Tulsa Run

A scenic home stretch, runners finished the 15K Tulsa Run on Boston Avenue on Saturday. EVAN BROWN/for the Tulsa World

It’s difficult enough to run a 15K race as it is, but how about trying it when you’re 30 weeks pregnant?

For Gajal Kumar, that will be her reality Saturday as she participates in the 42nd annual Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run — and it will actually be her third time running the race while very pregnant.

“I’m slower, for sure, and I take more walk breaks, but other than that, I’ve been running throughout my pregnancies with all three of the kids,” said Kumar, 34, whose son, Bodhi, was born in December 2016, and daughter Meena arrived last November, just weeks after the 2018 Tulsa Run. “I’ve talked with my OB and they have no issue with it as long as I stop if I just don’t feel good, and I try to just stay in tune with what my body feels.”

She reports that in the previous two races, there wasn’t much activity from the unborn child while running, as they were likely lulled to sleep, but afterwards, there was lots of kicking.

Kumar, who grew up on Long Island, New York, but has lived in Tulsa for five years, has plenty of medical advice at her fingertips, as she is a trauma surgeon at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

Despite her full schedule, she makes sure she finds time to train, even with two little ones to care for at home, sometimes still involving them with her running.

“I have a double jogging stroller that I’ll use with both of the kids right now,” said Kumar, whose only athletic outlet growing up was tae kwon do, before taking up running in 2007. “Other times, my husband (James Wegner) — he owns a restaurant at the Mother Road Market (‘Bodhi’s Bowl,’ named after their son) — if he’s not busy, then he’ll watch the kids, and I’ll go for a run. Or it’s usually later in the evening after the kids go to bed or early in the morning, if I can make myself get up before work.”

As busy as she is, she finds a lot of peace and calmness in running that sustains her.

“It’s kind of like my source of keeping me sane,” Kumar said. “It’s just ‘me time’ and kind of just drowns out everything that happens during the day, I just zone out and run. I like to have that time to just decompress from everything in the world that’s going on in my life.”

As challenging as it is to run a 15K (which equates to about 9.32 miles) while being pregnant, it pales in comparison to the three marathons she’s completed while expecting, including the Chicago Marathon last year at 33 weeks.

“I just ran Berlin a few weeks ago at 26 weeks,” Kumar said. “The pacing is just different — in the marathon, I started off much slower and I set my watch to do intervals. I ran for three minutes, walked for 30 seconds, ran for three minutes, straight from the beginning. For this, I’m just going to go by how I feel and if I get tired, take a walk break and if not, just keep running, and kind of go by feel, because it’s a shorter distance.”

Kumar has participated in the Tulsa Run every year since relocating to Tulsa in 2014.

“I did the Tulsa Run when I first moved here,” she said. “Everyone told me how great of a run it was. I just loved it. I love how it’s like almost like part of a Halloween-type thing, all the costumes and how much everybody gets into it, and there’s such good crowd support. I love that race.”

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