I will never forget the day that I decided to sign up for the Chicago Marathon again: it was only a couple of months after I had my second daughter, Emmy. Don’t ask me why I even had the thought in my head, but for those who want to run that particular race, you know you have a small window of opportunity to enter since it is based on a lottery system that opens early in the year, even though the race isn’t until October.
Well, I got in…..now I had to train.
Since I had another c-section (which I was trying to avoid, but Emmy had other plans for her arrival), I knew that my recovery time would be long(er). As with my first child, it took about 4 months before I felt like I was really healed and capable to start physical activity again. With the summer training sessions starting in June, I had only 2 months to gain all of my cardiovascular abilities back to where they were about 7-8 months prior.
In May I started day 1 of training. I knew I couldn’t just go out and run a couple of miles. It was hard, I couldn’t even run to the end of the block without being winded. I took it easy and didn’t let myself get down about it, since it had been months since I had actually run. I wanted to train safely and slowly.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, I was able to build up to 1 mile without stopping. Then 2 miles, then three. Officially, once my real training started in June , I should have been able to run at least 8 miles with my pace group on Saturday mornings. I’m not going to lie, the first couple weeks of group runs were hard. I was running at a slower pace than I usually did in the past couple of years. I was legitimately tired.
I never believed it when people told me that the transition from one child to two was going to be this hard. I was tired all of the time. I had to muster up the energy to go run once my husband got home from work. It was my only time away from home….time to be by myself….to gather my thoughts and work on myself.
Eight miles turned into ten miles….then 12, then 14 and so on. I was doing it! With every week that went by, I was getting stronger, gaining my endurance and losing the baby weight. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and was finally able to ditch all of my maternity clothes. I was socializing again with old running friends, it was just like old times and I loved it. (I had been running with this group before for my Spring 2013 marathon and Fall 2014 marathon).
October was here in a flash and I was injury-free all season and felt really good about this upcoming marathon. It would be my third, and I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest one. I trained at 30 seconds slower per mile than my previous two marathons. I had a lot more on my plate this year. While most people are hoping to shave minutes off of their marathon time or qualify for Boston….all I wanted to do was finish.
As over 40,000 people lined up on the streets of Chicago to run on October 9, 2016 I’m not even going to lie….my nerves were flowing out of my ears. It wasn’t my first time at the rodeo but there’s just something about race day that makes me sleep like crap the night before and have zero appetite the morning of. I slowly ate a half of a bagel with peanut butter and maybe a half of a banana. I was as ready as I could be.
The race officially started at 7:30am, but my wave didn’t even cross the start line until 8:15am. As I ran with a few of my running friends, taking in all of the sites and crowd cheering along the entire race route route, I tried to remain calm and collected. I took hydration at almost every station that was offering, and tried to snack when I could. I took pretzels and bananas from generous cheerleaders, and I even ate a red vine because it looked too darn good to pass up at mile 18!
I was keeping a pretty decent pace throughout the race up until about mile 22, then I could feel myself getting tired. If I had to walk a little, then I did…just to get a little breath of fresh air, then I pushed through it and kept running. As I prayed for each mile marker to come sooner, I finally reached the sign for mile 25. I was literally almost there. One last mile. One last chance to see if I could finish in under 5 hours. I did. I finished in 4:53…it was my slowest marathon time, but the one I am most proud of.
My advice for all of you moms out there who are reluctant to chase your dreams of completing a marathon….I say do it. It’s hard, it takes dedication on your part as well as for those who will watch your children while you run 3-4 times during the week. (Thank you to my husband and to my mom!! I can now say that I ran a marathon in both of the years that I had my daughters…and for that, I am one proud mom, no matter how I finished!
Are you thinking about running a marathon, or did you run one with small children at home? I’d love to know your experience!