Tuesday, March 30, 2010
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….
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.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
During this week, I enter the sixth month of pregnancy. I’m moving along pretty fast, eh? There’s only a few more months left until our little boy champion arrives. I’d call him little boy genius but….we have reason to believe that our combined genetic weaknesses in certain school subjects (I was not good at everything Chris was good at) will produce a little boy with average grades.
C’s get degrees, little man, C’s get degrees.
Every week I look through What To Expect When Expecting. You know that you are getting toward the end of pregnancy when the list of symptoms you might be experiencing has been the same for the past month and will be the same for the next few months. According to the book, I may be experiencing:
Constipation, heartburn, nasal congestion, hearty appetite, itchy abdomen, protruding navel, stretch marks, enlarged breasts, continued absentmindedness, achiness in the lower abdomen, definite fetal activity, anxiety about the future and some boredom with the pregnancy.
Check, check, check on all of that.
What the list didn’t mention was the trouble sleeping. Maybe this is nature’s way of preparing you for many sleepless nights ahead. But every night I wake up at some point, to use the bathroom, and then can’t get back to sleep. I don’t wake up tired – this is something I’ve noticed in pregnancy. Even though you aren’t sleeping well, I don’t wake up with the same so tired I cannot function feeling that I would pre-pregnancy.
The other day I was getting frustrated because I still haven’t felt much activity from the little dude. There’s a lot of stuff going on in your lower abdomen throughout all of pregnancy. Sometimes it’s growing pains, other times it’s gas. They say you can feel fetal activity any time between weeks 13 and 25. Second-time pregnant women are likely to have looser uterine muscles and recognize the feelings sooner. First-timers – probably just write it off as…gas.
I was working on Monday, sipping some decaf (some days I drink it, other days I don’t) and listening to music. I turned on some music. I like my music loud. Somewhere in the middle of writing swim workouts and planning out weeks, I felt all this stuff in my stomach. It was like a series of little flutters and pulses. Like the feeling you get when your heart palpitates. I thought to myself WHAT madness is going on down there! What did I eat? But then I put my hand on my stomach and it felt like a heart beating out the side of it. Maybe it was a foot or a fist but something just moved my hand!
This can only mean one thing. He likes music. Loud. And, like Chris keeps saying, he will probably be totally uninterested in sports and follow his uncle’s footsteps in starting a rock band.
Workouts have been going mostly well. But I will say that it takes me at least 20 to 30 minutes to warm up and feel normal. I have to laugh – isn’t there some guideline that says you only need to exercise a few times a week for 30 minutes at a time? No wonder people hate exercise – they’re missing out on the good part!
I’ve been swimming 3 to 4 times a week with Saturday being my monster swim day. The only reason I get up at 7:30 am on Saturday to swim is because Chris and I go for bagels after the swim. I actually have to remind myself several times – you’re only in it for the bagel. Not that I don’t like swimming, but it’s Saturday morning and I swim on the wall. Yes, I’ve officially entered life in the slow lane. Last week I had people fighting to swim in the lane with me, throwing out all kinds of excuses (I don’t feel well today, I lifted yesterday). And to think, I was just pregnant. In the end, I was only joined by Simon, whose casual indifference to the structure of the workout and any prescribed interval was just what I needed. I don’t like to go against the authority of the white board but at this point, I’m just happy that I’m awake and swimming.
But only for the bagel afterwards.
As much as being pregnant can be an inconvenience, I’ve learned that you can also use it to your advantage. On Monday, we went to the pool only to find it double-stacked in every lane except for one. After waiting around for 15 minutes, Chris told me to save myself, to approach the woman in the first lane and ask her to share.
No one is going to say no to a pregnant woman.
As I started walking over there, he added:
Make sure you stand so she can see your profile.
I've been running 3 to 4 times a week, too. Some days I think to myself this is going to be my last run. Such was Thursday. I hopped on the treadmill for 5 minutes and it felt like ass. I decided to head to the gym to ellipticize instead. Torture. Within 5 minutes I was so hot that I had to pull up my shirt and reveal the giant globe I am carrying around. My apologies to anyone around me. I lasted 30 minutes. I couldn’t take it anymore – my feet were numb. I went upstairs to finish a shuffle on the indoor track and can honestly say I have never run that slow. But at least I was running!
But then Sunday, I hopped on the treadmill and found myself many miles later at the end of a run. A run that finished at a pace that was faster than I’ve run since week 12. It made absolutely no sense but it reminded me of why I love to run and will continue doing it – in whatever speed, shape or form I can – for as long as I can. For one hour I forgot I was pregnant. For one hour I forgot I had to work to do. For one hour I forgot that I was 17 pounds heavier. For one hour I felt like “me”.
The other day I made my first attempt to go maternity clothes shopping. I can’t say it was a success. So far I own one pair of maternity pants. I have not worn them yet. I’m holding out! It’s like knowing you can go one more mile or 5 more minutes in a run. I CAN DO THIS! I can still wear button jeans but it depends on how long I am sitting. Sometimes they get unbuttoned. And sometimes I fear that I will forget, stand up and my pants will fall right off.
Chris and I were walking out of the gym recently when he asked if I had registered for the hospital yet. You bet. A few months ago. I’ve already gotten a letter from insurance informing me that I have two days to crank that kid out or else I’m picking up the tab. Something like that. And then, with a moment of I’m never sure if he’s really serious or not but then again this is Chris so chances are he was dead serious, he asked me:
So, are you going to want me to stay at the hospital with you when you have the baby?
No. No, really, it’s ok. I’ll just give you a call when he’s about ready to come out. Ok?
I really don’t want to sleep on a couch.
Well then, we’re even. Because I really don’t want to feel what can only be described as fire in the hole from THAT hole for possibly 48+ hours.
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, your husband speaks.
Later on he offered to go buy me some dessert. Good call, husband. Two peanut butter cups later is the currency of an apology I can understand. I’ll pretend like I never heard that.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I’m going to start a Twitter account called “things people say to me while pregnant.”
Call me a little sensitive, a lot vulnerable and sometimes so uncomfortable with feeling so big and uncomfortable but is it just me or does it feel like pregnancy gives people a license to say things to you that they wouldn’t otherwise say. If you are pregnant or have been pregnant you know what I mean. And know why I'm begging for a little more discretion in dealing with the pregnant woman please.
Now, I mean no offense. Really, I don’t. Please forgive me of all sass because I am, after all, pregnant, raging with hormones and about to make my 14th trip to the bathroom for today. But here goes, a (long) list of things people say to you when pregnant....
#1 – Anything said about weight gain by the woman who is not pregnant nor has ever been pregnant.
Telling you that you only need 300 more calories a day when pregnant. How soon until you can shut your piehole? There are things you don’t know. Being pregnant changes your body. That doesn’t mean that I am nose deep in ice cream every night nor going to stay “fat” for the rest of my life. It just means that there are things you cannot control in life and this is one of them. The body will do what it wants to do. If and when you get pregnant, we will see what your body will do. And I will be there to help you count those 300 extra calories a day.
#2 – Anything said by a man about his once pregnant wife.
Don't tell me your wife only gained xx (read: very few) pounds in pregnancy. There is no medal for delivering without drugs just like there is no medal for gaining the least amount of weight. Either way we all get the same thing at the finish line – baby. I gained her total pounds before week 20. I got there faster. Know what that means? I win.
#3 – Anything said by a man about your weight gain.
Things like – wow, you’re really getting big or wow, every time I see you, you are eating. I ask you though – when does he have to give up many things that he likes in life to become 25+ pounds bigger with a small mammal growing inside of him. He does not. And because of that, the proper thing to say is "wow you look beautiful" or "gee can I get you some more _____(what you are eating)."
#4 – Stories from your mom about how she finished her pregnancy at the weight you started at.
Nothing more needs to be said.
#5 – Stories from the woman who gained over 50 pounds while pregnant.
To some extent, she is my hero. She looked at the angry ocean of pregnancy, said fuck it and jumped right into a bag of chips, a gallon of ice cream and whatever the hell she wanted every single day. She knew she was going to be uncomfortable no matter what so might as well go at it full tilt. I have a friend who gained 75 pounds while pregnant. When I asked her how she accomplished that amazing feat she admitted it took a lot of Cinnabons and Oreo McFlurries. THAT takes balls.
#6 – People who say “If you keep ______, that baby’s going to fall right out.”
