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Q & A with our Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier - Magdalena Donahue!

Tell us what you're most excited about for the upcoming Olympic Trials?
The most exciting part of this Olympic Trials is that I'm traveling with my family, and I'm excited for my older daughter to be able to see me run. I'm not sure she'll be able to remember the details, but I am really hoping to set an example for her as an active woman who has set big goals and worked hard over a long time to achieve them. Of course, I'm also excited to see the great American running talent who will be laying their hearts on the line on Saturday.

Do you have a specific goal? 
My goal is simply to get to the starting line happy, confident, and excited to experience this phenomenal race as fully as I can. I do not have specific time, place, or even pace goals.Unlike pretty much everyone else there, I'm not really in the best shape of my life right now! I struggled with deciding whether or not to even make the trip, but decided that it was too cool of an opportunity to skip. Only ~500 men and women qualified for this race: it's a pretty elite group to be part of! 

My big goals are: 1) be motivated and excited by this race as I look to my return to elite racing, and 2) share this as a family moment. I grew up watching my dad train and race, and it has been hugely motivational in my life; I hope to be similarly motivating for my daughters.  I think it's important to demonstrate that racing is a very challenging, fulfilling part of my life, and to show that I'm not afraid of embracing the many aspects of a full life that for me includes running, family, and academic and professional activities. This 'full life' experience has meant that I've not raced a great Olympic Trials: in 2012 I was 3 months pregnant with our older daughter, for 2016 I'm 4 months post-partum! Despite missing being able to race hard at a Trials marathon thus far, I can't imagine a better way to be living life. I'd not exchange making the Olympic team for being mom to my two girls. But believe me: I've got my eye on 2020!

How has training been going since adding your newest little bundle of joy? Any advice for all the mama runners out there? 
Training has been interesting since Penélope arrived 4 months ago. I didn't run for a full 6 weeks, and have been very conservative in returning to running since then. We had a round of respiratory sickness that took our entire family down for most of January. I've tried to carefully, mindfully move my body and brain towards more extensive running each week since mid-December, with a careful eye to being aware of how my healing body is responding. I've had a significant amount of pubis symphysis pain (the join where the pelvis joins in the pubic bone), so that has limited things, but is improving. I pretty much stop when I have any sharp, or not 'normal' running pain and reassess. I'm excited to be running, glad that it's becoming easier, but I'm not anywhere near what I would call a normal 'training' load. I'm very lucky in that this baby has been a pretty good sleeper: I'm up only 2-3 times each night now, which is a relief. I have really missed running regularly, and am enjoying getting back into it. I've a very supportive husband,which also helps. He really is great at getting me out the door, even when I'm biting my nails about whether the baby's eaten enough!

Advice for moms: Be patient and pay attention to your body. Realize that each body is unique and individual, and responds to pregnancy and activity differently. And realize that even different pregnancies for the same person can prompt different responses! For moms coming back to running, I'd suggest they take it in fun, small steps that build confidence. I think it's really important to make the time for personal running: it allows time for reflection, rejuvenation, and is a bit of a sanity break from the chaos of a new baby as well as improving overall health/fitness. It can be difficult to get over feeling guilty about leaving the baby to do something for yourself, but it's so worth it! As the baby gets bigger, it can be really fun to involve baby and partner in training, with joint stroller runs or a 'baby-hand-off' if one partner runs, the other watches the baby, then adults activities. Adding running or any other activity into a life that has just had a new baby added to it takes planning and cooperation; try to be realistic about goals and available time, communicate with your partner/child care provider, be patient, and realize that running is a life-long activity, so be flexible with it and enjoy yourself!

How do you plan on celebrating after the race is done? 
I am traveling with my husband and our two daughters, so we'll all be celebrating together. My parents are also coming out to watch, so we'll probably spend some time with them, enjoying the race scene. I can't get too crazy with a 4 month old, so we'll probably try to go to the beach or the Los Angeles Children's Museum - this trip is a big deal for my 3 year old!  Actually, this trip is a big deal for us as parents, too: we're driving to LA, and it's our first really big trip as a family of 4. Toss in the Trials, and we're both a bit nervous!


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