a very long story about that time i told my husband i was pregnant during mile 18 of the portland marathon
The 2 weeks preceding the marathon, while we were just beginning the 4HourBody diet, I began to feel pretty awful. I initially chalked up the extreme fatigue to the lentil-heavy, fruitless diet and 5 months of too much running. When coffee began to taste like vinegar, I simply swore off caffeine in the name of better athletic performance. The nausea that kicked in when I ate anything other than a bagel? Just my marathon body telling me to eat more bagels.
Too many times I work I felt like I could not stay on my feet another minute. I pulled a stool behind the counter and plopped down watching my coworkers with their endless amounts of energy, making things like cutting fruit look easy (for me, chopping strawberries felt like a triathalon). I related my symptoms to Becca, who put down her knife and looked me in eye: “Oh my gosh. You’re having a baby.”
I talked it over with Jason, and we reminded ourselves of the extreme unlikelihood of that we had conceived during the one time we could think of where we didn’t use a condom. Impossible! we declared… right?
But we picked up a pregnancy test just to be sure, and Jason delivered it to me at work the Friday before the marathon. I took it on my break and went out the the parking lot, huddled in the shadow of the Thriftway dumpster to read the results in secret.
Two lines. I saw the positive test and did not think “I’m pregnant” - I just thought, “Hm. Two lines.” I kept repeating it in my head like a mantra “Two lines. Two lines.” I thought about calling Jason, but I realized that this was a rare and wonderful opportunity I had to REVEAL something to the man I love most… I decided to wait until the next day and do something truly creative to share the news.
Jason proposed marriage to me with a sweet children’s book story of two little birds. He wrote and illustrated the entire story, following the birds along the Appalachian Trail and on the subway in NYC and how the little blue bird followed the little red bird all the way out to Washington State. I decided to “propose fatherhood” to Jason by writing the rest of the bird story, beginning with the wedding and the bike trip migration, continuing with the building of the Tacoma nest and of course, finishing with the laying of the surprise egg.
But early that morning my friend Claire showed up to ride with us to Portland for the marathon, and I knew that I wouldn’t have time to finish the drawings before my race. I figured I would wait until after the marathon, knowing that if I did tell Jason beforehand there was a slight chance he’d try to keep me from running 26 miles while 8 weeks pregnant. And I really did not want to be stopped by anyone, especially someone the size of a peanut!
So Sunday arrived and my friends arrived and they escorted me to the starting line. I took off trotting and quickly found a running buddy, who was completing her 5th marathon. Keeping up with her meant running 7.5min miles (much faster than my normal marathon pace) but falling behind meant losing my companion, which meant being completely alone with my hormones and my aching body.
I stopped to pee at the halfway mark and my buddy ran off without me. At this point I began to feel quite sick and lost all running mojo. I thought about the months I’d trained and willed myself to continue. I made it five more miles at a slow jog and then I thought about how there was possibly a little life within me and the course began to get very blurry and I wondered if I could run anymore, if it was safe to lose so much water by crying while running a marathon. I hopped off the course near some university football stadium, crouched behind a billboard and started to sob. Like actual big breathy heaving sobs. And then I called Jason.
“Are you alone?”
“No…” (He was in a coffee shop with my 3-person cheering squad)
“Sniffle sniffle, go somewhere alone, okay?”
“Boo hooo, I-I-I ahh, sniff I didn’t forget ah boo to take the test I hoo hoo I did take it and a sniffle I think I am sniffle ahh pregnant and I didn’t tell you, sob sob because I knew you’d be disappointed, sniffle sniffle I wanted to make the birds, but I’m so tired, and I don’t know sniff sniff if I can keep keep running anymore sniff sniff boo hooo.”
“Oh my gosh! I’m not disappointed! That’s amazing! That’s amazing! I’m not disappointed at all, it’s amazing!” He used the word amazing at least 20 more times, then “You don’t have to keep running! Where are you? I’ll come get you!”
“Snniiifffle, hooo I just passed mile 18. You don’t have a car. I’m far away from downtown. Sigghh hoo hoo sniff, I will keep going.”
In a moment of pure valiance, with a lion-like roar, my husband: “I WILL RUN THERE!”
Jason has never even run 8 miles, much less 18. (He also doesn’t actually roar, but the passion in his voice that intense.)
I discouraged Jason from that impossible scheme and we made a plan: I’d walk until I felt a little better then I’d run to the finish. And we both agreed that I could subtract the 9 minute phone call from my final marathon time.
So I ran 23 of the 26 miles and finished in just under 5 hours. And someday Baby Keil will be able to brag that at the tender age of negative 32 weeks, he/she ran their first marathon!
(photo creds to Kristin Hunziker, who was also a marvelous cheerleader!)
When we got home I finally finished my bird drawings and sent them out to family as a pregnancy announcement. Many phone calls and much laughing and crying ensued.
Despite the tears in the story, Jason and I are absolutely THRILLED to be parents! Being pregnant is hands down the coolest thing I’ve ever done… and that includes running a marathon. We can’t wait to meet that baby and smother him/her in kisses!