I don't usually blog on Tuesdays, but given my two most recent posts- How I'm still running in the third trimester and What would it take for you to drop out of a race? – I couldn't ignore this subject.
The Chicago Marathon took place this past Sunday. By now, I'm sure many of you heard about the woman who ran the race at 39 weeks pregnant, completed the marathon, and then gave birth later that evening (source).
Amber Miller claims her doctor gave her permission to run the first half of the race. Yet she continued on and walked the second 13.1 miles… while having contractions.
Would I ever do this? Heck no! Then again, I've also never run more than 6 miles at a time while pregnant. Even if I was able to run further during pregnancy, I personally would not feel comfortable running a marathon at any point while pregnant. The only finish line I'm determined to get to is the one in the delivery room in December. Healthy baby > marathon finisher's medal.
But pregnancy has taught me that everyone's experience is different, and I've learned never to compare what my pregnant body can do to others. I know some women can run marathons safely during pregnancy. Though I'm guessing most of them run the 26.2 miles during the first half of their pregnancies.
When I first heard about Miller, my initial reaction was "what a fool". After skimming the story, I saw her doctor gave her permission to race so I thought "good for her."
Then this story started popping up everywhere. Lots of people commented how awesome, amazing, or inspiring this woman was. To be fair, there were also plenty of negative comments too. Many called Miller's actions a publicity stunt. Though I'm not sure I agree with that because how could she have predicted she'd give birth hours after the race?
I'm not sure what I think of Miller…
- Her doctor allegedly gave her permission to run half of the race. But did she have permission to walk the second half? I'd like to see an interview with her doctor and hear what he or she has to say.
- My doctor told me to stop on any run if I had contractions or any other baby-related issues. Yet, Miller ran (or walked) through her contractions. Did her doctor give her any caveats for when to stop? Did she ignore them?
- The Chicago course is known for not being shaded, and it was hot on Sunday. Overheating during pregnancy is dangerous (source). In fact, my midwife wanted me to take my temperature after every mile if I insisted on running in the heat. Did Miller take breaks?
- Running cannot cause a miscarriage. (Granted, Miller was way past the miscarriage stage.) But can strenuous endurance exercise so late in pregnancy cause fetal distress or stillbirth? I'm not sure (and I honestly don't want to do the research because I don't want to freak my 31 week pregnant self out ).
I don't know the answers to these questions. As much as I want to call Miller's actions reckless and irresponsible, I'm going to bite my tongue unless the answers to these questions are revealed.
What scares me is the amount of attention this story is getting (and yes this blogger realizes she's adding to it). Now, I'm not sure Miller could have predicted this media explosion. Miller may have had nothing to do with getting her story out there. Or she may have called the press minutes after giving birth.
My fear is that other pregnant women are going to be inspired by Miller's story and try to do the same thing. Unfortunately, I doubt that each mama and baby will have as happy of an ending as the Miller family.
If you're a pregnant runner, listen to your doctor and your body and be sure you know when to stop. There will be plenty of chances to run more races, but the baby you're growing can never be replaced. <3 I promise your pregnant body is just as amazing as Miller's, but you don't have to complete 26.2 miles to prove it.
What do you guys think of this story?