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Keeping it real

I hate New Year, I love Christmas. I get ridiculously over excited, spend weeks planning, buying gifts, wanting to get everything right till hubby eventually sends me out of the house to calm down! Christmas comes and goes and by 27th I feel myself sinking into post party blues. New Year does nothing for me, especially 5 months pregnant, I can hardly fit in some of my maternity clothes let alone a party dress!

I tried a little run again as my legs were itching and desperate for some action. It felt OK, but its so slow and I cover such a paltry distance I am not sure I can be bothered again. This is the first Christmas for 15 years I haven’t been training for something. I feel beyond frustrated and grumpy that I have nothing to focus upon apart from getting fatter, more tired and more cranky! I want to be out with my friends, on my bike, in my trainers, getting my heart beating hard and feeling that gorgeous post exercise smug glow of satisfaction.

But then I take stock of what I have. Woman man up. You have a wonderful family, a gorgeous little boy who is the light and life of my life, another one on the way and the most amazing husband anyone could ask for. In this world we live in we are always wanting everything and we want it now. We live on credit, material gains, how we look is how we are judged to be good people, happy people. So what if I cant be doing exactly what I want to do for the next few months? I have years ahead of me to do my hobbies (and that is all they are at the end of the day). You are only pregnant with that child for such a short period, sit back and enjoy. Let the pressure of trying to look right, do the right thing, be the right person go by. Enjoy this quiet period, this enforced slow time, lets others pick up the pace. Ill be back out there, just because I’m in my stretchy pants right now doesn’t mean this mama hasn’t still got some athletic fires burning!

Happy New Year to all, make it your year, with your goals, no one elses, enjoy every moment -be it slow or fast and most of all live your dreams life is too short for what ifs.

Not running anywhere with my baby!

20 weeks pregnant and time to call a halt on running. Its been pretty sporadic ‘running’ the last few months anyway with morning sickness not allowing for anything speedier than a dash to the loo. Once I started feeling better I was determined to try and keep in shape, but it has been much harder. Running has seemed unnatural and painful and rather than enjoying it,  I have spent most of the time convincing myself that its not sore and I am fine. But on Sunday, it really did feel bad. I felt like I needed to hold my stomach as I ran and the next day was so sore I couldn’t even walk a mile without twinges. So that’s it, I just have to face the facts that this time round I may be getting a few pounds heavier and wont be in as good as shape coming out of pregnancy as last time, but really in the whole scheme of things whats a few months of lard carrying between friends?! Pregnancy books and midwives tell you to walk as one of the best forms of exercise and I do walk miles everyday with the pram, but its just not the same as the high I get from a run however slow or short.

I have packed up my training kit, ready for May next year, when I will squeeze myself back into it again and set out on another long road to fitnessville. I miss wearing my sports kit, I miss hanging out with my buddies post training rides and runs, stuffing ourselves with lattes and muffins and the endless bragging of who got dropped when. But I have it all to look forward to again (though there might be less time for latte sipping)  I feel much more confident in the ability of my body to bounce back, about nursing my baby while exercising and my husbands ability to hold the fort while I have some Mum time!

So for the next few months, it will be power walking with my baby. He can pretty much power walk next to me now, though his ability to stay in the same direction or follow the path can lead to some rather frustrating circular routes! He loves to walk, to run, to pick up and throw anything he can get his hands on. He is completely fearless and would happily stay outside 24/7 if he had the chance. I seem to be the mum who is always at the bottom of the slide come rain or shine watching another skill be mastered-completely ignored until needed for a helping hand or to be shown a particularly large stick! I wouldn’t have it any other way, I hope he has inherited my love for the outside and activity and if I have to slow down for the next few months it will just give me more time to watch  the little strong boy I am so proud of getting stronger and stronger everyday.

You Win Some You Lose Some!

This week has probably been the toughest yet in my new career as a Mum. Baby has been sick, really sick for the last 6 days and nothing I could do or say would help. I have new found respect for families who have really ill children all the time, how exhausting and how dedicated the parents must be. After just 6 days I feel completely battle weary, I cannot stand to hear another whine, change another set of clothes, be hit, clean up snot covered mess or cook anymore tempting meals to have them thrown onto the floor in disgust.

