NYC Marathon

A couple of years ago, I qualified for the 9+1, which means I became eligible to run the NYC Marathon. Last year, I was prepared to run it. I felt solid, and ready to train for it. And I am pretty sure, barring any unforeseen injuries, I would have finished.

But then right when I was to begin training, I found I was pregnant and had to postpone it.

So, here I am again. I am set to run it again this year. But this year I do not feel physically ready. And up until this weekend, I felt awful during every single run since I started running again at 5 weeks postpartum. But after having two very solid runs both Saturday and Sunday, I’m inching my way back again. (Helps the humidity and heat let up.) This weekend was awesome.

Even so, I feel there is no way I could actually run the NYC marathon. I could walk and jog it! But I don’t feel physically ready to do it well so close to having a baby, especially a giant baby who split my pelvis during birth. (Story to come! That was one hell of an injury; it took a long time to heal.)

So yesterday I tried to postpone it again and discovered I could not. You can only postpone it once. So I will lose my spot entirely. And that sucks as I know people who have been trying to get in via lottery for years. I feel as though if I postpone it, I’ll be giving up any chance of ever running it.

What do I do? To those of you who’ve run marathons and trained for them, is it possible for me to train and run in under 4 months time? Even though I was a distance runner before, I’m basically a beginner all over again after giving birth in late March. I went from a 9 minute mile to a thirteen minute mile due to having to walk a lot. I have made a bunch of progress lately but I’m still only able to run a 5K at a slower pace than what I’ve done previously.

I’m just not sure of what to do. I have some time to think about it, but my goodness, it scares me. Training for this makes me feel so nervous! How will I find the time AND the energy? Walter is still very attached to me. It’s going to be very difficult.

Any insight welcome.


  1. No running expertise, but I have loads of experience providing unconditional support.
    I have never gotten to the point where I had to make the decision to run a marathon or not -and my baby turns 20 this year.
    You amaze me in all the best possible ways.


  2. You might think you are back as a beginner but you will likely get back in shape much faster than you think. Four months is more than enough.

    However, you should adjust your goal to just finishing it with a smile. There is no shame in finishing a marathon in 5-6 hours. Still way better than all those that never got off their butt and you will get a lot more satisfaction than a DNS.


  3. No matter your finishing time just finishing qualifies you to do it again the following year if you so choose, right? So do you feel as though you could safely finish the distance by jogging and walking and be happy about the opportunity to continue to train and to run it in 2015?


    1. In hadn’t heard that, Kizz. I think that’s only for those who finish in very fast times. No?

      Francois and AllIsOne: Thank you. That’s just the sort of thing I needed to hear. Can I hire you both to stand at mile 20?


  4. My go to phrase when pondering (obsessing) all the ‘what ifs’ around a decision:

    “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”

    tl;dr Do it. Own the hell out of it. The adventure of life is your journey to write. Don’t let regret be the last chapter in that book (blog post). Been there, done that, now presumptively telling others to learn from my mistakes :)

    Where I elaborate so much more than I thought possible:
    Don’t let the screams of fear drown out the whispers of your dreams. Your words convey ‘ I want to’ but ‘I’m afraid about fill-in-blank –no time for training, not achieving an arbitrary expected time/goal’, what if… etc… And all of those reasons seemed based on old dreams/expectations/ goals/hopes. At a different time in your life. You should first reassess based on Mihow-Now. Not on who you used to be, how fast you used to be, how much time you once had to train, or why you originally wanted to run it. Take stock NOW. As someone who is older, has birthed a third child, with a different body, with more/different injuries and adjusted time commitments and availability and purpose.

    Caveat: All the below presumes that moving forward will NOT jeopardize your mental or physical health or otherwise damage family relations or finances. (I don’t believe it will, just the opposite in fact, but still… you gotta factor those too).

    So seriously, why do you want to run NYC marathon NOW? (Not why did want to when you initially set out on this quest). It would be like raising your kids according to all those things you said and believed before you actually had living creatures to deal with. Try to flip all those negatives about what you can’t or won’t be able to do, into positives, into a story about:
    –about how maybe the structure of a minimal training plan will force you to carve out much needed Mihow-time,
    –that will help slay the PPD demon that lurks in the dark,
    –an example that your kids can learn from and will one day brag to their friends about,
    –that YOU will one day be awesomely confident enough to brag about to others.

    Let go of times or expectations. Instead consider running for the pure joy of traipsing thru the city you love, supported and cheered on by those who love you. Find a different purpose, a different goal –lower the damn bar and actually give yourself a chance at succeeding. And even if you find you can’t move your legs past Queens, or become a blubbering mess at Mile 20 and hitch a ride home early. WHO CARES?? You at least tried at life. And will have given your kids a living example of all the words we tell them in the hopes of shaping them, of imparting ‘here is what I want to teach you’. Words that are so much ‘blah blah blah’ to their ears until backed up by a confident, kick-ass mom who instead SHOWED them the way.

    Actually, maybe you can turn this quest into an organic, dynamic, real-life teaching opportunity for your kids. Involve them now. Tell them you are afraid to try (and why), that you are afraid to fail (and why). That you’re afraid you won’t have enough time to train, etc… But that (like you tell them) you think what is important is to try, to work hard for something, to give it your best. That you think you should live by the words you preach to them. Maybe tell them how you plan to do that, and ask their opinion, if they have suggestions. Maybe ask them if they could help you by encouraging you, or if the older one(s) could help write up a plan, or a chart on the fridge to hold you accountable (like a ‘gold-star’ chart we use for potty-training or chores :)). That you feel stronger when you see them so maybe they could come out for training races or on race day to cheer you on. Maybe charge your eldest with tasks so that he feels like he has a stake in your success. Maybe that would make the kids more willing to help out at home, or get dressed quicker if they know they have role in helping you train. They can learn about compromise, priorities, collaboration, follow-through, willpower, empathy, all kinds of things we want them to learn.

