Lizzette Pérez knew not everyone would support her. Her parents didn’t want her to run the Boston Marathon while close to 36 weeks pregnant. The first doctor she consulted thought she was crazy. The second told her studies showed benefits of exercising while pregnant – to a certain extent.
Despite the doubters, she followed her own course last month and completed the Boston Marathon at close to nine months pregnant.
A month after finishing the race, Pérez gave birth to a healthy baby girl. On Tuesday, KABC7 reported that the girl, Penélope Pérez Escobar, was already nine days old. She weighed just over 7 pounds at birth, the news outlet said.
Pérez posted a picture of the baby on her Instagram account, saying she was born on May 19 at 1:32 a.m.
“A person just has to trust their body and keeping the baby’s best interest in mind,” Pérez said as she sat on a bench in Mariachi Plaza, remembering her experience, days after completing the 26-mile run.
Pérez has been running since she was 13. She’s one of the founding members of the Boyle Heights Bridge Runners. That’s where she met her coach, Cristian Torres. He helped her train for the Santa Rosa Marathon and then stepped in to help her train for the Boston Marathon while she was pregnant.
“You have to look at the elements at place for her,” he says, “being someone who’s not new at working out, or exercising or running. She’s been doing this for years. It’s not a new stress on her body… but definitely the goals changed.”
Pérez spent months training to run a good time for the Santa Rosa Marathon in order to use her results to qualify for the Boston Marathon. What she didn’t know was that she would be running for two. Pérez finished the Santa Rosa Marathon in 3 hours and 16 minutes, her fastest time running the 26.2 miles, even though at the time she was about five weeks pregnant.
Pérez qualified to run the Boston Marathon, and then, after a doctor visit, found out she was pregnant. She did the math and knew that she would be close to 36 weeks pregnant around the time of the Boston Marathon. At first, she didn’t think she would be able to run it.
At first, her partner, Pedro Escobar, was surprised by the decision.
“When she told me that, I was shocked, but I know that she’s a runner and has been doing it all her life. It was a bucket list item for her,” Escobar said. “I always encouraged her, but said she didn’t have to [run] the whole thing to prove anything to anybody.”
Pérez continued to run through her pregnancy at a good pace until she hit seven months and had to slow it down. She then ran a mix of short, middle and long distance runs to train.
When the early morning of the marathon came, it was raining. It eventually stopped when it was her time to start the race.
As she was running the course, Pérez said it felt a lot like the Los Angeles Marathon where there are groups of people at every mile cheering everyone on and encouraging the runners to keep going.
“They just kept yelling ‘Go, mama!’ and a lot of older folks were like, ‘Oh, Jesus, she’s pregnant’ or ‘Whoa, she’s big,’” Pérez said. The cheers and the crowds became a motivating factor for her. “It’s something spectacular to be a part of because they were so encouraging,” the Boyle Heights resident said.
She made sure to stop at every mile for water breaks. But around mile 18, she felt a heavy sensation in her pelvic area and then started to incorporate walking into her race. About a mile after walking, she felt better and started running again.
Escobar says waiting for Pérez at the finish line was nerve-wracking. He was tracking her on Google Maps when Pérez called to let him know that she was okay.
“As I’m waiting for her, I see other people getting to the finish line and these are men and women who are not pregnant, crawling to the finish line, being assisted, and then I just see her with her short little steps and her little belly,” said Escobar. “I was so happy seeing her get to the finish line on her own, in one piece.”
Pérez finished the race in 5:49:20. She recalls how she felt the moment she crossed the finish line.
“It was a flush of emotions. I was crying but they were happy tears. I was laughing at the same time, seeing my partner at the end. I just felt so proud. I felt more proud of our little girl because she went on this whole journey with me. It was just beautiful and unique and what a true testament to how strong she is already,” Perez said.
This story was updated on May 29 to add information on the birth of the baby girl.