Choosing To Race While Pregnant
Many of you have heard by now our announcement, but for those who have not….
Coming to you sometime in November 2019 our little family is growing. While we had been trying over the winter we had stopped trying due to Ironman Boulder coming up quickly. Trying over the winter was not easy as my body did not seem to want to cooperate, in fact I absolutely HATED trying it was such a process. My body did not produce progesterone which meant that I was not ovulating. I spent the winter taking progesterone and Letrazole in order to help promote ovulation. The thing is that Letrazole is a banned substance with the USADA, Ironman, and USAT so I had to jump through all the hoops to get a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) which I find absolutely ridiculous that a woman has to go through all this red tape in order to just expand their family but that is a story for another time. So you know all of the terrible side affects they always warn you about when taking substances…. well I experienced almost all of them when taking progesterone. Extreme mood swings, anger, negativity, lethargy, heavy legs, exhaustion (which yes I know is similar to lethargy), bloating, cramping, headaches, you name it. I absolutely DESPISED it!!! After 2.5 rounds (I say 0.5 because I didn’t finish the third round) I decided it was not worth it to me as it was totally changing who I was a basic human being and that was not worth it at all to me.
Fast forward to right before Galveston 70.3 and all of the sudden we were pregnant….. Talk about a baseball to the face… All of the plans, all of the goals, and dreams I had for the 2019 season suddenly where thrown out of the window and that was a lot for me to handle. Being pregnant really is not something I have ever looked forward to, you may not like what I am about to say as I know so many believe that pregnancy is the gift of life and a joy for women, but for me it was a handcuff to my dreams and something I did not find even remotely magical or really dreamed much about. Now don’t get me wrong I am excited about expanding our family, the love that I know will be there, and more importantly being able to have my husband become a father which is something he has always wanted but the process of doing is really something I do not enjoy. However, this is not about my thoughts and feelings regarding pregnancy. I will be sharing the journey with you not only via my social media but this platform as well, it will be a very honest journey so be forewarned I will be sharing exactly how I feel during this journey.
This is more about my decision to continue racing and training during my pregnancy. Immediately after announcing that I was pregnant I immediately received notes and messages, among all of the amazing support, questioning my decisions to race and decisions to train as much as I could. Instantly stating that my life was going to totally change and my abilities to do what I was doing probably wouldn’t exist. Full disclosure these comments royally piss me off especially since 99% of them actually come from women. In an age were women have fought so hard for our rights, our equality, and to be treated the same as men in all things the fact that we instantly degrade our abilities just because we are pregnant is horrendous. If we keep asking for all these things that we believe and know that we deserve than why is it that when women become pregnant or moms they instantly have to revert back to this ideal that they can’t have it all, that rather than being able to chase our dreams we have to give them up only to be a mom and a wife. Why do we have to give up our dreams?
Yes, I am aware that a child 110% changes our life I am not ignoring or stating that it doesn’t. What I am getting at is that you don’t have to totally give up what you want just because of a child, and if you do then what are you teaching your child? That dreams don’t really matter? That is no ok to me. The number one thing that my parents taught me was to chase my passions, never give up on your dreams, and do whatever it takes. This may mean that my route and path may change a little bit, it will be adjusted, but it sure as hell does not mean that my dreams and goals have to change unless I WANT them to.
I want my child to grow up watching its parents chase their dreams, to go after their passions, to get down and dirty with the crazy ideas that they have. I want my child to look at me and know that I never gave up on what I wanted in hopes that someday when they are out their chasing their dreams they will think my mom never gave up so why would I.
When I found out I was pregnant the first thing I did was rearrange my race schedule in order to make sure that I could race as much as possible but also not exhaust myself. In reality I believed that I could complete a full Ironman pregnant, in fact I have no reason to doubt that I couldn’t, however I was already feeling extremely exhausted (this has been the number one issue I have been dealing with) and knew that training for a full Ironman would be more than I could mentally handle more than physically. So I dropped Ironman Boulder and added in a second 70.3 to follow immediately after St. George, Chattanooga 70.3.
Ok, so back to the question is racing safe while pregnant. The answer is yes. In fact when I asked my doctor to confirm it he basically brushed it off and said ya go for it have fun. :) Exercise is actually really good not only for yourself but the baby, helping to make the pregnancy easier and the recovery from the pregnancy even easier. Secondly, if it is something that you tie your identity to (like myself) and/or use it to help keep your mental and emotional sanity clear then during a time in which emotions run rampant it is a good thing to do whatever you can to keep it in check. For people like myself who have been training and racing basically their whole lives our bodies are so used to it that just straight stopping would actually send it into a bit of a tailspin. Now if it is something that you have never done before then you probably shouldn’t start it when you are pregnant, for example if you have never trained for a triathlon before you probably shouldn’t start or if you have never done a dead lift before you probably shouldn’t go out and try to lift everything you can. Straight up common sense….
Really the key with doing anything while pregnant is to 1) listen to your body and 2) communicate with your doctor and those around you. Here is my question to those who ask, don’t you listen to your body every single day while you train? So why in the world would anything change with training and racing pregnant? Just because you are pregnant does not mean that you instantly become this bumbling idiot who doesn’t listen to your own body and is so fragile that you can’t do anything but mope around the house. In fact, while I am only somewhere around 9-11 weeks into this journey I am realizing that it makes us stronger, I mean who else other than women could continue working, training, and just straight living their daily lives while unbelievably exhausted, nauseous, vomiting, and growing a human the size of a watermelon in their bodies.
Listening to my body has been exactly what I have been doing, and was doing prior to this journey anyways. There have been plenty of days that I have not felt good during this journey so far. In standard first trimester fashion I have been experiencing severe exhaustion, lethargy, lack of motivation, nausea, and an inability to eat food just in general all of which makes training tough. With that it has meant that I have modified a lot of my training, while my coach programs as if I was not pregnant I then adjust based on what my body can handle on that day. There have been plenty of days where rather than do the intervals programmed I adjust and do what my body can handle. I am learning, slowly, to not take this as weakness but rather just what I can handle on that specific day and be ok with it. With that, I will continue to go on chasing my dreams during this journey to the best that my body and mind can handle all while continuing to listen to my body just as I always have done.
St. George 70.3 is coming up in around 10 days to be immediately followed two weeks later by Chattanooga 70.3… I may be a bit crazy for doing two back to back like that all while 12-14 weeks pregnant but I wouldn’t be Kayla Bowker if it wasn’t a little bit crazy :)