Pregnancy threw me for a loop. My original plan was to run through it until it was no longer helpful or comfortable. In the earliest weeks, I did just that, sticking with a relay team I had joined (my leg was 10K) and doing short runs on other days. Though I got out of breath quickly and slowed considerably, running helped me with nausea and kept my spirits level. But when I found I had two babies in there, I did what no pregnant woman should do: I checked out every book and visited every Web site I could find. One particularly scary book said that I needed to stop the running, because twins are "high-risk," and gain at least 50 pounds. I didn't run again until the spring of 2007 and, to a pound, I gained that recommendation. My twins were born by C-section, small and early but healthy, in December 2006.
All that worry about exercise now seems foolish to me. Of course I can't say how things would have been had I continued to run, and if staying sedentary helped my babies, it was the right thing to do. But my gut feeling now is that they would have been healthy anyway, and my mental health post-partum would certainly have been better had I kept on running.
Water under the bridge. The fact was, I was back to beginner status.
So I ran and walked, ran and walked, gradually increasing the running portions and decreasing the walking. In September 2007, I ran my first post-baby race, a 5K, in 29:09, nearly 7 minutes slower than my height-of-NYC-prep PR of 22:34. I did what I could, despite fragmented sleep, babies-becoming-toddlers and a pesky 10 to 15 pounds of weight that I couldn't shake. My best race was the 2009 Bolder Boulder 10K, completed in 53:24. But last year, my kids' first in pre-school, brought lots of illness, more lost sleep and difficulty sticking to a training schedule. My 2010 Bolder Boulder time last May was 2 minutes slower than the prior year. And I failed to break 2 hours in my last race, the Boulder Half-Marathon (chip time was 2:04:44).
What else can I do but aim higher? Plenty of people improve their running (often by quite a bit!) while also raising children, maintaining a healthy marriage and holding down a job. My kids are now almost four. My husband is supportive. I think there's room for marathon training in my life. What I need is a plan.