Sunday, June 29, 2014

Now Approaching: Week 33


Week 33.

I can’t believe I just said that.

The weeks are flying by now.  And every week that passes, Chris tells me that I look more and more pregnant.  I cracked 140 lbs at the doctor’s office, an impressive milestone for myself.  I finished with Max at 145 and it looks like I will fly by that with no problem.  There’s a good chance I’ll crack 150.  If I end up over 160, I will officially be the heaviest mammal in our house.  As crazy as that sounds, I might be up for the challenge.  I feel like I really, really need to win something.

As I enter the final 2 months of pregnancy, I realize that I am so close but still so far away.  I am not nearly grumpy, swollen or tired enough to declare myself anywhere near giving birth.  Shocking, to those close to me, but trust me, folks, we’ve got a loooooong way to go.  Until then, we’ve still got a lot to do. Diapers, pacifiers and someone’s gonna need to pull my breast pump out of storage.  Don’t all jump on that opportunity.  What I have done, though, is finally settled on some baby bedding (purple!) and bought some of the most adorable outfits (with bicycles on them!).  The furniture should arrive in the next 2 weeks and then I will feel like it’s all coming together.

Lately, I’ve had that third trimester crazy rush of nesting energy that reminds me the end actually is near.  Soon enough I will be cleaning out grout with a toothbrush because how can we let a new baby into this house with such squalor!  Though all it takes is about 30 minutes outside when temperatures are over 75 to completely slow this baby train down.  I forgot how truly hot it feels when you are pregnant in summer.  It is beyond hot.  It is like suffocating in your own body heat.  I don’t sweat, I just stifle. 

I continue to work out every day and most of the time it feels good.  I’m starting to slow down on the swim.  I moved myself down a lane (sniff, sniff).  This means a lot of time standing on the wall negotiating about changing the set or who gets to be last.  I get to be last, ok?  I GET TO BE LAST DAMMIT.  The water always feels too hot and I’m nearly at the point where I need to wear something under my suit because my belly is pushing the entire suit down. 

I’m still riding my cross bike on the path and the other day had the pleasure of being buzzed by a woman not only in aero bars on the path but wearing compression sleeves on her calves, an iPod and no helmet.  There’s a first for everything. 

Running.  Last week I had a glorious run where I went really fast – for me, right now.  This week, with the heat, every run has felt like mile 18+ of the Ironman.  I’m just thrilled to be running still.  I did start to read about returning to running after birth.  Since I will be attempting a normal birth, I do not have a road map for how my body will respond after that experience.  It took only a few sentences about damage to the pelvic floor to realize I might spend the rest of my life in diapers. 

Speaking of diapers, he might be turning 4 in a few weeks but Max is finally potty trained.  This was definitely a “hot button” of parenting for a long time.  Everyone will give you advice, opinions and tips on how to raise your kid.  Often it will include things that make you feel like a terrible parent.  Even Max’s preschool had me convinced that I had the only 3 year old left who was in diapers and would need to spend the entire summer with him naked to learn to use the potty. 

Speaking of opinions and advice: Remember the doctor who had me get my child evaluated by the state because at age 2 he wasn’t talking in full sentences and then the state declared in 29% language delayed, a mere 1% away from needing a therapeutic intervention?  I’d like to lock that doctor and those evaluators in a room with my kid for just one hour these days.  He doesn’t stop talking – EVER.  

Never ignore your parental intuition.  Inside I knew that Max would go potty on his terms when he was ready.  You see, he’s my kid.  I know how he thinks because though he is a little Chris by body, his mind and personality is all me.  I said one day we’ll hear the flush of the toilet and we’ll see Max walk out of the bathroom with the NY Times in his hand.  The more everyone pressed him about using the potty, the more he resisted.  I just dropped the subject after a while and figured he’d go on his time when he was ready. 

