Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weekend Escape

I escaped to California for a few days.

One last time before I commit the next 18 years of my life to sitting in the house, wearing an apron and cleaning up poop. Not like I would really do that but you get the point – life will end, right? Isn’t that what everyone says? Can you blame me though – I just wanted some warm weather and sun.

Westward we went. And ended up right in San Diego.

The plane trip out was an exercise in patience. The flight was delayed, then we sat on the runway for an hour. Want to torture a pregnant woman? Either dangle a brownie in front of her face or make her sit in a plane seat for more than 4 hours. In the end, I performed my most amazing pregnant trick yet – I did not get up to the use the bathroom once in a time period of over 5 hours.

Not once. It was like a 5 hour kegel exercise.

The next morning we walked to town for bagels and coffee. It is my dream in life to live within walking distance of a town where you can buy a simple meal, go for a cup of coffee. The sun is shining. You sip your (decaf) coffee while watching the ocean. Do people really live like this? Every day? The view from a short walk from my house is a highway ramp. Which makes me think that decaf while watching the cars roll by from the shoulder of I-88 might be a good way to start tomorrow.

Next up, we headed out to one of my favorite runs in the San Diego area – Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve. After setting aside my fears of becoming bobcat bait, rattlesnake bitten and accosted by a creepy trail predator who at this point I could most definitely not out run, it was a pretty good run. If you ever want a low-cost way to know the elevation gain of a course, bring a pregnant woman along. I have run this trail at this canyon over a dozen times in the past 5 years and not until this day did I realize that the entire way going out is uphill!

Chris rode his bike a little after the canyon then headed back to Del Mar. We always stay in Del Mar because it’s easy to ride from, it’s beautiful and the hotel is right on the 101. I did have a Miss Daisy moment at the hotel when I asked to switch rooms within 12 hours of arriving because the room smelled like mold and the carpet was dirty. Listen, this is my last attempt at freedom before baby comes. I at least want the illusion of cleanliness in my hotel room.

That afternoon we headed down to the gas lamp district within San Diego. I’ve never been there but heard much about it. It was like walking into a tunnel of food and booze. I totally fit in. Actually, I felt ridiculous. Walking by one of the bars, a hostess asked if I wanted to come in to enjoy happy hour. Dammit woman, don't ask me questions like that! Of course I want a happy hour but....

Later that afternoon I had a meltdown. Too much walking, running, not enough quality sleep…Chris put me in the penalty box. Really, it was the best for me and him. I was grouchy and exhausted. When you hit the wall in pregnancy, you hit it hard. He drove me straight back to the hotel and told me to sleep while he went out with some friends. I was in bed at 7:30 pm. Actually, 8 pm because Baby Waterstraat spent about 30 minutes running crazy laps in my stomach.

Race morning! Wow I felt great after 10 hours of sleep. Put me in, coach, I’m ready to race! Chris headed out for the Swami’s group ride while I drove up to Oceanside to watch part of the race. By the time I was walking along the oceanfront to a good spot on the run course, the lead male was running by. It is no wonder the top male and female carried it through to the finish line. They looked line machines, flawless economy of motion as they ran along the street. I parked myself on a curb about 2.5 miles into the course and waited for the people I knew.

I did some cheering, some yelling. I clapped myself right off the curb and almost incurred my first spectathlete injury (rolled ankle). Chris eventually got in from the group ride and cheered too. It was all good until I needed a bathroom which meant game over – time to go back. This whole weekend was like my great outdoor urination adventure. My most desperate moment was in a parking lot in Del Mar. I’m pretty sure if there was a squat and go race, I’d be national champion.

After the race I went for a walk. True I had walked all morning but that was to watch and cheer. This walk needed to be for me. I walked toward Torrey Pines, then back to Del Mar along the beach. I told baby to listen to the ocean. It’s one of the few things in life that always puts me back in my place – reminds me how small I am, how in the big picture myself, my worries are not as important or big as they seem. It’s a good wakening to watch and listen to the ocean. I’ve seen from both coasts and many point of views in life. This time, the first time looking at an ocean pregnant, it still reminds me that we are small – our world, our problems are nothing compared to the enormity of the ocean. Watching it is both calming and energizing. Gives great perspective. Could you imagine if you started each day looking at this?

That evening, we met up with Brad the evil Scott twin and Dr. Nuts. Both live out here now. I couldn’t recall if Dr. Nuts was on Ragbrai this year until he recalled the night in Ottumwa where he called off walking up the big hill after the group visit to the strip club. Now I remember. Dr. Nuts was filled with stories of living the high life of a California urologist doing mostly penis implants and removing cock rings (I wish I was making this shit up). In other words, he’s doing his part to keep California’s image up.

Sherpa Thomas also rolled in. Just when you think you’ve lost your Sherpa for good, he pops up. He’s working in San Diego this week and joined us for dinner. Two weeks ago he called, claiming to be fat and out of shape. He looks the same and though he claims he can’t put out anything more than xxx watts right now, I doubt it.

The next morning, the boys headed out for (another) ride while I went to Torrey Pines for a run. I walked up the big hill and then found some trails. The sandy trails felt good and the sun was warm. As I ran down from Broken Hill, a woman with a child hanging out of a papoose was coming toward me and while I said “hi”, she just shook her head.

