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.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
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.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
Pregnancy/Labor: Yeah…the opposite of that.
Ironman: Hard to get off the couch because your muscles are stiff from a long workout.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
Pregnancy/Labor: Getting kicked in the ribs all day (and night) for about three months.
Ironman: Always stinky sweaty clothes piled up on the floor that you may wear again for another workout.
Pregnancy/Labor: Always stinky gas coming out of you at inopportune times.
Ironman: Greasing up so the wetsuit will slide right off.
Pregnancy/Labor: 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.
Pregnancy/Labor: Stretch marks.
Ironman: Wearing spandex for comfort and hoping no one notices the “imperfections.”
Pregnancy/Labor: 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!