Let’s see: the baby falls out or I spend possibly 36 hours pushing it out while shitting myself. I’ll take my chances.
#7 – People who disagree with your attitude that as soon as you enter the hospital, a source of drugs should enter your veins.
It’s like talking to someone about god. Get ready to agree to disagree. I can’t say that I really care which way the baby comes out, just as long as it comes out. There’s a lot of things to feel guilty about in life (tapping into free cable from Comcast, eating the last spoonful of Nutella, blowing my nose on the indoor track at the gym when no one is around), taking drugs during labor is not one of them. There will be plenty of Mommy-guilt every time I want to take my eyes off my kid for the next 18 years.
#8 – Someone who doesn’t realize you are over 5 months pregnant until you tell them.
Is this an insult or the best compliment in the world? Happened to me the other day. I’ve seen this guy every 2 weeks or so since December. When he asked if I would be riding my bike outside this week, I told him I can’t do that anymore. His face turned white and he said “you aren’t?” Well, I have been for the past 22 weeks! Does this mean that he sat there for over 5 months thinking to himself, wow, she’s really packing on the pounds or am I hiding what has to be 8 pounds of placenta, 5 pounds of boob and 4 pounds of edema THAT well?
#9 – Once pregnant women who tell you that your _______(enter body part) will never be the same.
News flash: after gaining what feels like 100 pounds and watching the skin of your stomach migrate to the next zip code outside of your body, it will never go back to its original state. You mean – that 60 buck tub of cream from Pea in the Pod wasn’t blessed by magical anti-stretch-mark elves? Please let me believe that everything will just snap right back into place.
#10 – When someone informs you that “you are starting to show”.
I’m starting to show. Really. Funny because when I looked down today and couldn’t see my vagina I was thinking that I might be able to hide this FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS. Amen to showing – finally I can stop feeling like the chick who’s getting a little bit of chubchub around her waist and move on to the we-can-finally-ask-her-when-she’s-due-without-embarrassing-ourselves category.
#11 – Women who kindly inform you that being pregnant in the summer is hell.
Because I haven’t already lived through 25 summers in the ass crack of the Midwest summer, these women remind you that being 30+ pounds overweight, bloated and waddling through a 90 degree day with 90% humidity is not as fun as you thought it would be. Neither was the marathon at Kona but I still did that in a Boston qualifying time. Both times. Thankyouverymuch.
#12 – Incessantly being asked “how are you feeling?”
Imagine greeting someone every single time with how are you feeling. It’s not just that they ask you the question, they lower their voice and say it in such a way that you think that you might just look AND feel really bad. You think to yourself: am I dying? What you really want to say is: I feel f*cking amazing. How do you think I feel. I’ve already gained 16 percent of starting my body weight and I haven’t crapped in 3 days.
#13 – When someone asks, “are you sure you should be doing that?”
If I could walk around with freedom to say that to anyone in the world, imagine the responses I would get. To all smokers, fast food eaters, texting while driving drivers, people posting their workout stats as part of their Facebook status update: are you sure you should be doing that? One night, I took a sip of wine and someone said “are you sure you should be doing that?” Listen, if that’s all it takes to harm this kid then he’s in trouble. I've got a 10-lb killer chihuahua living at my house.
#14 – Stories about how labor is godawfulmostpainfulmessynightmare
Gosh, I was thinking that squeezing a watermelon through a hole that used to make me think – how will I ever get a tampon in there – will feel so good I’ll shove the kid back in so I can do it again.
#15 – “You look great.”
Really? Do I REALLY look great? Don’t lie to me. This is like when a spectator tells you that you look great at mile 18 of the Ironman marathon. No I don’t. I’ve been sunburned, pissed myself a dozen times and I am so desperate for salt I am licking my arm for the sweat. I look like hell rolled over me. Here's the deal: you don't look great, you just look pregnant.
#16 – Being reminded that I’ll never _____ again (sleep, go out to eat, have sex, take a vacation, live a normal life).
I would imagine that taking on the responsibility of another life involves sacrifice. This is why we waited 10 years to have a child. We’ll make the sacrifices. Life will change. Like most change in life, it will be hard. You telling me hard it will be doesn’t make me think it is any harder. I think back to the race course in Corner Brook. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about the EPIC climb on the course. Turns out that epic climb was something you could stomp up out of the saddle in your big ring. This will be hard but we’ll be the judge of how hard it is. If it’s really hard, I’ll bring my road bike. If it’s epic, I’ll put on my compact crank.
#17 – Stories about pregnancy from women who gave birth to twins (or more).
Nothing they she says is stupid, in fact it’s pure genius. Higher value wisdom than she-who-gained-50pluspounds. She says it’s hard, she knows hard. She says she breastfed – two at one time, she basically double-fisted it. She says she didn’t see her vagina after week 12, she’s a legend.
#18 – After being asked how you feel and told you look great it’s only a matter of time before someone asks “when are you due”.
I’m due when the baby comes out. He will come out when he’s ready to come out. It could be on a specific day but about 80 percent of the time it occurs after that specific day. So what this all means is that I have no idea when the baby will be born. You can now stop asking me. Every time you ask me it reminds me I still have ___ months to go before I can shed this fat suit. And when I tell you late July it inevitably leads to #11.
#19 – When your husband tells you that he'll still love you even if you don’t lose the weight.
I know he means well. But that doesn’t mean I want to hear it. Let’s pretend like I lose all the weight in 3 days and I go back to being me again. Tell me you will only love me then because I’m a pretty competitive person and I need a little fire under my ass. If you tell me you’ll love me no matter what that makes me feel like I have permission to walk around looking 6-months pregnant for the rest of my life. Tell me to nut up and get my ass back in shape or something. Call me Chubs. I’m going to need some motivation.
#20 – Strangers who ask “have you thought about names?”
Listen, I’ve had this child named since I was 12 years old. OF COURSE we’ve thought about names! But the real question is why should we tell? Chances are you’re going to tell me some story about a kid you knew in the first grade with the same name who stood in the corner eating paste while shitting his pants. Thanks for the visual. Now, what’s your kid named? Really? I knew a kid with that name who ate his own boogers every day at lunch.
Now, it's not all that way. Know that for all the crazy things people say, you get about ten times as many good things that make you feel warm beyond words. And, of course I write this with the sass and humor that you need to have when you realize that even your underwear doesn't fit you anymore or that you just got out of breath while bending down to tie your shoes. So, cheers to all the pregnant women out there. Carry on, no matter what they say and remember, the correct answer is always: I feel great. Repeat after me: I - feel - great.
Friday, March 19, 2010
We don’t usually swim together anymore. These days, he can lap me in a 200. During warm up. But today was a little different. We had to swim together out of necessity. In other words, no other lanes were available.
How many times has this happened to you. You walk into the gym to do a strength workout and notice – huh – no one is in the pool. But you walk into the gym to do a swim workout and notice – every lane is stacked with two swimmers who are splitting the lane. In the past, situations like this bought me more time in the hot tub pre-swim to talk to my husband about the things married couples talks about (baby baby baby baby). But since I cannot go in the hot tub, I found myself sitting on the edge of it growing impatient about waiting for a lane.
Finally, we say screw it and swim in the kiddie pool. 85 degrees of warm flavored water with floating noodles and kickboards scattered in every lane. But it would do. Because Chris was going easy, I could keep up today. Then we did a kick set. I put on fins, he told me to even lead the lane. I felt like the former version of myself. It was only when I took off my fins that I remembered I was utterly pregnant. There should be law that no pregnant woman is allowed to dolphin kick without fins. I was going nowhere. How can you be doing the motions to move forward and stay in what feels like the same place – for 75 yards? How? Because I no longer have a core. I just have a baby sticking out.
We finish the warm up and then I catch Chris looking at me. All googly-eyed under his goggles.
Your boobs are….
Huge, I know they are huge. I woke up today and they looked huger than yesterday.
True, they do. And I’ve been thinking a lot about boobs. Men, you may want to check out right about now. I was watching a movie the other day and it had a woman in it showing her boobs. I thought to myself – those are nice boobs. And that probably mine were the same size – but they do not look as nice. There is a fine line between nice boobs and pregnant boobs. Pregnant boobs are working boobs. Totally functional and NOT an accessory. Covered in blue veins and growing with a mind of their own.
