Great Expectations

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KG: It's strange for people like us. We're always pushing ourselves to the next limit and people are asking that of us. So then to have people baby us and be like, "Well, you don't have to do this," it is a little frustrating. If I can't do it, I'll tell you. I mean, it's nice that people are concerned, but I'm okay, you know? Everything still works.

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How hard was it to fit pregnancy into your careers?

KG: My husband and I have been married since 2001, and he wanted a child right away. We talked about having one after the Athens Olympics [2004]. But then we didn't make the team, so we said right after Beijing [2008 Olympics]. But I really wanted to run in New York, so he said okay, right after that [2008 New York City Marathon]. And then I wanted to run the Boston Marathon [2009]. I started to feel this angst, like I don't know if I'm really ready to have a baby. So I decided to run the World Championships [2009]. As soon as I ran that last race, I felt totally calm. There was no more doubt, no more anxiety. Paula said I did the right thing by waiting, because you never want to have that feeling of, I didn't allow myself to have this opportunity I've always wanted. I felt so at peace when we finally decided to do it. It was hard getting to that point, but when I did, it was very clear to me that it was the time.

PR: The big thing for me was that running is something that I love doing and I couldn't see an end to. But at the same time, I always saw myself as a mom, and I didn't ever want to sacrifice that. If I wasn't able to accomplish the goal I've had since I was a little girl, of being a mom, that would have just taken away any enjoyment that I've had through running. I never thought the desire to train hard and be competitive would die in me just because I had a child. What I actually found was that it increased it, really, because for me, if I'm happy and balanced in my life, then I run much better.

How do you think being active influences pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery?

PR: Being fit definitely helps. Even if you have a complicated pregnancy, the fact that you're fit is still going to help your body handle that situation. And I think that being fit through labor helps. The mental techniques you know from getting through races help to keep the concentration and stay focused. You come back stronger because you're happier, because you have a child that you love and cherish, and it's something you really wanted in your life. You probably become a little bit more focused as well, because your priorities are sharpened. And the time away from intense training means that you come back more refreshed. There is a flip side, though, because you are so used to being in tune with your body, and having this body that responds so well to what you ask it to do. You can't do that during pregnancy. You feel frumpy and fat. You kind of have this anxiety because you know you have to put on a certain amount of weight and hit the target so the baby is healthy, but it's hard to get fat and to go through that.

Paula, how did the pain of labor compare to racing?

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