Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Newton Mom Balances Motherhood and Marathon Training for a Cause

Orlee Berlove running the 2009 Boston Marathon. 

Newton resident Orlee Berlove will run the Boston Marathon for the fourth time as a member of the Massachusetts General Marathon Team. A veteran runner Berlove is no longer fazed by the daunting task of running 26.22 miles in one of the most difficult marathons in the country, her focus is on the children she’s running for.

Berlove, a mother of three, is running for the children – the ones being treated at by MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Program and her own.

Six years ago, a pediatrician suggested that Berlove take her then 1 year old daughter to a local hospital to treat a minor development delay involving the girl’s ability to walk. While visiting the hospital Berlove met some very sick children and was inspired to help.

“I have three very healthy children at home and I feel very blessed by this,” Berlove said. “I really feel the need to give back to those who don’t have that blessing of health.”

Two years later, she learned about and joined the MassGeneral Marathon Team, which raises money for the MGHfC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Program.

While she loves running and fundraising for the team, Berlove admits that balancing the demands of raising three children – 5- and 10-year old boys and her 7 year old girl – work and training can be a struggle.

“It takes a lot of planning,” Berlove said. “I cannot workout in the morning because I need to get my kids ready for school. And I cannot work out in the evenings because I need to help them with homework, make dinner, and put them to bed. I have a flexible job, which helps. So I can sometimes sneak out at lunchtime to go for a run.”

She said it’s hardest after she’s had a long exhausting workout because she can’t take the nap she desperately needs. On these days, Berlove said tries to get her kids to help out.

“I’ll tell my kids I had a real tough workout during the day and they are usually very curious about how far and how fast I went,” she said. “My oldest is a bit of a leader and a real sweetheart. He’ll tell his siblings, ‘Mommy had a hard run today. Let’s try to help her out.’”

A few weeks ago, Berlove said when she got home after a long run she started to feel ill. Her oldest son made her a hot bath to soak in. When she got out, they wrapped her in blankets to keep her warm and read to her to comfort her.

Berlove said her children are very excited about her training and want to help out. They love cheering her on during the marathon and frequently ask how she’s doing on the training runs.

“They love looking at my marathon medals and touching them,” she said.

Berlove hopes watching her will encourage them to start running. Her oldest son is interested in running a mile of the marathon with her and her daughter wants to learn more about the patients the team is trying to help. Her youngest son, 5, thinks its “neat” that his mom runs all those miles, but it hasn’t yet motivated him to shed his couch potato habits.

The children are considering opening a lemonade stand to help their mom raise money for the team.

Learn more about Berlove or donate to the MassGeneral Marathon Team at

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