Header from Fyr til Fyr 60k. Photo by Moses Løvstad

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Monday, 23 May 2011

I Love the Copenhagen Marathon

Yesterday felt like my five minutes, or rather five hours, of fame. When I decided to have SR write "Loeb, Baby" on my big belly, I figured it would make a few people laugh.
I had NO idea what kind of reaction I would get. All along the course of the Copenhagen Marathon, you run through pockets of huge crowds of people. When I would approach one of these crowds, someone would announce the big pregnant woman and the crowd would erupt in cheering - for me. It was totally unreal. Throughout the race, people would hang out of windows to shout I had good style, follow me on bikes to take pictures, yell "viking baby!", offer me watermelon and give me hugs. What a response to a pregnant woman, which everyone is now telling me The Copenhagen Marathon has never seen before - at least not so far along. Well, I by no means started this phenomenon of pregnant marathoning, and of course personally regard it as a "normal" thing to do, so had NO clue it would get such a reaction and such a positive one.

And how did the race go? Well, as an experience, it could never be matched. It may be the most fun I have ever had at a race. As a race, well, I was slow and had stomach issues the entire way until the last 5km when I finally opened up and ran, baby. The one down side of everyone taking note of me was it was really hard to hide when I got sick to my stomach (five times, I think). I mentioned I had mastered the art of peeing without taking my shorts down - and that went great - but the other, well... you get the picture. :)

When you're running with the 5 hour marathoners the whole way, you experience an entirely different race. This is a very diverse group of people. And they don't stare you down wondering if who can run fastest. These people are there 1. just to complete it or 2. just to enjoy the experience. I was in the happy position to be there for both reasons. And I soaked in the street corners and parks and buildings with new, optimistic eyes. And I also suffered with those around me - 5 hours is a long time to be out there.

So was it hard to run a marathon 30 weeks pregnant? Well, after my stomach problems developed, I started getting contractions, and this was only at 18 km (not even to the half marathon) and I started wondering if finishing was realistic. But I walked a bit, drank a lot of sports drink and just took it easy. By 30 km the contractions were gone. Weird, but good. I was also lucky I had eaten and drunk a lot the two days before because I could not stomach food at all and drank only small sips at a time. But the actual running part was not hard. In fact, it was very fun. With 5km to go, I had plenty of reserve and ran a 9 min per mile pace to the end. That gave me an even split on the course and a time of 4:54. I was pleased.

Is running a marathon 30 weeks pregnant healthy? Absolutely. My body and soul tell me so. Is it healthy for YOU? Well, that depends. If you think it is healthy for you, it is. And if you are in the shape to run a mararthon, you have given your baby a very healthy environment to grow in, whether or not you actually complete one - at whatever stage of pregnancy.

Yesterday sure felt like it was all about me, but it was about 9000+ people having a magical day, sappy as that sounds. There were some truly amazing people out there, not least of all the people who get so much joy simply out of cheering others on. And then there were three women. One is my athletic club teammate and good friend, Mette, who I have mentioned numerous times. She finished in an incredible 4th place for the women in a time of 2:57. And this was on a windy day. This is a woman I should be and could be as fast as, but I'm not and never will be. What is her secret? She is focused, sticks to a plan and she eats bananas constantly. (trust me, I'm working on the banana thing: it's much easier than the other elements). Then there was Scout Bassett, who ran with a prosthetic leg. She unfortunately got such bad blisters that she had to drop, but what an inspiration. And finally, the only woman who has run every single Copenhagen Marathon, Ruth Hedegaard, turned 70 this year and decided NOT to run. Well, no one should feel they HAVE to run a marathon, but this still mad me sad. There is no reason 70 year olds should not be able to run a marathon if that is what they really want - and I don't know the whole story, but I sure hope she is back next year if that is what she wants.

What do I want? To run another marathon in 2 weeks - with my husband (who sadly had to work yesterday).

20 comments:

Meghan said...

You're so beautiful with your preggo belly and your huge smile. Congrats!

olga said...

I think it's one of the best running experiences you shared with us - not only, mind you, because I do remember others:) Bask in your moment(s) of fame!

heather said...

What a great photo! And how cool that you got so much support during the race. Sounds like a fun day.

Um, this is not entirely relevant to your post, but in a Q&A/"no such thing as TMI" spirit, have you found a sport bra solution to the megaboob problem? Because I have major problems with that. Running for much longer than an hour is very painful - either the megaboobs are bouncing around too much, or I've got on three sports bras to control the bouncing but then it hurts because everything is all squashed together. The fact that you can run for almost five hours suggests this may not be an issue at all, but I am honestly curious how other people deal with this.

Ok, TMI Q&A officially over (sorry...) Actually I have another question - you run marathons so often, do you still get DOMS and/or need recovery time afterwards? Do you find you need more recovery time when pregnant? Or is it kind of like a regular training run?

Really done now...OMG no I'm not!!! What does "loeb baby" actually mean?

Ok good night...

heather said...

erm...regarding the megaboob question, maybe I should clarify that I am pregnant - in normal non-baby-carrying life, not even remotely an issue...

Pharmie said...

