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October 23, 2008

Marathon Madness

6 It is marathon season here in DC with the 33rd running of the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) coming up this Sunday. This is an important event in our lives. My spouse is a die-hard runner, having run this particular race 3 times over the last few years. It is also important because it marks the birth of our second son, an event my husband missed. Yes, you read that correctly. While hubby was running the 2007 MCM mama was managing labor and our two year old child. Duckie (aka, son #2) was born about 30 minutes after hubby finished the race. He claims not to have missed the full birth because he arrived before they finished sewing me up. Details, details, eh? 

Equally important, however, is the marathon is a symbol of our path to parenthood. Getting pregnant was a marathon for us as a couple. We endured multiple miscarriages, failed infertility treatments, drains on our financial and emotional resources, and endless training and preparing for the job of bringing a child into the world.

In the midst of our pregnancy saga my spouse decided to take up running. Sibling rivalry pushed him to run more than his standard 5 miles, but it was a deeper connection that ultimately drove him to register for the MMC 2004. Running became a way of coping with the difficulty of becoming parents and offered an opportunity to turn something painful into something positive. 

It drove me nuts. I resented the endless hours of training, the Saturday morning long-runs, the missed dinners, etc. I couldn’t and didn’t understand. Hubby continued his training and in October 2004 he had his big day. He ran his race with his own PR (i.e., “personal record” in runner-speak; I guess when it’s your first race it’s always a PR) and qualified for the Boston Marathon. The race was his way of honoring the physical and emotional pain I was enduring on our journey to parenthood and that realization erased all of the irritation I felt toward the training. 

I became pregnant in the fall 2004 right after hubby finished his first race. I had been pregnant before, so this wasn’t necessarily news to shout from the rooftops. When I passed the critical first-trimester point, though, we really became hopeful and hubby continued to pile on the miles. While I gestated, he ran. Our weights started to converge. The excitement grew and my resentment evaporated as I was engaged in my own sort of marathon. This one had a due date and I was in training. 

The birth of G (aka son #1) in July 2005 was our big day. We reached a new PR, having never made it past 11 weeks gestation in the past. The birth represented the final event in our years of training to become parents and the beginning of a new marathon as we work to raise our son to become a productive member of society. 

So, while we cheer the runners this weekend as they make their way through our beautiful town I’ll think about all of the joy, pain, excitement, and loss that is a part of this race for each and every one of them. However, if hubby misses Duckie’s first birthday, he’ll have some explaining to do.


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