All In: Mother, Wife, Small Business Owner Trains for Virginia Running Festival at Christopher Newport University
Stephanie Heinatz and son, Will, get ready for her first sprint triathlon in 2011.

Stephanie Heinatz and son, Will, get ready for her first sprint triathlon in 2011.

There’s a feeling when the subject line “registration confirmation” pops up in your email. A feeling of, “yep, I’m in it. No turning back now.”

Officially, even if the person on the other end of the registration form doesn’t even look at my name, I know there is someone else out there that now knows I have set my sights on the Virginia Running Festival’s Half-Marathon at Christopher Newport University on Nov. 10. I can’t let them down. Even more so, I can’t let myself down.

I’ve been doing it for too many months at this point.

At least, that’s the feeling that I had. And I’m glad. It’s exactly what I needed.

Hi. My name is Stephanie Heinatz. Mother. Wife. Small business owner.

A recent article in Women’s Health magazine told me that studies show that women who put on weight in the years after their wedding come from the happiest marriages. Our home is filled with laughter and love, for sure, but when I became one of those happily married women who put on weight – like 85 pounds of it – I didn’t like what I saw. So I started running, eating healthier and the weight melted off.

I loved how I felt, the feelings of accomplishment mixed with the intoxicating endorphins was addicting.

When my husband and I learned we were expecting almost four years ago, I kept running until it just became too uncomfortable, and even then I kept walking strong. Our precious little boy arrived 11 days after his due date and I must have walked 75 miles in those last two weeks just trying to work him out of there!

The goal I set after our son was born? Complete a triathlon. And I did. It was a sprint distance, but if you saw how I swim, you would know why that was such a feat for me.

Then, in 2012, I completed my first half-marathon. To get ready, I downloaded several training plans, compared them, marked my calendar and in addition to running, dedicated two to three days each week to a personal trainer.

I didn’t stop running after that, but after that race, life kicked into an exciting overdrive. Our small family business began to expand. Our tiny newborn baby was a tumbling toddler, who suddenly was getting a social calendar all his own. And the thought of two-hour training runs alone (because that tumbling toddler was no longer content to roll in the jogging stroller for longer than five miles) made me miss my family too much.

Life is good, and just like those early days of marriage, the happiness pounds packed on. This time, 10 of them.

A few weeks ago, it wasn’t just the extra pounds weighing on me. I missed working toward a goal. I yearned for that feeling that I’d just run faster and farther than the week before. I wanted that little bit of me time, even if just for two hours a week during a long training run, to regroup, clear my mind, let the creative juices flow naturally, pound the pavement and sweat it out.

So here I am. Writing to you having finished day one of my training plan leading up to the Virginia Running Festival on Nov. 10 – a plan a dear friend, weekly running buddy, physical therapist and accomplished endurance athlete wrote.

Today I logged four miles complete with four one-minute hill intervals. When I was done the sweat literally rolled down my face and all I wanted to do was write down how it felt (PS it felt amazing, even in this late Virginia summer heat and humidity).

My plan? Write to you every week until the event. My predictions? Fitting in all the training will be hard with a little boy now starting pre-school, a business my husband and I are blessed to run and the family fun activities I can’t bear to give up.

Even if you don’t remember my name by the time you’ve read down this far, I at least now know that in addition to the man on the other end of my half-marathon registration, I am now also committed to these training runs and the big event because I’ve told you I’m all in.

Stephanie Heinatz is a mother, wife, small business owner and running enthusiast who’s working to get back on her running game. Follow her training saga here as she gets ready for the Virginia Running Festival’s Half-Marathon at Christopher Newport University on Nov. 10, 2013. Stephanie is the founder of Consociate Media and local marketing company based in Gloucester, Virginia.