Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Run at Whale Lake Church

We are pretty sure there are not any whales in the lakes of Denmark. But we really did run at a place known as Whale Lake Church today. We had planned, in our sort of way of planning, to run the Sydkystmaraton today, but then SR got angry about paying the entry fee. I had actually gotten free entry from Henriette. But paying about $50 bucks for SR's entry fee, for a race mosly on asfalt, wasn't really that appealing to me either. And I have had a bad cold and sore throat over the past week, so I didn't feel like waking up super early or exerting my immune system. Plus, I have begun to have problems with plantar fasciitits again and hard surfaces are the absolute worst. So instead, we went to my favorite place to run in Denmark: Hvalsø Kirke (yes, Whale Lake Church). It is the hilliest place on our island and has a huge area of forest, and is also the place Skovløberen, my favorite Danish marathon, is run. We had set out to run a marathon, but even with the opportunity to run 4 1/2 hours, we didn't quite do that (it did, after all, take me four hours to run a marathon here non-pregnant and in a race). We ran only 23. But somehow it seemed fitting and celebratory to run 23 miles now that I am 23 weeks pregnant. Plus, it was stress-free, my cold is now gone and my plantar fasciitis is only slightly worse.

We ran together the entire time. I think we are at our best and most in love on days like this. Of course, when we get hypoglycemic, we get mean quickly, but that only happend once today. (Danni calls this phenomenon "hangry" by the way, which is great)

At about 18 miles, I started having Braxton Hicks contractions. I really didn't know what it was at first and thought I really had to pee, but no pee came out. I got worried. But then I realized that the pain kept coming and going and went away if I stopped running. And once I realized this, ironically, I wasn't afraid to run anymore. Because one knows it's Braxton Hicks if it goes away when one stops the exertion. Okay, but despite the fact I knew it wasn't dangerous, it wasn't comfortable either. I would describe it as going from feeling normal to feeling as if there is a big bowling ball pressing on your bladder and pelvis. I actually first experienced Braxton Hicks my last pregnancy after I had my running injury, while I was spinning, so I don't remember what they felt like running. Any of you readers have experience with them while running?

I'm not sure how I feel about running all of Chippewa in 3 weeks. 50k seems longer to me today than it did yesterday. And the terrain we ran on today was similar to the Chippewa terrain. It is not that I am worried about running it slowly, I just don't like the idea of running 12 miles or more with contractions. So, of course, I'll just run as much as I'm comfortable with. Chippewa is, after all, in such a beautiful area that just getting the chance to run there - even part of the distance - is something to look forward to. Plus, I know SR has a chance of winning. He is uninjured, light and has had some good long runs, though he adamantly denies being in good shape right now.

I didn't even listen to enough music to have a running song of the day. So instead, you're all stuck with captioned pictures.

Photo of the artist as a young man

23 weeks pregnant - after 23 miles run

The sexiest husband to ever stand on a rock with a Chippewa 50k shirt on, looking for whales in a fresh-water lake


Julie said...

Sounds like a great run. You are an inspiration! Wish I had been more active and a runner back when I was pregnant. You are looking great!

Marathon Mom said...

Sounds like a nice run. I remember the BH contractions, mine started around week 19 during a half marathon when I thought "why do I keepfeeling like I have to pee, but then it goes away". I finally realized it was BH when it stopped as soon as I was done running. I found that staying really hydrated helped and using a pelvic support belt took some pressure off the bladder making the BH much less noticable while running.

Grace in TN said...

Great photo! I have gotten BH with both pregnancies - sometimes even from fast walks. Never with pain though - just tightness and discomfort. I would agree the support belt helps with that too - I have the Gabriella and found it online. And the strassburg sock for PF - I am sure you have that already!

The Chapples said...

I had B-H on TODAY'S run, as a matter of fact! I only ran 7.7, so can only imagine how it would feel at mile 20! I hate the feeling, had them like crazy during my last pregnancy but they've started earlier this time around. Like you said, they usually go away when I stop moving, put my feet up, and hydrate well. But darn are they ever uncomfortable!

mmmonyka said...

SR looks so serious in that first picture (at least compared to you):)"The "seriousest" husband to ever stand by his lovely wife with a Chippewa 50k shirt on..."

Pictures are better than running song of a day!

sea legs girl said...

Just have to give a general big thank you for all of the Braxton Hicks comments - it makes me feel much better.

