Returning to the Races after Baby
Take a look at the team photo and there’s something…different…about the gal on the far right. That’s me, with the huge belly poking out. Fast forward a couple months to mid-May and that’s when my family’s new addition, Cora Kate Harrison, arrived. I was thrilled that the pregnancy and delivery was relatively easy compared to past experiences, which included tragic loss in one and 4 months of bedrest during another. I was also glad to hear the doctor’s were fully supportive of me returning to my previous activities as I was comfortable (though I’m not really sure they fully understood what that meant for us crazy triathletes).
Fast forward again a couple months and training was back on in earnest. Being on the team is a big motivator for me in itself–I want to make my team and sponsors proud! I also wanted to get back something for me. Since all the races would have to be late in the season, it panned out that the Rex Wellness Wakefield Sprint would be my first race, followed shortly by the White Lake Sprint and so on. The date on the calendar makes a world of difference in training focus. The Wakefield Sprint would be when my daughter is just shy of 3 months old. How would that go? Well, only way to find out was go for it!
Training after just having a baby is a very humbling experience. Yes, I just grew a human. I know. I’m not saying I expected to be right back where I was. But I have to admit– I forgot what it’s like to try to get back into shape from a spot like this. It’s rough. Out of breath. Legs and lungs burning. Exhausted… at a pace slower than my old warm-up. Ouch. Goals for the efforts and outcomes each workout have to be adjusted big-time. It can be done and plugging away will have its rewards, in time.
The first race back was purely about getting back into the environment of a race. Unfortunately, a mid-August race on the Wakefield course means pretty brutal conditions–hot, humid, and hilly! There’s a part of me that really wanted to stand on the podium with a baby under 3 months old, but the hills on the run were just too much. On a positive note, the swim and bike legs were strong, with times in the top of my age group. I finished 5th in the 35-39 age group, just 17 seconds off the podium (argh!). However, it was a great morning and I was pleased to be back.
The 2nd race was at White Lake for the Fall Sprint. To sum up, the conditions for the race were much better, and the run gives me hope for the future that better times aren’t too far off. I can’t use podium placement for comparison since I was the only one in my division, so having an overall female top 10% finish feels satisfying. Cora is almost 4 months old. Not bad.
So two more races left and I’m already thinking of how I can work on things over the off-season. For me, it’s a way of having a part of myself that’s just me and in turn makes me a better mom. We all need an outlet. Some may say it’s crazy to be back racing when baby is 3 months old. But for me, it’s a way to be motivated to stay healthy for years to come, relieve stress, and keep daily life from being all-consumed by other people (namely little ones that share my last name). Big thanks to my husband who helps make the time for my training. Thanks too to the team for supporting me through this journey. I’m grateful to be a part of such a great community of athletes and friends. It’s good to be (getting) back.
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