Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Retire? Resume? Redefine?

Before I was a mom I was a social worker and a pretty good athlete on the side. Now, I'm not sure what I am besides a grateful, loving mom to my sweet little girl. I knew pre-baby that I wanted to return to racing, but for the last 7.5 months I've gone back and forth about the athlete in me.  Before becoming pregnant I had some good sponsors that I loved representing. Sadly, Avia went out of business so no more running sponsor. My bike sponsor was a company that I was loyal to for 5 years and we had a good relationship. However, while pregnant the contact person changed 2 times and it wasn't until February after many emails and phone calls that I was finally told that since I didn't have any results last year our partnership would be put on hold. Seriously, I was pregnant! Maybe I didn't devote enough time to maintaining that relationship while I took a step back from racing but I was embarking on the biggest change of my life and athletics was not my focus. It is ridiculous, but losing this relationship made me question whether I have it in me to balance all the demands of motherhood with racing at an Elite level. Is it selfish to continue to race? Afterall, we now have a college fund that needs money every month and many other expenses that come with a 2ft tall person. Or does training and racing make me a better wife, mom and person? I'm sure my husband would say yes to this one. Maybe I should just train for the sake of enjoying the outdoors and the activities I love and never toe the line again? Who am I kidding, this wouldn't make me happy! I love pushing myself and managing the physical and mental aspects of racing. I also love the community of people that I have come to know through racing.

After much deliberation I've decided that I won't retire. However, I can't resume the exact pre-baby training and racing but I can redefine my relationship with sport. I want to continue to push my body and mind, I want to show my daughter that women are strong, I want my daughter to understand the value of hard work, I want my daughter to have a love for nature. All these things are inherent in Xterra and I look forward to a year of perfecting the balance of mom-athlete. For me, sleep deprivation, short workouts, penny pinching, and crazy planning are all made more palatable by having some "me" time and continuing to incorporate being active into our family life.

A huge thank you to the sponsors that continued to support me through my step back to enter motherhood: NoTubes, Infinit and Honey Stinger. I hope to make you proud this year! I also hope that I can inspire other new moms to stay active and realize that "your" life doesn't end when you have a family, it just changes...and actually just gets more awesome! No matter what happens, at the end of the day this will always be waiting for me:



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Baby Blues

I felt it coming on at the beginning of December and feared what was happening to me. I know I'm not the only mother who has felt this way. In fact, I'm angry that more mothers don't talk about it and our society likes to ignore its existence or even worse portray those who struggle with it as being sick. The "it" I'm talking about is postpartum depression and it is real people! I never imagined that I would be unhappy after such a joyous event. Do I feel guilty for feeling this way? You bet. We planned for Natalie, yet I have days that I ask myself "what the hell have I gotten myself into?". There are days when I want to walk away from my role as mother. There are days that I feel anxious, tearful, unmotivated and angry. There are also good days, even really great "perfect" days in there too. I left my full-time job to stay at home and have had to redefine my days completely. I was hit really hard by this change when I had to clean out my desk and have a going away party. And while I am still working part-time in my private practice it is still the biggest change ever in my life. After my own journey the last 4 months I have a deep respect and interest in postpartum depression and the struggles that are ignored by many mothers and our society. I'm thinking of expanding my private practice to support women in this magical and challenging change. Postpartum depression can affect women for up to a year after childbirth. And while there is a wide spectrum of how severe the issue can be ranging from "baby blues" to full blown depression in need of medical treatment, I believe that all mothers have been touched by the crazy postpartum roller coaster in some way. Hopefully, society can place a little more emphasis on this issue instead of painting an unrealistic image of mom and baby as always smiling, showered and not wearing sweats.

So, how have I managed to keep going as I create my new path in life:
1. Talking to good friends and the loving support of my husband. Never underestimate how much simply venting to a friend can improve how you feel.
2. Exercise. Yes, it sucks to get up at 5:30am to squeeze this in but I find that I'm more recharged from a quick workout than a little extra sleep. Or, try to sneak in some exercise while baby is napping (if you are lucky enough to have some home exercise equipment and a baby that naps well). Better yet, get outside with your baby and go for a jog or walk in the sunshine. A little sun will do you both some good.
3. WishGarden Herbs Baby Blues tincture. Maybe this is just a placebo but I swear that it has helped me feel more at peace on some rough days. I'm thankful my neighbor and mother of 3 gave me some of this to try!
4. Get out and meet other new moms. I have been pretty bad about this but have recently been trying to find more groups and support in my community. I felt so isolated and alone for awhile and only when I really started talking to other moms did I realize that I am not alone in my struggles.

