Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Challenges - The Move

My husband started a new job up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin on July 8th of this summer.  All of our belongings were moved into a duplex the days before.  Baya and I stayed behind in our empty house for a week.  We closed on our former house July 12th, and we moved in with friends for my last week at my former job, before we made the move up north as well.
Routine, resources – everything was thrown out the window!  I was starting from scratch during the biggest season of my life, during the end of my big build period, and right before my biggest races.  Think triathlon in itself isn’t challenging enough?  I was already increasing my training for a longer distance and to do the HIM for more challenge.  But wait, let’s have a baby in there too.  Oh, oh, and let’s move!  Yes, let’s move, and start new jobs, and live in a new (super tiny) duplex.  Let’s move up in coaching and now I can start coaching Varsity volleyball and can have the season overlap with my race season!  Yes, and let’s leave all our resources behind and move farther away from our families so they are even less accessible for babysitting!  Let’s find a new congregation to worship with, and while we’re at it, let’s just question everything in life, have Baya regress and no longer sleep through the night....
Yup, this all happened.  Sometimes I feel like if I could survive this season, then I can face anything!  (Perhaps even an Ironman someday?)  Heck, if we weren’t planning on growing our family so soon, then I might as well just do my IM next year already, after all, my new routine should (hopefully) be established, and new resources (babysitters) will (Lord-willing) be found, and I’ll have a whole new support system in place.  If all I had to do was focus on training, the IM distance just doesn’t seem so daunting anymore.  (And this is coming from someone who INSISTED that she was NEVER doing an Ironman.  Yea, about that...)
Well, Baya is back to sleeping through the night (hallelujah!), I’ve started working at the YMCA in Rhinelander, the volleyball season is over half done, and I have only a couple weeks left before my first marathon.  Somehow I made it through the end of my build period and into my race weeks and the close of the season.  I had a couple grandma visits that sure helped with that.  A bonus of being up in the chain-of-lakes though is that I did get more open water swims in than what I had been doing.  I lost all my bike routes, and it's a bit tougher up here.  With all these lakes, there are a lot of roads that dead-end.  You basically have super busy highways (also tourist season up here), or else the side roads that don't dead-end and are paved, are very curvy without extra shoulder space (and often without lines).  They both make me nervous.
At my former Y, I used to do a lot of my running on their indoor track while Baya was in mini-care, but this Y doesn’t have a track like that, so I sometimes resort to the DREADmill, otherwise Baya and I have been hitting the trail a TON with the running stroller.  We live about a block from a trail that has been awesome to do a lot of my running on.  My long runs Andy has biked beside me, while pulling Baya so I don’t have to carry water or anything with me.  I’m back to riding solely on the trainer, but only a couple times a week since I’m focusing on the run, and I’m hitting the pool three times per week.  Baya has become more predictable in her naps, which makes it easier to bike on the trainer, and mini-care at the Y has her while I swim.  For the most part, she’s okay in the stroller as long as I time it out with her eating and nap schedule.  I made it up to running 8 miles with her in it (that’s a long ways pushing a stroller!), and she slept for another hour after I got back, so I guess if I was really crazy I could have ran another 6 or so with her in it (trust me, I’m not THAT crazy).
Somehow it did all come together in the end, and somehow I’ve found a way to keep on going.  The weather has been a blessing, as it has been a beautiful fall for running outside with Baya, but the winter will present a whole new set of challenges.  The changing training blocks will present their challenges, and the track season in the spring will be a whole new battle to take on.  No worries though, I will continue to figure it out and adapt.  No excuses.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Milk Maid

Some women may be wondering about breastfeeding with this amount of training.  My sister said she noticed a decrease in her production once she returned to running after having her second child.  I was curious as to what would happen with me.  Of course I didn’t have a personal base of comparison, since this is my first child.  Nonetheless, I thought I’d share my experience for those who may be wondering if it is possible to breastfeed while being so active.  As always, personal experiences will always vary.  This will track through my results at different points along the way.
