Sunday, November 17, 2019

Marathon Race-Day Recap: Running (Pregnant!) to Support Children & Families in PA

Good Omens on Marathon Race-Day Morning:

  • I still fit into my pre-pregnancy running leggings and didn't have to wear the maternity leggings that I bought just in case.
  • I got to City Island before they closed the bridge.
  • My multisport watch was working (which it was not on the morning of the Harrisburg Half; it wouldn't hold a charge, so my mom let me borrow her watch for the race).
  • Perfect running weather and temperatures.
Under Prepared but Excited!

I didn't go into the event feeling like I was as prepared as I could be, but I did go into it knowing my limitations and knowing what I hoped to accomplish (finish 26.2 miles, preferably uninjured and not last).

In training, my long runs only got up to 15 miles, and I only ran 2-3 times per week (plus cross-training, but still not optimal conditions for running a marathon). My training was limited not by pregnancy (though that certainly slowed me down) but by the lack of free time and energy because of my new job, which requires me to drive 3+ hours round trip to Baltimore most weekdays.

In any case, I loved the training I did accomplish, I looked forward to my long runs with Fleet Feet every Sunday morning, was excited for the marathon for months, and was excited to stand at the starting line on the Market Street Bridge with several hundred other marathoners.

Race Strategy

A few months ago I stopped referring to the marathon as a "race" but as an event. I knew I couldn't race it, would be nowhere close to a PR, and I was OK with that. I just wanted to see what I could do with the new conditions my body presented.

My plan was to run at least 15 miles and then walk/run as needed to complete the marathon. And that's exactly what I did. I had a great first 14-15 miles.

And then it started to hurt.

Not pregnancy hurt, but under-trained hurt. My legs. My legs. My legs. My hips down to my ankles were on fire and throbbing, and I still had 11.2 miles to go.

The water stops were about 2.5 miles apart, so I ran to each water stop, got water and/or Gatorade, and walked while drinking and sometimes for a minute or so longer, then started jogging again. It was a little tough to see the pace groups start to pass me, but I told myself it didn't matter how fast I went: I was going to finish.

After the turnaround point at Fort Hunter, at about 18 miles, the run was really lonely. That's over 8 miles of lonely running. But I still knew I could finish.

The Finish Line: A Colorful Soundburst

I walked up the hill beside the Walnut Street Bridge and most of the way back down to the Harvey Taylor Bridge because I wanted to make sure I had the strength to run across the finish line a half-mile later.

I started jogging on Front Street a few yards before Pine Street, ran down Pine Street and turned the corner onto Second Street where everyone was waiting and cheering and I could see the blue banner of the finish line. Turning that corner was like when a black-and-white film suddenly turns to color or when someone turns up the volume of your favorite song when the chorus starts. It was exciting but emotionally overwhelming. I saw Fleet Feet running friends, my parents, Jon and his parents, heard people yelling my name. And I cried my way through the finish line.

I finished. I finished. I finished.

Love & Gratitude

I felt so well supported through not just the marathon, but the whole build up to and aftermath of the race. I have so many people to thank, from Fleet Feet coaches and running friends, my parents, Jon and his parents, all of the volunteers and spectators on the course who cheered for my by name, all of the volunteers and spectators who cheered for me by race number, those who gave me hugs near or at the end of the race, everyone who sent kind words and encouragement and pregnant-athlete stories before the race, and everyone who donated to my fundraiser to support children and youths in central PA. My heart is full of love and gratitude for you all. Thank you.

Children & Families in Central PA

At 21-weeks pregnant, I participated in the Harrisburg Marathon (26.2 miles). To keep myself motivated, I used the event to raise money for children & youths at the United Methodist Home for Children in Mechanicsburg, PA. Thanks to all of you who generously donated, I met my modest goal of $500. Thank you! If you'd like to learn more about my journey and fundraiser, please check out the donation site and consider donating. 

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