Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Iron baby (x2)

Soo... last week I shared some news via FB/IG/twitter that Geoff and I are adding to our wolf pack, and that there is not one Baby Ulrich but two coming this July.  I am currently pregnant and we are expecting twins.  Surprising - yes!  Crazy - yes!  Overwhelming - yes!  Exciting - yes!  I wanted to write a bit about the journey so far, and I'm hoping to blog regularly about my experiences with this new journey.  I've been getting many questions from many people, the most common of which is 'Do twins run in your family?'.  I'm totally fine with these questions and don't mind answering them, and I'm happy to be open about our experience.  I get that people are curious!  The funniest and most unique one I've gotten so far was: "Was this by fluke or by design?".  Haha!

After my race season ended in 2015, Geoff and I had planned to start trying to grow our little family. We were lucky that it only took a couple of months before I was pregnant.  We found out in mid November at which point I was 4 weeks along (or 2 weeks gestational age).  Then a week or two later we went to Phoenix for a week's vacation, where I started running again (I had taken a month off to try and heal my hip injury).  I did the mini triathlon when I was almost 6 weeks pregnant.  I kept it comfortable and didn't let my heart rate go above 145-150 in the bike or run.  I didn't wear the HR monitor in the water (swim was last), but slowed down my pace and intensity and everything felt good and the race turned out okay, too!
New Year's Eve swim with friends

1st Trimester:
Other than feeling very fatigued, I didn't really even feel much different.  There was absolutely no sickness or nausea, I kept waiting and waiting for it to happen but it never did. I was very lucky to not even have had a day of sickness.  I've had no particular food cravings or aversions, and have been able to eat all my typical and normal foods and lots of it!  I don't think I am the typical pregnant lady, LOL!  Since I had no morning sickness at all, and didn't really gain more than a couple pounds in the first trimester, there was no reason to suspect twins, and it didn't even cross our minds once.  At my 12 week Ultrasound appointment on Jan. 12, we found out there were 2 babies!  This was the shock of our lives to see two of them up there on the screen, as we hadn't even considered the possibility.  At first, when the image came up, I just thought they were showing two pictures of the one baby, then the ultrasound tech said, "OK, a little surprise here..." and we couldn't believe it.  We've had more than a month now to digest the news, but it's still hard to believe.  It's so random, and such a fluke!  I guess it can be more common at my age (I'm 35 now).  The ultrasound dated their gestational age at 13 weeks, even though I was at 12 weeks, which is a good thing as it means the iron babies were growing well.

Twin A and Twin B

Now that I'm well into the 2nd trimester, I still don't really feel that much different, although the fatigue and tiredness are still there!  I'm generally fine throughout the day, but in the evenings, especially on days where I was up at 5am to coach, I can just crash all of a sudden and fall asleep on the couch by 9pm some nights!  I'm sleeping really well though and I now just get more sleep than I used to.

In terms of training in the first trimester when I thought I had one baby on board, I was swimming 2-3 times a week, about 2500-2800m, running a couple times a week, for about 45min (one run was 60min in December), cycling on the trainer once or twice a week for 60min, and doing some strength/weights or a Barre class.  I was aiming for about 8-9 hours per week of working out.  I trained by heart rate and kept my perceived exertion low.  During the first trimester, I was extremely fatigued and got out of breath very easily (i.e. I climb two flights of stairs every day to get to my office and my HR would go up to like 135!).

I did a lot of surfing the net and reading athlete blogs, looking for information and guidelines for pregnant endurance athletes, and there's not a whole lot out there.  There's even less for pregnant endurance athletes carrying twins!  So I came up with my own plan and guidelines.  Here's what I am doing now:

  • Aiming for about 7 hours a week of exercise (no longer calling it training!), none of my workouts are longer than 60min in duration. I usually try to do something every day, and typically 2 workouts on Saturdays. 
  • My week of workouts consists of 3 swims of between 2500-2600m, 1-2 bikes of 60min, and I was doing a couple runs of 45min but at my first visit to the OB at the beginning of February, she advised that I should stop running so I listened to the advice (I was 16 weeks along at that point).  It's too risky when you are carrying multiples.  I had been planning to stop running at around 20 or so weeks anyway, so no big deal.  Now to replace the running I am doing 2 'power walks' a week on the treadmill, consisting of walking at a good pace with sets of hills (usually 5 x 5 min @ 5-7% grade and 3.8mph with 3min recovery at 1% grade and 3.5mph).  Additionally, I'm doing a bit of core work, and a strength/weights workout once a week at home of 3 sets of 9-10 exercises. 
  • Heart rates: while biking my heart rate is generally around 115-125.  While walking on the treadmill my HR can get up to the same range during the walking hill intervals.  Everything feels comfortable.  Swimming I have slowed down and backed off the effort, and I now have 2 paces - comfortable, and easy.  I'm not longer holding sub 1:20 pace on faster/threshold 100's and 200's.  My comfortable pace per 100m is now 1:25-1:28, and I take longer rest intervals than before.  I've been feeling really good in the pool.  I'm doing all the same workouts as I assign my group, with the effort adjusted.  I can still fit into my normal swimsuits (probably not for long!).
  • If I am too tired or don't feel like doing a workout, I simply don't do it.  I will sit on the couch instead and relax either with my book or watching t.v.  And I don't feel guilty about it.  
  • Perceived exertion is really important - I keep all my workouts comfortable and easy.  So far everything has felt really good.  

Coeur bib shorts are perfect for a growing belly!

I'm already on week 19 (just past 18 weeks along).  So far I've gained about 13 lbs I think, and most of my clothes are still fitting, although I have to retire one of my pairs of skinny jeans as I wore them the other day and they're not comfortable to sit in.

That's it for now, I think.  I'll try and post another update soon.