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The mother of all marathons

Five big changes for last year's 'Knocked Up' team -- babies

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You knew them in last year's Manitoba Marathon as Team "Knocked Up, Not Out," but exactly five things have changed this year for the team of running moms.

It's the babies.

The five ladies -- Joan St. Laurent, Chantelle Harder, Laura Masterson, Sarah Johnson and Sam Czemerynski -- who were all pregnant last year when they ran in the relay event are back after having their babies and will run together again in the 2010 Manitoba Marathon on June 20.

Five smooth deliveries between July 28 and Dec. 9, 2009 brought four girls and one boy to the group of friends who have kept in touch and leaned on each other for support and motivation during their return to fitness after giving birth.

Meet Owen Joseph St. Laurent (July 28), Rylee Elizabeth Masterson (Sept. 3), Cassia Eva-Marie Harder (Oct. 10), Evelyn Mary Johnson (Oct. 21) and Vayla Czemerynski (Dec. 9) who are, no doubt, proud to have such fit moms. On race day, the babies will all be waiting with their dads at the finish line to greet their moms.

The team name this year, imprinted on the moms' blue team shirts, is "Knocked Up No More" -- except for one.

"Mine says 'Knocked Up Again!'" said Joan St. Laurent, laughing. The first of the group to deliver, she had Owen less than two months after the 2009 Marathon and is now nine weeks pregnant with her second child. "I'll have to try running in the (Manitoba) Marathon not pregnant sometime."

As for how they have been fitting their training runs into busy schedules with their babies, all cited a "nice husband" who handles the home front while they run.

St. Laurent, who sometimes takes Owen with her in a jogging stroller, said it was slow going when she first started back.

"I waited about six weeks and thought, 'oh, yeah, I'll go for a run' and it wasn't even close to being a run," said St. Laurent, who is the veteran in the group, having run six full marathons between 2004 and 2009. "It took close to a month before I didn't have any pain running."

Johnson said the key is to tough it out but to listen to your body.

"I didn't have any pain but I felt really floppy, because your joints are still all floppy, your hips and your knees, so I had a tough time keeping my form at first," Johnson said.

"I think running helps your recovery because it keeps your muscles strong and keeps you active."

Harder, noting Cassia is her fourth child, said she has limited her running to the weekends when her husband is home to hang out with the clan.

"The four kids don't fit into my jogging stroller," Harder said, laughing. "I'd like to run more but I'm doing what I can for now and it's still cardio a couple of times a week."

Masterson said running has impacted her sense of well-being.

"It's made a big difference in how well I sleep and how good I feel," said Masterson. "I don't get a lot of sleep but it does seem to make a difference. If I were to just sit on the couch all day, I think I would feel more tired."

Czemerynski has been troubled by a sore foot that she and her doctor are trying to figure out, so she may not be able to run. If that is the case, Johnson will run the two shortest legs of the relay event back-to-back to keep the original team intact.

"It promotes a great message to all women that not only can you be active during pregnancy but you can get back out there after you give birth, after you wait your two weeks or whatever your doctor says," Harder said.

"We're really hoping that someday these little people can form their own relay team and run together to keep the tradition going."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2010 C1

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