I had been producing plenty of milk for Baya after she was born.  She did the normal weight drop after she was born, but gained 13oz  by her 2 week appt (in 11 days).  I started pumping after a couple of her feedings (night feeding and morning feeding) for just 5 minutes and would get .5oz, so I knew there was more there than what she even needed, even though it didn’t seem like a whole lot.  It typically took about 20 minutes to nurse each time until she was satisfied, so I had decent production.  I had been extremely active throughout the entire pregnancy, so my body was used to the demands of exercise.  However, it lightened for the first couple weeks after delivery as my body recovered and I figured out my new routine.  I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen when my workouts started increasing more again.  They had been once a day and pretty mild compared to what I was doing at the end of pregnancy, so I thought my body could easily handle the milk production and my little bit of working out at 2 weeks in.
Going on 3 months, and I was still breastfeeding.  Even though I pulled some weeks with over 12 hours of training, I was still able to nurse, which actually surprised me.  I must say though that we had been supplementing with formula since she was about 3 weeks old, originally because both her dad and I coach track together, and so she tagged along to practices and meets (had her first track practice at six days old).  We found it to be much more doable if we used formula during those times.  I then would try to pump when I could.  At 6 weeks old, she was able to start attending mini-care while I worked/worked out, so then there would be a 3.5 hour stint where I would not have time to pump, and so she also got formula during that time.  For the most part, she mostly took in breastmilk.  She probably averaged with 1-2 bottles of formula in addition per day though as well.
When she was around 4 months, it became common to feed her a couple ounces of formula after I fed her.  I was still producing, despite being in my build period, but it wasn’t enough for her most times anymore (except for morning feedings).  At 4.5 months I started weaning her off of my milk.  I dropped down to nursing her only 3 times/day (unless she got up during the night, then there’d be a 4th).  I was still lactating; however, my milk did not seem to sit very well with her, as she would spit a lot of it back up.  So I decided to cut back on nursing and wean her off.  I’m not really sure it was my milk that wasn’t sitting well with her, as she seemed to spit up a lot of anything.  However, I was done nursing then by time she hit 5.5 months.
When it comes to breastfeeding, women will all have their own stories and experiences.  Some may not be able to nurse much at all, or for very long.  Others may be able to nurse for more than a year.  I was glad I was able to breastfeed for as long as I did, as I am in complete agreement with doctors that it is the healthiest and best option for babies.  You may experience a drop in production when being active, but I don’t feel that was necessarily the case for me.  I’m definitely an advocate for being an active mama, and in addition to that I would highly recommend pushing extra water to not only stay hydrated, but  in order to keep up with the demands of production as well.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Case of Withdrawal

            For most people, the racing season inevitably comes to an end.  This is a time to scale back on training (maybe stop all-together for some) both in volume and intensity, and rejuvenate.  This time of year may be welcomed by some with open arms, as a time to relax and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace (what’s that?!), to reconnect with old friends that may have been forgotten amidst the Swim/Bike/Run schedule, and to tend to other things neglected between work, workouts, eating, and washing those sweaty clothes that always seem to accumulate too quickly.  You can shop for things other than running shoes, gels, Gatorade, and other such staples. (What else is there?!)
            At the end of every season for me though, it is met with sadness – it’s done already?!  Is there another race I can find and do?  Last year I ended with a half-marathon at 13 weeks of pregnancy, a week later had a bike accident, and I accepted that my season was done.  This year I signed up for my first marathon.  There are seven weeks between my duathlon and the marathon, two of which have been mainly recovery, leaving 5 weeks – enough time for about 4 long runs.  If I chose not to count my HIM run training, this might be the shortest marathon training period.  I’m strangely optimistic though.  However, after it’s said and done, I’ll most likely not recommend this format to anyone.
            Withdrawal – or “post-season blues” (it’s been six months, so I can’t claim that I am just now having post-baby blues) – may vary from person to person, but it may include some of the following: looking up races and planning your next season (if you haven’t started already), evaluating your past season and laying out your off-season training blocks to address your weaknesses, making a wish-list of gear you would like to acquire by the next season, or in the long run.  You may find yourself eating as if you were still in your build period, but then no longer admiring that build period physique when  you were at race weight.  You realize water in itself is sufficient for your “workouts” (f you can even call them that anymore) and you don’t need to be concerned about replenishing calories, electrolytes or salt while out running or biking.  You may suddenly find yourself sitting there with NOTHING to do, as you no longer have to block out HOURS of your day for S/B/R, and you feel strange, and then anxious, and then you get the shakes – where is that adrenaline fix?!
