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Adventures of a Pregnant Triathlete - Part One

Posted Sep 05 2011 8:30pm
A year ago was the first time I ever truly entertained the thought of becoming a parent. Meeting and marrying my husband is what did it. He is an extraordinary man who I am madly in love with. And I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a Dad. The thought of sharing something we “created” is a bit exciting and somewhat fulfilling. However, saying that, I don’t think I put much serious thought into making it a reality, even though we did talk about trying to become pregnant earlier this year. I’m addicted to maintaining a certain level of independence and freedom, and quietly, I wondered if I could ever compromise. (My husband learned this early on!) Nonetheless, The Universe had a plan of its own and decided to make us parents after all.

I am 13 weeks pregnant. Word got around last week and, unfortunately, I didn’t get to personally tell a number of close friends. Regardless, the news is on blast and I am happy to share my adventures in pregnancy. Advice and opinions seem to be flowing freely. Some are extremely helpful and I am grateful for any contributions. I am an open-minded individual and I crave knowledge. I have a remarkable friend here in Chapel Hill who is a two-time Mom and professional triathlete and she has supported me and given me priceless advice and personal anecdotes. I am forever grateful. Another close friend and Mom-triathlete has offered advice I’ll never forget, constantly reassuring me that everything is going to be ok. My Mom and mother-in-law are always on hand for a chat when I need them. However, a good majority of the opinions freight-training my way are: “Guess you’ll have to slow down now.” “So, much for that triathlon career.” “You’ll never get sleep now!” “Natural childbirth, what do you mean, of course you will have to have an epidural!” “Don’t plan on racing anytime soon!” “You’ll have to stop strength training all together. Pregnant women shouldn’t lift more than 20 lbs.” “You’ll need to stop running because the ligaments loosen and you can’t hold yourself up.” “You can’t let your heart rate get too high, you’ll suffocate your baby!” While there is some truth to parts of these statements, research has proven all of these full statements to be incorrect. Each circumstance is relative and interpreted loosely based on a woman’s state of health and response to activity.

As you may detect, yes, I am furious over some of these comments and am appalled. I feel somehow the news of pregnancy is an open invitation for others to molest the news and offer unsolicited advice. In my opinion, pregnancy is sort of a private thing and should be left private until notice has been given otherwise. When I found out I was pregnant, I made a decision. I am going to write about my private experience, hoping to offer support for those women who share my sentiment and struggles. More and more women and young girls are participating in sports now more than ever. And surely, someone will benefit from my unsolicited advice! Hahaha, I know, double standard. But I plan to approach it from a different angle focusing on the things pregnant athletes can do and all those embarrassing and frustrating changes our bodies and minds go through during the process.

In many aspects, I have already changed. This pregnancy has brought about a sense of long-awaited contentment and balance. I feel more focused and determined than ever before to continue growing my business and guiding my athletes to success. In addition, I have the drive to return to running and triathlon at an elite level.

Hot off the presses: 1. I will not be the first triathlete who becomes a Mom and then continues to race triathlons with success. 2. Just because I am pregnant does not mean I am an invalid. 3. No, running while pregnant will not make the baby fall out or bounce around in my belly. 4. Yes, I do have to train with consideration and pregnant women unarguably have limitations. Truth be told, every trimester brings about it challenges and we have to adapt. I am not running as fast as I used to (unless it is to the toilet to vomit) and I take the occasional afternoon nap when I can. Nausea and exhaustion have been all but my demise the past month and a half and I have chosen to listen to my body and what it needs every waking moment of every day. Do I still exercise? Of course I do! I do some form of exercise for 1-2 hours everyday with the weekly 3-hour walk or hike on the weekends. I lift weights or do a combo of body weight exercises, I do yoga, I run, I swim, I’d bike if I had a road bike, and I walk. And I even throw in a few speed intervals. But my goals are loosely set. And while what I do now may seem preposterous to anyone who is not a trained athlete, what is easy for someone is difficult for another and vice versa. The level of fitness, aerobic and anaerobic, a woman has before she gets pregnant can be a determinant of what exactly she can do after she conceives. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity a day for pregnant women who had been active before they got pregnant, and even recommend a certain level of activity to pregnant women who did not engage in exercise before their pregnancy began. In addition, the ACOG advocates a modified strength-training regime! Check out the website for more information and general guidelines: http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp119.cfm

Do I miss training with intensity and periodizing to race? Sure! But I also miss sitting down and drinking a 20-ounce pint of IPA or Grey Goose dirty martini (2 olives, please), but I know it is not gone. I still have that fire in my belly to race at the top of my game and to enjoy that pint as I rehydrate. Right now, I have more important things to focus on like telling people, ”No, I have not had one to many ice cream cones. That pouch you are seeing is my peach-sized fetus.” In all seriousness, instincts rule and my main concern is keeping myself healthy, fit, and strong and providing the best environment for my developing baby.

Success is had when we have a passion for doing whatever it is we set out to accomplish while maintaining integrity throughout the journey. Yes, changes will be made and compromises will be delivered now and in the future. But when you feel strongly about something, you have the ability to achieve what you desire regardless of your circumstances. Twists and turns and detours will occur. Remain steadfast and undying in your passion. I’ll see you at the finish line next year. ;) And until then, expect to hear more from my adventures in pregnancy.
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