Wouldn’t you know that’s how it happened.  After a 6 month unsuccessful campaign to get him or even his teddy bear to wear Thomas the Train undies, we realized we had it all wrong.  He wanted Power Ranger underwear.  And when they arrived, he put them on and never looked back.  A week later, no accidents, no issues, no fights, he was not just using the potty but boasting that he could use the urinal.  Finally no more diapers!  Unfortunately the time I gained from not having to change diapers is now more time I spend in the bathroom – there was an hour the other day where I was in the bathroom 5 times; twice for myself and three times for Max.  Any stay at home mom probably understands my plea when I say all I want to do is get out of this house but right now I would just settle for an hour without being in one of our bathrooms.

In other household news, my husband had what I would call the worst week ever.  In the short span of a week he pulled two surprises on me.  A surprise at this point would be the baby arriving early or a new bike delivered to my door step as an early “push” present.  By the way, someone told him he does have to get me a push present, right?  Thanks.  Anyways, he came home one day and said: 

Surprise, I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin.

As in, the Ironman in Wisconsin THIS year, approximately 10 weeks away.

Yes, it seems that he forgot to tell me. 

WORST SURPRISE EVER. 

Initially I wasn’t angry but underneath was bubbling a hormonally charged rage of volcanic proportions.  Delayed onset anger, if you will.  I’m fairly sure that progesterone was literally steaming out of my ears.  It’s not that I don’t want him to do Ironman.  It’s just that I’ve gotten a taste of the “triathlon widow syndrome” and it’s worn on me.  While he’s out spending 4+ hours on his bike, canoodling along Ashley Road looking at the waving green corn against perfectly blue skies, I’m inside – working, waiting out Max’s nap.  All of a sudden, the pent up anger, boredom, frustration of being trapped in a house all winter, trapped in this body, trapped in the day in day out pattern of breakfast/bath/nap (for child, NOT me) caught up to me and I’m lucky the baby did not shoot right out of my mouth. 

After a few days, we came to an agreement, of sorts, that he could do Ironman in exchange for me doing whatever the damn well I wanted next year.  True, it’s in the contract: whatever Liz damn well wants.  Which will be determined once I get this baby out of me. 

But wait – my husband topped that surprise.  He had another one up his sleeve.

One night, I came home from coaching masters.  What this means: I left Chris and Max, alone in the house, for 90 minutes.  What could possibly go wrong in 90 minutes? 

I opened the door and noticed that the handle was covered in white paint.

Suspicious but not alarming.

Walked into the house and heard Chris, from upstairs, shouting: DO NOT COME UP HERE.

Alarming.

No sooner did Max appear in front of me, in his Power Ranger underwear, covered in – you guessed it – white paint.

MOMMY, DO NOT GO UPSTAIRS.

(the nonverbal, needs a speech intervention child, everyone)

VERY ALARMING.

For about 10 minutes, I held out, knowing I needed to emotionally prepare myself for what I would find upstairs.  Finally the suspense got to me – I had to find out.  I went upstairs. 

Let’s just say should you spill an entire gallon of white paint on to wood floor, furniture and bedding you should probably just lay down and play dead when your wife gets home.  Especially if she is very pregnant.  Extra especially if you told her, just a few days earlier, that you were doing – SURPRISE! – an Ironman.

The next 3 hours, we spent scrubbing, scraping and cleaning paint off of everything.  The bathroom had been used as a triage unit and so it was filled with paint.  As was the hallway leading to the bathroom.  And half of the guest bedroom. 

At one point, sweaty, my belly covered in white paint, scraping flecks of paint off of our formerly perfect wood floors, Chris across from me doing the same, we both looked up and our eyes met. 

If I see you with a paintbrush in your hand ever again, I will shove that paintbrush so far up your ass it will come out of your mouth. 

This came from what I will call the bowels of 31 weeks of pregnancy.  Sometimes, it just ain’t pretty.  And though he could have followed that up with anything, he said: 

I love you.

Finally, the right answer.

I’d tell you how a week later he missed his flight to a race in Minneapolis and instead drove the 450 miles to get up there.  Or, how in another race he missed his swim wave.  But all you need to do is pity my dear husband who is clearly suffering from the worst case of sympathy pregnancy brain fog ever.  

I forgot to tell you I’m doing an Ironman.

About that push present…

Only 8 more weeks.  I think he'll make it. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Know Your Audience



One of the best things about my job during this part of the year is the opportunity to work with many different types of people; kids, beginners, age groupers, elites, swimmers, men, women. 

