Just Keep Swimming

I credit a lot of my swimming confidence not to being a good swimmer, because I’m nothing special and I know my technique is pretty terrible, but to just starting early and being comfortable in the water. When I was a kid we’d visit my grandparents and go swimming in the lake and my grandma would have me swim to her but she’d keep stepping back and forcing me to paddle further and further. I also took swimming lessons for a few years and that helped me at least learn to freestyle and rotary breathe though again, nothing to write home about. But swimming lessons with my mother is one of my favorite memories and one I wanted to share with my own daughter.

Last year while looking for a pool to swim at I found Dolphin Academy, a swim school that offers year-round instruction for all levels and ages starting from six months. Today was LO’s very first class and I was so excited that I made enough excitement for both of us.

It was a pretty simple class and the first half is singing and playing games with the babies and all about getting them comfortable in the water. The second half is free play where you can work on things or play with toys in the pool. They had floating mats for tummy time or to crawl or sit on, noodle boats to float on, and many other things to play with. We did some more “swimming” on our front and then a little on the back. She didn’t like having the water in her ears, but she did great and by the end of the 30-minute class was splashing the water with her hands and laughing.

One of my absolute favorite things about being a parent is seeing her discover things and experience things and it was so sweet to watch her try to take it all in. She was so interested in the other babies and parents and loved the songs and swimming games. I can’t wait for our class next week and someday I hope she is able to look back and remember us going to her swim lessons together.

No excuses but…

I am and have been working the overnight shift the past week and continuing for a few more weeks. It’s the opposite of my usual circadian rhythm where I wake up early. Instead, now I go to bed early…as in, six a.m. early. As such, it’s been mostly impossible to squeeze in workout time since I would normally do it when I wake up but that’s my only time with LO before I go off to work. It’s not great, but this late in the game I’m confident I can finish the 70.3, just that it may be harder and slower and my recovery will be longer than it could have been.

It’ll be okay. I’m already looking forward to doing more lifting-type workouts once the HIM is over.

Gatorfest 2018

One of the big advantages to having a local 70.3 and training for it is the ability to train on home turf so when I saw that there was a swimming race down the Savannah River, I knew I needed to sign up. I also wanted to sign up for the bike race, but they were on the same weekend and not only did it not seem fair to take both mornings for my own things, I also like any opportunity to “sleep in.”

Of course, LO slept like crap the night before and after so I’m glad I didn’t sign up for the bike race after all. I was so tired the morning of the swim I debated not going, but I’d already gotten the t-shirt and I don’t wear shirts until I’ve completed the race. Plus, I was really curious how fast I could do the 1.2 mile distance with the current.

The night before I drove over to pick up my packet after work. There’s a really great triathlon camp this same weekend that runs Friday-Sunday and is hosted by TriCoachGeorgia. Work is super busy right now so I wasn’t able to get the time off but maybe next summer I can. I parked in a field of other endurance athlete vehicles studded with bumper stickers from various races and distances. The packet pickup was just a drawstring bag and a t-shirt, and also a bumper sticker for the Savannah Riverkeeper, the nonprofit the race supports. I asked what the water temperate was and first he said 77 and then 72. I wasn’t sure about whether to wear a wetsuit or not, or if I even fit in mine since I’m still carrying some extra pregnancy weight and my hips are still widened. Just in case, I went home and tried it on and after struggling to zip it up, I realized it was backwards! But, it fit.

Saturday morning I “slept in” until 4:45 and then got up, put my trisuit on and had some coffee and a couple of stroopwafels. I pumped on the way over and got there plenty early enough to get a good parking spot. They started body marking at 6:15 which was just writing the number of your ship on your hand and giving you the ankle strap and chip. The 3.4 mile swimmers boarded the bus around 6:45 and we boarded ours a bit later. We stood around the start for a bit before we moseyed on down to the water after checking in. I had wriggled into my wetsuit by this point after watching enough other people don theirs and when I got into the water I was definitely glad for the extra buoyancy. The current was a bit stronger than I’d expected and I had to swim up a bit to the start since i didn’t realize I’d been drifting.

