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The Canadian Triathlon

You may have seen this picture on Facebook:


Yes, I was a spectator at my goal triathlon. No, it wasn’t because of injury. It was that damn FIRST TRIMESTER again…..YES my friends, I am PREGNANT!

Now, you all know how motivated I am. I think I miss an average of two workouts every six months (barring travelling). I was convinced when I saw that positive pregnancy test that I would be competing regardless. First, I was in peak form, I had gotten pregnant on the toughest week of my speed training program. Second, it was the summer and nothing could stop me from getting outside to run.

Well let me tell you, friends, that pregnancy has other plans.

I went through a mild depression where I could barely stand the idea of unbundling myself from my cocoon on the couch to pee. Food was…unappetizing to say the least. Cereal, tuna and white rice, and the odd Subway sandwich, if I had any at all, meant I was getting less than half my usual calories, and no fresh vegetables (couldn’t even look at em). Those calories had to feed me, a rapidly growing baby, and a nursling….which meant exercise wasn’t a smart idea, even if I could drag my ass out there. I was doubled over with nausea for five straight weeks. Standing up from sitting I nearly blacked out from the dizziness. I would get winded walking up the stairs.

I know all the physiological reasons for all of these changes and I won’t bore you with the science. I know exercise is supposed to help, but my friends, the decision was made for me. I could not do anything. My body wanted me to stay still, to lie down, try to put on a few pounds, and there was nothing I could do to make it change its mind.

I am now 13 weeks into this pregnancy and very happy to say goodbye to the storm that is the first. The depression has lifted. I started taking Diclectin for the nausea. I ran four 4 milers last week, and I can eat all the things again (with only the odd “ew hell no”). I stopped breastfeeding, and R seems pretty ok with it.

But…it meant I wasn’t going to be able to compete in the triathlon. As much as I would have liked to, it really was a non issue when I had to decide. I couldn’t train on the bike (had a little bleeding after a bike ride once that made me nervous). It was too hot to run during the day, which would have spiked my core temperature – a huge no when you’re pregnant. Swimming was the only thing I enjoyed but getting there meant enduring motion sickness in the car (not to mention I would have to get up off the couch) so I opted to watch elite athletes perform at their peak in the Olympics instead. On the couch of course. It was a nice distraction.

Huge props to my buddy Ian who completed his first Super Sprint Triathlon! He is the one who, years ago, mentioned a try-a-tri, which I didn’t know existed, and hence planted the seed. I now have the gear and the motivation to do one after this baby, and it is a great goal to have for 6 months post partum. Distance TBA….

This pregnancy, I do have my sights set on The Cookie Run 5K in November though! Hey, 22 weeks pregnant running for Girl Guide cookies….how does it get any better?!

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Week 41: Priorities Defined

nobabyyet

I’m surrounded by the most supportive, amazing people and this baby is going to be the luckiest kid in the world to have so many happy, positive influences in its life. I don’t know how I scored…no one has judged me for the decisions I have made, the priorities I have, or the way we are carrying out the end of the pregnancy. If they have been judging, they’re doing it silently and that is appreciated too. ūüėõ I’m a very stubborn, emotional (redheaded) warrior woman so hopefully everyone isn’t tiptoeing around me…bah, what do I care, tip toe away! I’m doing my thang!! LOL!

It has been 28C and steamy everyday for the past two weeks, and I have bailed on all my activity. I did one yoga class after my due date, and one 2 mile walk last week sometime…a couple of brief shopping and grocery trips…but to be honest¬†I’m heavy, lazy, and pendulous. I sit on my butt, nap with the cats, and eat delicious food made by everyone else but me, and then they do the dishes too. I watch football games on the couch and go to bed early. Unfortunately the longer this baby cooks, the more I could get used to this!

