Nine Months of Medals: How I Raced Through Pregnancy
Editor’s Note: This post is written by guest contributor, Kayleen Beccard, and has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minneapolis Running.
In 2016, my husband and I registered for several out-of-state races to check off some new states on our “marathon in all 50 states” list. Little did we know that I would become pregnant with our first baby early in the year! Instead of throwing the races out the window, I decided to try and earn 9 medals for every month of pregnancy. What followed were many months, many races, and many things learned about running while pregnant.
As I trained for my January marathon, I felt like my running clothes were fitting tighter. It also felt like my sports bra just wasn’t working like it used to; I felt like things were moving a little more than normal and more than I liked! On race day I started running and my chest was pretty sore. The soreness lasted for about the first six miles and then ended or I became numb to it. I ran the entire marathon (hello flat course and great weather!) and actually finished with a PR! After the race, I was extremely tired. Like more tired than I have ever felt following a marathon. I figured it was due to traveling and actually running the entire thing.
We arrived home a few days after the marathon and I decided to take a pregnancy test. It then occurred to me that I ran a marathon while pregnant! No wonder my chest hurt so bad AND I was exhausted after that marathon.
In February I ran the El Paso Half Marathon. Friends and family knew I was supposed to run the full so I just made up some excuses for dropping to the half while keeping our big secret to ourselves. At this point, I was around 9 weeks pregnant. I continued to feel bloated and my sports bra continued to not feel all that great. (I purchased a new high-intensity sports bra – Juno by Moving Comfort. Best decision ever! Ladies, treat yourself to a GOOD sports bra!) The race was pretty easy and uneventful. I was, again, extremely tired after the race, but I earned another medal AND made it another week running!
My husband and I did not have travel plans for March so we turned to some local races to earn my March medal. I decided to run the Hot Dash 10 mile at around 14 weeks pregnant. This race was again pretty uneventful. However, family knew I was pregnant at this point so I had many people questioning my running goals. It is hard to understand a runner if you aren’t one…
In April we traveled to Louisville, Kentucky. This race was the first race I looked pregnant and I thought would be pretty challenging. Rain was in the forecast on race morning, adding another obstacle. Training runs for this race were no more than 9 miles. I just couldn’t get myself to go any further. I was worried about this run.
(During my training runs leading up to this race I started feeling slight ligament pain. I figured my running was almost over. I purchased maternity running capris and tanks that seemed to hold my belly in pretty well. I also used a Flip Belt to hold my phone and I think it helped hold my belly up a little too.)
I finished this half marathon at about 19 weeks [pregnant] and in pouring rain. The rain added another obstacle for any runner, but definitely for a pregnant runner. I was extremely cautious during this run to not fall by stepping into a hole disguised as a puddle. Once again I was exhausted!
My husband and I decided to travel to Rochester, Minnesota to run the Rochester Marathon and Half Marathon. The forecast for this race was warm. Very warm. I went into this run knowing that every runner is going to be hot and that I HAD to walk if I felt like I was even pushing a little too hard. I walked quite a bit of this race. It was very hilly and I walked nearly all the hills. I also looked for the shaded parts of the course (there weren’t many). I finished and earned my 5th medal!
In June we planned to run in South Bend, Indiana just one week after running in Rochester. I knew ahead of time that I would be walking if I felt like I was getting too hot. Before the race started I needed water and surveyed the start line. I could not find water anywhere. I finally went to the information booth and was told that online runner surveys show racers don’t drink water at the start line. What?! Is that actually true? I mean clearly those surveyed aren’t pregnant. Before I could stop myself, I told (yelled at) that poor volunteer that there is no way that is true and runners (especially pregnant runners) do want to drink water before the race starts! Lesson learned: always have a water bottle with me.
I ran pretty well until mile 11 of this race. At this point, I decided it was way too hot to keep pushing. I also realized with the runners around me that the course was definitely marked wrong. I ended up completing closer to 13.75 miles…grr. I worked hard for June’s medal!
My running journey was entering the hot part of summer and the belly was getting pretty big. I was starting to struggle to put my shoes on. I was out of breath and sweaty before I even left the house to run. I still really wanted to keep my medal earning going!
For July I decided on the Red, White and Boom half marathon in Minneapolis. As race week approached the weather didn’t look TOO hot so I signed up. By this race it was very obvious I was pregnant. I crossed the finish line and earned my seventh medal! After running this race my hips were so sore that I thought this would be my last race.
After resting my body and doing lots of hip and leg stretches during the week following Red, White and Boom I felt ready to try to continue my running journey. I lowered my weekly mileage but tried to keep one longer run of six miles each week.
For August I had my eye on the RBC Race for the Kids in St Paul. As the week approached the weather looked doable and I was feeling like I could complete the miles so I signed up! I was 34 weeks pregnant. This race went surprisingly well! Just like “normal” runners, pregnant runners also have good and bad days and you never know what race day will bring. I ran slow, steady, stopped at every water stop (and took two cups), stopped at a port-a-potty when I saw one, looked for the shade and basically walked every hill. A smooth race!
Earning this medal meant I had my most difficult task ahead. The longest, most uncomfortable month of pregnancy versus the last medal!
My due date was September 22nd, but in late August we learned that our baby was breech and I would be having a scheduled cesarean section on September 16th. I secretly hoped for an early September birth so I had no way of trying to get that last medal.
Running was getting so much more difficult. I was carrying the most weight my shins had ever felt and they were letting me know it, too! I FELT like I had to pee all the time and at each port-a-potty break, it was like I was stripping off battle armor while standing in a sauna. Not fun. I was also really tired. It is exhausting growing a baby!
I chose a 5k in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota on September 10. I really cut down on my running the weeks before this race and was only running three miles at a time. When race day came I felt awesome. There was something about knowing I had 3.1 miles ahead of me and I’d hit my goal AND could quit running if I wanted to. Anyone can go through 30ish minutes of pain, right? Before this race, I got MANY stares and comments. I mean I WAS 38 weeks pregnant.
This race was pretty and scenic. It was a very peaceful, calm way to end my medal goal. I knew this would be my last race for some time and it was bittersweet. The last race with just me and my belly. I earned my September medal and then started my mandatory break from running.