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Follow This Mother

February 3, 2011

Jess and her baby belly (she's due at the end of May) suit up for a run. Scooter just wanted to pose for the camera.

An on-and-off again runner, Jess, an English professor in Florida, decided she would run for 21 days straight–the amount of time experts say it takes to create a habit–and blog about it. That little (successful) experiment was in June of 2005. 2,000+ posts later, she’s gotten married, ran through her pregnancy with Norah, now 18 months, and is running preggo again. Oh, and she has a cute dog named Scooter.

21 days to make a habit: When I began my initial 21-day endeavor, it was June in South Florida, so it was somewhere around a bazillion degrees everyday. I was out there running in cotton shorts and a cotton T-shirt.  I was miserable.  The first run I did was a loop through my neighborhood, and when I finished, I thought it HAD to have been at least 5 or 6 miles.  It was 3.  Yet, despite the heat, the chafing, and the profuse sweating, I kept plugging away at it.  Eventually, I learned about sweat-wicking materials, and other things running-related, and over time, it got easier.

Doctor’s orders?: When I was pregnant with Norah, I spoke my doctor about running, and her exact words were: “I don’t like running.”  She felt it was too strenuous and too risky for a pregnant woman.  I literally sat in my car after that appointment and cried.  But, then I made the simple determination that I DO like running and that I knew what was best for me: I was in good health and had been running 20-30 miles a week when I got pregnant, and I had no predictive complications that would imply that my pregnancy would be high-risk.  So, I ran until I was 32 weeks pregnant. With my current pregnancy, I chose then to just remain tight-lipped about my running.  Which is not what I would advise any pregnant woman to do.

Round 2 with baby in board: Running while pregnant is much harder this time around.  For one, my life is simply much busier now than it was when I was pregnant with Norah, so the extra energy required just to fit running into the day is taxing.  Also, for most of my runs, I push Norah in a jogging stroller, so being pregnant AND pushing a jogging stroller is tough work.

300 miles, even if it's the same route, make a swift runner.


100 days, same 3 miles: I ran that 3-mile loop I mentioned earlier  I ran that for basically 100 days straight in 2010 when I ran a 100 day streak.  Repetition in route doesn’t bother me; in fact, I like it because I know it so well.

A hill by any other name: Hills in Florida are called landfills.  Or bridges.


Orange shorts + a Disney medal. Nice sunshine-state combo.

A different kind of Florida orange: My orange shorts are my lucky ones. I’ve had them for five years, and I’ve had those and have run quite a few major races in them.  They fit perfectly and are so comfortable, that when they’re clean, they’re on me!

The final grade: Even though running pregnant while pushing a stroller is tough, nothing beats the mind-numbing-monotony of grading student writing. I typically teach between 125-150 students a term.  On average, they each write four essays through the term.  So, that means I read between 500-600 essays each semester.  I’d rather push a jogging stroller than do that any day!

Going the distance…on the keyboard: A few years ago, when my blog was on the verge of reaching 1,000 posts, I announced to my husband: “Guess what?  I’ve almost written 1,000 blog posts!”  His response: “Wow, what a giant waste of time.” Thinking on his comment always makes me laugh – and he did mean it in a playful, not degrading, way – because in a sense I have spent an immeasurable amount of time blogging.  However, my blog is older than my marriage, my children, and my dog, so to me, it’s a significant “part” of who I am, especially as a runner.

Keeping it fresh: There are days when it’s tough to come up with fresh ideas, and I don’t always succeed with that: There has been a lot of redundancy in my topics over the years.  Thankfully, I suppose I am either too chatty or too egocentric to believe that people would NOT want to read my anecdotes about day-to-day life and how running figures into that.  I am interesting, no?

Rocky Mountain high: One of my most enjoyable race experiences was the Colorado Colfax Half Marathon in 2008.

Cute family, soon to expand. (Hope Scooter adapts.)

I don’t know why, but through every minute of that race, I kept thinking, “Man, this is fun!  I love this!  I feel so great!” That race wasn’t a PR for me, but I just loved every smidgen of it.

A different kind of heat: My worst race was the Chicago Marathon in 2007, the year of the infamous heat wave. I DNF’d. Many runners experienced heat exhaustion (myself included), and in every regard, that morning was pure awful for me.

Can’t–but is–living without: My Garmin. I’m not running with it right now; I learned when I ran during my first pregnancy is that seeing how much you slow down is discouraging. It distracted me from my true reasons to run.  So, pretty much the minute I learned I was pregnant this time around, I shelved it.  And I miss it dearly!

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 3:43 am

    Doctors who discourage running during pregnancy for no apparent reason make me stabby.

  2. February 3, 2011 5:44 am

    Jess is so pretty! She made me say that, but I’ve been following her Pre-Norah and how she can stand the heat of Florida is beyond me.

  3. February 3, 2011 5:52 am

    I’ve been following Jess for a long time now! Love her…she just has the funniest things to say!!!

  4. February 3, 2011 6:06 am

    This has to be my FAV segment that RLAM does. I just love all of these women I am learning about. This mom really inspires me. When I was 3 months prego my doctor really worked her discouraging magic on me and convinced me to stop running for the duration of my pregnancy. I always regretting not listening to my gut – especially when I read something like this! Way to go! Next time I will definitely run as long as I feel like it!

  5. February 3, 2011 6:06 am

    Jess is awesome!

  6. February 3, 2011 6:21 am

    Yay Jess! I always love reading your blog. I am in awe that you can run pregnant while pushing a jogger and you make it look easy.

