Feet hitting the pavement. Breath is even and labored. Sweat beads forming rapidly and salt droplets at my lips. Lungs feel open and alive. Eyes smiling from sunlight, blue skies, and subtle breezes. It all feels exactly the same as it did last summer. Except this time when I run, I am running while pregnant.
I have been running for 12 years. Half-marathons are my race of choice. In 2005, I completed my first NYC marathon . The experience of running the NYC marathon was like no other. I had tears in my eyes toward the end, and a sense of pride reading about it in the NY Times the next day, knowing I was part of such an incredible race. I was ready to do another, but put things on hold to start a family. Little did I know, becoming pregnant was going to take longer than the four months I devoted to train for the marathon.
Each year since 2005 that I contemplated training for another marathon. Then I thought, no, this could be the year we get pregnant. There is no solid scientific evidence that running decreases fertility. But I still heard that inner voice telling me the wear-and-tear of training may interfere with my chances of getting pregnant. Not to mention my mother saying I need to get my priorities in order! There will be plenty of time in my life for more marathons; maybe now is not the time!
I decided training for half marathons would still be okay. I could sign up for these fairly close to the race day so if during training I became pregnant, I wouldn't lose money registering for a race months ahead of time. Plus, you put in less miles training for a half, so if there were some connection between my running and difficulty becoming pregnant, a half marathon was a better choice.
Still, doctors were telling me to cut it down. "I want you to run only three times per week, three miles maximum each time," one doctor told me. I stared at her in bewilderment and thought I would lose my mind. "I know all about that woman who was pregnant and ran the New York City marathon, but everyone is different," she added. This doctor was referring to Olympic runner Paula Radcliffe who ran up until the day before delivering her baby. After having her baby in January 2007, she went on to become the 2007 female NYC marathon champion. I don't know if she struggled becoming pregnant, but here is a woman who was able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, even after keeping up with peak training mileage at 145 miles/week