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The weather was great, low 90s with some light cloud cover. The water was murky and I didn’t see people until I was on top of them. I wish I’d worn my Garmin to see how my sighting was because I think it was pretty bad. I think I kept drifting left and then correcting to the right. I didn’t see the Boathouse until towards the end so I was basing my sighting off of the swim buoys and other people.

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At the finish I stripped off my wetsuit and hosed it off and then went to change into some dry clothes. They had an excellent buffet of pastries from Panera but no beverages as far as I could see, which was fine since I had packed BodyArmour in my bag. I helped myself to two delicious chocolate croissants and chatted with some other people about our opinions of the swim, SOAS tri suits, and towel covers for car seats.

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It was almost 9 o’clock and I reluctantly headed home. I didn’t pump on the way back because even though I’d cleaned my parts with Medela wipes, I prefer to use parts I know are thoroughly clean and I was hoping she’d be hungry. Surprisingly enough, everyone was still asleep when I got home so I was able to unpack, feed the dogs, and then nurse LO when she woke up. Later I looked up my results and I finished third (out of five) in the military category for the 1.2 mile swim. I should really stop leaving so quickly after races since it seems that whenever I do I place.

1.2 miles in 35:47.45 which was about 30 seconds faster than my usual pace in the pool for 100 yds.

Mistletoe State Park Sprint Tri

This was the last race I did last summer while pregnant because I watched a better, more experienced triathlete go home in an ambulance from the bike course and decided I was more risk averse than I’d thought.

I wasn’t able to pick up my packet the Friday before because I was juggling a workout and also picking up A from daycare and couldn’t swing an extra trip so I just got up a little earlier on Saturday morning. A has been settling into a pretty standard routine at night with wakes around midnight and 3 am so I nursed her and then pumped around 6:30/7 on my drive over. It’s about the same times I pump at work so it was a little easier to figure out a pumping schedule that way.

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I loved this year’s t-shirt design, but it unfortunately runs a little small

The weather was overcast but humid and the water was super warm. I’m at a point where I’m thinking of selling my wetsuit since I’ve barely used it and also I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fit in it again but anyway, I was running a little late because I decided to stop at Starbucks so I parked and rode my bike to the packet pick up and got my packet, went to marking and got my chip before I went to transition. This race assigns spaces based on numbers which I rather like and somehow I got a low number. I set up my area and then made my way down to the swim start.

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One thing I remembered from last year is that I didn’t like how long the distance was to and from transition, specifically the bike in and out, but also it’s a long prickly walk to the swim. Last year the lake level was low so the swim start was further from the finish, but this year it was a rough triangle shape. I put myself towards the back because I hate getting swam over. I felt good on the swim, as I should because I was swimming super slow, 2:40/100 yds. Yeesh.

I made an effort to at least trot towards the mount/dismount line for the bike this year. I saw one other AG competitor who passed me in the first mile and then I never saw her again. Not surprising, because I was also super slow on the bike. I was pretty sure I was faster than I was so I was surprised to see that I only averaged 11.8 miles per hour. My run was still pretty slow, and I was also surprised that my time was only a little faster than last year because I remember walking a lot last year and this year I only walked briefly through the aid stations. Overall at the finish I felt good, though and not smoked.

Last year vs this year

Swim:  18:12  17:29

T1:  1:40  1:28

Bike: 47:19  47:02

T2: 1:26  1:20

Run: 34:19  32:15

So what this tells me is that I went too conservatively. I feel comfortable but also complacent. I raced only slightly faster than last year and the only real difference (aside from racing solo and not pregnant) is that I felt comfortable at the same paces instead of feeling like it was an effort. However, I need to pick up some paces otherwise I may not finish the 70.3 since I likely need to include a 30-minute pumping session in there, too. Possibly in T2. It’s very unlikely I’ll be able to go 7+ hours without a pumping break.

I’ve been using Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 plan for training so I’m not that surprised that I’m comfortable at slower paces since most of my training is at that level, but I need to figure out how to up my head game to hammer out quicker paces during racing. I have another two months before 70.3 and it looks like training is ramping up this next month so if I can hang, I will hopefully be able to figure it out a little better.

48 Hours in Atlanta: Peachtree Road Race, Georgia Aquarium, and Delicious Food

I didn’t have a blast last year at the Peachtree Road Race and definitely not the “party down Peachtree” I’d heard so much about, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it again. Fortunately I have a short memory so I found myself signing up for it again. Since I wasn’t pregnant and it was less hot than last year, I thought I’d enjoy it more.

