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Pregnant Triathlete, Part II

I just finished my second triathlon of this pregnancy, and man, was it harder than the first.  I did the first at the very beginning of my second trimester, and my second at the very beginning of my third.  I hit 28 weeks on Friday, and the race was Sunday.  

I did this race last year, and it’s a fantastic race.  (Druid Hill Park Sprint Tri) So I knew when I signed up (before the January 1 price increase) that even if I was pregnant, I would probably hopefully maybe be able to handle it, as long as I was having a healthy pregnancy, which I fortunately am.  It’s a 300 yard pool swim, an 8 mile bike course, and a 3.1 mile run.  The run is completely flat, around a lake.  The bike course is challenging and hilly.  The swim is in a pool, which actually presents it’s own challenges but does not feel as endless as an open water swim of the same distance.  

When registering for a pool swim, it’s important to gauge your speed accurately.  I was generous with my time and put 2:30 for my 100m swim time.  Based on what my pace has been at the gym lately, I was spot on.  Last year I put 2:00, which was also fairly accurate.  I was passed by a couple of people but I also passed a few folks.  If you are pregnant, you should probably adjust your swim time down a bit – even though swimming is recommended for pregnant women, the reduced lung capacity and general lumbery-ness slows you down.  

I rode my Canondale Quick 3 for the bike course.  My normal road bike is a Giant Avail, but my sister, who did the race with me, has had custody of that since May.  I stopped riding my Canondale to work about a month ago (more on that later), because it was getting too challenging to swing my leg up over the rack to ride to work.  I was concerned about riding it for the race because when I’ve done long rides recently, the angle I have to sit at presses directly on my bladder.  The seat, which is normally very comfortable, was also uncomfortable on my SBR a few weeks ago.  I asked my husband to swap out the seat for a wider one, which helped considerably.  I would recommend a comfort saddle like this one for anyone who is cycling during pregnancy.  (I don’t actually have that one but it looks a lot like the one I do have and it’s nice.)  If you still have saddle discomfort, consider slightly tilting the nose down.

Like I said, the course was hilly.  I did not train hard enough for the hills.  My lungs were working at their capacity and I was having braxton hicks contractions on the steep uphills.  I coasted as much as I could on the downhills to give myself a break, and I didn’t push myself.  One guy that passed me kept cheering me on, which was lovely and was the extra push I needed to finish the bike course.  

The run course was where I felt the crappiest, at least for the first half.  I wore my camelbak hydration pack but forgot to bodyglide my arms.  So of course I started to experience chafing from my arms pumping against the wet straps.  I knew from my run last weekend that following my 2 min run 1 min walk pattern was going to be hard.  So I switched to a 1 min run, 1 min walk pattern.  Even that was too strenuous for the first mile and change – I was still having Braxton Hicks contractions, I was getting round ligament pain, and the chafing on my arms was really burning.  I stopped and walked for about five minutes.  Everytime I tried to run again, something hurt.  So I had a pack of Stinger gels and walked as fast as I could.  At the end of Mile 1, I saw my husband and brother in law on the course and handed off my Camelbak.  Once I did that, I was able to run again – I’m not sure whether it corrected my posture or just not chafing was such a relief, but at that point I picked up and stuck with the 1 min run / 1 min walk intervals.  Everyone was super encouraging and nice to me, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to total strangers when they say, “you are awesome!” So usually I just said “so are you!” or something else like that.  

As I got to the end, I could see where the chute was to the finish, so I took my walk break and gave the baby a quick pep-talk.  We were going to walk until we saw the sign for the chute, and then we were going to sprint.  I did not think this was actually going to work, but it did, and we were able to come flying into the finish line, which I’m pretty proud of – usually I’m so spent from races that I have nothing left at the finish line, but the advantage of being conservative on this one was that I had plenty of legs left, even if I didn’t really have the lung capacity.  Also, the finish was downhill. That helped.  A lot of people congratulated me after the race and asked how I was feeling and commented on how great it was that I was out there.  

I also got to hang out with my tri club for a little bit, which was really nice.  My husband usually crews me for races but I feel like being in the club will make it easier next year when I have to go by myself and leave him at home with the kiddo.  Everyone in the club is really nice and super-supportive.  

My time last year was 1:16:25.  My time this year was closer to 1:35:37. I’m okay with that.  I felt a little uncomfortable with the attention I was getting (I wasn’t even the only pregnant athlete there – I overheard another girl saying she was 16 weeks), because I didn’t sign up for this race because I felt like I wanted to prove anything.  I really just wanted to do it, and I’ll admit that a part of me was curious if I could do it.  But it wasn’t like anyone told me I couldn’t and I needed to prove them wrong.  I will also say that I did not notice any judgmental looks, comments, or implications.  

