Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Season Review - Pregnancy Perspective

            Every year it seems the stakes get a little higher and I take it up another notch from the season before.  This year was no exception.  It was, however, different than last year in that this time, I was pregnant during most of my races.  While the pregnancy weeks actually started counting at the time of Green Bay, conception wouldn’t have been for about another 2 weeks, around the time of the High Cliff Half-Iron.  Having no clue that I was potentially pregnant at that point though, meant that nothing changed in my approach to the race either.  I did what I could that day, and that was one brutal race.
            I was 6 weeks along when I raced Life Time Tri Minneapolis.  It was muggy but overcast, making it bearable at least.  I don’t have any concerns when it comes to the swim and the bike.  If I’m going to notice any discomfort or warning signs, I assume it would be during the run leg, when the body is already fatigued and then being pushing in such brutal fashion.  The swim was good, the bike was ok, and I had a slow run for reasons I could not figure out.  I felt fine during it, but just could not run any faster.  I didn’t experience any cramping, except my foot in T2 when I went to switch from my bike shoes to my running shoes.  I just had to make my way out of T2 a tad slower in order to work out the cramp as I went.  I felt comfortable with the effort.  I had raced at 6 weeks with Baya as well two years ago at Graniteman.  I had gone hard that day, and that was the only race where I’ve ever become concerned during it, but not this time in Minneapolis.
Nationals at 10 weeks
            I was 9 weeks at the Wausau Triathlon.  I was not as much concerned about times and paces for that one as I was just about doing enough to take first overall.  It was a slower day, but I was okay with it.  My bike leg put me into a good lead that I could take the pressure off of the run.  I was also 9 weeks with Baya at Wausau last time, but that year I pulled back the reigns a lot more in my effort and finished 5th overall.  I felt a lot more comfortable out there racing this time around.  With Baya, since she was my first, there were so many unknowns and so many questions.  This time I felt a lot more confident in my body’s ability to handle a race.  And after learning more about exercising while pregnant, I was also confident that I wasn’t hurting my baby either.  I would still need to watch for warning signs, but since my body was use to this level of intensity before even getting pregnant, then it was safe for me to continue.
            I was 10 weeks at Nationals.  This was the big race of the season – the most important one on the calendar.  We considered delaying pregnancy even because of it, just so I could race without any reservations.  But I was pregnant.  And there was pressure to go hard to make Team USA as well.  So my mindset was this: I would swim and bike hard (again, I have no concerns with either of these two areas).  I haven’t been running very well this season, but I would just go out and see what I could do.  It was difficult watching some of my fellow age-group’ers pass me on the run, wondering if my shot at Team USA was slipping away, but I focused on staying calm and keeping my breathing even.  It was very hot out, so I took water whenever it was available.  I would give what I could.  But if it came down to it, if I had felt a warning sign that I needed to slow down, I would have.  I would have been an emotional, crying mess, but it wouldn’t be worth the risk.  My baby would come first.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to face any tough questions like that.
12 weeks and still taking home the bling
            I wrapped up the season at 12 weeks of pregnancy with the Life Time Tri Maple Grove.  My biggest goal, in all honesty, was to have fun.  I had my big race, I performed well, and I made Team USA.  The volleyball season had started, and I had missed several workouts, so it was time to just go out and enjoy the last race of the season.  And I did.  I swam and biked well (and had fun out there!).  Again, my run was slow, but it was okay.  I also came into the race seated 1st in the MN Series, with number 2 only one point behind me (and she is also a very fast racer – don’t ask me how I beat her at Minneapolis!).  In the end, she crushed my time and I didn’t have a shot at holding first place and I ended up 2nd in the Series.  Which is okay.  It was all okay.  Cause it was fun.  That’s what all this is about anyway.
            Now the season is over, and so is first trimester – hooray!  So how was first trimester?  Racing was honestly the easy part.  It was the day-to-day training that got tough sometimes.  Fortunately, I never dealt with morning sickness (I’ve been blessed both times), but I have been 1) hungry all the time, 2) tired all the time, and 3) having to pee all the time.  Volume at least dropped after the Half-Iron, but my hunger levels stayed at an all-time high.  To try curbing some of the hunger, I tried to eat more snacks.  This basically meant I was literally eating all the time (it felt that way at least!).
            The fatigue definitely hit me, even more so this time around it seemed.  I told Andy that I would really need him to continue supporting the training because I was so exhausted that I started losing motivation (which is usually never an issue for me).  I pushed through, but there was less joy in the process for a time.  I welcomed the end of the season with open arms, when usually I am looking to see if there is one more I can squeeze in.  I pushed hard and long this season, and I was ready for the break, and it was becoming difficult to fit everything in with the volleyball season starting. 
            After two weeks of taking it easy (I’m still active but have cut back on both volume and intensity), I’m starting to look forward to getting back into structure again at some point.  At least I’m running hard while I can – doing the weekly timed mile with my volleyball girls (yes, I’m a mean coach I know).  It was my first timed mile in over a decade, and I’m faster than I ever was back then, which makes it a bit more fun.  Here’s to staying active by doing the things you love, and for me - another adventure of training through pregnancy #2!

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