Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Start Spreading The News!

As promised, a blog about big news!

I have been out of writing not because I was busy or bored, but because I hit an interesting point where I could not write about what was going on.  And when you have big news, you just want to get it out there.  I've lived my life more publicly last year than I ever have in my entire life.  To now be deeply set within my own circle & a bit closed off from the world was quite a change.  In all honesty, I noticed but never really minded - I was quite preoccupied with what was going on anyway.  Triatha-what?

With that, some of my readers will already know exactly what I'm going to write about next.  But some won't, so, that's why I'm writing this.  So let me tell you a little about what life has been like in the last 4 months.

Christmas time:
Ski with friends.  Feel like they're on perfect snow and you're in tar-laced quicksand.  Blame your wax.
Start skiing on your own because you feel the need to start training intensely to ramp up your fitness.
Stop in the middle of your xc ski run and realize you just can't get enough oxygen in.  Then see stars.
Bonk every time you ski - have one good ski, then 3 dreadful ones.
End up so wrecked on one ski that when you come home, you wallop down water and then have a 30 min nap in the sauna - with your sweatpants & a toque on.
Assume this is normal.  Also assume you are not training enough and this is the consequence.

Return to run with friends.  Get your butt kicked on an interval run, end up cramped & doubled over.
Really assume you are out of shape.
Listen to a friend's sage advice, wonder if she's right.

January, next day:
Take this test & get this result.

Go to work in complete daze.  
Try not to get hit on your bike.

January, two days later:
Take this test & get this result.

Realize this test might not be wrong, but assume it is.  
Make doctors appointment for tomorrow.

January, three days later:
Have a chat with your doctor, explain you've been short of breath and training is quite 'off'.
Oh, and you took two of the above tests and that they were both positive.
Then assume stunned look, as in the 'what do I do now' look.
Doctor smiles.  Wait for doctor to ask you if you want to do another one to make sure.
Because you're unsure in your ability to operate such a scientific procedure, you say "yes".
Give a urine sample.  Wonder how in the world urine became your new life predictor.

Get this test back: (yes, each test I took was different for the lack of trust in one brand factor)

Finally take a deep breath & realize you're pregnant.

January, three days & 30 minutes later:
Intercept husband just as he is coming to visit the same doctor.
Think you're going to freak him out.
Tell husband you're pregnant.
Observe husband's happy, semi-calm, shocked & excited response.
Feel what it feels like to be in a totally above the clouds moment in life.

Now, I'm not going to recollect every living moment since then, but I do want to talk about what has been important to me over the past few months of a totally new life experience.

Months 1-3 can really be summed up as follows:  soul-crushing tiredness with a reflux-nausea combo that lasts all day.  And no, this is not an exaggeration.  The tiredness is so frustrating & inescapable.  The nausea the same.  You do feel better that you weren't just getting steadily unfit while training hard.   

One of the greatest gifts of all is that you find out your best friend is pregnant, and you are 4 weeks apart in due dates.  The ability to finally talk to someone apart from your partner is a dream come true - you have so many things to say, questions, complaints, things to laugh about, and you get to share them with your best friend.  A small miracle.

Then you start to change shape.  Hm.  I think in general you're just supposed to accept your body changes (there are many) and love them.  Well, I did not initially.  For some one in what I would call 'reasonably good shape', it's a bit weird to not have that in your control anymore.  Now, I was still running (as long as I didn't give up and just lay on the coach flattened after work), swimming & biking at a much reduced intensity (mostly b/c I felt I was going to chuck my cookies on a minute-ly basis) but getting bigger, and softer - very weird.  Note: I actually never chucked anything, until I got a noro-virus.

Now if we fast forward to now, just about everything gets better.  You can eat salad again.  You can make it past 7pm before going to bed.  You can feel good for a whole day. Even your pee breaks on your runs get better.  That said, you have to pee 3 times before even leaving the house to run.  And that's considered 'success'. 

I have been followed & advised by a great medical team who has allowed me to continue living the life that brings me the life rewards I'm so familiar with.  After the first trimester, when I was feeling better and less anxious about the fragility of life, I was able to discuss increasing effort of exercise in pregnancy with my doctor.  And mostly what I found out is very little is actually known on what is safe and not safe in pregnancy.  It is an ethical issue.  Basically, you can't ask pregnant women to put their embryos/fetuses at risk.  

