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Pregnant Marathon

Flying Pig Marathon 2014 recovery is sitting at 12 days, so it is probably time to recap just how exactly the first marathon went down. Below are the highlights, the low lights, the fun lights, and the Christmas lights.

The night before
Even though I laid everything out ahead of time (including pinning my bib number onto my shorts the night before, I was quite convinced that I was forgetting something. Shoes, socks, something important. But...I guess I wasn't. Went to bed around 10:30p while Katie fabricated coral numbers for Bret and I to be able to sneak into the correct coral. Apparently you need to gestimate your finish time accurately 9 months ahead of time or else be penalized by running with slow runners.

4:30am -Wake up time.
Woke up, put on warm up clothes and ate a bagel dry with a couple sips of water. Took care of the pre-race you-know-whats and put on my outfit. Left the house around 5:15a carrying nothing but some packets of gu and a sleepy smile.

5:45am -Arrival.
Got downtown and followed the crowds to the starting corals. I met another young racer who made small talk with me while we waded through the thousands of eager runners. I successfully snuck into coral C where my pace group would be arranging themselves towards the back of the coral. There were portapotties in the coral with lines backed up 30 people or so. So glad I took care of that at home. I spent the 30 minutes beforehand people-watching and taking it all in.

6:20am -Prayer and National Anthem.
Chuck Mingo was there from Crossroads to pray for all the runners. Ryan Hall also said a few words of encouragement that basically equated to "keep moving". National anthem was sung by a barbershop quartet whose tenor voice was far too loud compared to the others. Ouch.

6:30am -Gun time.
It only took about a minute or two from the gun time for our coral to cross the starting line. "Happy" was playing on the PA and we all felt like clapping along in a room without a roof. I made small talk with the Running Spot's pace team but otherwise was still enjoying the people watching.

6:45am -Into Kentucky.
I shed my long sleeved warm up T shirt about 4 miles sooner than I expected I would need to. The temperature was a little warmer than I had trained for and that caught me by surprise. The first mile was a 10:00/mi because of all the congestion getting through the starting gate and out onto the bridge. I saw Martha and Tyler so I threw my shirt to them knowing they would bring it back at the end of the race. Heard "Happy" at the 1 1/2 mile marker and prepared myself for 25 more listenings of that song.

7:15am -The hype.
I did not expect to see so many little one-man bands or small ensembles along the course but by golly there they were. Two in particular: one a boy with his keyboard and the other, a girl and her guitar, were busy singing about the saddest pump-up songs a runner would ever want to hear. God bless their little hearts. Every runner is still feeling excited at this point as we cross back into Ohio.

7:20am -Martha and Tyler again.
Leaving downtown I saw Martha and Tyler again. People's signs at this point were pretty funny: "You're not even close!" "I thought it said 2.62", and such like that. I picked up a friend who was running her first marathon as well named Laura. She had in ear buds so we talked very little. There was a camera guy by the casino so I was able to flash a smile when I saw him. The picture turned out well but wasn't a good portrayal of the memorable part of the race.
7:30am -The Climb.
We hit the big ascent into Mt Adams and I took my first round of gu. That should buy me about 150 calories (AKA 2 miles at best). I saw a question mark box on someone's sign that seemed to indicate I could jump and power up. I missed the sign and landed funny on my foot. I think that's why it is hurting today after running a little 3 mile loop the other day.

8:00am -Pee break.
After making the climb I suddenly realized that I had not planned my water intake very well. I found a row of portapotties and noticed 2 people run out of them and only 1 person go in. I made my move. Sweet relief comes pricey at about 1 min/mile. I ran quickly to catch back up to the pace group and caught them after the half marathon split. I kept looking for our neighbors who were manning a water stop but never did end up seeing them.