            There is still a warmth in the air and you long to put your tires to pavement before the winter comes and you are confined to your trainer and staring at a wall – or sufferfest videos, both painful I understand.  But, dear fellow triathlon junkies, this is a time to embrace, to catch up on life, to refocus for the next season, refresh your body and your mind, take a deep breath and enjoy this time to be STILL.  Or sign-up for a marathon.  Whichever. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Run, Bike, Unite Duathlon

            I basically set up an intense five weeks consisting of  four races, with two of them being half-irons.  Was I crazy?  Six days after my first half-iron at Chisago Lakes, I did Wausau’s Olympic course triathlon, and that seemed to go okay.  Then I had two weeks off before Pigman’s half-iron, six days after which I had signed up to do another duathlon.  I seemed to make it through the first three races pretty well, but by the time the duathlon arrived, I was realizing that what I really needed was some good recovery time.  I took it easy for the 5 days between races, but when I got to the starting line for the duathlon, my legs were not completely ready for this. 
It started with a 2.2 mile run, which I figured I should be able to do at about a 6:30/6:40 pace and still be able to bike well.  I hung on at a 6:50 pace and instantly knew my body was not recovered to perform at its best.  I have been battling a tight hamstring for several weeks, and doing run speed pushed it to its limits.  Even during Pigman’s half-iron, I felt it on the half-marathon run.  At Wausau, the bike at least got my muscle warmed up enough to run feeling okay.  Not at this race.  I knew I was pushing the line of injury if I went any harder, and well, I just felt like I couldn’t really run any faster either. 
I was in fifth for females coming in from the first run, and I headed out on the bike for the 14.6 mile ride.  My plan was to bike hard today.  I wanted to out-bike every other woman at that race.  I struggled to push my watts, as my legs just didn’t have it in them to sustain the higher efforts, but nonetheless, I came in with a good split.  I managed to pull of the fastest female bike split, averaging over 23 mph, and had the fifth fastest bike split overall!  Solid.  I’ve never biked that fast, so that was really exciting for me!
I headed out on the second run of 2.3 miles, and already feeling like I wanted to be done.  My body was taxed, and this speed stuff was tough!  I think I’ve come to really like the endurance aspect of the bigger races.  Who knew?!  I went just under a 6:50 pace, having the second fastest female split and finishing as the second female (first in my age group) and sixth overall for men and women.  The leader had outrun me, but since she used to run for the Wisconsin Badgers, I could not be shocked by that one.  I did have almost five minutes on the third place finisher though, so it was still a fast day.
This marked the end of my big racing season.  It was an awesome year, and I far exceeded my hopes and expectations for it!  I had started off with winning a 5K just two months post-baby, followed by a 10K win (both with significant PR times).  Green Bay kicked off the triathlon season with a very cold day, but a successful win, followed by a duathlon win at Badger State Games in Wausau.  I had my FIRST swim meet of my life at Badger State Games, managing to win two of the events even!  I took a long break from racing and focused on getting ready for my first half-iron distance races.  Chisago Lakes was surreal, with perfect weather and a sub-5 hour race and 4th place finish, and still only 5 months post-baby!  Claimed another victory at Wausau’s triathlon, and then took on Iowa’s Pigman Half-Iron, dropping significant time and finishing in 5th.  Then I wrapped the season up with this duathlon.  I am very much satisfied with the season, but I also know my areas of weakness to work on in order to prepare for next year.
Not able to QUITE be done yet, I signed up for my first marathon in October.  Here I am in recovery week, and writing out my training plan for the next 6 weeks leading up to it.  Just can’t quite end the year yet!  Thank you to Rob, for coming out and racing with me, and thank you to Andy for photographing, watching Baya, and being a huge supporter and fan all season!