Monday, March 11, 2013

1st Race During Pregnancy

Finishing a Sprint Triathlon at 6 weeks

So what IS possible?!  That’s what I really had been wanting to know all along. 

I wanted to time out the pregnancy with hopes that I would not have to take a season off from triathlons.  My plan was to race during the first trimester, while I would not be yet showing and the little baby was nicely protected within me.  Doctors count your pregnancy weeks starting from the first day of your last period (while you are not even pregnant yet), which means you don’t even know that you are pregnant until you are at least 4.5-5 weeks along.  So there is no reason for you to make any changes or adjustments during that first month (except no alcohol, etc), when it comes to training or racing as you just won’t know if you are even pregnant or not.
            I competed throughout my first 13 weeks of pregnancy.  I did a sprint triathlon when I was 6 weeks along (first race knowing I was pregnant).  I really didn’t know what to expect about how I would feel while racing.  Would it affect my intensity?  What if I felt cramping?  I did have concern about morning sickness (as all races are in the mornings!), but fortunately I was very blessed and never experienced that.  I’ll share with you my experiences from each of those races through these next posts, as well as my mentality with each of them.  
As I said, the first race I did was a sprint course at six weeks.  I felt completely comfortable in the swim.  It was about a half mile and straight across a lake.  It wasn’t crowded around me and my body felt good during it.  The bike was only 15 miles (I had done an Olympic distance race earlier in the season that was 29 miles), so I felt good about going pretty hard on the bike as it would be relatively short.  It was pretty flat so I was able to keep a fairly even effort throughout the ride, and feel comfortable with it.  I very much was just trying to channel into my body, hydrate, and watch for any signs of cramping or trouble.  It was quite hot that day, and I needed to be even more mindful of that and hydrate even more than what I did.  I came into transition with my fastest bike split of my career, but when I took off my helmet, water (or sweat I should say) dumped out.  This was the first and only time something like that has happened to me.  I should have taken a little longer in T2 and just guzzled more Gatorade at that point.  I also knew that I had to be in good placement at that time, and I just tried to book it out of there.  When I changed my shoes for the run, my calf almost seized up in a cramp at that point, and I had to feel it out as I built into some speed for the 5K portion of the race.  I just felt fatigued at that point and wanted to finish it.  I had a hard ride, it was hot and I didn’t hydrate enough, and now I was fighting off cramps.  Not a good mix.  On the second half of the run, I started experiencing tightness in my side.  I couldn’t tell if it was a side-stitch from running or possibly something more serious.  I had already let a woman from my age-group leave me behind, but I could hear the finish line approaching.  I couldn’t pick it up to push the finish, but I was able to hold my pace to the end.  It was enough.  I ended up second in my age-group and third overall. 
That was one of my toughest races of the season, in that I really began to evaluate what it meant to race while pregnant.  I’m glad it was a short race, and fortunately after hydrating I was fine.  I was also fortunate with that being the only race that I questioned myself about what my body was experiencing.  I pushed the line too much that day, and I wanted to race smarter with the rest of my season.  Don’t push yourself beyond what you are comfortable with.  Have objective guidelines in place for yourself and be prepared to stick with them.

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