By: Emma Neveu
“The things that we love tell us what we are.” – Thomas Aquinas
It’s no secret that I love running. It is who I am. If you know me at all, you know I use any excuse to talk about running and will try and convince you that you should run too!
Running provides an instant connection to others that run. You’ve experienced the same feelings of excitement, pain and pride and you’ve had the same doubts and dreams. It is why you can make the closest of friends while running alongside someone during a race that you’ve never met until that day. You experience the same adventure, struggle through the same glorious (or terrible) weather, manage to climb the same arduous hills or glide over the same wonderful trails.
I’ve been running since I was a freshman in high school, and although I claimed to “hate running” many times during cross country and track practice, I stuck with the sport well after high school. I continued running when I got to college as a way to stay in shape, and a few wrong turns on some training runs led me to become a distance runner. I ran my first full marathon the day before my 21st birthday at the 2012 Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction with a time of 3:59:03.
In 2016, I tackled my first ultramarathon at the Apple Creek 50K, and after that, it felt like the sky was the limit.
In October 2017, I decided I wanted to run a 100-miler. After running two 50-milers, I felt that I could mentally handle a 100-miler the following spring. Then in November, I found out I was pregnant.
If I’m being honest, I was so afraid that I would never get to be the runner I once was prior to finding out I was pregnant. A baby would no doubt change my training habits and abilities. I accepted the fact that running a 100-miler in June would be impossible once I found out my due date was April 7, 2018. I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t get to run my favorite early spring races, and I accepted the fact that I couldn’t do my weekly long three to four hour runs on the weekends while I was pregnant (I mean, it would have gotten pretty annoying to have to stop and pee every 15 minutes). I accepted these facts, and I focused on being the best mother I could be to my unborn child. I still ran (jogged/walked) nearly every day throughout my pregnancy, including on and past my due date.
I had a flawless pregnancy, and I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, James Edwin, on April 12, 2018. If you think you know love prior to having a child, you come to realize that there is a whole other level of love the moment you hold your own sweet child. My life changed. I was now a mom.
Was I still a runner?
I waited the full six weeks as recommended before I returned to running. Even my doctor couldn’t believe that I had waited to lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement. And when I finally did go for that first run, it felt so foreign, yet so familiar. I was slow, but I felt like I was flying after running for several months with a watermelon-sized belly.
I ran my first official race, a half marathon, eight weeks after giving birth and ran 20 minutes faster than I had planned, coming across the finish line in just under 1:50. Then I got faster, noticeably faster and I became faster than I had ever been. Fast enough to have a personal record (PR) in the half marathon three times; fast enough to PR in the marathon by over 17 MINUTES; fast enough to win my age group a few times and come home with a few trophies.
Crossing the finish line of the 2018 Fox Cities Marathon with a time of 3:41:48 was surreal. I hadn’t run a marathon in under four hours since my very first one in 2012! However, the most rewarding part of that race day was giving my husband, my parents and my sweet baby boy a hug afterwards!
I should note that all of my running success is only possible because of the support of my family and especially, my husband. I am truly grateful for a spouse that sacrifices his free time so that I can go for a run and always pushes me to go faster and further. Without his support, I know I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all that I have since having James in April.
I had been so afraid that I would never be the runner that I once was. And boy, was I right — I am so much better. I run with determination to be a better mom. I run with motivation to be faster and stronger to prove to myself that being a mom doesn’t mean that I’m not a runner. I run with passion. I run so that I maintain my sanity. I run to keep my life balanced and my mind focused. I run for James, so that he has a healthy, strong, confident mom. I run to be a better, happier, more present wife. I run to release my stress, my anger, my frustrations. I run to be the best that I can be. I run because I absolutely love it.
I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a runner.