The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon is approaching, but the woman who has won it the most times is taking a pregnant pause. Beth Florek is expecting her second child, a girl, and will swerve the event she has won six times.
The passionate runner says she does not have any sad emotions about missing the marathon this year. “Having to skip it due to pregnancy is a lot different than having to miss out due to injury, work responsibilities or an off-island family commitment,” Florek said. “I’m about the furthest thing away from racing shape I could possibly be, so there’s no mental anguish over not being able to participate.
“It’s surprisingly easy to switch off that part of my brain. I think it’s because of how physically different you feel during pregnancy.
“Sleeping is different, food tastes different, you’re a lot more tired and there are many periods of feeling ill. It would be a lot harder to miss out if I felt great and like I could put forth a solid effort.” Florek was the women’s champ from 2008-12, missed it when pregnant with her son Connor in 2013 and returned to win it in 2014. In 2006 and 2007 she was third in the full and the half, respectively.
She will be a volunteer when the event is staged on Dec. 6, and she is curious to see which female runners will be champs.
“I’m not entirely up to speed on which of the local female runners will be running the full versus the half-marathon, but there are some obvious standouts at both distances,” Florek said.
“Helki Weber usually runs the full marathon and should definitely be a contender for podium placement again this year. There’s a lot more competition at the half-marathon distance and it should be an exciting race.
“Claire Critchley, Joanna Mansi and Kym Bailey would be my picks for the top three local women, but it’s up in the air with respect to who will place first, second and third.”
Florek does not plan on running the Cayman marathon in 2016 either. “This pregnancy has been a lot different than my first and it will take a lot longer to bounce back.
“When I was pregnant with Conner, I felt really good, didn’t have any complications and was able to run until he was born.” She actually ran a 10K the day she went into labor. He was delivered by Caesarian section and six weeks after the birth, Florek was able to start easing back into running.
The fact that she was able to run the entire nine months of pregnancy helped her return quickly. However, it was not without its challenges.
“I was able to breast-feed for an entire year, but that meant every morning before my run I’d have to get up an extra half-hour early to pump.
“Breast-feeding takes a lot of energy, which is already a rare commodity for parents of a new baby, and every time I went out to run I had basically just depleted myself of a bunch of energy, so training was tough.”
The same went for racing. Pre-pregnancy, Florek would attend up to five yoga classes a week.
“Once the baby was born, that went down to zero,” the 35-year-old Canadian accountant said. “I used to go either at lunch, which was now a time I pumped at work, or I’d go after work, which was now the time I wanted to be home with my baby as soon as possible.”
She also struggled with a lot of issues with her back and hips, both from general misalignment resulting from the aftermath of pregnancy and also due to not putting any time into a regular yoga practice.
Florek has had a few issues this pregnancy and has not been able to run at all.
She thought it would be tough to give it up, but found it very easy to trade it for sleeping in. “I should clarify that sleeping in means until 6 a.m. when my toddler gets up for the day.”
She is due at the end of February, so by the time she will be cleared to resume exercise it could be late April.
“At that point it will be approximately 10 months since I last ran a step, so physically it will take a lot longer than my first pregnancy to get back into things.”
She is in no rush to get back to racing shape and will take it easy to try to ensure avoiding injuries.
“I love running but will be quite satisfied to be able to get in a few runs a week where I can without the pressure of sticking to a rigid training schedule and attempting to juggle training with sleep deprivation and the demands of family life.”
Her reasoning is that the modern marathon has been around for more than 100 years and will still be around when she is ready to again commit to the distance.
“I hope to run the Cayman half-marathon in 2016. The amount of time and mental effort that will take should be more reasonable for where I’ll be in life.”
Florek’s long-term plan is to use the last eight months of next year to get back into shape, spend the first few months of 2017 building up mileage and then train for an early fall 2017 marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston in time to register for the 2018 race.
“That will also give me time to recover enough to run the 2017 Cayman Marathon. I ran Boston six years in a row [2008-13] and would love to go back.”