Trust me: these are not the boobs you have been looking (hoping) for.
We get to the mainset and I hop into the next lane which has opened up. There is no need for me to be lapped today. That’s what masters is for. I get ready to send off when I say to Chris, ready and he says you go ahead on your own. Code for: it’s only a matter of time before I lap you so go ahead.
I go off on my own. At times I see Chris swimming next to me and think to myself – I will try to keep up, at least keep his feet in sight, at least stick with his bubbles. But there is no fooling myself. He’s moving at a pace that my mind moves at but my body is far behind these days.
We finish up the mainset when Chris says come here – he sticks out his hands.
Please do not touch me inappropriately, I request. It had to be said – because who knows what he was about to do. There was a swim lesson in the lane next to us and kids in the wading area. There are things they don’t need to see.
He touches my belly instead and says baby is swimming! He tells me I looked cute while breaststroking. Now, you’d think with the extra breast I’d be faster at breaststroking – not true. Slower.than.ever. I tell him thanks but I feel like I’m swimming through soup. As always he tells me not to worry about it. Just keep swimming.
After swimming I decide to lift weights. I realize how much longer everything takes me while pregnant. I swear it feels like I am moving in slow motion for everything. I have to sit down to tie my shoes! I finally am dressed and while brushing my hair in the mirror I see something:
I’ve got Cookie Monster Eyes.
Listen up: there are hazards to having bigger boobs. When they are small you don’t need to worry about this. But the bigger they grow, the more unruly they are. And if you don’t watch yourself you can have one pointing up, one pointing down, mispositioned in the jog bra along with what can only be described as a set of crazy going in two different direction Cookie Monster eyes.
Exhibit A: Refer to the eyes of the Cookie Monster.
Add to the list of things that take up extra time: I now need to adjust myself.
I am finally ready to go lift weights. There I am doing some cable crossovers when I realize that everyone who walks by is looking at me. A couple walks by, the guy turns around, a few steps later, turns around again, POINTS at me, his girl turns around and they keep walking.
I had a thought….am I fully dressed?
It wasn’t until I went into the weight room, surrounded by mirrored walls, that I realized why everyone was looking. It’s because I looked utterly pregnant and ridiculous. My big belly with protruding belly button was sticking out from under a white top. My shorts are almost to the point of not fitting. I looked totally out of place.
It could have been worse, though. I could have had Cookie Monster eyes.
The fit pregnant woman feels like an eye sore. Know what I mean? It’s not that your body makes you uncomfortable, it’s that everyone looking at your body makes you uncomfortable. Sometimes I forget I’m pregnant. It only takes the views of another person to remind me. Like the other day when I got out of the pool. I had just finished my swim in a mostly empty pool and it felt so good. Chris was in the lane next to me, finishing up a kick set when I got out. I stood on deck. He looked at me.
What? I swear he’s always looking at me or touching me. I realized this is a thing that husbands of pregnant woman do. You look at any picture of a pregnant woman with her husband and he’s touching her belly or kissing her. It’s a beautiful display of joy beyond words, each day is a celebration of we did this together.
I follow to where his eyes are sitting, to what seems like between my legs. My god he’s like the dirtiest man alive, isn’t he? WHAT is he looking at!? I try to look down there but realize….my stomach is in the way. I have crossed the line in pregnancy where my private parts are no longer in sight. I look down – nothing.
Is that chafing between your legs?
Why yes, yes it is. I chafed. I went running today and because my legs are now rubbing together, I lost some skin. Add to this another joy of pregnancy. Along with requiring GPS on my you know what to be sure it is still there.
The joys of pregnancy – they continue to multiply every day. You start by thinking the only thing that will change is your body – it gets bigger! But everything changes. EVERYTHING. My vision. My tastes. My skin. My hair. It’s like the only thing that has stayed the same is my mind. But experiencing life with all of these new things, from walking through a weight room to just putting on my shoes every day, well, the mind also goes through a change. You see things differently. You realize life has been pretty easy up until this point. I think nature makes your body so totally uncomfortable and awkward so you understand the full extent of the life change that is about to take place.
I would tell nature to take its best shot at me but I’ve learned you don’t mess with it. You let it run its course and anticipate much more chafing ahead. And backache. Another new bra size. The I know it’s only a matter of time before they get here cankles.
And, like it or not, many more incidents of Cookie Monster eyes (and by all means – please tell me if they are out of place!).
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Today was 60 degrees with sun shining, the perfect blue sky and wispy cirrus clouds. Dogs were barking, the lilies are sprouting of the ground and that damn cardinal woke me up this morning. He will continue to wake me up until the middle of summer when it is light out at 4:30 am.
Days like this make me want to grab my bike and just ride. Doesn’t matter where, how long or what pace – I just want to ride. My bike begs me - take me out. But alas, not this year. I’m a little torn about riding outside. On one hand, I can see myself on the mountain bike and cruising around at 10 mph on the path. On the other hand, it seems like a risk. I almost fell into the pool the other day. I’m not exactly well-balanced right now.
Reluctantly, I headed downstairs to the trainer.
I’ve always liked the trainer. But lately I’ve had this feeling that I am going to be on my trainer for possibly the next year. I won’t have time to run a business, raise a child and drive 80 minutes round trip out west to find the only good riding around here. Time management will get the best of me. I realized my wheels might not hit pavement for a very long time. Long winter? How about a long summer, then a long fall and then a long winter again.
For awhile I resorted to watching television while riding. But something tragic happened. Comcast caught on to us. And the other day our full cable was yanked. Gone. Poof – like it was never there in the first place. No, we weren’t paying for it and don’t plan to pay for it so now we join the legion of “I will not pay more than $20 a month for television” viewers who get all of 5 worthwhile channels. The rest are channels that are either trying to send me a message from Jesus or talk to me in Spanish.
No television? Trainer on a beautiful day? The world is ending. The only thing that will save me now is…music. I made a new mix today and after about 35 minutes and 2 potty breaks, found myself in a good rhythm.
I’m still riding my time trial bike. I like it. It likes me. It still has the Power Tap on it. I like watching the numbers. It’s my television right now. I even wrote a workout. I was going to take all the entertainment I could get today.
But as I got into it, I realized that the bike was getting uncomfortable. I am starting to lean over too much and it’s placing a lot of pressure on my stomach. Which then places pressure on my bladder. Which then means I really should just put a bucket next to me to skip all those trips upstairs.
I looked around. There had to be a way to bring up the bars a good….oh…..6 inches. That might be comfortable. I thought about taking some spacers off my other bike, flipping the stem upside down but realized that wouldn’t cut it. I would need about 20 spacers. I considered riding my mountain bike but didn’t want to insult it. Put a mountain bike on the trainer? It’s bad enough that I live in Illinois and own a mountain bike. There are no mountains here!
And then the solution hit me. Enter my new ride:
It’s a blanket. Folded up about 8 times. The same blanket I took on Ragbrai and since then has never been the same. Personal possessions don’t usually survive Ragbrai. I considered ditching the blanket in Iowa because once something has been Ragbrai’ed, unless it is your bike, you feel a sense of wanting to leave it behind along with 7 days of morning dew, pig manure and corn smell. But I salvaged it, and good thing: it is now my new set of aerobars.
Funny thing is that it worked. And I felt great. Actually, I felt like the freakin’ Mary Poppins of triathlon. Except I’m pregnant. And I’m pretty sure Mary Poppins never had sex.
I looked at this picture and realized how borderline wrong it was for a pregnant woman to be wearing bike shorts. Mine still fit but it’s really not pretty. There’s a lot of me that isn’t pretty right now. I walk down the stairs sometimes and think – oh my god that is my stomach sticking out. Or walk by a mirror and think what is following me – oh my god that is my ass. Or how about looking down while biking and realizing – oh my god I now have cleavage.
I also have a belly button sticking out. Can you see it? It’s not as domesticated as you think. It is unruly and sticks out under your shirt whether you like it or not. I’ve always had an outie belly button so mine didn’t have far to migrate when it popped out a few weeks ago. The worst part - it chafes. BAD. My belly button is chafed from a run last week and is now scabbed.
The pregnant body can be hazardous.