My biggest mistake to make, as always, and one I constantly do, is to put adult human emotions onto my little baby. He has never coughed before, had a chest so full of gunk he cant breathe or a headache and achingly dry lips. Even though all of this is new to him, I get frustrated that he wont do what is best for him. Why does he not just sit quietly with me and read a book, why does he need to pull everything out of the cupboard and then slam the door on his hand? Why does he need to throw his head back in rage against the wall until finally he gives it such a crack he ends up howling. These are his ways of expressing his dismay in feeling so terrible, but to me they seem an addition to an already highly demanding and stressful situation, of the all consuming sick toddler.

Being a stay at home mum means I have had no respite all week, not wanting to lurgy any of my friends and not up to play dates we have spent hours inside, him slowly getting better, while I got iller with said cold and more exhausted from night screaming (him not me!). I have found the constant demands  physically hard, but hey I’m a strong cookie, its the unexpected mental drain of not being able to do anything right, in fact doing everything wrong and no reward for a long day apart from a still fractious and ill baby.

In my previous life I have always been able to control situations, work wise I liked nothing better than chairing a meeting and making decisions (ask my department!) and in training thrived on a dedicated and demanding schedule. But here I am now, melted down to the bare bones of me, nothing to show for my week, but a son who has now turned a corner and is happily out shopping with Dad and me a frazzled, worn out and cranky mummy!
That’s the hardest thing, I think I have probably worked harder this week than in any of my working weeks or training units and I have nothing to show. I feel a sense of guilt that I haven’t really achieved anything this week or been a particularly good wife and lets not lie, we all like praise and recognitions, but none will be coming my way. The only person to say thank you for that, you did an OK job (debatable!) is me.  And so, I will.

Gone are the days when I had trophies and targets to show my talents but I have a family, a medal so special, yet so demanding that only those lucky enough to also have this gift in life will understand. I’m beginning to understand  you don’t need the thanks, you don’t need to prove you are a worthwhile being by being a high achiever, you just need to know in your heart, when the going got tough you did the best you did and it all worked out in the end.

All quiet on the running front….

So radio silence needs to be broken.

This is the first time I have sat down at my laptop properly for 3 months. I just havent been able to face it. Just been too sick, too tired and too depressed. So unlike my normal self and so draining when accompanied by a cheery 14 month old companion. Reason being….I am expecting another baby! ‘Hurrah’ I hear you shout…..’Crikey  those two will be close!’ Gulp, yes they will, but hey so many positives can be drawn from having a close sibling, I am testamant to that. Who needs sleep and rest when you can just be surrounded by babies 24/7!

I have been hit with mindblowing morning sickness (a term clearly defined by a man as I have been sick all hours of the day), it really has been truely the worse few months of my life, the delight of being pregnant again has only just eclipsed the terrible all encompassing sickness which has left me weeping, weak and wobbly everyday for weeks on end. However the cloud seems to have passed and though I still feel the occasional clutch of nausea I have suddenly come back into the real world and am able to begin living again rather than just surviving.

So running has taken a miserable back seat…..funnily enough the last time I ran properly was my 100mile week in Scotland when I didnt know I was pregnant and since then have only managed a handful of 5kms, not just because I was so sick, but for the first time in my life running actually made me feel worse. So unlike the me of old I listened to my body and have just ‘let it go’ allowing my body to channel all its energy into creating a new little being and allowing my hormones free rein to run wild!

I am now itching to get back moving again which I think is always the sign to get going again. Running comes easy to me and even after a 10 week break I managed an easy 5 miles and then 7 miles at the weekend. I keep my heart rate below 150 which means running painfully slowly, biting back my competitive instinct and the temptation to power up hills and take on that random male runner who always has a point to prove. But as with last pregnancy I have lost the will to push myself to the limit..’doing’ exercise is enough, bit of fresh air, bit of a sweat on and that will do.

And now second time around….there is no time off, no sneaky lunchtime swims, no nanny naps (well a few!). I am exhausted running around after baby who is in the prime of life as a toddler – the no fear, maximum danger phase. But it is also a super fun phase, he is interacting, popping out the odd word – ‘Burleeeeeease’ when he wants some of my snacks and ‘ball’ which of course had both Dad and I glowing with pride!