I love my daughter more than I ever imagined I would and her smiles and laughs are now making the journey a little easier. I'm not naive and know that the challenge of being a parent has just begun. However, I'm excited for the road ahead as I watch my little family create "our life"!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The longest race of my life




Natalie is 2 months old now and I thought I'd better document an abbreviated version of my birth story before it becomes a distant memory. I won't include any gross details so those of you with weak stomachs or birthing fears can read on.

On September 6th I had a long day at work and was feeling quite stressed. As I left work my friend suggested that all the stress would probably make me go into labor. Sure enough that's what happened. Or, maybe our little baby was ready to come that day regardless of the days events. I went to bed around 10:15 and woke up at 11:00 thinking "wow I'm really sweaty".  I quickly realized that I was not sweating at all but that my water had broken. I got up and thought about not waking Doug but I didn't realize he had just gone to bed moments before this happened. Doug sprung into action and started to put our hospital bag out. We planned to not go to the hospital until I was well into labor. So, what did I do you might ask? Well, I picked up the house, did some laundry and made some energy balls to take to the hospital. At 1am Doug went to the couch to sleep some and I laid on a garbage bag on the bed and tried to sleep. I was having contractions all night but nothing regular or intense enough to make me want to go to the hospital. I must have only slept for 5 minutes here and there. The sun came up and I still was not ready to go the hospital so we watched some bike racing on TV and Doug glued up some tubular wheels in the garage. At about 10 am I felt like we should make our way to the hospital since my contractions were coming every 5 or so minutes.

We got to the hospital and I was overcome with a feeling of NOT wanting to be there. I heard so many stories of women being forced to proceed with birth in a way that was not in line with their wishes even when there were no complications or risks. I really liked the doctor I saw throughout my pregnancy but she was not on call that weekend. The doctor who was there was quick to suggest they start me on pitocin because my contractions were only 7 minutes apart and she "needed to see a baby by 11pm" (24 hours after my water broke). I can't tell you all the expletives that were flying around my head as this doctor so quickly suggested this to me minutes after I arrived. Did she not look at the nice birth plan I wrote up that was sitting right next to her?!?!  Doug supported me in refusing this and it took us refusing pretty strongly several times for the staff to allow my labor to proceed. I believed and trusted my body could labor naturally. I had a very healthy, relatively easy pregnancy and was in good, if not great physical shape. My intuitions and trust in my body were right and more hard core labor started around 1pm. I started to lose track of time and could no longer eat any food. Good thing I took in some energy balls and Honey Stinger chews before this happened because there was no turning back. The next 7+hours involved me walking around the room, doing lunges, leaning over the bed, bouncing on an exercise ball and making primitive noises that I never knew I was capable of doing. I also spent some time in the tub when my contractions were at their worst. I found it interesting that the most painful and horrible time was when I tried to lay down or sit down, hence my walking and standing for nearly all of my labor. Doug later told me it was horrible for him to watch me as it looked like someone was torturing me all afternoon and there wasn't anything he could do. His reassuring words did more than he knows and his insisting that I drink helped me remain hydrated.

I have no idea what time it was when I was begging to be "done with this". I was going to go back in the tub but the nurse then told me "nope this baby is coming". I'm not sure if our little one was ready to meet us or I was overly motivated to be done but after only 5 pushes we welcomed a crying baby with a head of dark hair into the world. The nurses said "it's a girl" and I believe my response was "oh shit, I can't believe I did that" (referring to laboring naturally). As my little girl was brought to my chest I apologized for calling her a boy the whole time she was in utero and was instantly in love! We had a boy name and girl named picked out. Natalie was one name that I did not negatively associate with any former clients and Jean was my grandmothers middle name. Natalie Jean Schuler 9/7/13, 7lbs 2oz, 20 inches long, 8:48pm, 22 hours after my water broke and contractions started...the longest race of my life!

I was truly transformed by my birth experience. It gave me confidence that I didn't have before and I loved the process (albeit very painful). Watching my husband for the first few moments as a father was a highlight as well. He always refused to hold babies and I was worried he was scared of them and wouldn't hold his own child. Turns out he's a natural and gives Natalie some of the best snuggles of anyone.