With my due date long gone, the question of induction has come up. How invasive do I want to get to start labor before the 42 week mark, in order to deliver at the Birth Centre? Acupuncture and a stretch and sweep are two somewhat non-invasive ways of stimulating labor – not necessarily comfortable but they will only work if you’re ready anyway. Is the Birth Centre experience important enough to go as far as to force labor to start medically on an outpatient basis with Cervadil? Well, honestly, no. There ya go, my priority during this unanticipated late term had been defined – allow for natural progression of labor so the baby gets the most out of its time in the womb room. If that means going over 42 weeks and delivering at my second choice location (the hospital), so be it. I will miss the jacuzzi though.

The pregnancy has gone very well, I’ve been low risk and I remain low risk, and at 41w3d¬†with the recent “perfect” ultrasound (that’s what the tech said!!), I can confidently choose to keep this baby growing naturally and wait for labor. I’ve been checked, things are starting to progress, and it just appears that I am doing it later than the average woman. The only “science” that we base due dates on is a woman’s recollection of her last period and a dating ultrasound at 6-7 weeks…a lot happens in 9 (or 10!) months and I’m happy to let the divine mother finish her work.

Week 40: The Ultimate Milestone

So here it is, the milestone of all mile markers. 40 whole weeks, “we did it!!”…hard to remember that it’s just an ETA. After 41 weeks we go for an ultrasound to check on baby and placenta, and after 42 weeks we start daily surveillance – so this is the time to relax, go for dinner, get massages, and enjoy the serenity of the belly-babysitter.

2014-07-25 09.27.24I don’t feel a “coconut between my legs”, and running is still as comfortable as it can be. Ok, not entirely true – baby is big and low now. The bladder is taking a beating (kegels are engaged over the miles!). When baby moves during a run I can feel it through my abdominals, which is really weird! I have to shift my ribcage forward significantly to compensate for the sway in my back. I am so grateful for ChiRunning posture and focuses, without them I know I would not be running even the 2 miles every 3rd day that I can achieve now, despite the huge pendulous belly hanging lower everyday. Stacking your spine correctly makes all the difference.

So, is baby on its way?? No Braxton Hicks that I can complain about. In fact, as the midwife was feeling the baby this week I apparently had a contraction. She called it a “Painless Braxton-Hicks”. Well I’ll be, things really are happening. I’m in no rush though. At this point the stretch marks are what they are, and I’m finally convinced it’s not going to punch through my over-stretched belly button, alien-style. Come out when you’re ready little baby. Almost stupidly active at times, especially around 9-10pm when I’m heading to bed, you can watch it like a thunderstorm, knees and feet just flailing around. As long as that head stays engaged, go crazy baby! Of course as soon as you take out the camera the show’s over…

I wonder if this little tot is going to make this pregnancy a true marathon of 42.2 weeks…I think I’d take that fun comparison over 42.2 hours of labour.

 

Weeks 33-35: A House With Running Shoes

The third trimester is by far my favorite. There are so many fantastic movements going on in my belly! I play with the little feet and knees that poke out every so often, and stroke the little hard area that I think is the back. I don’t even mind the three point flip in the night, which usually coincides with a pee break – it helps when you have a great mattress and a sweet stack of pillows. I still have morning sickness (!!) but most days it’s manageable. Eating helps a lot. So do ice cream sandwiches and nibs.

The best part is, I’m still running! The past three weeks I’ve been able to get a 2-3 mile run in almost every other day. Interestingly enough, I feel even more inspired to run because of the physical challenges this house-like belly has created – thank the Lord for my ChiRunning focuses! The bigger I get the more motivated I am to get out there on the good days. Running actually helps keep the swelling to a minimum, and bonus – I don’t feel nauseated when I’m on the road. I am getting slower and slower, but on good days I can still run the whole way. On not-as-good days I’ll do intervals of walking and running. I have found people in the neighborhood have been supportive if they do say anything, which is good news for what I hope is the new accepted norm!

Today is not that day

I definitely respect the “growth spurt” days, however. When I feel like an overfilled water balloon, the exhaustion hits, and my hormones get out of control I take the day off – usually end up napping on the couch right after dinner to ease the swelling, or waddling around complaining about how far away I have to stand from the sink to do the dishes. For the ¬†most part my hips have held up. I do find now that my left side is finicky and on the verge of a jam, but as long as I’m very aware of my posture while I run, I get away with it. I am pretty sure the stiffness in my hips that I feel now is going to stick with me through to the end, whether I run or walk or sit on my butt all day. May as well get out there!