I loved this post mostly because in addition to being a very happy mama running, you seemed to let yourself just enjoy being out there and throw out some of the normal expectations you have for yourself (ie time). I'm so glad that you had such a positive reaction. You look adorable with your bump!

@ Heather - not to invade Sea Legs Girl's blog, but I LOVE the Enell bra (www.enell.com). I wore it pre-preggo, and I'm wearing it in a MUCH bigger size now. It could be too much support if you're not used to it, though. Title 9 (the women's clothing store/catelog) has a great selection of sports bras with support ratings on them. Good luck!

sea legs girl said...

Thanks for these awesome comments!!

Now onto the questions, Heather.

1. Sports bra(glad Pharmie stepped up), I've simply found that my sports bras which were slightly too big prepregnancy are the only ones I can wear comfortably, so if I were you I'd just buy a couple a size up. I have no experience with the Enell bra, but haven't had problems with my larger sports bras. It also really helped to smear myself in vaseline under the front-lower part of the bra to avoid chafing.

2. Marathon recovery- I need more sleep now after a marathon and the next day I am worthless in terms of exercise, but I start running normally again faster than usual, I'm sure because I'm not running them nearly as fast.

3. Loeb baby means "run baby"

sea legs girl said...

loeb = løb, so it's actually "løb baby"; just was writing with an American keyboard, so needed to cut an paste to write it correctly.

Kirsten said...

Great post! I've been following your blog for a while and was so happy to spot you on Sunday at the 29km mark. You were looking really great - and I was so inpsired I actually mentioned you in my own blog - hope that is OK;-) You rock! http://kirstenejlskov.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/from-the-sidelines-copenhagen-marathon/

heather said...

Thanks Pharmie and sealegsgirl for the recommendations. I bought a bigger bra from Triumph but it doesn't do the job. Will see if Enell is available in Deutschland!

Also, I agree with Pharmie, it is actually very relaxing to throw your normal time standards and self-pressure out the window when pregnant, and just run by feel. I've even started gallowaying some of my longer runs, especially on days when I feel heavy bordering on bovine.

sea legs girl said...

Kirsten, I heard you shout "Hej Sea Legs Girl!" Thank you! Thanks for the link to your blog, too.

Kirsten said...

This was so awsome!!! Well done Girl! Great to hear about! I was running a 10 K for women only on Sunday, and there was one really pregnant woman - made me think about you.
You still haven't told the secret about peeing with shorts, is that the way Paula Radcliff did it: squatting on the ground, removing the shorts with her fingers from one leg and then let go? And do you need very short shorts or is it possible with the ones that are until the middle of your thigh?
And about the bra: I use a regular sports bra with hooks in the front and on top of that I use a Nike sportsbra without the hooks, the one you pull over the head. Then there is no bouncing and no men getting neck injuries while I run....

Anonymous said...

Thank God Kirsten asked about the peeing trick. I'm really curious too...

Mentioned it to my hubby and he was also intrigued yet mystified :-)

sea legs girl said...

OK - the peeing trick. Find loose shorts or a skirt that have a bundy. Crouch down and pull the bundy to one side (of the crotch, that is :)) and far over to the side so that no fabric gets wet. Then just pee with legs far enough apart that you don't spray them. :). I had a skirt on at the Copenhagen Marathon with a bundy, but loose running shorts with a bundy have also worked for me, that way the fabric drapes over the things that you want to cover. Make sense?

sea legs girl said...
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sea legs girl said...
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olga said...

Re: peeing. This trick as as old as women running, first one to be learnt once running distance (even if not pregnant). Works just fine for bike shorts too. I remember being recommended practising in the bathtub when first started (10 years ago) to not spray the legs. Honestly, there will be time you get wet, but since we stink so much at the end of a marathon (or more) anyway, who cares. For the most part, it's not that difficult.

jen said...

strangely enough I found your blog while searching for something that had nothing to do with running or pregnancy but I'm glad I stumbled upon it. my boyfriend and I saw you on sunday and we both thought it was awesome that you were running a marathon while pregnant. :)

I've been thinking about running a marathon for a while but I've been being a wuss about it but seeing you out there made me realize I have no real good excuse not to just go for it. you're definitely in much better running shape than I am but if you can do it while pregnant, then I need to quit being a wuss:)

kimbiakat said...

You look absolutely beautiful. With the big belly and the writing and your smile. :-)
I think it's wonderful that you continue to run during the pregnancy. There's often a tendency to wrap pregnant women (yeah who else? :-) up in silk and paper because they're soooo vunerable.
So good for you and good for your baby too...
I'll be cheering you along.

hellesblog.com said...

Hi Tracy. Great picture. I looked for you, while I was cheering the runners, but missed you. One guy beside me told me about a pragnant woman with 'Løb baby' on the belly, and I smiled and just knew it had to be you.

sea legs girl said...

Olga- bike shorts?! How exactly????

Jen- I am just so touched you took the time to comment. Thank you so much for the words of support! I really hope you DO decide to run a marathon. It is of course a lot of work at the beginning to start training, but once running starts to make you happy, it is SO worth it!

Kimbiakat - couldn't agree more :). Thanks for stopping by to comment!

Helle- I miss you, woman and wish I would have seen you. Thanks for watching for me. Surprising that you DIDN'T see me since I think I was about twice as big as anyone else running :).