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Follow This Mother!

Dorothy Beal, 30+ weeks pregnant, showin' and glowin'
Dorothy Beal, a Virginia mom who is about 30 weeks pregnant with baby #3, is proof-positive that speed is something that can be honed and improved. Dorothy ran her first marathon in 2003 in 4:20, then this March won one in 3:21. (!!!) Pregnancy has slowed her down a bit and she’s added some walking to the mix, but she’s still mostly running.


Best recent run: At the end of August, I was a bridesmaid at my friend Sarah’s wedding in Manchester, Vermont. She wanted to go for a run the morning of her big day, and I was more than happy to join her. Sarah, her twin sister, Amy, and I ran six miles to Hildene, the family home of Robert Todd Lincoln. It was amazing run for several reasons: I got to spend the morning with two of my best friends doing something all three of us love; I got the type of tour of Manchester that one can only have on foot; and I got to see some breathtaking views I know I never would have seen otherwise.

From middle of the pack to the front: When I ran my first 10K race, I was pleased when I crossed the finish line and wasn’t last. Last November, I took that original 10K time of 1:06 to a 41:17. If anyone had told me as an overweight unhappy college girl that one day I would not only be in shape enough to run a mile, but that I would be able to run 6.2 miles at a 6:38 pace, I would have laughed in their face! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be able to accomplish all I have. Take my word when I say I have no special powers; I am not a super athlete; I was picked last for teams as a child; I didn’t run track and field; and I don’t think I’ve been blessed with some magical running gene. Simply put: If someone like me can do it, SO CAN YOU! The only limit in running is how high and far you can dream.

No, it’s not a basketball: To celebrate the 20-week mark I went on a run, shirtless. I pushed my two kids in the double running stroller and had no shame as I ran around town. Sure, I got some looks, but I didn’t let them deter me: I was empowered showing of my big ‘ol baby belly. I’m not only staying in shape for me, but for the little boy growing inside of me! This is the third pregnancy I have run through, and it’s definitely gotten easier. This time around I let my body win the mind/body battle. I listen to everything my body tells me. This means some days I plan to go out for a run and have the hope of running 10 miles, and end up back at the house two miles later. I believe that treating my body right has allowed me to continue running. My ever-growing belly is starting to make it a bit harder to breathe, so I’ve had to combine running and walking on a lot of runs. But, hey, I tell myself I can run farther than half the world can, and I’m carrying a mini-human (and 30+ extra pounds) in me.

Creature I am when I run: I’d like to say I feel like some sort of cool super fast creature, but I’m just me when I run. I am the purest and simplest form of myself. All of my being at that moment in time is a runner--I am me.

Chunking it up: I’m a big fan of breaking down each run, particularly the long runs--20 is a large number when it comes to miles. It’s really hard to wrap my head around the fact I’ll be running more miles than I usually drive in a day. My way of winning the mind/body battle is to break down my 20 mile runs into four 5-mile runs. I run on a great 45-mile trail near me called the W & OD. It’s relatively flat and straight--the perfect combination for an out and back. I start by telling myself I only have to run five miles that day. At the 5-mile point, I stop, rest quickly, then begin a new 5-mile run. (It’s important to count your miles in terms of the new distance, not the combined one. So think, “mile 2” not “mile 7 with 13 more to go.”) I run back to my starting point and rest. Back at my car, I tell myself that it is the beginning of the run and I only need to run five miles today. I start the run out the opposite way and at five miles, you guessed it, I stop and rest. When I have the courage to finish, I tell myself it’s a great day for a 5-mile run and off I go. Five miles later, I’ve only stopped three times and I’ve completed 20 miles.

How miles make me smile: Miles spent running have made the person I am today. They make me smile so much that when I found out my second baby was a boy, there was no other name I wanted besides Miles! When I look back at the girl I was before I started running, it makes me sad. She was sad. I found my passion when I found running. Not a day goes by that somehow running does not make my life better!

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Red-hot momma: Dorothy en route to winning women's division of March's B&A Marathon

20 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. Dorothy, wow what an amazing runner you’ve become! I love these Follow This Mother posts: especially when there is a little something that I can relate to. Not that I’ve become an amazing runner-ha! But the part about the creature that you are when you are running and just how miles make you smile. I get that and love reading that other women do, too. Best wishes to you and your family with baby #3 coming!

  2. Awesome! I can totally relate to being the “fat girl”. When I run into people from my childhood & teens, they are always amazed at what great shape I am in. And I can’t tell you how many people have said to me “no offense, but you were never exactly an athlete growing up, where did all this running come from?”
    You are amazing! An inspiring mamma!!!

  3. I’ve known Dorothy since we were sophomores in high school, and I can honestly say that she has continually strived to improve her life every single day. Running has been the activity in her life that has allowed her to find the best form of herself, and to give her the confidence to love who she is and follow her dreams.

  4. Way to go Dorothy! You sure picked one great mother, runner and friend to feature. She continues to inspire me on a daily basis.

  5. YAY Dorothy! I am so thrilled for you. Keep doing what you are doing! Your running journey is so commendable and inspirational.

    1. We agree, ladies! Her journey to becoming the runner she is today truly shows us all that there are no limits but the ones we have in our mind. The body is willing what the mind tells it to do.

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