Chicago Marathon Mama!

13 Oct

I’m not a pregnant runner.

I’m a RUNNER…who happens to be pregnant.

By now, most of you have heard of Amber Miller. Well, if you do not necessarily recognize her name, you might know her as Chicago Marathon Mama. Being a pregnant runner, as soon as this article hit the Associated Press, it was e-mailed, facebooked, and Tweeted to me…about 1,000 times…about every 5 minutes. In short, Amber Miller ran, jogged, walked, and waddled through all 26.2 miles of the Chicago Marathon and then went on to deliver a beautiful, healthy baby girl only hours later.

Amber Miller

My first reaction to hearing about Amber’s story was…

WHAT!? Who on EARTH would even ATTEMPT a marathon at 39 weeks pregnant??

Oh, wait…is that the pot calling the kettle “black”?

How easy it was for me to hear her story and think that she is absolutely nuts! And then it hit me, this is probably what people have been thinking about me all along. I have absolutely no reason to pass judgment on this woman for running the Chicago Marathon at 39 weeks pregnant, and, quite honestly, if I still felt capable of a marathon, I cannot say that I would not be “crazy” enough to do the same thing. At 37 weeks, I am pleased to still be squeaking out a 5k distance before getting tired and winded, but I am pretty sure if I had a half marathon in me, I would most definitely have raced the Gulf Coast Half Marathon this past weekend…baby bump and all.

The more I think about it, I guess the more jealous I get. And I mean that in the best and nicest way possible! While I realize that many women at 37 weeks cannot even get through 1 mile without being miserable, I still wish I could get through marathon miles like Amber Miller. I would give anything to be able to run 13.1 miles and then walk another 13.1 miles! Achieving a personal best time aside, I would love to be able to just put those kinds of miles in…at any speed.

Amber Miller deserves the equivalent of 10 medals for her 6 and a half hour finish time. I thought it was funny how most of the articles about her made sure to point out that this finish time is about 3 hours slower than her average marathon time. Ummm…hello? Does it matter!? There are some marathons that have 8 hour course time limits, so at 39 weeks pregnant, I would say a 6 and a half hour finish time pretty much makes her a speed demon!

Many of the articles about Amber Miller have also brought up the question…

Is running throughout a pregnancy SAFE?

In short, YES. As long as you have discussed this method of exercise and level with your health provider and have been given the green light, there is no reason why a woman should not be able to run during her pregnancy. Granted, if you were not a marathon runner BEFORE becoming pregnant, it is not recommended that you take up that high of intensity running, but there is no reason a woman cannot continue the level of activity of what she was doing pre-pregnancy throughout her pregnancy.

As I continued running throughout my pregnancy, I was often asked, “How long will you be allowed to continue running?” My doctor never gave me a deadline or week limit of when I had to cut off or taper my activity. Honestly, he would not have needed to. My body has been the best indicator of what activity or level of running I should handle. Some days I feel good and can still get out a half mile at a time, some days it is a walk only. As long as I listen to my body, I know I will be fine.

From what I have read about Amber Miller, this is the same parameter she has been working with. Everyday, she just did what her body felt up to. It just so happened that on October 9, 2011, Amber’s body felt up to putting in 26.2 miles. GOOD FOR HER! I think that rocks!  To me, there is nothing irresponsible or “wrong” about her desire to run the Chicago Marathon.  After all, she is just doing what her body was used to doing…running.

Today, I’m feeling up to 4 miles. Do I wish it was 26.2? Sure. Am I still thankful for the 4? YOU BET!

So, should pregnant women be allowed to run marathons? Absolutely. In fact, maybe there should even be a special category for them. 🙂 I think any woman “crazy” enough to run a marathon pregnant *coughMEcough* deserves some sort of VERY special finisher’s medal! A baby AND some race bling? SIGN ME UP! HA!

What do YOU think of Amber Miller’s story? Do you think she was crazy for running the Chicago Marathon? Do you think she put herself at risk for running it?

25 Responses to “Chicago Marathon Mama!”

  1. Randy at 1:52 PM #

    THANK YOU for writing this.

    It’s been weird to see runners who are normally the most encouraging and supportive people I know, turning on this mother in a very bad way.

    She’d done marathons before (faster marathons that I can think about right now) was in great shape and continued to run throughout her pregnancy, had a slow marathon for her, AND had her doctor’s approval.

    Who am I to judge? I think it was a great story, and will be all the better when Amber’s daughter grows up to be a World-Class Marathoner herself. HOLLYWOOD!

  2. Doni at 1:53 PM #

    The folks who have criticized her — calling her irresponsible, saying that CPS needs to get involved, questioning her intelligence, etc. make me want to personally punch each one in the face. I have nothing but admiration for this amazing woman. Most people can’t run a marathon pregnant or not. Amber ran the marathon, went to lunch, then “popped” out a baby. She’s my hero.

