the smell of my desperation has become a stench

“We want to run so that others don’t have to”

On March 1st I am joining a team of friends and supporters of Every Mother Counts to run the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon in Tanzania in commemoration of the five-year anniversary of that organization. While there we will be visiting some of the programs supported by EMC with dollars some of you here have so graciously donated:

Tanzania has special significance to Every Mother Counts. In June of 2009, a small film crew traveled to Tanzania from New York during the making of NO WOMAN, NO CRY. The film crew set out to document some of the barriers that millions of girls and women living in Sub-Saharan Africa face when they’re in need of critical maternal healthcare. We learned that for women living in countries like Tanzania, especially in rural areas, distance was an enormous barrier for mothers who needed healthcare of any kind. In fact, the minimum distance a pregnant woman had to travel was 5 K for prenatal care. An average distance to reach emergency obstetric care was 35 K, and oftentimes much more. 

We run to symbolize that distance is one of the greatest barriers in maternal health.

I know that some of you are scratching your heads and wondering why I would ever strap on a pair of running shoes when in 2011 I injured almost every part of my body while training for and then miraculously completing the ING NYC marathon (part one, part two, part three). That’s a very good question, and the best answer that I can come up with is that I am perfectly insane.

This is just a half marathon, and I have already been training for almost two months. I’ve approached the preparation for this race much differently than I did when I only had two months to get ready for 26.2 miles of pavement that punished my every step.

But there is something so much more important at play here, and that is the meaning this issue has for me: supporting and creating better options for women around the world. I feel that because I have the opportunity to raise awareness and work with an organization that has mobilized around this cause that I have the duty to do so.


I still get a lot of email from women who say that Marlo’s birth story inspired them to research and learn about their options, and that has been one of the most rewarding highlights of the almost fourteen years I’ve been writing this website (part one, part two, part three). I wrote that story not to preach about what is and what isn’t the right way of giving birth. I wrote it to encourage all of us to embrace our power and intuition, for ourselves and on behalf of those women whose options are so limited.

When I trained for the marathon in 2011 I veered from my normal diet when carb-loading and felt physically terrible while doing so. Once I knew that I’d be training for this half marathon in Tanzania I contacted one of my favorite food brands and asked if they’d sponsor my training. LÄRABAR has very graciously offered to donate $5000 to Every Mother Counts on my behalf for this race and has supplied me with a ton of Paleo-friendly food to fuel me on my runs. It’s been such a different experience this time around which means that maybe I do learn from my mistakes HOW GROSS.

I’d love it if you’d lend your support to this organization and what they are trying to bring to women around the world. I’m raising funds over at Crowdwise with other team members, funds that will support programs in places where women are in such desperate need. Any support no matter how big or small is so significant: “Together, with your help and our miles, we can make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.”

  • kmpinkel

    2015/01/08 at 3:54 pm

    Go Dooce! I, too, might be willing to run a half marathon, especially in Tanzania! Beautiful cause, beautiful location, beautiful you!

  • amboslambo

    2015/01/08 at 4:05 pm

    I support this SO MUCH because 1) I am studying to be a midwife, 2) I am in love with Every Mother Counts, and 3)I am currently pregnant so it really hits home. Cue the ugly tears. I fucking love you.

  • Anu

    2015/01/08 at 4:35 pm

    More power to you!! Will gladly donate. I visited Tanzania and climbed Kilimanjaro in 2009 and it was the most amazing experience of my life. For me, life there was very reminiscent of rural India and Bangladesh where healthcare is at its bare minimum. Am sure you will have memories for a lifetime once you visit and personally see the difference you are making.

  • Cara

    2015/01/08 at 4:45 pm

    I can attest that your posts about Marlo’s birth led me to look more into my options, and I wound up doing a natural birth in a birthing center for my second child. I cannot say enough about the experience and want to say THANK YOU for leading me down that path!

  • Meg

    2015/01/08 at 10:10 pm

    I knew Larabar was giving you items but I didn’t know they were also donating! That’s awesome.

  • Lisa

    2015/01/09 at 9:14 am

    Bravo, Heather! As much as I enjoy your writing and love reading stories about your children, it’s things like this that keep me coming back to your blog. You’ve built an incredible platform, and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s your duty to use it for the greater good, I for one very much appreciate your willingness to do so. Donated!

  • jrags

    2015/01/09 at 10:06 am

    I just put on my calendar to run 13.1 miles on March 1. I’ll be doing it in my hometown in EMC’s honor. I’m about to donate as well. Thanks for all your work.

  • Rebecca Fleur Lockwood

    2015/01/09 at 10:32 am

    A half will be easy if you’ve already been training for two months. Its my favourite distance. I am sure you will enjoy this. You MUST read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It is brilliant and so much more than a running book and it will be especially interesting because you will be running in Africa. READ IT (if you haven’t already!) It will inspire you!!!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:48 pm

    I devoured “Born to Run” after I ran the marathon in 2011. Such a fantastic book. Thinking I’ll read it again before I head to Africa.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you so much! I’ll be thinking of your generosity at around mile 11 when I’ll want to lie down.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you for donating. This platform has brought me so many incredible experiences and I just feel a sense of obligation to pay it forward in every way possible.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:57 pm

    They’ve been amazing to work with and so generous which has made me even more loyal if that was even possible.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:58 pm

    I am so happy for you! This means so much to me.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:58 pm

    I fucking love you back.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 12:59 pm

    Insert giant toothy smile here. Thank you.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/09 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve never been to Africa and am exited to witness everything, but I’m mostly eager to visit the programs EMC is helping to fund. They’re really careful about investing in programs that are already established and doing good work on the ground. It’s always inspiring to see because you look at what they’re doing and it’s like, things *can* be fixed. Things *can* get better.

  • Madam Von Sassypants

    2015/01/09 at 1:46 pm

    Once all those women have safe and healthy pregnancy and birthing experiences, then their children can grow up to fetch them a hot dog or two.

    All jokes aside, thanks so much Heather for sharing your experiences and using them to make differences in the world. When you stop and think about it, it’s truly amazing what the internet can do. Huge props, and good luck in the half marathon!

  • Jan

    2015/01/09 at 7:26 pm

    I never had children but so enjoy reading about the joy you get from yours and the support you get from your family in raising them. I had a cousin who once won the Boston Marathon in his age group of 50 and over; he was 72 at the time. A doctor once told me I had the skeletal frame of an Olympic Athlete and proclaimed it a ‘gift from God’. I don’t think he noticed my flat feet but some type of run is on my bucket list. In the meantime, I can type and a supportive donation has been made to your very worthy cause. Please know that one of the Anonymous donations was made with great respect and love for you by my ass.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more