8:20am -Hyde Park.
Our little pace team was able to actually carry on a conversation now that the half marathoners had left us. Things definitely thinned out. I got to kiss Katie running through Hyde Park square. Brian Nash was there taking pictures of the pace team and I got to see him in his bow tie. I later learned that he reported to Martha that I looked like I was "running hot" and needed to cool down my body temperature with water or wet rags (which I wouldn't think to do until about mile 23).

8:40am -Downhill.
I took my Honey Stinger snack at the halfway point, buying myself another precious 200 calories or so. Though I had eaten one or two of these during training, this one didn't quite sit well in my stomach and I would wrestle with an uneasy stomach for the rest of the run. Boo. We made good time during the downhill stretch. My plan had been to leave the group behind during that bit and start to mark my own time, but at this point I realized that the 3:50 pace group was planning on running the outside of the course marking at that time, which meant they were not running 8:45/mi but more like 8:30/mi. I wasn't going to be leaving anyone behind. Laura is nowhere to be found. She spent it all going uphill. Beer mile was mile 14 and made me even sicker to my stomach thinking about drinking one of those little calorie killers.

9:00am -Mariemont.
My body is now reaffirming that there will be no leaving anyone behind. "Just keep with them", I remind myself, and I stay with the pace group. Mariemont has a rousing pump-up station and they shout to the runners a reminder that we are on pace to break the 4:00 pace. Two runners come up next to our pace group and ask "how much time they had in the bank." There is no such thing as a "bank" when it comes to marathon running. I know that now. We were allegedly 2 minutes ahead of pace at that point, which would come back to haunt us in a few short miles.

9:30am -The Wall Becomes Inevitable.
Once I hit Columbia Parkway I was drawing in on the furthest I had ever run in my life. The runners had thinned out, the crowd had thinned out, and my blood sugar was thinning out big time. I ate my last gu around mile 18 but was still feeling uneasy in my stomach. I had started seeing more bikers at this point and when I recognized Mike Flora on a bike I called out to him and he trailed along with me starting at about mile 19. We ran past my house and I realized that my body was going to hit the wall sooner than later. I had gotten about 100 yards ahead of the pace group on the freeway and now they were catching back up.

9:45 -The Wall
By mile 21 I had to pull over and stretch my calves on the curb. Never has that felt more glorious or more painful then in that moment. The pace team passed me in that move so I quickly got back to it so as not to lose them. I had saved a little bag of fruit snacks to eat each mile and give me a little pick-me-up at the end of the race. What I didn't bank on was that the fruit snacks would leave my mouth feeling more dry with the fruit snack in then if I had them out. Each mile seemed like it was crazy long and the water stops were days apart from each other. My stomach was full of fluid but my body was dehydrated. Why would anyone choose to do this? I kept asking Mike, who patiently paced me on his bike.

10:10 -Mike.
Whether it was making small talk, offering encouragement, providing fresh water when there was no water stop nearby, or mooching off my unwanted fruit snacks, Mike was a life saver and very much the reason I made my goal of a sub-4 hour marathon. He kept counting down the miles as we passed each one. Most runners were passing me by now as I had slowed my pace down and walked through water stops. I started dumping water on my head which took my breath away in a good way.

10:15 -The Last mile.
Mike pointed out that the last mile was timed and there was an award for who got the fastest time for the last mile. Had he told me that the night before I would have totally told myself I would win this part of the marathon. As it was, I was happy to still be upright and moving forward at this point. It literally took all my will power to keep putting one foot in front of the other in any kind of reasonable pace. Every step was a battle and each rise in the pavement a war.

10:25 -The Shoot.
I had dreamed about this moment for months. I saw myself turning it on and sprinting down the shoot blazing past all the other runners in their worn-out condition. So when I got to the shoot, I turned it on, just as I had rehearsed so many times. The cheers inspired me to not stop but to run faster, and faster, and faster! Only in reality (as video footage would later reveal) it looked like I was doing something between a shuffle and a light jog. My feet looked like they weighed about 10 lbs each. I barely was able to look to the sideline to my cheering family. Once my eyes could see the finish line I couldn't tear them away for fear of stopping right then and there. With each step the finish swine grew closer and closer until I was finally within reach of it. I don't remember crossing the finish line except that I know I did.

