The Great Ironman vs. Pregnancy Debate

Many thanks to Deanna Deiters, who completed Ironman Florida with me and has since given birth to three beautiful children, for helping me to write this post.

In 2003 when I was training for the Ironman Florida triathlon, my lifelong friend and training buddy Keith Kibler posed a question to me: “Which do you think is harder, finishing an Ironman or having a baby?”  An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and finishes with a 26.2 mile run.  At the time, being 30 and single, I really didn’t have an answer.   I just knew that it was hard training for the Ironman and hoped I was training enough to finish well.

Well now, having completed both events, I have what I think is a valid opinion. There are several aspects to consider.

Ironman:  There is a fair amount of pain to cope with in the months of training leading up to the race, during the race, and after the race.
: So. Much. Worse.

Ironman:  If it gets too painful while racing, you can do many things to help your situation:  slow down, eat energy bars, drink water or Gatorade, etc.
:  When in labor, there is not a thing you can do to help your plight, the contractions keep coming whether you can handle them or not.

Me at the finish line of Ironman Florida in 2002.

Ironman:  There are porta-potties everywhere, but if you can’t get to one, it’s socially acceptable to pee-on-the-go.  Under the advice of my sister, I’ll refrain from expounding on this topic.
:  Always scanning stores and surroundings to see where the nearest bathroom might be found.  It’s not socially acceptable to pee-on-the-go.

Ironman:  It is great to feel hungry and eat a ton.
:  Feel hungry all the time but not able to eat more than a couple of bites before your stomach sends signals that you can’t fit any more food even though you are still ravenously hungry.


Ironman:  If you train hard and race wisely, you’ll feel great, like you can accomplish anything.
:  Many bruises from bumping into furniture because you don’t know where your body ends.

Ironman:  Getting a good 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep and feeling rested in the morning.
:  Yeah…the opposite of that.

Ironman:  Hard to get off the couch because your muscles are stiff from a long workout.
:  Hard to get off the couch because you’re a massive whale.

Ironman:  Getting kicked in the ribs and face during the mass open water swim.
:  Getting kicked in the ribs all day (and night) for about three months.

Me two days before I went into labor in May.

Ironman:  Always stinky sweaty clothes piled up on the floor that you may wear again for another workout.
:  Always stinky gas coming out of you at inopportune times.

Ironman:  Greasing up so the wetsuit will slide right off.
:  Eating greasy foods that you’ve never thought yummy before.

Ironman:  Falling asleep during the day from all your hard work.
Pregnancy/Labor:  Falling asleep during the day from doing nothing.

Ironman:  Great tan after being out in the sun working out.
:  Stretch marks.

Ironman:  Wearing spandex for comfort and hoping no one notices the “imperfections.”
:  Never having to suck in your stomach and everyone thinking it’s beautiful!

Ironman:  Beautiful surroundings, fresh air, cheering fans.
Pregnancy/Labor:   Cheering fans are drowned out by the (somewhat) muffled shrieks.

The prize is incomparable: a medal/hat/t-shirt packet versus a sweet tender life raised to make the world a better place. Nothing could be more worth it!

About Oh, the Places We've Been!

In 2008 I married Jack, the love of my life and the only man that could ever keep up with me. Instead of the nice little French Colonial with a white picket fence, we opted to make our home on the 46-foot catamaran "Let it Be". Since living on a sailboat we've had two kids and sailed thousands of miles along the coast of Central America, the United States, the Bahamas and currently Baja California. Our family of four is always ready for the next adventure and we’re never quite sure where it will take us next. Oh, the places we still have yet to go!
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9 Responses to The Great Ironman vs. Pregnancy Debate

  1. saundi says:

    Really good! Love you and I am so proud of you! Have a great time with your 2 precious babies! Give Jack a hug from us.

  2. MB says:

    Based on this post, giving birth will put me as close as I will ever be to completing an IronMan…or even a marathon for that matter! Great post!

  3. Sandy Simpson says:

    Never did an IronMan, but did the labor 3 times and each one different just as my 3 children are unique in their own way. Motherhood is an awesome experience.

    • Oh, the Places We've Been! says:

      So true, each labor and child is so different and precious. Motherhood is an experience like no other.

  4. Alyson says:

    Loved this! I walked/ran a 10K a few years ago that nearly killed me. I have given birth twice. I agree, the outcome of those two experiences don’t even compare.

  5. Crissy Trovillion says:

    I love this!! Pregnancy and the parenting that follows is by far my proudest and most challenging accomplishment. It’s nice to read the comparison between pregnancy and an Ironman from someone who has actually done both…and knows that pregnancy wins out in the level of difficulty and reward! Love your blog!

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