Last minute P and I decided it’d be worth it just to make it a short family trip so we booked two nights at the Residence Inn near the start and drove up after work to the Expo so I could pick up my packet. A was mostly good but a little impatient at the drive so we were fortunate that all the traffic was headed out of town. I’d pre-purchased parking so all we had to do was show up, park, and I went in and got my packet and did a little shopping at the Expo. One thing I decided to try out was a pair of Goodr sunglasses because I’ve heard so much about them and I was tired of my heavy sweaty sunglasses and at $25, I figured it was a cheap purchase that would hopefully work out.

We were both pretty hungry so we went to check into the hotel and were happily surprised to find out that Tuesdays they have free food so we had hotdogs, salad, chips, and also free beer and wine. It wasn’t great but it was so nice after driving and the Expo to not have to worry about going to a restaurant and waiting to eat and then getting back to put the baby down. I’m also really fortunate in that A sleeps incredibly well in hotels. Like so well that I’m considering moving in. I stayed up a little longer than planned before heading to bed.

I woke up bright and early and headed down to eat some breakfast and then walk to the start corrals. I was in H this year so pretty much middle of the pack. The weather was still hot and humid but much better than 2017. Along the course there was tons of people handing out food and drinks. A men’s water polo team wearing speedos and caps were handing out free hotdogs and other people had kegs and were handing out free beer. Mellow Mushroom around Mile 4 had free pizza. An Episcopal church had a holy water fountain and were blessing the runners going by. I felt last year’s dissatisfaction melting away. This year was so much more fun and I totally get why people make it a tradition every year. I ran by a man wearing a rainbow tutu and others waving flags.

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Once I finished I ordered a Lyft and though it cost more than taking the Marta, it was definitely faster and took less walking. That may be my main criticism is that the Marta stations aren’t especially close to either the start or finish. I was especially eager to get back because I’d realized while running that although I’d brought my pump with me, I had neglected to bring any of the parts. Of course, I got back just as she finished her bottle so I had to figure out (with the aid of Youtube) how to hand express.

We had lunch nearby at a place called True Food Kitchen. It was such a neat place. They don’t fry anything and everything is made to order and their kitchen is open concept so you can watch it all. They also don’t have sodas but they do have drinks made fresh. I had a Coconut Rx and P had a Kale-Ade that tasted like ginger and cucumber.

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Old Navy has some seriously cute baby clothes!

Afterwards we went to the Georgia Aquarium. We took A to the zoo a few months ago but she slept the whole time so it was really fun to see her notice the fish. She was open-mouthed amazed at the jellyfish but the tunnel you walk through under the whale sharks was too much stimulus for her. She also liked the penguins and the otters, but wasn’t as taken with them as she was with the fish. She took a nap through the seal and sea lion show and then we decided to pack up and have an early dinner at one of my favorites, Desta.

Ethiopian is my favorite food and we’ve been coming to Desta for years now and it’s never disappointed. This was our first time with A in tow and it was every bit as good and easy as I remembered. Next time we go A will be able to eat some of it with us and I can’t wait to introduce her to Ethiopian food directly.

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The Give and Take

I’ve been back to work for a couple of weeks now and though I’m glad to be back at work, I also realized that there’s a whole host of new challenges with it. One thing I am glad I did was put kiddo in daycare for a few days at a time before I went back so that it wasn’t a ton of change all at once.

I work rotating shifts which makes it hard to settle into a routine. I just switched to the evening shift so my days look something like this:

0500-0700 wake up, feed baby, put baby back to sleep

0730-0830 baby wakes up, top baby off, dress her for “school”

0830-0900 hubs takes her to school

0900-1200 eat breakfast, do some chores, work out

1200-1400 eat lunch, prep for work

1400-2200 work

2200-0500 next day try to sleep in between nightly feedings. Last night she was up every other hour, ugh. Some of it I think is she misses nursing so when I’m available she tries to maximize the opportunity.

