by Jennifer Baldachin
I have three amazing children, a husband who travels a lot, and a dog. Even so, four years ago I felt that I needed a new challenge. I was an occasional runner and decided that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish what I once thought was best left for professional athletes: A marathon. I soon realized that my first pregnancy and training for my marathon were similar in many more ways.
The first trimester
When you first decide to run a marathon, you don’t tell people right away. You mention in an off-hand way that you’re thinking about it. It’s not until you are well into the training that you feel confident enough to announce “I’m going to run a marathon!” Though you know most people who train will succeed, when you say the words you can’t help but hope that something doesn’t go wrong.
You are so eager that you buy books about running and sign up for weekly emails. You Google for information online. You talk to other runners about their experiences and ask a million questions. You start to take multi-vitamins, eat properly, and try to get lots of rest.
The second trimester
Your body starts to change. Your legs get bigger and your stomach harder. People start to notice. You feel aches and pains in different parts of your body. Whenever something hurts, you run to one of your many resources to check if it’s normal or something that might need treatment.
You talk about the marathon to anyone who will listen, believing that everyone must be as interested and excited as you are. You tell people what week of your training regimen you’re in, the length of your longest run, and which toenails are black. With other runners, you compare flavours of sport beans and laugh at those who are still gulping down gel packs. You start hearing stories from other marathon runners and get lots of advice. The unsolicited advice gets redundant but still they have gone through it and you haven’t. You take multi-vitamins, eat whatever you want, and try to get some rest.
The third trimester
The novelty has worn off. You are tired of aching all the time. You are tired of people being tired of you talking about the marathon. You are tired of not fully knowing what it means when people tell you that ‘you have to have respect for the distance’, after all you have trained for it. You want it to happen already.
You take multi-vitamins, eat lots of carbs, and try to get some rest. But now it’s hard to sleep because you keep visualizing the marathon in your mind. On good days, you see yourself running effortlessly through the 42 kilometres to the end. On bad days, you worry about struggling with pain throughout the course.
The big day
You did it! You actually did it. You laugh and cry throughout the four hours (and 19 minutes) and can’t believe it’s over. A far-off dream has become reality. Your friends and family are celebrating your hard work right along with you. They too have tears in their eyes.
As happy as you are that you did it, you swear you will never do it again. Once is enough. It is not natural for human beings to run 42 km if it is not a matter of survival. Your whole body hurts. You do not have to prove anything to anyone by ever doing this again.
A few weeks later
Your body forgets the pain. Your mind remembers what an amazing accomplishment it was. Maybe you could do it again next year. After all, your friends are doing more than one.…
Toronto’s Jennifer Baldachin completed The Toronto Marathon in October, 2007. Since then has completed 3 half marathons. Four years later, is ready for another complete marathon.
Bennett Cohen (the Savvy Runner) and Gail Gould are the Founders and Presidents of the International Association of Women Runners (IAWR). To learn more about this global community of women who share a passion for running, visit www.iawr-connect.com.