The Boston Marathon Baby

Published in the Metrowest Daily News and the Westborough News

It’s the holy grail. The brass ring. The oldest, the notorious, the elite, the famed. The magical, mythical Boston Marathon.

And I was running it. Just saying “I’m training for the Boston Marathon,” gave me a smug, self-satisfied feeling. I won’t lie.

No matter that I was a charity runner, had the flabby breasts-tummy-thigh-thing going from bearing three children in five years.

I dreamed of that moment in April when I would turn the corner onto Boylston Street, glide blissfully over the finish line to the cheers thousands of fans, and receive my Boston Marathon Finisher’s Medal.

My husband dreamt of that moment, too. He was getting a bit testy having to play Daddy Daycare every Saturday while I went for my “long runs” with my teammates.

I loved those long runs. A long run meant you could stop being a Mommy for a few hours, chat with your friends, and feel happy and fit and free.

Other moms I knew just went out for coffee or hid themselves in their bathrooms to get a break from the kids. I ran.

One Saturday I was jogging along with my teammates, talking about whatever, when I started to feel a little queasy. Strange, I thought. I haven’t felt like this since I was – uh- pregnant? I quickly dismissed that idea and kept going. Must have been that Thai food. Note to self: No more Thai while training.

The feeling persisted through the week. Finally, I broke down and bought a pregnancy test at CVS. I locked myself in the bathroom, peed on the strip, and waited.

The two blue stripes were unmistakable. I looked at the plastic wand in utter disbelief. What? This can’t be true! We didn’t even have sex last month, I would have remembered!

For one brief insane moment, I thought, I can still run this thing but I knew my midwife would nix it. I mean, they are pretty laid back about most things, but I don’t think a marathon would be one of them.

So instead of finishing Boston in 26.2 miles, I finished growing a baby in 9 months. I ran through the whole pregnancy – to the point where grandmothers would physically accost me on the sidewalk, wagging their fingers saying, “You shouldn’t be running in your condition young lady!”

Caleb was born in October, healthy happy and hungry. I was back to a post-partum, leaky blob, but I didn’t care. I doted on my little guy like a grandmother. At my age, I could have been his grandmother.

I started dreaming of the marathon again. My marathon bib number had been deferred due to injury (pregnancy=injury for marathon officials), which meant I could “officially” run the Boston Marathon in April!

I started running, just a bit, in the predawn hours of the morning, sleep-deprived, saggy and sore, but it felt good.

When I mentioned to my husband I was going to run the marathon, he looked at me in disbelief.

“What? You’re nursing! How are you going to do the long training? And more importantly, I don’t think I can handle four kids by myself,” he glared at me.

I saw his point. Sort of.

“OK, so I can’t run the whole thing. But I could run part of it! Maybe 15 miles. I have to try, Dave,” I cajoled him. “I earned this number, and I can’t just throw it away.”

“Besides, it’ll help me get rid of this baby fat.”

He brightened a bit at this idea.

So I started training. I’d get up at 6 am, nurse Caleb, run in circles around the neighborhood, and rush back home, sweaty and tired, in time for Caleb’s late morning feeding.

Caleb got bigger and Marathon Day got closer. Finally it was here! I was so excited. I stuffed a few extra nursing pads in my running bra, and headed off to the start.

The race atmosphere was electric. The sidewalks overflowed with frenzied fans. TV cameras were everywhere. Famous runners from around the world were at the front. I was pumped!

Then I was off, just floating along on the energy of the crowd.

At Mile Four, I started to realize I actually was running, and started to feel it. No matter, I was here, finally!

At Mile Eight, my lower back started to hurt. At Mile 10, I had two telltale wet spots on the front of my singlet. I had taped my name in letters on my singlet, and the “H” had fallen off.

“Go Tris!” the crowd yelled. Can’t they read? I thought. I hadn’t realized I was slowing losing my name to sweat and leaky milk.

At Mile 12, the “S” gave way.

“Go Tri, Go Tri!” the crowd yelled.

I am, I thought. What do you expect?

Finally I got to Mile 15.

“Mama!” My three little kids grabbed me by the legs, almost taking me down. “Waa Waa Waa!!” cried Caleb. I sat on the curb, grabbed him from my husband’s arms, ripped up my sweaty singlet and set him to work.

This has got to be a first, I thought.

As I sat there, I knew I had given it my best. I was done.

More importantly, my husband was done. I think he was done hours earlier.

“Let’s go home,” I said.

“Yea, Mommy! Go Mommy!” my kids agreed in unison.

So what if I didn’t get that Finisher’s Medal? I got a Mommy Medal that day. And Dave got a medal in my book for enabling his crazy wife to reach her “Plan B” dream.

The next April, I went back to Boston and this time, I turned the corner onto Boylston Street, just like in my dreams, and smiled for remaining fans as I struggled over the Finish Line. A volunteer congratulated me and reverently placed a Boston Marathon Finishers Medal over my head.

I cried like a baby.

Trish Reske, a freelance writer from Westborough, is running her eighth Boston Marathon today, with the Alzheimer’s Association Team. Visit her blog at www.trishreske.com or follow her on Twitter @trishreske.

About the Author

Leave a Reply