Marathon Runner Gives Birth After Finishing Race

FOX Chicago News
Amber Miller felt contractions just minutes after crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. A few hours later, the suburban Chicago woman — who slogged her way through 26.2 miles while nearly 39 weeks pregnant — delivered a healthy baby girl.

“For me, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I was running up until that point anyway,” Miller told The Associated Press in an interview from the hospital where she was recovering Monday. “I am crazy about running.”

Sunday’s marathon was the eighth for the 27-year-old, who has been running for more than a dozen years. She found out she was pregnant with her second child days after signing up for the Chicago race and decided to play it by ear on whether or not she would run.

When the baby hadn’t been born by Sunday, she got clearance from her doctor to run half. She completed it with a with a half-run half-walk approach, drinking lots of fluids and eating a lot along the way. She finished in 6:25:50, much slower than her usual marathon time, but still content.

“Lots of people were cheering me on: `Go pregnant lady!”‘ she said. “I was expecting some negative comments. I don’t remember anything.”

It was not Miller’s first marathon while pregnant.

In May, the Westchester woman ran the Wisconsin Marathon in 4:23:07 while 17 weeks pregnant with her daughter. In 2009, she ran the Indianapolis Marathon in 4:30:27 while she was 18 weeks pregnant with her son Caleb, who’s 1.

Elite runners have trained while pregnant, but doctors say Miller is a rarity. She was 38 weeks and five days pregnant. Full-term is typically defined as 40 weeks.

Marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe ran 14 miles a day while pregnant and resumed training weeks after the birth of her first child. She won the New York City Marathon in 2007 just 10 months after delivery. American marathoner Kara Goucher, who gave birth to her son last year, also trained while pregnant, running 80 miles a week at times.

“It’s probably the rare woman who is in good enough shape to run a marathon while pregnant. It’s probably the exception more than the rule,” said Dr. Priya Rajan, an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Medical guidelines generally say that if a woman was a runner and healthy before she got pregnant, running during pregnancy is fine. Doctors even recommend exercise for low-risk pregnancies. However, medical experts agree that pregnancy is not the time to begin any exercise endeavors, such as starting marathon training for the first time. For pregnant runners, close monitoring by a doctor is recommended.

Miller who was looking forward to getting rest, said she the only effects she felt from the marathon, which she finished around 3:30 p.m., were blisters on her feet. She was just happy to see her daughter June, who was born at 10:29 p.m. at 7 pounds, 13 ounces with no complications.

Legond Marthoner Grete Waitz Dies From Cancer At 57

Waitz finishing 2nd at 1984 Olympic Games

The marathon world is still celebrating the amazing times set  at Monday’s Boston Marathon by the Kenyan men. The NY Times reported the sad news that one of the legends of the Marathon , Norway’s Grete Waitz, has succumbed to cancer  at the age of 57.  Grete Waitz was  a former world record holder in the marathon, and nine-time winner of the NY City Marathon and silver medalist in the 1984 First Olympic Woman’s Marathon at the Los Angelos Games.

Grete Waitz, the Norwegian runner who won a record nine New York City Marathons starting with her first in October 1978, died Tuesday in Oslo. She was 57.

Waitz revealed in 2005 that she had cancer, without disclosing details. Her death was confirmed by her husband, Jack Waitz.

Waitz’s nine victories in the New York race is a mark that no woman or man has duplicated. Unassuming and yet fiercely confident, she inspired runners around the world and stayed involved in the running community even as she battled cancer.

“Grete was a great champion in life as well as in sport,” said Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners and the marathon director. “We will forever celebrate Grete in our hearts and as an inspiration and role model for women’s running.”

Waitz (pronounced vites) was a geography teacher from Norway who came to New York for the first time with her husband. She came on a whim, for a chance to explore a new city, an opportunity to run a different kind of race.

Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon, thought Waitz might be a good pacesetter, since she was a world-record holder in the 3,000 meters in track. She had never run more than 16 miles in a training run. Jack, who was her coach as well as her husband, knew that she could run more.

Grete Waitz did not come to set a pace. She not only won the 1978 New York race, but also set a world best, finishing in 2 hours 32 minutes 30 seconds — two minutes faster than the previous mark.

The only problem was when Waitz crossed the finish line, nobody knew the blond woman wearing Bib No. 1173.

The world, and the city, soon found out.