After riding, I headed outside in the field with Boss. I let him do crazy laps. It wasn’t riding but it was me, under the sun with my little dog enjoying the day. Until he looked at me, looked at the city tree worker across the field and then bolted. Turns out that today I also got in a transition run. Imagine the pregnant woman holding a leash and bag of poopy running across the field after her small Chihuahua who was now barking at the worker while following him around. I think an hour later I finally made it to the other end of the field, my legs were sore and I was huffing. At one point I abandoned the run for a fast walk. I don’t do brick workouts anymore so I was totally unprepared for this effort.
I’m really going to miss riding outside on days like this – but I suppose there is a solution. I could put the trainer on the deck and at least have the illusion that I’m riding outside. Miles are miles, right? But nothing beats wheels on pavement. I might have to ask Chris to put me in the Burley and attach me to his mountain bike just so I can hear that sound again.
We have no problem admitting that we have a bike problem. The first step is admitting. The next step is buying. The last step is selling so you can make room for more! (I'm selling the blue Cervelo, size 48)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Enter pregnancy. You hear a lot about running in pregnancy. Every runner is different. Some athletes avoid running while pregnant because of the risks. Others admit it just wasn’t comfortable. Some just want a break. And yet others will continue until the day the baby is born.
When I got pregnant, I got worried – would I still be able to run? I’ve never given up running. I’ve taken 3 week post-season breaks before but beyond that, I live, I breathe, I run. So, I set out with intentions to run while pregnant. Sure, I love to swim. I love to bike. But it’s not running. Nothing is like a good run. Even a bad run is still better than a good swim. Because you’re getting somewhere, you’re in the world, hearing and experiencing it. Give that up? Convince me why. I did enough research to dispel the myths – there is no increased risk of miscarriage nor harm to the baby. Once my mind was settled with that, I knew it would be a matter of my own physical comfort as to whether or not I kept running.
I've told myself I will run as long as it is comfortable. I’m glad I didn’t define comfortable before I started because my old definition of what is uncomfortable has totally changed. I recall days when being overdressed was uncomfortable. When wearing the wrong pair of socks was uncomfortable. When having a Fuel Belt around my stomach was uncomfortable.
It just occurred to me the other day that my Fuel Belt will no longer even fit me!
There’s a new level of discomfort here. And honestly, it’s a level of discomfort I will remember for the rest of my life. These days I am running with what feels like a bowl of spaghetti in my stomach, the lung capacity of a flea and the urge to urinate every 5 to 10 minutes. All of that has become my new level of comfort. Uncomfortable is my new comfort zone.
As the weeks go on, though, it gets more difficult. Breathing-wise, I am fine. It’s hard to huffy puff when you are running this slow. It’s the biomechanical stress that is getting to me. Every runner has that pace where they know they cross over into biomechanical inefficiency. I crossed that pace about 30 seconds per mile ago.
I was talking with another woman the other day about running while pregnant. She is a pure runner and during pregnancy even as she gained 25 pounds, she kept running. Talking with her I felt hope that I might be able to continue this. No sooner did I turn around and start talking to another woman, a triathlete, who stopped running halfway through her pregnancy. Baby was carrying too low and it didn’t feel right. She went on 6 months after birth to medal at a world championship. Talking with her I felt hope that even I have to stop, things will still be ok.
Conversations like that float in my head every time I go out for a run these days. Of maybe I can keep going or maybe I will need to stop. And, this week in particular I was thinking about running. You see, in celebration of my 21st week of pregnancy, I set out to run 21 miles. For a week it doesn’t sound like much. For me, right now that’s a lot of running!
On Monday, it was raining so I hopped on the ‘mill. One of the hardest things about being pregnant is the inconsistency – with your energy levels, your sleep patterns, the way your clothes fit day to day. When I start a run, I have no idea how it will end – or even when it will end. Some days I cover 10 minutes and feel so poorly that I stop right there. Other days I can go for an hour. There is no rhyme or reason to it. And because of that, I’ve enjoyed the treadmill. If the run doesn’t go well, I can hop off and return to life – no drive involved, no extra time invested. Today, the run went well. Really well. In fact, I was running at a pace that was only about 1 minute per mile slower than my usual slow pace. Right now, that’s a fast run for me! There was no reason for it. And I knew it would be fleeting. Every run is fleeting. I never know when it will be my last run.
Wednesday I set out to run again. And again it was raining. Again with the treadmill. 10 minutes into it, it felt like ass. Pregnant running ass is a whole new level of ass. My old level of ass was – maybe something is sore, maybe I can’t breathe well. Pregnancy ass is a whole body cannot take one step further ass. I got frustrated. All I want to do is go for a run. Why is this so hard? Waited a bit, the rain passed so I decided to try again, outside. And wouldn’t you know it felt amazing?
This is what I mean by the inconsistency of running while pregnant.
On Sunday, I went outside to run. The wind was whipping but at least it was dry. 5 minutes into it I had to pee. Another 5 minutes into it, I had to pee again. Not only that but my lower legs felt really bad. I tried stretching – and like I’ve felt all along during pregnancy, stretching does nothing for me. I switched to walking for about 10 minutes then decided why not try running again. It felt better. 5 minutes later I had to pee. Another 5 minutes goes by and I am peeing again. Finally at 40 minutes into the run I feel good. And finish up nearly an hour’s worth of running.
I met Chris back at the car and he asked me how my run went. It was a typical pregnancy run. It ended in a completely different place than it started. It went from hurting bad to feeling great. I took 5 potty breaks. I went from convincing myself that I will need to give up running - to realizing I had – after all – accomplished my goal of covering 21 miles this week.
I am now beyond the halfway point of pregnancy. Next week begins week 22. I think to myself sometimes that maybe it is finally time to give up running. I’m running 15 pounds heavier. If you are not convinced of the effect of running heavier, let me be your science experiment – I am feeling every extra pound. I worry about the impact or injury. I worry about my pelvic floor. I think some point it might be easier to wear a diaper out there.
I think about switching to the elliptical but then again – have you seen those people? They look miserable. Every so often I abandon a bad run on the indoor track and resort to the elliptical. There they are, machines lined up in a long row, two deep, with people that make exercise look like a chore rather than an escape. They are plugged in to iPods, watching tv, talking on cell phones, reading magazines, doing anything to distract themselves from what they are doing. The few times I have done this I think to myself it is no wonder people hate exercising.
I tell Chris I don’t want to give up running – in the gym on a beautiful day doing something like running but nothing like it at all. I know I only have less than 20 weeks left but these are some of the most beautiful weeks of the year. I can’t ride a bike outside. I can’t swim outside. The only way I can get outside is if I run (or walk – but...it's not the same). As with everything in life, Chris reassures me. Tells me to keep running as long as I can. To do what I can when I can. Not to think too far ahead – some days I’ll go 10 minutes, some days I’ll go 7 miles. Enjoy it either way.
And he’s right. Enjoy it.
As I set out to run today, I remember Chris standing at the car, suiting up with his Fuel Belt, Garmin and complaining about the wind only because he had a tempo run with specific paces to hit today. But as I ran from the car, at my can you run this slow and still call it running shuffle, I didn’t even feel the wind because it didn’t matter to me. There was nothing to accomplish, no pace to hit, no expectations, I could stop and walk/pee/stretch as much as I wanted to. Yes, I spent most of it totally uncomfortable but I was running - which brings great comfort to me. And today I was just out there to run. Which I’ve found over the years is the best reason to do anything. To enjoy it while you can - just because you can. And as long as I can, I will.
And when I can’t, I’ll going to need all of your phone numbers so I can give you a call while I’m ellipticizing.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Have you seen my belly?
HOW CAN YOU NOT?
This is me right before a bike ride (indoors!). There is a lot of me there. I have now gained nearly 15 pounds. Of what? I don’t know. Someone told me I was all amniotic fluid, muscle and hair. I’d say it's all baby but he’s not even one pound yet!
On Monday, I had my 20 week check up. Here’s a time-saving tip for future pregnant women. Always make the first appointment of the day for these check ups. Why? Because they last about 5 minutes. The later in the day, the more likely you will wait 25 minutes for a 5 minute check up.
It’s always the same. First pee in a cup. Except this time – I got in trouble.
You know, you only need to give us 2 teaspoons of urine.
Well, thank you for informing me of that during my FIFTH VISIT HERE. And, have you ever tried to stop a pregnant woman mid-stream? Not possible. Unless I want to pee all over my hand, I am not pulling that cup away.
Next, the doctor asks how I am doing. Fine, still pregnant. Then you hear the heart beat – still beating strong. And then, this was new this month, she measured me.
