This One Time, I Ran a Marathon

NOTE: Check out Jamie’s previous guest post where she chats more about the logistics of how she managed all the training.

So, you’re thinking about running a marathon as a working mom, eh? Grab a cup of coffee, let’s chat.

This one time I ran a marathon. I was working full time, it was summer in the South, and I had a 2 and a half year old. It was… well…

It wasn’t awful. It was fun, in many ways! I got a lot of time to myself, way more than I typically do as a working mom. I got to make new friends and see myself go farther than I thought I could. I ran new places… when you run 20 miles, you can actually run SOMEWHERE. I got to eat pretty much whatever I wanted and was in, truly, the best shape of my life.

And…I got to do a marathon, and now I’m that girl sporting a 26.2 sticker proudly. It’s a universally acknowledged bad-ass thing to do (or should be), and I did it.

Running a marathon wasn’t something I would have ever even thought of 5 years ago. I went through the fairly typical runner progression: I started by running a 5K in 2007, and my distances slowly increased. I did a half marathon in 2008, and though at the time I scoffed at ever running one step more than 13.1, it was there in my brain. I didn’t really seriously consider running a full marathon until my daughter, Margo, was over a year old. And truth be told, I’ve been keeping up with local races and looking at calendars since then.

As I opened the books on 2012, looking at our work and family goals, it seemed the time was right. I had read about the Marine Corps Marathon as a great first marathon (which it totally is! Awesome crowd support, flat and awesome course – I do recommend it!) I registered. And, I did it. And frankly, it feels good to accomplish something and to impress myself.

Oh, I also felt like a great role model. My daughter picks up a lot at 2.5, and now she often starts running and says, “I’m running in a mara-fon.” It means something to me that the training and the event registered in her little brain as something important.

But here’s the thing, working mom who’s considering training for a marathon, your family will miss you. Your work will be harder. And, if you’re like me, you’ll feel really bad about it, a lot of times.

Getting ready to run 26.2!

The first half was manageable, honestly. The weekend runs were 2 hours or less, and we still had at least one 3 miler (a half hour workout!) during the week, a lot like half marathon training. The second half was SO much harder. The time was a serious problem by the end. When every run is longer than an hour, meaning 3x a week I need at LEAST an hour to run (sometimes more like 2), plus time to shower since it was always hot during my training…. It makes it tough to, you know, work? Getting all my hours in at my desk, and further, focusing on my work and being productive was really hard because I was always tired.

You know how when you’re pregnant and in your first trimester and it’s like “OMG I’m so hungry I need to wake up in the middle of the night and eat?” or “OMG I am so tired, even though I go to bed at 8:00 every night?” That was me. Totally. In fact the taper and weeks after the race feel like that miraculous 2nd trimester. My family had to deal with hangry, tired Jamie instead of cool, normal Jamie, many times. Even more so on the weekends when I did REALLY long runs! That made me feel bad more often than not.

And, if you do the difficult feat of training for a marathon with kids and a job? Well, then you’ll probably want to do another one.

As we get further away from it I actually have that feeling they (with they being any runner who has ever run a marathon who gives you advice, including me now, I suppose) told me I’d feel: I sorta wanna do it again. There’s ways you know you can improve your time, there’s races you want to do in exciting places or people who are trying to get you to do it. I’ve made this promise to myself: Not til the kid(s) are in school. I’m pretty sure my husband will hold me to that promise.

And for the record, training for a half marathon while working is totally manageable (&, be warned husband, I will do that again!)

But, you do whatever you like. Running a marathon is badass, just like you, working momma!

Jamie is a writer at a software company. She’s a working mom (after having been a stay-at-home-mom for 21 months) to two and a half year old daughter, Margo. You can find her tweeting a lot at @jamiemcq15 and bloging sometimes at  McBlog 2.0.


  • HeatherK says:

    I don’t think I could do a marathon now, basically for the reasons you gave. I just don’t have the time to train for it! But, I told myself that if I am still running by the time my youngest is in junior high (10 years from now) I am going to go for it! I trained for a half marathon last year, (I got injured the week before and was unable to run it), and I agree with you that it is hard, but manageable. Also, as an FYI, I run the MCM 10K every year, it is no 26.2, but it is a lot of fun. You should try it!

    • Jamie says:

      I was so jealous of the 10k’ers (though I didn’t see them at all because we finished so long after you all had come & gone!)… the MCM was a great race, so well organized. I’m still so exhausted even thinking about the logistics of such a huge race, but maybe someday I’ll do the 10k!

      Sucks to be injured a week before your half :(
      Twitter: jamiemcq15

  • Law Momma says:

    Oh well I sort of love this post! :) And by sort of I mean HELL YES! Because I’m training for my first half and while I used to say “only half” I’m getting the distinct impression that I may want to do this again. Because this first one will just be about survival. :)

    Thanks for this!
    Law Momma recently posted..The Real “Me”My Profile

    • Jamie says:

      Aw, thanks! Good luck with your training, it’s a fun distance! And your first is fun because any time you get will be a personal record :)
      Twitter: jamiemcq15

  • Beth says:

    I want to run another half. I was unkowningly 6 weeks pregnant at my first half and it went horribly. Morning sickness and exhausting had already set in, but I’d blamed it on the training. I know I can do better, but I’m telling myself not until she’s a year old and I’m not longer breastfeeding.
    Twitter: Beth_ismyname

    • Jamie says:

      Yikes! That certainly explains the sickness, lol! I did a half marathon when my daughter was 10 months old. I did a lot of training pushing her in the stroller (I was a SAHM at the time). I was breastfeeding at the time and was concerned about the effects on my supply & all that. I talked to a nutritionist, in case you’re interested here’s an old post I wrote at the time about half marathoning while BFing!
      Twitter: jamiemcq15

      • Beth says:

        You shared some great info! If I were staying at home, I’d so be running with her by now while my older boys are in school. But with work, I have little to no day light hours away from the office, and with my husband and my work schedules, the treadmill is now how I want to train! I’ll settle for me 30 minute morning workouts in my living room for now.
        Beth recently posted..Hair PullingMy Profile

  • Laura says:

    I’m *this close* to signing up for a half marathon in early May, but I’m so worried about lack of time to train. I’ve run three halfs and three fulls, so I understand the time commitment. But only one of those races (a half) was post-baby. Now I have two kids, a full-time job, and a husband. Also, no treadmill — and with short, cold days, that might make training extra tough. But I feel like I have to try. I love running and I need to make time for me, somehow, some way.
    Laura recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Giant SnowmanMy Profile
    Twitter: payettepigtails

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