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November 8, 2017

Thank you, Mary Keitany

It’s been three days and Shalane Flanagan’s victory at the New York City Marathon continues to inspire. As many in the United States celebrated, there were others also wondering what happened to Mary Keitany? She won the previous three editions of the race and was coming off a world record in London but just could not muster up the energy to close with Flanagan in the final four miles.

According to the LetsRun.com recap of the race, Keitany cited “a problem” in her post-race comments. She said, “Yesterday afternoon I had a problem, and that’s part of life because I experienced this at 3:00 p.m. yesterday, and I was not able today to deliver what I wanted.” The site’s writers assumed it was her period and her agent later confirmed it and said that on Saturday (the day before the race) Keitany had her period for the first time in three months.

“Today in the race she was never feeling ok and the body was tired and without energy when she was trying to change the pace,” her agent Gianni Demadonna told LetsRun. “She was not even by far the real Mary Keitany. She said the body was not responding at all. Believe or not believe this is the reason she was running so poor to compare to her normal standard today.”

It’s a good thing Mary Keitany cited her period as an issue during the New York City marathon on Sunday and it’s public.  And don’t be confused, Keitany citing her period isn’t the same as her saying: I would have won, but, period. 

Keitany was acknowledging a biological fact: She had her period. 

I’ll skip the list of symptoms and their should-be-obvious implications on performance—but mostly because they really don’t need to be explained to be reasonable.  Menstruation affects women’s bodies and obviously their training and racing. 

Just like a hamstring injury would. 

If you’ve never experienced a period—or somehow never experienced an exhausting one (lucky!, *said like Napoleon Dynamite*)—consider yourself fortunate and realize your criticism of a woman’s performance because she cites her period as a problem on race day really—honestly—doesn’t carry any weight.

Anyway, thank you, Mary Keitany and her agent, for mentioning a period in a public space. 

It’s refreshing. We should all mention ours more.

After all, who hasn’t had their period ruin a race, a workout, a pair of shorts or even a whole Friday-Saturday-Sunday?

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