Good Content from: Sam Ben-Simon, Senior Marketing Manager
Ah, running. One foot in front of the other foot, over and over, until you reach your finish line. Sometimes, it’s a neighborhood loop and you’re just heading for home. Other times, it’s a 5K or 10K, and a personal record is the goal. And once in a great while — maybe once in a lifetime — it’s the Chicago Marathon, and the finish line means more than just covering 26.2 miles on foot.
You see, I’ve been working for Saucony since 2010, and despite years spent in an industry where running a marathon is sometimes seen as a given, I’ve never had the guts to tackle one myself. I’ve run countless 5Ks, a handful of 10Ks (I’ve never liked that distance), and nine half marathons, each with varying levels of commitment to my training plan. And that — the difficulty to stick to a plan over the course of months, whether it be because of a rigorous work-travel schedule or just a lack of passion — was what I always claimed as my Achilles’ heel, and the reason why I could never even try to run a marathon. And to be fair, it’s a reasonable concern — I’ve known the pain of showing up to race day unprepared and the feeling of being 7 miles in, only to realize you still have a 10K to go (again, I’ve never liked that distance).
That all said, when I was given the opportunity to join a group of my coworkers and run Chicago — a major marathon with topography similar to the flat city of Miami where I live, and one that I’ve enjoyed spectating many times — I thought the stars were aligning and it was now or never. So, I downloaded a novice training plan, committed to being as consistent as possible and got to work.
And then, the week that I started training, I found out that I was pregnant.
Now, don’t get me wrong. My husband and I were thrilled, if not a little (read: very) surprised by the news. But the timing of it. The timing! What was I going to do? The questions, any of which could have been easy outs, started rolling around in my head … Would I have the energy to run through my first trimester (heck, my first pregnancy!)? Would the South Florida heat be too intense for me and the baby this early on? Is it even safe to run a marathon while pregnant?!
My first instinct was to scan the internet for advice. From what I read, it seemed perfectly reasonable to keep training given my existing fitness level and barring any complications with the pregnancy, and of course with my doctor’s clearance. I spoke to Doc and she gave me the okay.
But even so, why recommit to this one mission when another one just popped up on my radar? And not just any other mission, but one that I can only imagine will be simultaneously more intense and more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done in my life.
The answer is simple: Because I can, and because I said I would do it. And because what could be more special than sharing this whole journey with a built-in training partner who will one day run their own races, be it on the road or in some other sense of the word? I jokingly said that this baby’s first experience with sports couldn’t be quitting, but really, I meant it.
I want to be a good example of what you can do when you commit and follow through on your promises, whether they be to yourself — like this one — or to others. I want to show this kiddo that you might not always love the task at hand, but that the time spent outside of your comfort zone is what builds character and what makes memories (for example, I never, ever thought I’d wake up at 2:30 a.m. for a long run, but I did so on August 3, so that I could share a two-hour van ride north to Okeechobee with my training group, on the promise of cooler temps; admittedly, it wasn’t much cooler than in Miami, but we had a merry old time on our seven-hour excursion together. And I might just do it again if given the chance).
And lastly, I want my child to understand the importance of mindset, and how being adaptable when circumstances change can help you see your goals through to completion.
In this case, I decided to take my eye off of speed and pace, relax my usually competitive nature and just focus on the simple goal of one mile at a time, one run at a time. And magically, in shifting to this more laid-back and forgiving approach to training, I unlocked the key to consistency that I once lacked.
Instead of seeing four months of preparation with potential travel-related landmines along the way, or a 16-mile long run to worry about days in advance, I just saw two more miles than I’d run the week before. I knew that if things got too hard or uncomfortable and I needed to end a run early, I could always summon an Uber and be home in no time (a true miracle of modern urban living, and one that I only had to resort to once). And aside from a couple weeks of battling the flu and a cold, I’ve stuck to my training plan better than any I’ve ever undertaken.
So here I am, the week of the big race and all systems are ready to go. I only ever got to do an 18-mile long run due to that flu, so there’s certainly some anxiety about what happens in those last 8.2 miles, but I think the energy of the day combined with the amazing crowds that I’ve been a part of many times before will help get me through it (I’m looking at you, Chicago fans — give me your punny signs and hearty cheers, especially toward the end please!). And while I do have a reach goal in mind, the main goal is to finish this marathon strong and then move on to finishing the next one, the big one, in March 2020. Let’s do this thing, kid!
Editor’s Note: As a gentle reminder, if you have any plans to run while pregnant, or questions about running while pregnant, please consult your doctor.