“Every sport should have a true champion like Grete, a woman with such dignity and humanity and modesty,” said George Hirsch, the chairman of the New York Road Runners, and a friend of hers since 1978. “New York adopted her as one of its true heroes, but unlike so many sports champions, Grete was down to earth. She was just happy to visit, blend in, talk to people, runners who came from all over the world always went right up to her. She just had time for everybody. She symbolized what was so great about what was so great about the community of marathoners.”

When Waitz won her first New York City Marathon, women’s distance running was far from widely accepted. The women’s marathon would not be added to the Olympics until 1984. But she did so well, her winning time in 1978 would have won the men’s race as recently as 1970.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won that first women’s Olympic marathon by beating Waitz, said Waitz was her inspiration.

“I just lost a dear friend and true competitor in every sense of the word,” Benoit Samuelson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I lost a mentor and a role model as well.

“I think what will endure forever is the fact that she was able to balance a highly competitive career with the most gracious lifestyle and character that emanated good will throughout.”

In New York, Waitz’s victories became a ritual of autumn. She was presented each of her nine Samuel Rudin trophies by the Rudin family, the original business sponsors of the marathon.

“She was an icon, one of the greatest athletes of our century,” said Bill Rudin, fighting back tears as he recalled talking to Waitz at the start of last year’s race and introducing her to Edison Pena, the rescued Chilean miner who ran in it. “She was a class act, a real lady, who came back year after year in spite of her illness. She became a part of New York, a part of our family.”

Grete Andersen was born on Oct. 1, 1953, in Oslo, and grew up running in the woods near her house with her brothers, Jan and Arild. She is survived by her brothers and her husband.

She was just 18 when she competed in the women’s 1,500-meter race at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. She was eliminated in the first round, but her career as a competitive runner and pioneering athlete was just getting started.

She set the world record at 3,000 meters in the summer of 1975, but did not make the finals of the 1,500 at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Her chance at a third straight Olympics was foiled when Norway joined the American-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984, suffering from back spasms, she finished second to Benoit Samuelson in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon.

Waitz also won the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986. She also won the world cross country championships five times, including four straight from 1978 to 1981.

She won her last New York City Marathon title in 1988. Her most famous race in New York — which she considered her 10th victory — was the 1992 marathon, which she ran with Mr. Lebow, whose brain cancer at the time was in remission. The two crossed the finish line with their hands joined, their arms high. Lebow died in 1994.

“To me, the race of her life was the time she ran with Fred in New York,” Benoit Samuelson said. “That was a superlative effort on both of their parts.”

They finished in 5:32.34, an impossibly slow pace for a world champion marathoner, and Waitz said it was the hardest race she had ever run, and her most meaningful.

Recently, because of her health problems, Waitz sat in the pace car for the women’s race in New York. In Norway, Waitz established a foundation for cancer, Aktiv Mot Kreft, which sponsored runners in major races and supported activity centers at hospitals in Norway, much like the one in Oslo, where Waitz had received treatments.

“I am convinced you can go through a lot more when you are physically fit,” she said. “It is both physical and mental. With the athletic background, you think more on the positive side — you can do this.”

In 2006, Waitz met Lance Armstrong, the cancer survivor and cyclist who was running the New York City Marathon while on a brief retirement from cycling. Waitz said at the time that she hugged Armstrong and thanked him for all he had done for those stricken with cancer through his Livestrong Foundation.

“I was in the room when the two of them met, and it was incredible,” Rudin said. “Here were these two titans of sport relating to each other, not on a sports level but on a human level. She was asking for advice from him.”

Armstrong acknowledged Waitz’s death on his Twitter page “So sad to hear. She was a good friend and an incredible athlete.”

McDonald’s-only runner finishes in top 30 top at Los Angeles Marathon

Can you believe a marathon runner vowed to eat only McDonald’s in the 30 days leading up to the Los Angeles Marathon? To make it even more unbelievable he ran a   personal best time at the event and finished 29th overall.

Joe D’Amico, a 36-year-old dad from Palatine, Illinois has completed 14 marathons. But the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon had a different twist same training but he ate McDonald’s for 30 days prior to the race.   Joe  ran the marathon in 2:36:13 on March 20, 2011 beating his previous personal record by 41 seconds.
“It went just as I planned,” Mr D’Amico said after completing the 42.1km race.

“The course was much tougher than I expected and the wind and rain didn’t help, but I felt strong.”

In the month leading up to the marathon, D’Amico ate 99 meals at McDonald’s.

His typical daily intake consisted of hotcakes and an Egg McMuffin for breakfast, a grilled chicken burger and a large Coke for lunch, and a hamburger and fries for dinner.