  7. February 3, 2011 6:26 am

    I’ve been following this mother for about a year now. I remember a post she wrote about getting up and running a half marathon race (pretty sure it was a half)…and then coming home to have a normal day with her family. I was in awe! I thought I’d never be there. After I ran my second half I came home and had a normal day with my family and remembered that post all day long!!

  8. missusdunlap permalink
    February 3, 2011 6:27 am

    Jess, you are truly inspiring! I live in Northwest Florida and can’t even imagine myself running outside April-October! Air-conditioning on the treadmill for me. 🙂

  9. February 3, 2011 6:32 am

    Way to go! If I have another one, I plan to run for as long as I can through pregnancy.

  10. Rhiannon permalink
    February 3, 2011 6:55 am

    I absolutely love reading Jess’s blog! She’s an amazing woman who just keeps on going, like an Energizer Bunny. Keep it up!

  11. February 3, 2011 7:36 am

    I love Jess’s blog. She inspired me to keep running during pregnancy and then I used her 21-day streak idea to get back to running after giving birth. And that Norah is so cute!

  12. February 3, 2011 9:51 am

    OMG, I laughed outloud when I read your hubby’s statement… “Wow, what a giant waste of time.” That is about exactly the statement I would get from my hubby. I’m going for a the full marathon this year (my first!) AND I just decided to start a blog about it… both of which my hubby does not get. Oh, well, blog on my friends! Heading over to check out your blog!

  13. February 3, 2011 9:51 am

    I hope it becomes more mainstream that running is acceptable for MOST pregnancies. Jess is a great example!

  14. Elizabeth permalink
    February 3, 2011 10:05 am

    Love love love her. I’ve been reading since the august she gave birth to norah. As a high school attending runner, something about her life is intriguing; probably because it’s everything I hope for mine to be some day.

  15. February 3, 2011 12:27 pm

    I gave up running quite a while ago yet I still follow Jess’s blog. I’m even friends with her on FB! She has THE BEST personality and it shines through on her blog. I’m proud of her for running while pregnant and listening to her body!

  16. February 3, 2011 12:40 pm

    Just another member of the Jess fan club! Awesome interview! And Jess is soooo pretty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. February 3, 2011 3:07 pm

    Great interview pretty lady!

  18. February 3, 2011 5:46 pm

    I’ve loved reading Jess’s running journey, I’ve been reading her blog for the last couple of years! She is so inspiring!!!

  19. heather permalink
    February 3, 2011 6:18 pm

    Wish I could run like this mother…and look so pretty doing it! I’ve been following Jess since Jan 2009 when we were both pregnant with our firsts and running. I’m not nearly as dedicated but she’s inspiring and enjoyable to follow just the same.

  20. Susan Brockenbrough permalink
    February 3, 2011 6:53 pm

    I ran to 41 wks w #1, 36 wks w #2 and 34 wks w/#3. 3 healthy babies later, I run behind a double jogger while #1 is at preschool…

  21. Rachel permalink
    February 3, 2011 7:01 pm

    Love reading about pregnant runners! I did NOT run with my 1st 2 pregnancies (was scared it wasn’t ok), but after I got back into running after baby #2 I was not about to quit when I got pg with #3! It was awesome. I felt great, I ran most days (albeit much more slowly) and continued until 32+ weeks. I bounced right back into shape after she was born, and am actually now running through my 4th pregnancy too! (I’m only 6 weeks though, it barely counts yet!). Run on, moms, run on.

  22. Marisa S permalink
    February 3, 2011 7:35 pm

    I would’ve switched doctors! I ran through both of my pregnancies, and I have to say it was the best thing I could have done for myself and my baby…AND my doctor totally supported me – he’s a runner too! 🙂

  23. AkaAlice permalink
    February 3, 2011 11:53 pm

    I *heart* Jess’s blog! I have no idea how she does it all…

  24. Robin permalink
    February 4, 2011 9:28 am

    I am so lucky. Last year when I was pregnant, my OB and I frequently crossed paths while we were out running. The only time she chastised me was when I wore shorts out running in 40 degree weather.

  25. February 4, 2011 10:05 am

    A great mother runner to feature. Jess does a wonderful job of balancing sharing her life, her running, and her human moments with her readers. She lets us all have a sense of getting to know her and that is in large part what we all come here for, a connection.

  26. Samantha permalink
    February 4, 2011 11:08 am

    Been reading her blog for a looong looong time. She is an amazing writer – witty and informative at the same time. Oh and did I tell you that she is really pretty! (no she didnt make me say it..)

  27. February 4, 2011 1:54 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who doesn’t mind the same route. I trained for my first half marathon on the same route (mostly 3 milers…well, 1.5 there and back) every run. I like it. I like knowing there are 0 dogs, few cars, and a hills to kick my butt. 😀

    And this makes me want to have another baby so badly so I can run through a pregnancy (is that a bad reason to have a baby?).

  28. February 6, 2011 10:23 am

    Jess has always been an inspiration to me! I’ve been reading 21 Days since the drunken bowling days (can I say drunken on this blog?), published short stories, marriage & babies.

    Way to go Mama Jess

  29. Julie Beaver permalink
    February 7, 2011 5:42 pm

    I ran the chicago marathon in 2007 – SUCKED! Still hate running in high humidity I have post traumatic marathon flashbacks! I also ran while pregnant w my 2nd until I was 8 mos. Good for you! Love the blog.

  30. teresadn permalink
    February 7, 2011 7:30 pm

    I laughed out loud when I read the part about Florida hills–it took me back to my high school cross country days in South Florida when we would run the huge, arching bridge over the intercoastal waterway for hill workouts. Our races that actually consisted of hills were often held in parks that had previously been landfills, too. Keep it up, Jess, and good luck with your pregnancy!

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