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Follow This Mother!

"Barely still standing after running 20 miles with the stroller" (The tank obviously helped.)

Kristen Ghaffarian, a stroller-pushing, 27-year-old mom of a toddler son, has 26.2 miles on tap this weekend: She’s running Rock ‘N’ Roll USA in Washington, D.C., near her home in Fulton, Maryland. She’s keeping her momentum going by running the New York 13.1 Marathon the following weekend, and the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run the weekend after that. Phew: Catch up with her while she’s here in one place.

Best recent run: My best recent run was a 15-mile run pushing my son in the stroller with my husband by my side. We ran on the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Georgetown and back. It was a wonderful change of scenery from where we run at home, and it was a lot of fun for all of us. The beautiful scenery was enough for me to forgive the trail for being mostly uphill on the way back.

Walk-up half-marathon: I’m running a half marathon on May 6 that starts and ends right in my neighborhood. The race is the Maryland Half Marathon, and it benefits the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. The race means so much to me. First, both of my parents are cancer survivors so I want to do everything I can to get rid of this ugly disease--that’s why most of my races are with charity teams. Second, last year’s race was what made me get serious about running again after my son was born. When I saw the big sign in the neighborhood while out for a run, I knew I had to sign up. If I could walk to the starting line, it would have been wrong for me to not run it. Passing that sign during all of my post-partum training runs kept me motivated and determined.

The family after the Baltimore Marathon (Kristen + hubby ran it together)

Making strides with a stroller: My epic stroller running moment was finishing a 20-mile run with it. It was, without a doubt, the hardest run--mentally and physically--that I’ve ever done.  My prior longest stroller run had been 13.1 miles. I didn’t know if I was capable of making it to 20, or if he’d even tolerate sitting that long. I’m incrediblylucky that he loves when I run with him in the stroller, and he was very patient for the run. My biggest tip for running with the stroller is to make sure you have a good jogging stroller. I know they are spendy, but they are worth every penny. I also have stroller-running tips on my blog.

Full slate: My first marathon was nearly six years ago, and it didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would. I had an injury, and I made all the rookie mistakes on race day. Not only was I in too much pain to get back to running after the race, but I also temporarily lost my love of running. My second marathon in October 2011 was a better experience. I ran again two days later and did a double-digit long run the following weekend. I wanted to maintain my endurance that time around since I wasn’t in the same boat that I was in after my first marathon. After my marathon this Saturday, I want to keep up the same momentum, and I’ll be doing so with a lot of races. The half-marathon and 10-mile race I’m running the following weekends will be done at a very comfortable pace because I’ll be running with my husband. I just want to enjoy the race experiences with him and not worry about a PR.

Running heals: At the time of my first miscarriage, I had not been consistently running. I had a D&C so I was not supposed to exercise for two weeks while I was healing. Once I got the go-ahead from my doctor to exercise again, I could not wait to hit the pavement. For two weeks, all I wanted to do was to go for a run so I could escape my heartache. I still remember that first run after the miscarriage and how therapeutic it was. I was able to shut off all my thoughts, breathe in the fresh air, and take a break from crying on the couch in my living room. When my husband and I were having a hard time getting pregnant again, running kept me (relatively) sane. After the second miscarriage, running was my escape again. I got pregnant with my son immediately after the second miscarriage and chose not to run during my pregnancy because I was terrified of something going wrong and it being my fault. Down the line when we decide to have another baby, I hope to attempt the whole running-and-pregnancy thing.

Lemon-lime-y: There is something in that lemon+lime nuun. Something highly addictive. I crave that refreshing citrusy flavor on all my long runs. I don’t know what they put in it to cause such cravings--I just know I have to have it!

