I’m calling this a race report. Maybe I should be calling this “The past 20 months in a nutshell”? I don’t know… I plan on writing a bit about my racing in the coming months. It’s an important part of my life and the lessons that come from it are with me in my professional and personal life. I started off racing swimming competitively when I was 7 and continued right until the end of my undergrad at McMaster. After that I transitioned (after a well deserved break) into running and then triathlon. Currently I still compete in running and tri’s. It’s all for fun and a great way for me to keep in shape.
It’s been about 20 months since I had my second baby. I went into this pregnancy a little fitter and lot smarter than my first. Over the past year and a half or so I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. Times where I think I’m on track to getting back to where I was fitness wise. Times when I don’t. But I stayed smart. That’s the important thing for me. I’d like to compete and stay active well into my 60s and 70s and 80s so short term gains aren’t worth long term sacrifices.
The first year post partum was all about getting a solid base. I had plenty of weight to lose and strength to gain back despite being appropriately active for the whole 9 months. In the 2 months prior to getting pregnant I had qualified a second time for the Boston marathon and had just competed in my first 70.3 Ironman World Championships. I was probably in the best shape of my life.
Last year I did some races. Nothing spectacular in terms of results or times but I was getting fitter and stronger and staying injury free. The first 6 weekspost partum I walked and did some self prescribed physio exercises. I’m pretty sure that’s the longest I’ve gone without exercise that increases my heart rate in 15 years! Then I worked with my coach to build up my swimming, biking and running. It felt slow and frustrating but I had good support and I trusted my program. I also did weights and yoga regularly to support are the cardio. After the first year I was getting in shape.
So this is the second year. My son weaned himself a few months ago. I’m starting to see glimpses of my old self. I’m starting to push myself more in workouts to where I can get that deep ache in my stomach and that pain is stopping me, not a voice in my head saying “your pelvis isn’t strong enough yet…“. It feels great to be honest.
I tend to prefer longer races; half marathons, marathons, Ironmans. My favorite race is a half ironman distance triathlon. It seems to be my best distance for my body and mind. My coach and I decided a sprint triathlon would be a good “test” for me to practice transitions before my half ironman planned at the end of the month. This is a pretty short race for me. I really don’t have much speed. So truthfully I was a little nervous.
The swim is my strongest. It was my first time out in a wetsuit this year. I honestly don’t have too much to say about this. It was quick and I felt strong. I came out of the water leading my age group. Onto the bike. The course comes out of the conservation area and in a few km you start the climb up the escarpment. I had never actually done this climb. I had done the descent a few times last year in training and didn’t really think much of it except “glad I’m not going up!”. It was hard and steep and I questioned a few times if my bike was going to tip over. After the climb you loop around in a square and come back down the hill. It was a pretty good ride. No one from my age group had past me yet and I was pretty happy with the split.
The run course is all within the conservation area. It’s a series of loops over short choppy hills. It’s a course I found hard to get into a rhythm and burns your legs. 7 km is pretty short for me so I definitely had a challenge getting out of my typical half ironman pace and into something quicker. After about 5 km something clicked and I felt like I could go. I finished as hard as I could. I ended up winning my age group. This was definitely a confidence booster. After 20 months I’m starting to race like I used to. Pushing myself like I did once before.
So what is the takeaway of this rambling? Firstly, you have to be patient after having a baby. It takes at least 2 years for your body to heal. Although you may feel like you’re fine, if you push too hard to soon, you risk injury. Secondly, think about your long term goals and have realistic expectations. Take steps to make those happen. This race is just the start. I still have lots of work to do but things are slowly but surely getting closer to where they were. Work with a coach, trainer or physio you trust to get you there. Be smart. There’s a lot that can still be done in those first 2 years. Do what you can in the time you have available or want to commit to fitness. It’s a great time to work on appropriate core and body strength and building a fabulous aerobic base. Having a baby is a big deal. Period. The journey itself can be frustrating but it is also be fun! Try to enjoy it!