Mmmonyka - totally agree pics are better than running song of the day, but unfortunately I'm not always so good at getting a hint of irony to come through :). One of my goals for the future is to be better about remembering to check to make sure the camera is functioning (with card and batteries) before I go out the door!

Iris said...

I also had Braxton Hicks during my pregnancy. I was so worried that I went to the hospital twice as everyone told me I cannot have them at only 23 weeks (actually, the first time I realized they were there was at 18 weeks). They never influenced the length of my cervix so my doctor wasn`t concerned at all. Reading the experiences of you and the other posters I wonder if exercising and/or lean women have more and earlier Braxton Hicks contractions. Or is it because we are more aware of everything that happens in/to our bodies? But then, my Braxton Hicks contractions were so obvious - no way you could have missed them! But it is helpful to hear that I am not the only one who experienced them early on- this will definitely make it easier when I am pregnant again!

Jacqueline said...

I had them a lot my second pregnancy, and they actually did turn into pre-term labor for me -- after a spinning class, ha ha. I thought it was just from the class, but I was doubled over even afterward, then drank a ton of water, then went home and laid down and it still didn't stop. Scary. I was around 27 weeks when I had to go on medicine for it -- Procardia, I think, is the name. Something like that. Anyway, it sucked. I hope things settle down for you.

Anonymous said...

SLG, I am a long-time reader of your blog. I unfortunately just learned my 2d pregnancy in 13 mos (3d if you count a positive test in Nov that turned neg a few days later) is ending in m/c after I developed a subchorionic hemorrhage and was spotting/bleeding for weeks. My doctor (a former Olympic athlete) at one point counseled me to avoid all strenuous exercise. Two questions for you: 1) have you read the 2007 Danish study that examined strenuous exertion and m/c, finding a positive correlation? 2) apart from that study, are you aware of any impact of strenuous exercise in causing a threatened m/c to progress to a m/c? You are the only person who I know is writing about these issues and I would be very grateful for your thoughts.

sea legs girl said...

Iris, well I think there are the main reason a lot of the women commenting here had Braxton Hicks earlier was because they exercised. In the pregnancy book I have given to all Danish women, it states that Braxton Hicks are normal starting in week 23 or even earlier. But, yeah, I don't remember ever having them when I didn't exercise, so it's no wonder a lot of people think that 23 weeks is too early. Looking back I think I had them at the end of all the pregnant marathons I ran because I always said to SR afterwards that I started having weird bladder pain at the end - even when I was just 9 weeks along!

sea legs girl said...


What a scary experience! But - did you actually go into labor at that point? I am just confused.

Braxton Hicks don't lead to labor. There have been multiple studies showing this. If you went into labor while spinning, it had nothing to do with Braxton Hicks or the spinning. It was a coincidence and there must have been other reasons you went into preterm labor. If you went to the hospital with Braxton Hicks and not premature labor, a doctor there may have given you a medication "just to be on the safe side". But labor and Braxton Hicks are two completely different things. And BH's don't lead to labor. It is hard for me to say more about your particular situation without knowing more details.

sea legs girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sea legs girl said...


I am so sorry to read about your miscarriage. It is such a hard thing to go through - and now, if I understand you right this is your second? I know it's easier said than done, but do everything you can to not put the blame on yourself - because it is NOT your fault.

I have read the study and I know Mette Juhl who is one of the researchers in the study. What they found was a small positive correlation between "high impact sports" and miscarriage. "High impact" was all ball sports, horsebackriding and running. So it is wrong to call it "strenuous exercise". There has been no study linking running alone with an increased risk of miscarriage. In fact, when running or dancing are looked at alone, they lower the risk of miscarriage. I have interpreted the Danish study as proof that high impacts to the womb such as balls or kicks from horses or falls from horses ARE potentially dangerous. It was thus not necessarily the exercise that was dangerous. In fact, it is hard to believe it was simply the exercise when all other studies on exercise and miscarriage have given opposite results. I have actually asked Mette Juhl if I could analyze just the runners alone and she was okay with that. Now I just need the money and the time for the study.

Jacqueline said...

Hi. No, I didn't go into labor, I just had a ton of contractions that didn't stop -- so I guess they were still BH, because they weren't causing any cervical change (tht's what makes them BH, right?).

