos Aires 40 degrees, mind!) and on a quiet morning with the sun already at the tops of the trees, there’s nothing better than hitting the pavements and parks, as I did yesterday.
RUN TO THE BEAT
I’ve lost my running music. OK, what I mean is I no longer run with it. My iPod is old and temperamental. It no longer likes to be swaddled next to my upper arm and bounce along with me, drowning out cars, lorries and (oops) bike horns. So, it’s just me and my thoughts alone and the sounds of the cars, birds and people. Yesterday I headed into a little wood to do some loops and squirrels were scuttling about as robins and larks sang their Saturday morning songs. Good tunes.
However, later, when was I was back on the road heading up a hill (it’s post Cruce so please read slope) a car pulled alongside me at a junction. SHA LA LA LA LA LA LA! Ah, the familiar beat of my song supreme Mr Jones. I don’t really miss my music; well, maybe the randomness of it which used to make me laugh as I was running when Mozart would suddenly come on. But at that moment, as I needed a push to bound me up the hill (slope), it was a fabulous kick.
Maybe I need to learn to run and sing at the same time; so I can still hear the birds and bike horns, but I also get my musical boost.
What gives you a boost when you’re out running? Share your thoughts with us.
I talk to Laura and read her posts about how cold it is there and think how not only are we training with an ocean between us, but also in different seasons. I have to time my runs to not boil on the pavement and she is trying to not catch a cold. It all makes for an even more interesting story.
Last night my run was postponed until the sun was down and the temperature had dropped to at least the mid 80s. I set out over a sand dune (gotta get the hills in one way or another) and towards the shoreline. I was guided by the light of a nearly full moon and the few lights of the beach restaurants. I outran the rising tide and dodged the invisible fishing lines that were hidden by the darkness. I gauged my mileage by time and figure that running in sand has to add depth to my training. Hopefully it will help prepare me for those 9 kms of snow on Day 1.
Was rewarded for my running on vacation with an ice cold beer and meat on the grill. Can’t ask for much else! And from what I understand it’ll be similar to our adventures in the mountains, but with a glass of vino tinto instead of beer.
Getting more excited by the day and I’m sure we’ll have a bit of all 4 seasons as we trek across the various terrains!