My latest interview is with Meghan Gebke. To say that she is a runner is understatement. When asked if I could interview her about staying in shape during her pregnancy, she was more than thrilled and informed me that she was a ‘streaker.’ I am completely amazed by her! I’ve read her interview numerous times because it makes me so excited. Whether you do CrossFit, run marathons, or do yoga, keeping the body in motion is the key. Find something you love to do as much as Meghan loves running.
So, you’re a runner. When did you get started running? And, when did you turn into a “streaker?”
I started running in 7th grade, for the cross country and track teams, and haven’t ever really stopped! When my husband and I were dating in college, we made a bet to see who could go the longest without skipping a day of running, with a minimum of 2 miles daily. This got a little out of control, but I won after a couple of years when he had to skip a few days because of a military live-fire exercise where he was in the field for a few days straight. I decided not to stop my own running streak, so it kept going right up until my due date. I ended up running at least 2 miles per day (usually more) for 2,672 days (7 years, 4 months).
Love it. So y’all have a little one now and you ran all through your pregnancy, correct? Can you describe that? Was it difficult or easy?
I did run through my pregnancy, and for me, it wasn’t hard. I think it would have been harder for me if I hadn’t been able to run for some reason. It wasn’t hard, but it was different. I didn’t do speedwork anymore, and I had to stop doing races because I found that I was too competitive to slow down. Sometimes running was uncomfortable, especially in the last weeks when my weight was proportioned differently, and I had all that Relaxin loosening up my joints! It felt a little like I had rubber bands holding some of my joints together, which is a weird feeling, especially with such an awkward weight and shape! I took more walk breaks, my pace got progressively slower, and if I ran more than 6 miles, I had to bring a gel or Gatorade or I would feel nauseous. I also had to be more careful to stay hydrated, especially in the heat of the summer (my daughter was born in July).
You mentioned to me that you got back to your pre-baby weight within two weeks of having your daughter. Was that on purpose? Or, because you started running again?
I did get back to pre-pregnancy weight by 2 weeks postpartum, which was unexpected and very surprising at the time! I definitely wanted to lose the baby weight, but I wouldn’t say losing it that fast was on purpose. I think it was partly due to breastfeeding and partly due to a loss of muscle during my pregnancy, because I didn’t do much weight training once I found out I was pregnant, so at 2 weeks postpartum, I was back to the same weight, but not the same size. I started walking for exercise again about a week after having my daughter, and then I slowly added running back in. It took me longer to heal from the birth than I expected, but I still feel that being fit helped me heal faster.
Did you breastfeed? If so, did you find it difficult to get enough food and nutrients for yourself and the little one?
I did breastfeed, and actually, I still am breastfeeding my 2-year-old. I didn’t have any problems with breastfeeding, after the first few weeks where everything is difficult! It has been very normal and natural to me, and sooo much easier than dealing with bottles and formula and all that. I wouldn’t say that I have had a hard time getting enough nutrients, but I do have to focus on eating the right foods, and I really have to make sure that I stay hydrated. Now, my daughter doesn’t nurse very often at all, so it doesn’t matter as much, but when breastmilk was her only source of nutrition, I really had to make sure that I was drinking enough water, usually about 1.5-2 gallons per day, depending on the weather and my workouts. Other than hydration, I don’t think running has had much of an effect on breastfeeding.
Can you describe you labor and delivery?
I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for a couple weeks before my due date, and sometimes they would even be regularly spaced for a couple hours (like 7-8 min apart) then go away for a few days. I ran every day up until my “due” date, and at that point, I decided to stop running because it was pretty uncomfortable and didn’t seem to be doing any good at that point. I was still walking 3 miles every morning and sometimes again in the evening.
5 days past my due date, I swam laps with my hubby, who was training for an Ironman triathlon at the time. Every time I did a flip turn at the end of the lane, I would have a big contraction, so I kept flipping, hoping to get labor started. Nothing really happened, though, and contractions stopped after I finished swimming. At about 3:00 AM, my water broke while I was sleeping, and contractions started happening pretty regularly after that. I was too excited to sleep, so I got up and watched an old Ironman triathlon video to pump myself up for labor and delivery. I sat on the birthing ball, got in different comfortable positions, and just relaxed. We had planned to stay at home as long as possible and to go to the hospital when contractions were 5 minutes apart. I decided to try to wait a little longer than that, so we waited until they were 3 min apart, then my husband took the dog to the boarding place and came back, and we drove to the hospital.
Up until this point, labor was pretty easy. I walked into the hospital from the parking lot with a short pause for a contraction. When we got there at about 4 PM, I was at 8.5 cm. After that, labor wasn’t easy anymore. I had to have an IV because I was group B strep-positive, and my doctor wanted continuous external fetal monitoring, so I was pretty much tied to the bed, and I couldn’t move around or get comfortable. Labor stalled some, and I had a hard time breathing through contractions laying down, so the baby’s heart rate was dropping pretty low. My hubby, Clint, really helped me to focus and breathe through contractions to keep baby’s heartrate normal. I ended up pushing for about 2 hours, on my back, not very productively, but everything worked out OK, because Alexa Lane Gebke was born vaginally at 9:59 pm without the use of any drugs or interventions. She weighed 9 lbs 11 oz, and was 21 inches long.
My husband and I had gone to a natural birth class, but we still wish that we knew more. We’ve since learned a lot more, and we would definitely do some things differently if we had the chance! I’ve compared labor and delivery to racing, and I think the biggest difference is that in a race, you always have the choice to either keep going or to quit! I’ve completed 4 Ironman triathlons, 12 marathons, and numerous other races, but delivering a baby is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done!!
Do you have any races in your near future?
Clint and I are both training for the Richmond Marathon right now…hopefully I’ll go sub-3:10, and Clint’s trying for a sub-2:45 (Nov 10th, 2012).
Meghan, you are an inspiration to me as well as so many other women in this world. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s absolutely beautiful. You were born to run! The BirthFIT community will be cheering for you on November 10th.