It’s also a challenge for P because he’s essentially on baby duty all day. He packs her up for school, takes her and picks her up and puts her to bed. Even though he gets a better sleep period because he doesn’t have to do the night feedings, if she’s being crabby there’s not really anyone he can tap out with since I’m at work. Thankfully, she’s a pretty happy baby and he’s really amazing with her.

Workouts

Getting back into shape has been more difficult than I could understand. I’m about 8 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and everything I hear tells me those last few pounds tend to hang on. Since I’m also breastfeeding, I’m a little nervous to do anything that might disrupt the supply so now that I’m working out longer and more often, I’m careful to drink a ton of water and also make sure I’m eating well enough.

I’m in week 4 of my training plan for Ironman 70.3 Augusta and it’s going mostly well. Another plus side to the second shift is it’s easier to work out in the mornings for me. It’s less hot and there’s less people around. Plus, the pool I prefer has stupid hours in the afternoon and evening which makes it hard to get my swim workouts in when I’m on first shift. At the same time, workouts are hard because I feel like I’m tired all the time since I’m up and down so frequently at night. I also feel like I hardly see my baby since she’s at daycare during the day and I’m at work at night. There are some days, mainly on the weekends, where I can’t find a good time to squeeze the workout of the day in. The pool is closed on Sundays and they only have childcare in the mornings on Saturdays and there’s no pool at that location so sometimes I either have to re-jiggle the workout schedule, sub something else in, or just accept that it as an unplanned rest day.

I know that I’m building a base right now, but I also know that I’m not going to set any speed records at Augusta and anyway, I’m going to spend at least 20-30 minutes in there pumping so that’ll slow my overall time, too. I’m just trying to get back into shape and have a good race without too much soreness and part of that is accepting that my fitness level is not the same as it was last year and I’m still rebuilding.

 

 

Mother’s Day, Part 2

I meant to post this sometime closer to last month, but time really gets away from you with little ones!

Most things went according to plan. I had a three-hour window to pick up my packet the day before and Mini-Me decided to take a long afternoon nap so I had to wait for her to wake up, feed her, and then we could leave for the park.

I just kept her in her carseat and stroller combo because I didn’t intend to stay long. I met another woman with her six-month-old and we chatted about motherhood and getting back into the swing of things postpartum.

I packed my bag back home, filled up my tires, and put my bike and everything in the car. I also prepped bottles. We use the Kiinde system so although I can pump directly into the bags, I usually pump into a bottle and then measure it out into the bags so I know how much she’s eating at each feeding.

The night before she must have known something was up because she kept waking up and I started feeling a bit of a sniffle that did eventually turn into a cold for both of us. Around six she was starting to wake up (again) so I prepped a bottle for her and went and woke P up so I could leave and have time to stop by Starbucks on the way.

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The field was pretty small, maybe 70 people total? Which I like because I hate getting kicked or swam over. They started us all in one wave so I put myself towards the back and still had some people swimming into me because they’d swum too far right or left. It was pretty annoying but I just let them pass. The water was really warm and felt great and I took my time.

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I decided to wear socks with my cycling shoes for the bike portion and realized I’d left my water bottle at home. Whoops. Again, I was determined to take it easy so I cycled pretty slowly for the course and enjoyed the honeysuckle in bloom. I don’t think I passed a single person on the bike.

The run, like the bike, was an out-and-back and felt a lot longer than expected. I did a run/walk between the cones to keep myself going and took water and Gatorade whenever offered.

Still, I finished in only ten minutes slower than my time from last year so that was super nice. I didn’t stay for awards but I should have because I took first in my age group (out of 2!) but I wanted to get home so I washed off in the bathroom and pumped on the way home.

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I was really sore for a couple of days afterwards but it was so much fun to get out and back in the race scene and I’m ready to get back into more training again.

 

My First Mother’s Day, Part 1

I’ve only been vaguely aware of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for the past 10 years or so (since I had neither parent to celebrate) and Mother’s Day only because an alumna from my college was responsible for its creation.

Last year on Father’s Day was the day I found out I was expecting but this is my first Mother’s Day and I am honestly so excited about it. Not to make it about me, but because it marks another transition, a big one, in my life. I’m a parent forever now.