  3. lifeisarun at 1:54 PM #

    I have to think she didn’t put herself and/or her baby at risk. I have to assume that she had a visit w/her doctor THAT week per the norm for that far along and they gave her the green light. I hope that more women realize that exercising, running, what have you is possible during pregnancy, so start now! I for one have not ever had a baby and am not currently pregnant, but I love that I know I do not have to cease all activity once I become that way! Amber Miller definitely deserves her own extra medal!

  4. embenton at 1:56 PM #

    My reaction is “She’s a seasoned runner and it took her almost seven hours to finish…OBVIOUSLY she wasn’t overexerting herself.” True, she supposedly ran half, but come on, it obviously wasn’t 13.1 miles straight! I wouldn’t know from experience of course, but come on, pregnancy shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid exercise.

  5. Katherine at 1:59 PM #

    The key here is doctor’s approval and level of exertion. My mom was an avid skier and went skiing when she was actually 40 weeks pregnant with me (I ended up being 2 overdue, born via c-section). But, of course, she was surrounded by a friend on either side, and they only went down the gentle hills. You know that I’m very supportive of women remaining active during pregnancy, but as far as running a marathon 39 weeks pregnant goes, I’m not sure about how I feel about it being considered safe. In my mind, the risks outweigh any desire I would personally have to run a race of that distance while being so close to giving birth. I understand, too, that she wasn’t necessarily racing or killing it out there, but she was exerting herself for several hours. I guess it really is an individual’s call.

    • katieRUNSthis at 2:17 PM #

      I totally agree with you. It is easy for me to sit here and think, “How could that be good for her?” But I know that that is my reaction based on the fact that at 37 weeks, *I* would not feel up to it. However, if I DID feel up to it at 39 weeks, I am not sure I would want someone telling me I couldn’t…and I for darn sure wouldn’t appreciated people passing judgement on me if I did choose to do so. Like you, I am torn…even though it makes me feel so hypocritical for feeling that way.

      • Katherine at 2:40 PM #

        Don’t feel hypocritical. I think this is an extreme case that brings up a lot of emotions and questions. It’s difficult to think about what could have happened to this woman and her child, but it’s a possibility. It’s real. It’s horrifying. And as much as I, too, support active pregnancies, I can’t get that out of my head.

  6. Brigid at 2:02 PM #

    Amber is an amazing athlete, and like you said, was a serious runner before and during her pregnancy. My only concern is that less dedicated runners may view this story as justification for pushing themselves too hard physicially during pregnancy. Amber took it “easy” (by her standards) and obtained a doctor’s approval. Luckily things worked out just fine for her. I would just hate for a less-happy ending. I’m really torn on this one. I don’t think that I would choose to run a marathon at 39 weeks, but then again I probably *couldn’t* do so.

    • katieRUNSthis at 2:14 PM #

      VERY good point you make here. This is why it is so important for women to make sure they are cleared for this level of activity BEFORE undertaking such a task. For example, my doctor told me that after 30 weeks, he would not approve me for a marathon distance, even if I felt like I could do it. The farthest he wanted me going was a half marathon…not that I even feel up to that these days! But yes, just because one woman’s body is capable of this doesn’t mean that all pregnant women should feel like they should push themselves to do the same thing. Every BODY and pregnancy is different!

  7. I think she’s amazing!! Her doctor gave her the ok, and I’m sure she listened to her body throughout the day.

    • katieRUNSthis at 2:12 PM #

      She IS amazing! And so are YOU, Ms. Ma’am! How are YOU feeling, my running mama friend?

  8. KristynKG at 2:07 PM #

    I think she is an inspiration to all women. She has taken care of herself and her baby and I agree that she deserves some extra race bling! She listened to her body and her doctor, as all pregnant women should, and just happened to be able to finish a marathon. I think she is awesome. I also think you are awesome for still being out there, baby bump and all, logging those miles. I carried way too far out front and too low to do more than a short walk after about 20 weeks. I’m sure you’ll be hitting the streets the morning before you go into labor with Baby Key 🙂

    • katieRUNSthis at 2:12 PM #

      Ha! I sure hope so! My goal is to AT LEAST go on a walk every single day…whether that is a 1/2 mile walk or a 6 mile walk. The goal now is FORWARD MOTION! Just gotta keep moving! Luckily, I’m carrying pretty compactly right in front so my skin hasn’t been pulling a lot or anything like that. I’m definitely thankful.

  9. Becky at 2:11 PM #

    I can only hope that if I get pregnant again I am fit enough to run walk or crawl a marathon at 39 weeks. I think it was a wonderful gift of health she was able to give to her daughter.

  10. Carrie at 2:22 PM #

    I am quite torn on this one. Do I think that women should definitely keep up their physical health and exercise during pregnancy? Absolutely. Was this women clearly an athlete that knew her body? NO question, of course. But there comes a point as a mother where you have to stop and think about all of the possible outcomes when your precious child is involved. To be honest, with how hot I heard it was that day and all the other factors that go into running even a half marathon, I would be concerned that other women would try this without having the same happy result. Pregnancies, labor and childbirth are completely unpredictable. You can be perfectly fine one moment and your baby can go into complete and total fetal distress the next. I know from experience. I hope at least that the medics or someone was with her every step of the way in case something went wrong…

  11. Mrs. Robertson at 2:54 PM #

    I love this story. Look at how cute she is.

