When my husband and I moved to Atlanta, we started the tradition of running in the annual AJC Peachtree Road Race. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a giant 10k that takes place every July 4th down one of the main roads in Atlanta. Apparently it’s the largest 10k in the world and has over 60,000-something participants each year. It’s an amazing event to behold.
This year marked our fourth participating in the race. Except there was a twist this time around – I ran it 7 months pregnant.
When it came time to sign up for the race earlier this year, I was already pregnant and well aware of the math that put me at roughly 7 and a half months pregnant in the heat of Atlanta summer.
Mind you, this was never a race I entered with the intention of creating a personal record. It’s really about the energy of the crowd and the fun atmosphere – to run this race for time means a LOT of weaving in and out of pockets of people wearing tutus, holding American flags and enjoying the general Independence Day merriment. I prefer to flow with this run and take in all the entertaining sights.
In any case, I was determined to experience it in any way that I could and suited me. If that meant walking for the first mile then deciding I wanted some fresh juice and a nap…then so be it. And my rockstar husband was on board with whatever I felt like doing, so I had the supportive environment for whatever choice I made.
Race day came. My spirits were high and expectations low.
But there was just something about the energy of the morning. I was completely invigorated by the whole thing, so I started off with a jog. And that jog continued…it flowed on for a full 2 miles and felt totally effortless.
The race also has tons of spectators that come out and cheer along the sides of the race route. They ring cowbells, shoot off their Super Soakers, hand out free swag, yell and high five as you run by.
Every few steps or so I would hear a “go, Mama, go!” or I’d wave at some of the cheering, waving onlookers and notice their gaze drop down to belly level and watch their facial expression change. A woman ran past me and said, “ah, man…I don’t have any excuses now that I’ve seen you. Congratulations!” Another kind stranger offered me sips from her wide variety of water containers she had in her belt.
There was even a “oh damn, she pregnant!” from a man on top of a van with a mic connected to a loudspeaker, followed by “you about to pop!”
Suffice it to say that I was feeling the love.
There were porta potty breaks, let’s be real. Two to be exact. And I made it a point to stop at almost every single water station (with the exception of the ones right before the potty breaks) to stay hydrated.
It was around mile 4 that I felt a slight slump in my energy. Most of it was uphill, so my steady jog altered to more of a shuffle. But I kept trucking. And my sweet husband – checking in every few minutes to make sure I wasn’t getting caught up in the hype and excitement and was overdoing it. I’m so grateful for him.
Before I knew it, we were at mile 5 and I had another burst of energy! My stride picked up, but I didn’t once feel out of breath. I was able to maintain a pace that allowed me to keep talking and laughing.
It wasn’t until the final stretch of the last half mile or so that I started to feel some fatigue…and the Georgia heat. This was the sunniest stretch and it involved some eye squinting. But I took my time, stayed peaceful and present and soaked up the moment along with the rays.
Even though it was my longest time of all the Peachtrees I’ve run, it went by the fastest.
After crossing the finish line I shared a sweaty embrace and kiss with my husband and let out a couple of tearless cries – I’m pregnant and accept all of the waves of different emotions that come with the experience. This was a case of elation and gratitude. I had just completed 6 plus miles, running the whole time. I didn’t fight the onslaught of emotion.
Post race I was interviewed by an AJC report about my experience. A DJ and emcee from one of the big stages at the post race celebration called me up and got me on the mic to answer questions about running while pregnant. And I even had some strangers ask to take photos with me.
Essentially, if you want to be a mini celebrity for the day, run the world’s largest 10k with a giant noticeably pregnant belly. You’re bound to attract some attention. But that wasn’t my goal here. I was simply out there having fun and doing what I do.
Running has been a part of my lifestyle since I was in middle school. And I’ve continued running throughout the pregnancy. It’s normal for me. So that’s why I didn’t have any hesitations or fears around it. I knew I was safe and I knew my baby was safe. And I trusted my body to talk to me and let me know if something wasn’t copacetic.
And….I was not the only pregnant person out there. Guaranteed. Because there’s a ton of other pregnant women who keep a consistent running regimen throughout their pregnancies.
This is what I had to keep myself content, peaceful and grateful when some people had some less than powerful comments to share on the news article from my interview. (There were very few, and they pale in comparison to the overwhelming love and support I received during the race experience. You can pretty much guess what they were – basically that I’m a selfish and reckless mom-to-be who put her unborn child at risk of getting shaken up like a James Bond martini in my bouncing uterus.) That and the acceptance of consequences for putting yourself out there in such a public way – to run in such a large event with a belly that could not be hidden.
I think it’s awesome that I took the opportunity to shatter some limiting beliefs and shift a few paradigms (some of my own are included in there!). Because who knows how some of the choices we make and who we decide to be each day impacts and influences others? We are all examples of what’s possible for one another. It’s just a matter of what possibility you choose to hold.
And on the day of the race, I was a possibility for bold, beautiful healthy expression of fun and flow. And I can’t wait to tell my baby girl all about it some day.