Just over a week ago, Jason and I completed our 9th consecutive Cooper River Bridge Run. This Feltis Family tradition actually started 10 years ago when my sisters-in-law ran it, and then coerced us into participating for the first time the following year – we’ve been hooked ever since.
It doesn’t hurt that the race takes place in Charleston, SC and is capped at 40,000 runners – it’s a good time all around. Plus, there’s only one REAL hill during the race – the Bridge itself. Once you are at the top, it’s all downhill/flat for the last 3+ (probably close to 3.5) miles. So, if you’ve never done it before, I recommend checking it out. It’s even great for first timers as there are so many people and so much to look at that you are distracted from the distance. In fact, nine years ago it was the first time I’d run more than 3.1 miles. We got a few steps past the halfway marker and Jason was trying to convince me to speed up. My response was “Give me a minute! This is officially the farthest I’ve ever run!” I think about that every year at that spot – it’s amazing how far one can come!
This year was quite the opposite of last year’s race for me. Last year I had my fastest Bridge Run and fastest 10k ever at 50:13, contrasted with this year at just under 1.5 hours. This year was the first time I’ve run a race with Jason in years, and actually all four of us (the two of us plus our sis-and bro-in-law) all stayed together and had a good time! Two preggos, two baby daddys, and two bathroom stops along the way means we weren’t moving very fast!
So, let’s take a sec to talk about that… running during pregnancy.
If you are a runner, you might be one of early ones to identify your pregnancy – possibly even before a test is valid. Why? Because heart rate.
When you conceive, your body immediately starts trying to create more blood and starts sharing that blood with the embryo/fetus. If you are out for a run, it is no longer your body’s priority to share that blood with your muscles – it still does it, but my understanding it there’s a little less to go around, which results in elevated heart rates. I remember at one point during my first pregnancy (before I knew I was pregnant), I came home from a run and proclaimed that “I sure hope I’m pregnant, there should be a reason for such a slow run!”
Even just days into this pregnancy, all the Felti headed up to Hanging Rock. Jason, I, and our other bro-in-law decided we wanted to run to the top first, before coming back down to hike with the rest of the family as they made their way to the top with the kiddos. Well, I just couldn’t keep up. My heart rate was through the roof, 180+, when we hit the first hill. That was my first clue that things were really going in our favor, and it was confirmed just a few days later.
You may have also heard about this husband who noticed his wife’s Fitbit was tracking her heart rate well above normal earlier this year: http://mashable.com/2016/02/10/fitbit-pregnant/#cjBZ9iW6okqW. Yup! Turns out she was pregnant.
So what does this mean?
For me, it just means that I’ve been running slower and shorter (max has been 8 miles, but I only see that getting shorter from here on out). I’ve been wearing my Garmin 920 and my heart rate monitor and my personal goal has been to stay at or below 160 bpm. My heart rate is typically on the higher end of normal anyway, so I wanted to give myself room to actually run. My doctor didn’t seem to think I even needed to worry about my heart rate, but advised me to “be smart” – this is my way of being smart. So, I’ve gone from averaging 8:45-9:30 min/mile on my runs to now anywhere from 11:30-12 min/mile – it’s quite a difference. However, I’ve found that there are friendly faces and fun stories to be shared at any pace!