Michelle Lilienthal, a three-time Maine women's champion of the Beach to Beacon 10K, will be seven months pregnant when she toes the line in Cape Elizabeth on Aug. 3
Side by side, Michelle Lilienthal and Gretchen Speed lope around the 400-meter track at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
On this muggy weekday morning, sweat rolls off the faces of the two Portland women. They complete the lap in 90 seconds, which translates to a 6-minute mile pace, then rest before running another.
Lilienthal will do eight such laps, interspersed between 200-meter recovery jogs and two trips to a portable toilet on the far side of the stadium.
“I can’t keep up with her when she’s not pregnant,” Speed says with a laugh. “When I was pregnant with my kids, I (ran) a lot, but I never did (track) workouts. It’s impressive to see her keep it up and be really fit through her pregnancy.”
Lilienthal is a three-time Maine women’s champion of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K road race. She set the Maine course record of 33 minutes, 39 seconds in her first victory, in 2014, and won again in 2016 and 2018.
She will not win in 2019. On race day next month, she will be seventh months pregnant.
That hasn’t stopped her from running or training, but she does promise to dial back her usual intensity on race day – Saturday, Aug. 3.
“I’m trying to not push too hard,” Lilienthal, 37, said as she walked around the track after completing her weekly workout. “I’m so used to pushing myself until I could vomit that I’m trying to rein it in and not make myself feel that way.”
Lilienthal has been a serious runner since her teens, a seven-time Iowa high school state champion who went on to earn all-Big Ten distinction at the University of Wisconsin. She shifted to marathons while in graduate school in Philadelphia, got a sponsorship deal with Saucony that lasted nearly 10 years, and has competed in three U.S. Olympic marathon trials, with a fourth scheduled for late February in Atlanta.
While on the road racing circuit, she met another three-time Beach to Beacon champion, Sheri Piers of Falmouth. It was at the 2013 Beach to Beacon that Piers introduced Lilienthal to Marc Halverson, a former Falmouth High and University of Maine runner. They started dating and, with a nudge from a brutally cold Minnesota winter, Lilienthal moved to Maine in 2014.
They got married in the spring of 2018, and over the winter learned that Lilienthal was pregnant. Since then, she has run three races, the Robert Burns 10K in Westbrook in late January, the Falmouth 4-Miler in April and the Patriot 5K in Gray in May. Each time, she was the top female finisher.
She considered another 5K in June, but Halverson helped dissuade her of that notion. Halverson, 30, said he experienced some initial trepidation about Lilienthal continuing her running regimen.
posted Monday July 15th