Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

short article - advice needed!

Dear Friends and Anonymi:

 After a somewhat unusual sequence of events, I have been asked by the head editor at the journal American Family Physician to write a brief (250 words or less) synopsis of my experience with pregnant marathon running. This has not been easy to summarize in 250 words! But since I have this blog, I have the luxury of showing it to some people who know a thing or two about this subject. I would be so grateful for feedback. Being harsh is preferable to pretending you like it when you don't. Thank you.

It wasn’t like me to be so winded going uphill or have to stop to walk as I neared the marathon finish line. It was a relief (and a thrill) when the pregnancy test came back positive. 

 This was the first of six marathons I would run during my pregnancy. I had no chance of beating Ingrid Christiansen’s pregnant marathon record of 2:33, set when three months pregnant in 1982. I ran mine at a comfortable pace, with friends by my side, in times of 4:34, 4:19, 4:18 and 4:56 between 10 and 27 weeks of pregnancy. 

When I was 30 weeks pregnant, my midwife agreed I could run The Copenhagen Marathon. Spectators screamed from street corners and hung out of windows to catch a glimpse of my belly. Around mile 16, I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions, though they eventually became less pronounced and I made it across the finish line in 4:54. 

 My recovery from that marathon was long, but I was glowing for weeks. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback I received, including that of multiple women who had already run or went on to run their own pregnant marathons. I felt I had played a small part in a movement empowering women to continue running, even long distances, while pregnant. 

 After 39 weeks, our beautiful, little son was born. And even today, I can’t help looking at him and thinking, “you were there with me, all of those wonderful miles.”


Danni said...

I would throw in your marathon PR so there is a point of reference for your finish times. It would be different if someone who always runs a 4:30 decided to try to run a 4:30 while hugely preggo.

Jacqueline said...

I agree with Danni. I would also mention your many years of running, and how this wasn't something new or unusual for you. Deciding to train for a marathon might not be wise for a nonrunner who is pregnant, but it really was just you being your normal self. And isn't that always the advice: Do what you normally do? :-)

Julie said...

I'm not pretending to like it, I think it's great. :) And I love that your story will be out there for others to read and be inspired by.

sea legs girl said...

Danni and Jacqueline - I think that is a good point. I had hoped there would be a really brief bio of me accompanying this. I will have to ask the editor if that will be the case. Otherwise I'll have to sneak in something like that.

Thanks, Julie! It is also good to know that at least one person thinks it is good enough to submit. :)

mmmonyka said...

Clearly, I do not know anything about the subject but I think that also women who are thinking about having children and continuing being active read the publication. And it is important that the article leaves them feeling good and comfortable that doing so is not anything bad and it won't hurt them or the baby. And this was achieved, lot of positivity, I like that very much!

And now let's move to the constructive criticism:)))I do not see any point in putting the reference to pregnant marathon record. I would rather put your record instead. Comparing your pre-pregnancy time and pregnancy times would make much more sense and make for a better flow. You can use only 250 words, so I would not waste them on referencing something (for me) irrelevant. It seems it is there just so you can use a big name.
Also, I got little confused when you talked about 6 marathons and then put only 4 finishi times in the second paragraph. You mentioned 1st marathon in the first and second paragraph and then the 6th one in the next paragraph. I know that you put time frame there (10-27 weeks) and then the time for the 6th one in the next paragraph but it is still slightly confusing. I would put all 6 finishing times together in that second paragraph, instead of only 4, and then of course leave out the time of the 6th in the third paragraph. So the reader does not have to count and go back and forth.
And then leave the rest at it is because I like it a lot:)

Kirsten said...

How about a few words on the training for a marthon while pregnant?

Diana said...

I agree with mmmonyka about listing the times. And I agree that listing your PR makes more sense than the reference to ingrid Christiansen.
The second sentence absolutely confuses me. Are you saying you didn't know you were pregnant when you ran that marathon, and you were relieved to learn it was the pregnancy that made you so slow? (I feel bad that I can't remember if that is the case, because I do read your blog, but it's a detail I just can't recall.)
Lovely, little description of your experience. 250 words is so little, and you've packed a great story into such a small space.

Robyn said...

I would change the opening sentence to something like "Heading into mile 20 of my Nth marathon, I couldn't understand why I was so winded. I'd never had to stop and walk in a marathon before. The answer a few days later -- a positive pregnancy test! -- was both a relief and a thrill."

This does two things: first, it puts in context that you're an experienced marathoner; second it explains the situation a little more clearly.

Your audience will largely not be marathon-literate. If you can work in what a "typical" marathon time is (or a "fast" time, like the BQ standard), that would help put your times in context. You could save space by giving a range of your finish times, rather than all of them.

Love the last sentence.

SteveQ said...

I can't make suggestions, not because I have no experience with the subject (ignorance has never been a barrier for me!), but because I don't know the journal, so I don't know what they want or expect.

The Lorax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sea legs girl said...

Mmmonyka. Thank you so much for your ideas! I just have to say that the Ingrid Christiansen thing accomplishes many things in my mind: pregnant marathoning has been done before and a long time ago and in a very fast time! Kind of puts things in a good perspective in my mind.

Robyn, I like your suggestion for the first line, but then I'm quite a bit above the word limit, especially if I need to squeak my PR in there - plus I have no clue what number marathon that was and don't know how I would figure out. Plus at that point I'd run more ultras than marathons, so it is hard for me to just throw out a number there.

I'm taking all of this into consideration.

Steve Q, here are some examples of what they want:

SteveQ said...

I'm going to keep my comments to myself, as I'm a little mad at all physicians at the moment, except to agree with the others that the Christiansen comment makes it sound like you're in her league and considered going for her record.

sea legs girl said...

Thanks, Steve! I made the decision a few days ago to take the sentence out and have now submitted the little article.

I think it is a lot better thanks to everyone's feedback - thank you so much to the readers who took the time to help!