Now I hear things get even more interesting when the baby drops…someone said it’s like a coconut between your legs. My motto: cross that bridge when you come to it!

Weeks 31-32: Third Trimester in full swing!

 

32 weeksMy belly is quite large, and it’s begun attracting attention from strangers! I had to ask the midwife if she was sure I wasn’t carrying twins, after comparing myself to other women in the same week. In all honesty, the third trimester has been incredibly good to me thus far. I’m less nauseated in the mornings, many thanks to my daily lemon ginger tea in the car. I am only peeing once during the night, and I’m sleeping well despite the acid trip dreams. I had one bad night and subsequent day of heartburn but for the most part I can’t complain. I have internalized that no single day is the same and no symptom is forever. I am living in the moment, loving how my baby feels when it moves, and….I’m running again!!!!!!!! I’m even entering my workouts as a “Run” on my runkeeper! I don’t do more than 3 miles at a time, but my pelvis is awesome. Things can change, and I take each day as it comes, but for now I’m going to rock a few runs a week.

It’s always been harder for me to get up to run in the morning, but I know that’s when I feel the best/least bloated. Well wishing parents of young’uns who tell me to “get my sleep while I can” make me want to lay in bed for that extra hour!¬†(NB: none of said well wishers want to actually HEAR how well you have slept…! lol!) If I had my way I would do runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday – but I am acutely aware of how things can change each day so I’m flexible. Every other day has been working really well for me. I’m doing walk/run intervals, and now that I have my Garmin set for 5 running intervals of about a quarter mile I feel like I’m “in training” for the big day. (Is there such thing as a fetish for your Garmin beeping?)

I like to think I built a nice strong placenta during the second trimester. I MUST know the size of my placenta when it’s out! (There’s something to fulfill my competitive side – I want to have a bigger than average placenta!!!) If you have a more efficient placenta working overtime when you’re NOT active – and I was down for the count for about 6 weeks – you¬†could have a fatter baby. My “fear” now is that I’ll have a big baby. I’m not very big to start out with, but I truly believe I can birth whatever I grow…this is also why I have asked my support team to avoid discussion with me about the size of the baby. Need to know basis only please!

how far along

Week 25: Temporary Setback

In Winnipeg this week! It has been hard to admit my back is still out. It’s not hard to avoid exercise, though, when you can’t walk properly! I think, as with many setbacks, this has been a blessing in disguise. This week has been overwhelming, filled with visits with family and friends, and staying up WAY past my bedtime. My mother in law threw us a shower too! After Easter brunch then dinner with family on Sunday, I got down on the floor and rolled on my lacrosse ball. I heard a delicious pop. Hubby gave me a sweet back rub, and when I stood up I felt like something had changed. Maybe that was “the” spot?! I went straight to bed, and I’ll hope for the best.

I have made it out this week for one 2 mile walk with hubby and his parent’s dog Katie. I don’t believe the pain I had/have is anything more than temporary, I have healed from much worse than that. That being said, thoughts about completing the half marathon started to drift into the land of doubt…I have until April 30th to sell/transfer my bib through the race website, so that can be my deadline. If I am not back to running comfortably by next weekend I will start lining up someone to buy my bib…time will tell, and what is meant to be will transpire!

I have an ART appointment on April 30th, and will try to get something later this coming week as well. I want to get active again, that’s my number one goal!

3 Ways to Use ChiRunning in Labor

birthmeme

As a friend-Doula I have witnessed three magical births. Not having birthed yet myself, the closest thing I can compare it to is the marathon (I realize this is probably peanuts). In the marathon, the last stretch is especially physically challenging. It is also incredibly mentally demanding – so you prepare for months before with mental and physical techniques, as well as support from your friends and family. The same must hold true for labor – this is your chance to power through the wall (the ring of fire), break the ribbon and cross the finish line of the marathon that is pregnancy with friends and family cheering you on. However, I’m willing to fashion a guess that labor is like arriving at mile 21 without having even tried on running shoes before.