I’ve been gathering observations and thoughts about these groups.  Because as any coach knows, working with kids is not the same as working with adults.  Coaching beginners is nothing like coaching age group elites.  Men are different than women.  What a 30-34 year old can do is very different than the training you give to a 45-49 year old female.  What a male 30-34 year old can do in training is different than what a woman of the same age can do.  (and, guys, sorry to say but most women can outwork, outtrain and outhurt you.  It’s truth and it’s often due to hormones)

Kids

You don’t “coach” kids.  You communicate with them in a way that connects and engages.  You guide them through activities that improve skills, drills and coordination.  As a result, they get a little fitter.  More importantly, they have fun.  Something that many coaches and parents forget is that children are not small adults.  They have different physiology and psychology.  Youth is the time to develop athletic skills and coordination through the best training of all – play.  Resist the urge to push or structure your child’s “training”.  Gentle encouragement is useful but let the child lead.  If they want to do something, you’ll know – they’ll show an interest and they’ll want to go back.  The biggest mistake I see parents making is taking their child’s sport too seriously.  Keep in mind that less than 1 percent of kids get scholarships to D1 schools.  Guide your child towards sports not to win or gain scholarships but to develop team/collaborative skills, an appreciation for the power of their bodies and self-confidence.  Research has shown that early specialization leads to injury and burnout.  Try a variety of sports for fun, general fitness and athletic skills. Get your child motivated to move – this will go a long way in adulthood.  One last thing: avoid going too far too soon.  Long course racing and training has no place in a child’s athletic (or physical) development.  Be a wise mentor for your child making decisions from a place of lifelong health and enjoyment of sports. 

Beginners

Spend enough time coaching advanced athletes and you can easily forget what it’s like to take those first steps – to simply be brave enough to act on the idea that maybe you can do this.  The best thing you can do for a beginner is to assure them that we were all beginners at one time, we all started somewhere.  Provide a coaching approach where no question is stupid, no knowledge is assumed and no experience is necessary.  Beginners bring a unique set of fears to the sport that can look trivial to the more advanced.  They fear being slow, looking silly or finishing last.  Along with building basic movement skills and fitness – you need to build their confidence.  Connect with them – listen, talk and educate.  Keep it simple.  Even something as simple as “swim a 50” will go over the head of most beginners.  Break it down to the basics – teach them how to breathe before you let the swim, teach them how to pedal, teach them how to run again.  Assemble in areas where you can connect to each athlete in the training session – in the pool, on a track, on trainers in a room for biking.  Provide positive feedback before you make corrections.  Check in with them often to keep them on track.  They can easily get off track by other life stress or de-motivation. 

Men

It’s that pesky hormone testosterone that makes men less able to handle a less intense training load than woman.  The older the man, the less they can do in terms of intensity.  Specifically around age 50 when testosterone really starts dropping, training load must be adjusted.  Men are also slow recoverers due to higher muscle mass.  One key workout in each sport each week is sufficient.  Emphasize maintaining strength and how to improve recovery (sleep, quality foods, body maintenance).  Men are more likely to burn the candle at both ends – they’ll be the first to sacrifice sleep to cram in a workout and the last to tell you that they’ve had a sinus infection for 2 weeks.  Check in with men often as they’ll be less likely to reach out.  Keep the message clear, factual and unemotional.  Most men are quite honest with themselves – if they’re having a rough workout chances are they know why and won’t hesitate to call themselves out.  They also have a clear understanding of their place in sport – they’re used to being competitive and playing sports – they get how it works.  Younger men often need their expectations realigned not due to machismo but lack of experience.  Once a man “knows” he “gets it” and then adjusts his attitude and effort accordingly.  Lastly, men need proof – if they’re doing something right or wrong, they need to see the why or how.  Video of their stroke, data, trends are helpful in making points about their fitness and pacing to help them better understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Women

