How I did a race with almost no training whatsoever

Alternative titles for this post: Racing 11 weeks after having a baby, or How to race as a breastfeeding mom (Answer: I don’t know) or Hey! That was my first race in a year!

On Sunday I teamed up with my co-workers Natalie and Matt to do the Black Bear Triathlon as a relay. Natalie did the 525-yd swim, I rode my bike 12.8 miles, and Matt finished up with a 5K run.


Matt, Natalie and I at the finish. (Ace photographer and no. 1 cheerleader Brian Feulner took our photo.)

The last race I competed in was this same race, a whole year ago. I was “technically” pregnant at the time, in the sense that the two weeks before a baby is conceived count. That time I did all three parts of the triathlon myself.

Dear readers, I am sure you will be surprised to learn that I found doing one third of the work this year was harder than doing all of the work last year.

I got on my bike precisely twice before this race. Once for a half hour, and once for 49 minutes. I know it was precisely 49 minutes because when I walked back into the house my husband had a panicked look on his face and a screaming baby in his arms.

I think I did OK, though. This year I added about a minute to my time of the cycling portion of the race. Not bad for being much less fit, but also much less work than the whole thing.

Random observations from the race

  • Childless Pattie would have been going over her racing strategy the night before a race and getting at least 10 hours of sleep. Mom Pattie was just really glad the baby only woke up for a half hour at 3 a.m., and wondered how she was going to time pumping breast milk before the race.
  • Then I forgot an essential part to my pump at home. I got creative, and breathed a word of thanks that cycling isn’t as high-impact as running.
  • I noticed when I started training again that it’s much easier to raise my heart rate compared to perceived effort, so my plan was to take the first half of the race conservatively (50% effort), step up 75% effort after the turn-around, and then 100% for the last mile. I didn’t think I could pace myself well at a high heart rate for the whole race. This was a good plan, because when it came to the half-way point I didn’t really have much will to work harder.
  • End of race stats: Peak heart rate 160; average heart rate 140
  • This year the Black Bear Tri got official — USAT certified, and they had a timing company running it. It made a very affordable race less so — but about the same as the average triathlon — yet it lacked things I’d expect from the average triathlon, like timing for each leg of the event, or posted results at the end.
  • God! I missed racing. I missed the planning of the gear the night before, I missed the quiet buzz of a gym as it fills with athletes, I missed the anticipation as you wait for the gun, I missed that push push push feeling, I missed the basking in the glow of what you just accomplished feeling at the end. I missed being called an athlete.
  • That being said, I don’t see myself racing again until the winter, with all the other things going on. It’s nice to just exercise because it feels good.

Bonus end-of-post photo: Felicity was 11 weeks old yesterday.


I’m on my last week of maternity leave. I think we’re all ready to move on.



Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

I'm a new mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, our daughter Felicity, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.