July 28, 2009

Gear Freak Heaven

Martin is definitely no gear freak. He kept his old raod bike for the best part of 20 years, and does not even buy that much climbing gear, since there are that many times you can joke about buying new nuts anyway. I would not be able to say the same about me. Truth be told, I just love my gear.

And pregnancy has one great advantage: if you are into new kit, it provides you with one big excuse to indulge.

I did not discover this straight away. In fact, I first started pretty frustrated. We found out I was pregnant a few days before Christmas, and I had been hinting (OK, let's be frank here: lobbying like mad and with no subtility whatsoever) that I was dreaming about that great Polar watch which would give me not only the time of day, but, more importantly (why would you want a watch to give you time?) run distance, maximum and average speed, altitude gain, etc, etc... In a nutshell, the perfect toy for a running addict.

And there I was, discovering I was pregnant, and realising that my mileage would have to drop. Right, that did not mean the new toy I eventually got (I am a great lobbyist) would not be used, but it would start its life being under-used, which sounded almost as bad. And that was just the beginning, was I telling myself with dread. No more excuses for a new climbing helmet I had been coveting (I have one of course, and it does the job perfectly. Except it is white, while Martin's is orange, therefore much more funky, and I am not sure how much longer I can handle the frustration). No more excuses for new bike tires (and worst: my road bike is baby-blue, and for as long as I would still be cycling during pregnancy, people would think the choice of colour had been an early sign of repressed clock-ticking issues). No more excuses for ├╝ber-light trail running, folding, carbon poles (I knew I would be soon enough considering myself happy to run a few miles on the flat, where, let's face it, poles would just make me look like a pregnant grand-mother). And the list could go on. And on. And on.

But then, little by little, it drew on me that, unless I was about to spend the next 9 months playing the couch potato at home (which was so NOT the intention), pregnancy could just provide an avenue for new gear discovery.

And it has. The kit is just different.

The one piece of gear I am really excited about is the baby carrier we are planning to get. Check this out: not only can it be used as a baby jogger, but it doubles as a bike carrier and can also be used when ski touring. OK, we will have to deal with the issue of petite Boule not freezing to death in this thing, but as soon as I am in working order again, this one fine piece of gear should prove like the perfect let's-keep-Mum-happy tool.

And then there is yoga, meditation and birth classes. Swiss ball (we had two, but you see, we need a different size, for Martin to play an active role during delivery. Now, that's an excuse), wobble cushion, and meditation cushions with funky names like "zafu" have quickly transformed the living room in an annexe of, depending on which corner you happen to look at, my gym or my yoga studio.

As for my turbo trainer, after months of inactivity (given the choice, no way I will get on it while there are so many passes to climb in a 50 km radius), it got a new life when I stopped using my racing bike outside, and now stands proudly, and used, in the middle of our living room.

So, unlike what I initially feared, pregnancy has been so far quite good for my gear addictions. As delivery date is looming, I just now wondered what it will be like after the Petite Boule is born: somehow, I cannot see myself getting over-excited over nappies and baby bottles. I mean, if they were making you fitter or faster, somebody would have already noticed, don't you think?

July 16, 2009

We have been busy

I may not have been that diligent in keeping this blog updated in the last few months, but it does not mean I was doing nothing of my days. Actually, the very fact I have been busy could even be the perfect excuse for not being better at being in touch.

Busy doing what, I can hear some of you wondering (although may I say that I find it a bit mean coming from friends). And, to an extent, I would agree: I mean, it is not like I am still working in banking, for crying out loud. Actually, it is not like I am working, full stop. Still, the past few months have been busy, as, and you may have guessed that my now, we did not exactly stop our little adventures with the news of the imminent arrival of the Petite Boule.

So here is a quick account of the last 8 months, since we found out our team would soon expand to three (8 months summarized in a post, now that’s blog-efficiency… very unlike me).

Month 1 and… # 1 ski outing of the season
In case you are wondering: the fact you don’t see my bump has nothing to do with the fog. In fact, it will stay very discreet for another few months (and I won’t be complaining). So discreet here that, at the very moment this photo was taken, I had actually still no idea my life was about to change forever (that may sound a bit melodramatic, but I stick to it).

Month 2 and… a 2-person team effort on race day
The Trail Blanc was my first (and actually only) race with my new partner. Just keep it for yourself though: not sure where the rules stand regarding getting help from non-race-registered partners, and would not want to be disqualified…

Month 3 and… 3 days of snow shoeing and cross-country skiing in the south of Jura
Well, three days, and, as the photo may give away, nights too, since early darkness combined with a snow storm made our arrival to the refuge a bit more eventful than planned.

Month 4 and… a 4 hour ski tour 4 hours of back-country skiing, and some pretty cool powder
I did not thank Petite Boule for his lack of cooperation on the way up, but at least the few kilos I had gained may have made me a bit faster on the way down, and made me feel like the Free Riding Queen.

Month 5: 5 sports a day…
“5 sports a day keeps boredom at bay” could have been that month’s motto. Skiing, running, hiking, climbing, cycling, we did it all! So far, the Petite Boule has not shown any displeasure at practicing any of them, so we still have good hopes he will turn out to be a climber, runner, cyclist or skier, or preferably all of the above.