What I wore: 

– De Soto Carrera Loose Top with Drawstring Waist – I ordered this top before my international tri, and I was so happy with it’s performance, even though it was snugger than I’d thought it would be and I knew I couldn’t wear it for this race, and when I went to review it I realized that De Soto had accidentally shipped me the Sprinter Top and I hadn’t realized it when I received it. I sent them a sheepish email asking if it was at all possible to exchange a used tri top for the one I had wanted and they shipped me the Carrera top right away.  The Medium accommodated the belly really well and also accommodated my increased chest, and although I probably would have been more comfortable in a Large, I will be able to wear the medium post-pregnancy as well.  A+, would highly recommend to any pregnant athlete looking for a good workout top.  

– Under Armour Compression Shorts (5″) – Last weekend, getting pretty desperate for something made of moisture wicking fabric to wear for this race, I hit the Under Armour Outlet. I really wanted these shorts in the longer 7″ version, but they only had the 5″. I bought them in a large, and because the waistband is wide and pretty flexible it was able to fit up and over my belly.  However, when I test rode them yesterday, they rode up quite a bit and so I needed to add gripper elastic to the bottom.  (I ordered 2 yards of Gripper Elastic from Quest Fabrics a month ago to add to my running skirt.)  It was a quick project and made a world of difference – my shorts stayed put and didn’t ride up, bunch, or chafe, and they were long enough to protect my thighs from my bike seat.  

Ultimate Maternity Belt – I’m a pretty comfortable person doing what I need when I need to, but even I was kind of embarassed to be pulling on my support belt before the bike course. However, I can’t run without it, so I sucked it up and put it on.  It stayed put and helped keep things in place for the run.  I actually have mixed feelings on whether it’s that helpful for the bike.  



And yes, I went home and took a nap.  

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Pregnancy and Fitness: Attire

I feel like I should apologize that this blog is now totally about pregnancy, but 1) there is not enough information out there about pregnancy and fitness and 2) I’m posting more than I was when I wasn’t posting about pregnancy and 3) I think five people read this blog.  Anyway, I kept wishing I could find more blog posts on pregnancy and sports, because a lot of people didn’t properly tag their posts and it was hard to find them after they had already had kids.  So, I figured I’d put as much info as I could out there, especially because pregnancy is so varied by person, so sometimes you just need to read as much as you can before you find somebody who is having your same experience.  

So I wanted to touch on attire.  This was hard for me, because I started showing really early. I just had dinner with a friend who is 15 weeks and she’s so much smaller than I was at 15 weeks – she’s still wearing regular pants, with a rubberband.  That trick worked for me to like, Week 11.  So, I’ve had to adapt more than some of the people whose blogs I read who just kept wearing their same running shorts.  

Firstly, I’m going to say that you shouldn’t feel bad if you need to move up into maternity clothes sooner than other people might.  Everybody is different.  As long as you feel like you are having a healthy pregnancy, you are going to gain weight and your body is going to change in uncontrollable ways.  (I had a lot of issues about this around Week 22, but I feel like I’ve moved past them.)  My thighs increased significantly, which made it impossible to wear a lot of my old gym and running shorts.  

Maternity-specific workout gear is hard to find if you are not looking for yoga pants and cotton t-shirts with cutesy slogans.  Old Navy was the best bet for me, personally, and I love the Active Shorts I got (I bought two pairs) as well as the yoga pants.  I am still able to wear a few pairs of my regular Target gym shorts, because they are long enough and the legs are lose enough to accommodate my new shape.  

For shirts, you can get by for a long time in many of the looser cut non-maternity tanks, as long as they are long.  The key is to get stuff early on that comes down at least past your hips, because then it will grow with you.  I found a couple of long tanks at Costco (they are in right now) and they have been great – I’m still wearing them at 27 weeks.  I haven’t raided my husband’s stash of activewear shirts yet, but a lot of people do wear men’s shirts because they tend to be longer and more generously cut in the chest and stomach.  I haven’t opted for this because I find the sleeves really baggy.  

Sports bras have actually been easier than I thought.  The Champion Seamless ones that you can get at Target have lasted really well through a lot of changes, and I also bought a size up in Moving Comfort sports bra before I was even pregnant, because they were buy one get one free and I knew I might need a bigger one.  I will say, I thought my Fiona bras would fit longer and I outgrew them pretty quickly.  If I need to go a size up again before delivery, I will just get more of the Target ones because they are cheap and offer enough support for me, especially because I’m not running much.  

