Ironman Training Pregnant: Week 14

This was an eventful week both personally and training wise. My husband left for a 6 week adventure across the world, I had two biopsies taken, I started a dairy-free trial, and it was the longest training weekend of the season (as will every weekend be for the next month). I’ve dug into my whirlwind week more below, but first the stats:

Swim: 0:45
Bike: 8:00
Run: 4:00
Brick: 1:30
TOTAL: 14:15

MY HUSBAND’S 6 WEEK ADVENTURE

My husband left on Thursday for a trip he and his brothers have been talking about for years. They were inspired by Mongol Rally (an event where you drive a “rubbish” car from London to Mongolia). Last I heard, they bought a car (for <$500) in London, the last two of the group arrived today, and they’ll head to Germany on Monday. I miss him and I’m sure I’ll miss him even more, but this trip was one of the only reasons Payvand agreed to me doing Ironman 2 times in a row. August last year was hard for the whole family – this time, I think we have a better plan: Payvand’s across the world and I get to do Ironman. I feel like we’re a pretty badass couple this summer.

INFLAMMATION + DAIRY-FREE TRIAL

I’ve been struggling with incredible foot pain since last year and have tried everything I can think of to fix it: different shoes, lidocaine shots, acupuncture, physical therapy, the works. Both after Ironman last year and this year’s half Ironman, I noticed my fingers were swollen and I had gained weight. Within 5-10 days of the race, my swelling decreased and my weight returned to normal. My coach suggested there may be a correlation with these: my body may be prone to inflammation after exercise which could be causing the foot issues.

I asked my doctor for recommendations for treating inflammation and she ordered daily turmeric and a dairy-free trial. After 2 weeks without dairy I can have a “dairy party” and see if I feel different. It’s been a hard few days so far and all I want is milk, and cheese, and yogurt – all of the time! I never realized how much dairy I ate until I had to give it up.

BIOPSIES + AWAITING NEWS

First some background: I have have high-risk HPV that my body hasn’t been successful kicking yet. I first learned of the HPV last summer during my routine pap. When results came back abnormal, a biopsy was taken and the cells were determined to be just abnormal (and not pre-cancerous). When I returned for my pap this year, the results were abnormal but the biopsy showed that the cells had progressed to pre-cancerous cells. I was referred to an OB (with more experience with precancerous cervix cells) who met with Payvand and me to discuss our options. He recommended those cells be removed from my cervix immediately but after sharing our plans to start a family and our limited window of time before Payvand left for his trip, we all agreed it was a reasonable risk to try and get pregnant within 2-3 months and if we were successful, treat the abnormal cells after pregnancy.

I had a mole removed on Wednesday and a follow-up appointment with the OB on Thursday where he took another biopsy. The dermatologist said to keep my heart rate under 140 for two days and I could resume normal exercise thereafter. We decided to go without stitches since the exercise restrictions with stitches were more limiting. With stitches, my exercise would be restricted for 7 days to avoid the stitches opening. Without stitches, it takes longer to heal and leaves more of a scar, but the benefits outweighed the risks for me – and the dermatologist said she’d do the same.

AN UNEXPECTED WARNING FROM AN OBSTETRICIAN

The OB my provider recommended to me was absolutely wonderful when he met with Payvand and me – he took his time explaining our options and immediately gained our trust and respect. That made it even harder this Thursday when I received his recommendation to no longer train for Ironman.

While making small talk during my pap (which I always think is a funny scene), he asked about how the half Ironman went and I shared that I was slower than last year but felt really good. (Read my Half Iron Triathlon (70.3) at 12 Weeks Pregnant post for more details.) He then asked about my plans for Ironman; he seemed concerned to hear my answer “I’m going to play it by ear and train as long as it feels good.” I’ve written more about the details of my encounters with this OB in The OB who made me doubt I should do Ironman pregnant. A summary is: he doesn’t recommend I complete Ironman pregnant and fears it is unsafe for my little one.

I spent the rest of the week wrestling with this newly shared opinion, considering my options, reliving how I feel when I’m training, and reassessing if I feel as though I’m putting the baby at risk. I continued on with my scheduled workouts (after my mole-induced heart rate limits were lifted), but there was still lingering doubt. I was able to talk with Payvand briefly on Sunday and he asked about Saturday’s bike workout. He first apologized “I’m sorry to ask this I’m just anxious about it now. I trust you, but….” and then he asked if I had pushed too hard on Saturday’s long bike ride and if I felt that the baby was OK. I confidently responded “yes” though there was still a twinge of doubt.

Luckily, I had a prenatal appointment with my midwife scheduled for Monday; I was eager to hear her two cents.

TRAINING WEEKEND – 6 WEEKS UNTIL IRONMAN WISCONSIN

It felt like the beginning of what my coach calls “The Ironman Grind”. Saturday was a 80 mile ride followed by a 60 minute run. Sunday was a 2 hour run and a 60 minute easy bike.

Biking is the hardest and most dreaded discipline of the three for me. I’m the slowest at biking, for sure, but I think the recurring foot pain is really what has contributed to my negative feeling towards long bike rides. I prepared for the bike with a lot of mental work – accepting that I would be the slowest of those training for Ironman on my team and that I’d spend a majority of the day alone. I had a wonderful audiobook queued (I only listen in one ear) and got ready to spend most of the day in the saddle.

I was slow on the bike – SO SLOW – the slowest I’ve ever been for a ride, I think. I made it, though. After ~35 miles, I took a 3 minute break every 10 miles to relieve the foot pain – that certainly didn’t help the speed. It was also hilly, and it was warm out, and I’m pregnant – again, all things I tried to mentally prepare for. I enjoyed the 60 minute transition run; I was just so happy to be off the bike!

Sunday’s long run was on the Ironman Wisconsin run course. I started a couple hours late to run with a friend on the team who couldn’t coordinate with her family’s agenda to make it out early. It was hotter out by the time we started, but I’ll take that over running alone any day. We walked for about 30 seconds every 1-2 miles – which is what I plan to do for Ironman. Walking the aid stations is great for helping your heart rate to recover and gives you a chance to get fluids and calories in. We were slower than we normally are for long runs (by about 30 seconds/mile), but that’s consistent with what I remember from last year. It’s hard to run fast the day after a long bike ride.

In preparation for Ironman training, I took every Monday in August off. I regretted not including the Monday after this weekend in my PTO plan. I felt exhausted all weekend and was not quite ready to head to work Monday morning. Another thing I remember from last year: you feel perpetually tired for all of August. It’s about time to get used to it, I think.

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