What my birth taught me (or powerfully reinforced):
1. Women are amazingly strong in so many ways, sorry men, I know we can handle much more pain than you. Don't even try to argue this one!
2. Your mind is a powerful thing. Visualizing my body relaxing and opening up to allow room for baby to arrive combined with my mantra of "trust and believe" helped me stay focused and move through challenging periods.
3. Advocate for what you want in life.

Welcome to the world Natalie! You are loved and we think you are going to be a pretty amazing girl!




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

One foot in front of the other

I had ideas of posting more about my journey through pregnancy but I seem to have an issue with making time to sit down and document much of anything. I'm feeling very lucky at almost 27 weeks! I'm convinced that exercise is playing a role in having few complications and overall feeling good. I know some athletic women actually have "training plans" when the are pregnant but that's not for me. My goal is to do something everyday and just go with the flow. It has been really fun to run and ride with friends that I don't normally get outside with when I'm focused on my training. Spinning around the bike paths with my best friend and pseudo niece singing me the "Aunt Sara song" makes for a very enjoyable ride! This might be topped by your husband agreeing to go "pregnant speed" and ride the long way on dirt to the donut store and back with you!

No. I did not eat all those donuts myself

When I first learned I was pregnant I quickly ordered the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James Clapp and Katherine Cram. This is a must read book for any athlete wishing to learn the science behind exercise before, during and after pregnancy. Bottom line, continued aerobic exercise during pregnancy is beneficial and not dangerous for mom or baby. Generally speaking, moms who exercise throughout pregnancy have shorter labors with fewer complications and recover more quickly than those who do not exercise. I do not subscribe to any heart rate zones like many people feel is necessary (um yeah, I don't even own a heart rate monitor, crazy huh?) and just go based on feel. I keep all my exercise comfortable, meaning I can still talk easily while I'm out there. A few thoughts on how the body feels with each of my 3 "sports":

Swimming:
I'm still swimming 2-3 days per week. Not only have I dropped down a lane but I'm in the back and often I'm that annoying person that rests for a 50 or flips around in the middle of the pool to catch back up. The best part is Coach Wolfgang (strict German) can't even find it in himself to yell at me for this. The bigger my belly gets the less I can rotate in the water. I feel like a novice swimmer with a nice flat body position that doesn't move much. Nonetheless, I foresee more swimming in my near future now that Summer is heating up here.

Biking:
I'm trying to ride 2-3 times per week. I'm only riding my mountain bike simply because it is more upright and therefore more comfortable. I'm sticking to dirt roads and trails to avoid being around cars. I know I've morphed into a mountain biker when riding on the road scares me but trails don't. Other than having to have multiple bathroom breaks and then feeling like I need another one right after I get out of the stinky outhouse I feel good riding. I'm not below walking up steep hills or walking down anything where there is even the slightest chance that I could fall. My balance is starting to get a little unpredictable so I'm getting more cautious to compensate and keep baby safe.

Running:
Again trying to get out there 2-3 times per week. I thought that I would feel horrible running at some point but knock on wood I still feel decent. My stride is becoming more of a shuffle and I walk up hills that I used to run up, but I'm getting out there! In my Utopian pregnancy land I want keep running or woging (walk/jog combo) until the day this baby comes out..it really is my therapy! The realistic part of me knows that this probably won't happen but you can count on seeing a very pregnant lady out there putting one foot in front of the other as long as she can. There are fancy belly support bands out there designed to help lift the belly off the bladder and provide some supposed comfort. I tried my friends on for a hot second one day and knew it wasn't for me. It actually made me feel constricted and too sweaty. The worst struggle I've had running is when it's hot out. I dislike carrying a bottle but I think doing so will be my new norm this Summer, even early in the morning. Pretty sure this sums up my pregnant look on my wogs:

Friday, April 5, 2013

First Trimester Tales

We knew a family was in the cards and Doug let me decide when I was ready to take the big step and have a hiatus from racing. After my season ended with a broken collarbone and not a run at a podium spot at Xterra Worlds like I planned, I almost threw out the idea of trying for a family for another year so I could return to racing this year. Truth is though, I'm not getting younger and at some point I knew I would need to step back from racing to brew a baby Schuler. Going into this journey after dealing with a broken collarbone was perfect prep:

1. I put on a few pounds while hurt, which may have helped me get pregnant. I realize how lucky we are that things happened so quickly for us and not a day goes by when I'm not thankful for this. 
2. I had several months of practicing slowing down and not being able to do all the training and 10,000 projects I wanted to.  