For the day, I asked P if he could take care of her in the morning while I did a local sprint triathlon. I did it last year and when the email rolled around again, I found myself yearning for it even though I knew it was potentially a bad idea since I’m still only 3 months postpartum. I haven’t swam, I haven’t ridden my bike in several months, and I’ve only begun running again. But I really wanted to do it and figured worst case is it’d take me about two hours or so. My time from last year was 1:31 so I figured an extra 30 minutes would be a generous buffer plus time to travel there and back and beforehand to set up my transition area and get body marked.

Plus, I’ve come a long way in the past three months in learning how to plan my time with a baby.

The logistics basics:

-Pack everything the day before, not the night before

-Pump up tires

-Find bike rack in garage and put on car (tricky because my stroller is in my trunk and my bike rack makes it hard to move things in and out of the trunk)

-Pick up packet (P is volunteering all day so Mini-Me is in tow and right now is taking a long, luxurious, unexpected nap)

-Prep bottles for Mini-Me’s meals while I’m gone. I’ve been gifted with a bit of an oversupply so I’m able (aka need) to feed and pump. Most of the excess gets frozen but this past week I donated some to a local mom who was struggling.

Day of:

-Top Mini-Me off before I leave

-Bring pump with me, pump before start and after finish

-Return home victorious

 

Rebuilding

I knew on the surface that getting back into shape postpartum was likely to feel more like starting from the very beginning, but it’s been so long since I truly knew what that was like that when I began my workout plan, it was a very rude awakening.

I’ve been a big fan of Ashley Horner’s workouts but they can take a long time and I knew I needed something that I could do at home, with minimal equipment and time. I chose to go with Glow Body PT’s 12 Week Postpartum Plan because it was highly recommended by other military women, I liked that the workouts were short and intense (and as a new mom, my time is crunched so short as it is), and I also got it on discount way back in November for Veteran’s Day. That’s just how long I’ve been looking forward to this program.

Still, I didn’t even look at it until a couple of weeks ago when I decided to print it off and put it in a binder for easy reference. I’m motivated by crossing things off of lists so I put the workout plan on the front cover of my binder so I can cross workouts off as I complete them. It’s also great because I can see what’s next and flip to the tab to see what the workout is like. One of my absolute favorite parts is that Ashley Keller (not Ashley Horner) also made real-time workout videos for every workout so I can just queue it up and as soon as Mini-Me is asleep I can hit play. I can see what the exercises look like and just follow along. SO. NICE.

I still have a ways to go before I’m anywhere near my previous fitness level, but it took my nine months to get to this low so I expect it’ll take me a while to get back plus deal with finding an entire new routine.

I want to be Real

“He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”
Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

I’ve been a consumer of social media for years and even more so in recent years with my deployment and pregnancy and now as a new mom up at all hours of the day and night and I’ve really noticed the lack of authenticity in so many posts. Or often people post about things being real but the picture is heavily edited and filtered, kind of the opposite of being “real.”

I’ve done it too. I’ll take a bunch of pictures and only post the best one and tweak it so that things look brighter and better than they are. Why are we so afraid of ourselves?

I’m never going to be able to achieve or sustain that. Let me tell you the kind of mother-athlete I am: I sleep in the clothes I wore that day, plus my favorite Oiselle Lux sweatpants because I get up and down all night and it’s easier than changing. In the mornings, if I workout, I throw something, anything on. Clothes don’t match anymore.

I workout, maybe I shower. I eat granola bars all day. My house is usually pretty well vacuumed because Mini-Me likes the sound of the vacuum, but it’s untidy as hell everywhere. My kitchen table has a breast pump on it, books, a hat, this computer, flowers in a vase, multivitamins and my incomplete cross-stitch. My coffee table is no less crowded.

I take gym pics to keep myself accountable for my workouts, not because they look nice because they sure don’t. I gained over 60 pounds during my pregnancy and I still have a lot left to lose. I have a belly pooch and my hips and thighs are thick now. It’s a rare day that I put makeup on.

But I’m willing to bet that I’m closer to the norm than further from it, despite what social media would have you think. I scroll Instagram at night looking for others who want to be Real, like I do. Women who aren’t scared of their flaws and who don’t pretend they have it all together. You’d think that the ones who have it all would be rare, but it’s the Real ones who are rarest of all. Let’s be real and raw and ourselves.