Mom on the run

A woman sits on the ground, post race, with a medal around her neck, posing next to her husband and baby.

The last time I ran the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon was in 2019. It was hot and humid, per usual, and my wheels fell off early. For some reason, the excitement just wasn’t there for me. But I promised myself the next time I raced, I’d show up with my whole heart.

This year I did.

Marathon weekend is like Christmas for runners. The buildup begins once you start seeing the porta potties and horses lining the course. And when Ron Smiley starts giving his race-day weather prediction, everything starts to get real.

This year wasn’t by any means my fastest time, but it was my first time running as a mom.

At five months postpartum, the nervousness I had was totally different. I didn’t have goal pace. Outfit choice was not important. And I didn’t know for certain that I was actually running until the week of the race.

My support team made it possible. From family and friends that would watch my daughter on Saturday mornings so I could train, to my husband, Brian, who believed in me even when I lacked confidence, I was able to squeeze it all in. Living in Mt. Lebanon played a huge part as well. I could just go out the door and run, as I trained for the race.

Gearing up for the race, my thoughts focused on my daughter, Hannah, and my new body. Where will I pump? How much more water do I need to intake before the race? How badly is this going to wreck my body? Is it too much too soon? Will I finish?

It seems crazy to think that not finishing was even a possibility. But this year, it was my reality.

When the day finally came, the actual race felt fast. I promised myself not to go for time and listen to my body. Somehow I still went out too fast, but the atmosphere was electric. Spectators lined the streets clanking cowbells and playing music. It was one big party. So many of my friends were cheering.

When a runner crosses the finish line after completing a new distance or challenging race, there is a burst of emotion that just can’t be described. After running Pittsburgh more times than I can count, that feeling came back to me this year.

It was so special and Brian and Hannah were there to see it. My daughter probably won’t remember being at the race, but I hope when I tell her this story someday that she realizes that she too can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.