On my recent long run I got to thinking¬†(that happens a lot…)¬†and I started comparing some of the processes I have learned in ChiRunning to what might happen in labor. Hey, gotta use what you have, right? ūüôā

  1. Don’t Struggle – relax. If you’re trying too hard, you’re not doing it right. “You” don’t have to do anything except trust your body and let go. If there was ever a time to apply the T’ai Chi principle of cotton and steel¬†it’s when your center is actively becoming like steel as it pushes the baby lower and lower – it’s up to mama to remember her limbs need to be cotton. As the ritual of birth progresses, allow your extremities to move and do what they need to balance the work that is being done in the core. If you allow the ancient knowledge of the body to take over, movements will come to help things progress, and to help you cope.
  2. Allow the energy to take you where you are going. In running, that’s forward. If you imagine a bungee cord tied to your hips pulling you forward you can feel a subtle physical ease of motion. The same must be true in labor for the downward energy needed as the baby descends further and further. Every contraction is widening and descending, and if you allow that energy to take over it will work for you. When running forward, you don’t try to hold back so apply the same idea to the downward pull and hopefully your journey through the sensation isn’t prolonged.
  3. Go along for the ride! In ChiRunning, your balance shifts forward with a slight lean, and with gravity, your body comes along for the ride. This is the efficient way of using your body plus gravity to create velocity. Contractions are like waves, and as intense as they are they must be ridden out and not fought against. If you give in and ride the wave your body can open up and baby can descend faster. On a larger scale, go along for the 9 month ride! You have humbly accepted changes to your body, your life, and your perspective which has subtly mentally prepared yourself to continue that through labor, if you let it.

I would love to know if these ring true!

What lessons has running taught you about labor/pregnancy? Any mommas have advice for first time mommas to mentally prepare?

Resources for Pregnant Runners Part 2: Blogs!

There are literally thousands of people blogging about running while pregnant these days. If you’re like me, a personal account (even if it’s from a stranger) really tends to drive a message home. When you can relate to it, you can internalize the information.

NYC Running Mama РProbably the best and most popular blog about running while pregnant and breast feeding, among other things. She has written very informative entries that, for me (newly pregnant and a little nervous), were groundbreaking. They helped me discover which questions to ask to find the answers that would enlighten and empower me.  She even followed up a month later on a comment I made, to see how I was doing Рa fantastic and personal move, bringing our global running community just one step closer together.

UberMotherRunner РUltra informative (no pun intentded), with many entries from different contributors. I found it through Sea Legs Girl, and ultra marathoner and tri-athlete who pioneered maintaining training in long distance and endurance sport while pregnant.

Another Texas Family РI stumbled upon this gem in a google search on pregnant running, and found that she also blogs about their homeschooling adventure, which is something I am considering for the future as well.

Blonde Ponytail¬†¬†I typed “pregnancy” into the search on her site, and voila, up came all this great info and advice throughout pregnancy about running as well as other aspects of fitness, mixed in with some great personal stuff.

The Domestic Wannabe РIn addition to the detailed account of her personal journey of running with child, I love her honest and sometimes hilarious posts about life and family.

Mrs. Miller’s Miles – She is a few weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy and running adventure. It feels really great to find another blogger who is at the same(ish) place doing her best to grow baby and stay active! Looking forward to keeping tabs on her journey.

And one for the cons of running while pregnant:

Run Far Girl¬†– This is where I first found out about leakage. Not that I didn’t realize this was likely an inevitable result of giving birth, but you do need to take care to exercise your pelvic floor. A lot is going on inside, especially while doing weight bearing exercise carrying a child.

These are just a few of probably thousands that are out there. I have focused on finding ones tailored to running, and long distance.

What blogs have inspired you on your journey through fitness and pregnancy?