So I will do my best knowing that coming out of this pregnancy it might take a bit longer to get fit again. To keep me dreaming I have set some big goals for 2013 including a gold medal which still eludes me and on my slow plods I imagine now not one mini cheer leader, but two, shouting their Mum on and longing to get away so they can go and play football!

Letting Go…

I am happy, really happy. I feel I have finally reached a place where my heart doesn’t ache with the decisions I have made. I am still missing my sport and my job, but loving my changed life as a Mummy and a better wife.

Baby is now almost a year, some people say that it takes 9 months to grow a baby and 9 months to get over having the baby. Well physically I recovered really quickly and though I breastfed for 6 months, I quickly felt my body bounce back and my legs and lungs regain their strength. However mentally I did not realise how much it would take getting used to having this little being in our lives. Not only the demands he has placed on us, but also the indescribable love I feel for him. He has totally encompassed and enchanted us and turned both my life and my heart upside down.

I have adapted my training so I can now still fit in a good enough leg smashing that I feel I am improving my fitness, but still have the energy to cope with a very active 11 month old. I have come to terms with the fact that I cant compete at the level I would like to and no longer feel a twisting of my stomach when I see riders go by, rather I am enjoying coaching others to fulfil their dreams and enjoying a while new set of dreams  myself. I miss my work and my work friends, but other opportunities are beckoning and I am so glad that I stuck to my guns in not returning especially when I get to witness every major milestone that are coming thick and fast.
 I understand that these are personal choices and everyone has a different idea of how they want to bring up their children, though it still irks me when friends who have gone back to work comment…oh I wish I could sit around drinking coffee all day. I wish! The choices I have made make my life hard work. Limited funds means a  limited material budget, but for everything we are lacking in monetary value we make up for in finding the joy in living a simpler and quieter lifestyle.

We recently spent a blissful week in Scotland, introducing baby to the highlands and our favourite pastimes of epic adventures combined with epic pie eating! I managed to squeeze in just under 100 miles running which plus with walking left me feeling suitably back to my original ‘bouncing’ self. I haven’t been running over these familiar trails and hills properly since pre baby and it was so exhilarating to be back where I really feel I belong with the added bonus of sharing the magic of some of the hills to our son.
And it was up there, in the pouring rain with both my boys by my side that I realised I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or doing anything else in the world. Life was pretty much perfect. I have no medals or trophies to show for my past years work, no  money in my bank account, but  I have the most important thing in the world, a wonderfully happy and contented family.

Baby Steps

Momentous times in our household this week……baby not only now standing on his own, but walking! He has been getting braver and braver by the day, till yesterday, hands went off the cupboard and he walked his first four steps into my arms. What did I do? Burst into tears of course! Which Mummy doesn’t on seeing their first baby take his first steps into a whole new world. We spent the rest of the evening taking little steps, even surprising Dad when he arrived home early from work. Of course today he has totally refused to even stand up, but spent most of it sitting in a corner sucking his thumb…I wonder if this is a by product of his sudden found independence or his legs are feeling the fatigue from last night and he is just resting up ready for our next training session tonight?!
 On my run last night after watching baby walk for the first time it got me thinking of this sudden grasp of independence. Time has just flown by…..in 5 weeks time baby will be a year old.  I’m not ready to have a toddler yet, I want my little baby who I can still dress in cute sleep suits (fat chance of getting those poppers up now!), cuddle with and carry around. In honesty I love the fact that he relies on me for everything, that the bond we share is so strong I can tell what he needs almost before he does. But I guess from the moment the umbilical cord is cut, that thick, strong lifeline has to be slowly shredded in order for your children to grow into strong, confident people. Watching him walk really was the highlight of my mothering career so far, his legs lifting, bending and muscles flexing for the first time. And the look of pure delight and astonishment on his face (and mine I am sure!).

Every day I see him becoming more and more independent. From stuffing food in his mouth to knowing exactly what toy he wants and when! Being at home every day, day in day out, is wonderful and I wouldn’t change it for the world though there are times when I want to stick forks in my eye!  Now I see him becoming a little man every single 4am wake up, meal thrown on the floor, wash hung out, is worth it. By giving up some of my independence I feel he is gaining his in return.