Swimwear is a challenge.  Originally, around 12 weeks, I sized up to a size 12 (I had been wearing an 8) and that got me through to around 20 weeks.  Then I bought a suit from Target and I ordered the top in a small and a medium and kept the medium, returning the small, figuring I would grow into the medium because I was expanding rapidly.  I think this was the wrong call, and I wish I had just kept the small and figured I would buy a third swimsuit if I needed it.  Instead, I bought a third swimsuit.  So right now, I’m swimming laps in this number by Motherhood.  It’s a halter tankini, and it stays in place really well while I lap swim and aqua jog (more on that in another post). Don’t get discouraged just because there aren’t a lot of lap suits made for pregnant ladies – the regular maternity swimsuits are pretty supportive and the actual fabric part of the top stays down (as long as you don’t size up) while you swim.  It’s definitely better for swimming laps than an average tankini.   

If you are willing to spend more on maternity clothes, you will have better luck and be able to buy the expensive shorts that cost $40-50 apiece.  I don’t spend that on workout gear I plan to wear for years, so I felt like I couldn’t justify it now.  I will also say, I workout every day but since I haven’t been overexerting myself/sweating as much, sometimes I wear workout tops two days in a row (particularly if I’m just doing a 20 minute yoga DVD), so I’ve been getting by with not a lot of gear. I have 2 pairs of maternity shorts, 2 pairs of other shorts that fit, 1 pair of yoga pants, 4-5 activewear tops that fit (one has a built in bra), and 5 sports bras that fit.  I’ve been hanging up the sports bras to dry after workouts and wearing them a couple of times before washing.  

Anyone have favorite maternity activewear sources? Favorite non-maternity gear that worked well for pregnancy?


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Cycle commuting to the gym

In December, I started adding morning gym workouts to my routine.  Unfortunately, these work best when I go to the gym and then go to my office.  Which means I need to either take dress clothes with me to the gym and change there, then ride to work; or change into dress clothes in my office, which means I need a second set of clothes with me to go from the gym to the office. 

Recently, I have been taking the first option, and bringing my no-wrinkle dress pants with me, usually opting to wear one of the jackets I keep on the back of the door of my office.  The second option – bringing a whole second set of clothes – has a lot of appeal now that it is freezing out and that there is quite a bit of rain/sleet/slush/snow.  In the summertime, this is a piece of cake – I just bring a jersey knit dress and am good to go.  But I just haven’t quite worked it out to where it feels convenient and not like a giant hassle or I’m not a pack mule.  I also have to bring shower shoes and soap and shampoo with me, and dry my hair at the gym.  I’d like to bring my own blow dryer but that is not happening.  There are girls at the gym whose gym bags are bigger than I would take for a week long trip – they bring their own hairdryers and bathrobes to wear while they dry their hair.  The bathrobe thing is genius and I wish I could find my terry cloth robe so I could steal the idea, especially with doing more swim workouts. 

Part of the problem is also what I’m using as a gym bag – it’s an old backpack of my husband’s, and since it is on it’s last legs, I’m keeping my eye out for something else.  I don’t care to use one of our Ortlieb panniers as an ordinary gym bag because they are shaped so awkwardly for carrying around.  I’d like something with a shoulder strap that is super-easy to clip on, but has a lot of pockets for organizing my stuff, like my Racktime Shoulderit bag. 

In googling for bike friendly gym bags, a lot of stuff like this one comes up.  I love the look of this, but I don’t have a front rack.  The other problem is that all of the cute bag companies that make bike bags also make non-bike bags and it’s really hard to tell from their website whether the bags actually have clips or something so that you know that they will attach to a rack.  The commuter garment bags also have some appeal, but they don’t look very practical as an everyday gym bag, and I’d like to have something that works both on the bike and off of it.  I also really love the Logan Trunk Bag, which wouldn’t allow for me to clip my Racktime bag on as well, unfortunately.

I will also say, there are a lot of advantages to the backpack – I just have to grab one thing off my bike, it helps keep my hands relatively free to sign in and grab a towel – so I’m not opposed to getting a new backpack when this one shreds itself.  The downside is that it covers up the reflective tape on my jacket and also is just one giant compartment and one small pocket, plus nothing is waterproof or water resistant, which is important given the rainy/snowy weather we’ve had lately. 

When I started looking for backpacks, this one jumped out at me – it converts from a tote to a backpack, it’s waterproof or resistant, and it could even hold my yoga mat!  Keen makes a similar design. Unfortunately, it only comes in dark colors and doesn’t have any reflective piping or anything on it.  If either of them were less expensive, I would probably more seriously consider them.  This pack from Patagonia supposedly also stashes a yoga mat, but is more hipster cool than I would like.  This one is made for bike commuting, but a 17-inch laptop sleeve is just not something I need.  If I had ever had any luck with messenger bags staying on my back while I rode, I would be seriously considering the MiniMass or Lightweight Travel Courier bag from Patagonia – however, neither has a good spot for shower shoes, and two shoulder bags sometimes feels more cumbersome than a shoulder bag and a backpack.    

