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.