Mid-15-mile stroller stride in Georgetown

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18 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. Way to go Kristen!!!! Thank you for sharing your story. So very sorry for your loss. You said it well ” running kept me (relatively) sane” I totally understand. As I’m a mother who has lost one child to CDH & then went on to have 2 miscarriages. We now have 4 wonderful children 9,8,6,&3. You are 100% right. I spent the extra $ & went for the bob ironman. I’m in love. My running coach….( coach curly 3 yr old daughter) loves her ride. It so keeps me sane daily. We head out on the trails many times a week while the big kids are at school. She loves her ride. Way to go on the 20 mile run with your little man. Keep up the great work. My longest run with stroller has been 10 miles. My daughter now asks when we are done running can she run the trails. How can I say no. We go to the car pack up the stroller & lock the car up & I let her hit the trail running. Didn’t know my running high could get any better….but it has. Way to go super running momma! Have a great week.

  2. ohmygoodness-20 miles with a stroller?! I think I just died a little bit. Wow!
    Kristen, I hope you get the running through pregnancy opportunity next time around, it can be so great! There is something amazingly liberating about putting away all expectations and just running by feel and (as cheesy as it sounds) just connecting with baby as you go. I love it!

  3. So happy to find your blog. I am currently very early in a pregnancy after IVF and have been unable to run since January 24th (it was a great run). I can’t wait to get back out there, but I’m afraid when I finally get the go-ahead from my Dr. I won’t even be able to complete a mile. Or worse yet I’ll go this entire pregnancy without any running. I’m so glad to hear that you didn’t run throughout your pregnancy, and you still were able to get your running life back after baby.

  4. Not exactly “glad” to see that I am not alone in my miscarriage story- but I am glad for communities like this where we can see that we are not alone! I’m 7 months into a no running pregnancy after miscarriages- and I just found another mother runner- can’t wait to get back out there. Your distances and story are an inspiration Kristen- keep on running!

  5. I started running after our first miscarriage too, and threw myself into it again after our second. I’d never been a regular runner before that. And we found out we were pregnant right after my first half. I’ve also decided not to run during the pregnancy, but we’re due in July and I’m already looking forward to running again!

  6. Wow, I had all this manpride from having done 13.1 miles of stroller running combined over a Saturday and Sunday, but 20 miles with the stroller is just massively tough. That’s longer than my longest run ever, with or without stroller! People that haven’t done stroller runs often times don’t know how tough they are…it’s a lot of extra work! Congrats on the good running.


  7. What an inspiring mama! I can’t imagine doing a 20 miler with a stroller. Way to go!
    My miscarriage story is nearly identical to Kristen’s. I had two in a row about three months apart. Even though running was my therapy I decided to quit running because somewhere in my mind I thought it might have had something to do with my miscarriages. I got pregnant two months later with a healthy little girl. I really missed running and I’m really happy to be back at it again.

  8. This isn’t the first and won’t be last comment about this: OMG 20 miles with a stroller? That’s seriously impressive! I know that stretch of Gtown between the river and the parking lot under the bridge in the last photo; it’s funny how it’s cleaned up in the past 16 years. It’s got a nice little park now, and it’s the scary homeless hangout it used to be. I’m now trying to remember the club that used to empty into that space.

  9. Reading this I know she has to be one BAMR! I could not even imagine running that far (20 miles) and WITH a stroller. Amazing!

    I’ll be at the Rock ‘ Roll USA too, but I’m running the half. I’ve already packed my “nuun” for the trip. Yum!

  10. Wow! Amazing! I don’t live too far from you in Columbia, MD. Hubby is doing the MD 1/2 too (I’m doing the Irongirl 1/2 the week before). Although having run prior, I too have turned to running after a miscarriage, thanks for sharing. Oh and most importantly…love running with my B-o-B stroller too (but never 20 miles-you rock!)

  11. Wow – what a race schedule! 😉
    My twin is also running Cherry Blossom 10 miler while I babysit her kids! 😉
    I hope some cherry blossoms are still left by then since it’s supposed to peak March 20!
    Have fun & good luck! 🙂

  12. What Kristen doesn’t say is her 15 miler stroller run has a slow and steady uphill return back to Bethesda. Awesome work Kristen!

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