Yesterday I finished the Xterra Wildhorse Trail Half Marathon put on by Tampa Races who I do most of my runs with. I had a blast, even though the race was not what you’d expect from a typical trail run. It was my first race while pregnant and I did it mostly to get some trail experience before my trail full in two weeks. I found out about the half pretty last minute, so I actually continued on with my regular workouts the day before. I ran 7 miles and did a horribly hard WOD, so the rest of the day was all about recovery. To prepare my body I drank a ton of water, wore compression socks, took fish oil, ate plenty of food (and a lot of protein) and took Vega Recovery Accelerator (love this stuff). I also drank coconut water because old pre-race habits die hard. Saturday morning Richard and I made our way about 90 minutes from home to the park the race was held in. Pulling up I remembered I’d done this course before. Checking in was easy with not too many runners and I moved around to keep my body warm as the weather was wet and a little chilly. At 8am we sang the national anthem and started running. The group kept together at a slow pace in a large pack.. and then boom we come to a complete stop. Less than half a mile into the run we hit a woodsy part that we have to file single file into. Then we spread out again and come to another stop. This time I said a profanity because I remembered that this is that race, the one with the stream and crazy technical parts. So, .8 miles into the run we walk through a stream waist deep. And then climb through the mud to get out of it. Chilly. And wet. My biggest challenge when running is just keeping my mind into it. Pre-pregnancy I was really motivated my speed and setting new records but I can’t do that right now. I’m much slower and it doesn’t feel like there are any other speeds for me. I paced myself slow and steady and focused on keeping good form and taking deep breaths to avoid side stitches. I was slow and steady until we came to a crazy technical part of the course with a long series of muddy and steep ups and downs. Grabbing on to roots, rocks and trees, it’s a challenging part where going fast isn’t really an option. The race description says, “the course is primarily wide double track with a fast, packed surface,” so I didn’t expect such a crazy course. My mind was racing. “High knees! Be careful! Slow down! Speed up!” I’ve run hundreds of miles on trails so I’m used to hidden roots and vines that will bring you to the ground. Ultimately I didn’t fall once because I was so hyper aware and careful. My stamina was good throughout the race, even though it was hard switching back to running after climbing muddy inclines. I didn’t pay attention to time and just tried to stay slow and steady and run as much as possible. Richard volunteered on the course so I got to see him at a water stop. Poor guy heard how challenging the course was and was a little worried about Clara and me. Still, it’s nice to get kisses in the middle of a race! Eventually, I completed the two laps and made my way through the stream for the second time. I saw I had just over one mile left and looked forward to a straight dash to the finish line. Instead, the last mile took us back into the woods, under low-hanging vines and over roots and fallen trees. The last mile sucked- I was so close to finishing but couldn’t go fast with the terrain. Then I came to this, a super steep (still wet) incline uphill. The downhill was just as bad. Eventually, I made it out of the woods for the last time and although the finish line was in sight, we were directed around a sunny, grassy field. Again, running away from the finish line to run back to it made that last mile my least favorite. But then there was my sweet finish line and a handsome husband waiting just behind it. I was done. Closer to my goals, I completed the half marathon. I finished in 3:18, a far cry from the 2:45 I had hoped for and the 2 hour half I ran pre-pregnancy. The super-technical miles took me 25 minutes each, so there were other factors at play. I wasn’t doing this race for time, but I still would like to have seen what my time would have been without the stream crossing and other unusual race additions. I’m excited to see the overall results too. On racing while pregnant: 1. Everyone was super nice. People would look back to check on me after really tough parts. Others made cute comments about running for two and how they couldn’t let me finish before them. It was nice to feel supported. 2. My mind has never raced so much during a WOD. I was thinking about the baby, thinking about how I felt and paying extra attention to my footing. I used to run to zone out; there was none of that in this race! 3. In all my thinking during the race I told myself that if I didn’t feel good at any point, that I’d have to drop out no questions asked. And that the same will go for this month’s marathon. I felt fine and don’t anticipate having to drop out of a race, but it is such a different feeling being responsible for a growing baby and having to be okay with letting go when necessary. 4. Finishing a race pregnant felt kick ass. Pregnancy has changed a lot for me: body, hormones, what I eat/drink, planning maternity leave, how I spend money, just knowing I’m about to be a mom. Running makes me so incredibly happy and fulfilled and it was INCREDIBLE to experience that bit of me, and with Clara inside of me. 5. I honestly think Clara liked the race. She’s usually really quiet but for the rest of the day she was bouncing around in my belly. I fell asleep with my hand on my belly feeling her roll around. I didn’t get a medal but I want to save the race shirt and bib for her somehow. Thanks to a husband who continues to support me- and who had a kiss and a plate of pancakes ready as I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. A plate of pumpkin pie and pancakes (on the way to lunch, obviously) is the best way to end a dirty, wet, awesome race. I’m pumped for the X-Country Marathon in two weeks!