Due to their bodies, hormones and lower muscle mass, women can train more and train harder than men.  Maybe because our bodies are prepared to handle childbirth – we tolerate pain both psychologically and physiologically at a different level.  The more experienced the athlete, the more you need to beware that when a woman finally says “it hurts” chances are it’s really, really bad.  Psychologically, women are in a tougher place.  They are less comfortable with competition – from childhood women tend towards dyadic groups where competition rocks the boat whereas men prefer larger groups where competition is encouraged.  Women are more likely to suffer self-esteem and body image issues.  They are more likely to manipulate food and diet which can interfere with recovery and training.  For that reason, stay on top of them and their details.  Never assume they know what to do or will do it – women tend to need more guidance up front and then get to the point where you can slowly ween yourself out of their process.  Women are more sensitive to what you say – and what you don’t say.  They take things more personally, emotionally and read between the lines.  When providing feedback, point out what they are doing well as women often do not have the confidence to believe they are as good as they are.  Follow it up with what they can improve.  Women are also very interested in the connection; they prefer a personal connection with their coach and your success with them is often grounded in your ability to relate. 

Adult Onset Athletes

These are the adults with limited athletic experience from childhood or high school, perhaps a long break through some of adulthood and then they return to athletics as older adults.  The best thing a coach can do for this group is to advise them with the big picture in mind – the big picture being their health.  This group is likely to take on too much too soon – couch to Ironman, a heavy race schedule with excessive endurance events, 2 Ironmans per year followed by marathons.  Often, this group lacks the basic athletic skills or coordination to support the type of training they want to do – or need to do for endurance events.  For example, they want to do track workouts but lack the coordination and economy that supports faster running without risk of breaking down.  This group is therefore most susceptible to injury.  Their bodies don’t have the structure to handle the load of long course training and racing – back problems, knee problems can take this athlete completely out of the sport very quickly.  When coaching, be their voice of reason.  Explain that longevity is the goal – be conservative with their approach and realistic with their expected rate of progress.  Teach them patience and respect for the process – two important factors in the mindset for athletic success.

Women, 45+

A tricky group.  Often just entering the period called perimenopause, a 10 year process in which women’s hormones change before menopause is complete.  This group is adjusting to the difficult changes in their body – mood swings, sleep disturbances, body composition changes.  Recovery is often compromised.  By age 43, a woman’s sensitivity to estrogen which can cause these changes.  I’ve read this group needs more protein to maintain muscle mass.  They are more likely to manipulate their diet to counteract hormonal changes affecting their body composition.  They can handle much less training load and intensity than they think they can.  And, they are often frustrated by declines in their run performance (which tend to come sooner than swim or bike performance).  Remind this group that they are racing their age group – not the younger women and not the younger version of themselves.  Focus more on the process, less on the outcome.  Encourage full disclosure of what they are going through and be very, very supportive as their emotions and frustration can make them more or less committed to their goals. 

Age Group Elites

Coaching and developing age group elites can be a highly rewarding or frustrating experience.  These athletes have the innate abilities, the commitment and drive to achieve big things.  They often have a background in sport where they learned the importance of hard work, sacrifice and suffering.  They are hungry and committed.  The downfall of this group can often be the perfectionism that seems to accompany the hard-driving never say die age group elite.  A missed workout derails the entire plan, a failed interval is proof that they are slow, an off race is reason to doubt.  Keeping them focused on the big picture and not judging the day to day can be one of your bigger tasks.  Daily, more often than not, the coach is holding these athletes back rather than pushing them harder.  Pay close attention to their recovery: HR, hunger, mood, sleep patterns, weight and performance.  This athlete is comfortable with pushing far beyond before they admit failure or pain.  Rare is the age group elite who is brave enough to say, hey, I need rest!Your job as coach is to push this athlete to athletic maturity rather than to get them to work more.  Like I said, they will work – hard, far harder than others.  But this same drive can be their downfall through injury or fatigue.  Psychologically, especially with the women, you may need to find ways to keep them out of their own way due to destructive habits with (under)eating, social comparison, self-confidence issues and sensitivity with their perception about what others think.