You are measuring perfectly.
I have no idea what is measuring perfectly. I assume my uterus which is now sitting at my belly button which now has popped out so obviously that I am thinking of taping it to my stomach. My stomach is also very itchy all the time because the skin is stretching. And it’s stretching because I am gaining a pound a week – which is totally normal but makes me feel like I dove nose first into a jar of nutella for the past 20 weeks.
I will only admit to one indiscretion with the Nutella. ONE.
The doctor then told me what was coming up next. On Wednesday, the 20-week ultrasound. In 4 weeks, another check up. In 8 weeks, the last ultrasound. And, 6 weeks after that, be prepared for weekly visits where they hook me up and do a stress test. She started telling me about it but I wasn’t listening. All I could think was that I was only two ultrasounds away from having a baby. 14 weeks away from weekly visits. And about 5 seconds from going into full blown am I really ready for this panic mode.
I wasn’t feeling all that pregnant until about 2 weeks ago. But now, there is no avoiding it. Especially when running. I’m reaching that point where running feels awkward. Some days are good but other days I just feel heavy, slow and plodding along. I continue to run indoors because 1 – there is still snow on the ground , 2 – until the trees have leaves I will have no outdoor bathroom. I now include runs to the bathroom as part of the workout. Listen, you go enough and it adds up.
In the past few weeks I also stopped monitoring my heart rate. I think it’s important in the first 16 weeks, beyond that I noticed my heart rate wasn’t going anywhere. Rarely will it get above 145 these days (which is usually my “zone 1” heart rate). While you have an increase in blood volume in pregnancy, most of that blood is going to your uterus and the kidneys. So it’s like running when overheated or dehydrated – you can’t go any faster because the blood isn’t going to your muscles, it’s being diverted elsewhere.
On Wednesday, I had my 20-week ultrasound. I encouraged Chris to come along to meet his son for the first time. He was a little apprenhensive.
So, is this a stomach thing or...
Or, do they go in through the pooper or something.
Let's hope not! I assured him it was a belly ultrasound.
The 20-week ultrasound is the appointment that takes a long time. The technician looks for and measures everything – kidneys, bladder, hands, feet, spine, mouth, head, ventricles in the heart. Baby Waterstraat was moving around as usual – and, at one point I caught him doing squats against the uterine wall. Hey, it’s never too early to build strong legs!
WARNING: If you are still under the assumption that you were delivered to your parent's doorstep by way of large bird, stop reading here. Graphic pictures below!
It is amazing to look back at the pictures from previous ultrasounds to see the baby's development since week 5. I saved them all. Now to see him at the halfway point - wow. This might be too graphic for blogging, but here is how life unfolds in the first 20 weeks...
Week 5: you can see the yolk sac (tiny ring) and the gestational sac (black area). Baby (actually, fetus) is too small to be seen this early in pregnancy).
Week 6: you can see the yolk sac and the fetal pole (cells that become the fetus). At this point, we also detected a heart beat.
Week 8: To me, this looks like baby is floating in a black sea. The fetus grows and you can still see the yolk sac. And, the uterus grows larger.
Week 11: baby is lying face up against the uterine wall.
Week 16: He did a lot of growing in 5 weeks! Check out the distinct profile. He is about 5 ounches here. You can see a hand above his chest and the mouth open.
Week 20: Baby has grown even more. Again, a hand above the chest. And that is a very Waterstraat forehead!
So this is where we are at now. Halfway there! Thankfully, everything is where it should be and the size it should be. The technician also assured us he is still a boy while pointing out his boy parts.
Do you measure that too?
I knew bringing the husband along would be like bringing a child into a china shop.
You wouldn’t want us to measure that.
Good one, technician, good one.
Since the last visit, baby has put on 7 ounces and now weighs in at 12 ounces. Though they don’t typically measure the baby, I asked and she measured. His torso came in at 6 inches but she couldn’t get the legs (they were curled up). I should also add that while he has what looks like 20 feet of uterus to play around in, Baby Waterstraat had curled himself up against the right side only.
His heart rate was around 145 pm. It’s interesting because there are times at night where I feel like my belly is pulsing fast. You know how sometimes you overwork a muscle or you are stressed and you feel your heart beating? It is like I can feel my belly beating sometimes. I read that if you actually lay down you can sometimes distinguish between your heart rate and the baby’s heart rate. These days, my resting heart rate is about 10 to 20 beats higher than normal but it’s still much lower than baby’s. So I’m hoping to lay down tonight and see if I can tell the difference.
The doctor came in to check everything over again. He also pulled up some 3-D images of the baby in the womb. In this, we could see the baby’s face and his arm resting against his head. Then, it was time to say goodbye to baby for another 8 weeks – until we meet again at the next ultrasound.
It’s strange to know that there is a little person in there that we cannot meet for another 4 months or so. But he’s busy – there is a lot of growing to do and a lot of weight to be gained! For me and for him! I have read that you will gain most of your weight in the second half of pregnancy. That sounds scary – seriously, can I get twice as big as still call it walking? Or will I be waddling!?
I realized how utterly pregnant I was getting when last night one of the athletes in my class said “wow, you are really starting to show.” But look at where I started – this baby had nowhere else to go but out! It’s like eating a bowl of pasta – when you are small to begin with, it can only go out so I used to spend many nights looking “pregnant” after dinner. Now it is like my stomach is full of pasta permanently! My mom also added that right now I look like she did at the end of her pregnancy with me. She followed that up with “did you ever think you would have a chest like that.”
Not without spending a lot of money.
What is interesting is that at times I feel like everyone else has something to say about my body’s changes. You realize that it is just their curiosity with how much the human body can change. And there are so many changes. I was demonstrating a basic abdominal crunch to my class last night and realized my body will no longer move that way. Changes. You just have to accept them. This is what my body is going to do and needs to do. There are many more changes ahead.
And pregnancy ticks on…
Monday, March 08, 2010
Having a goal each week helps me feel like each week is more than just waiting. To celebrate my 20th week of pregnancy, I set out to swim 20,000 yards. For me, this is a big thing. I have never swam beyond 15,000 yards in one week. What happens past that? Can you still see straight? Do you ever get the chlorine smell out of your skin? Do the goggle marks eventually fade? Do you reach the point where you forget to put your swimsuit on before walking out into the pool (I know you've had to look too juat to be sure...)?
By week’s end, I made it: 6 days, about 6 hours of swimming to cover over 11 miles, 20,000 yards, 400 laps, 800 turns, mixed up all 4 strokes, 2 different swim caps and 1 new swimsuit.
Monday: 3,000 yards
Monday morning I arrived at masters. Beth suggested I join her in the lane by the wall. I hesitated, but she assured me that I will keep up with her and the other woman in the lane. Next thing I know, she abandons me for another lane. And leaves me at the wall with a woman who is most definitely not at my speed anymore. I start scaling the pool to escape to a slower lane when the coach shouts where are you going, Elizabeth?
It’s hard to hide when a whale is emerging from the water to switch lanes. She’s too fast! I’m too slow! I want to switch lanes!
Stay right there, you'll be fine.
As I sit on the edge of the lane, defeated, the coach comes up to me and starts rubbing my belly.
You finally got pregnant this week!
She’s right, there is no hiding it now. Especially since I beached myself on the pool deck here, a failed attempt to escape this lane.
Get back in that lane. She reminds me that Monday is technique day at masters. Speed is irrelevant. We did a mix of paddles, drills and fins. I did not get lapped. Before the end of practice, the coach asked how many weeks pregnant I would be at the end of April. Why? Because she is ordering me a speedsuit for the state swim meet.
The whale gets a speedsuit. I would like you all to picture that for a moment. And now you have permission to piss yourself.
But I’m so slow now! Please, PLEASE do not make me swim in the state meet! I can think of drier ways to embarrass myself!
Every other pregnant woman on the team has swam at the state meet, she says. You will swim the 1000 free and you will be adorable.
I am now ready to piss myself.
Tuesday: 4,250 yards
Tuesday masters is distance free practice where I usually put myself into the lane with Tugboat Tom and let him pull me along. But not today. Only four of us show up. I realize that I have chosen my mega yardage week on the week that the entire team is going on a training trip to Florida. Perfect timing. I am now in my own lane.
