Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Death and Life at the Chicago Marathon

Last weekend was a big one for endurance sports, with the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on Saturday and the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. The Chicago Marathon proved the more newsworthy, marred by the death of a 35 year old, and apparently very healthy, firefighter from North Carolina. The exact cause of his death, just 500 yards from the finish line, is still unknown, but, as anyone who has been reading the (seemingly endless) chapter on determining VO2max in the personal trainer manual knows, the risk of cardiac arrest at maximum heart rate is significant. After 26 miles, could the sight of the finish line inspire even an experienced marathoner to sprint to the finish, pushing his heart past the breaking point? It's possible.

Chicago Marathon death: Autopsy inconclusive on Bank of America Chicago Marathon runner -

The universe, though, keeps everything in balance. A few hours after the news of the death reached my twitter stream, this story hit the internet.

Some will question the wisdom of participating in a marathon when 39 weeks pregnant and point out that it led to the somewhat early birth of the baby, but these are not people who consider running a normal part of daily life. My oldest was born at 38 weeks and the early labor may have started as a result of an afternoon spent walking around the mall, trying to finish my Christmas shopping. Shopping is certainly a normal part of life for many of us and not likely to be considered too risky an endeavor for moms-to-be. Amber Miller was a seasoned distance runner and had clearance from her doctor to run/walk the 26.2 miles last Sunday. The baby is perfectly healthy, although I've heard rumors she came out complaining about the bumpy ride.

Interestingly, this video about pregnant rock climber Carrie Cooper, also 39 weeks pregnant, was making its way around the web last week.

Neither Amber or Carrie took up their respective sports after they were pregnant. They just continued doing what they always did, reminding us all that pregnancy is not a disease or a disability, simply something that women's bodies can do in addition to all the other activities of daily life. If those activities happen to include running 20+ miles or climbing rocks, it's because these women are amazing athletes. We should admire them for that. I would like to be a fit and strong as either of these two, sans baby.
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