He allowed himself to drink water and take a daily multivitamin and a runner’s supplement.

He said he took on the personal challenge because he loves McDonald’s and running, and but insisted he was not trying to make a point.

His effort garnered more than 23,000 Facebook fans and raised $27,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Mr D’Amico said his wife chose the restaurant where they ate last night.

“We managed to walk past a couple of McDonald’s restaurants after the race without stopping,” he said.

“I’ll probably be back in a McDonald’s sometime next week.”

Anyone that has trained for a marathon will find this story unusual maybe hard to believe.  The best part was the money he raised for  the Ronald McDonald house.  What better way to combined two things.  With his little twist on training for this marathon he probably had lots of people thinking he was crazy. But he did pick some of the healthier meals not Big Macs and supper size fries.

Marathon-Party at Your Pace

Marathons are never easy, but pace groups make them less hard and more fun.  But today marathons offer a lot more than a few decades ago to help make the experience easier.  Some have lots of music, some run through scenic areas but the thing that helps the most are pace setters.

Indeed, 20 years ago, the only runners with pacesetters where elites who had paid “rabbits” to help them hit splits on their way to fast, incentive-pay-laden times.   Today, however, pace groups have become as integral to the modern marathon experience as timing chips, gel stations, and post race space blankets.  If you’ve run a marathon–or even a large half-marathon–in the last five years, chances are you’ve seen them: troops of runners clustered around a leader carrying balloons or a banner  with a goal finish time.  When marathons offer pace groups, an estimated 30 percent of the field chooses to run with one (the 4:00 pace group attracts the largest crowds).  This makes it less intimidating for the novice runner if they have someone who will help then not start the race to fast resulting in a better finish and the individual feeling better about running another marathon.  “Our runners expect it,” says Virginia Brophy Achman, executive director for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Sometimes the pace groups are led by volunteers from local running clubs; sometimes they’re outfitted and organized by major sponsors.  Part cheerleader, part psychiatrist, a pacer spends many hours during the race encouraging, by reassuring scores and sometimes hundreds of relative strangers to their dream finish line.  The pace setters are experienced runners that will pace the group to a time that is well within their personal time often using it as a training run for their own marathon coming up.

Ingrid Kristiansen

In 1982, elite runner Ingrid Kristiansen ran a 2:33 marathon.  For many this would be a good race but for her she wondered why it was slow.   While investigating why it was (for her) so slow, she discovered that she was four months pregnant. Four months after giving birth, she won the Houston Marathon in 2:27 and three months later set the women’s world record in the London Marathon in 2:21. Most would wonder how she didn’t know she was pregnant but this is not uncommon in highly trained athletes.

At  5’6″ and 106 pounds, she trained 100 hilly miles per week. This high level of training lead amenorrhea, the infrequent menstrual periods experienced by many gymnasts, ballet dancers and distance runners. For years she had been used to going months without a period. Thus, in 1983, she was ripe for the surprise of her life.

“In January I won the Houston Marathon,” says Kristiansen. “I thought I recovered well, but I got beat by some runners I really shouldn’t have lost to in 10-and 15-kilometer road races.” Then she finished 35th in the world cross-country race in Gateshead, England, an event in which she had been sixth the year before.

Kristiansen’s coach, Johan Kaggestad, was confused. “My wife said, ‘She must be pregnant. Ask her.’ It was Ingrid’s birthday and she was miserable, so I didn’t. But the next day on the plane I brought it up, and she laughed and said, ‘No, no.’ But I said maybe it would be good to take a test.” A week passed. “I answered the phone, and she was crying, not only that she was pregnant, but that she was five months pregnant.”

The tears were of shock, not dismay. She wanted a baby, but she wanted to run, too. Kristiansen trained as much as she could before the birth. “When she got so round she couldn’t run, she swam and biked and walked for hours,” said Kaggestad. In effect she had the luxury of a four-month pregnancy.

She finished fourth in the Woman’s Olympic Marathon in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.  Coming from Norway, where it is cold for months,  she was known for training on the treadmill.  She won several big marathons wins on her running resume  including New york, Chicago, Boston twice, London a record four times, Stockholm three times and Houston two times.

She started her athletic career  as a National ranked cross-country skier.  She was the European Juniors champion in 1974 and won eight Norwegian Championships in the relay.  This goes to show a person doesn’t have to start out as a runner to become a fast one.