The coach posts the workout – a series of 500s, 600s and 700s and give us the intervals. It’s an interval I used to easily hit. But not anymore. The interval I am supposed to send off on is one full minute faster than the time I come in on. I’m working on a negative rest interval today, seeing how much time I can add to the original intervals. If I stand around at the wall long enough, I might be able to push this to 2 minutes slower than I’m supposed to send off.
Chris comes home later that night and tells me he had a bad swim. I shook my head. No way. Bad swim has new meaning: 1000 free + state swim meet + pregnant + speed suit. Tell me how bad your swim was again...?
Thursday: 4,250 yards
I returned to the pool on Thursday for another round of masters. Thursday is sprint free day – which is now my favorite practice because it’s hard to lap me in a 25 or a 50.
Apparently I did not get the memo that no one would show up for masters today.
Frustrated in a way that only a pregnant woman on the edge of hormones and bloating can get, I angrily pull my swim cap on while muttering I DO NOT WANT TO SWIM ALONE under my breath when all of a sudden my cap breaks.
I cannot swim without a cap. All that hair. All that drag. Plus – who swims without a cap? I’ll tell you – those people that breaststroke with a foam noodle for an hour. I start looking around the pool deck and would you believe I find goggles and even a Vanilla Bean GU but NO swim cap? Just when I decide I will go capless, I see Amy. And beg her for her swim cap.
Almost on cue, she hands her cap over to me. A bright pink cap that reads:
I *heart* swimming
Oh, the irony.
Finally, I relax. Cap on, goggles secure, it is time to swim. Rather than write a workout, I just swim. After 500, I take 10 seconds rest, then repeat 8 more times. With each one I unwind. Nothing calms me like swimming. It is truly the only place where I can find quiet in the world – under the water. No external distractions, nothing but the sound of moving through water. It is rhythmic and calming. And before I know it, another Ironman distance swim has gone by.
Friday: 2,500 yards
Today I chose to swim in the kiddie lap pool. It’s just as nice as the adult lap pool but kept about 5 degrees warmer. If you can get past that and all of the band-aids, you’ll have a good swim. I decide to do mostly pulling and kicking today.
What surprises me is that the every other lane is filled with a woman swimming. There was the woman backstroking – the entire time, another woman swimming with paddles and form so bad my shoulders cried for her, and another woman side stroking. What is it about the water? What brings them here to do something that looks so monotonous yet they seem totally quiet and involved.
It’s the same thing that brings me here – quiet, freedom to move through the water without feeling the weight of whatever - life, age, pregnancy. Maybe they look at me and wonder how I can swim back and forth so many times while staring at a black lane line. Sometimes I wonder the same thing. But in looking at that black line, my head clears. It is addictive. To me, to them. This week swimming is my obsession. I have no off switch.
Saturday: 4,300 yards
Morning masters. Lucky for me, I have a lane mate today – Sue, a sassy like firecracker with undertones of bitterness and sarcasm. When you are on your fifth day of swimming for the week, she is the perfect lane mate.
The coach asks us if we want to do a set of freestyle today or IM.
Who said that? Who shouted that….? OH MY GOD IT WAS ME! The thought of doing more freestyle made me want to barf. IM sounded perfect to pass the time today. But somewhere in the first set I realize we are now stuck in a 2800 mainset consisting of IM. 4x in IM order done as (6 x 25 done as 2 drill, 2 kick, 2 swim followed by 2 x 75 IM drop the free followed by 2 x 100 IM).
I suggested fins for the 100 IM which Sue suggests is a most fabulous idea. I just know better than to attempt IM without fins these days. It makes me feel like I’m going to have one of those underwater births right in the pool. Given the number of band-aids and hair in the pool, I'd like to avoid birthing in it if possible.
Sunday: 1,700 yards
Finally, Sunday. Only 1700 more yards to go. I can’t wait. At this point I have become freakishly giddy about swimming.
Of all the swims, this one goes by the quickest. In no time I have completed my final swim with a little bit of all my favorite swimmy things: 300 free, 300 pull, 300 paddles, 300 kick, 300 reverse IM, 200 swim. I finish with a sense of completion – I set a goal and accomplished it. My first 20,000 yard week. I remember the first time I rode 100 miles, the first time I covered 20 miles on foot, and now I will remember my first 20,000 yard swim week. Who says you can’t accomplish anything athletically when pregnant?
When I started the week, it sounded like a lot of swimming. But now it seems manageable. What was once big, has become small. This is how you improve yourself – you take on what seems big, you conquer it, and then you set your sights bigger. Dreams lead to goals, goals lead to action, action leads to achievement. And achievement turns into more dreams and goals.
So, I sit here now thinking – what’s next? And I can’t help but thinking that maybe around week 25 I’ll be considering 25,000 yards of swimming. Why do I do things like this? For the same reason I’ve always done it – because I can. There is no better reason.
And as for what I am going to do next week, I have one goal: I’m not going anywhere near a pool for at least a few days!
Friday, March 05, 2010
I realize the baby is still many months away. But hear me out: I have been warned. By many. That a crib can take over 3 months to arrive. I’m not taking my chances. My first born child will not be sleeping in an empty drawer or a laundry basket. That crib will get here and it will be decorated with baby-safe fluffy shit that you don’t need but I WANT because this is my first child dammit.
When it comes to cribs I have two rules: 1 – it must be environmentally safe (what if they chew on it?), and 2 – it must turn into a full size bed (saves me time & money in the future). I researched some of the better brands, asked around and then headed over to a local family-run store. My sister-in-law had a nightmare experience with BuyBuyBaby and I find that store generally too over stimulating. Even my mom had a moment of “dear god there are diapers stacked to the ceiling” when she walked in there.
So we settled for a local store. And to our surprise STILL found an entire floor of cribs. Imagine every color, style and shape. Every wood grain, brand and price range. Where do you even begin? I started with things that looked like BOY – dark wood and simple. I am already finding a boy 100 times easier than a girl and he is still in my uterus (which is currently located right near my belly button in case you are tracking it). Boys are straightforward. Boys have fewer choices. You walk into something while pregnant and think – ah, he’s just a boy, he can handle it. You think about room color and you realize you have two choices – blue or green. Nothing is complicated with boy (until he discovers his penis at which that point I tell him to talk to his father).
But buying a crib? Not so simple. How did it get to be this way? I think back to my crib which I swear I slept in until I was at least 4 years old. I remember it being in my room. Of course I shared my room – which was about as big as your typical prison cell – with my younger brother. He was 3. One of us was still in that crib at what now seems like a sort of old age? Mom – explain? The point is, though, that there was nothing special about the crib in our room. It was your standard run of the mill drop-down bar escape hatch crib.
That basic crib is gone. And, like most things are life, there are too many choices. I just need a crib. I don’t want it to be froofroo, urban, modern, organic – I just want a crib. A quick stroll around the store and I had it down to 3 different cribs. One made by a local company, one high end this crib will be nicer than our own bedroom furniture, and one this is a nice sturdy crib. One trip to the store later, I made up my mind. A chocolate-colored crib, along with two dressers, a night stand and a rocking chair.
Let’s talk about rocking chairs. There is an entire line of baby mama rocking chairs with – get this – nursing ottomans. What is a nursing ottoman you ask? It has a little foot rest so you can put your foot at an angle against the ottoman to stabilize yourself while nursing. Did I need that feature? Absolutely not. Did I get it – you bet. Why? Same reason you buy all that shit that says IRONMAN BLAH BLAH BLAH at your first Ironman. It’s like going to Disney – you bring half the clothes and twice the money. Except in my case you fit into half your clothes and still need twice the money.
You’d think after spending $239023849209348 on all of that, we’d have everything we need. Not yet. Let’s discuss the selection of the baby mattress which ended in my husband laying in an adult-sized replica of the mattress. And then just laying there. Like ready to take a nap. Matress selection is about as complicated as choosing a rocking chair except you are not imagining what your ass will feel like in the chair, you are trying to imagine what your child will feel like laying on the mattress. Huh? I know. But we quickly learned the most important selection feature for the mattress is the seams – piped or square seams are like urine reservoirs. Rounded edges let the urine roll right off.
Now that’s advice from the clerk that counts. And why we have a mattress with rounded edges.