5 Things I Don’t Get About Pregnancy So Far

Why does water taste so terrible? I used to be a 4L-of-water-a-day diva and I loved the feeling of chugging a pint at a time. Now I have to drink lime infused sparkling water (insert jazz hands here), or add water to my soups, or remember to make teas, or force it down – and I can barely get half my usual in.

And when the hell are you supposed to drink all this recommended water? They say half an hour before a meal is the right time to drink water, and not for an hour after. I don’t have a “between meals” anymore, I graze all the time to keep the nausea at bay.

Where is all that food going anyway? Especially considering my plumbing doesn’t work on a daily basis anymore!¬†On my best days: breakfast, second breakfast, dessert after breakfast, lunch, second lunch, pre-car snack, pre dinner, dinner, dessert, and bedtime snack.¬†Granted sometimes I do know what happens to the food I eat, it sticks in my esophagus and burns, usually when I’m trying to fall asleep after bedtime snack.

As for the nausea…I read in many places that many women start to feel relief after the 12th week. Key words I glazed over – start to. It would appear that there’s no end to not feeling great, just different degrees of “pretty good”. I guess I spoiled myself before when I always felt good, I was “too” healthy.

And why oh WHY must I eat sugar all the time? Have hormones seriously clouded my perception of what’s healthy to such an extent that I make medical excuses for the need for sugar? It’s¬†a “fuel to keep the baby growing” – hey, simple carbs pass through the placenta easier, creating more usable energy, right??? Right???

cake

Goals Change with Good News!

Wow it has been a LOOONG time since I wrote, mostly because I’ve been harboring a secret…I’m pregnant!!! After a year and a half, the fertility journey has finally found me growing a little raspberry-shaped blob into a real human. Fantastic! My new set of goals for 2014:

  1. Deliver a healthy happy baby after a healthy, active pregnancy!

Fantastic…except for the morning sickness. It came on around 6 weeks and didn’t let up until 11 weeks, when I had a few days of the “light at the end of the tunnel”. During those 6 weeks I did nothing but nap and sulk. I tried going for walks but old man winter had other plans – I have never seen so many snowstorms that turned into ice rain that turned into more snow, which left the roads around my house completely unwalkable. Besides, I could barely get off the couch let alone suit up in layers of winter gear.

Now that I’m feeling better, I do intend to run, (and/or walk, and do yoga) throughout my pregnancy. I have found the definitive book on exercise and the effect on pregnancy, Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by Dr. Clapp.¬†I encourage anyone who has an opinion on exercising while pregnant to read this. I have also found so many wonderful blogs of other women who continued to run while pregnant: NYC Running Mama, Another Texas Family,¬†and Uber Mother Runner¬†being my favorites so far. Google “Running While Pregnant” and there’s a world of blogs out there! I hope to add to the many personal accounts of running and staying active throughout pregnancy.

I believe that this is the best thing for me and the baby – studies show that women who run have babies with stronger cardiovascular systems, and the nutrients pass more efficiently through the placenta.Working out at moderate intensity, 3x a week for 2o mins during the 2nd trimester actually builds a larger placenta with more blood vessels, easing the transfer of nutrients and creates a sort of “buffer” in case there are complications with labor and delivery. Temperature regulation, oxygen transfer, fetal heart rate and distress are among the main “concerns” – but studies show everything is improved with consistent exercise, not restricted.¬†

I had a goal to run one race every month this year, starting in February, but things change! I signed up for the Winterman 5k, and I’ll run/walk it with the goal of HAVING FUN. I’m also registered in the 40th annual Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon. That one I’ll be keeping in contact with my midwife about, and we’ll see how I feel that day. I have no qualms about not starting, or starting and not finishing, as this is not a time to “see how far I can push myself”…I know I can finish, but it’s not just me finishing this time! I’m running for two!¬†I am excited to start this journey, with the goal “race” being a healthy delivery. I vow to listen to my body as well as my baby, do my kegels, and take a rest day when warranted. I won’t create a training schedule, I know I won’t stick to it. I won’t set time goals, they’re unnecessary now. I think I’m a pretty happy person who enjoys life, but my goal is to enjoy every moment even more.

Now that the morning sickness is over, that is…LOL.

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