This is, of course, primarily a running blog, but it would be incomplete without an ode to how much I love the internet. Up until that day in December 2005 - as I sat staring wide-eyed at that positive pregnancy test - the internet had been useful to me chiefly for study/work and for emailing far-flung friends. This was all about to change, but in a very cool way.
I was going to say that the first thing I did when the shock wore off was to Google "running pregnant", but on reflection I think I did one other thing first, which was to take the photo that appears at the bottom of the post below this one and email it to my now-fiance, with the subject title "DO NOT OPEN THIS EMAIL UNTIL YOU ARE ON THE PHONE TO ME". He of course ignored this advice.....but that's another story altogether.
The second thing, then, that I did was to type "running pregnant" into my browser - I had only just gotten back out there, really, and although actually quite pleased to be expecting (in an "ok, well, I guess I wanted to do this sometime, why not now?" kind of a way) I was absolutely aghast at the idea of not being allowed to run for 9 more months.
The Google search led me to this website and this sounds awfully trite, but it totally changed my life. Not only was I allowed to keep running, I found I was not the only woman who wanted to keep exercising while pregnant. I kept going and even ran an 8km race for Mothers' Day 2006 - 26 weeks pregnant at the time - and managed to still beat a certain competitive husband although my time was obviously far from my best!
(said husband formally retired from racing against me about 10 weeks later, after beating me home for the first time on a weekend morning run, retiring of course as the reigning champion.)
Ultimately I found myself posting on a thread called "Third Trimester Runners" (yes, really) and this led to a particularly 21st century phenomenon: internet friendships, or Imaginary Friends as I like to call them.
Although there were quite a few people posting on that thread, over time we became a group of just 6 and as our babies were born and we each found our way back to running, we became a kind of mothers' group to each other: daily posts about sleeping (or lack thereof), feeding and baby milestones became as common as posts about how far we were running. For me, having stopped work, had a baby and moved overseas - away from all my family and friends - all in the space of 6 weeks, these imaginary friends were very real, and an absolute lifeline of support and encouragement.
All this led in 2007 - when our babies were all around 7 months old - to a very memorable first meeting in Washington, DC (since everyone bar me was American and I was more than happy to travel over from the UK!) where we also ran a 10K race together.
That race was memorable for me in another way: it was the scene of my all-time 10K PR, 39:54.
Maybe I will better that time in May 2011, when I am planning to run the same race again, but maybe not. What I'm sure of is that at least some of my imaginary running friends - both old and new - will be there to share the day with me again, and that they will still be my friends when our babies and grandbabies are the ones doing the running....we'll be the seniors trying for entry to the wheelchair division, probably.