Just when you think you have it all taken care of – the crib, the furniture, the rocking chair, you realize that the crib will need bedding. This should be easy: boy = blue bedding, all you really need is three choices – trucks, trains or animals. A quick look at BuyBuyBaby online proves otherwise. 29 – yes, I said 29 PAGES of bedding choices. Who has time for this? In my mind, I know what I want. On the pages, I did not see one that was even close. I want some monkeys, maybe some monkeys on trains or maybe some monkeys on trains with a few dogs running around or something …oh my god. I think I just described a drug-induced vision. How am I going to choose bedding with visions like this?
So I asked my mom. And then she throws this monkey (on a train) wrench at me:
Are you going to get a matching mobile or lamp?
I pause. I did not even consider that. I start to think about mobiles – and think I read somewhere that they are not only overstimulating to the baby but this just in: they also freak mommy out. It has to do with an experience about 5 years ago where I went to a work conference in Mobile, Alabama after which I swore I would never set foot in Alabama again. And struck the word Mobile out of my vocabulary (how can a city not have coffee? For 5 days I was there without coffee…how…?)
As for lamps, I – I – just don’t know. I’ve reach my decision-making capacity for – oh – the next 18 years so maybe my child’s child will get a lamp.
I decide that I like something from Pottery Barn Kids which scares me a little because a few years ago I had a traumatic experience in Pottery Barn Kids while shopping for bedding for my friends newborn daughter. You can read about it by clicking HERE. But I’ve heard that they have good bedding and sure enough they did but more importantly they only had about 16 choices. Which sure beats 29 x 12 choices at BuyBuyBaby. I liked the Ryder set but can’t remember now if it had animals, trains or trucks.
I’ll be honest – I’m not really that into trains or trucks but it sure beats balls. What is it with boy stuff and balls. Know what I mean? Everything for little boys has balls on it or says MVP or …. If I know one thing about this kid, while he will indeed have balls – Chris once told me that if I was a man I would have really big balls which I totally took as a compliment - but he will not be playing with balls. Not in a dirty stop touching your balls kind of way (ew) but in a track hands sort of way. If you were on the track team in high school, you know what I mean: you (we) have track hands.
Let me explain.
I was taking a strength class a few months ago when the instructor pulled out a few 8 pound pilates balls. She then explained that we would throw the ball across the room to our partner. And then catch it again. While standing on one leg on top of a Bosu. I got scared. I’m not even sure I could do that with both feet on the ground. I’ve got to get out of this, I thought. I wanted to raise my hand and say, but, but, I have track hands. True medical condition. It means that the likelihood of me catching an 8-pound ball in my stomach is very high. Track hands mean that while my feet know how to coordinate well enough for right – left , there ends my coordination. I don’t catch balls, throw balls, hit balls or have balls. My husband does not catch balls, throw balls or hit balls. We do not do balls. And that is why we were on the track team. No, the shot putters didn’t do balls either – they just threw really heavy things. There was no catching involved. Track hands. We all had them.
Chances are my son will have track hands. I’m preparing for this by buying him nothing with balls. There is no sense in building him up just for him to find out the first time he gets hit square in the face by a ball that he has a genetic predisposition to not being able to catch, hit, kick or throw the ball. It’s ok. There are plenty of other things he can do – like admire monkeys, drive a truck or sit on a train.
Choices. Not only do you need to name the child (we have a name but we’re not telling because someone out there will tell me why they don’t like the name because they once knew a ____ and he was a real jerk and … what does that have to do with me and my kid, why did you just tell me that?) but you need to select a crib – chair – bedding – wall décor – and – and – - - -
I’m starting to think a white room with a cardboard box might be the best choice here. Bedding will be an old towel and a rolled up race t-shirt for a pillow. Solved. It’s simple, it’s gender neutral and it’s a ball free environment. Which is quite environmentally safe for those with track hands.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Athletes fall into categories. Spend enough time working behind the scenes with athletes, peeking into their psychology, reading between the lines of their post-workout feedback, watching them train and you realize that the successful breed is not successful on accident. They possess certain qualities. Whether they are running 9 minute miles or 6 minute miles, there is no doubt what makes them successful. It is not speed. It is not the fastest equipment. It is not sponsorships. It’s a mindset and a way of practicing.
Successful athletes are dedicated. Yet few understand what dedication is. By definition, dedication is complete and whole hearted fidelity, commitment. Successful athletes are committed to themselves and a logical training plan. What does it mean to be dedicated to yourself? With the athlete, it means eating right, sleeping enough, surrounding yourself by a supportive system. Many dismiss the importance of treating themselves right and recovery. You can have the best coach and do the best, biggest training in the world. But if you don’t recover from it, it counts for nothing and gets you nowhere. The best athletes are dedicated more to spaces between their training than the training itself.
The other part of dedication is commitment to a logical training plan. Logical being the key word. Many athletes blur the line between dedication and obsession. Obsession is what makes you ride 6 hours in the winter when you are training for a summer Ironman. It’s not only unnecessary but illogically doing the wrong work at the wrong time. Obsession is what makes you push through illness, injury or heavy fatigue. Obsession makes you think you always could be or need to be doing more. These are the athletes who just don’t get it. It’s not even about more is less, it’s about not having that off switch that tells them when enough is enough. Their obsessive need destroys them. From what I’ve seen, obsession about training and racing fills a psychological void for them or hides an eating disorder. If you have a void or a disorder, you cannot train it away or hide it. Get some treatment instead. You’ll end up a better person and athlete.
Successful athletes have tunnel vision for themselves and their goals. They see other athletes out there but they are not their concern. True, they know their competition and arrive on race day ready to respond to them. But there is a fine line then between knowing your competition and caring about your competition. How many times have I heard that someone feels inadequate because so and so is running 17 miles right now while they are only running 10. Or that the other so and so is riding 4 hours on their trainer. Wasted energy is all that this is – psychologically and emotionally. What so and so is doing has no relevance to you. The most successful athletes focus more on what they are doing and how they can do it better than anyone else.
Unsuccessful athletes cling to the ephemeral idea that there is always something better out there. The grass is always greener, in a sense. They are never satisfied. No good workout is ever good enough. No coach is ever giving them the right workouts. No split is ever fast enough. They are always chasing. And in chasing, they waste a lot of physical and emotional energy. They have no ability to be here now. I believe this comes from the fact that we have too much information and too many choices available in our modern world. We never have to accept where we are. We can always search for something better. Successful athletes are not always searching for clues or the next best thing. They appreciate where they are and see the room they have to grow. They realize progress takes time. They know that the better they get, the harder they are going to have to work for smaller increments. Above all they accept where they are and have patience. Few have this. Which is why few are successful.
Here it is – the secret ingredient for all athletes who have successful races - pacing. So few athletes know how to pace themselves. And how ironic that this is often true in their real life and sport life. How many of us take on too much, spread ourselves too thin and wonder why we are always run down or dissatisfied. Pacing is knowing how much to give and when to give it. The best athletes trust that if they start slowly enough and build into it – they will finish stronger. The unsuccessful fear failure so much that they feel they need to give it their all in the first mile, first half, whatever – and then fade. They don’t trust that their best performance will be there. They are disconnected from themselves. They have no intuitive sense of how to give out energy, they just know all or nothing. I’ve said it before – many of the athletes in our sport are all or nothing. They are either balls out or walking. They don’t know the in between. Pacing always works but the unsuccessful either don’t trust it or never have the patience to try it.
The successful athlete knows, then, that training at a varied pace is what works best. If the plan says goes easy, they go easy. If it says to ride for 2 hours, at 2 hours they are dismounting their bike in the driveway. They go easy enough on the easy days so they can truly go hard on the hard days. This begs the point that very few athletes trust a plan enough to go easy or know what it means to truly go hard. Hard is not defined by a number, a heart rate or a watt. It is hard. If you don’t know hard, then you have never been there. Why not? Fear of pain, fear of evaluation, fear of failure or simply not knowing themselves. Another reason is that most athletes train so much junk at a junky pace that they carry cumulative aerobic fatigue into every workout. This fatigue prevents them from truly going hard – and, consequently, from breaking through or making progress. And that is why being dedicated to a logical training plan works. And why most other plans do not. If you are always killing it in a group workout, you are not training at a varied pace. If you are always riding 5+ hours and running 10+ miles, you are not training at a varied pace. Many athletes either go too hard all the time or too easy all the time. They have no sense of in between. Yet if your race is over 90 minutes, you will need to have that in between pace or else you will defer to going too hard and blowing up or going too easy and not breaking through.