What do you use for a gym bag? 

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Gift Guide: For the Cyclist

Somebody commented on Twitter that it’s too early for gift guides, but I wanted to put it out there in case you do some Black Friday shopping.  So, for the cyclist, here are some suggested items.

A Bike Light Set  – especially if the person has just gotten into cycling, or is a total cheapskate and not concerned about their safety.  Also, spoke lights, reflective tape, reflective ankle straps, and a reflective vest.  If you are gifting for a non-commuting cyclist who only rides on trails, you can probably skip these.

Bike Gloves – these come in several flavors, and I would buy them from REI or a local bike shop, in case you have no sense of hand size.  You can either get long distance cycling gloves (I have these), great for trail riding, or you can get winter weight gloves suitable for wearing in the cold.  Gloves are a good idea because they fall in the $12-30 range, and you can always use a second pair – they get really gross and need washing, but take awhile to dry, so spares are good, and I like to keep gloves in all my pockets.

Bell – totally necessary (even required in some areas.)  I love the Saturn design because I’m incompetent at bell ringing and this one is pretty idiot-proof – but the guy at the shop asked if I was a lefty and commented that most bike bells aren’t good for lefties, so if you are buying for a lefty, definitely consider this design.  The Jellibells are also easy to use and pretty much the same concept, but a bit smaller and quieter.

Panniers and bags – if you are looking to really splurge, go for the Ortlieb panniers.  They are great and waterproof and really really easy to use.  If you want something a little fun, the still pricy Freemonster flap pannier is pretty.  My bike bag is made by Detours and it’s very well designed, so I wouldn’t hesitate to buy anything from them.  If the person you are shopping for just rides their bike to the grocery store or farmers market, a shopping or open top pannier is a good choice.

Clips & Pedals – if you have a giftee who is thinking about going clipless, consider clipless pedals, or just campus pedals that let you use either bike shoes or regular shoes.  These can be particular to certain kinds of shoes, so again, make sure to get a gift receipt.

Stocking Stuffers – a bungie net is awesome, and many people don’t own them, or even know they exist.  Fancy rack straps are also good.  Helmet mirrors, multi-tools, tire levers, arm warmers, ear warmers, a balaclava, a water bottle, a bike computer (pricey but small, so still a good stocking stuffer), or maybe even a bike cup holder.

Any other suggestions?

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Trail Shoes

I talked a little bit about my training and my need for trail shoes yesterday, but I wanted to write a quick review of the ones I ran in.  I ordered about 6 pairs from Endless.com to try on and test out.  My husband does not understand why I didn’t just go to a store and try them on, but my friend E. had recommended we try Montrails and no stores around here carry them.  I wound up not getting Montrails, because while I am a size 8.5, and I order a size up for running shoes, the 9.5 were enormous and the 9 was WAY too small – my toes touched the end of the shoe!  In running shoes, my feet need room to swell, so that was not going to work.

I wound up ordering a pair of Salomons to test out as well, and I’m lucky I did.  I got the Salmon XA Comp 6 shoes, and funnily enough, they were available at my local REI but I hadn’t tried them on.  I needed something that would stand up to rocks and roots on the trail, so I was looking for something with a hard toe.  The reviews on these shoes are mixed, but I’m giving them a solid 4 stars.  I over-pronate a LOT, so I like to have good arch support, and I wanted a shoe I didn’t need my orthotics with.

There are a few things I liked about these shoes that other people do not.  I have narrow feet, and the Salomons have a built in lacing system.  This actually meant that I could get them pretty tight on my feet, but still have a roomy toe box.  They are a clunky, heavy shoe.  I was okay with this.  If you are looking for a minimalist shoe, this is not it.  For those of us who haven’t drunk the barefoot running cool-aid and would like to keep our toenails intact, this is a good shoe.  It has a LOT of support.  For trail running, I wanted that.

The major issue I had with this shoe is the lining.  It’s heavier than I would like, and it did cause some blistering – not true blistering, but hotspots on various toes.  The little lock-y thing on the built in laces is also prone to coming undone, but you just have to be aware of that and stop and say, “this shoe feels too big”.  It did not let in nearly as much dirt as my road running shoes do.

The other problem with these shoes was simply that I didn’t break them in properly.  In the category of, “do as I say, not as I do,” do NOT buy shoes two weeks before a race and only wear them for a 7-mile run.  It is a bad plan.  I knew better and did it anyway, but I was much better off than I would have been in my road shoes, so I would say I probably did not learn my lesson on this one.  I was very happy to see my fuzzy socks and crocs in my race bag.

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