10:30 -The Secret Snack Tunnel.
After the race is done and the medal is hung around your neck, you get to make your rounds to the various snack booths set up under the stadium. I walked up to the string cheese booth and exclaimed, "Cheese! I've never been so happy to see cheese!" The girl timidly offered me 2 sticks and I joyfully put them in my pocket. I was ravenous but ever step was HUGELY painful. My only motivation for moving was to get out of the crowd and find Katie and Isaiah who I knew would be waiting for me at the other end of the park. Once I did find them I broke down and cried. I'll never forget it: Katie and Connie were folding up a blanket (which I later learned was because Isaiah pooped through his pants and they were changing him). Isaiah saw me coming through the lawn and I saw him mouth "dada" and raise up his arms as he started running towards me. Katie and Connie turned around to watch the pantless child dashing through the lawn and they realized that he had indeed spotted his dada. I crouched down in pain and greeted Isaiah with a kiss and waited for Katie to come join us. I cried as I kissed her and Isaiah, happy to be done and proud to be in their loving care again.

4:00pm -Reds game.
Martha said it was best to keep moving afterwards so my legs didn't lock up. What better way than to go downtown and walk around to the Reds game? Isaiah and I went home first to take a nap and I slept for about 45 minutes. I was both feverish and chilled all at the same time, I suppose from my body having nothing left to regulate temperatures with. Once I woke up, I ate 5 chicken salad sandwiches to calm my ravenous appetite. 3000 calories needed to be restored.

My biggest realization through the whole process was how similar a marathon is to labor.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean to state that the pain level of running a marathon and giving birth to a 9 lb child are by any means the same thing, but the process of laboring is very similar.

The water breaks, the gun goes off. You start the marathon and are happy to be running. "Today is the day!" You exclaim as you start the physical exercise. Sure, it doesn't feel good to be running, but the adrenaline kick you are experiencing seems to numb the pain in excitement.

You pass mile 10 and realize you still have a long way to go. You are now in stride and can predict the contractions with better timing. The pain is increasing but you still realize that "today is the day" and you are able to make talk between the contractions.

You hit the wall. Mile 20 rolls around and you scream out "give me the drugs!" People are cheering for you along the sidewalk and you want to shout "you have no idea what I'm going through right now! You've been standing there all morning and I've been running 23.24 miles! Shut up with your almost there speeches! Do you know how long 2.9 miles is??!!" But you also are so moved by their encouragement that you realize you literally could not keep moving forward without their help. You are touched by their sentiment and you keep moving ahead even in spite of the severity of the pain.

Once your eyes see the finish line you charge your fatigued body ahead towards the goal. Once you cross the finish line and the baby is in your arms, you almost immediately forget about the pain. You don't, it still is very much there, but all of a sudden you realize that it is over and you have nothing left but to rejoice over a job well done.

Training for a marathon takes a little less than 9 months during which you need to regulate what types of foods are going into you, how much sleep you are getting, and what kind of schedule you are keeping. The job of training keeps taking longer and longer the closer to the due date you get, but you know it is all for a good cause.

All this is to say, Katie, this marathon was for you. I had the option of walking once I hit the wall and I know you won't have that option once labor starts for the twins. I admire your commitment to deliver these twins naturally and I have full confidence that you will complete your marathon at exactly the pace you want to. You can do it and I intend to help cheer you along the entire way. I love you and I am so proud of you!

26.45 mi
3019 cal



  1. My love, I am the one who is proud of YOU! You trained with SUCH commitment, you worked so hard to reach your goal- especially in light of what happened at last year's race. I am so proud of the man you are and that I get to be the one who so closely witnesses your life. You are the man of my dreams and I will bear/adopt all the children you want! I am so very very proud of you! (And I can't wait to place our twins in your arms!)


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