I've heard horror stories of the first trimester and have friends who were beyond miserable. I have to say I was pretty lucky. I never got sick but just felt really, really hungover for about 2 months. I had plenty of meetings with clients where I had an escape route to the nearest trash can planned but luckily never had to use it. The biggest change was sleep. After working 8-10 hours it was all I could do to throw some semblance of dinner together before I moved to the couch and fell asleep. I'm talking being out cold at 7:30. Needless to say, my list of things to do at home, work and in life is really long now since I didn't get much done for a few months.

Now that I'm well into the second trimester things feel a little more normal. I can stay awake until 10pm, I'm back to being able to workout more and now that my belly is getting round it's really starting to sink in that I'm going to be a mom! I'm a bit worried about how big my belly will get. My friend put it in perspective, "some women have a 3 story condo to grow a baby in, you are stuck with a studio apartment". Yep, my 5'3" frame doesn't leave much space. Doug is thrilled with what the "boob fairy" has delivered to me but I just find it a burden that I'm suddenly in the market for all new undergarments. It's been hard to watch my athletic physique slowly fade away but it's all for such an amazing outcome that it is worth it 10 times over. We are so excited for the journey and adventure ahead of us!

Some questions we keep getting:

1) Due date?: September 10th (my mother-in-laws Birthday)
2) Are you going to find out the gender?: No. We have our big ultrasound next week and we plan to make it very clear to the staff to please not let us catch any glimpse of suspected genitalia. Not knowing until the end feels exciting and I believe the total surprise can help motivate me during labor.
3) Are you going to keep racing?: I plan to. I'm setting my eyes on racing Cyclocross Nationals in January as my first race back since they are being held in my own backyard. No expectations, just a goal to help me get out there and we'll see where it goes from there.

If you happen to be one of the runners going uphill who passed me last night while I was riding my mountain bike uphill, you did not discourage me, I made it to the top of the climb and refrained from yelling, "I'm slow because I'm pregnant". It is true, I've slowed down a lot but I still love getting out there and know that exercise is one of the best things I can do for baby Schuler and myself. Happy mom, happy baby!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Family to Family

Plenty of kids made their lists to Santa, watched their manners, helped others and hoped that this year they would get something they asked for. Sadly, many kids have to live with the worry that they won't have a Christmas and start to wonder about Santa when there are no presents under the tree. Instead of buying each other gifts Doug and I adopted a 12 year old boy through Boulder County's Family to Family program. We got a list of what he wanted and set out to buy everything on his list. I may have even gone a little overboard and put plenty of extra treats in the cart. What kid doesn't need a holiday mug, hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy? As I sit here sipping my coffee and looking out at the fresh snow I'm filled with joy knowing that somewhere in this County a little boy is opening gifts that he would otherwise not have received. Knowing that a child in need smiled today is the best part of Christmas for me (gluten free sugar cookies are a close second). Merry Christmas to all!

Our mini tree with all the presents for our 12 year old boy

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bad Veggie Soup

I have a new bad habit. Well, actually it is a good habit.  This habit feeds my body and nourishes my soul with each rich creamy bite. Like your normal Type Aish person I go to the grocery store every Sunday and stock up on items for the week. This working gal hates going to the store and likes knowing what I will be cooking every night after a long day. Most weeks I end up with some vegetable that I forgot to cook or we got rushed and went to Chipotle instead of making dinner. My new habit is turning unused veggies into soup. You would think that I grew up in poverty because I hate wasting things. Yesterday, I spent 4 hours making applesauce because I couldn't stand the thought of putting all the apples from our apple tree in the compost. For the record, I did not grow up in poverty but had a frugal fanatic for a father. 

So here's the most easy and delicious soup recipe:

Melt a pat of butter in a stockpot. Saute half an onion for 3 or so minutes. Add any old veggie in chunks and some kind of stock to almost cover the veggies. Simmer until veggies are very tender, 30 minutes or so. Remove from heat and blend with a hand held blender. If you're naughty like me add some half and half to make it extra creamy.  It is simply delicious on its own but you can add any seasoning you like. I really like a dash of nutmeg in my soups, odd, yes, but very yummy. Obviously this is not a one pot soup so don't throw all your old veggies in a pot and try this. Make sure the combo of veggies you use is something that sounds good. Or, throw it all in there and please let me know how your "everything soup" tastes.

This soup was cauliflower and spinach, both past their prime. Here it is before blending.

And, yummy after blending.