And so while running last night I let my mind wander to where those very strong legs of his might end up walking him to. Mine have been such an asset to me-not my most attractive feature, but strong, tireless and healthy they have carried me to all sorts of adventures and I have and will continue to work at making them the best mummy running legs they can be.
So little baby….take your time with your next steps. Mama is in no rush to see you off into the sunset, but know this, wherever those legs take you, I’ll never forget those first steps,  I’ll always be there for you and I’ll always be proud.

I Do!

We have entered the wedding season. Our mantelpiece has been strewn with invitations for months, gifts have been bought, accommodation booked, outfits scrambled together and now we begin the weekends of
wedding extravaganzas. 
Husband and I enjoyed our first night away from the baby at the first wedding this weekend. Leaving the baby in the crazy, but capable hands of his beloved aunts we headed off.  Hubby was best man and I was going to be set free from my 5am wake up call. We planned a few drinks, but after the initial excitement of the reception and the bubbly (I always guzzle and then realise too late that I am peaking way too soon) we decided we couldn’t face the 4hr drive home with hangovers and we were very happy to just have an evening together.  How grown up and boring are we? Or is that the way all new parents feel?

I love a wedding, I want to cry the minute I sit down, you cannot help but get caught up in the electric emotion of the day, feeling the nervous tension in the room as the groom squirms in his seat awaiting the first sight of his future wife. I remember that moment of walking up the aisle so well. It hadn’t really dawned on me that all these people would be in the church and  my bridesmaids have never forgotten the look I gave them as I realised that this is it!

Over the past few years I have often thought of that moment and all our lovely friends who gathered to celebrate our wedding. When times are tough (and they are, I may be married to a saint, but I am still quite high maintenance!) I think of the vows we made to each other and the promises we made in front of all our friends. They believe in us and we can draw on them for support and love whenever we need them. When I am tired, fed up or just plain bored of the endless round of chores I let my mind wander back to that blissful day, when I married my best friend in front of all our best friends.

And so though we have entered a treadmill of weddings, I know how important our presence is at each and every one. By attending we are saying to our friends we believe in you, we support you and we love you. Go for it!
We drove home, refreshed, renewed and ready for our bundle of destruction to be waiting at the front door for us.
The wedding is just the beginning, it may only be a day, but the memories will be drawn on forever and my vows to my husband will last for all eternity.  So here’s to all the husbands out there. The support they give us, especially as new mums is invaluable and that cup of tea handed to us at 3am will never be forgotten. I love my husband, I love him more everyday as I see the wonderful parent he is becoming and I love being lucky enough to be his wife.

The Everyday Race

An early waking baby has started to leave me feeling really drained, days have become weeks that I am up before 5am. We have tried every bit of advice to get him to sleep later, but nothing works and I have succumbed to the fact that’s its us, not him, that has to change our body clocks in order for our lives to work in tandem.

There is so much information out there and as more and more of my friends have babies you see everyone go through the same realisation- first few weeks of bliss as baby sleeps for most of the time, just waking to feed or stare nonsensically at a visiting face. Then WHAM the baby wakes up and suddenly evenings become a screaming match and days blur into a milky reality. Slowly you and the baby swing into a routine, whatever works for you, works (in my opinion). It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you always do the same….as the months go on I am realising more and more that all babies really require is stability and predictability just like us.

I have struggled with this stability over the past few months as my life is repeatably thrown off kilter. And it doesn’t seem acceptable to say out loud that actually life with a baby is exhausting! Bring back ironman training and full time work any day….this is never ending! The cleaning, the wiping, the washing, the cuddling, the playing, the demands are 24/7 there are no rest days or easy days for this athlete! You have got to be on full time race peak all day till that blissful evening moment when you shut the nursery door and switch the kettle on (or pop the cork!) and sit down…..oh no wait the washing machine needs unpacking!

Trying to fit in any serious training is not that tricky with such early get ups and light evenings, but I just cant cope with the exhaustion a long session brings to my day and I don’t feel its fair to not be in great shape to look after my baby. Without quality sleep the muscle repair and rest just isn’t happening and as I saw in the last few weeks I end up going into deep exhaustion with nothing really to show for my efforts apart from crankiness and tears!