Successful athletes have discipline. Discipline is not just getting up every day and doing your workout. True discipline is knowing when to hold back, knowing how to pace yourself, it’s all of the above. Know why a few have this? It requires patience and humility. As such, it requires a lot of training alone and having tunnel vision for your goals. If you are always training with others, and you are in a competitive sport, it is very difficult to hold back. Try it. Go to the next group ride and sit in. Unless you have rock solid confidence, you’re worried that people think you are slow, your competitive ego tells you I could take that guy any day so why am I sitting on his wheel. The unsuccessful athlete struggles with this. They lack the confidence, experience or maturity to know their biggest competition isn’t sitting in that group ride. He’s sitting on his trainer focusing on his workout and visualizing himself crushing the competition. He isn’t wasting his time or energy doing that before race day. The disciplined athlete can go out and follow their own goals in a group workout or any workout. They know that timing is everything – doing the right work at the right time. This is discipline.
Successful athletes know that training isn’t complicated. There isn’t a secret formula or a magic plan. Progress comes from consistency, trust and recovery. Yes, there are shitty training plans and coaches out there. But for the most part, we all know what we are doing. It is an art based on science. Like another coach told me yesterday, it’s not rocket science. It’s common sense based on sound principles that have stood the test of time; pacing, periodization, recovery. Yet very few trust enough to believe that. It can’t be that easy, they say. There has to be a secret workout that you do to get fast or a certain mile pace you need to run. The only secret is – there is no secret. That simple statement will truly baffle some that read this. They prefer to overcomplicate and keep searching. And that is why they are not successful.
Success is a destination. It is not hard to find. Chances are you have the end point on your map already. Why, then, do so many chase after success but so few get there. Because most end up injured, lost or burnt out before they even have a chance to arrive. They end up driving in circles, listening to too many directions or try to take too many shortcuts. They spend their time on detours rather than just following the logical path. While all the rest are out there waffling, obsessing and searching, go your own way, trust your own voice and follow your plan.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Saying “I popped” in pregnancy is nothing like saying “I cracked” in a workout. When you crack in a workout, you reach that breaking point where another 25 yards will completely push you over the edge and someone will need to get the shepherd’s hook out for rescue. When you pop in pregnancy, it is the point at which your uterus begins its outward migration to announce to the world that you are undeniably, 100 percent going to give birth at some time in the near feature.
I like cracking. It is the pleasure of pain. But popping? Not so good. It is the agony of pregnancy. Of course, it is totally normal but it is the beginning of the end. It is the reminder that your journey into extreme discomfort is about to begin. The memo that says “your days of wearing button pants are very limited."
Extra emphasis on very.
Somewhere before entering week 20 I started feeling it – pregnant. Uncomfortable, awkward and questioning my ability to make it through the next 5 months. I keep thinking to myself I will only get bigger, I will only feel more uncomfortable, if this is how I feel now how will I feel in another 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 4 months?
Most days I quietly accept the bloated, stuffed feeling in my body because it has a purpose and because it is only temporary but still there days when I just want to scream it all out. I feel heavy. I feel awkward. I don’t feel like me. I looked at a picture of myself from the summer – and I thought to myself – oh my god that is how I used to look. And it’s not that I want to look that way again – I just want to feel that way – “normal”.
This morning I woke up and I wanted to run. I had a small window of time before an appointment and knew if I didn’t get my run in early I would be faced with running in the late afternoon. Late afternoon runs are sluggish and unfulfilling. It’s almost better to not even try to run at all. So, I had to try to run. It was early morning or never.
I started out by walking...for 10 minutes and then decided to reassess the situation. Then I started to run. The first few minutes felt off. I was slow – which right now is slower than slow – and by 10 minutes into it I had to pee. Seriously? Ten minutes later, I had to pee - AGAIN. HOW is that even possible?
I was listening to something on the radio this weekend about a man who took up running. He said the hardest part is just getting started – taking those first few steps, making the commitment. Once you are started, you almost can’t help but keep the momentum going. The next thing you know, you’re doing an entire marathon.
I thought to myself how relevant that was to pregnancy. Getting started is the hardest part. To get out there and know that no matter what you will do – it won’t feel “great” like it used to, you’ll be slow, you’ll have to stop every 10 minutes for the bathroom. It’s hard to make the commitment. But once in motion, it is much easier to keep the momentum going. So I found myself at 20 minutes, at 25, then kept bargaining with myself to do 5 minutes more. Before I knew it, I was at 35 minutes telling myself I could go one more mile. Then another. Then….
I finished the run at 6 miles. It felt like a "long" run. And as I was walking for a cool down, I laughed to myself: since when did 6 miles become my marathon? I used to rip this off at an easy pace over 10 minutes faster. But pregnancy changes things. So many things. Forget what it does to your life afterwards – how about what it does to your body and mind in the 40 weeks leading up to that point? You live as a different person. You try on a different body. It's as if your mind stays the same but your body doesn’t match it or keep up any more.
Now that I'm approaching the halfway point, I find myself both excited about the next 5 months but fearful. There is so much I still need to know. 5 months sounds like a long time but then again, the first 5 months went very quickly. Will I be ready? Can you ever be ready for something like this? Does it make sense to even try to get ready? There are questions I have. There are things I want to know. Will that picture from the summer ever be me again? Will I ever run with ease again?
The other night, I went out to eat with two friends. Both had children. After dinner, I had questions. Questions about the things you don’t read in a book. The things I know that women wonder but perhaps are too scared to talk about. There is so much information about pregnancy and getting through labor but what about after that? What happens?
After the birth, does it hurt to pee?
Depends on how badly you tear.
How bad can you tear?
You can tear peeper to pooper. But they give you stitches.
Does it hurt to poop?
They send you home with a spray bottle and some Dulcolax.
(I’m trying to imagine what you do with a spray bottle and a bottle of Dulcolax when….)
So you don’t have to wipe yourself.
Like a spray bottle bidet?
Something like that.
What about...you know...?
Don’t even try it at 6 weeks.
My friend quietly shook her head no.
How is nursing?
Being engorged really hurts, especially in the middle of the night.
Sigh. I think about all of it. Will I have the energy for all of it - taking care of all of this for me and another person?
A few nights later, we were visiting friends up north. Their two young children running around with that frenetic show-off energy that children get when new guests are at the house. When finally the kids were in the bed and the house was quiet, we sat down for dinner. They explained that the time goes fast. When you have kids it seems like just yesterday they were born and now they are 3 or 5 or 20…the time passes quicker than you can imagine and the end result is better than you can ever have thought. No, your life doesn’t go back to being the same but it gets better. In a different way. They told me that routine would be my friend. Early bedtimes are a must. To never say no to help. And to ignore 99 percent of what other people say.
There’s a lot of information, emotions, questions and thoughts when you are pregnant. 5 months from now seems almost impossible. Taking care of myself with a spray bottle and stitches while also trying to meet the needs of this little person - how? Lack of sleep. Finding time to take a shower. But like anything big that you take on, the hardest part is taking the first step, to just get started. I am convinced that once I get going, it’s just a matter of keeping the momentum going. The object in motion stays in motion. That object will have to be me.
I was working at the computer the other day when I paused to stretch my upper back. Pregnancy discomfort #9498284: sore back. As I reached my right arm across my body, I felt something.
Could it be…?
I asked my friend what it felt like when the baby kicked. I’ve felt some strange flutters and pains but mostly it is round ligament pain from a stretching uterus or pregnancy gas. These are the joys of pregnancy. She explained that the first kicks feel like a “plip” and then a bunch of flutters, like bubbles popping.
You’ll know it when you feel it.
While stretching, I felt exactly what she said: a little “plip” against my lower right abdomen and several flutters like bubbles floating to pop. There's a little person in there, I thought to myself. He's about the size of a small melon right now and he's antsy. Me too, kid. Me too.
I ran downstairs to the basement to find Chris.
____ just kicked me.
Chris ran up to my stomach and put his hand there. Of course, from the outside you cannot feel anything but he said to me that in no time ____ would be kicking my entire stomach in different directions. We both smiled.
In no time. He is right. In no time this will be over. I will be back to normal and feel like “me” again. In no time, life will change but it will be a good change. Change is good, change is inevitable. You just have to get started. Once started, you can’t help but stay in motion. As someone once told me in cycling, momentum is a good thing.