    You could be teaching them that sometimes in life you will be afraid, and facing those fears is courage and courage gives you strength. That most often, that which you struggle with the most, that which is the hardest to do, usually gives you so much more satisfaction than the easy stuff. That sometimes you will do everything perfectly, and that you will still fail. Or you could do your absolute best and still not win. That the act itself is the reward. What a great gift to show your kids!

    That you believe you may regret not trying for this opportunity, and that there is no antidote to regret. That you will need their help–lower the bar for defining your ‘success’ but raise the bar for them and how they contribute, help out.

    As an aside, I ran this race in 2006–fresh off a long year of running ultras and I was overtrained and tired. So I ‘ran’ with the sole intent of soaking in every single second, sight, smell, etc… It was my first time in NYC and I wanted to take in EVERYTHING! I probably walked/shuffled more than I truly ran, and I loved every.single.minute of it. It was the absolute slowest yet single best marathon experience I’ve ever had. Coming off the Q bridge, into the vacuum-like roar of the 5th ave crowds made me cry like a baby. And I ran proud with tears streaming down my face and the biggest smile ever. My friend took a picture of me then and by all objective measures I look sweaty-ugly-cry-horrible. It is my worst ‘race’ picture ever but I have it framed large in my home because I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more beautiful (on the inside) than that moment and when I look at it, I feel really strong.

    I also speak from painful experience from the other side. I am really writing this comment to myself about 4 years ago. When I was lucky enough to again have another entry in the NYC marathon (I had deferred the year before because I was 7 months pregnant), only this time I would be 10 months out from the birth of my son. I was a full-time working single-mom then and had every excuse in the book to “not be able to” fill-in-the-blank. So I didn’t. And I regret it. Even a joke of a training plan would have at least gotten me out of the house and into a new routine for running. I should have at least bothered to show up. I could have walked it and smiled the whole way. Or maybe even just trained but still found it wasn’t in the cards for me to start. Whatever — at least there was a try involved. What I really regret is giving up without even trying.

    So count me in as another You Should Totally Go For It. The West Coast has your back too. Cheers!


    1. Leanne: thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  5. I think that you could successfully train for and run the race.

    16 weeks is not a bad training program, even if you are a beginner…and you’re not. You are an experienced runner who is coming off of a pregnancy/injuries.

    You will have to make some mental adjustments. You’re not a 9-minute miler. You will have to accept a slower pace as the best you can do right now.

    NYC is not an easy race to PR anyway, so wiping that off the list from the beginning isn’t the end of the world.

    Make it about the journey back to fitness and running, and the experience of running in front of your local crowd.

    If deferring means you’re back in the lottery next year, then you might as well do it. You’ve paid for it. And next year you can try to improve on your time if you like.

    Plus, I’m managing the fluid station at mile 25. I’ll be cheering everyone into the final mile ALL DAY LONG.


  6. You can do it!

    Seriously, you can.

    I ran early mornings before the kids were up for the day and Saturdays were my long runs. It’s difficult, but you have to make it a priority if you want to do it. You can fudge through the short ones or even cut one, but don’t cheat yourself on the long ones. Fartleks are your friend (and worst enemy!)

    Also, my youngest kid was older than yours and I only had two. So if you do this, you’re way more badass than me!


  7. Hey Mihow,
    Depends on what you want out of it, the experience and crossing the finish, or finishing in a certain time/performing at a specific level.
    If you want to hit a goal that seems unrealistic, i’d push the race.
    If you want to just get out there and do it and do it and just see how it goes, I’d go for it.
    Don’t worry about the short duration of training time, just find a plan, and customize it to your needs. I agree with a previous commenter, you’ll bounce back faster than you think. Put some specific thought behind nutrition/hydration, it makes a huge difference. You’ll finish, and you might just surprise yourself with your result. I got hit by a car last year and lost time training for a half iron, I was surprised I got back in the game as fast as I did, I was really struggling for a while. But it was daunting, and I didn’t think I could do it. I set aside my goal, And just went out there to have fun. I finished faster than anticipated. I’m doing an Iron[wo]man next weekend, and while I’m sure if I didn’t have full time work and school i’d perform at a different level, but that’s my life and I want to do this race, so I’ve accepted my limitations and I’m just going to get out there and do my best. My training duration has been significantly less than what is’d have liked, but I just kept at it, and at some point realized I’m going to be ok.
    The nyc marathon is an amazing experience. If you want it, go after it. You can always do it again another year and use what you learned from this one. You’ll do great, and let us know what you decide so we can cheer you on!


  8. As I said to you via twitter, you can totally do it. And you’ll probably beat my slow ass even at 13 minute miles. Start where you are. And yes, you’ll recover your fitness faster than you fear you will.

    (Also, am I about to have another “incredible shrinking world in blogs” moment? Kizz, are you my NYU Kizzy, or are there possibly two people on the planet who have that nickname?)


  9. Do it. Just do it. Don’t give up your spot. You don’t have to run it like you would have if you hadn’t gotten pregnant with #3. Just run it as you will run it. Just to live it. It doesn’t matter how you do. You’ll have done it! It’s crossing things off the bucket list. Can’t live in “could have been” but that feeling might get stronger IF you miss it completely! A lot can happen in four months! I expect a post about it soon after.


  10. Friend started running about 6 or so years ago. She qualified for the Boston Marathon this year. (She’s 57). She ran it, said her time was awful, and it was one of the most difficult, and wonderful, experiences of her life.
    I say yes, go experience it.


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