[I ran a triathlon pregnant.] I was one month pregnant. Yes, I had morning all-day sickness. In hindsight, I think mind-over-matter helped me finish the race. Actually, I think mind-over-matter helped me start it. Once I was into a groove, it didn't matter that I was living off oyster crackers and carbonated water. Once I trudged into the Gulf of Mexico at 7 a.m. and began swimming half a mile the nausea and fatigue I feared would keep me from competing seemed to evaporate temporarily. And in its place adrenaline began to pump. Adrenaline can make you do anything. When I finished the race, I ate my weight in free beans and rice. And like everything I ate that trimester, it was unsatisfying and tasted like metal. Yet I returned to the food tent for seconds. I was ravenously hungry. When I first learned I was pregnant I worried I might not be able to continue training. I was running, biking and swimming nearly every day. I wondered if this regime was detrimental to pregnancy.
So I researched the topic online and learned that the biggest concern is overheating. Women are advised not to exercise too strenuously in blazing temperatures. Like the hot bath thing, raising your core body temperature for too long can cause birth defects in the first trimester. However, I also learned that if you were a runner pre-pregnancy there was no harm in continuing your routine with child if you exercised some caution. Which I did. To avoid overheating, I swam more than I ran. I ran at night after the sun had set. I carried two water bottles on my bike. I stretched longer and deeper before and after physical activity. I trusted my body. I trusted that I'd know when to slow down. When to drink more water. When to eat a protein bar. When to breathe. I finished the tri in 1 hour and 42 minutes. Two minutes slower than my race time in April. I'm now five months pregnant and still running my favorite three-mile stretch along the water. I've had to turn it down a few notches. I walk/run/walk/run. Joe calls it ralking. It's not easy. Most of the time my bladder feels like it's going to explode. I try to run light on my feet to reduce pounding. I like to believe I look like I'm running on air. But really, I look like a person running to the bathroom about to piss their pants. In October, after the triathlon was over I spent the following two months feeling like I was hung-over on a sailboat being tossed around in an angry sea. I was exhausted and frustrated by my listlessness. However, by the end of month three I was feeling so spry and NORMAL I craved the burning peace and quiet of running. The endorphins. The challenge. The people I crossed on route. The open windows of the mansions I passed along the way. The daydreaming that ensues on foot or on bike, for that matter. But I moved too fast at first. I pulled a groin muscle and some other muscle that I didn't know existed. My yoga teacher informed me that my piriformis muscle, which is a fancy word for a butt muscle, was likely inflamed, which had seriously irritated my sciatic nerve. She taught me how to stretch the piriformis. And I religiously repeated these stretches every night for two weeks until the pain subsided. My midwife suggested I walk more and run less. As much as it killed me, I heeded this advice. I never thought I'd have to condition myself to relax. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of you, but I feel like I'm in training mode.
I love training mode. Except this time I feel like I'm training for something bigger than a triathlon. I'm training for labor. And when I cross that finish line I'd like to think I was powered by endurance, stamina and of course adrenaline. Prepared, if such a thing is possible. For the best reward ever. --- PS. Happy birthday to my friend Ricci, a new mama (and fellow runner) and all around awesome female. Thank you for always making sense of my whims. You've grown in so many lovely ways, but to me you're still capricious Ricci with the floppy shoes and contagious wit who loves her sweet baby and sweet husband with unbridled joy.