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My Journey to the 2016 Los Angeles Marathon

I love to run.  Running has been a major part of my life for the last fifteen years.  I began running when I was 22 to lose weight.  I not only lost weight but I found myself and a passion for running that has not subsided.  Through all life’s ups and downs over the last fifteen years, the joy of running and fitness has been constant and has helped me maintain balance in my life.  The biggest of of those ups, having a baby girl, Kacey, in March of 2015, has had this mama busy and running much less than I used to.  However, after a couple year hiatus, on February 14th 2016 I’m planning to line up and make my marathon comeback in Los Angeles.

My pregnancy with Kacey was good, but nerve racking.  Prior to becoming pregnant with Kacey, we lost our unborn son, Elijah, to a rare chromosome disorder in May of 2013 at 32 weeks of my pregnancy.  Throughout my pregnancy with Kacey, I questioned everything I did, wondering what the impact would be on her.  As someone who has enjoyed all the benefits from running on a regular basis, with our doctor’s permission, I continued to run while pregnant with Kacey, but watched my heart rate and cut my weekly mileage in half.  At 28 weeks, I stopped running due to a concern of pre-term labor from my doctor.  Giving up running was tough, but I continued to walk with increasing anticipation of our little one joining us at home.  I often had daydreams about how I would get back to running once Kacey was safe and sound at home.

I ended up having an unplanned C-Section due to Kacey being breech.  Along with this procedure came additional recovery.  There were times I wanted to get right back to running and training as I did prior to getting pregnant with Eli and Kacey, but I had to let my body heal and focus my time and effort on being a mom.  With Kacey safe at home, I kept my activity to walking for 5 weeks before deciding to give running a try.  My first run post baby was for a couple of minutes and I remember thinking that I no longer had abdominal muscles.  Everything was jiggly and soft. I knew I had plenty of work to do.

Over the next month, I used a walk/run training method until I was able to safely start running a few miles without walking.  I was slow and I wasn’t running very far, but I didn’t care.  Every run left me feeling great.  I knew I had to be patient or risk an injury that would put me back on the sidelines.  As I prepare to run the LA Marathon, with all the questions in my head about my ability, I remind myself that I’ve completed 13 marathons, including three in Boston.  My last Boston Marathon was in 2012, the year I was married there, in Boston Common, two days before the event.  I want to go back to Boston in 2017 and need to post a qualifying time for entry before September of 2016.  I chose the Los Angeles Marathon as my goal race to take a shot at a Boston qualifying finish time.

Training for this marathon has been very different than any other I’ve prepared for.  I now work everything around Kacey’s schedule which is packed full of feedings, naps, playtime, and diaper changes.  I don’t run with a group any more, I run when I have time. I have run at 4:30 am and I have run at 8:30 pm.  I run on the treadmill at Imagine, outdoors on my own, and outdoors with Kacey in the jogging stroller. I run when Kacey’s dad comes home for lunch for 40 minutes on some days.  My long runs have been the hardest. I’ve had feelings of guilt while out trying to get a long run in due to the amount of time I’m away from home.  However, every time I return home from a long run, my worries turn out to be for naught as Kacey is doing just fine.

Now in the tapering phase of my training program, I’m excited.  I am running less and resting more.  I have confidence of what is to come on race day, but I’m nervous as well, wondering how all life’s changes over the past couple of years will impact my ability to run 26.2 miles.  I love being Kacey’s mom and I love feeling a little like my running self again.  Anything can happen on race day, but I know I did everything I could to prepare and still enjoy all the other things in my life.  I can imagine crossing the finish line in LA.  I’m prepared to run a Boston qualifying finish time, but no matter what, I will finish as Eli’s and Kacey’s mom and will continue living the life I always imagined.

-Marie Morgan