Beatie Deutsch used to be the fastest runner in her family when they would race each other on annual beach trips. Then she got married and had four kids in six years.
“I was really busy with kids and work and everything, and I couldn’t find the time to exercise,” Deutsch, a Jerusalem resident originally from New Jersey, told INSIDER. “Between everything, it felt like my life was always crazy, always busy, and I just wasn’t getting my act together.”
The year she came in last place on the beach was the year she realized she had to do something about it.
She decided to train for a marathon to get back in shape.
Deutsch began following Hal Higdon’s marathon training program and started running four times a week.
“It gave me sanity in my life,” she said. “Running is my zen. Half of the time that I trained, I didn’t even use music. I used the time to zone out, meditate.”
She ran her first marathon four months later, in February 2016. She aimed to finish in under three and half hours. She crossed the finish line with the sixth-fastest time of all the women in Israel at 3:27.
After that, she was hooked. She continued running and planned to participate in the Tel Aviv Marathon the following year.
When she found out she was pregnant with her fifth child, she kept training.
Being pregnant slowed her down a bit, but she didn’t consider giving up on the race.
“Because I never stopped running my entire pregnancy, I felt my body really build up to it,” she said.
As an Orthodox Jew, Deutsch runs while dressed modestly.
Deutsch wears a loose skirt over tight leggings, and as a married woman, she also covers her hair with headscarves or wigs. It can be difficult for her to find workout clothes that don’t require layering for extra coverage.
“I think it’s unfortunate that sportswear companies assume that if a woman is sporty and running that she’s going to want to show off her body,” she said.
Still, her religious observance has never held her back from her fitness goals, prompting Jew in the City, an organization dedicated to breaking down stereotypes about Orthodox Jews, to feature her on their site.
“I’ve always felt really proud of what I’m wearing when I run,” she said. “To me, this is a demonstration that you don’t have to be restricted or limited by choosing to dress modestly.”
Deutsch’s modest dress — and pregnancy belly — turned heads at the Tel Aviv Marathon.
For Deutsch, running while seven months pregnant was no big deal. A stress fracture in her foot proved more painful, especially towards the end of the race. Her husband ran with her for the last five miles to keep her going while their kids cheered from the sidelines.
According to Running USA’s 2016 State of the Sport report, the average female marathon time is 4:45, and the average male time is 4:20. Deutsch breezed past both of these figures, finishing the 26.2 mile run in 4:08. Another runner even posted an incredulous photo of her on Instagram after she beat him by seven minutes.
Deutsch has since given birth to a baby girl and is taking a break from marathons for a while, but it probably won’t be long before she’s back to training for her next race.
“I’m a little extreme, that’s definitely the truth,” she laughed.