Marathon Training: Let’s play “catch up”!

In 2012, myself and three girlfriends  decided to take the leap from the half to the full and registered for the Chicago Marathon.  We figured it would be an awesome experience to train together, have each other for support and motivation, and ultimately travel to Chicago together to cross that finish line.  We formed our own team, calling ourselves “The Gam Squad”, and decided to fundraise for JDRF, as diabetes was a cause close to our hearts.  Together, we raised over $11,000 to help fund research for juvenile diabetes!

A few months into our training, I found out I was pregnant with our first baby.  I was over the moon excited about this news.  However, it meant that I had to rethink my goal of completing a marathon.  I spoke to my husband, my doctors, and did my own wealth of research about running that distance while pregnant.  Many people in my life at the time told me not to do it.  They thought it was stupid, too risky, and irresponsible of me.  My gut told me not to listen to these people.  I know my body better than anyone else.  I had already been training and running regularly for several years.  Most importantly, I told myself from that moment forward that if at ANY point on race day I did not feel well, I would stop and that was that.  I had nothing to prove and I had a baby growing inside me that I had to keep safe.

I ran and trained right up until race day, at which point I was 4 months pregnant.  Training while pregnant was by no means easy, which I’m sure any pregnant runner can attest to.  There’s the huge belly, back pain, countless bathroom stops, weird pains and pulls in the groin area, and so many other things that I’ll spare you the details on.  All of that was worth it when race day arrived.  The energy at the start line was contagious and the excitement and feeling of knowing I was about to run my first marathon was out of this world!  Even more special to me was that I was bringing this baby along for the ride.

My shirt for race day...and my belly!

My shirt for race day…and my belly!

When I reached the half marathon mark, I couldn’t believe I had gotten that far.  When we started, I didn’t know if I would.  But there I was.  I told myself I’d go another 3 miles and then see how I felt.  I did that for the next 6 miles.  At that point, I was running a mile, walking half a mile, and so on.  At mile 22, I could taste the finish line.  My watch was telling me I would finish this marathon in the required time for it to count!  I remember experiencing a roller coaster of emotion as I took in the crowd, fellow runners nearby, the scenery as a whole.  And then, at mile 23.5, it happened.  I suddenly felt this strange feeling in my belly that I had never felt before.  It was there for a moment and then gone the next, but it got my attention.  And just like that, I stopped running.  I turned around, walked against all of the runners, directly to the medical tent.  I explained my situation and got a ride to the finish line.  If you search for my results of this race, you’d see “DNF”, did not finish.  I was 2.7 miles short.  2.7 MILES!!!

That night, as we all recovered in the hotel room, I laid in bed with no regrets.  I had given all I had, as long as I could.  As I thought about my baby and this journey we had taken together, I got that same funny feeling in my belly and only then did I realize that it was my son kicking.  I had felt him kick for the first time at mile 23.5, but had no idea that’s all it was because this was my first pregnancy and during the race, I was on hyper-alert with my body.  The little guy was probably kicking telling me to keep going…to cross that finish line!  WHO KNEW!?!?

As I look back on Chicago, even though I didn’t finish the marathon, it was one of THE BEST experiences of my life.  No, I didn’t cross the finish line.  I have no medal to show for it.  I’ve got something better.  A healthy son who is now almost two years old and the memory that he was with me every step of the way as I trained and ran that race.

Me and "The Gam Squad" at the finish

Me and “The Gam Squad” at the finish

Anyone that knows me likely knew that given what had happened in Chicago,  I would be signing up for, and finishing, another.  I did just that when I signed up for the Baystate Marathon in 2013.  When I found out I was pregnant again mid-way through training, I made the decision to change my registration to the half marathon.  My husband and I joked that I shouldn’t sign up for any more marathons because I’d just end up pregnant!

My daughter was born in April of 2014, and 7 months later, I ran and completed the Rock N’ Roll Marathon in Savannah, GA.  As I crossed that finish line, I knew I was hooked.  I had to do it again.  So I did.  I will be running the Sugarloaf Marathon this coming May.

Me and "The Gam Squad" at the start of the Rock N' Roll Savannah Marathon!

Me and “The Gam Squad” at the start of the Rock N’ Roll Savannah Marathon!

For Chicago and Savannah, I used the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Marathon Training Program which can be accessed via the following link:  http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51137/Marathon-Novice-1-Training-Program.  The program was perfect for me and I would recommend his training programs to anyone looking for a plan.  However, this time around, I wanted something different.  I felt like I needed to mix it up a bit if I want to attain my goal (a 4:20 finish).  So a friend of mine who has completed countless marathons in his life and also serves as a coach for a local running club, offered to put together a plan for me.  I have just completed Week 5 of my 16 week training and I LOVE IT!!!  It is just what I needed this time around.

Here is a quick recap of Week 5 of my training.

Monday: It was -9 outside at 5 AM when I had to get my run on, so I did 4 miles of intervals on the treadmill.

Tuesday: Every week, there is a hill workout.  It was below zero again this morning, so I opted for another treadmill run.  I found a great workout online for 7 miles of rolling hills thanks to @foodie_runner!

rolling-hills-treadmill-workout

Wednesday:  I HAD to get some fresh air, so I met up with my running buddy for 3.8 miles outside (was supposed to do 4).  It was amazing to feel the breeze on my face and be surrounded by nature!  I added in an hour of strength training that night using a program that my trainer provided to me which incorporated both upper and lower body work.

Single leg dead lift

Single leg dead lift

BOSU Ball squats

BOSU Ball squats

Stability ball knee tucks with push ups

Stability ball knee tucks with push ups

Planks

Planks

Thursday:  I attended the 5:15 AM class at Orangetheory which I try to go to once a week just to mix things up a bit and challenge myself.  I also count this as my second strength training day.  I was supposed to do 4 miles today, but got in 3.2 during the class along with rowing and strength.

Friday:  I completed my long run for the week of 13 miles with my friend Crystal, who is also running Sugarloaf with me.  We toured the neighborhoods of ManchVegas and while it was chilly out, it was so nice to get back outside!

So happy to have 13 behind us!

So happy to have 13 behind us!

I rested on Saturday and Sunday.  Today…back to work!

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