Month 6 - Not quite 6 hours on the bike (but it was still fun!)
OK, so feeling your belly getting in the way of your knees while pushing on the pedals is not super fun, but the ride itself was, anyway. I managed to fall, with my feet still clipped in the pedals and while at a stop, which is so far the only evidence of pregnant women losing their sense of balance I have experienced (and according to Martin more a clear sign that I am a d*** with clips).

Oh, and have you noticed: since I am expecting a boy, I have a blue bike… cute, hey?

Month 7 and… a 7 hour-hike
And I really mean 7 hours of actual walking (not including my numerous pit stops. I am pregnant after all). Something to do with us looking over the map a bit too quickly and somehow managing to miss the presence of 2 deep valleys on our itinerary while doing so). Oh well, at least, if I need to walk non-stop in order to make sure Petite Boule falls asleep after he is born, I will know why…

Month 8 and… 8 x 100m (and a bit) of elevation gain
Not the longest hike we did in my eighth month, and since the weather was not perfect, not the most scenic photo, but the other hikes had too much elevation gain to feature in Month 8. That hike became something of a small adventure thanks to the massive storm experienced the previous night, which made a long traverse rather slippery, to say the least. Petite Boule and I negotiated the mud pretty well, which is more than can be said of Martin. Anybody still wants to comment about pregnant women’s loss of balance?

Month 9 and ???
As for the 9th month, starting in less than two weeks, which kind of “9” stuff will it entail? I leave it to you to guess… and am expecting a lot of educated or not-so-educated guesses in the Comments page! The winner will be receive a voucher for (let be generous) a full weekend of baby sitting. Now, somehow, I am not convinced this was the best way of ensuring a record participation…

July 10, 2009



Three athletes before the start of the Annecy triathlon last weekend, two of whom did not race... guess who?

July 06, 2009

Never too early for the right kit

When “petite boule” arrives (our son, for those who had not guessed), he will have no choice but be a sporty baby. We however don’t plan to be horrible parents, and plan to let him chose whichever sport he likes best. As long as it is among running, climbing, road cycling and mountain biking that is. And as long as the word “football” is never pronounced within a 10 mile radius from home. Obviously.

Our friends are great. They understand (well, most of them at least) that, as a result, Petite Boule needs to have the right kit. That includes getting ready for the potential injury. And here is what Petite Boule got from our friend Nadya as a “well-done” present for having got a (well deserved) ++ as activity indicator at the last scan appointment:

Ankle support bands, to help with his first tendinitis or other running-related ankle injuries! Isn’t that cool? And he can even afford to injure both ankles at the same time. Luxury…

Merci Nadya…

Gore? Bring it on!

I have recently stopped running (of course not, not for good… are you MAD?). Sure, I will miss it a bit for the coming few months. The running itself, obviously, but also (and allow me to be cheesy here), you know, that feeling of belonging to a community. Then I came to realise that there were more common points between runners and pregnant women than catches the eye, and wondered if that that would help me still feeling part of a community.

The runners amongst you will know that runners share much more than their love for running. For the others, just picture this: normally well-behaved and socially-apt adults describing in vivid details pre-race bowel movements. Debating for hours whether Paula did a number two on that 2005 London Marathon wildly reported pit stop. Not to mention giving detailed, gory and totally unnecessary description of various sport-induced injuries. I must myself confess to months of having as screen-saver the photo of my sliced-open ankle and naked split tendon, given by my surgeon after surgery. You want to see? No? really? Sure... OK then… shame, though...As for the triathletes, logically being as gross as runners to the power of three, just ask and they will delight you with stories of the best methods to pee from your bike, or in your wetsuit, or on your running shoes (and I should know, as Martin, having recently taken up triathlon, is delighted me with his accounts).

So I thought being now off running for a few months would have at least one plus, which would be to keep me away from the “gross” issue, and spare me the need to hear about my fellow runners’ bowel movements and other appetizing adventures, (and, let’s face it, sometimes share descriptions of my own: you do what you have to do to belong).Well, I had to think again. Because you see, the main characteristic shared by runners and pregnant women alike is precisely their propensity at being totally; overly gross. Actually, strike that off: delectation, rather than propensity, describes the phenomenon much more accurately.

The fact is, pregnant women LOVE gore. And the problem is that, no matter how you slice it, you have to hand it over to them, they have plenty to tell, much more than any runners, no matter how dedicated, will ever have.So, since we made public the imminent arrival of the little one, I have had to deal with descriptions which could make a runner, and maybe even a triathlete, blush. Think no-details-spared descriptions of first trimester nauseas. Hemorrhoids. 18-hour-long labour with tears, screams, ending up in apotheosis with the use of forceps or other torture device. Episiotomy. And here, guys, one word of advice: if you (lucky you) don’t know what this is, refrain from looking it up on Google. Trust me, you will find out soon enough. In a nutshell, think of something truly abominable and the chance is there will be a pregnant woman around with a story to share.

This has been a real problem for me for the past few months. In fact, I just feel like I don’t belong. See, so far, my pregnancy has gone super well. No nauseas. Ok, I was a bit tired for the last couple of months, but it did not last, and somehow this did not sound like something that would get my pregnant friends impressed. No significant back pain which lasted more than a few days. Not even water retention, for crying out loud. Result is, I am feeling a bit like an outcast: not a fully paid-up member of the running community anymore, and not quite gore enough to be admitted in the close circle of the Truly-Pregnant women.

But you know, I think I will live with it. Call me a softie, but not matter how much I want to belong, I don’t think I am ready to go for the 18-hour delivery just yet…