But then I did keep having them, and I can't even remember now (how funny is that, my baby is only 5 months old and I am so forgetful about all the pregnancy details ALREADY), but they did put me on the medicine. I had so many other issues going on -- fluid issues, etc. -- that they were pretty conservative with me, I think. But after a while, the contractions would happen even on the medicine. But a fetal-fibronectin test at around 34 weeks was negative (I was breaking through the procardia then and had to go to the hospital because they wouldn't stop). At that point I was told, looks like I just have a sensitive uterus, or something like that. Basically, oh well.

Why am I sharing all this? I have no idea. Anyway.

I guess my point is be careful. It was scary to me when it happened. But that could be because of all the other issues.

I hope you have an uneventful pregnancy!

sea legs girl said...


Thanks so much for sharing more details! I in no way mean to downplay what you experienced. Life is of course never as simple as research indicates. But, yeah, you are right, it is not labor unless there is cervical change. It is, though, harder for me to explain why your contractions lasted so long after you stopped exercising, though of course one can have braxtons hicks while not exercising especially if warm and or dehydrated, if I remember correctly.

But the most important thing I want to get across to the readers of this blog is that neither exercising nor Braxtons Hicks contractions induce premature labor. I just don't want women to get scared when they have Braxton Hicks - and that is easier said than done since even I figured I was having Braxton Hicks on Sunday, but still was ever so slightly scared.

Glad everything ended well with your pregnancy :).

Iris said...

Actually, I didn`t have my Braxton Kicks contractions while exercising but during rest, especially at night. I took a break from exercising when I was really worried and it didn`t have an impact on their frequency. My theorie is that women that are engaged in exercising have more muscle tone - everywhere, probably also in the structures supporting the organs. This might prompt those benign contractions in the uterus. Maybe this is far-fetched. My doctors (and yes, I saw several as I was so worried) were way more relaxed than I was as long as no cervical changes were noticeable. I am curious about your analysis of the "running group"!

sea legs girl said...


Hmmmm. Have you seen evidence that women who are thin/muscular/exercise more get Braxton Hicks contractions at rest earlier? I guess I just don't have that impression, but of course I might be wrong.

Regarding the muscle theory, it is difficult to make sense of it physiologically because uterine muscle is smooth muscle, not skeletal muscle, so it is not affected or strengthened by exercise. I don't think it makes sense to believe that strengthening skeletal muscle would have an affect on smooth muscle. Just like lifting boxes doesn't strengthen our heart, it's making our heart pump that strengthens our heart. Although there may be a complex interaction between smooth and skeletal muscle that is not yet understood.

Jacqueline said...

Yes, I am not trying to scare your readers! I think my problem was the contractions just wouldn't stop, you know?

Exercising while pregnant definitely made me feel less like a craze, rage-filled preggo!

Jacqueline said...

Iris: I was told that I might feel things more because I didn't have a lot of belly fat. Even in the hospital, during labor, they said that while watching my contractions on the monitor. The nurse made some comment that the monitor would pick things up sooner on me than on someone who was heavier (I was induced and on constant monitoring, though was able to walk around, etc.). So maybe your muscular theory makes sense?

Anonymous said...

SLG, thank you so much for answering my question about strenuous exercise! It is so comforting to know about your exchange with Mette Juhl. I truly appreciate the information and I hope you get money for that study -- I for one am cheering you on.

Anonymous said...

I'm due on August 8th, 2011 and found your blog while googling '23 week pregnant runner,' to see what it would come up with. And I'm so glad I'm here! I'm going to periodically check in and read your journey - you are truly an inspiration!

I ran through my first trimester and first half of second, and recently (at 21/22 weeks) started feeling sharp pains in the side areas of my pelvis - which I believe might be round ligament pains. I still run though, occasionally putting my hands under my belly to ease the pain. But my mileage and time have seriously plummeted to crawling speed.. so reading that you had just ran 23 miles at this point is just beyond awesome!

Thank you for a helpful, informative blog for all of us pregnant runners, and keep running!

sea legs girl said...

Hey Anon - Thank you so much for commenting. All I can say is keep running as long as you can. It is the healthiest and most effective stress reliever I know! Don't worry at all about how fast you run or about taking days off or cutting down on mileage when you need to. The most important thing is that it continues to make you happy. I really hope your pains don't get worse and that you are able to run all the way until baby comes! Stay in touch!