    This woman ran during her 2 previous pregnancies too, so I think it says something about her knowledge of her body. I am sure if she didn’t feel up to it, she wouldn’t have done it. I think it’s such a beautiful thing. I just hope she had support during the race.

  12. crystal at 3:25 PM #

    I did the Disneyland half at 34 weeks pregnant, but it was “only” a half (haha), I wogged (last 2 miles were at an 18 min pace!) and finished with a PW of 3:30…but I finished! My Dr. knew my whole pregnancy that I had this half planned, and gave me the all clear the friday before the race (she also told me to stay hydrated and take Tylenol post-race to minimize soreness). I had a great time and have great pics and a great story to tell. 😉 I went into labor on my due date and gave birth to a healthy 8 lb 1 oz boy!

    My initial feeling on this was purely selfish, as I felt it diminished my accomplishment, since I “only” did a half. hahahahaha. Truly, everyone is different, and if you have been running/training, it is not your first race, you feel good on race day, and your doctor has given you the go-ahead, then I suppose you are ok. Would I personally have done a full at 39 weeks? No way. 34 weeks was perfect. I don’t think I would have wanted to race beyond that.

    • crystal at 3:29 PM #

      also wanted to add that my Dr. called me “crazy” more than once for wanting to do the half, but she did not see any reason why I shouldn’t, since I had a) run a full and a half in the previous months, b) promised to stay hydrated.

  13. I had to explain things to my mother about this story. There should be some sort of follow-up regarding this whole situation in that: she’s a seasoned runner and knows what it takes to care for her body. Typically, a marathon can be run between 2-4 hours if you’re seasoned, right? She ran it in over 6. It’s proof she took her time.

    The problem my mother brought up was…what about baby?

    My thoughts? Is your oxygen consumption good enough for baby? Do you have enough water? What if you fall? What if you trip over another runner? Things like that come to mind.

    I completely support her and think that as a seasoned runner, she knows her body best.

  14. Jeffrey at 4:15 PM #

    I definitely don’t think that there should be restrictions placed on whether or not a pregnant woman can run a marathon. Everyone knows their own abilities and threshold for activity. This is great dialogue and one that I’m sure many will want to debate. Seriously, though, there are no restrictions keeping a morbidly obese man that has no biz running a marathon from entering – even though HIS doc would probably advise against it!

  15. DawniesLife at 4:21 PM #

    I applaud her for her run in the marathon! I think it is incredible that she was able to run/job/walk it all. Her doctor was okay with her running half and walking half of the marathon – between her doctor being “okay” with it and Amber Miller feeling up to doing the marathon (she knows her body best) I support her completely! I don’t think it is crazy! I think it is incredible!

  16. Concrete Runner at 5:11 PM #

    I love your thoughts on this! While I do think she is slightly crazy, I can’t really say too much about it either since I am still running 40+ weeks pregnant. When I first heard about her, I have to admit I was not only jealous she was able to run 26.2 miles at 39 weeks pregnant, but that she was able to give birth shortly there after! Shoot, I get jealous of girls who are running faster than me while pregnant! I know many people are saying she is crazy and what would have happened had her outcome not been so great. I completely agree with that and chose not to run a half marathon at 14 weeks pregnant out of fear of something happening to my baby. Plus, by that point, I was struggling to get 6 miles in – I know there was no way I could get 13 miles. I think her story shows just how resilient the human body is and that even though we are growing humans, we are still capable of A LOT.

  17. Michel at 6:02 PM #

    I agree with this!

    I wrote about her earlier this week and I can see both sides but in the end I believe she was a very physically fit mom who knew her body and knew what she was doing.

    FWIW I ran the wisconsin half that she did the full for in May and I looked up her pics. She was 17 weeks and not even showing. The pictures from the marathon on Sunday show her walking the last half, and all she has is a belly that’s it. I wish I was that healthy NOW! lol.

  18. escapingjourney at 7:11 PM #

    I’m with you, I think she was ok. She listened to her body, her body was already accustomed to it, and her Dr. said she could as long as she took it easy (which she obviously did). I had a lot of people send me this story too and thought it was funny. The consensus was that pretty much everyone knew that if it had been me, I would have attempted it as well (if my body felt ok).

  19. Maggie at 8:39 AM #

    I was reading an article on this topic that was very supportive of her, and the doctor they quoted (not her doctor) said that under-exercising is a much bigger problem among pregnant women. The article pointed out that women who don’t exercise at all during pregnancy wind up with no strength during labor & delivery to push the baby out. I assume that only makes that a harder and longer process. (This is the article: Plus I’ve heard of studies that find that women who are in shape have lighter weight babies (lighter, but not underweight) which gets the kid on the right path to avoiding obesity. But that could also be because the parents are active and thus raise the kid to be active and lead a healthy lifestyle.

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