So while we are going through this phase I have cut down my training to let my body cope with the demands a very active 10 month old is placing on it. To most the amount I am still doing would seem a lot, but getting out of the mindset of ironman training is tough where if you are not doing at least two sessions a day its hardly worth talking about!

All of this is so new to me, being an athlete has meant being selfish for the past few years and people (notably my husband) fitting in with me and my schedule. Suddenly the tables have turned and I am fitting in with someones else schedule. I am learning to do this and am enjoying seeing how much he is flourishing with this care and security. I realise it really doesn’t matter whether I can smash out a 5km in record time or fit into my size 10 jeans, but what matters is our little family is happy and healthy in our own little training schedule where everyday is a race and everyday is a prize.

To my Mummy

One of the best parts of becoming a mother has been the change in my relationship with my mum. We have always been close and apart from a regrettable incident with a bottle of Archers and the school disco we have never had more than a few tense words between us. She helped me plan my wedding to perfection, so much so we nicknamed her ‘J-Lo’ and through these actions I began to realise how much her daughters meant to her. Now as I am taking my first tentative steps into motherhood I have this new found respect for her. I never realised how hard being a mother was. Never realised the endless drudgery, chores, sleepless nights, manic days and she had 3! What makes me so proud is I never realised…she never complained, never moaned. All I remember of my young childhood is many blissful days in the garden, endless rounds of meals and endless games with my beloved sisters. I know both my parents were very busy, but Mum was always there in the background to pick up the pieces when we fell and to tuck us in at night.

Now as I watch baby and ‘Granny’ together I am in awe at her ease with both my son and to how well she has adopted to her role as the ‘supporter.’ Never once has she judged me, criticised or contradicted my mothering skills. For this I am so grateful. She is there to help with baby and they adore each other already, but I know equally importantly she is watching out for me, her daughter and her baby. I have always loved her dearly, but now I feel our bond is changing, life is moving on and I am stepping into her shoes as she is moving into a new pair.
I know I am lucky. I know others have strained family relations…but don’t worry she isn’t all perfect! She HATES all things Ironman related and so I have kept many a race and result to myself. I didn’t tell her about the 40 mile run I did a few months ago (though had to confess the next day when she saw me walking down the stairs). She doesn’t get my need to push myself to the limit and cant understand why a good dog walk isn’t enough!? But in some ways this has served its purpose, I have nothing to prove, no pressure doing my sport, it is purely for myself and no one else. When I go home I can just be me, her daughter and now the new mummy.
I love you Mooms x

Baby Body

My body, my machine, my engine and now my baby carrier and nurturer. Its been put through the mill the last five years. Firstly with four years of full on triathlon training plus full time working and then pregnancy, birth and breast feeding. It has stood up and answered every demand I have placed on it and yet I feel I am only just winning this love hate battle I have been fighting with all my life. I am beginning to feel at peace with what I have been given and to let the bonds and unrealistic expectations of modern society slip away.

My body has always been strong and powerful, it seems to have never ending powers of endurance. It’s never suffered a major injury despite training repetitively week on week out. When asked in a big race, its always performed and apart from falling apart in the closing stages of the World Champs in Kona, physically it got me to the finish line, though I left any coherent thoughts out on the Queen K!  Most importantly, it grew, protected, nourished my baby and then delivered it (with a little help!) safely into the world. And only now, am I able to look in the mirror and accept and be happy with what I have been given.

My body is in no way its tight, muscle bound shape it used to be. Bits sag (sorry), are wider, smaller, stretched, scarred and yet it is serving its natural function and finally finding its natural shape – not something I am forcing it into being to fit my demands or the expectations of others. Over the past few months as I battled with the realisation that I just wouldn’t be able to train and compete (at the moment) it has slowly dawned on me that my body does not need to be punished for the shape it is. It is what it is and no one apart from me (and my lovely friend Vickie!)  really cares. My son and husband both love me for being me, I am their rock, their nest and their comfort, they do not judge me for my shape, their love is unconditional and unjudgemental.

I am sure other Mums feel the same way. Life is suddenly not about you, in fact you are very low in the pecking order. That reliance on you by another or others makes you realise that body shape is really not worth worrying about. Time is so precious and seems to be going so quickly and I want to enjoy every last minute!