Pros

Having competed a short stint as a pro and coached a few pros, I’ve found this group can (ironically) require the most hand holding )especially as they make the transition from amateur to elite).  Being a pro is so much more than rising to the top of the age group ranks.  It’s a commitment to a lifestyle and mindset that is predominantly focused on one thing: performance.  Too many athletes turn pro under poor guidance or the assumption that because they’ve placed top 3 in a big race, they’re ready to take the leap.  Give it time.  Develop yourself and see your career as a progression.  Speed, performance, placement is such a small part of it.  You’ll also need to build a brand to attract sponsors/followers, cultivate relationships that are mutually beneficial to cover the services you’ll need (massage, nutrition, strength training, etc).  And then, make time to go at it 100%!  A pro can nearly clear their life of everything else to focus on the most important thing: THEMSELVES.  This selfish lifestyle is not for everyone and doesn’t fit into too many lives.  It’s often said that pros don’t train harder (well, sometimes they do) but they recover more simply because they have the time (or can make the time).  If you don’t have the time to act like a pro in the spaces between your workouts, wait until a time in your life where that’s possible.  Let’s face it – being a pro is a full-time job; eating, drinking, recovering, napping, strength training, body maintenance in addition to the training.  This can be upwards of 30-40 hours a week of training and the peripheral activities!   Often you will need to retrain their expectations about finishing place, the “game” of the race, their strengths, weaknesses.  Keep them focused on the process but also be prepared to micromanage the process like never before – no stone unturned, no holes anywhere.  Set clear, realistic, non-time-focused goals so they can see their success every step of the way.  Above all, advise pros to conduct themselves professionally in their relationships and communications – representing their sponsors, their sport and themselves.  Gratitude, maturity and poise go a long way in any business and as a pro – you are now a business!

Bucketlisters

The largest growing group in the sport, typically with very limited history in triathlon.  They signed up for an Ironman because it’s the thing to do, their friends are doing it or they need to check it off a list.  They are blank slates with very limited knowledge about endurance sports.  Frequent reminders on proper fueling, hydration and sleep are important with this group.  And, the importance of consistency.  Note that their biggest gains in fitness will come simply from stringing together workouts day to day.  Unfortunately, this is the group most likely to skip workouts.  Skip enough of the key workouts and they’ll arrive at the start line not just underprepared but minimally fit.  I often have to explain that while this group is not out to win workouts, the goal is to get them to the start line with enough fitness to enjoy the event and not get injured after it.  This takes durability, patience and commitment.  Those three things will be your biggest obstacles with this group.  Keep workouts simple but be honest with them – it’s not spin class, it’s Ironman training.  And extreme endurance events can often require some extreme changes in beliefs and behavior.  Encourage that they can do it but that it will honestly take time and effort on their part.  It’s more than just signing up for it.  Above all, emphasize that your reminders about fueling, recovery, pacing are for their own safety in training and on the race course. 

Swimmers

Athletes with a swim background come along with an impressively strong work ethic.  Work with any age group swim team and you’ll see that from a very young age, swimmers are used to big yards, big work day after day.  Locally, I’ve worked with 12 year olds who are swimming 7000 yard workouts several nights a week after their normal school day and other sports.  Impressive or scary – hard to say!  They have huge engines.  They love the thrill of competition and want to do their best.  However, their early and excessive history in sports can often mean they are prone to burnout, especially with swimming.  Good news is that most swimmers tend to require much less swim volume to maintain their engine and feel so you can invest more time in the other sports.  They will need the most work with their run yet they are also the most injury prone.  Shorter, frequent runs go a long way.  It’s not uncommon for some of my swimmers to run 2 to 3 times a day.  Build up their durability through frequency and strength training.  Remind them to take a conservative approach with running as they tend to apply their hard-driving swim training background into the run which can mean breakdown or injury.

Runners

Runners who come into triathlon tend to experience a good deal of success early on as their fasts splits impress the competition and make a statement.  When you can finish the race with your strength, you are in a good place!  The trick is to remind these athletes that triathlon is a swim-bike-run; one event.  Everything you do before the run matters and the longer the race, the more it matters.  Runners tend to struggle with fueling and hydrating, and can be more susceptible to eating disordered behavior.  Separating their performance from their eating/weight can be a challenge.  Runners need to know that their run is always on track.  Remind them that the cumulative fatigue from swim and bike work can slow their run temporarily - which doesn’t mean it’s time to work harder on the run or abandon the training path.  Assure them that becoming a more balanced triathlete will provide more reliable performance over all distances.    