So, there is a lot we don't know.  And there are a lot of misconceptions about what is safe & not safe.  And I'm not here to tell people what to do, because I firmly believe every person has to make these decisions for themselves.  But what we found is that because my baseline fitness pre-pregnancy was quite high, as long as I wasn't increasing my training, and followed a few parameters with a heads up for listening to signs of your body needing to slow down or stop.  So without too much explanation, my parameters for those who are curious (and something I think more women athletes should know more about) were as follows: follow a 'lactate threshold" or less effort for ventilation, pay attention to heart rate but know that even 81% of max has been studied & considered safe in gold standard research, pay attention to hydration & blood sugar needs (my doctor knows my history with occasional bonks in training), and interestingly, above all in terms of importance - do not overheat while training.  But there are no rules - these are my choices.

I was able to go back to running fast - after 3 months of slow 10-12 km runs, doing 1 minute pick ups was exhilarating.  Never mind the fact my hip & SI joints felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.  But the more I did them (which was now dictated by 'do I feel like it'?), the better they felt.  I was able to start doing tempo runs again.  Was it a little hard that my new 'hard' pace was probably at my old marathon pace?  You bet.  But your mindset starts to shift as you progress in pregnancy.  I went from being hard on myself for being so slow (maybe I was still in semi-denial about the pregnancy), to starting to be proud of myself for getting out and running when it felt hard, running through some of the aches & pains.  I still think the longest run I've done is around 18km (and left me with fierce chafing of my new found chub rub :) - but it was worth it.  I felt tough again.  I was me again.  Just a new kind of me.

And now, this new me has this little tiny human growing at an astonishing rate.  We've just reached a milestone where we can feel (and see) it kick.  It's an amazing feeling.  And let the unnecessary bragging about your child start - it is an active baby!  It makes me feel sad for anyone who doesn't get to feel this feeling.  Mind you, I definitely feel I deserve it after putting in the hard miles for the first few months.  

I have a belly, whether it is tiny or otherwise it's hard to say - but to me, it's a dramatic change.  Some days I walk around and am transported into my old body, the one I knew so well, the one I had a very strong bond with, and then I'm surprised to look down or into a mirror & realize I'm different.  The nice thing is, I only feel like I'm getting stronger.  And tougher.  If I can train with the tiny human weighing me down in the 20lb+ category, with about half of the lung volume available to me, with constant aches, while constantly needing to pee, and being unable to race & rediscovering how much you truly miss the sport you just got started in, it makes me excited for my future. 

More than anything, I'm excited for this tiny human to grow & maintain a healthy pregnancy.  And if I can sit with myself & enjoy feeling these tiny kicks & get more excited about that than running, that's growth for myself as well.  The nice thing about pregnancy is that your baby is not the only one growing.

So if you see me running out on the roads or trails, don't be surprised if I look like I'm carrying home a cantaloupe home from the produce store.  And for interest's sake, I'll give you a snap shot of 3 weeks of pregnancy.  Not that I have been one to flaunt my abs, so what the heck, here they are in stretched out only to be stretched out more version.  You're going to see it when I hit Kits pool in a month or so anyways :)

 18 weeks

19 weeks 

20 weeks

So there's my little bump that accompanies me on my runs, my swims & rides.  They come to sleep with me, work with me, goes for rides on the seaplane with me and eats all my food (I think).

And there's the update, the breaking of the silence after so many months.  It has been great to be able to talk about it with my friends & family and feel so supported from all the people I care about.  It's especially nice to have the support & mentorship from so many amazing athlete moms as well - I feel so  lucky to be surrounded by such a positive environment.  

From here, it's full speed ahead learning and growing in more ways than one.  Stay tuned for updates :)

And one last thing - the irony is in the due date.  Initially set for Sept 1st, it was hinted to me that perhaps the tiny human and I are a few days ahead of schedule - which would land me pretty close to, oh, say a day like August 25th.  And what else is happening that day?  Oh, just a little 'Challenge' and an 'Ironman'.  It would seem appropriate to line up for another endurance event that day.  A theme of "9 hours and 46 minutes or less"?

Time will tell :)


  1. Yeah it's official". You look beautiful. And omg I really hope it is much faster than 9:46 ;). Xoxox

  2. ha! well, if i prepare for 9:46, and it's shorter, it's like i won another race. hopefully i get a labour & delivery nurse that's done ironman & understands :)

  3. Gillian, we are so happy for you! Shirley is in tears right now as I have just finished reading this blog to her! Please take care and let us know if there is anything we can do to help in the future! How's your Dad??

    1. Hi John! Glad you got a chance to read it! Probably you can help with sanity advice in the future - so I'll keep you posted. Dad is good! Everyone's good when it's garden & biking season! Nice to hear from you!