Friday, 12 August 2011


Before I had Otter, I had fitness. I had watts. I had several seasons of consistent training and racing, virtually injury-free, and with some pretty decent results.

This is what my PMC looked like:
January to October 2010: Before Otter

In January I was just starting to rebuild after a couple of months off following the Ironman world championships in mid-October, and 2010 was the season I went from triathlete to cyclist. The big peaks indicate periods of huge training loads (February in Lanzarote, April with lots of road racing, July at the Ras Cymru). Between the peaks -- which were followed by actual peaks in performance -- there are a few troughs where life took over: illness, minor injuries, holidays. The end of the season in early October coincided with peaking for hill climbs, thus shorter more intense training sessions for very short (~5 minute) races. Over the whole season I went from a CTL of just under 70 to a peak of over 120, then tailed off to 85 by end of season.

With this in mind, I had great ideas of how life would be once she was born, how I would take a few weeks to recover then get back into shape as quickly as possible. Hours-long road races and TTs were out, of course, but shorter stuff like hill climbs seemed like just the thing I could do after childbirth. Supposedly my extra red blood cells would mean a kick to my Vo2max and everyone knows that you lose weight while breastfeeding, right? HA HA.

This is my PMC now:
October 2010 to August 2011: After Otter

From the 85 I was at last October, my CTL fell dramatically over the winter, picked up again in spring, then went into freefall to an all-time low of 30 at the start of August. I'm holding that steady now, but not really building it back up, though that's more due to lack of time to train than lack of desire.

But even with an unplanned c-section (and my fitness did play a big role in helping me recover quickly from that), I still thought post-birth that I could fulfill my pre-birth expectations. Two weeks afterwards I rode my bike for the first time -- stamina was low, legs felt terrible, but ah the fresh air! The wind on my face and the sun on my arms! Never mind the watts.

Then a few more weeks passed and my power didn't seem to be improving. Worse yet my body just didn't want to push itself much. And apart from the massive weight loss I got in the week after she was born, I wasn't losing any more! It felt like I was newly pregnant again -- outwardly not looking too bad, but inwardly no legs, no motivation, no power. And no sleep to boot. Still, I was happy to be out on the bike. Though starting to rethink my expectations a bit. Ok, definitely no road races. Probably not even a 10 mile TT, especially with wrecked ab muscles and a sore lower back in desperate need of some core work. Even hill climbing, that beacon of hope in the distance, was starting to look pretty unlikely.

Nine weeks in, I now have to admit that 2011 is going to be a washout season. My FTP has barely climbed from the 185 watts I had in April to 205 watts today. Last year's 240-250 watts seems like a dream. The last 5kgs of pregnancy weight is not going to come off my body without a fight -- probably not til Christmas when Otter starts to wean, or maybe even later til I completely stop breastfeeding. Which means that there's no way I'll attempt hill-climbing, which is all about low weight and high watts. Pretty much the opposite of what I have now!

So 2011 is the season that wasn't. Quite forgettable in athletic terms... yet so memorable in life terms. We have the best prize of all -- we have Otter! What's a few missed races and lost watts when I have a beautiful kid to show for my efforts.


How long til she's on a bike of her own?


Charlotte said...

Really lovely post, Maryka. I read something similar in Paula Radcliffe's book in the school library recently. She went back too early after her first child and has regretted it. But she is back - and so will you be! Otter is gorgeous. Congratulationsxxx

David Haas said...

I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?