I’m coming up on my 8th year of coaching and what I’ve learned over the years is that the workouts, the data, the annual training plan development – that’s the easy part.  The hardest part is understanding the people.  It’s also the most important part.  When I worked in education, we were taught to know your audience and deliver a program that connected to their unique traits and needs.  Highly relevant to coaching.  Know your audience, tailor your message or approach specifically to their needs, personalities and characteristics and the experience tends to be successful for all involved.

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Beginning of the End

As I write this, I am entering the end of pregnancy.  Otherwise known as the third trimester or THE SLOWEST 13 WEEKS OF YOUR LIFE.  And, if you’re really lucky, the slowest 15 weeks.  Yes, some very lucky women out there get to experience the joys of 42 weeks of pregnancy!

Because this is an IVF pregnancy and I’m geriatric, I will not be permitted to go beyond 40 weeks.  And so, I will miss out on the joy of those bonus weeks in pregnancy. 

Each day, someone comments about my belly.  My husband: it’s getting bigger.  A preschool mom: I didn’t realize you were pregnant, you hid it so well until now.  A parent of a swimmer that I coach: when are you due, you look like you’re going to burst! 

My biggest fans – THANKS, everyone.

What’s been happening the past few weeks?  Not much unusual.  I’ve been ticking away the days here with coaching my assorted groups, running my business and waiting for summer.  Finally, it’s here!  Which means many hours a week will be spent in my yard with all of my favorite power tools.  Sad reality of pregnancy: I had to slow the self-propelled mower down two notches just so I could keep up with it!

On the weight gain front, I continue to gain one pound a week.  Baby is currently 2 pounds and 12 ounces.  Add to that the one pound of placenta and I have nearly 4 pounds of that weight gain covered!  Pregnancy weight gain seems well beyond my control but I also won’t lie – my “old” diet is about as appealing as…..it’s just not.  And it’s convinced me we should all stay away from beets, kale, chicken, broccoli and live on WAFFLES.  

I call baby “baby” because we had a name then didn’t have a name then got tired of trying to pick out a name.  We’ve settled on the let’s wait and see what she looks like when she comes out approach.  Depending on how much pain medication I’ve had, this name might be very interesting.  The problem is I want a name that isn’t too trendy, will stand with her through life and doesn’t have a weird nickname.  That pretty much cancels out everything except for what my mother-in-law suggested: Esther.  I’d like you all to say Esther Waterstraat 10 times fast.  Needless to say, we are not  going with Esther.

Exercising has been going well depending on where the baby is.  Just the other day, I felt something amazing:  the ability to not get out of breath while walking up the stairs!  This meant only one thing – the baby had changed positions.  If you’re keeping track, she’s gone from breech at 20 weeks, head down at 24 weeks and now…..sure enough, during my every 2 week cervix check (in which I brought Max along to which he said “mommy, what’s a cervix?” ) – the ultrasound technician said:

She’s crosswise.

I KNEW IT!  And let me tell you, this transverse baby can stay there because it’s been an entire week of OXYGEN.  Which means I can swim/bike/run without feeling like someone is compressing 50 percent of my lung capacity.  Of course, she needs to shift by 36 weeks to head down so that I can, as I told Max, birth her out of my peepee.  

This of course came after the “mommy, how does the baby get out of your belly?” question.  And yes, nearly 4 years old and we’ve already heard how did the baby get into your belly?  Well, mommy and daddy hugged and….

Actually, mommy and daddy wrote a very large check to a very smart doctor – a few months later, daddy went into a room with his iPad and mommy went into a separate room and….

Nevermind, we’ll talk about it when you’re 20.

You know what else a transverse baby means?  Left jab, hook, sucker punch to the bladder – ALL DAY LONG.  I go between moments of OMG I NEED TO PEE RIGHT NOW and I can hold it for another hour.  The other day, my 80 minute commute to Chicago had me wondering if I would be the crazy pregnant lady pulled over on the Eisenhower taking a pee on the shoulder.  It reminded me: I need a Go Girl or a diaper. 