Getting Past “The Wall” on Marathon Race Day

By Gale Bernhardt-

During a marathon, everyone experiences highs and lows. Knowing this helps alleviate stress during the race. When you hit a rough patch, stay focused and try to be a problem solver. Whatever is bothering you at that time, brainstorm possible solutions for the problem. Then, pick the best to keep you going.

Follow these nine tips to avoid or break through the wall, so you can finish your race at your ideal time.

  1. Pace yourself. One strategy for doing this is begin the first quarter of the event slightly slower than the average pace you hope to achieve — each remaining quarter faster than the preceding one. This keeps you from burning out too fast. This “negative-split” strategy has produced numerous world and personal records.
  2. Try not to be so hard on yourself. During the race, ask yourself, “Am I doing the best I can at this moment?” Your answer should be “yes.” You will have no apologies to make to anyone.
  3. Break the race into small pieces. Near the end of the event, when it gets difficult and your legs no longer feel fresh, make small goals for yourself. Can you run for five more minutes? Can you run to a land mark within your vision?
  4. Carry a small tube of lip balm with sunscreen. You can, of course, use the balm on your lips to prevent chapping and sunburn, but it has a second purpose. If you feel hot spots forming on your feet, use the lip balm to reduce friction and prevent blisters. With your finger, remove a small piece of lip balm and apply it generously to the hot spot and surrounding area. Stopping to take care of a potential problem like this can save you time in the long haul.
  5. Positive self-talk makes a significant influence on event performance. Develop at least one positive mantra to use during the race. Some suggestions include:”I’m fit, I’m good, I’m fast.”
    “Every day, in every way, I’m better, stronger, happier.”
    “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m light on my feet.”
    Mantras can be performance-oriented or feeling-oriented. When you find your mind wandering into the land of negative self-talk, use one of your mantras to change your mindset.
  6. H2O. To successfully complete a marathon at the highest pace possible, it’s critical to hydrate and fuel at a steady pace. When using aids stations two miles apart, consume 50 to 100 calories of energy drink and four to eight ounces of fluid at each aid station.If the race-supplied energy drink doesn’t suit you, carry your own drink and drink mix or gels. It’s not as convenient as using the race-supplied drink, but it’s better than an upset stomach.Note: If you consume an entire gel, you need approximately 16 ounces of water to dilute the gel so your body can easily absorb the solution.
  7. Stay flexible. If race day weather is hot, windy or cold, adjust your pace goals accordingly. Also, adjust your fueling and hydration plan to accommodate the conditions.
  8. The wall. Even if you hit the wall — and have a gorilla climb on your back — you can still recover and successfully finish the marathon. Slow your pace or do a combination of walking and running. Other runners/spectators may see your effort and begin cheering to help you during the rough part.
  9. Get your energy. If you skimped on calories and fluids before hitting the wall, walk through one or more aid stations and refuel and hydrate. Energy drinks contain calories and electrolytes that help you feel better. If you know you are a heavy sweater and need additional electrolytes, sodium in particular, carry a small baggie with electrolyte tablets with you. You’ll know if you need to do this based on your long training runs.

Hitting the wall in a race is tough, but follow these tips and you’ll find a way to push through it, if not avoid it all together. If you hit the wall don’t worry you will learn from the experience helping you with your next marathon.

Joan Benoit- Samuelson Continues To Run Fast At 53 Years Old

Joan Benoit-Samuelson defies age by running  2:47 in Chicago

More than a quarter of a century since her victory at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Marathon, 53-year-old Joan Benoit-Samuelson is still going strong.  She finished 43rd in the woman’s race at the Chicago Marathon finishing in  2:47:50.  Her 23-year-old daughter, Abby made her  marathon debut at Chicago 2010 while her mother had other numbers in mind.

Joan was attracted to Chicago “because of  the symmetry of numbers”. Sunday’s date is 10-10-10. The race was  the 25th anniversary of the American record that she set there in 1985 with a personal best of 2:21:21  – a mark that stood until 2003.

Joan is the first female and only 19th runner to run sub 3 hour marathon in five different decades.

  • April 16, 1979  – Boston Marathon – 2:35:16
  • October 20, 1985  – Chicago Marathon – 2:21:21
  • April 15, 1991 – Boston Marathon – 2:26:54
  • February 26, 2000 – Columbia Marathon/ Us Olympic Trails –  2:39:59
  • October 10, 2010 – Chicago Marathon – 2:47:50

Her time in Chicago was 1:50 off the qualifying time.  A time below 2 hours 46 minutes would qualify her for the United States Olympic trials for a record fifth time in 2012.
Joan Benoit is an example that age doesn’t mean you have to slow down.