From Runner’s World, July 28, 2017
Theresa Marie Pitts—and her three young children—finished in 4:25:37.
“To survive the whole thing, I knew I had to keep a very steady pace,” Pitts said, who started out slow and negative split the race.She stopped just two times along the course: at mile 6, to buckle Anders back into his seat (he had somehow shimmied free), and at mile 8, to hug and burp her daughter Avi, who had let out a small squawk.The toughest point came around mile 20 when Pitts felt ill, exhausted and was in significant pain. “I had to dig deep and push very hard,” she said. She noticed a fellow runner, also trying to break the 4:30 mark, struggling as well.“I started encouraging him and saying, ‘Let’s do this,’” Pitts recalled. “The more I encouraged him, the more inspired I felt myself.” She focused on keeping one foot in front of the other and was pleasantly surprised when she rounded the last corner and saw the finish line—and then her world record time. Pitts described the moment as a mix of emotions: excitement, relief, joy, and unbelief.“I just went out with the attitude that I’m going to the best I can do and have fun,” Pitts said. “And with that positive outlook, things turned out great. I surprised myself with the result.”This isn’t Pitts’ first Guinness World Record. She broke the half marathon triple stroller record in June at the Governor’s Cup half marathon in Helena, Montana, with a time of 2:01.11.
Such feats are even more impressive when you consider the fact that Pitts is a relatively new runner. She picked up the sport in 2013 as a way to pull herself out of a depressive slump and “get back on track mentally, physically and spiritually.” She set goals for herself—a sprint triathlon, a Spartan Race—and soon became hooked. Then, she got the kids involved.
“Because of our large and busy household [her kids range in age from 17 years to 5 months] and because I knew the kids would enjoy being out on runs with me, I didn’t want to leave them behind,” Pitts said. So Evan and Anders began joining her jaunts, nestled snugly into a double stroller. When Avi was born last winter, Pitts upgraded to a triple stroller. “I figured touring the countryside and being out in nature together was better than sitting at home and watching YouTube together.”
When she decided to take on the marathon challenge this past spring, it seemed only fitting that her pint-sized partners would come along for the ride. “I wanted them there with me when I crossed the finish line. They’ve been with me on this whole journey,” Pitts said. She began training for 26.2 in March, following what she calls the “Theresa Training Plan.”
“I like to train by feel rather than an rigid schedule,” Pitts said. “If I feel like pushing myself faster and farther, I do. If my children need a rest day, then I don’t push it. The wellbeing of my family always comes first.”
Her marathon prep also involved teaching Avi to drink from a bottle and training her tots to stay up a little later so that they’d sleep in later—and hopefully sleep through the race. It worked. After crossing the finish line, Pitts had to rouse Anders and Avi (Evan was already alert) so that they could celebrate the victory together with hugs and kisses.
Pitts plans to keep on running—and racing—with her little ones as long as possible. “If they get too big, they’ll run beside me or ride their bikes,” she said. She’s already signed the crew up for another half marathon in September. Their goal: break two hours.