NEW BLOG POST: From Birth to Bath

This is an article I wrote for Right on Running back in Aug 15, thought I’d share it here too.. .might be helpful for any ladies getting into running after having babies 🙂

From Birth to Bath

So what happens when you look at yourself and know you need to change… you book a half marathon, which you will be running 8 months post-birth.  Insane? Possibly, but whatever sane is, doesn’t sit well with a runner….  Any runner reading this will know what I mean. This is my story, what happened to me, I can’t quite believe it myself looking back, but here goes…
I’d avoided the mirror for quite some time post-birth, but when I did, I had quite a slap round the face, who on earth was this person, I didn’t recognize myself at all.  Never been skinny, but never been overweight either, I’d been a UK size 12 for years, and if those got tight, then I would just cut back a bit, or up my exercise, always worked.  However at 41 years of age and after years of IVF drugs, and specifically in the last year, a lack of activity in fear of not carrying (it’s a whole long sordid story that I won’t go into) but I needed to have a plan to find myself again, it suddenly became very important to me.  I wanted to feel strong again, and being an older Mum (41 when I had my daughter) want to have the energy to keep up with my daughter.
Stepping apprehensively on the scales, I was shocked at what I saw.  I was the heaviest I had ever been.  This was in August 2014, it was soul-destroying and a major turning point for me.  I had always had a sporty background, in my teen’s and 20’s I was heavily into aerobics and cross-training (at one point I wanted to become a PT), then started kickboxing and Thai-boxing for years (9 hours a week in Hong Kong for 4 years!), then the 30’s arrived with a very busy new job at a major broadcaster, and a point when I met my other half.  Exercise went out the window for a while and then the long battle with IVF started and finally finished in my 40th year thankfully, with a beautiful daughter the result.
As the scales creaked, I knew I had to do something, its very easy to enter the 40’s and backslide, sure its harder to lose weight at this age and the workouts become harder, but nothing is impossible when you want it.  I didn’t want to be one of the new Mums who didn’t look after their weight, I know that this isn’t one of the main goals for a lot of new Mums, but it was important for me.  At the back of mind I could see me headed into the 40’s with high blood-pressure, diabetes and god knows what else.  I didn’t want my weight to be the contributor to any of these potential illnesses.
I had the final post-natal check-up with my doctor and that’s when I made the start, for any new Mums reading this, do not start any exercise regime without seeing your doctor.  First of all I walked with the buggy around the streets and up hills, I can remember now how hard that was, and boy did I sweat!  It shocked me to think that walking was this hard!
Once I got a bit of confidence again though and enjoyed the feeling of moving my body again, I started a bit of Zumba.  This was ideal as its not hard on the core (I’d had a c-section and had to be very careful), it was fun, got me sweaty and I was doing 40 minutes a day while my baby slept at lunchtime, perfect!  The Zumba sticks you get with the DVD are very light hand-weights but offered some decent resistance at that stage for me.
In the October I decided to up-the-ante by working with a personal trainer, this is one of the best moves I have made on my fitness journey.  Sian, who manages Fresh Start Fitness, (a women’s only PT) was very careful about the exercises I would do, only now (Aug 2015) am I really working hard on the core, burpees, planks etc.  I remember now at the end of my first session with Sian I was utterly exhausted from head to toe, but really proud of myself, this felt my first proper step back to who I once was.  The good thing about working with a PT is that no one session is the same (unlike repetitive DVDs), Sian would arrive with a whole load of different equipment from dumbbells, resistance bands, kettle bells and medicine balls (I think that’s what they’re called!).
When we moved from Epsom to the Cotswolds recently, I really didn’t want to lose my trainer, so we workout via Skype now once a week, and its great.  For a few months I’ve been circuit training using my own body weight and light weights, and now have resistance bands.  Sian if you’re reading this, thanks for turning up in Epsom at 6am for the first few months and then putting up with a screaming little baby for the other workouts!
To keep the momentum I decided to book a run, it would be a great reason to keep training and decided to opt for the Bath Half.  I love Bath and thought this would be a lovely break for my family too.  My first half and I have such good memories of it, it’s so special for me and only 8 months post-birth, looking back now, was incredibly brave.  March 2015 crept around quite fast, I had been running out locally and also doing my PT sessions, felt quite confident – little did I know how long that run was going to be (oh sweet naivety).
When we rocked up at Bath on the day of the half, the weather was a little overcast and then totally chucked it down.  Me, my husband and baby ducked into a marquee where other runners were sheltering from the weather.  I started flustering wondering if I was going to be late to walk to my gate – however it gave me a chance to clock who else was in the marquee.  Seemed a lot of athletic looking people, thin as whippets, ripped to pieces, a feeling of doom washed over me, had I bitten off more than I could chew, still carrying a lot of post-pregnancy weight, could I really do this…?
Scared, nervous and excited I kissed my family goodbye as the raindrops finally departed and felt like a ‘dead man walking’ as I shuffled over to the gate with the other runners.  The atmosphere was electric, everyone else must’ve had the same nerves, I clocked a few people who I recognized on Twitter, but didn’t want to disturb them as they seemed ‘in the zone’ pre-race.
The gun went off and it took forever for me to make it to the starting line, then we were off, oh boy!
A few runners started pushing past others jostling to find their space (rude in my opinion), and passing the one mile sign I felt quite comfortable, crikey just 12.1 to go….  I saw a woman who was quite overweight at this stage, she was walking and completely red in the face, breathing heavy I often wonder if she got through the race, but applaud her for trying and hope she kept up with running now.  At 6 miles, I still felt good, then at 7 miles, I just had to go to the toilet (oh god those toilets were worse than V-Festival toilets, talk about runners nerves!), a good point to note for future races is not to drink that much again!
A jelly-bean vision appeared shortly after and I woofed those down, eep, that didn’t agree with me (again note to self not to do that again).  Then from 9 miles (I can’t believe I got that far running!) I ran-walked, then I called my husband at mile 10, he said he would be at mile 12 with our daughter and there they were, little Mia was dressed in her tracksuit and trainers and looking just the cutest thing ever, I gave her a very big kiss!
At mile 12 I saw someone collapse – luckily a marshall was right there for them, and their friend was by their side.  This quite scared me to be honest, I hope he was OK!  It just shows you how much running distance can take it out of an un-prepared body.
Finally, and what seemed like an age… mile 13 loomed and I sprinted to the end (and nearly took out a woman who ran horizontally in front of the finish line, seriously!) – silly cow.  I did this in 2 hours 45, which 8 months post.
Where am I now?  Well I certainly did find me again, actually I found a better me. I have never felt this strong, fit and well in my life.   As for me and running, well, we have a love-hate relationship, mostly we argue but I will never leave it!  I have three half-marathons coming up, Bristol, Bath and Swansea and a full marathon in August next year in Gloucester – have I bitten off more than I can chew again?  Probably, but I will enjoy every minute of it.-birth is quite an achievement.  My first half under the belt! YES!
IMG_5581

Bath Half.. first Half…

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