And then a day later, on the treadmill, it hit me. The best idea I’ve had my entire pregnancy.  Putting the froggy potty next to the treadmill.  That’s right.  No runs with stair hill repeats every 9 minutes – I used the froggy potty instead (which is no easy feat when you are massive and it’s about 4 inches off of the ground).

Masters has started up again and the other day I swam in the protective draft of my favorite lane mate: Marty.  He lapped me at every 150.  You consider that an embarrassment, I consider that an accomplishment.  We were doing 200s.  I got lapped at the 150.  This takes talent, people!  I love pregnant swimming because it means two things: weightlessness and using toys whenever I want.  12 x 50 IM order?  I think the fine print says WITH FINS.  6 x 100 fast?  Pretty sure the coach means that I can use paddles.  No one questions me or crosses me when I change a workout, shorten a set or decide I want to use paddles and fins.  

I ride my cross bike on the path and it’s – well, slow going.  Pedaling along at a blistering 10 mph the other day, mind you while wearing my husband’s IM world championship jersey, I got passed by some guy with … toe cages. 

Take note:  THAT is how you humblebrag, my triathlon friends.

I’m still running.  I’ve now made it nearly 5 weeks past the point where I had to stop running with Max!  Of course I need a pee break every 8 minutes, a walk break every 10 minutes and a bottle of water every hour.  Which tends to exaggerate the need for the pee break.  I have yet to figure out how in pregnancy you can be excessively thirsty while also in the bathroom so often.  How is that possible?  

I do a “long” run of 6-7 miles each Sunday where I get out and run my old routes through the forest preserve.  I’ve had some deeper thoughts while running – yes, I have these about once a week, anything more is prevented by the cloud of fatigue that generally hangs over my head.  Deep thoughts along the lines of how I’m out there to truly experience the joy of running.  That same joy that I think so many athletes forget as they get their own heads lost in numbers, statistics, tweets about their workouts, screenshots, etc.  It occurred to me that so many athletes have become so obsessed with capturing the experience – with their phone, camera, Garmin, power meter, that they forget to actually experience it.  If pregnancy has reconnected me with one thing, it’s the joy of the experience and opportunity to simply be out there doing what I like doing best.  It’s made me consider how I want to return to the sport – the approach I want to take, the purpose and my goals. 

As I near the end of pregnancy, I find myself very tired.  I can’t even begin to explain the difference between being pregnant with no children and being pregnant while chasing around a nearly 4 year old.  The first time around I could rest when I wanted, eat when I wanted, do what I wanted.  This time around I get to do all of that – after I meet Max’s needs.  It sounds simple enough and obviously part of the parenting job, I just didn’t realize how much it would drain me.  Endurance is one of those things that I do best.  But at times it seems like every day is an exercise in pushing my limits. The end is near and clearly a new challenge will begin but right now the hardest thing is the physical drain on my body.  I am big, uncomfortable, hot, tired and not in control of my own body.  There is a little determined person inside of me who starts kicking at 5 am and pretty much kicks nonstop until 10 pm.  I keep telling myself that one day, this zone of discomfort I find myself in daily, will make me a better person, parent and athlete. 

The other day, I went to Target and smothered myself in adorable newborn baby clothes.  And, yes, I bought baby a take home outfit.  If you’ll recall with Max, the take home outfit was a big deal.  This time around, I got something so utterly girly and adorable that when I showed it to Chris he said that’s really girly.  Indeed it is, because WE ARE HAVING A GIRL.  And I refuse to be one of those parents who’s all like I’m not gonna dress my girl in pink because it’s too stereotypical, too feminine, too – WHATEVER.  It’s a girl and I’ve spent the past 4 years in a house with 3 boys (husband, son, dog) – it is about time this party got turned upside down.  PINK BALLOONS EVERYWHERE PLEASE. 

On Wednesday, I’ll be at 29 weeks.   I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet this little person that I’ve waited so long for.  At times, it hardly seems real.  If her activity in my belly is indication of her personality, Baby Girl Waterstraat will come out kicking and ready for a fight – scrappy, tireless and feisty.

My husband’s stomach just dropped as he realized I am about to give birth to myself. 

12 weeks left to prepare, husband! It's about time I got one on MY team!