Wait a minute…was I just the victim of silent rage against fit pregnant chicks? I think I was. And as much as I wanted to run right back and ask why she was shaking her head at me – I realized it wasn’t my problem. Her lack of education, her insecurity, her problem with my running had nothing to do with me and everything to do with who she was and her beliefs. I try not to lash out at strangers because I’ve realized in life that no matter what you say to them, they just won’t get it. It’s not worth my time. Just keep running.

After the run, I met a few of my athletes at the beach. I literally became a pregnant lobster. A butter sauce would have made me delicious. Though I had no problem asking Jill if I could eat some of her jellybeans, it didn’t even occur to me to ask if I could use some of her sunscreen until it was too late. Color me red. VERY.

Chris finally got back from his ride. As much as I wanted to be the all supportive go do as you please wife, I was also really sad that I couldn’t be out there riding with him. To me, San Diego means riding. You ride long, you ride hills, you ride on cloudless days with a cool ocean breeze. To watch the cyclists keep buzzing by made me long for that freedom. Running is…well, it’s running. I like it but you don’t get very far. Nothing replaces wheels on pavement.


That afternoon, we went to La Jolla Cove. We walked along the rocks, watched the seals, looked in the tidal pools. For a few minutes we sat in one of those booths with benches along the shore until a man with two small children literally strapped to the front of his body walked in. He was a foreign man, with his wife, and in a thick accent said to me “ah, good luck!” while looking at my belly. It’s not huge, I swear, but you can’t miss it. Then he looked at Chris and said “she needs to relax now.” Nothing more needed to be said from a man with two children growing out of his abdomen.

The next morning I was up earlyearlyearly to go swimming in Encinitas. I love the pool there. Imagine 11 lanes open for lap swimming with people in them that are actually swimming laps – it is heaven. In one of the lanes was a certain Olympian and Ironman World Champion with the name Jones on her swim cap. Always good to hottie spot when you are in California.

When I got back, we had about 6 hours left before leaving for home so we went over to the Botanic Garden. The garden was small but beautiful. Spent some time laying on a bench surrounded by the fragrant smell of citrus trees. I thought about the trip – and for some reason it felt incomplete. Every other time I’ve traveled out here I’ve always left with a sense of purpose or clarity about what comes next. Because of that the trip always felt revitalizing. But this time, it felt different. Mostly because I don’t know what comes next. This is the hardest thing about being pregnant, maybe about being a pregnant athlete. You want to know the answer, you want to know what to expect, you what to know that next year at this time I will be working toward __ and ___ either athletically or personally. But all I know is that I don’t know how my body will respond or what comes next. I left California just knowing that all I know is…the unknown.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. It will take a little more thought. I do know that I will not be traveling by plane again for the rest of the pregnancy. You know you are too big for the small place you are in when you cannot bend over to tie your shoe. The trip home was another delayed flight. I had the aisle seat which meant I could drink water and not fear peeing myself. Baby Waterstraat spent most of the flight running 400 meter loops around my stomach. He would kick me on one side then moments later be on the opposite side of my stomach. Out would emerge a little ball of what might be a foot or a hand to move my stomach. Seeing this, feeling this will never get old. I am sure it will hurt at some point or get uncomfortable but… it’s a little person in there, moving, living. The pain will be worth it.


We got back home at 2 am. And today begins the 16-weeks until baby arrives. I spent some of the morning nesting because the baby furniture arrives tomorrow. If seeing my stomach move wasn’t real, the furniture in the room will be even more tangible. He’s coming. Ready or not! My head was buzzing with thoughts: we need new blinds, there’s too much dust, I feel crowded by all the other stuff we are moving around to make room for him and….

Breathe.

The house will be clean enough. We will be ready enough. Remember the ocean. This seems big but there are bigger things out there. Your worries are small. You’ve got 16 weeks to prepare and even then you still won’t be prepared. Let it go. And just relax, like the man said.

6 comments:

Andrea said...

Glad you had this time to yourself to have fun and relax. Sounds heavenly - minus the plane trip, of course.

Jennifer Harrison said...

oh yes...these are the crossroads of the pregnancy that are challenging...you know, in places with other athletes and in places you have spent on your bike NOT walking around pregnant...but that is OK. 16 weeks is nothing and soon you will be out there hammering again, getting back into race shape and loving that entire journey again!

Bob Mitera said...

Love your writing Elizabeth.

Mary IronMatron said...

You're still going to go to CA! Chris will stay in the hotel room with Baby W while you go for a long ride. and then maybe a run. and then a coffee. Really! It will be good. I'm glad you got away!

H said...

Awesome writing, as usual. I've never been to San Diego but reading about it makes me want to LIVE there!

Glad to hear you got some relaxation time to yourself!
-Henry

Shevaun said...

Life won't end for you when your baby arrives. You have too much spunk and determination. I just taught my children from a young age to travel well. They go everywhere with me and my husband. They are 8 and 10, but handle an 8 hour flight better than most adults. They, also, know mom needs some training time or she becomes an angry badger.